Vol. XXXIV, No. 7 Toronto, September 15th, 1953 Price 20 Cents.
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document
By Alex Wayman
"Great Sifter" is the name of the "Heart Doctrine," O Disciple. - The Voice of the Silence.
So that deep truths might not vanish completely from the minds of men in the course of natural and man-made disasters, the Great Teachers have frequently embodied them in stone to be ever-present to the incipient intuitions of mankind. Moreover, these earthly representations of Divine Law must convey a message differing with the perceptiveness of the individual observer. What have successive generations of searching men recognized in the gateways of the Buddhist monuments at Sanchi? What would be seen in a gate composed of two high pillars, upon which three stone beams, superbly decorated, are fixed horizontally?
[[Drawing here: two vertical lines crossed by three horizontal]]
The Paths are two; the great Perfections three; six are the Virtues that transform the body into the Tree of Knowledge.
Who shall approach them?
Who shall first hear the doctrine of two Paths in one, the truth unveiled about the Secret Heart? The Law which, shunning learning, teaches Wisdom, reveals a tale of woe. - The Voice of the Silence.
The two Paths are known as Profound Doctrine and Ample Practice, governed respectively, by Absolute Truth (paramartha-satya) and Conventional Truth (samvrti-satya).
The three great Perfections are the Honorific Body, Speech, and Mind of the Heavenly Man, the Ideal Prototype of Perfection. As, said in the first of the introductory stanzas* to the Lam rim chen mo of Tsong kha pa:
"I bow my head to that Lord of the Shakyas, whose
Body is the perfect fruit of myriads of virtues,
Speech fulfills the hope of countless living beings, and
Mind perceives the ultimate reality of all the Knowable."
[* I have included a translation of these in my article, "Introduction to the Lam rim chen mo of Tsong kha pa," which appeared serially in The Golden Lotus, beginning with the November 1951 issue. The present article is independent in subject matter.]
The six Virtues are (1) Charity (dance), (2) Morality (shila), (3) Patience (kshanti), (4) Striving (virya), (5) Methodical Meditation (dhyana), and (6) Wisdom (prajna). The last is Spiritual Fire which transmutes the vulgar, although purified, body, speech, and mind into the Three Mysteries of the Lord.
Why does anyone want to accomplish that high goal? As said in the Paramita-samasa of Arya-Sura (VI, 73; my translation from the Sanskrit text edited by Miss A. Ferrari):
"Should there be in the Royal Race of the Conqueror (Jinn), which above all accomplishes the aim of the world,
A closing of the (discriminative) Eye of Wisdom (prajna), with (consequent) staggering,
There would not be in any man a compassionate mind,
Nor in him a resolute striving towards extinction of the fault of infatuation."
Self-doomed to live through future Kalpas, unthanked and unperceived by men, wedged as a stone with countless other stones which form the "Guardian Wall," such is thy future if the seventh Gate thou passest.
Know, O disciple, this is the SECRET PATH, selected by the Buddhas of Perfection, who sacrificed the SELF to weaker Selves. - The Voice of the Silence.
Yet it must be acknowledged that there are those who have scorned this Ideal. For them, it was only flowery language to speak of feeling the sufferings and woes of mankind when ascending to high spiritual states. Their position was, of course, quite attractive to that mass of followers who desire to obtain the occult and mystic powers with no admixture of pain. Again, those who seek to buy spiritual attainment, and the false teachers who seek such income, can never admit the self-deception and fraud involved. On the other hand, Mahayana Buddhism has known for many centuries why such people are sifted out, why they do not enter the gate leading to spiritual rebirth.
In Santideva's Bodhicaryavatara - the fundamental work for the Bodhisattva Path - there is a distinction established between the two kinds of "mind of enlightenment (bodhi)." The difference is between: (1) "he who desires to go," and (2) "he who is on the way."
Among the explanations given by this work, we may mention Chap. VIII, stanza 129: "All those who are unhappy here, are unhappy because they have sought their own happiness; all those who are happy here are happy because they have sought the happiness of others." This may appear to the discerning as a psychological truism. At the same time, it represents a profound explanation for all spiritual success and failure. This can be illustrated by a meditation set forth in another work by Santideva, his Siksha-samuccaya. From the translation of Bendall and Rouse (London, 1922), p. 177: "There by practice of small pains the practice becomes more and more severe. As the perception of happiness and unhappiness comes from the power of habit; so in all cases of unhappiness arising, the habit of associating the feeling of happiness causes that feeling to be present." This is a meditative practice in which, whenever a joyful experience occurs, the person simultaneously meditates suffering; and, when life brings a painful moment, the person does not forget to accompany the painful feeling with meditation on joy. As stated in the passage, the practice must begin with small pains (and joys). It would not be possible to do this properly in the case of major pain and joy, if the ability had not been gradually developed starting from small examples.
One striking feature of such a meditation as this is that it can be done by anybody in any walk of life, in any part of the world. Practising this consistently, one improves in his capacity, reorients his whole mind, and is on the way to spiritual enlightenment without having forsaken the world. If one consistently associates happiness and unhappiness, he has himself risen above the plane of these pairs of opposites. The ultimate aim is to attain the supernal bliss of heaven while realizing the unspeakable woe of hell (earth). In such a case, the meditating sage has attained the non-dual state. But those who seek only one side of a duality (as those who seek happiness, or spiritual attainment) have sought a mirage, for in themselves, these opposites are nothing. In this case, they merely attain the negation of their aim: seeking happiness, they attain unhappiness; seeking spiritual attainment, they achieve spiritual non-attainment.
This is just one of the many ways of describing the two Paths of which The Voice of the Silence speaks. We have already related them to the two Truths: the Absolute Truth (paramartha-satya), which corresponds to bliss; and the Conventional Truth (samvrti-satya), which corresponds to woe.
Perhaps still different words will help clarify the fundamental issues. In short, one must laboriously climb a steep ladder, at each step uniting Profound Doctrine and Ample Practice, and having reached the topmost rung, a remarkable change takes place in that ladder, which is the climber himself. After aeons of preparation, in a timeless Moment, man is converted into the model of a Sanchi gate!
Then we have, as the culmination of one Path, the Lord; and as the culmination of the other, His Three Mysteries, called respectively, "The Magnificent," "'The Magnanimous," and "The Profound." The Lord is unseen and unspeakable; His Three Mysteries appear from age to age, for the glory and progress of mankind.
The preceding might be understood better by considering the threefold series comprised in a unity. Their class begins with time, which is characterized as past, present, and future. He who holds the three times in himself is the Seer, the Prophet who knows the destinies of nations. Again, take the "triad of objects," purpose (artha), desire (kama), and righteous conduct (dharma). He, in whom these three objects dwell in harmony, is the Perfect King - the Universal Monarch. Finally, consider the three qualities, mud (tamas), dust (rajas), and essence (sattva). Whoever has achieved a plastic skill in all of these, is the Supreme Magician.
On the one hand, there is the Prophet, the Universal Monarch, the Supreme Magician, governed by Absolute Truth, who are Void because Truly Produced. On the other hand, there are the three times, the triad of objects, and the three qualities, governed by Conventional Truth, which are Full because Falsely Produced.
On the one hand, there is the unknown Poet, who never uttered a Word; and on the other, the three lines of His Verse applauded by the world.
For, in whatever words we allude to those two Paths, we must understand, as was taught - those two Paths are one. This avoidance of the extremes is the Path of the Adepts. Having a pure worldly aim (in Manas), there is a support for Spiritual Fire (in Buddhi). This is called "uniting Manas and Buddhi." Thus the Adepts avoid the dangerous extremes in meditation called "passivity" and "Extravagance."
The foregoing discussion enables us to establish alternate terms for the "Heart Doctrine" and the "Eye Doc-
trine" of The Voice of the Silence. Here we wish to caution the reader not to construe our formulation as set forth in a spirit of finality. If the student is unwilling to devote individual earnest thought to these problemes, it will be useless for him to accept the present, or any other relatively valid, solution. The "Heart Doctrine" will not be for him, at least in this lifetime, and then, what will be the use of absorbing anybody's theory concerning it? Then, we set up these equivalences:
(1) "Heart Doctrine" - the union of the Two Truths, The Absolute, and the Conventional Truth.
(2) "Eye Doctrine" - adhering to the extremes of one or other of the Two Truths.
The preceding remarks concerning "adhering to the extremes" can be supplemented as follows: Adhering only to Conventional Truth, one falls into materialism, sterile logical formulations, and worldly pursuits for selfish advantage. Adhering only to Absolute Truth, one falls into the harmony which excludes brotherhood, into mystical visions that cannot be corroborated, and into spiritual pursuits with the false goal of becoming better than others.
What is meant by "union of the Two Truths" can be further explained this way: Entering the blissful harmony of spirit, while playing the part of duty in the world; having Divine Insight based on thorough and individual analysis of all the elements of experience; arriving spiritually because one's mastering desire is to help others.
Thus, the Heart Doctrine is called "Great Sifter" because having arrived at that point in evolution when mankind must choose whether to follow the narrow Path of the Transcendental Virtues (paramitas) consisting in a continuous and delicate union* which matures the Three Perfections, or take the easier path of extremity and duality, there is an inevitable sifting process, with the few following the Bodhisattva Path, and the multitude falling victim to material and spiritual vice.
The "Doctrine of the Eye" is for the crowd; the "Doctrine of the Heart" for the elect. The first repeat in pride: "Behold, I know"; the last, they who in humbleness have garnered, low confess: "Thus have I heard." - The Voice of the Silence.
[* It is perhaps well to point out here that this union does not mean union between one's self and something else; but rather entrance into the union of two things. Just as physical birth involves entering the union of physical father and mother, so spiritual birth involves entering the union of the Means (Compassion) and Wisdom (or Higher Manas and Buddhi in Theosophical terminology).]
"A chela under probation is allowed to think and do whatever he likes. He is warned and told beforehand; you will be tempted and deceived by appearances; two paths will be open before you, both leading to the goal you are trying to attain; one easy, and that will lead you more rapidly to a fulfillment of the orders you may receive; the other - more arduous, more long; a path full of stones and thorns that will make you stumble more than once on your way; and, at the end of which you may, perhaps, find failure after all . . . . but, whereas the latter will cause the hardships you have undergone on it to be all carried to the side of your credit in the long run, the former, the easy path, can offer you but a momentary gratification, an easy fulfillment of the task."
- The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, pp. 230, 213.
"Moreover, the Secret Doctrine teaches: (c) The fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal OverSoul, the latter being itself an aspect of the Unknown Root; and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul - a spark of the former - through the Cycle of Incarnation (or "Necessity") in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law, during the whole term. - H.P. Blavatsky, in The Secret Doctrine, Proem.
The training of the disciple by the teachers of the school to which the Theosophical Adepts belong is peculiar to itself, and not in accord with prevailing modern educational ideas. In one respect it is a specialization of the pilgrimage to a sacred place so common in India, and the enshrined object of the journey is the soul itself, for with them the existence of soul is one of the first principles.
In the East the life of man is held to be a pilgrimage, not only from the cradle to the grave, but also through that vast period of time, embracing millions upon millions of years, stretching from the beginning to the end of a manvantara, or period of evolution, and as he is held to be a spiritual being, the continuity of his existence is unbroken. Nations and civilizations rise, grow old, decline and disappear; but the being lives on, spectator of all the innumerable changes of environment. Starting from the great All, radiating like a spark from the central fire, he gathers experience in all ages, under all rulers, civilizations and customs, ever engaged in a pilgrimage to the shrine froze which he came. He is now the ruler and now the slave; today at the pinnacle of wealth and power, tomorrow at the bottom of the ladder, perhaps in abject misery, but ever the same being. To symbolize this, the whole of India is dotted with sacred shrines, to which pilgrimages are made, and it is the wish of all men in that so-called benighted land to make such a journey at least once before death, for the religious duties of life are not fully performed without visiting such sacred places.
One great reason for this, given by those who understand the inner significance of it, is that the places of pilgrimage are centres of spiritual force from which radiate elevating influences not perceptible to the pig-sticking, wine drinking traveller. It is asserted by many, indeed, that at most of the famous places of pilgrimage there is an Adept of the same order to which the Theosophical Adepts are said to belong, who is ready always to give some meed of spiritual insight and assistance to those of pure heart who may go there. He, of course, does not reveal himself to the knowledge of the people, because it is quite unnecessary, and might create the necessity for his going elsewhere.
Superstitions have arisen from the doctrine of pilgrimages, but, as that is quite likely to come about in this age, it is no reason why places of pilgrimage should be abolished, since, if the spiritual centres were withdrawn, good men who are free from superstition would not receive the benefits they now may have. The Adepts founded these places in order to keep alive in the minds of the people the soul idea which modern science and education would soon turn into agnosticism, were they to prevail unchecked.
But the disciple of the Adept knows that the place of pilgrimage symbolizes his own nature, shows him how he is to start on the scientific investigation of it and how to proceed, by what roads and in which direction. He is supposed to concentrate into a few lives the experi-
ence and practice which it takes ordinary men countless incarnations to acquire. His first steps, as well as his last, are on difficult, often dangerous places; the road, indeed, "winds uphill all the way," and upon entering it he leaves behind the hope for reward so common in all undertakings. Nothing is gained by favor, but all depends upon his actual merit. As the end to be reached is self-dependence with perfect calmness and clearness, he is from the beginning made to stand alone, and this is for most of us a difficult thing which frequently brings on a kind of despair. Men like companionship, and cannot with ease contemplate the possibility of being left altogether to themselves. So, instead of being constantly in the company of a lodge of fellow-apprentices, as is the case in the usual worldly secret society, he is forced to see that, as he entered the world alone, he must learn to live there in the same way, leaving it as he came, solely in his own company. But this produces no selfishness, because, being accompanied by constant meditation upon the unseen, the knowledge is acquired that the loneliness felt is only in respect to the lower, personal, worldly self.
Another rule this disciple must follow is that no boasting may be indulged in on any occasion, and this gives us the formula that, given a man who speaks of his powers as an Adept or boasts of his progress on the spiritual planes, we can be always sure he is neither Adept nor Disciple. There have been those in the Theosophical Society who gave out to the world that they were either Adepts in fact or very near it, and possessed of great powers. Under our formula it follows that they were mere boasters, with nothing behind their silly pretentions but vanity and a fair knowledge of the weakness as well as the gullibility of human nature; upon the latter they play for either their profit or pleasure. But, hiding themselves under an exterior which does not attract attention, there are many of the real disciples in the world. They are studying themselves and other human hearts. They have no diplomas, but there resides in them a consciousness of constant help and a clear knowledge of the true Lodge which meets in real secrecy and is never found mentioned in any directory. Their whole life is a persistent pursuit of the fast-moving soul which, although appearing to stand still, can distance the lightning; and their death is only another step forward to greater knowledge through better physical bodies in new lives.
- William Q. Judge, in Echoes from the Orient.
"IT IS MINE"
The spiritual leaders of mankind have each stressed one fundamental requirement for all those who would approach the fane of the sacred science, namely, that the Doctrine is for the salvation of all men and that it does not `work' if an individual attempts to obtain its benefits for himself alone.
There is a well-authenticated process by which a man can extricate himself from the prisonhouse of self. This process is the subject of innumerable treatises, for men have ever sought freedom, peace, self-realization. Men of various races and many lands have found the secret; orally and in writing they have set out their findings, and today there is a vast quantity of instructions on the subject available to men and women of all temperaments who would attempt the final and fundamental task of discovering their own true nature and their relationship to the universe of which they are parts. These instructions differ in modes of presentation for some were written or spoken thousands of years ago, while others are more
modern. Some will attract the analytical, closely-reasoning type of mind; others will attract those whose approach is through devotion - but all agree in this that the first requirement is not concern for self-advancement and individual spiritual progress, but rather concern for others, charitableness, compassion, love.
"Hast thou attuned thy being to Humanity's great pain, O candidate for light?" is the first question asked of the candidate whose progress through `the seven portals' is outlined in The Voice of the Silence. He is represented as standing before the first portal on the Path, the golden key to which is `Dana, the key of charity and love immortal'. If he posseses this key he may pass through the first gate and enter upon those self-disciplines which will finally unveil the object of his search, the divine self now hidden in his own heart. Later, after he has passed many trials successfully and has reached the stage when by virtue of faculties developed on the way, he could if he so desired take nirvanic refuge from the trials and tribulations of the world, two other questions are asked of him: "Can there be bliss when all that lives, must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?"
Quotations could be given from other mystical literature emphasizing the same point - for example, from the Christian Bible, the words of Jesus, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself," or St .Paul's words, "Even so, in ascending scale, I will still point out the Way . . . . though I may have knowledge from a seer's researches into divine things; and may realize all the secrets of the sacred keep and all practical wisdom. . . but have not the Love that truly serves I am nothing." (Letters from Paulos).
A story from India - one of the many hundred of little stories, aptly illustrative of one point or another, which have become embodied in the spiritual culture of that ancient land - tells of what happened when one disciple, well on his way to the desired goal, forgot the ancient doctrine.
Kandata earnestly desired salvation from his condition of misery and pain and, in answer to his constant prayers a spider's thread from a web fixed high in heaven was let down before him. He was told to climb it. He looked in dismay at the delicate thread, but seized upon it and began to climb. To his astonishment the thread bore his weight, and with growing confidence he mounted higher and higher.
"Suddenly he felt the thread trembling and shaking, for behind him some of his fellow-sufferers were beginning to climb up. Kandata became frightened. He saw the thinness of the web, and observed that it was elastic, for under the increased weight it stretched out; yet it still seemed strong enough to carry him. Kandata had heretofore only looked up; he now looked down, and saw following close upon his heels, also climbing by the cobweb, a numberless mob of the denizens of Hell. `How can this thin thread bear the weight of all?' he thought to himself, and seized with fear he shouted loudly: `Let go the cobweb. It is mine!'
"At once the cobweb broke, and Kandata fell back into Hell."
Kandata was still under the delusion of self, and although he had his hands upon the means to possible freedom, he did not realize it and failed to pass the first requirement. Kandata of the ancient story, is typical of candidates of every age who, under one or another form of the delusion, seek first to establish their own place of security in the spiritual - and material - world before they will give themselves for others. The mind assures us that this is reasonable and quite in order, but we have
been warned that in spiritual matters, the mind is the great slayer of the real. The spider thread of spiritual consciousness which has come to one individual, will, through the miraculous power of compassion for humanity, become a cable from which the whole world might hang.
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CHILDREN'S LETTER SERVICE
We have much pleasure in drawing attention to an unique work which is being carried on, by two sisters, both theosophical students, in New York, `a friendly, personal letter service for all young people'. The two sisters, who are artists and writers, became interested in this work because they wanted to help a little boy who had broken his leg, and so they created a series of letters full of good cheer, something to think about, things to do and make.
Our correspondent writes: "Among theosophical students there is a need felt for a higher quality of creative material, stories and a different approach to nature study for children. A student of H.P. Blavatsky finds much to be desired in modern commercial children's toys and literature. Each letter has its indirect moral lesson, each letter has a creative art project as an enclosure." We have seen copies of several of the letters and are most enthusiastic about the idea - in fact, if we had not been born fifty years too soon, we would like to subscribe for ourself! The letters are simply written and carry delightful little sketches on the borders. It is difficult for grownups to realize how much it means to a child to receive his own mail, and particularly mail of such interest as each letter contains pictures to color or cut out, construction projects, playets, stories and, illustrations, etc.
The letters are designed to entertain children and to do this in such a way that latent powers are awakened and their minds and characters trained to face the problems of life. The doors of imagination are opened, energies are guided into useful channels and interest is aroused in pursuits which might become lifelong vocations.
The Theosophical background of the writers inspires them to keep in mind H.P.B.'s educational objectives of self-reliance and self-dependence. Brotherhood is stressed, but the letters are planned for general use and Theosophical terminology is not used. The letters could be sent to children of any religious background. If any of our readers would like further details, now or in the future, address a letter to `Maruth', 376 East Main Street, Bay Shore, N.Y.
THE MANDALA OF THE EIGHT PATHS
The Toronto Lodge has on display at the present time a six foot by six foot painting of a mandala in the form of a circle, divided into eight parts, each part representing one of the ways to the one central Truth, Spirit or God. The painting was kindly loaned to the Society by Miss Edna Eckert of New York. The painting will later be shown in several centres in the United States, after which it will be sent to an ashram in India to hang over the main altar of a temple. "Here people of all religions come to worship, each in his own way, to come closer to God as he understands him. In the east, preparation for meditation is made by studying and concentrating on a Mandala of this type. To us in the west it can serve the same purpose."
The Mandala was created by the late John B. Sparks of New York, and after his death Miss Eckert took over the work of making the symbol better known. Copies are in use in Columbia University, Syracuse University, Smith College, Howard University and other educational centres in the United States.
Small copies of the Mandala may be obtained from Miss Eckert. The diagram is on the front page of a folder; inside are excerpts on the meaning and purpose of a Mandala from the writings of Dr. C.G. Jung, together with notes by Mr. Sparks on the particular Mandala. The price is 15c each, and Miss Eckert's address is 16 West 10th Street, New York 11, N.Y.
THEOSOPHY - WHAT IS IT?
Whenever we hear the so-called Lord's Prayer, mumbled off in a hasty fashion in some congregations, we are reminded that it was reported of Jesus that he prefixed the prayer thus, "After this manner, pray ye." Note, he did not say, "In these exact words, pray ye." There was nothing static nor sterile about his masterful teachings. They were fluid and fertile, made fit to arouse the interest of the people of his times and be understood by the common people.
So we come to the definition of "Theosophy" by A.E.S.S.: "Theosophy is not a creed; it is the grace of God in one's life; the power of God in one's work; the joy of God in one's play; the peace of God in one's rest; the wisdom of God in one's thought; the love of God in one's heart; the beauty of God in one's dealings with others." He has given us a fine pattern but we feel sure he would not have it also become a set and static group of words, eventually to be buried in the archives of the Theosophical Society.
We therefore give a more extensive definition of "Theosophy" according to the light that is at present in us. It can also be taken as a personal testimony, stimulating others to revise or correct same to their heart's desire.
I am convinced that real theosophy - Divine Wisdom - is neither a creed nor a dogma. It is the graciousness of God in one's life and conduct; the power of God in one's endeavors; the joy of God in one's play and recreation - also in one's work. It is the wisdom of God in one's thought and meditations; the might or gentleness of God in one's actions; the peace and tender love of God in one's heart; the good sportsmanship of God in one's dealings with others; the playfulness of God in little children and kittens.
Theosophy is the glory and good cheer of God under the most trying circumstances; the forgiveness of God which adds mercy to karma; the patience of God in the midst of impatience and petulance; the triumphant victory of God in the midst of defeat or despair.
Theosophy is the light of God upon one's pathway and problems; the freedom of God from worries and heaviness of heart; the sense of good humor that well expresses the Divine Spark dwelling in serious men like Abraham Lincoln; the merriment of God which is better for one's health than drugs, pills or serums. It is the superior ideas of God that can overcome evil with good; the good will of God in the lives of men who bring peace to our planet.
Theosophy is the creative imagination in man ever working for the good and wholesome benefit of mankind; it is an ocean of rich, zestful and restful living, unlimited in scope and action, ever revealing a more excellent way of ordering one's life. Yes, Theosophy is the strong, courageous, daring, fearless pioneering spirit of God urging mankind to better and loftier living.
Finally, though far from all, Theosophy is the dependability, magnanimity and harmony of God, which, taken into our lives, makes for more glorious and cooperative living!
Realizing these things, no wonder we are prone to sing - "Praise God from whom all blessings flow, including Theosophy!"
- W. A. S.
Man the Unruly Child, by Cyril Scott. The Aquarian Press, London, 1953, 98 pages. Paper, 4s.
From the perspective of forty years' study of occultism, the author observes modern man and is devastatingly critical of him. In no department of life does Mr. Scott find signs of adulthood, only carryovers of the childish behavior of the nursery. This unruly child-man is still contentious, greedy and wasteful in politics and business, credulous in religious belief and inconstant in love. He "wastes food, money, time, labor and even human lives partly because he is irresponsible, indifferent and apathetic and partly because he so mismanages world affairs that prodigious wastefulness is the result." War
- barbarous, ineffective and obsolete as a method of settling disputes - he tolerates.
"Not until man sheds his juvenility will he realize the world can be saved only by the power of love." How true, but if the author sees them he does not point to the signs that love is a-borning. One example of a dawning adulthood is Canada's magnificent part in the Colombo Plan. Surely this is a sign of intelligent love, generosity and brotherhood, and there are many more.
- F. E. G.
The Imprisoned Splendour, by Raynor C. Johnson, M.A. (Oxon.), Ph.D., D.Sc. (Lond.), Master of Queen's College, University of Melbourne; published April 1953 by Hodder and Stoughton Ltd., London E.C.4, 424 pp., price 25 shillings.
This book is described as "An approach to Reality based upon the significance of data drawn from the fields of Natural Science, Pyschical Research and Mystical Experience" and it divides naturally into its four parts, the first three dealing respectively with these three fields, and Part IV, The Significance of the Whole, consisting of two chapters, Pre-existence, Reincarnation and Karma, and The Purpose of Life, together with an appendix to chapter 2.
The author's approach may be inferred from the title which, of course, is from Browning's Paracelsus,
" . . . . and to know
Rather consists, in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without."
Dr. Johnson is a well known physicist
and is the author of two books on physics. For years he has been a student of psychology, psychical research and mysticism. To the preparation of this new work, Dr. Johnson has brought the disciplined thinking which competency in physics demands of its students, together with a sensitive, intuitional understanding of the mystical approach, although he modestly disclaims any impressive first hand mystical experiences. He has also brought the rich fruits of a wide acquaintanceship with mystical literature - and many names and source books familiar to theosophical students are to be found in the index; references are made to the writings of Mrs. Besant, A.E. Powell, Dr. and Mrs. Bendit - but none, we note to Madame Blavatsky.
The Imprisoned Splendour is a book from which one is tempted to quote many passages. In the copy before me, many sentences in Section 3 of the Introduction, How far can Reason take us?, are marked in pencil; "Higher mind, with its function of Reason, may be able to throw much light on the functioning of lower mind, but we shall find that it is only from the standpoint of a different and higher order than Mind that we can hope to gain real `understanding' of Mind itself - and therefore, I submit, of living things." Dr. Johnson has adopted the Sanscrit term `Buddhi', for this higher order of consciousness. "Buddhi apprehends Truth directly - fragments of Truth only, of course . . . . this wisdom is passed through the level of Mind, to be there clothed in intelligible form. The clothing is commonly language, but it may be music or color or any other art form. It is in the process of clothing, in the expression of Truth in symbolic form, that distortion may take place. It is, however, the characteristic of great Art that it reveals the true form shining through, so that another person whose mind and buddhi approximate to the same degree of development involuntarily and immediately recognizes the authentic message. This response of conviction, which is accompanied by a feeling of inner satisfaction, may possibly arise because the truth has found its way home again. . . " These five sentences express succinctly a whole theory of art and of the aesthetic experience. In Section 4 there are these words, "Men are like children. It is good that they should listen to the voice of external authority and submit to its guidance in the days of their spiritual childhood; but all development thereafter depends on the individual's own untrammelled search, his `endless seeking after endless truth'. The fact is that objective formulations of spiritual truth can never be a substitute for experiencing the truth in one's self."
Part 1, `The data of Natural Science', is short, 67 pages. The author apparently accepts the current time-scale standard of science which ascribes to man an age of between one-half and two million years. Evolution is viewed as Mind (Mahat?) seeking development, `it awakens from its dreaming state to its true growth or becoming by its downward plunge into the world of matter.' Science has classified and correlated data on one level of perception, but neither the present accumulation of such data nor any extenson of it "can ever hope to provide answers to the profounder questions of `Why' and `Wherefore'." The significance of the physical world can be understood, only from a higher significant level from which the myriad realities perceived by the senses can be viewed in terms of their intrinsic significance in a larger reality.
The author devotes 186 pages to the next higher grade of perception, psychic research, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, pyschometry, apparitions, experiences outside the body and
materializations. Many detailed accounts are given of actual psychic experiences, all indicative of the fact that the human race does possess and exercize powers on another level of consciousness than the physical.
The mystical experience is the next higher level of significance, and `in poets and great artists and mystics the voice of the deeper self speaks clearly and authoritatively.' The author is deeply sympathetic toward the mystical approach; in discussing `The Problem of Credibility' he speaks of two features of his studies which he found very impressive, (1) "Those who have had the more profound type of mystical experiences, no matter in what age or to what race or creed they have belonged, tell us the same fundamental things; . . . (2) Those who have known such an experience are always profoundly impressed by its significance as a revelation of truth. There is from then onwards, not the satisfaction of an intellectual answer to life's fundamental questions, but a serenity born of the knowledge that all is well, and that the secret purpose of the universe is good beyond all telling."
Theosophical students will find this book of much value, one that could be passed on to questioning friends to assist them to find a wholeness which embraces modern science and other areas of human knowledge. It holds one's interest throughout - many passages are beautifuly done - and it is a genuine contribution from a sincere seeker after truth.
- D. W. B.
"THE RACE QUESTION"
The work of Unesco in combating race prejudice is one which should have the support of all Theosophists. In a pamphlet bearing the above title, Unesco states that it cannot by itself bring an end to racism, the most tenacious and the most widespread of human prejudices, and an appeal is made for the aid of other groups and organizations in many lands.
"Without distinction of race" are familiar words to all Theosophical Societies and we are glad to quote hereunder, the statement of Unesco's findings on the subject which forms part of the pamphlet.
"1. Scientists have reached general agreements in recognizing that mankind is one: that all men belong to the same species, Homo sapiens. It is further generally agreed among scientists that all men are probably derived from the same common stock; and that such differences as exist between different groups of mankind are due to the operation of evolutionary factors of differentiation such as isolation, the drift and random fixation of the material particles which control heredity (the genes), changes in the structure of these particles, hybridization, and natural selection. In these ways groups have arisen of varying stability and degree of differentiation which have been classified in different ways for different purposes.
"2. From the biological standpoint, the species Homo sapiens is made up of a number of populations, each one of which differs from the others in the frequency of one or more genes. Such genes, responsible for the heredity differences between men, are always few when compared to the whole genetic constitution of man and to the vast number of genes common to all human
beings regardless of the population to which they belong. This means that the likenesses among men are far greater than their differences.
"3. A race, from the biological standpoint, may therefore be defined as one of the group of populations constituting the species Homo sapiens. These populations are capable of interbreeding with one another but, by virtue of the isolating barriers which in the past kept them more or less separated, exhibit certain physical differences as a result of their somewhat different biological histories. These represent variations, as it were, on a common theme.
"4. In short, the term `race' designates a group or population characterized by some concentrations, relative as to frequency and distribution, of hereditary particles (genes) or physical characters, which appear, fluctuate, and often disappear in the course of time by reason of geographic and or cultural isolation. The varying manifestations of these traits in different populations are perceived in different ways by each group. What is perceived is largely preconceived, so that each group arbitrarily tends to misinterpret the variability which occurs as a fundamental difference which separates that group from all others.
"5. These are the scientific facts. Unfortunately, however, when most people use the term `race' they do not do so in the sense above defined. To most people, a race is any group of people whom they choose to describe as a race. Thus, many national, religious, geographic, linguistic or cultural groups have, in such loose usage, been called `race', when obviously Americans are not a race, nor are Englishmen, nor Frenchmen, nor any other national group. Catholics, Protestants, Moslems and Jews are not races, nor are groups who speak English or any other language thereby definable as a race; people who live in Iceland or England or India are not races; nor are people who are culturally Turkish or Chinese or the like thereby describable as races.
"6. National, religious, geographic, linguistic and cultural groups do not necessarily coincide with racial groups and the cultural traits of such groups have no demonstrated genetic connection with racial traits. Because serious errors of this kind are habitually committed when the term `race' is used in popular parlance, it would be better when speaking of human races to drop the term `race' altogether and speak of ethnic groups.
"7. Now what has the scientist to say about the groups of mankind which may be recognized at the present time? Human races can be and have been differently classified by different anthropologists, but at the present time most anthropologists agree on classifying the greater part of present-day mankind into three major divisions, as follows:
"The Mongoloid Division
"The Negroid Division
"The Caucasoid Division
"The biological processes which the classifier has here embalmed, as it were, are dynamic, not static. These divisions were not the same in the past as they are at present, and there is every reason to believe that they will change in the future.
"8. Many sub-groups or ethnic groups within these divisions have been described. There is no general agreement upon their number, and in any event most ethnic groups have not yet been either studied or described by the physical anthropologists.
"9. Whatever classification the anthropologist makes of man, he never includes mental characteristics as part of those classifications. It is now generally recognized that intelligence tests do not in themselves enable us to differentiate safely between what is due to innate
capacity and what is the result of environmental influences, training and education. Wherever it has been possible to make allowances for differences in environmental opportunities, the tests have shown essential similarity in mental characters among all human groups. In short, given similar degrees of cultural opportunity to realize their potentialities, the average achievement of the members of each ethnic group is about the same. The scientific investigations of recent years fully support the dictum of Confucius (551-478 B.C.) `Men's natures are alike; it is their habits that carry them far apart.'
"10. The scientific material available to us at present does not justify the conclusion that inherited genetic differences are a major factor in producing the differences between the cultures and cultural achievements of different peoples or groups. It does indicate, however, that the history of the cultural experience which each group has undergone is the major factor in explaining such differences. The one trait which above all others has been at a premium in the evolution of men's mental characters has been educability, plasticity. This is a trait which all human beings possess. It is indeed, a species character of Homo sapiens.
"11. So far as temperament is concerned, there is no definite evidence that there exist inborn differences between human groups. There is evidence that whatever group differences of the kind there might be are greatly over-ridden by the individual differences, and by the differences springing from environmental factors.
"12. As for personality and character, these may be considered raceless. In every human group a rich variety of personality and character types will be found, and there is no reason for believing that any human group is richer than any other in these respects.
"13. With respect to race-mixture, the evidence points unequivocably to the fact that this has been going on from the earliest times. Indeed, one of the chief processes of race formation and race-extinction or absorption is by means of hybridization between races or ethnic groups. Furthermore, no convincing evidence has been adduced that race-mixture of itself produces biologically bad effects. Statements that human hybrids frequently show undesirable traits, both physically and mentally, physical disharmonies and mental degeneracies, are not supported by the facts. There is, therefore, no biological justification for prohibiting intermarriage between persons of different ethnic groups.
"14. The biological fact of race and the myth of `race' should be distinguished. For all practical social purposes `race' is not so much a biological phenomenon as a social myth. The myth `race' has created an enormous amount of human and social damage. In recent years it has taken a heavy toll in human lives and caused untold suffering. It still prevents the normal development of millions of human being and deprives civilization of the effective cooperation of productive minds. The biological differences between ethnic groups should be disregarded from the standpoint of social acceptance and social action. The unity of mankind from both the biological and social viewpoints is the main thing. To recognize this and to act accordingly is the first requirement of modern man. It is but to recognize what a great biologist wrote in 1875: `As man advances in civilization, and small tribes are united into larger communities, the simplest reason would tell each individual that he ought to extend his social instincts and sympathies to all the members of the same nation, though personally unknown to him. This point being once
reached, there is only an artificial barrier to prevent his sympathies extending to the men of all nations and races.' These are the words of Charles Darwin in The Descent of Man (2nd ed., 1875, pp. 187-8). And, indeed, the whole of human history shows that a cooperative spirit is not only natural to men, but more deeply rooted than any self-seeking tendencies. If this were not so we should not see the growth of integration and organization of his communities which the centuries and the millenia plainly exhibit.
"15. We now have to consider the bearing of these statements on the problem of human equality. It must be asserted with the utmost emphasis that equality as an ethical principle in no way depends upon the assertion that human beings are in fact equal in endowment. Obviously individuals in all ethnic groups vary greatly among themselves in endowment. Nevertheless; the characteristics in which human groups differ from one another are often exaggerated and used as a basis for questioning the validity of equality in the ethical sense. For this, purpose we have thought it worth while to set out in a formal manner what is at present scientifically established concerning individual and group differences.
" (1) In matters of race, the only characteristics which anthropologists can effectively use as a basis for classifications are physical and physiological.
"(2) According to present knowledge there is no proof that the groups of mankind differ in their innate mental characteristics, whether in respect of intelligence or temperament. The scientific evidence indicates that the range of mental capacities in all ethnic groups is much the same.
"(3) Historical and sociological studies support the view that genetic differences are not of importance in determining the social and cultural differences between different groups of Homo sapiens, and that the social and cultural changes in different groups, have, in the main, been independent of changes, in inborn constitution. Vast social changes have occurred which were not in any way connected with changes in racial type.
"(4) There is no evidence that race mixture as such produces bad results from the biological point of view. The social results of race mixture whether for good or ill are to be traced to social factors.
"(5) All normal human beings are capable of learning to share in a common life, to understand the nature of mutual service and reciprocity, and to respect social obligations and contracts. Such biological differences as exist between members of different ethnic groups have no relevance to problems of social and political organization, moral life and communication between human beings.
"Lastly, biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood; for man is born with drives toward cooperation, and unless these drives are satisfied, men and nations alike fall ill. Man is born asocial being who can reach his fullest development only through interaction with his fellows. The denial at any point of this social bond between man and man brings with it disintegration. In this sense, every man is his brother's keeper.
"For every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main, because he is involved in mankind." - From John Donne, 16th Century.
"Right thought is a good thing, but thought alone does not count for much unless it is translated into action."
- The Theosophist, May, 1885.
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