Vol. 68 No. 3 Toronto, July-Aug., 1987
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
THE FIRST AND LAST SECRET
From Nothing to Something to Everything
- William R. Laudahn
Upon conversion to Theosophy, a prominent atheist was said to have made marvelous progress in belief "from nothing to everything." In its wide orbit, Theosophy does explore and illumine all systems from before atheism to beyond pantheism. Blissfully unaware of such subtle universality, whoever originated the above quotation blithely assumed that it is not prudent even to consider, let alone flutter between, the seeming opposites of All and Naught. Perhaps so, but contrary to conventional wisdom, they are not really opposed. They need each other. Furthermore, the unconfined and unrestricted Absolute must include non-existence.
John Scotus Erigena (7th cent.) lived under the spell of the Absolute, incurring thereby the wrath of the Church. Nonexistence, he saw, is co-eternal with Divinity. Therefore, the cosmos is from superessential Being, properly called "Nothing", as it is superior to every nature. (Julius R. Weinburg, A Short History of Medieval Philosophy, p. 53.)
"The most secret of all Mysteries is that which is called Nothing, being the Most Holy Ancient, from whom the Light flows forth." These memorable words honoured the very soul of Jewish esotericism. (A.E. Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, p. 190.) Those mystically inclined intuitively recognize the fundamental, spiritual nature of Emptiness. In support, The Secret Doctrine refers to "the ABSOLUTE ENDLESS No-Thing." Later, in the same book, we find reference to "pure Spirit lost in the absoluteness of NonBeing..." (I, 214; 481)
Speaking and listening to many people on this subject, one finds that they are indeed lost. The very idea of Nothingness, the Void, even the number zero, as applied to spirituality, is misunderstood. The implications seem to be of ordinary negation and insufficiency. Inner reality, while available, is usually ignored in this connection - even though it is the ultimate togetherness. Finestrung souls could agonize about the No-Thing, happiness eluding them. The Voidness labours for the Fullness.
In imagination and mathematics, the humble zero may extend to Infinity. The Secret Doctrine states that "...'the One Number issued from No-Number' - the One Eternal Principle." (I, 94.) So derived, numbers (and all else) may assume their endlessly varied combinations. The logic of mathematics suggests the largely unappreciated power of zero, which otherwise is nothing, rather No-Thing.
"It is from the number 10, or creative nature, the Mother (the occult cipher, or 'nought,' ever procreating and multiplying in union with the Unit '1,' one, or the Spirit of Life), that the whole Universe proceeded." (ibid. )
May not this be described as Act 1, Scene 1, of the dramatic mystery of the Cosmos? In ancient times, according to Manly P. Hall, "the Absolute ... everything ... is referred to as the NOTHING and the ALL." (Lectures on Ancient Philosophy, p. 1.) Everything, All and Nothing, then, are interchangeable terms, associated with Absoluteness, which is the Godhead, well above the venerated God or Gods of popular religion.
In modern times, a young lady, asked where she was before birth, and hearing the only answer, "In the No-Thing," responded with surprise. "You mean," she asked, "I was nothing? What a blow to the ego!" Absent a penetrating philosophy, such a reaction is only natural. It is so easy to be carried away by the superficial ideas of Nothing. To overcome the commonplace is a real challenge.
Some have responded to the call. Religious records tell of God's "creation out of nothing." The Creed is either taken for granted or casually ignored. To perceptive mystics in religion, philosophy and science, there is a magic bond between God and No-thing. Emptiness is the womb of the world; potentiality, its Mother. First things (or no-things) first.
Postulating the Big Bang, scientists place nothing before and after the expansion and contraction of the Universe. Little do they suspect previous and subsequent divinity. Avoiding spiritual Infinity, astronomers affirm that the moving universe "takes its space with it." Cosmic circulation and movement, then, is into the abstract Space of The Secret Doctrine. Physically "nothing," metaphysically spiritual Space is "everything." No-Thing, the One, Something, Everything, the All: they go together.
In and out of science, a few philosophers wonder why we have Something rather than Nothing. Actually, we have - and are - both. Nothing (or No-Thing) is fundamental. The Doctrine of Fullness, with its infinity of beings, is true, said G. de Purucker, but "truer still is the Doctrine of the Void." (Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, p. 376.)
In ancient Theosophy, symbolic and mystical, "the origin and secret of being" was observed in the Mundane Egg which, "from a latent nothing produced an active something ...a standing miracle from the beginning." (S.D. I, 359.) The Void behind the Forms is the prime state of spirituality.
Nature is divisible, being the Many from the One. Unlimited, and without envy, the No-Thing allows each thing, part and unit to glory, if it can and while it may, in a special central importance. Each individual is the centre of the Universe - the centre, in an infinite expansion, being everywhere and anywhere. In that spirit, Isis Unveiled repeated "the old kabalistic doctrine that nothing is unimportant in nature." (I, 314.) During a long or brief day in the Sun, of course each unit is valuable, sometimes if only to itself. Spiritual essence provides Meaning, any-
where at any moment. We are well advised in the last great Blavatskian book, The Voice of the Silence, to "...study the voidness of the seeming full..."
To see the Unseen and know the Unknown to some extent (if only intellectually) is an awesome discovery. It is the experience of a unique event, generally considered to be forever beyond description. It is especially meaningful, therefore. A significant few have gone down this road before: others will follow.
A recipient, in 1968, of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Yasunari Kawabata, remarked in his acceptance speech that "This is not the nothingness or emptiness of the West. It is ... a universe of spirit in which everything communicates with everything, transcending bounds, limitless." Another Japanese novelist, Yuko Mishima, wrote in an atmosphere in which the Void "is also manifest Fullness." (Insight magazine: The Washington Times, 03-23-87, p. 71.)
Classical examples are these writers, of those who have opened themselves to the inner, formless Infinity. Not necessarily aware of spiritual ancestors, they are content that this position is more promising than any other. Little do they realize that they are on a less frequented path than most, only a few are going their way. It is they who are, in the words of Plotinus, "alone with the Alone."
The idea of Eternal Non-Being, which is the One Being, will appear a paradox to anyone who does not remember that we limit our ideas of being to our present consciousness of existence; making it a specific, instead of a generic term. - The Secret Doctrine, I, 45.
We make mistakes. The physical universe, of which we are a part, is itself far from perfect. Whether we know it or not, we participate in the holistic process. As "Entirety," of which there is "none other," it has "higher" and "lesser" phases, visible and invisible. Therefore at any time or place, we may see the Unseen and think of the Unthinkable.
Contemplating Progress and Potentiality, Hegel's Science of Logic recognized the mysterious power of latency, but only in Emptiness. Indirectly quoting Paracelsus, The Secret Doctrine explained that
"Mysterium" is everything out of which something may be developed, which is only germinally contained in it. A seed is the "Mysterium" of a plant, an egg the mysterium of a living bird, etc. (I, 283fn.)
"So far," wrote Hegel, "there is nothing: something is to become. The beginning is not pure nothing, but a nothing from which something is to proceed; so that being is already contained in the beginning (which) contains both being and nothing ... the unity of being and nothing ...(C.J. Friedrich, The Philosophy of Hegel, p. 211.)
Further emphasizing Process, as some philosophers are now doing, H.P. Blavatsky explained in The Secret Doctrine that
"... it is far more than the potential force in the seed, which propels onward the process of development (evolution). It is the ever-becoming, though the never-manifesting ... perpetual motion in a circle, truly, yet a circle that can be squared only at the supreme Initiation at the threshold of Paranirvana." (II, 449-450.)
Beyond Nirvana is, at once, Absolute Being and non-Being, personified (as much as possible) by the Buddha. Interpreting him, Hegel, a philosopher admired by H.P.B., spoke of "the fundamental dogma that
Nothingness is the principle of all things - that all proceeded from and returns to Nothingness." The various and sundry World-forms merely act as apparent and temporary modifiers, "for in themselves all things are one and the same inseparable essence ... Nothingness."
The panorama around us is but change of form, manifestation and constant creation. Indeed, as Hegel continued, "abstract Nothingness is properly that which lies beyond Finite Existence - what we call Supreme Being. This real principle of the Universe is ... in eternal repose ... unchangeable ...For Nothingness is abstract Unity with itself." Nevertheless, as H.P.B.'s insight suggested, there is an invisible and undetectable perpetual motion in what otherwise is the "eternal repose."
The outer limits of this subtle movement is new being observed by some advanced physicists. David Bohm's cosmic conception, for example, is full of "no-things," where an elusive fluidity produces "everything." (Looking Glass Universe, p. 145.) If no solid stability, where may love and happiness reside? Speaking of Nirvana, Hegel tells us that "true blessedness is Union with Nothingness." (G.W.F. Hegel, The Philosophy of History, p. 169.)
Divine union was celebrated by the Sufi poets of Persia, singing of the Beloved One. The human psyche, to them, "differs infinitely in degree, but not in kind" from Cosmic Mind and Spirit: God being immanent spiritually and substantially with the Universe. Real love relates us with the One, all other loves vanish like a dream at dawn. In the words of L. Adams Beck,
"...nothing is worth a moment's consideration but the love which unites us to the Bridegroom of the Soul; and even in this illusory and miserable separation from the Beloved, flashes of heavenly beauty and memories of divine love entrance us and remind us of forgotten truths." (Story of Oriental Philosophy, p. 210.)
The island of Truth emerges, though neglected and ignored in the vast sea of particles that surround us as we swim with or against the tide. As the mists momentarily part, we may vision the singular glory of All-in-One and One-in-All. The land, sea, and swarming inhabitants are united again. Soon, perhaps, will come the illusion of parting. Reality remains.
In Isis Unveiled, Madame Blavatsky observed that most Occidentals interpret such union to be annihilation. This, she denied. Not otherwise described, we may imagine the ultimate as repose and bliss. Upon achieving Nirvana, she said that the "spirit ...becomes a part of the integrated whole, but never loses its individuality ... the spirit lives spiritually." (II, 116.)
Radiating Spirit integrates the Human Soul, as universal identity of Essence assures Immortality. To be sure, not all schemes and effects, noble or not, will succeed. Logic and order may not always be present. But each event, however at cross purposes to others, has its own rationale. Ahead, in the fog, looms a higher Order, which can but occasionally be glimpsed.
Order out of chaos prevails when Voidness is known as the Fullness. Periods of non-manifestation and in-breathing merely add the needed perspective. The ecstasy and exaltation of All and Nothing can be described more eloquently and at much greater length. As far as words go, nevertheless, the No-Thing is the last word in Mystical and Symbolic Theosophy.
"...the modern Theosophical movement... can be called modern Sufism, just as Sufism can be called Theosophy."
That there is a close accord between Sufism and Theosophy is apparent to anyone familiar with the two traditions. One of the best modern works on Sufism, The Sufis, by Idries Shah, (2) brings this home as nothing else does. And this regardless that the term Theosophy is not mentioned in the book.
"Sufi" is conventionally derived from a word meaning "wool" - referring to a woollen garment worn by some Sufis. Some, however, speculate that the Greek "sophia", wisdom, is the ultimate root, and therefore conclude there is an etymological linkage between Sufism and Theosophy. Whether or not, these two traditions, one ancient, the other relatively modern, surely share a similar spirit. As one modern student of Theosophy has put it:
"(Sufi) philosophy is one of the purest Theosophical nature - open-ended, flexible, taking into account the time and place (hence, the people) where it was to be practised, and so on." (3)
Such impressions are of course subjective, even though based on observation. We shall search in vain for any authoritative statement or even hint in Theosophical writings that there has ever been a Sufi influence on the modern Theosophical movement, yet the suspicion won't go away. Now, at last, someone has had the courage to ask the question.
It was raised in a paper presented to the First International Conference on Theosophical History, held in London in July, 1986. The title of the paper is "Madame Blavatsky: The 'Veiled Years"' and its author is Paul Johnson. (4)
Johnson's theory, to try to summarize it briefly, is that in the years prior to her public mission, H.P. Blavatsky belonged to a Sufi brotherhood. Although this will come as a shock to some, the idea cannot be rejected out of hand. The "veiled years" of Blavatsky's life conceal many a mystery, yet it is fairly certain that prior to the 1870s she spent much time in those areas of the Middle East where the Sufi tradition has been nurtured for centuries.
That proves nothing but it does help explain how, by the time her Theosophical writing career began in America, she was without peer where the western esoteric tradition was concerned. It is unlikely she picked up her extraordinary knowledge of the Kabbalah, for example, in an Indian or a Tibetan ashram.
True, Madame Blavatsky's own teacher, the Mahatma M., and his brother K.H., are acknowledged as the main source of the inspiration behind the founding of the Theosophical Society, and they are associated with the eastern tradition. Nevertheless, at least several others were involved: the Mahatmas evidently belonged to a glob-
al adept brotherhood, the scope of which was not restricted to northern India or to any one religion. This obvious fact has received little attention in the literature, yet it is an important piece of the puzzle. Johnson neatly describes Sufism as "an eclectic network of schools which were relatively exposed to encounters with Western culture." (5) Might not this network have been established by the same adept brotherhood with which Theosophy has always been associated?
In his paper, Johnson refers to biographical passages in Blavatsky's works which suggest her close familiarity with the religions of Asia Minor. These, however, do not necessarily represent strong arguments in support of his thesis. In her writings, most references to the Sufis are vague, some probably veiled, some perhaps deliberately misleading. Without additional evidence, these hardly contribute to the case for a Sufi connection, although they cannot be ignored.
The question then arises, why would she not have spoken more often, and more openly about Sufism, supposing her close familiarity with that philosophy? Johnson suggests that "we cannot dismiss the possibility that she deliberately avoided direct reference to Sufism in order to protect her sources." (6) Certainly, the true Sufis themselves seldom employ direct references when writing about their order.
Mr. Johnson's citation of a 1961 article in Blackwood's magazine, reminds me of a paper published in 1880 in that same esteemed journal. (7) This was a letter written by "A Turkish Effendi" on the "collision" between east and west. The letter itself, though well worth reading even after more than a century, is of less pertinence here than the identity of the author himself. A fascinating autobiographical note, although not mentioning the word Sufi, leaves little doubt that he must have known that tradition well, even to the extent of traversing its "eclectic network" as an adherent. That he knew Madame Blavatsky may be inferred from the following statement: "Should ... these pages fall under the eye of any member of the Theosophic Society, either in America, Europe or Asia, they will at once recognize the writer as one of their number..." (8) This, written no later than 1879, is doubly interesting in that so few people at that time, anywhere, knew of the existence of the Society. In her travels, Blavatsky must have come into contact with many remarkable men in Asia Minor: was the "Turkish Effendi" one of them?
Meetings With Remarkable Men is the title of one of Gurdjieff's books, and mention of Gurdjieff brings us to a secondary thesis of "Madame Blavatsky: The 'Veiled Years"'. Briefly, this postulates that G.I. Gurdjieff was taught in the same school that also groomed H.P.B., and similarities in their lives, travels and careers are cited. If this could be proved it would strengthen the theory of Blavatsky's Sufi connection, for it is unarguable that Gurdjieff was Sufi-trained and used Sufi methods in his teachings. (9)
Johnson wonders "whether the two missions, if genuine, are related, and if so how," and goes on to assert that "a point-by-point comparison of their teachings ... is well worth pursuing." (10) Such a comparison would indeed be a valuable exercise. Oh, that a bright student of Theosophy - preferably several - would undertake this comparative study! It requires covering ground that has been virtually untouched in over a century. The result is by no means a foregone conclusion.
Controversy is inevitable, and should be welcomed. There will be sides taken. The only time I can recall a similar issue being
aired was in The Canadian Theosophist some years ago, when two dedicated Blavatsky students disagreed in print over the relative merits of Gurdjieff's teaching.* Such discussions are helpful.
Sufi connection? Impossible/Nonsense/ Maybe/Probably/Definitely. Which? Let's try to find out. Even if definitive answers aren't forthcoming, it should prove a healthy exercise for inquiring minds.
Paul Johnson started something, didn't he!
* This probably refers to the review by C.M. H(ale) of Ouspensky's In Search of the Miraculous, C.T., XL, No. 4, Sep-Oct 1959, pp. 85-88. It was followed in the next issue (Nov-Dec 1959) when a letter written by W.E. Wilks, expressing an alternative view of Gurdjieff's teaching, was published. - Eds.
Notes and References
1. Bendit, Laurence J. "The Sufi Theosophists" in The Theosophist, Sep. 1973, p. 402.
2. Shah, Idries. The Sufis. New York: Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1964.
3. Bendit, p. 397.
4. Johnson, Paul. "Madame Blavatsky: The 'Veiled Years'." Presented at the First International Conference on Theosophical History held in London, July, 1986. With additional evidence. London: Theosophical History Centre, 1987. 11 pp. Price including postage, $3.00 U.S.
5. ibid., p. 6.
6. ibid., p. 7.
7. "A Turkish Effendi on Christendom and Islam." Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, DCCLXXI, January 1880. Reprinted in The Theosophist, I, 152-156 (March, 1880). Also in The Blavatsky Pamphlets series published by the H.P.B. Library. (A facsimile edition of The Theosophist, Vol. I, is published by Wizards Bookshelf.)
8. The Theosophist, l, 153.
9. See Lefort, Rafael: The Teachers of Gurdjieff.
10. Johnson, p. 7.
Theosophy does not offer a blueprint of the future for man's outer living nor a creed of beliefs for the solving of his inner problems. But it does offer to every newcomer an opportunity to discover a new attitude towards life - an attitude which if adopted and acted upon will profoundly affect a man's whole psychic and mental processes and all his relationships with the outer world. This however, must be a matter of discovery, inner discovery, because it means adventuring out upon new areas of consciousness. Books, lectures and classes may contribute to this but Theosophy is not something which may be memorized from a text book or lecture notes.
One of the basic aspects of this attitude is faith - faith in man's own innate powers and possibilities. Each personality is the earthly incarnation of a god - the divinity in the heart of each man and each woman is a spark of the One Fire, an inseparable part of the One Life of the Universe. On this physical plane of being, that divinity is working through a physical body, a psychic nature and a mentality which express but feebly, the beauty and wisdom of the Higher Self. To realize the essential unity of all life is a preliminary step. To know man's place in the vast universe of being and his relationship with all other lives which surround him, is perhaps, the remainder of wisdom.
- Dudley W. Barr, Theosophy, An Attitude Toward Life
THE OUTER AND INNER WORLDS
The members of the discussion group had come together for their weekly session. Kwansa expressed the wish to choose the subject, and without further ado made the first statement.
"I always have great difficulty in finding explicit evidence of the inner world! That isn't to say I am unaware of the tenets of the great religions, or of the ideas of philosophy, that offer a satisfactory explanation of existence. I can even accredit some degree of awareness to my position in the natural order. Our esteemed companions here have lectured well and long on universal ideas, and they would have me assume the one reality as eternal peace and the everyday things as illusion. Certainly, I have also considered my Buddhist heritage, and am sure the ultimate truth will somehow be achieved within myself by my own efforts. There is also within me an appreciation that this present life is but a page of the whole book. But, here I am in the immediate now trying to use what knowledge I have to be a medical student, and I cannot for the life of me find a valid sympathy with the inner world."
Michael had arrived late, but was the first with a counter-question. "Surely the one is the outcome of the other? If you cannot sympathize with the inner world, how can you ascertain the basis of the images projected in the outer world?"
Leonard then commented: "It is only in the contrasts provided in the exterior world that you can enter the areas of meaning behind it."
Kwansa was not impressed, so he proceeded to try to clarify his first statement. "Again, let me say that I am looking at the matter as it is today. I want my own assurance. I don't want to have to believe in someone else's certainty, no matter how great a thinker he or she was. Was it not Brenda who said a short time ago that we face our souls alone? To me, that translates that I have to garner my own knowledge. It is, then, in that context that I am forming my statement. I am involved in the outer world of contrasts, and indeed have a great desire to experience the contrasts. Which is just another way of saying that I have a great thirst for life and to make it part of myself."
Brenda now joined the discussion, and interjected a question.
"But surely if you identify with the things of life to the extent that they become part of yourself, you but feed the desire for those things? You still do not know what the things are in themselves."
Barry now had his hand up, and added his comment.
"But we use laws to understand the events in the exterior world, and you must agree we make optimum use of these events. Desire only brings us into contact with them. It offers us the possibility of experiencing their particular qualities."
Michael signified he wished to add to his earlier statement.
"Even if we agree with what you say, Barry, and admit that we have found out how desire works, yet what desire is, in itself, is another question altogether. There must be a reality on an inner level which is the basis of that desire."
Brenda had her hand up as Michael spoke. She now added to her earlier comment.
"How about meaning? There is, after all, a meaning behind the desire, and we can
formulate that in our minds, and give it expression. That expression is stated in the exterior world."
Leonard's hand had been up at the same time as Brenda's, and he now spoke.
"But so many people have different ideas of that supposed meaning, and they colour their concepts of it according to their own experience. There is, after all, the popular meaning with all its tones, and shades. Then there are varying interpretations which occur the more the matter is studied, and in the further reaches these may be exactly the opposite of the popular meaning."
Kwansa again spoke. "Yes, I can see that one can make sense out of many ideas, especially if the person desires specific ends from the exercise, but that is not really what I am interested in at all. I want to have the absolute certainty in my bones that the inner world is indeed the Real. I am not interested in just the machinations of the mind, even if it tells me intellectually and perhaps with exhilaration that this is so, and that is so. Somehow, that's just not good enough. It isn't complete. There's a missing ingredient.
"It's a bit like wishful dreaming, really. We can dream to be whatever we wish to be, and for a while it seems real. But even in that there is always a missing factor. It seems that there is a desire in the background, even in dreams. A will-o'-the-wisp, indeed. What the mind tells me in the deepest sincerity could have at its base a desire. It almost seems that desire stands behind everything. In utter fact, I cannot think of anything that does not have a desire behind it. Perhaps that is part of the reason I offered the initial question."
Kwansa looked around the group as he finished speaking. Mary caught his eye, and was drawn into the debate. She felt impelled to add her thoughts. "When one doesn't notice what one is doing, there comes a feeling of reality. In other words, 'spontaneous action'."
Michael had his hand up again, and Mary gave way to him.
"But surely, Mary, we have to think out method and reason before we do an action? Otherwise, what is the function of the mind? In some idyllic state, that is fine, but say in an operation at the hospital, it would hardly be appropriate.
"I can see where false assumptions will fall away as they are checked out, but even there our final assumption by this method is still relative. John said in a similar discussion some time ago that it is only when the mind reaches an impasse, and is absolutely forced to look inwards that any real knowledge is achieved. There has to be this sort of really desperate searching look in order to push aside all the illusions and to demand an answer at all costs. Perhaps I can agree with that statement. At any rate it demands a very serious approach, as if what we are dealing with is most real."
Dereck had raised his hand shortly after Michael started to speak, and Michael, although wishful to carry on, allowed him to proceed.
"Perhaps what is needed is the ability of the mind to think inwardly about meaning. Without that consideration it appears an endless cycle. But with it, well, there has to be an inward comparison. It's almost as if the comparison were being made with an ideal situation - "
Kwansa interrupted him.
"But if you do not know the inner world, how can a comparison be made?"
Dereck suggested: "It would seem that there are meanings common to all external expressions which have fundamental or interior bases."
Kwansa's hand was up, as he wished to add a further question.
"But don't you see that we're at Square One again? How can the fundamental be found if you're not awake to the inner world, or if you have no inkling in your own experience of its existence?"
Joseph had been silent up to now, but during a slight pause managed to interject a question.
"I thought we learned about meaning by making hypotheses?" he asked.
Brenda made the motion that she had another idea she wanted to present, but Kwansa not seeing her in his haste to continue, said:
"The question is still, how do you get an opening into that other world? Hypotheses can still deal with illusions, and offer no certainty."
He then saw Brenda waiting, and stopped. Brenda then said firmly:
"How about the other side of the coin? At least there are endless opportunities and choices. It would be hopeless if it were not so! Perhaps it's a matter of getting rid of the failed certainties, a matter of looking instead for common denominators to cover all conditions."
Brenda sat back, and Dereck added a comment:
"This is getting to be a real ordeal, this search for meaning. Does thinking have to assume a different mode than we normally imagine it to be? Does it have to be almost as serious an undertaking as breathing? Continuous thinking can be perplexing. The doubts seem ever to increase."
Michael's hand was now stretched in an effort to get Dereck's attention, and Dereck allowed him to continue.
"Well, perhaps to know meaning at all is to understand that thinking is still the only way to come to terms with meaning. Even if it forces us over all the obstacle courses in the way. The opening to the interior must be through thinking. We think about the outer world when we try to find meaning. That meaning must be insight to an ideal world. That ideal world alone can be at the base of the good, the beautiful, the true. When we try to make a comparison of the illusion to the ideal, our thinking commences the forging of a link between the two worlds. By emulating the ideal we take from desire its force and connect ouselves to the ideal in a conscious joining. In the ideal there is no illusion. There is a oneness with it which gives confirmation to our quest. It would seem, then, that the paternity of thought is of that inner world."
The clock chimed twice. Reluctantly, the students rose to go their separate ways. It was certain that the subject would receive further consideration at the next session.
THE EUROPEAN SCHOOL OF THEOSOPHY
The Sixth European School of Theosophy will be held in Hannoversch-Munden, West Germany, October 3 - 18.
The courses will be based on different aspects of the fundamental teachings of Theosophy, chiefly from the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, and The Mahatma Letters.
Inquiries, requests for application forms and all communications relating to the School should be addressed to the Secretary: Mrs. E.T. Probert, 21 Alfreda Road, Whitchurch, Cardiff, CF4 2EH, Wales, U.K. Tel. 0222-627845.
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
I am pleased to welcome into the fellowship of the Theosophical Society, Rosemarie Lashta, who joined through the Beaconsfield Study Centre, Quebec.
I regret to announce the following deaths: Mr. Herbert Ladd, a member-at-large from British Columbia who died in April, 1987. Mr. Don Barclay, of Prince George, B.C., who died on April 25, 1987. He was one of the founders of the Prince George Study Centre.
The May-June issue of The Theosophical Journal (England) mentioned that Mr. V. Wallace Slater died on February 18, 1987. He had been the General Secretary in England in 1961; a chemical engineer by profession, and interested in comparing scientific concepts with theosophical concepts; he authored several books and may have been better known by Canadian members for his writings.
The annual members' meeting of the T.S. in Canada will be held Saturday afternoon, September 12, 1987, in Toronto. We have invited Miss Joy Mills to be the Guest Speaker at the get-together after the business meeting. Exact time and place are not decided now, but will be printed in the notice calling the meeting to be sent to all members in good standing.
Since the annual meeting is on the horizon, we might profit by a brief discussion on the matter of proxies and proxy voting, which subject has been a bit unclear at times to some members. The T.S. in Canada is a federal corporation. Several of our Lodges are provincial corporations. Not only are proxies proper, but it is illegal for a corporation to deny proxy votes. Therefore, we have solicited proxies and vote these proxies. This sometimes means that one or a few persons who hold proxies can have several votes count. It sometimes happens that the proxy holders can thus outvote all the others present. The assumption and legal logic behind the proxy law is that if the persons who gave their voting power by proxy to another, because they would not be able to attend the meeting in person, had instead actually come to the meeting, they would have voted the same way that their proxy holder did for them, so the outcome of the voting would still be the same. One then has the legal right to delegate one's voting privileges to another. This defines "proxy". The matter of proxy votes is covered in the Corporations Acts of the federal and provincial governments. To be expected, those who do not like the outcome of the vote are the ones who cry "Unfair" at the use of proxies. But it is from a lack of understanding that they so cry foul. The fact of the matter is that the law thinks that proxy votes are fair and to deny it is illegal, as aforesaid.
The term of office of the International President of The Theosophical Society, Mrs. Radha Burnier, expires in July, 1987. A call for candidates and election was made on December 20, 1986, and the only candidate who qualified according to the Rules, with the required number of nominations, was Mrs. Burnier. While this would seem to be an acclamation and the end of the matter, this is not so under Rule 10 of the International By-laws. Thus, all eligible voters, worldwide, have to vote "Yes" or "No" to her acclamation.
Although my next comment is premature as I write this, it will be fact and history by the
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OFFICERS OF THE T.S. IN CANADA
- General Secretary - Stan L. Treloar, 57 Eleanor Crescent, Georgestown, Ont. L7G 2T7
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- Ted G. Davy, 2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Alta T3C 2M3
- Lillian K. Hooper, 15153 - 98th Avenue, Apt. 120, Surrey, B.C. V3R 1W4
- Peter Lakin, 621 Euclid Avenue, Toronto, Ont. M6G 2T6
- Viola P. Law, 204 - 2455 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6K2
- Simon G. Postma, 3322 - 112 C Street, Edmonton, Alter. T6J 3W8
- Sharon L. Taylor, 1350 Limeridge Rd. E., Unit 36, Hamilton, Ont. LBW 1L6
- Mollie Yorke, 1959 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6J4
- Emory P. Wood (Honorary Director), 9360 - 86 St., Edmonton, Alberta T6C 3E7
EDITORIAL BOARD, CANADIAN THEOSOPHIST
All letters to the Editors, articles and reports for publication should be addressed to the Editors, 2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Alta. T3C 2M3.
- Editors: Mr. and Mrs. T.G. Davy
Letters intended for publication should be restricted to not more than five hundred words.
The editors reserve the right to shorten any letter unless the writer states that it must be published in full or not at all.
Rannie Publications Limited, Beamsville, Ontario
time you read these pages: I therefore congratulate Mrs. Burnier on being our International President for another term of seven years. The Canadian voting is over and done with. There were 127 votes for, three against, and two spoiled ballots. If some Canadian members did not get a ballot (sent in late March) it was because of one of the following reasons:
a. Rule 10 also provides that only members in good standing for two years prior to the date of calling an election can vote. This becomes Dec. 20,1984, two years prior to Dec. 20, 1986.
b. Some members move and do not advise the General Secretary of the new address. (Don't feel badly about this, since few members do advise me of an address change. There is a hint here.)
c. The Post Office lost/destroyed the ballot letter. (The Toronto Post Office admits that they eat and digest 75 pieces of mail each day. They claim that this is a good record considering the enormous volume of mail they handle each day. The postal machines, not the postal employees, eat and digest those 75 pieces.)
One spoiled ballot contained the note, "An acclamation is an acclamation. I protest this ridiculous procedure." I agree 100%. Any of you out there who would write to Adyar and request that Rule 10 be amended, have my blessing with bells on it. An acclamation should be treated as such, and that should be the end of it. As it was, we were put to much unnecessary work and expense, over $100 plus the members' return postage of 132 x 36 cents. The money and time could be much better spent on other projects, since the acclamation result is inevitable and expected.
So I congratulate you again, Mrs. Burnier, and let your first item of business when your Council meets be to change this silly rule.
Canadian members are invited to attend a convention of the Central American Theosophical Societies, to be held in September. Details on request from: Miss M.A. Eugenia Bravo Vergara, 3 Poniente, No. 724 - Altos, Puebla, Pue., C.P. 72000, Mexico.
The Lodge continued with its regular Secret Doctrine study and the end of the month presentation for April was given by Laetitia van Hees. Laetitia's subject was "Hidden Meaning in Fairy Tales." While most of the fairy tales were familiar to us from childhood, we were now looking at them in greater depth and attempting to explore their inner meaning.
White Lotus Day was observed on our regular meeting night of May 6 with readings from Bhagavad-Gita and The Light of Asia and the playing of excerpts from the Moonlight Sonata.
Our Annual Meeting took place on May 27 and the following members were elected to office for the ensuing year:
President: Ted G. Davy
Secretary: Doris Davy
Treasurer: Phyllis Olin
Librarian: Darcy Kuntz
The members proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Laetitia who had expressed the wish to step down from office after twelve years as our very efficient Secretary. For ten of those years she also acted as Treasurer. Thank you Laetitia for all those years of dedicated service to the Lodge.
On June 8, the members viewed the videotape of an interview with Rex Dutta and Jean Coulsting, taped in England by Rogelle and Ernest Pelletier of the Edmonton Lodge last Fall.
On June 14, Phyllis Olin invited members and friends of the Lodge to her home for a social evening to view videotapes, have some informal discussion and partake of delicious refreshments.
Although we were sorry to lose our member Joe Kyriakakis last Fall, we were happy to hear that he has transferred his membership to Toronto Lodge as he is now residing in that city.
The Lodge is now closed for the Summer but the members will be meeting to plan for the visits of Joy Mills in September and Rex Dutta and Jean Coulsting in October.
- Doris Davy, Secretary
Hermes Lodge has been making slow but steady progress since our last report.
Our Library is now functioning quite well, and more of the public as well as our members are making use of it. It is open two afternoons and one evening a week. We are receiving all of the new Quest Book releases as well as donations, so the Library is continually expanding. We also have a selection of new books for sale, and find that these move quite well. Diana Cooper has done a remarkable job in bringing the Library up to its present standards.
Our Wednesday evening meetings have been going quite well. President Larry Gray arranges varied programs - sometimes a cassette tape and at other times a video or a
discussion. These meetings draw the younger working people, and our newer members have come from this group.
Members' meetings continue twice monthly on Thursday afternoons with the study of The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. The Secret Doctrine class meets on Monday afternoons, and the E.S. meetings continue monthly on a Thursday afternoon.
On February 18, Harry Lorimer passed away. He was one hundred years of age, and a much beloved member of Hermes. A short memorial service was held.
Bing Escudero was our speaker on March 22, when he gave a public lecture on "The Principles That Resolve Problems of Living." This was much enjoyed, and afterwards Bing was our guest at a "Bing Bash" at his hotel when members and friends enjoyed dinner with him.
On April 26 we held a public meeting, showing "A Different View of Life" - a videotape of an interview between Allan W. Anderson, Professor of Religious Science at San Diego State University and J. Krishnamurti.
We sent a representative to the Edmonton Lodge's 75th anniversary celebration, and hope to have someone attend the Annual Meeting in Toronto. The Lodge Annual Meeting will be on June 27.
There has been another break-in of our premises. This is the third time that the Lodge has been the target of thieves. However, we are lucky that only the cassette recorder was taken, although there was some vandalism.
We are pleased to welcome our newest member, Jeffrey Brown, who was admitted on February 25.
- Eva Sharp, Secretary
On a reduced scale, activities are continuing. Certain limitations resulting from the separation of the physical form of our Lodge have placed added stress on our Executive members as they strive to lay plans in the absence of a corporate centre. From highly inflated appraisals, there has been a dramatic drop in many property values in the city during the past few months, which may ease access to the market in which we are interested. The search for new premises goes on, but it has been complicated by such volatile conditions.
During June and July, our meeting place is Hill House, home of the Anthroposophical Society in Canada, who have expressed a welcome and shown a spontaneous willingness to help us out. We are fortunate to have such friends in the community extend their goodwill.
General Secretary Stan Treloar appeared first on the current program, speaking on "The Chakras." The next speaker, Wilf Olin, chose the subject "The Geometric Symmetry of Human Consciousness." The third lecture, entitled "Theosophy - A Way of Life, Discipline and Practice" is to be given by President David Zuk. Further topics for study and discussion are to be announced.
From early February through May, weekly meetings were held at the Rainbow Centre. On two evenings, the reading of a transcription of a radio talk, written for delivery on Toronto radio in 1933 by Lawren Harris when he was a member of the Group of Seven and of Toronto Lodge, was discussed. A video program, produced by the CBC on the last years of Lawren Harris, constituted another program. Speakers and topics for this period were:
- Wilf Olin: "The Golden Stairs;" "Divine Wisdom"
- Chris Holmes: "The Cosmogenesis of the Secret Doctrine in the Light of Modern Science"
- Joan Sutcliffe: "Reincarnation;" "The Quest for the Holy Grail"
- David Zuk: "The Occult Constitution of Man;" "Tibetan Studies and The Voice of Silence;" "Mme. Blavatsky and the Kabbalah"
- Peter Lakin: "Free Will versus Predestination"
- Carl Emmanuel: "Spirituality in the Modern World"
There was also a reading and discussion of the transcription of a radio talk by Felix Belcher and two articles by W.Q. Judge on the topic of Man and his Bodies. For special occasions:
- Easter: A Theosophical Perspective
- White Lotus Day: Readings from The Voice of the Silence and Bhagavad-Gita.
We commend Program Chairman Peter Lakin on arranging and formulating these splendid program schedules.
Our Annual Meeting was held on June 16 at Hill House. A spirit of harmony prevailed, and everyone seemed pleased with the result of the Annual Election. The new Executive is:
President: David D. Zuk
Vice President: Barbara Treloar
Secretary: Wilf Olin
Treasurer: Don Keith
Directors: Carl Emmanuel, Peter Lakin, Catherine O'May
Meetings will recess for the month of August.
Ruth Eve Playle, Secretary
This season's attendance has been excellent. The study of the Gita has been presented by many of our members, each in their own unique way, providing great variety and evoking very good discussion. In addition, there have been interludes, when the subject of the meeting was devoted to classical composers with examples of their great works played, illustrating the relationship to great spiritual development and values.
The highlight of the Spring season was the presentation of a cultural evening at the Art Gallery. Entitled "Intimations," it took the form of readings and poetry by several of our members. Interspersed among the readings was a delightful program of instrumental music and song.
Members and frequent guests of the Lodge did a tremendous job in publicizing the program, and working very hard on the presentation. Between eighty and ninety people attended. The evening ended with a social half-hour.
Also in the Spring, our members Mary and Alastair Taylor presented a travelogue on Greece at the Windsor Park Pavilion. Sixty people were present.
At the Annual Meeting, the Executive was re-elected by acclamation:
President: Fiona Odgren
Vice-President: Dorothy Armstrong
Past President: Dorita Gilmour
Secretary: Mollie Yorke
Treasurer: Elizabeth Macintosh
Librarian: Gordon Limbrick
Social Convenor: Mary Taylor
The annual reports highlighted an interesting and successful year. The active participation of members in the various programs was most encouraging. So many members contributed to the study and discussion of the Bhagavad-Gita, for instance, that a
great variety of thought, ideas and source material was shared.
Several meetings were devoted to music and its influence on spiritual attainment. An excellent series on Beethoven and Wagner introduced a fresh aspect to the characters of these great composers. One session was given by a music therapist who described and demonstrated how music can be used to aid those with physical difficulties.
Letters and donations from many sources continue to pay tribute to our newsletter, Pathways. The committee responsible work very hard to produce four editions a year, but their research and efforts are proving most worthwhile.
The Wednesday afternoon meetings have been well attended. These take the form of a Question and Answer discussion. A different member presides each week, and a question submitted at one meeting is taken up the following week.
Attendance at all meetings has been good, with several visitors at most. From these have come three new members this year.
-Mollie Yorke, Secretary
Hermes Library, established over 50 years ago in Hermes Lodge of Vancouver, B.C., is a growing, well-developed special library which acquires books, journals, pamphlets and cassettes on Theosophy. The Library is open to the public on Saturday afternoons and before and after public meetings.
To aid research and to support further the Theosophical Society, Hermes Library is extending its service across Canada. Books and cassettes are available for borrowing by mail to members of Hermes Library anywhere in Canada.
Membership in Hermes Library is available free to members of Vancouver T.S. Lodges. Members-at-large, members of the Society who live outside the Vancouver area (anywhere in Canada) and non-members may borrow books by purchasing a Library card for an annual fee of $10.00 ($5.00 for seniors).
Reference service and enquiries to: Hermes Lodge, Theosophical Society 2-2807 West 16th Ave. Vancouver, B.C. V6K 3C5 (Phone: 733-5684)
KROTONA FALL PROGRAM
The Krotona Fall Program commences September 26, 1987, and continues until November 20.
Dr. John Algeo, National First Vice-President of the Theosophical Society in America, will deliver the opening lecture on September 26. His talk is entitled "The Bright Hawk's Flight: Balance in Meditation."
The courses being offered include: "Celtic Mythology and Spiritual Traditions" - Dr. Yves Marcel; "The Yoga of Science" - Dr. Chon-Ton Phan; "Studies in The Secret Doctrine" - Joy Mills; "Word-Weaving: Creating Your Own Myth" - Joy Mills; "The Fundamentals of Theosophy: Study Circle" - Diana Dunningham.
A two-week retreat, "The Spiritual Journey: A Retreat Within," concludes this session. It will be led by Felix Layton and Joy Mills. A special lecture and seminar, "Search for Ultimate Reality" will be presented October 16-17. The speakers are Dr. Ravi Ravindra and Dr. Henryk Skolimowski.
Further information from the Director, Krotona Institute School of Theosophy, 46 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023, U.S.A.
A REVIEW ARTICLE
- Ted G. Davy
In 1975, The Theosophical Society celebrated its one hundredth anniversary. A history of the Society was one of the events proposed to mark the occasion. If memory serves, controversy surrounded the initial selection of a historian, but finally the General Council requested L.H. Leslie-Smith, a prominent English member and an experienced writer, to undertake the task. This he did, but his work, although printed by T.P.H. Adyar, was not published. Belatedly, 100 Years of Modern Occultism has now been released by the Theosophical History Centre.
In 1986, The Theosophical Society in America celebrated its one hundredth anniversary. Again, and appropriately to observe the centenary, its history has been chronicled. Written by Joy Mills, former National President of the American Section, and former International Vice-President, it bears the title 100 Years of Theosophy. It has just been issued by T.P.H. Wheaton.
The similarity of titles is interesting. Of course they promise more than can be delivered, which is inevitable in view of the relatively few pages available for activity covering a whole century. The late Leslie Leslie-Smith was quick to point out that his work was a "brief sketch ... in no wise a history, not even a condensed history." (p. v) And in all fairness, Joy Mills' book should really be classified as a historical survey rather than a full-blown history. In each case, length alone precludes dealing with important events in anything more than an abbreviated form. This is a problem, for even with the best of intentions, which obviously inspired these labours of love by both authors, such a situation can easily result in imbalanced reporting.
Brevity aside, both of these works are seriously deficient in that no references are provided. A double pity, because their usefulness to future historians is thereby greatly reduced. More: what of their credibility among scholars outside the Society? The smaller book contains no index, and because of its size and nature, doesn't really require one. 100 Years of Theosophy does, but unfortunately its index is incomplete and generally very unsatisfactory.
An objective history is an ideal which is seldom realized. Let's be frank: an objective Theosophical history is next to impossible, at least if written by anyone having the slightest connection with the Movement, and experience shows it is unlikely to emerge from outside, either. Not that anyone expects a history to be merely a diary of uncontrovertible facts. Nevertheless, it is disappointing to come across so many subjective opinions in the two books under review when insufficient information has been presented that would allow the reader to reach an independent conclusion.
*100 Years of Modern Occultism. A Review of the Parent Theosophical Society, by L.H. Leslie-Smith. London: Theosophical History Centre, 1987. 69 pp. Price, including postage, $8.00 U.S.
100 Years of Theosophy. A History of The Theosophical Society in America, by Joy Mills. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1987. Price $9.95 U.S.
For about a third of the period covered in her history, as a National Director and later National President of The Theosophical Society in America, Joy Mills was very close to the events on which she reports. Indeed, in the 1960s and '70s she could be said to be one of the history-makers. Not an unusual situation in the field of history writing, to be sure. The advantages are obvious, but there are drawbacks, as the general history reader knows.
As a member of the Society, knowing full well that in it as in any other human endeavour the path is seldom smooth, I feel uncomfortable that both authors seem to go out of their way to paint a rosy picture, to present individuals in the best possible light. Bestowing praise on fellow Theosophists is all very well (though unnecessary), but credibility would be less in doubt if praise were tempered with criticism where deserved.
Most of the individuals involved in controversial episodes (and other controversial individuals in the Society!) have now been dead from fifty to eighty years. Surely the time has come when their contributions to the Movement can be assessed without people getting upset? If they held the Society back, if they distorted the Society's program and ideals, etc., etc., why not say so with the same frankness as when reporting their commendable actions and characteristics? No one is perfect, and the exceptional difficulties heaped on those given authority in the Theosophical Society mean that mistakes are inevitable. Including unbrotherly actions. Why can't these be reported dispassionately?
Leslie Smith is slightly less inhibited than Joy Mills. At least he concedes that Mrs. Besant might have had faults (p. 47); and even refers to "the rigid attitude of those in authority in the Society in America." (p. 45)
Fair enough. Yet for the most part, he heaps praise on praise. It came as no surprise to read his blanket exoneration of the series of charges brought against C.W. Leadbeater over the years. Judging from the nature of his references to the charges, it seems unlikely he really understood the real nature of the problem. Admittedly, he wrote before The Elder Brother, by Gregory Tillett, was published, but he does claim to base his conclusions on reading "all the documents" in the case.
Incredibly, both publications fall short of observing the maxim of "giving praise where praise is due" one hundred per cent. When it is considered how much the Theosophical Society generally, and the T.S. in America in particular, owes to William Q. Judge, it seems irresponsible that his tremendous contribution is given such shabby treatment as in these two histories. This is going to hurt a lot of people. Knowing both authors - intelligent, kind-hearted, dedicated Theosophists, possessing so many good qualities - I cannot understand this slight on both their parts.
Canadian members and Lodges were under the jurisdiction of The Theosophical Society in America until 1919, when the Canadian Section came into existence. The period from 1886 to 1920 in the American Section's history is therefore of greatest interest to us. Unfortunately, the constraints under which Miss Mills wrote mean that these exciting years are squeezed into 66 pages. In such a short space, it is impossible to do justice to even a handful of the more important events.
The 1895 conference, for instance, so important in the forming of the sides that crucially affected later history, including Canada's, rates little more than two pages. The drama it generated, as fascinating as any-
thing in the history of any modern organization, is entirely missing. Year after year is dealt with in a similarly curtailed way. This is not a criticism - as the old pre-metric saying went, you can't put a quart into a pint pot.
A quotation from a statement by A.P. Warrington, one-time General Secretary (National President) of the T.S. in America, might give the impression that the initiative to form a separate Canadian Section came from the Canadian members in 1919. (Mills, p. 60.) Whereas, the fact is that his predecessor, Weller van Hook, had written to the Canadian Lodges as early as 1911, telling them, in effect, that there were by then sufficient Lodges in this country to establish a national Section. The hint was not taken then, nor on at least one other occasion prior to 1919. Indeed, during those years Canadians seemed no more disgruntled with the administration than were members in other parts of the American Section, and perhaps intuitively knew when they were well off! However, the early years of Theosophy in Canada were not without their interesting episodes, and it is to be hoped these might one day be recorded.
The brevity of 100 Years of Modern Occultism and the various inadequacies of every general history of the Society and Movement so far published, serve to underscore the urgent need for a comprehensive text, complete with references. The lack of such a work means that anyone trying to write the history of a Section or of a particular period is severely hampered when reporting local and specific events. For naturally, all the parts are affected by what happens to the whole. (Although admittedly, within the Movement, let alone the Society, the tail does sometimes wag the dog!)
So for all their shortcomings, it is to be hoped that these two latest histories will have a beneficial long term effect. If they serve to interest members (who certainly should be interested) in the history of their organizations, the demand will be sparked for more and more comprehensive works. Judging from the success of the Theosophical History Centre over the past two or three years, I am far from being alone in believing this would be a good thing for the Theosophical Movement.
A READER'S NOTES
A salute to The Eclectic Theosophist on reaching issue No. 100! It hardly seems possible that over 16 years have gone by since No. 1 appeared. What began as "an occasional newsletter" quickly became a magazine that is widely respected throughout the Theosophical Movement. The total achievement - not just the staying power - is a credit to Point Loma Publications, who publish it.
The Eclectic honestly lives up to its name. Although, as its masthead proclaims, it follows "the Blavatsky and Point Loma tradition," its contents are proof of an interorganizational and international outlook. Indeed, this fine Theosophical journal was "networking" long before that term became a buzz word. Editor W. Emmett Small has from the beginning set and maintained a praiseworthy standard for tolerance and openmindedness. His literary influence is also much in evidence. In short, The Eclectic is a joy to read, as well as being an unequalled source of Theosophical news and views from around the world.
Published bi-monthly, the annual subscription (six issues) to The Eclectic Theosophist is $5.00 in the U.S., $5.50 foreign (both prices in U.S. funds). From: Point Loma Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 6507, San Diego, CA 92106, U.S.A. - T.G.D.
SECRET DOCTRINE QUESTION AND ANSWER SECTION
From 1964 to 1980, Geoffrey Barborka's "Secret Doctrine Question and Answer Section" was a regular and popular feature of this magazine, and there was widespread disappointment among the readers when he was no longer able to conduct it. There have been several suggestions that the series be published in book form, and many more requests than could be filled for back issues containing early instalments. To partially respond to this interest, we shall be reprinting selections from the "Q and A Section". To make the re-issue even more useful, the material has been compiled under subject headings. The originals are identified by Volume and number at the end of each answer. - Eds.
8. THE AFTER-DEATH STATES: - PART I
Question. Has anything been written about the significance of the dying man's last uppermost desire?
Answer. Although not finding anything in The Secret Doctrine to reply to this question, it is an important one to consider. As a reference to this was made in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, the following passage is supplied. It is from Letter No. XXIII-B and was written in reply to Mr. Sinnett's comment - which was made in this manner:
"You say: - 'Remember we create ourselves, our Devachan, and our Avitchi and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our sentient lives.'" (p. 147; p. 143 3rd ed.) The response follows:
"It is a widely spread belief among all the Hindus that a person's future prenatal state and birth are moulded by the last desire he may have at the time of death. But this last desire, they say, necessarily hinges on to the shape which the person may have given to his desires, passions, etc., during his past life. It is for this very reason, viz. - that our last desire may not be unfavourable to our future progress - that we have to watch our actions and control our passions and desires throughout our whole earthly career." (p. 170; p. 167 3rd ed.) - Vol. 54, No. 3
Question. Is it possible to be aware on several planes at the moment of death? If so, under what circumstances?
Answer. Since "the moment of death" is specified, the answer is directed to that specific event alone. Inasmuch as what takes place at the moment of death is stated to be involuntary it would not be possible to be aware "on several planes" at the moment of death, implying by the word "aware" that one is able to direct one's consciousness on more than one plane. Here is a citation regarding the moment of death from The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett:
"The experience of dying men - by drowning and other accidents - brought back to life, has corroborated our doctrine in almost every case. Such thoughts are involuntary and we have no more control over them than we would over the eye's retina to prevent it perceiving that colour which affects it most. At the last moment, the
whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity." (p.170; p.167 3rd ed.)
The proper manner of regarding the situation posed in the question is to consider it in connection with states of consciousness rather than planes because, after all, the physical body is stationed upon the seventh cosmic plane (regarded as the lowest plane) and cannot leave that plane. When the moment of death occurs, the consciousness of the individual is no longer functioning in the Jagrat state of consciousness - the ordinary every-day "waking state"; this has been transcended. For that matter so has the svapna - the dreaming state of consciousness. It is functioning in the Sushupti; therefore it is able to have the panoramic vision which was described in the quotation. - Vol. 49, No. 6
Question. What determines the entity's state of Devachan?
Answer. Just as the entity's stay in Kamaloka is determined by the life that is lived on Earth, so too the state of Devachan is also so determined. To quote The Mahatma Letters again:
"The Devachan State can be as little described or explained, by giving a however minute and graphic description of the state of one ego taken at random, as all the human lives collectively could be described by the 'Life of Napoleon' or that of any other man. There are millions of various states of happiness and misery, emotional states having their source in the physical as well as the spiritual faculties and senses, and only the latter surviving. An honest labourer will feel differently from an honest millionaire. Miss Nightingale's state will differ considerably from that of a young bride who dies before the consummation of what she regards as happiness. The two former love their families; the philanthropist - humanity; the girl centres the whole world in her future husband; the melomanic knows of no higher state of bliss and happiness than music - the most divine and spiritual of arts. The devachan merges from its highest into its lowest degree - by insensible gradations." (ibid., pp. 187-8; p 185 3rd ed.) - Vol. 57, No. 5
T.S. IN CANADA TAPE LENDING LIBRARY Audio and video cassette tapes of lectures, etc., are available on free loan from the T.S. in Canada tape lending library. (This service is for residents of Canada only.) Borrowers are only required to pay return postage. Write for list to: Doris Davy, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W., Calgary, Alberta. T3C 2M3.
Re: The Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 68, No. 2 (May-June, 1987), p. 45.
In the concordance table of references to the "Seven Keys" quotations, the heading of the extreme right-hand column should be BCW XIV, not BCW XI.
Apologies from the Editors.
THE LAW OF RETRIBUTION
- Lorna Webb
A family discussion on how, and where, and when;
A talk on life's propensities and how it deals with men.
"One blind from birth," I hear you say, " - what chance in life hath he?
A simple thing - if God is God - why can't the baby see?"
Perchance, in ancient days he used his life to spy men's faults
And punished them inhumanly - God dimmed those gaping vaults! -
That he may hear the murmuring of brook and stream and spring;
That he, in dimness, might perceive in every living thing
The quality of beauty - the worth of Inner Light;
That Nature might illumine him and set the balance right.
And what the eye cannot perceive, the heart too, cannot grieve.
And love will light a brighter path than any eye receive.
Or maybe that a gentle heart with wish to understand
Was granted sightless life to show the way through darkened lands
That he may help his fellow-men more fortunate than he.
For opened eyes but shuttered heart are more blind - though they see!
Have you not observed in Nature how winter blights each tree?
The saplings and the gnarled ones seem as dead as they could be,
But in springtime, life uprising, bedecks the land anew
And blossoms bud in colourful flood - and so with me and you.
We travel in this land awhile and, weary, take our rest;
Then through a timeless night arrive to start anew our quest.
For man has lost his birthright through ignorance and sin
And takes the road through lives untold his heritage to win.
He harms his brother, left and right, not knowing in his rage,
That life elects of everyone, for every sin its wage!
Who hurts his brother, hurts himself, One Life abides in all,
The rich and poor, the clod, the cloud, the greatest and the small.
Defiantly, you question me: "This sinner, and that sod!
Where is the God of man?"
I say: "Where is the Man of God!"
- Theosophy in South Africa, August, 1986.
REPRINTS OF OLD THEOSOPHICAL LITERATURE
Edmonton Lodge is pleased to announce its program to produce a number of rare Theosophical books and journals in a quality reprint format.
Some of the titles already available are:
An Introduction to the Study of the Kabalah, by William Wynn Wescott (1926).
The Bhagavat Geeta. (1849 Trilingual edition in Sanskrit, English and Canarese. English translation by Charles Wilkins.)
Dawn, An Independent Australian Theosophical Journal (1921-1924).
Psychic Notes, A Record of Spiritual and Occult Research. A Journal published in India January to April, 1882. (Mentioned in The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett. )
Theosophical Notes. Written and published by Victor Endersby from 1950 to 1978. Ten large volumes.
All the above are in good quality bindings. Write for complete list to: Edmonton Lodge, Theosophical Society P.O. Box 4804
Edmonton, AB Canada T6E 2A0
Toronto Theosophical Society Traveling Library
The Traveling Library of the Toronto Theosophical Society is operating and offing books on loan by mail to Society members only in Canada. Inquires to: Mrs. B. Treloar, Apt. 288, 2095 Roche Ct., Mississauga, Ontario L5K 2C8
THE H.P.B. LIBRARY
c/o M. Freeman, Site No. 19, Comp. No. 2, R.R. 1, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6L4
Comprehensive literature of the Theosophical Movement lent by mail. Catalog on request. The library also publishes the following:
- The Voice of the Silence (Peking Edition)
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather:
H.P. Blavatsky - A Great Betrayal
H.P. Blavatsky - Her Life and Work for Humanity
H.P. Blavatsky - As I Knew Her
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump:
Buddhism - The Science of Life
The Pseudo-Occultism of Mrs. A. Baily.
- Nine "H.P.B. Pamphlets", including early articles from Lucifer.
- Write for price list.
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BLAVATSKY INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS
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- Modern Theosophy, by Claude Falls Wright Cloth $1.75
- The Exile of the Soul, by Roy Mitchell - a key to the understanding of occult psychology. Cloth $2.75
- Theosophic Study, by Roy Mitchell, a book of practical guidance in methods of study. Paper $1.00
- Course in Public Speaking, by Roy Mitchell. Especially written for Theosophical students. $3.00
- The Use of the Secret Doctrine, by Roy Mitchell. 10c
- Theosophy, An Attitude Toward Life, by Dudley Barr. 50c
- The Wisdom of Confucius, by Iverson L. Harris. 25c
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