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Vol. XXXII, No. 8 Toronto, October 15th, 1951 Price 20 Cents
THE THREE JEWELS
"Make your temple the prosperous and renowned abode of the Three Jewels, unhurt even in thought by mean kings." * [* The Ratnavali of Nagarjuna, translated by Guiseppe Tucci, Journ of the Royal As. Soc., 1936, p. 424.]
Therefore, Aryadeva, the great disciple of Nagarjuna, has opened his work, the Satasastra,* with the following homage to those Three Jewels (triratna), which are the Buddha, the Doctrine, and the Order: [* In Pre-Dinnaga Buddhist Texts on Logic from Chinese Sources, by Guiseppe Tucci, Baroda, 1929.]
"(1) bow at the feet of the Buddha, the compassionate and the blessed one, who in numberless Aeons has suffered many sorrows and having exhausted all klesas and having also expelled the vasanas, was honored by Brahma, Sakra, the Nagas and the deities. (I) also pay homage to the Law (dharma) which illuminates the world, to which there is no superior, which can cleanse of every impurity and weed, put a stop to illusion and which has been preached by the Buddhas, the blessed ones; at the same time (I also pay homage) to the Order (Sangha) of the Arhats, of the eight classes."
Then there is the usual triple refuge formula: "I go to the Buddha for Refuge, I go to the Doctrine for Refuge, I go to the Order for Refuge".
These Jewels will now be explained, mainly from the Mahayana Buddhist standpoint, with comparison of the Theosophical position, and an evaluation will be attempted of their significance with respect to the modern Theosophical Movement.
(1) The Buddha. The primary fact of the Buddha is Complete Illumination as a permanent possibility of all sentient beings. Because all beings have this germ of Buddhahood, there is a basis for Universal Brotherhood, recognizing this, one comes to look upon his fellows as sparks of the Divine, and there is no longer any basis for discord and hatred. Furthermore, there is involved a recognition that at least one person, who was once mere mortal, has attained that Complete Illumination. Hence there exists somewhere a Way leading to that blessed state, and one understands all this to be involved in the statement, "I go to the Buddha for Refuge".* [* That this is fundamental in Buddhism, at least in Mahayana Buddhism, could easily be demonstrated by a number of passages in texts now available.]
Theosophically, this means that the fundamental basis for union among all Theosophists is Universal Brotherhood - the recognition that all beings have this Buddhahood potentiality. This implies also that no Theosophical group has an exclusive "pipeline" to Truth - if it has any "pipeline" at all. For wherever one be, and whether or not a member of an "esoteric" section, or whatever the banner of his associations, one can always take this Refuge, and thereby establish himself, through will, in that Universal Brotherhood. One can always follow the precept of Light on the Path, "Regard most earnestly your own heart. For through your own heart comes the one light which can illuminate life and make it clear to your eyes." Thus fanning into Flame that inner Spark, and realizing that anybody else can do the same, one understands more fully the remark of the Master (Mah. Ltrs, p. 252), "It is selfishness and exclusiveness that killed (our land), and it [is] selfishness and exclusiveness that will kill yours . . . The world has clouded the light of true knowledge, and selfishness will not allow its resurrection, for it excludes and will not recognize the whole fellowship of all those who were born under the same immutable natural law." As applied to Theosophical groups, that selfishness is involved in the desire for individual sectarian life, with its opportunities for leadership, the pretense of exclusive possession of Truth and opportunity so as to gain the awe and material support of a misled following; but the Ratnavali says:* "How can a man addicted to deceive others be considered as really clever when, on the contrary, he deceives only himself for thousands of rebirths?" [* op. cit. p. 245.] Thus do they who urge their associates to take Refuge in an inferior authority - namely human leaders and usually those who have so urged. For to take Refuge in the Buddha is to take Refuge in that germ of Buddhahood within oneself, understanding that oneself has it because all living beings have it, and by means of this understanding find the Way to expand that germ into the Complete Illumination. When, this Truth, which makes men free, is known, one can no longer pledge himself to follow the dictates of any man. One can never be the servant of the Masters if he is pledged to a lesser authority than his own Master, or Higher Self, which in most cases is but a Spark, and never is a Person.
With little difficulty, we have set the first Jewel into correspondence with the first of the three objects of The Theosophical Society. This is not accidental. Furthermore, we shall establish still another correspondence, namely with the first of the three degrees of Theosophy as set forth by H.P.B. in her article "What is Theosophy". There she said, "Plotinus, the pupil of the `God-taught' Ammonius, tells us that the secret gnosis or the knowledge of Theosophy, has three degrees - opinion, science, and illumination. `The means or instrument of the first is sense, or perception; of the second, dialectics; of the third, intuition. To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge, founded on the identification of the mind with the object known'."
That is, the basis of union among Theosophists being the recognition of the spark of divinity in oneself and others, for this purpose we need not inquire what be the opinions of others. Let a person have whatever opinions on metaphysical subjects - let him believe the world is eternal, or not-eternal, or both eternal and not-eternal, or neither eternal nor not-eternal, it makes no difference so far as the basics of Theosophy is concerned.
(2) The Doctrine. As says the Ratnavali, "This is why the ascetic, after having realized this doctrine, declined, at the first moment, to preach it; he knew in fact that this very doctrine is very difficult to be understood by common people on account of its depth." * [* op. cit. p. 242.] And also, "It is very difficult to know what the Buddhas have said in their metaphorical utterances, and therefore having recourse to impartiality you must protect yourself (against the different and contradictory wordings of the law as expounded) in the one Vehicle or in the three Vehicles." * [*op. cit. p. 433.]
That is, protect yourself by avoiding dogmatism; understand that the one Truth may have been presented in a great variety of forms for the sake of benefitting beings in vastly different stages of evolution. What is meant by taking Refuge in the Doctrine is merely the acceptance of a body of authoritative texts - the Word of the Buddha, but it involves no determination of what that Word may signify as expressed in our ordinary speech. To have accepted these texts, further demands the recognition of their profundity - the realization that while the Word remains unchanged, our understanding of it must necessarily change as we proceed along the Path.
Theosophically, this means that having already established a basis for union, there is now a subsection established among the totality of Theosophists. This subsection may be called the Students - namely, those who will work to fulfill the second of the three objects of The Theosophical Society - "The study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science". This second object corresponds, in turn to the second of the three degrees of Theosophy - science, whose means is dialectics. For, while having respect for the opinions of other Theosophists (and that, no matter what the fancy term opinion may be known by) because this was required in the primary basis of union, one has now joined that group which substitutes one opinion for another, for the sake of raising insight to a higher level. But one must have some place to stand in this process, and so, Theosophically, we take Refuge in the Secret Doctrine - i.e., the thesis that there is one primordial Truth - itself concealed - but which is revealed in sundry disguise, and relatively corrupted in the various religions and philosophies of earth.
This involves the recognition that all our views on metaphysical subjects are absolutely false, while having a relative correctness, just as the universe, in its existence, is sheer illusion, while it nevertheless has a relative reality. Hence, the statement, "Theosophy teaches so-and-so," is a false one, having a very low relative degree of correctness. All that has happened is that someone has given out with his opinion; and if he happens to have the responsibility of standing in front of an audience, he has taken advantage of the situation to propose the completely untenable position that a verbally expressed opinion can equal that Truth which is ever beyond human words. Nevertheless, the same person may say, "Theosophy has no creed", meaning that high-sounding remarks are not without utility. Again, suppose a person believes firmly that his interpretation of a mystical tenet is the correct one. In such a state of mind, he does not accept contrary views. Therefore, as the years go by, he keeps the same view. Assuming the generality of the situation, he would make little progress in the course of a lifetime - thus we assert that he has been wrong, no matter what his views. Is it not better that the individual be right, through recognition of the wrongness of his acci-
dental accumulations, than, pretending that the accumulations of this world are right, render the individual wrong? Therefore; the Student-Theosophist, while having respect for all opinions, nevertheless invites the refutation of his own. Thus, succeeding his view by a better one, he in turn invites the refutation of that one, and so on, until he attains the non-refutable position of non-attachment to any idea. But he cannot work with the second object unless he has founded himself on the first. Only with the recognition of Universal Brotherhood due to the omnipresent germ of Buddhahood, can he renounce the perishable things of the mind - otherwise, he but falls into nihilism.
On the other hand, there have been Theosophists who have held that the basis of union among all Theosophists is in holding some particular tenets (which are claimed to be "true"). Such Theosophists are in the first level - that of opinion, but they are not yet Students: Having not yet taken Refuge in the first, they would yet legislate for all Theosophists. Indeed, they offer us but a sterile future, for no Theosophist has ever known any true tenets that he could talk about. The tenets which are true are those which are gradually approached by those with a yearning for the Ideal, and willingness to give up the supposedly "true" tenets which they hold.
The objection might be raised that in the above formulation there is no way to impede the growth of reckless opinion - as in some of the works which appeared after the death of H.P.B. This is a very worthwhile objection, and one which it is important to consider. This can be answered as follows: just as there are heretical Buddhists so are there heretical Theosophists. While the authoritative Buddhist tents are profound, yet the Faithful will base their views thereon. Their views must change if they are to progress, but in all events they must formulate their views in terms of those authoritative texts. Likewise with Theosophy. To take Refuge in the Theosophical doctrine is to choose as authoritative (but not necessarily infallible) the texts given by the Masters through Their Messenger, H.P. Blavatsky. Our sum total is the letters of the Masters, and the works of H.P.B. The avoidance of dogmatism lies in the recognition that the understanding of these texts must necessarily vary with the individual. The heretical Theosophist is he who writes and formulates views without basing them upon these authoritative texts. Just as there are many heretical Buddhist works, so are there many Theosophical ones, but the criterion for judgment is quite simple: it involves the formula "Thus have I heard upon an occasion".
(3) The Order. Speaking in terms of the progress of individuals, we have, corresponding to the first Jewel, he who has learned to Heed his Higher Self. Corresponding to the second, there is he who has become Emancipated from illusion. Yet there is a still higher path, namely that of him who has joined the community or Order. In Buddhism, this is the Order of the Monks, who preach the Law to those lower on the ladder.
Theosophically, we are now concerned with the Order of the Initiates. Having become a Theosophist; further, having become a Student-Theosophist; one may now become a Disciple-Student-Theosophist. As a Disciple, one may carry out the Third Object of The Theosophical Movement, namely, the investigation of the unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man. Thus, one may proceed to the third degree of Theosophy - illumination.
But the previous steps must have been taken, else we would have someone sitting on a cloud, defying the laws of gravity. In the words of the Master
(Mah. Ltrs., p. 262), "It is just because they preach too much `the Brothers' and too little if at all Brotherhood that they fail." Theosophists have tried to put the third before the first, and the failure was inevitable. And on all sides, we have seen the attempt of Theosophical groups to seize upon some good worker - some fine Theosophist who devoted his life to the cause - and inflate him into a Master. This is done to justify individual sectarian existence, and to back up the incessant hints that a particular group has an exclusive ladder up to the celestial heights. Such a claim is groundless. The ladder is in every being, and it is up to each one to begin climbing himself. To do this, he need not join any of the exoteric "esoteric" groups. Having made himself a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, he will be led to properly study Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science. Having accomplished this, he will attain insight into the unexplained laws of Nature and the key to the powers, latent in man. Having become a Hearer, he can then become Emancipated, and then the Disciple-Teacher. Having had opinion, he can then reject his opinion, and finally become Illuminated. Having taken Refuge in his spark of Buddhahood, he is capable of understanding how to take Refuge in the Doctrine, and having done that, he is fit to take Refuge in the Order. For, having taken Refuge in his Higher Self, there is no reason for his being rejected as material for the Fane of the Masters; and, having taken Refuge in the Ideal Truth, there is good positive reason for his being accepted.
- Alex Wayman.
HOW ONE BEHAVES WHO KNOWS THE DOCTRINE
"Whoso has not properly understood the Four Excellent Truths," says the Samyutta Nikaya, "he goes from one teacher to another and looks searchingly into his face thinking: `Does this one really know something, see something?' It is as if a feather or a flock of cotton, light, at the mercy of the wind, blown about a plain, were carried now here, now there, now by this wind, now by that, by reason of its very lightness. But whoso has truly understood the Four Excellent Truths, he no longer goes from one teacher to another and searchingly looks into his face to see if this one may really know something, see something. It is as if a brazen column, or a post of a gate, stood there, deeply founded, well dug into the ground, without tottering or shaking. If now from this or that quarter, wind and weather come mightily storming on, it cannot tremble, shake and totter, and why not? Because of the depth of the foundation, because the column is well dug in."
- The Doctrine of the Buddha - The Religion of Reason, by George Grimm, p. 30.
NOTES BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
It is with deep and heartfelt regret I announce that Mr. E. Rupert Lesch died on September 18 as a result of an accident that took place earlier in the month - details are not yet to hand. The news will be a great shock to his many friends here in Canada. For the past twenty-three years Mr. Lesch has paid extended visits to Toronto where his lectures were eagerly looked forward to not only by Theosophists but by the public at large. He visited Hamilton and Montreal Lodges and attended the earlier Fraternization Conventions. His comprehensive approach and deep knowledge of matters theosophical was such that through the years he attracted a following of earnest students who remained steadfast and appreciative to the end. Many will be saddened that his annual visits are now over and that his quiet scholarly voice will be heard no more. His passing is a sad blow to many and Theosophy is the poorer by the loss of an ardent, keen and deeply versed scholar. Karma, like the god in the well-known hymn "Moves in a mysterious way" and we wonder why it is that he had to leave us in such a sudden manner. To his bereaved family our deepest sympathy and condolences are extended.
Dues for the current year are coming in at a gratifying rate and in order that we may be well away with our financial obligations I trust that those who have overlooked this small but necessary effort on their part will rectify it as soon as possible by remitting direct to their respective lodge secretary or treasurer. In spite of the ever-increasing cost of everything today Lodge Dues remain as when the Canadian Section was founded, and it requires little imagination to realize how difficult it is to make ends meet. Verb Sap.
It is with much pleasure I welcome the following new members into the Society: Miss Belle Turpin, Hamilton Lodge; Miss Muriel McConnell, Edmonton Lodge; Mrs. Vera Tritton, Miss E. Maude Angus, Mrs. Nellie L. Holmes, Mrs. Dorothy M. Cushing, Mr. Phillips Newcombe, Mrs. E. Shelley Newcombe, and Mr. D.G. Martin all of the Toronto Lodge.
- E. L. T.
ANNUAL REPORT TO HEADQUARTERS
Since my report of last year the General Executive and myself were re-elected to office with one exception - Mr. N.W.J. Haydon a much respected member and a sterling Theosophist passed away last December and his place was filled by the election of Mr. Charles Hale. The Society is in much the same condition as last year. In the interim we have had thirteen new members, one joined on demit, nineteen were reinstated, one left on demit, six died and twenty-seven are inactive, leaving a total of 371, thus the membership is down one on the year, but since June 30 when our Financial Year closed we have had seven new members and several reinstatements.
In the same period we had twenty new subscribers to the Magazine, principally from the United States and we continue to have very good reports and letters of appreciation from various sources.
The Travelling Library is very active and through newspaper advertisements has received requests for books from all parts of the Dominion.
From a summary of the activities of the lodges it is shown that all have classes or discussion groups taking the Secret Doctrine as the magnum opus. One or two have classes in Astrology and several of the larger ones take in Elementary Theosophy and the Gita. Toronto Lodge has a very comprehensive schedule and has classes several
nights of the week for the entire season; it has also arranged for special series of lectures from Professor Ernest Wood and Dr. Alvin B. Kuhn.
Public lectures are in all cases well attended and in the case of the better known lecturers are quite large thus evincing that Theosophy is slowly but surely permeating the thoughts of the public.
We are alive to the fact that there are more Theosophists outside than inside the Society and knowing this are happy
in realizing that this potential is there merely waiting as it were to become a dynamic force if and when the time is opportune. - E. L. Thomson,
Theosophical Society in Canada.
GENERAL EXECUTIVE MEETING
The Quarterly Meeting of the above took place on Sunday, September 30th, with the following members in attendance, Miss M. Hindsley, Messrs. Dudley W. Barr, Charles M. Hale, George I. Kinman and the General Secretary. The Minutes of the previous meeting and the Financial Statement were read and approved. Mr. Barr read a report on the Magazine, a copy of which will be mailed to the out-of-town members who were unable to attend. The General Secretary read correspondence relative to the agenda of the General Council Meeting which will beheld at Adyar in December next and also read the correspondence respecting an objection made by the General Secretary of The Theosophical Society in France to the omission of portions of General Secretaries' Reports from the printed Annual Reports of the Society, and to the printing of summaries of certain of such reports instead of the complete reports as submitted by the General Secretaries. The matter was considered carefully and the following Resolution was moved by Mr. Kinman, seconded by Mr. Hale and carried
Resolved: That the Executive Committee of the Theosophical Society in Canada considers that the following principles and practices should govern in the matter of publishing the Annual Reports of General Secretaries
(1) The Reports should not be considered as confidential reports to the President personally, but on the contrary, should be considered as reports for the information of the members of the General Council.
(2) The general principle should be established in full, to the end that open, uncensored communication of ideas, suggestions, comments and information shall prevail at all times.
(3) Portions of a report should not be omitted without obtaining the approval of the members of the General Council residing at Adyar. Deletions should be confined to material which is not of interest to the Society as a whole. Controversial matter should not be omitted because of its controversial nature only. The printed report should indicate clearly the points at which deletions have been made.
(4) If a report is submitted in such form that it must be condensed because of length, the presence of extraneous matter or for other good and sufficient reasons, the digest should reflect as clearly as possible the intent of the writer. The digests should be shown as such in the Annual Reports of the Society and should be signed by the Recording Secretary; digests should not be published over the signature of the General Secretary who submitted the report.
The remainder of the business was of a routine nature. The next meetingwas arranged for the Second Sunday in January, viz. the 13th. Therewith the meeting adjourned.
- E. L. T.
THE CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST
- The Organ of the Theosophical Society in Canada
- Published on the 15th of every month.
- Subscription: Two Dollars a Year
OFFICERS OF THE T.S. IN CANADA
Dudley W. Barr, 52 Isabella St., Toronto, Ont.
Charles M. Hale, Box 158, New Liskeard, Ont.
Miss M. Hindsley, 745 Bloor St. W., Toronto, Ont.
George I. Kinman, 46 Rawlinson Avenue, Toronto, Ont.
Peter Sinclair, 4941 Wellington St., Verdun, Quebec
Washington E. Wilks, 925 Georgia St. W., Vancouver, B.C.
Emory P. Wood, 12207 Stony Plain Road, Edmonton, Alta.
Lt.-Col E.L. Thomson, D.S.O., 54 Isabella St., Toronto, Ont.
To whom all payments should be made, and all official communications addressed
EDITORIAL BOARD, CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST
All Letters to the Editor, Articles and Reports for Publication should be sent to The Editor: Dudley W. Barr, 52 Isabella St., Toronto 5, Ont.
Printed by the Griffin & Richmond Printing Co., Ltd., 29 Rebecca Street, Hamilton, Ontario
Isolated students and those unable to have access to Theosophical literature should avail themselves of the Travelling Library conducted by the Toronto Theosophical Society. There are no charges except for postage on the volumes loaned. For particulars write to the Travelling Librarian, 52 Isabella Street, Toronto, Ont.
The special attention of our readers is drawn to the article The Three Jewels by Alex Wayman which appears in this issue. This is a splendid article and it should have wide circulation; we sincerely hope that it will be reprinted in other Theosophcial magazines.
We were delighted to have a visit from Mr. Willem B. Roos, a Theosophical student whose home is in Mexico City. Mr. Roos is the moving spirit in a group of independent students there who work along the lines laid down by H.P.B. We hope to publish soon an article left with us by Mr. Roos; it was written by Mrs. Archibald Keightley (the `Jasper Niemand' of Letters That Have Helped Me) who worked closely with Mr. Judge in getting out the magazine The Path. Many excellent articles from her pen appeared in that magazine under the name `Jasper Niemand' and other pseudonyms. One of these was the first installment only of an article The Sleeping Spheres; this instalment was marked `To be continued', but the second instalment never appeared. Mr. Roos some time ago started a hunt for this; he finally found it in an old copy of a German magazine, but there was no hint to indicate where it had been originally published in the English language. Mr. Roos searched persistently for the original but without success; finally with the help of a friend, he retranslated the German version into English. Mr. Roos is Secretary of the Astronomical Society in Mexico and contributes articles to the magazine of the Society, EL Universo. He left a copy of the magazine containing a very interesting article by him on the effects of the planets on trans-oceanic radio reception. The Society paid him the compliment of departing from its usual practice and published the article in both the Spanish and English languages. It was very pleasant to meet Mr. Roos and to note how quickly there is established an easy flow of intimate conversation between persons of like approach even though they are ordinaily separated by thousands of miles.
Theosophy in Action, the valuable series of articles by the late Roy Mitchell which appeared in the past volume of The Canadian Theosophist, has been published in book form by The Blavatsky Institute of Toronto, address 52 Isabella St., Toronto 5. The paper covered edition sells at $1.00, cloth covered, $1.50.
Speaking in Geneva recently, Dr. Chakravarty, distinguished Indian scholar and writer, referred to the problem of divided loyalties which many people feel who have spent a long time in a country or countries other than their own. He himself has spent three years recently in the U.S.A. Dr. Chackravarty has come to the conclusion that for people concerned with the growth and well-being of the whole world, this ceases to be a dividing factor because their loyalty is to the whole of mankind, which includes their own country but is not limited to it.
It is announced that a volume of the long awaited The Interpreter's Bible is now on sale. There will be 12 volumes in all and the great work will run to about eight million words. The new work prints each verse of the Bible in the King James version with the Revised Standard version alongside, together with all data concerning the verse that has been accumulated through the researches of philologists, archeologists, historians, geographers and other students. The exegeses give new hints concerning the original meanings and derivations of the Greek and Hebrew words and, - and this will be of interest to Theosophical students - cite the historical forerunners of ideas expressed in the Bible. The commentaries deal with the various opinions, queries, theories and controversies that have arisen concerning various sections of the Bible texts. The volume now on sale is actually the 7th in the series of 12 volumes, and deals with the Gospels of Matthew and Mark.
Manas in a recent issue had a very interesting letter from its Japanese Correspondent relating to the rise of Shintoism in Japan. The war and the renunciation of divinity by the Emperor almost broke the power of Shintoism but now the movement is slowly recovering and is becoming an important factor in the life of Japan. The priests are working closely with the people - a thing unheard of before - teaching, founding schools, ministering to their physical and spiritual needs, and endeavoring to rebuild the morale of the country.
We dislike introducing into the current of highly spiritual ideas, the sordid question of money but every once in so often it does become necessary to pay for printing, postage, envelopes, etc., etc. We were down about $100.00 on last year's operations - not a large sum but important enough when it is on the wrong side of the ledger. If our readers who think that the magazine is worthwhile would send in subscriptions for friends who would be interested, the deficit would soon be overcome.
The General Executive,
Theosophical Society in Canada.
I have audited the books and accounts of the Theosophical Society in Canada for the fiscal years 1949, 1950 and 1951, and certify that the Statement of Funds as shown therein and as published in the Magazine, are correct.
Sept. 16th, 1951.
By Roy Mitchell
Nothing in life proceeds haphazard. It is only our failure to observe chains of cause and effect that makes us think so. When we succeed in anything we are too busy pluming ourselves on our success, and when we fail we are too ready to yield to discouragement to watch wherein actually lies the difference in the processes. If we could succeed or fail with detachment we would soon perceive vital differences.
Our student, now, having laid down his framework of questions, should start gently to work finding the answers he requires. At first he must let industry take the place of vision. If he require satisfaction in his work, let him find it in thoroughness of method, in friendliness with the whole project, or in the actual quantity of material he can put together.
As the filling of the framework proceeds under his hand, the student will find that he should not confine himself to the material of his quest, but should accept anything that seems to be connected with it. Parallels in other religions will present themselves, and should be noted. A symbol, let us say, in the Celtic system, supported by, or paired with, one from the Greek or Hindu, is far more useful than if the symbol stood alone or had a dozen of its kind in the Celtic. It is a sort of Rosetta stone for later use in deciphering the riddle. Presently, having found several references to a bridge, for instance, the student will find it profitable to go afield and search for bridge symbols in other systems as affording him a clue to those in his particular field.
This is the sort of thing he will find. Cuchulain, in his adventures, comes upon a magical bridge spanning an abyss beside a mountain. It stretches out dizzily before him, now broad, now narrow, now secure, now precarious as a spider filament, now it contracts to nothing, now stretches interminably, again it rises perpendicularly before him or falls away into the chasm. In the Zoroastrian system there is a razor-edged bridge called Chinvat, over which the disciple must pass. Again, in the Zoroastrian there is the symbol of a rope stretching from the past into the future, and on it the disciple balances himself. In the very heart of Hindu philosophy, the crux of the Vedanta, is the bridge Antahkarana, whose name indicates that it is not only a bridge, but a vehicle of the Self. It is a bridge between lower and higher mind, and the implication is that the disciple must not only cross it, but he must create it. There is also a hint that he must become the bridge. In the Latin tradition we get another bearing, the idea of the Bridge Makers, the pontifices, at the head of whose occult college stood the Greatest Bridge Builder, the Pontifex Maximus, whose name the Roman Catholic Pontiff has taken to himself.
This is a mere beginning of the bridge material in symbolism, and when the student has put together enough on any point to get an intuition of what it means, he should begin the next step, that of extension.
Before I go on to describe it in detail, however, I should like to make sure that my reader understands the first principle in the interpretation of all mystery stories. It is one he will find out in due course by the process I have described, but he can be saved a great deal of trouble if he will realize it and bear it in mind now.
The central figure in any mystery story is the Ego - you and I. When
Cuchulain climbs a mountain, it is I who climb or must climb the mountain. If Perseus slay a Gorgon, it is I who must slay something in me that corresponds to that Gorgon. I find my way to a garden of the Hesperides, I slay my mother Clytemnestra, I listen to the discourse of my Divine Guide on the field of Kurukshetra. I, the candidate in the mystery, am the protagonist, the first worker, and every other figure in the drama is a power, good or evil, in my own being. The first task, therefore, of the student is to find the protagonist in his story, the type of the Ego, and make constant revision as I have done above. Almost invariably that protagonist will be identified with the symbolism of the Sun. He will be a Solar hero, he will be descended from the Sun, he will be a miraculously born type of the Sun Himself, and he will move, as the Sun does, in a drama of recovery of a high estate. The student must find, then, the Sun or the son of the Sun. He will be Lugh in the Irish, or Cuchulain, Ahura-Mazda in the Zoroastrian; Hercules, Dionysos, Apollo, Theseus, Perseus, Jason, Oedipus, Orestes, Prometheus in the Greek; Osiris and Horus in the Egyptian; he is variously Rama, Krishna, Arjuna, and at the last Vishnu, Himself, in the Hindu. These symbolic First Workers will have other meanings in all the worlds of being, but this is the first one the student needs, because when these stories lived as mystery drama the candidate himself enacted that central role and was required to identify himself with it.
Now for the process of extension of notes. The mechanism of it is very simple. It consists in taking a double sheet of foolscap, marking it, let us say, "Cuchulian's Bridge," or "The Bridge Tradition - First Extension," and after going over the scattered and unorganized material in the notes, writing about it. The student should set himself to write a thousand words, very much as a designer sets himself to fill a given space, and just as the designer expects to put down many lines he will not want at last, the student should not mind if much of what he writes does not make very good sense. He is not writing an essay. He is feeling out a sketch. It will console him greatly to know that good writers and all artists destroy three or four times as much as ever sees the light of day.
Keeping in mind the basis of which I have spoken, that the Ego is always the hero of the myth, and that every other factor is some power, quality or function, within the field of the various planes, the student should proceed to volatilize his notes. That is, he should translate or distil the idea out of the form. He might write something like this:
The symbol of a bridge evidently has to do with mind. It is in the nature of a link, over which a candidate must go in initiation. He must pass from a lower state to a higher one, proceeding in the subtle matter of mind, a changeable and elusive medium. Wherein is my mind thus changeable? What are the mental processes that would give a clue to the sudden changes of Cuchulain's bridge? When would it be broad? When razor-edged? Why razor-edged? What is the chasm that might engulf the Ego if it failed to hold its place on the bridge? Is it that the Ego must pass over a bridge in the realm of mind, or that, having learned to cross, he must make a bridge over which another can pass? This is the implication in the idea of the pontifex. If so, what other is to go over it? If I am a bridge-builder for another, I am in the capacity of a Redeemer or Saviour of some other being. "I am the Way. None other cometh unto the Father but through me." (Note in margin: Look up this and similar texts.) May not the symbolism of a bridge
merge into the symbolism of a door? Of a way? Of a path? What is the chasm? Is it a break in the chain of evolution? Do we make a way over it for some other and lower one? Is this what is meant by becoming the bridge?
The extension gathers strength as it goes. Sometimes questioning, sometimes offering an answer, sometimes opening up a whole new series of bearings on the problem, the student begins to elicit from his own inner being intuitions regarding the symbol, and having enriched and ordered his enquiry, he will find that he has created a new habit regarding all things that touch it. Let him develop a single topic as I have indicated, and see what happens to his reading. His mind will have become eager and pointed, he will have a new light on everything that comes under his eye, and his study will cease to be merely acquisitive. It will become creative.
That first projection of which I spoke is a compartmented reservoir, and as each division fills, the student should extend it, always abstracting inferences from the lifeless data. Each section should be carried forward only a short distance. That is why I have set a thousand words. When the thousand is made, another section should be extended in its turn. Not in the sequence of the projection, but as any section comes to the point where the student feels he can distil it.
When the whole projection has been extended, or any considerable and more or less complete division of it, the student may make a second extension, and when he does so he will find that many of his questions will become statements. It may seem laborious to some persons to write so much, but for most of us who have not yet learned to make orderly and recoverable thoughts it is the only way.
At first he will get greatest encouragement out of the identities he will find. Then presently he will come on a great discovery. He will learn by Experience what nobody else can tell him to any purpose, that the secret of occultism is in its contradictions and not in its easy identities. Then the unfriendly Gordian knots that trouble him most at first will prove to be most magical.
(Next month - Discrepancy.)
THE MIDDLE DOCTRINE
The formula of Dependent Origination (paticca-samuppada), also called the Middle Doctrine, is the teaching of the strict conformity to law of everything that happens, whether in the realm of the physical or the psychical. Nyanatiloka, in his Word of The Buddha, says that "it shows how the totality of phenomena, physical and mental, the entire phenomenal world that depends wholly upon the six senses, together with all its suffering - and this is the vital point of the teaching - is not the mere play of blind chance, but has an existence that is dependent upon conditions; and that, precisely with the removal of these conditions, those things that have arisen in dependence upon them - thus also all suffering - must perforce disappear and cease to be. Accordingly, the paticca-samuppada above everything else, seeks to set forth how the arising of suffering is dependent upon conditions, and how, through the removal of these conditions, all suffering must disappear. Hence, the paticca-samuppada serves in the elucidation of the Second and the Third Noble Truth, by explaining them from their very
foundations upwards, and giving them fixed philosophical form."
In the now-famous Letter X to A.P. Sinnett, the Master K.H. gives his own translation of this vital core of Buddhistic instruction. See pages 58 and 59 of The Mahatma Letters:
"Read the Mahavagga and try to understand not with the prejudiced Western mind but the spirit of intuition and truth what the Fully Enlightened One says in the 1st Khandhaka. Allow me to translate it for you.
"At the time the Blessed Buddha was at Uruvella on the shores of the river Nerovigara as he rested under the Boddhi tree of wisdom after he had become Sambuddha, at the end of the seventh day having his mind fixed on the chain of causation, he spake thus: `from Ignorance spring the samkharas of threefold nature - production of body, of speech, of thought. From the samkharas spring consciousness, from consciousness springs name and form, from this spring the six regions (of the six senses the seventh being the property of but the enlightened); from these springs contact, from this sensation, from this springs thirst (or desire, kama, tanha), from thirst attachment, existence, birth, old age and death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection and despair. Again by the destruction of ignorance, the samkharas are destroyed, and their consciousness, name and form, the six regions, contact, sensation, thirst, attachment (selfishness), existence, - birth, old age, death, grief, lamentation, suffering, dejection, and despair are destroyed. Such is the cessation of this whole mass of suffering."
"Knowing this the Blessed One uttered this solemn utterance. 'When the real nature of things becomes clear to the meditating Bikshu, then all his doubts fade away since he has learned what is that nature and what its cause. From ignorance spring all the evils. From knowledge comes the cessation of this mass of misery, and then the meditating Brahmana stands dispelling the hosts of Mara like the sun that illuminates the sky."
By means of a diagram, Nyanatiloka shows the relationship of dependence between past, present and future existence:
[[A table here approximated below]]
PAST 1. Delusion (Avija) Karma-Process
2. Karma-Formation (Kamma-Bhava):
(Sankhara) 5 causes
PRESENT 3. Consciousness (Vinnana) Rebirth-Process
4. Mental and Physical (Uppatti-Bhava)
Existence (Nama Rupa)
5. Six Sense Organs (Ayatana)
6. Sense Impression (Phassa)
7. Feeling (Vedana)
8. Craving (Tanha) Karma-Process
9. Clinging (Upadana) (Kamma-Bhava)
10. Process of Existence 5 causes
11. Rebirth (Jati) Rebirth-Process
12. Decay and Death (Uppatti-Bhava)
Numbers 1 and 2 above are, really, says Nyanatiloka, identical with Numbers 8, 9 and 10, as each of these two groups represents the karma-process, containing the five karmic causes of rebirth, namely, Delusion, Karma-Formations (rebirth - producing volitions), Craving, Clinging, and Karma-Process (avija, sankhara, tanha, upadana, kamma-bhava). In the same way Numbers 3 to 7 are identical with Numbers 11 and 12, as each of these two groups represents the Rebirth-Process, containing the five karma results, namely, Consciousness (rebirth, etc.) Mental and Physical Existence (conception), Sense-organs, Sense-Impression, and Feeling, (Vinnana, nama-rupa, ayatana, phassa, vedana).
"Five causes were there in the past,
Five fruits we find in present life,
Five causes do we now produce,
Five fruits we reap in future life."
- Visuddhi-Magga XVII.
Theosophy in a Nutshell compiled by The Theosophical Society in Southern Africa, 62 pages, obtainable in Canada from Mr. Frederick E. Tyler, P.O. Box 395 Postal Terminal "A" Toronto, Ont., price $1.00, or may be ordered direct from The Institute for Theosophical Publicity in South Africa, P.O. Box 47, Pretoria.
The Society in Southern Africa is to be congratulated on this little book which is designed as a general introduction to Theosophy. It is well written and in its seven chapters it presents clearly and simply the theory of reincarnation, the law of Karma, teachings concerning man's subtle bodies, after death conditions, thought power, its control and use; the final chapter, "Brotherhood, the Keynote of the New Era" is very well done indeed. The book has a quiet reasonableness and a dignity of approach which should appeal to new enquirers.
We question the statement in the chapter on Reincarnation that "There is only one objection that can logically be brought against reincarnation and that is the question `Why do we not remember our past lives?' `Memory' is not a logical necessity to the theory; if certain premises are postulated then reincarnation becomes the unavoidable `therefore'. But there are several current theories to account for human inequalities and each of these is a logical deduction from certain accepted premises. If the concept of universal justice is introduced into our premises, then reincarnation becomes the logical necessity; the matter of whether or not we remember is incidental and does not affect the conclusion.
Two criticisms might be offered for consideration; first, the list of books for suggested readings does not include H.P. Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy, one of the finest introductory books in our literature, The Ocean of Theosophy, by Wm. Q. Judge is not mentioned, another excellent introductory work. The majority of the books suggested are by C.W. Leadbeater and Dr. Annie Besant.
The second criticism concerns the inclusion in this otherwise valuable booklet of the so-called "Fundamentals of Theosophy" which were composed during a Convention held in Switzerland in 1948. A criticism of these was prepared at the time but it was not published in the magazine as the "Fundamentals" were not offered for offical acceptance by the Society; also, as very little notice was taken of them in other Theosophical magazines, we hoped that they had dropped out of sight and that no one had taken them seriously. It is unfortunate that this meaningless jumble of words has been revived.
The "Fundamentals" are as dry as dust and as sterile as stones. Evidently the composing committee had its gaze fixed on the isolated, cold grandeur of the snow-capped Alpine peaks and drew its inspiration from there; the members disregarded the great seething valley of human misery which lay all around them. To a world starving for the hope, inspiration and compassion which Theosophy could offer, they tossed the stone of the first Fundamental, "Theosophy describes the evolution of the system to which we belong."
Stuart Chase in his The Tyranny of Words suggests that when we come upon a statement containing words and phrases without any discoverable referent, we should substitute for the non-understandable word or phrase, the word `blab'. Without admitting that this is a valid practice in all cases, we must confess that the Fundamentals reduce to a series of sentences, `Blab is blab'. The 2nd Fundamental says that ". . . life . . . arises from . . . Life."
As no one knows what `life' is, either with or without a capital `L', the statement cannot be questioned, but what does it mean? In the 4th Fundamental we are confronted with the profound statement that the human mind is the interaction between free, unorganized life, and conditioned organized life. Again, what does it mean, if anything? The 6th Fundamental, "humanity is a spiritual brotherhood" is fair enough, but if we go back to the definition of `spirit' as given in the 3rd Fundamental, we are compelled to render this as "Humanity is a free, unorganized organization". There are 12 Fundamentals in all; the 9th is not as bad as the others.
As Theosophy in a Nutshell was obviously written by intelligent, sympathetic persons, it is difficult to understand why the Fundamentals were used. Little groups of Theosophical pedants might enjoy spending hours exercising their lower manases on them, but the Fundamentals do not belong in an introductory book. We sincerely hope that in subsequent editions, our South African brothers will substitute for them, the three Fundamental Propositions of the Secret Doctrine. These will not repel the higher types of mind to which Theosophy should appeal. The so-called "Fundamentals" should be quietly re-interred.
- D. W. B.
`You are unable I see, to force your better aspirations - fed at the stream of a real devotion to the Maya you have made yourself of me - (a feeling in you, that has always profoundly touched me) - to lift up the head against cold, spiritually blind reason; to allow your heart to pronounce loudly and proclaim that which it has hitherto only been allowed to whisper; `Patience, patience. A great design has never been grasped at once.' You were told, however, that the path to Occult Sciences has to be trodden laboriously and crossed at the danger of life; that every new step in it leading to the final goal, is surrounded by pitfalls and cruel thorns; that the pilgrim who ventures upon it is made first to confront and conquer the thousand and one furies who keep watch over its adamantine gates and entrance - furies called Doubt, Skepticism, Scorn, Ridicule, Envy and finally Temptation - especially the latter; and that he who would see beyond had to first destroy this living wall; that he must be possessed of a heart and soul clad in steel, and of an iron, never-failing determination and yet be meek and gentle, humble and have shut out from his heart every human passion, that leads to evil."
- The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pages 351, 352.
THE THREE TRUTHS
These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them. - Idyll of the White Lotus.
The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendour have no limit.
The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen, or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.
Each man is his own absolute law-giver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
ORIGINAL AND UP-TO-DATE THEOSOPHY
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