Vol. 69 No. 2 Toronto, May-June, 1988
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
THE GOLDEN STAIRS
"BEHOLD THE TRUTH BEFORE YOU: A CLEAN LIFE, AN OPEN MIND, A PURE HEART, AN EAGER INTELLECT, AN UNVEILED SPIRITUAL PERCEPTION, A BROTHERLINESS FOR ONES CO-DISCIPLE, A READINESS TO GIVE AND RECEIVE ADVICE AND INSTRUCTION, A LOYAL SENSE OF DUTY TO THE TEACHER, A WILLING OBEDIENCE TO THE BEHESTS OF TRUTH, ONCE WE HAVE PLACED OUR CONFIDENCE IN, AND BELIEVE THAT TEACHER TO BE IN POSSESSION OF IT; A COURAGEOUS ENDURANCE OF PERSONAL INJUSTICE, A BRAVE DECLARATION OF PRINCIPLES, A VALIANT DEFENCE OF THOSE WHO ARE UNJUSTLY ATTACKED, AND A CONSTANT EYE TO THE IDEAL OF HUMAN PROGRESSION AND PERFECTION WHICH THE SECRET SCIENCE (Gupta Vidya) DEPICTS - THESE ARE THE GOLDEN STAIRS UP THE STEPS OF WHICH THE LEARNER MAY CLIMB TO THE TEMPLE OF DIVINE WISDOM."
- H.P. BLAVATSKY
BLAVATSKY THE WRITER
As Seen By Her Colleagues
1988 marks the centenary of the publication of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine. She said of it, and would probably also have said the same of her other Theosophical writings, that she had but provided the string with which to tie "a nosegay of culled flowers." She was obviously an expert in the art of "culling"; but in some instances, where she found the flowers for the nosegay - to say nothing of the string - is something of a mystery. The following accounts give a behind-the-scenes view of the process.
"Most assuredly it is not I."
Well, Vera, whether you believe me or not, something miraculous is happening to me. You cannot imagine in what a charmed world of pictures and visions I live. I am writing Isis; not writing, rather copying out and drawing that which She personally shows to me. Upon my word, sometimes it seems to me that the ancient Goddess of Beauty in person leads me through all the countries of past centuries which I have to describe. I sit with my eyes open and to all appearances see and hear everything real and actual around me, and yet at the same time I see and hear that which I write. I feel short of breath; I am afraid to make the slightest movement for fear the spell might be broken. Slowly century after century, image after image, float out of the distance and pass before me as if in a magic panorama; and meanwhile I put them together in my mind, fitting in epochs and dates, and know for sure that there can be no mistake. Races and nations, countries and cities, which have for long disappeared in the darkness of the prehistoric past, emerge and then vanish, giving place to others; and then I am told the consecutive dates. Hoary antiquity makes way for historical periods; myths are explained to me with events and people who have really existed, and every event which is at all remarkable, every newly-turned page of this many-colored book of life, impresses itself on my brain with photographic exactitude. My own reckonings and calculations appear to me later on as separate colored pieces of different shapes in the game which is called casse-tete (puzzles). I gather them together and try to match them one after the other, and at the end there always comes out a geometrical whole.... Most assuredly it is not I who do it all, but my Ego, the highest principle which lives in me. And even this with the help of my Guru and teacher who helps me in everything. If I happen to forget something I have just to address him, or another of the same kind, in my thought, and what I have forgotten rises once more before my eyes - sometimes whole tables of numbers passing before me, long inventories of events. They remember everything. They know everything. Without them, from whence could I gather my knowledge?
- Letter from H.P. Blavatsky to her niece, Vera Zhelihovsky, who translated it from the Russian. Published in The Path, IX, pp. 300-301. (January, 1895.) The letter is undated.
"Her method of work was most unusual"
In connection with Isis Unveiled, I may quote from an interview I had with Professor Hiram Corson, now Regius Professor of English at Cornell University, New York State, and the recognized authority on Browning.
In talking to him about the great men and women of the nineteenth century whom he had met intimately, I asked him whom, of them all, he considered the most striking and remarkable. He at once replied, by all means Madame Blavatsky, the founder of the Theosophical Society, and after her, Walt Whitman.
This was a line of interesting conversation I little expected, and I urged him tell me more of this outstanding figure in his memory.
He said, "She wrote a considerable part of Isis Unveiled in my house at Ithaca, and living constantly with her for these weeks, she continually filled me with amazement and curiosity as to what was coming next. She had a profound knowledge of everything apparently, and her method of work was most unusual.
"She would write in bed, from nine o'clock in the morning till two o'clock the following morning, smoking innumerable cigarettes, quoting long verbatim paragraphs from dozens of books of which I am perfectly certain there were no copies at that time in America, translating easily from several languages, and occasionally calling out to me, in my study, to know how to turn some oldworld idiom into literary English, for at that time she had not attained the fluency of diction which distinguished The Secret Doctrine."
I asked him how he accounted for her quotations in full from these very rare and curious volumes.
He smiled reminiscently, and said - "She herself told me that she wrote them down as they appeared in her eyes on another plane of objective existence, that she clearly saw the page of the book and the quotation she needed, and simply translated what she actually saw into English."
I asked him whether he believed this. He replied: "The woman was so marvelous and had such mysterious funds of definite knowledge, that I find it much easier to believe her statement than to account for her quotations by any ordinary explanation of memory.
"The hundreds of books she quoted from were certainly not in my library, many of them not in America, some of them very rare and difficult to get in Europe, and if her quotations were from memory, then it was an even more startling feat than writing them from the ether. The facts are marvelous, and the explanation must necessarily bewilder those whose consciousness is of a more ordinary type."
- Charles Lazenby, "Isis Unveiled," in The Path, Vol. I, No. 1, July, 1910.
Tireless Working Capacity
In her whole life she had not done a tithe of ... literary labor, yet I never knew even a managing daily journalist who could be compared with her for dogged endurance or tireless working capacity. From morning till night she would be at her desk, and it was seldom that either of us got to bed before 2 o'clock A.M. ... She worked on no fixed plan, but ideas came streaming through her mind like a perennial spring which is overflowing its brim. Now she would be writing upon Brahma, anon upon Babinet's electrical "meteor-cat"; one moment she would be reverentially quoting Porphyrios, the next from a daily newspaper or some modern pamphlet that I had just brought home...
Her own manuscript was often a sight to behold; cut and patched, re-cut and re-
pasted, until if one held a page of it to the light, it would be seen to consist of, perhaps, six or eight, or ten slips cut from other pages, pasted together, and the text joined by interlined words or sentences...
One might fancy, upon seeing the numerous quotations in Isis Unveiled that she had written it in an alcove of the British Museum or of the Astor Library in New York. The fact is, however, that our whole working library scarcely comprised one hundred books of reference. Now and again single volumes would be brought her by Mr. Sotheran, Mr. Marble or other friends, and, latterly, she borrowed a few from Mr. Bouton. Of some books she made great use... yet not to exceed the hundred, I should say. Then what books did she consult, and what library had she access to?...
To watch her at work was a rare and never-to-be-forgotten experience. We sat at opposite ends of one big table usually, and I could see her every movement. Her pen would be flying over the page, when she would suddenly stop, look into space with the vacant eye of the clairvoyant seer, shorten her vision as though to look at something held invisibly in the air before her, and begin copying on her paper what she saw. The quotation finished, her eyes would resume their natural expression, and she would go on writing until again stopped by a similar interruption...
- H.S. Olcott, Old Diary Leaves, I, 203-209
Outside Mere Coincidence
The circumstance which, perhaps, more than any other attracted my attention and excited my wonder when I began to help Madame Blavatsky as her amanuensis, and thus got some glimpses of the nature of her work upon The Secret Doctrine, was the poverty of her traveling library. Her manuscripts were full to overflowing with references, quotations, allusions, from a mass of rare and recondite works on subjects of the most varied kind. Now she needed verification of a passage from some book only to be found at the Vatican, and again from some document of which only the British Museum possessed a copy. Yet it was only verification she needed. The matter she had, however she may have gained it - certainly she could not have procured her information from the handful of very ordinary books she carried about with her.
Shortly after my arrival in Wurzburg she took occasion to ask if I knew anyone who could go for her to the Bodleian Library. It happened that I did know someone I could ask, so my friend verified a passage that H.P.B. had seen in the Astral Light, with the title of the book, the chapter, page and figures all correctly noted.
Once a very difficult task was assigned to me, namely, to verify a passage taken from a manuscript in the Vatican. Having made the acquaintance of a gentleman who had a relative in the Vatican, I with some difficulty succeeded in verifying the passage. Two words were wrong, but the remainder correct, and, strangely enough, I was told that these words, being considerably blurred, were difficult to decipher.
These are but a few instances out of many. If ever H.P.B. wanted definite information on any subject which came uppermost in her writing, that information was sure to reach her in one way or another, either in a communication from a friend at a distance, in a newspaper or a magazine, or in the course of our casual reading of books; and this hap-
pened with a frequency and appositeness that took it quite out of the region of mere coincidence...
- Countess Constance Wachtmeister, Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine (1893), pp. 34-36.
... From various causes it came about that I went to Ostend to see H.P.B.; there I found her living with Countess Wachtmeister, hard at work writing from six a.m. till six p.m., only omitting very short intervals for meals...
Very soon after arriving I was handed a part of the MSS. (of The Secret Doctrine) with a request to emendate, excise, alter the English, punctuate, in fact treat it as my own, a privilege I naturally did not avail myself of...
What struck me most in the part I was able to read in my short stay was the enormous number of quotations from various authors. I knew that there was no library to consult and I could see that H.P.B.'s own books did not amount to thirty in all, of which several were dictionaries and several works counted two or more volumes. At this time I did not see the Stanzas of Dzyan, though there were several pieces of the Occult Catechism included in the MSS.
At a later date I again went to Ostend to carry out the arrangements for bringing H.P.B. to England. The main difficulty was to get her papers and books packed up. No sooner was one packed than it was wanted for reference; if part of the MSS. were put in a box, it was certain to be that part which already contained some information which had to be cut out and placed elsewhere: and as H.P.B. continued to write until the very day before her departure, such was her unflagging industry, it was not an easy matter to get her belongings packed.
When she arrived at Norwood the reverse process went on, but the difficulty was to get unpacked quickly enough. One day was yielded, but six a.m. of the following day found her at her table. All through the summer of 1887 every day found her at work from six to six, with intervals for meals only, visitors being with very rare exceptions denied or told to come in the evening. The evenings were given up to talk and discussion, and only on rare occasions was any writing done then.
All through that summer, Bertram Keightley and I were engaged in reading, rereading, copying and correcting. The last amounted to casting some of the sentences in the English mould, for many of them were "literal translations from the French." One remarkable fact is worth noticing. It was not long before the genius loci became apparent and in most of the MSS. written after the date of arrival in England there was very little of this kind of correction needed.
Many of the quotations had to be verified, and here we should have been lost if it had not been for a hint from H.P.B. She told us one night that sometimes in writing down quotations, which for the purpose of the book had been impressed on the Astral Light before her, she forgot to reverse the figures - for instance page 123 would be allowed to remain 321 and so on. With this in mind verification was easier, for one was puzzled on examining all editions in the British Museum to find in several cases that the
books did not contain the number of pages. With the reversal matters were straightened out and the correct places found.
- Archibald Keightley, "Writing of The Secret Doctrine," in Reminiscences of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine (1893), pp. 96-98.
"Overpowering reason and knowledge"
It has often been a surprise to me that the chief of the accusations and slanders brought against H.P.B. have been those of fraud and concealment, and I can only account for it by the fact that those who make such accusations (save the Coulomb woman), have never known her. According to my experience, she was ever over-trustful of others and quite prodigal in her frankness. As an instance, no sooner had I arrived* than she gave me the run of all her papers, and set me to work on a pile of correspondence that would otherwise have remained unanswered till doomsday; for if she detested anything, it was answering letters. I then was initiated into the mysteries of Lucifer, and soon had my hands full with transmission of directions, alterations, and counter-directions to Bertram Keightley, who was then Sub-editor, for in those days H.P.B. would not let one word go into Lucifer until she had seen and reseen it, and she added to and cut up the proofs until the last moment.
When we returned to Lansdowne Road, one of those changes, so familiar with those
* In Jersey, one of the Channel Islands, where H.P.B. stayed several weeks in the summer of 1889. In August G.R.S. Mead, her private secretary, joined her there.
who have worked with H.P.B. occurred, and both Dr. Archibald Keightley and Bertram Keightley left for abroad... And so their duties came mostly to me, and I gradually began to see a great deal of her alone at her work owing to the necessity of the case.
Let me see if I can give some idea of how the work was done.
To begin with there was Lucifer, of which she was then sole editor. In the first place H.P.B. never read an MS., she required to see it in proof and then mostly "averaged" its contents. What she was particular about was the length of the copy, and she used to laboriously count the number of words in each paper, and would never be persuaded of the accuracy of my count when I in my turn "averaged" the length. If I suggested that mine was the most expeditious method she would proceed to tell me some home truths about Oxford and Cambridge education, and I often thought she used to continue her primitive methods of arithmetical computation on purpose to cure me of my impatience and my confidence in my own superiority. Another great thing was the arranging of the different articles. In those days she would never entrust this to any other hand, and the measuring of everything was a painful operation.
Getting Lucifer through the press was invariably a rush, for she generally wrote her leader the last thing and, having been used to it, considered the printers, if anybody, were to blame if it did not appear in time. But all that was soon changed when Annie Besant became co-editor and H.P.B. found that it was not necessary to do everything herself.
The first hour in the morning after breakfast during those two years will ever remain with me as a pleasant recollection. Every-
thing was so unconventional. I used to sit on the arm of her great arm-chair and obediently smoke the cigarette she offered while she opened the letters, told me what she wanted done and signed diplomas and certificates, the latter under great pressure, however, for she detested such mechanical work. It was exciting and instructive too, for in our large Society there were always crises of more or less gravity. The many disputes came to her for settlement, and the many attacks had to be met and counteracted by her. So it was that I learned much of human character and of the inner working of the Society and how the life of it depended upon her. Many an evidence too had I of her prodigal generosity, and many a gift did I transmit to a poor Theosophist or employ for theosophical purposes under strict promise of secrecy, although she thereby frequently came to the bottom of her "stocking."
Though H.P.B. left much of her correspondence to me, still it was not without a distinct supervision, for she would suddenly call for a reply that had not yet gone out or for the copy of an old letter, without any warning, and if there were any mistakes, the lecture I received was not reassuring to my discomfiture. One thing she was always impressing upon me, and this was to develop a sense of the "fitness of things," and she was merciless if this law of harmony were broken, leaving no loop-hole of escape and listening to no excuse, with her over-powering reason and knowledge, which in spite of its apparently disconnected expression, always went home; although, indeed, the minute afterward, she was again the affectionate friend and elder brother, shall I even say, comrade, as she alone knew how to be.
One of the greatest proofs to me of H.P.B.'s extraordinary gifts and ability, if proof were needed in the face of the manifest sincerity of her life-work, was the way in which she wrote her articles and books. I knew every book she had in her small library, and yet day after day she would produce quantities of MS. abounding in quotations, which were seldom inaccurate.
I remember almost the last day she sat at her desk, going into her room to query two Greek words in a quotation, and telling her they were inaccurate. Now though H.P.B. could in her early years speak modern Greek and had been taught ancient Greek by her grandmother, she had long forgotten it for all purposes of accuracy, and the correction of the words I objected to required precise scholarship. "Where did you get it from, H.P.B.?" I asked. "I'm sure I don't know, my dear," was her somewhat discouraging rejoinder. "I saw it!" adding that she was certain that she was right, for now she remembered when she wrote the particular passage referred to. However, I persuaded her that there was some mistake, and finally she said, "Well, of course you are a great Greek pundit, I know, but you're not going to sit upon me always. I'll try if I can see it again, and now get out," meaning that she wanted to go on with her work, or at any rate had had enough of me. About two minutes afterwards, she called me in again and presented me with a scrap of paper on which she had written the two words quite correctly, saying, "Well, I suppose you'll be a greater pundit than ever after this!"
The above is one instance out of many, but it will little profit to narrate them, for they mean nothing to anyone but the eyewitness, and the public is quite content with its own infallibility of judgment and prefers to remain myopic.
- G.R.S. Mead, "The Last Two Years," in In Memory of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, pp. 75-80.
"Get out and go to Hell!"
H.P.B. always wrote the (Lucifer) Editorial herself, and also many other articles under more than one nom de plume, and she had a fancy for very often heading it with some quotation, and it used to be one of my troubles that she very seldom gave any reference for these, so that I had much work, and even visits to the British Museum Reading Room, in order to verify and check them, even when I did manage, with much entreaty, and after being most heartily "cussed," to extract some reference from her.
One day she handed me as usual the copy of her contribution, a story for the next issue headed with a couple of four line stanzas. I went and plagued her for a reference and would not be satisfied without one. She took the MS. and when I came back for it, I found she had just written the name "Alfred Tennyson" under the verses. Seeing this I was at a loss; for I knew my Tennyson pretty well and was certain that I had never read these lines in any poem of his, nor were they at all in his style. I hunted up my Tennyson, could not find them: consulted every one I could get at - also in vain.
Then I went back to H.P.B. and told her all this and said that I was sure these lines could not be Tennyson's, and I dared not print them with his name attached, unless I could give an exact reference. H. P. B. just damned me and told me to get out and go to Hell.
It happened that the Lucifer copy must go to the printers that same day. So I just told her that I should strike out Tennyson's name when I went, unless she gave me a reference before I started. Just on starting I went to see her again, and she handed me a scrap of paper on which were written the words: The Gem - 1831.
"Well, H.P.B.," I said, "this is worse than ever: for I am dead certain that Tennyson has never written any poem called The Gem." All H.P.B. said was just: "Get out and be off."
So I went to the British Museum Reading Room and consulted the folk there; but they could give me no help and they one and all agreed that the verses could not be, and were not, Tennyson's. As a last resort I asked to see Mr. Richard Garnett, the famous Head of the Reading Room in those days and was taken to him. I explained to him the situation and he also agreed in feeling sure the verses were not Tennyson's. But after thinking quite a while, he asked me if I had consulted the Catalogue of Periodical Publications. I said no, and asked where that came in. "Well," said Mr. Garnett, "I have a dim recollection that there was once a brief-lived magazine called the Gem. It might be worth your looking it up."
I did so, and in the volume for the year given in H.P.B.'s note, I found a poem of a few stanzas signed "Alfred Tennyson" and containing the two stanzas quoted by H.P.B. verbatim as she had written them down. And anyone can now read them in the second volume of Lucifer: but I have never found them even in the supposedly most complete and perfect edition of Tennyson's Works.
- Bertram Keightley, Reminiscences of H.P.B. (1931), pp. 21-23.
NOTES ON THE FOREGOING
Madame Blavatsky's niece, Vera Zhelihovsky (or Jelihovsky), married the Irish Theosophist Charles Johnston. They met when Vera and her mother were visiting H.P.B. in London. She died in 1922. Blavatsky's "method of work" during her stay at Ithaca is also mentioned by Dr. Eugene Rollin Corson, son of Professor
Hiram Corson, in his introduction to Some Unpublished Letters of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, London: Rider & Co., n.d. (1929). The description therein is similar to Charles Lazenby's, from which it can be inferred that his interview with Prof. Corson was reported accurately. (The interview probably took place prior to 1905.)
Charles Lazenby was an early Canadian Theosophist who in 1910 collaborated with D.N. Dunlop in establishing the Blavatsky Institute in England. The Path was the title given to their journal, one of a number of publishing enterprises they initiated around that time. We are indebted to Michael Gomes, who sent us a scarce copy of the first number of this journal, thus enabling us to reprint Lazenby's report.
In a forthcoming issue we hope to publish some notes on Charles Lazenby's fascinating life story. From an early age to his untimely death in 1928 it was devoted almost entirely to the cause of Theosophy.
A friend of Madame Blavatsky's, the Countess Wachtmeister spent some time with her during the early stages of the writing of The Secret Doctrine. Her Reminiscences were published in 1893, and included several interesting anecdotes regarding H.P.B.'s writing methods by other colleagues, including one by Archibald Keightley, an extract of which is given above.
The above excerpt from Archibald Keightley's reminiscences includes mention of his going to Ostend to help H.P.B. in her move to London. He wrote up this incident in an interesting article, "From Ostend to London," originally published in The Path magazine, and reprinted in The Canadian Theosophist, Sept-Oct., 1982.
Often mistaken as brothers, Bertram and Archibald Keightley were uncle and nephew respectively (although Bert was the younger of the two). Both were tireless workers for Theosophy. It was they who introduced Gandhi to the Bhagavad-Gita. (See Elizabeth Thacker's "Mahatma Gandhi and the Theosophical Movement," in The Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 64, No. 5, p. 100.)
Following is the verse Bert Keightley had difficulty locating. H.P.B. used it to preface her strange story, "Karmic Visions," (Lucifer, June, 1888. Now in H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IX, 318ff.)
Oh sad No More! Oh sweet No More!
Oh strange No More!
By a mossed brookband on a stone
I smelt a wildweed-flower alone;
There was a ringing in my ears,
And both my eyes gushed out with tears.
Surely all pleasant things had gone before,
Lowburied fathom-deep beneath with thee,
- Alfred Tennyson
Although it appears this short poem was never included in any authorized edition of Tennyson's complete works during his lifetime, it is found in most of the comprehensive collections published in this century. However, it appears that in none is there any reference made to its "rediscovery".
There are other verses quoted by H.P. Blavatsky in her writings for which references still have not been found. Their eventual identification may not equal the dramatic impact of locating "No More" but they present tough challenges to literary detectives.
Those who respond to such challenges might like to try their hand with the following two quotations that apparently baffled B. Keightley and colleagues, and require verification:
"...Malice scorn'd puts out
Itself; but argued gives a kind of credit
To a false accusation."
(Said to be by Philip Massinger. Cited in "The Thersites of Freethought", H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. XI, P. 418.)
"Let ignominy brand thy hated name;
Let modest matrons at thy mention start;
And blushing virgins when they read our annals
Skip o'er the guilty page that holds thy legend,
And blots the noble work..."
(This one is attributed to Shakespeare, but that seems doubtful. It serves as a preface to "It's the Cat!," ibid., p. 287.)
NOTICE OF THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IN CANADA
The Annual Members' Meeting of The Theosophical Society in Canada will be held on Saturday, September 17, 1988, at 1:30 p.m., at the Cordova Bay United Church, 813 Claremont Ave., Victoria, B.C. (Directors, please note: Board Meeting at 11:00 a.m., same location.)
I am advised that this church is in Cordova Bay, Municipality of Saanich, seven miles north of Victoria, close to Patricia Bay Highway (No. 17). It is eleven miles from Swartz Bay Ferry Terminal, and eight miles from Victoria International Airport.
At 2:30 p.m., the meeting ends (hopefully), and refreshments will be served. Then at 3:30 there will be "Intimations" - a program of music and readings presented by members of Victoria Lodge. Victoria Lodge is our host for this meeting. After the musical program there will be a dinner. Our hosts would like to have a firm idea before August 31 of the number who will attend this dinner, so as to be able to advise the caterer. If you plan to attend, please write to our hosts, care of Mrs. Mollie Yorke, 1959 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6J4.
- S. Treloar, General Secretary
Reservations for accommodation may be made with the following agency: Accommodations West, Bed and Breakfast Reservation Services, 660 Jones Terrace, Victoria, B.C. V8Z 2L7. Phone (604) 479-1986. Price range: Single, $30 - $40. Double, $45 - $65. When making reservations, please indicate whether non-smoking or smoking; and location preferred - downtown or vicinity of Cordova Bay United Church, and whether with or without a car.
Please note that neither I nor members of Victoria Lodge are doing any accommodation-arranging for members. That is strictly up to the visiting member, and the hotel/ motel he/she wants to deal with. The above reservation firm is suggested to assist those who do not have relatives or friends in Victoria with whom they can stay.
T.S. IN CANADA TAPE LENDING LIBRARY
Audio and video cassette tapes of lectures, etc., are available on loan from the T.S. in Canada tape lending library. (This service is for residents of Canada only.) Write for list to: Doris Davy, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W., Calgary, Alberta. T3C 2M3.
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
Members: Please note that dues are now due, hopefully to be received before June 30. The amount is $14.00, plus $5.00 for each other member in the same family-household where only one magazine is sent. This is the basic fee, and is all that members-at-large will pay. Those members attached to a Lodge may pay an extra amount if the Lodge charges dues too.
To members-at-large: please send cheques or money orders to me.
To all: please note my and the Canadian Section's new address: The Theosophical Society in Canada, R.R. No. 3, Burk's Falls, Ontario POA 1C0
I plan to move in mid-May, which it will be when you read this, hoping that nothing interferes with, or alters this.
I am pleased to welcome into the fellowship of the Society, the following new members. As members-at-large: Mr. Bruce MacDonald, and Dr. D. Prithipal, both of Edmonton, Alberta. As members of Calgary Lodge: Miss Bharti Vadgama, formerly a member of the Theosophical Society in East Africa. Her parents, Mr. Lalji and Mrs. Maniben Vadgama, formerly members of the Theosophical Society in Canada, are welcomed back after their return from India.
I regret to announce the death of a longtime member (forty years): Mrs. Doris Matsell, of Vernon, Ontario. I send my condolences on behalf of the Canadian Section of the T.S. to her surviving family.
Just recently I learned of the death of another long-time member (forty-nine years) - Miss Katherine M. Lazier, of Toronto Lodge. She died in March, 1987, at the age of 102. She had been in poor health for some time, had been blind for a few years, and had reached that unfortunate stage where she had no awareness of the world around her. She had also outlived most of her acquaintances, which contributed to the delay in getting the news of her passing.
When one knows the deceased, one can write a fuller obituary. I recall "Aunt Kate" as my sisters and I called her, from when I was knee high to the proverbial grasshopper, about age two or three. She and her nephew, the late Tom Lazier, were frequent visitors to our house. We kids thought they were man and wife, as they were about the same age, until my mother put us straight. Childish naivete!
My father was the one who introduced both "Aunt Kate" and "Uncle Tom" to Theosophy. And no, the Laziers were not our actual relatives, but from politeness and fondness they were aunt and uncle to myself and siblings. Aunt Kate worked for Toronto Lodge as Director and Treasurer - twice at that post. As the years rolled by and took their toll, she had to drop out of active participation in the Lodge, and moved into a nursing home, Belmont House - only two or three blocks away from her Lodge - and she remained there to the end.
I was reading an Adyar magazine recently, and spotted something that pleased me very much. The article was describing various points of interest on the grounds of our headquarters at Adyar. The part that caught my eye was a monument "To the Unknown
- The Organ of the Theosophical Society
The Canadian Theosophist
- In Canada
- Published Bi-Monthly
- Second Class Mail Registration Number 0784
- Return Postage Guaranteed
- Subscription: $9.00 A YEAR
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
Theosophist." This monument resembles a circular tombstone. The purpose is to honour those worker-members, the ones who stay to the last to see that the Lodge doors are locked, or to put out the trash, or sweep and tidy up after a meeting, those who do this without having to be asked, and are seldom thanked, or fully appreciated - until they miss a meeting, and no one else picks up their work.
The article suggested that more often the honoured "unknown" were just ordinary members, but I hasten to add that officers and Directors also often earn the honours that this monument commemorates. I recall the late George Kinman, when President of Toronto Lodge, saying to me late one night, after a meeting, when I had stayed on to balance the books (I was Treasurer then) and he had been working elsewhere in the building: "When you get to be President of a Lodge, you also get to be the chief janitor."
All other Presidents of that Lodge would probably agree. I know I did when I became President. And of late, seeing the difficulties of one of the eastern Lodges, I appreciate the efforts of some Directors who have been the "staying behind to see that all is well and tidy" types, and one Director who, in spite of no proper place for meetings as in former times, has managed to keep a program going of lectures and study groups. He will be in India soon, and I hope that he looks at this monument and says to himself, "Me too." - S.T.
The greatest among men is always the readiest to serve and yet is unconscious of the Service. - H.P. Blavatsky, "Original Programme" Manuscript, in Collected Writings, VII, 163.
LETTERS TO THE EDITORS
I was somewhat disappointed recently upon reading a particular segment of the International President's Address to the International Convention (C.T. Mar.-Apr. 1988). The statement I am referring to was as follows:
"Generally speaking, it seems that in the areas where most of the members assemble and work well together in Lodges and Centres, the membership is strong and the work goes on well. It must be remembered that the Society was meant to bring people together and to aid them work together and obtain knowledge more quickly through mutual sympathy and aspiration. The encouragement of unattached membership may not be of advantage to the work in general nor be of use in establishing universal brotherhood. Independent study by individuals who are unattached members because they do not want to work with others may be a kind of negation of one of the main purposes of the Theosophical Society." - p. 7
The Society is a group of people with mutual goals, but is also a group of unique individuals with their own contributions and efforts to give. Due to a multitude of circumstances we certainly cannot all live within the range of the few centres in Canada or elsewhere for that matter. Members-at-large have a unique opportunity and responsibility that members of groups may not appreciate. We are as laya centres around which, with will, wisdom and love we may be able to form a new group out of the seeming void ready and willing to actively search for Truth and Brotherhood. Even the Society itself began with the loving efforts of one or two inspired individuals.
We are the seed of the Society scattered across many lands, each person's situation and opportunity different. Some of these seeds may fall on rocky soil, some among weeds and others among fertile soil - who are we to say what this or that individual is or is not able to accomplish? Loving support and inspiration is what we need to give us the courage to step forth from among the apathetic and ignorant and take as many others with us as is possible.
I am no prophet, but do not be surprised if within the next five years there will be a Study Centre if not a Lodge in Nova Scotia, where none existed before.
To the members-at-large across Canada I would like to add a few comments. Even if you do not feel strong enough yet to become a nucleus of a group, be ever watchful for opportunities to help others, or to spread the message of the Society. It may come about in strange and unexpected ways, and remember that every effort you make gives you the strength and courage to take another step forward. I wish you all wisdom and courage in pursuit of Truth.
- Allan Tulip, Member-at-large, Petite Riviere, N.S.
I wonder if any of your readership can help me? I am currently writing a paper on the history of Buddhism in British Columbia. I am seeking recollections of any historical contact between Lodges, Lodge members and Buddhists within the confines of British Columbia. Contacts such as lectures or visits would be especially interesting. The paper is
slated for publication in Ulan Bator, and will have an international readership.
Any assistance members can provide would be most appreciated and, should they so wish, be credited in the article.
- Douglas Henderson, Buddhist Priest, Iron Mountain Buddhist Group, 316 Edward Street Victoria, B.C. V9A 3E6
We have continued our regular weekly Secret Doctrine study class, breaking for presentations by members on the last Wednesday of the month on subjects of their choice relevant to the Society's Objects.
In January, Hank van Hees' title was "Paradise" - which prompted us to look at this word in a variety of ways. A video tape by Gerard Pederian, a member of Toronto Lodge, on "The Egyptian View of Man's Constitution - Visible and Invisible," took the place of a member's paper in February. It was well received by all in attendance. Laetitia van Hees gave us a very interesting presentation at the end of March on "The Buddhas of Compassion." In April, "The Religions of China" was a combined presentation on Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism by Ted Davy, Phyllis Olin and Laetitia in that order.
In April we were also very pleased to officially welcome into the Lodge, Lalji, Maniben and Bharti Vadgama. The Vadgama family joined the Society many years ago through The Theosophical Society in East Africa, prior to their moving to Canada.
At our meeting on May 4 we were happy to see our former Lodge member Joe Kyriakakis, now a member of Toronto Lodge. He made a short stopover in Calgary on his way to the west coast.
Librarian Darcy Kuntz has prepared an updated list of books in our Library, so that members can conveniently choose their summer reading.
After our Annual Meeting at the end of May, the Lodge will close for the Summer.
- Doris Davy, Secretary
It is with great pleasure that the Board of Directors of the Toronto Theosophical Society announce the purchase of new Lodge quarters.
This comes after nearly two years of renting space for lectures and study classes. During that time we have continued our weekly programs in temporary rooms, keeping the Lodge alive while looking for a new building.
As of May 20, we shall own an old house at 109 Dupont Street, not too far from our previous building on MacPherson Avenue. We are looking forward to getting all our possessions back from storage, and setting up again, including our libraries.
We hope to be in full operation by the beginning of September, and extend a cordial welcome to all Canadian Section members and friends to visit us in the Fall.
Our telephone number will be the same as before: (416) 922-5571. The mailing address is: Toronto Theosophical Society, 109 Dupont Street, Toronto, Ontario M5R 1 V4
- Barbara Treloar, Acting President
DARK LIGHT BEHIND THE ALTAR
The Unknown God from Paul to Plotinus - - William R Laudahn
"Breathing threats and murder," in the Biblical words of Acts 9:1, against the disciples of the Nazarene, Saul entered on the road to Damascus. Amazing events soon followed. Their aftermath included his adopting the Greek version of his name, Paul, and adapting the Hellenic spiritual title Kristos (Christ) to Jesus, the Messiah or Deliverer of a small movement within Judaism. Paul's evangelism expanded that sect to Christianity today, with its doctrinal mix of Flesh, Blood and Spirit. In the new religion, he became known as Saint Paul, the 13th Apostle. Truly, the world was "turned upside down."
The old world, in so many ways, has been overturned before and since. It is too busy, however, spinning around on its geographical, social and political axes - and otherwise making, not reading, history - to stop and pay attention. Each generation, therefore, is either amazed or unaware.
As a man of action, looking for the main chance, Paul cared not for the past. He was off to the city to make his mark. Suddenly, the day and the way was bathed in a light from heaven. The soon-to-become "Apostle to the Gentiles" was hurled to the ground. Commenting on the scriptural passage, the famed mystic Meister Eckhart observed that "heaven is filled with the light that is God," to be revealed, in part, by our growth in Spirit. This light, he warned, "does not shine." (1)
Darkness symbolizes the limits of our perception. In the words of The Secret Doctrine, "the eternal light of Primary Creation ... must remain for ever 'Darkness' to the prying finite conception and intellect..." (2) The absolute source, as Father-Mother, is "Darkness...: light their son." For, it radiates in the Dark, which is "the eternal matrix in which the sources of light appear and disappear." (3)
Upon arising in this occult dawn, Paul's "eyes were opened and he saw nothing." Seemingly of small moment, the Latin "nihil" (nothing) in the text used by Eckhart, is big with meaning. Of lesser and larger versions, the mystic inclined to the greater. He said that the Apostle "saw God ... in all things ... (that is) ... nothingness." Usually interpreted as a temporary blindness, for later it is written that "there fell from his eyes as it were scales, and he received his sight..." it would appear to be that, for the magic moment, Paul gained a greater vision.
Inner views often vanish almost as soon as they come. Not long for any person, they are of the Essence, timeless. Paul thus shared an experience with a few here and there who, in total and over the ages, comprise a vast mystical host. Such subtle illumination hints of the Unlimited, All-Inclusive. The bright darkness of the Source is celebrated when the Divine is "symbolized by a circle or the 'nought' (absolute No-Thing and Nothing, because it is infinite and the ALL)." (4) It was, and is, Theos Unveiled.
Austere is the indwelling Spirit. Plotinus said of the Soul that "to be in herself and not in existence is to be in God. For a man ... becomes not an essence, but
superessential in so far as he clings fast to God." (5) Mystics have long noted the identity of Being and Non-Being. An aspect of All or God that is most special, unique - spirituality itself - is non-existence or Nothing. Within and behind the Cosmos is subjectivity, not objectivity. Physical forms are there only in potential, possibility and pattern.
Paul's brief vision of Verity was arrested by a voice calling Saul, saying "I am Jesus whom you persecute." Activity and sound, in all of its phases, intrudes on the Peace Beyond Understanding. The Hidden Life pours forth an eternal pageant of events, usual or not. Henceforth, Paul was torn between what he saw of the Godhead (the Christ, in Paul's view) and what he heard from the mortal Jesus (the embodiment of the Divine Principle). All such representatives are temporary attributes of the Godhead. Torn between God and Man, not always bridging the gap, the division in Paul's world view would appear again and again, especially while in Athens.
Aglow with his new faith, Paul determined to convert all men and women. From Jerusalem to Rome, the World Capital and hub of all roads, the Apostle spread the word of him whom he called Christ, the Lord who rose from the dead and ascended into heaven. "He is risen" soon became dogma, adding Godhood to the manhood of Jesus.
Spiritual leaders of the Hebrews objected to Paul's conferring divinity, with the title of Kristos upon a mortal man. (6) They were reminded of the post-mortem deification of Roman Emperors, a practice condemned by Christians as Pagan. Despite this, the name and title of Jesus Christ has taken on a life of its own. He is a virtual God with many positive attributes and powers. From the Cross, his body went the way of all flesh. Potent forces in the new religion, however, desired to honour that flesh to the utmost. They turned a mystery into unique supernatural history. They also yielded to the temptation to forbid tampering with the letter of Holy Writ. Knowing better, the Gnostics did not confuse a title or a sacred Principle with any man to the exclusion of all others. Nor did they feel that words and meanings could not be improved with greater understanding, in the spirit of being willing to probe deeper.
Stopping in Athens on his mission of Salvation in and through his Cosmic Concept of Christ, Paul's spirit was provoked upon seeing "the city full of idols." He encountered further expressions of the opposition that had dogged his footsteps. Certain philosophers wondered "what does this babbler want to say?" They made it clear that his preaching the resurrection of Jesus amounted to ushering in "foreign gods." He was, indeed, bringing "some strange things to our ears."
The people of Athens were famous for lending an ear to "some new thing." They brought Paul, then, to address the High Court, the Areopagus. In his talk, he drew from the rich heritage of Greek religious philosophy (theosophy). He told of seeing an altar inscribed TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. The Apostle saluted that Godhead "not dwelling in temples made with hands," but "not far from each one of us," where "we live, move, and have our being." The Divine is unlike "gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and device of man."
Without a smooth transition, Paul then departed the high road for a lower. Leaving beauty and harmony behind, he indulged in the banal trivialities of the grosser aspects
of popular religion. In the name of a known but lesser god, the 13th Apostle hurled the threat of a day of judgment. Demanding repentance, he promised the physical "resurrection of the dead." Although a few, including Dionysius and Damaris, came forth and believed, the philosophers were "driven to mockery." To them, Eternity is not of the flesh, but of the Spirit.
Overshadowing the perishable are the Platonic ideal Forms and Ideas, the "many mansions" that Jesus promised were in his Father's house (John 14:2). Preaching in Athens, Paul had gone from the sublime to the ridiculous. Greatness of Spirit often shrinks into an array of things and petty ideas, for good or ill. As more is in heaven and earth than dreamed of in our philosophy, the Source, the Godhead, in its original state (before and after manifestation), is generous beyond words. To this the outer eye is blind.
The sightless eye guided Dionysius and Damaris to follow Paul's literal preaching on the resurrection of the flesh. Dionysius is famous as the "Areopagite". He is said to have been the first Bishop of Athens, believed to have been martyred by agents of the Roman Emperor Domitian. To Dionysius was mistakenly attributed several mystical books. One, The Mystical Theology was described by a recent reviewer as a "precious little treatise." The woman, Damaris, is otherwise unknown. From darkness, she returned, following a primal path.
A primitive but dusky path was preferred by Dionysius and Damaris, the way of the many. Not in tune with the Infinite, they welcomed physical resurrection and a known but limited personal God to the Unknown. They looked to a "flesh and blood" God over philosophical abstractions. Yet, displaying another side of his Quest, Paul wrote that "flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God." (I Corinthians, 15) Here, as in several other instances, the higher Paul contradicted the lesser, creating the split personality of his religion.
The better half of Paul's religion was displayed in The Mystical Theology, now thought to have been written by an 8th century Syrian monk. As he ascribed the book to the Areopagite, the monk is known as the "Pseudo Dionysius." On account of the supposed connection with Paul, however, those on the other side, the literalists, though uncomfortable, suspecting heresy, dared not be openly critical. Therefore, the book was allowed to circulate, influencing Christian, Muslim and Jewish mystics.
Composed in the esoteric tradition by the Syrian monk, who had probably studied Plotinus, the small volume could have been named The Mystical Theosophy. It openly declares what all authentic Gnostics know intuitively - that after a long, twisting and tiring journey, the Quest for the Over-self finally leads to the Inner Self.
To mystical Christians, the Innermost and All Highest is one with the Christ, as Higher Self, both personal and universal. Yet the other, more literal party of Flesh and Blood secretly or openly opposed the far-reaching spiritualization of the Son of God and Man. On the other hand, certain thinkers announced that even the Flesh and Blood is to be viewed symbolically! Always, there is tension in the play of opposites.
In the ultimate One, Verity and Novelty must contain much that is familiar, unique only in form. Hence, the "Christian" system ascribed to Dionysius in The Mystical Theology is, at once, "affirmative, negative, and symbolic or superlative." (7) Experience and Self-Realization of this breadth requires that we overcome, at least in part and for a while,
some of our many limitations. Then we may see totality or absoluteness as not only all existence, which is temporary and periodical, but also non-existence in the Past, Present and to come. Deity is, more often than not, in disguise. The many faces are also divine; and we are fascinated with the facades.
The deific Ultimate, the Core of the Core, as G. de Purucker put it, is shorn of all attributes, necessary and valuable as they are in our temporary world. Look and see, said the little boy, free of hypocrisy, "the Emperor has no clothes!" Yet, he remains as King of Kings. Perhaps with trembling we approach, as close as we can, to the Naked God of Gnostic theosophy, the Divinity before, during and after the many phases of manifestation.
Once upon a time the aspects of our world, so well known to us, were not. Where were they? Asleep in latency is the only occult answer. Longing for Love, a vociferous number of men and women wish that Love was the final, most Godlike essence. It would then, as Plotinus observed, be Super Love and Super Good, for the Ultimate is Super Essence.
While ever present, Spirit seems to come forth and depart. This drama is Universal Love, even Eros in generation. The first, most abiding Compassion, to Plotinus is where All flows from One into the World. Of this, it is Sophia's (Wisdom's) passion to know. Supplementing Plato's Ideal Forms as intermediaries between God and the World, Plotinus postulated stages of emanation from pure Unity, which is Nothing to us, to the passing and diverse scene, which is Something to us.
Something is everything to us, not always any one thing, but the parade, the panorama - although an excess can become as nothing, all is cheapened. We are, therefore, the microcosm in the macrocosm and the measure of all things. The magnitude of objects and concepts that we encounter and observe - lovable or not - springs from the One in its capacity of Everything (All) and Nothing, embracing potentiality and possibility.
In diversity and multiplicity, the ultimate sense is Unity. "For," asked Plotinus, "what would anything be if it were not 'one'?" Underneath and above, the many "ones" make up the greater and greatest One, the "First Principle" of which "is beyond Being," it is "not this ... boundless." As mere persons, then, suggests Plotinus, we must forsake "the search for what it is," for that would only "involve a reference to what it is not..."
If we wish "to see the Intelligible," he points out, we must "abandon all imagery ... in order to contemplate what is beyond..." We will "attain the contemplation of it by letting go ... this means learning that it is..." (8)
Who, then, are we? Who am I? The answer is That, forever inward and outward, as attested by the Upanishads of India; the Enneads of Plotinus, and The Mystical Theology of Dionysius. Of the latter book, the true author is meant, the so-called "Pseudo Dionysius". It can hardly be said that Dionysius the Areopagite was inclined to set out on brave adventures of Mind and Spirit. To him, Secret Doctrines retained their Secret.
Standing on the shoulders of giants, Universal Theosophy like Brahma, surveys all directions and beyond. Looking backward, H.P. Blavatsky, in The Key to Theosophy (p. 2) praised the Eclectic Theosophical System of Ammonius Saccas of 3rd century Alexandria in old Egypt. Ammonius wrote nothing; his famed pupil Plotinus wrote much. Con-
sulting him allows us to see clean, classical Theosophy in black and white.
The first two, most vital tenets of Eclectic Theosophy were "one Absolute, incomprehensible ...Deity, or infinite essence ... the root of all...visible and invisible." An excellent view, this, of the Unknown God. "Man's eternal immortal nature" follows "because, being a radiation of the Universal Soul, it is of an identical essence with it."
With the wiser heads amongst the ancients, Plotinus avoided idle speculation as to precise descriptions of the afterlife - which could only be presented in earthly terms, fantasized.
With Man and Nature, forms of Theosophy assume all of the hues of the rainbow. Consequently, many elaborations have been presented. On special occasions, therefore, some will relax and return refreshed to our Fountain-Source, the One in All and All in One, not personalized but universalized.
1. Reiner Schurmann, Meister Eckhart: Mystic and Philosopher, p. 122.
2. H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, II, 59.
3. ibid., I, 40-1.
4. ibid., II, 553.
5. Charles M. Bakewell, Source Book on Ancient Philosophy, p. 393.
6. Hyam Maccoby, The Mythmaker: Paul and the Invention of Christianity, p. 104.
7. Julius R. Weinberg, A Short History of Medieval Philosophy, p. 52.
8. D.D. Runes, ed., Treasury of Philosophy, pp. 960-2.
A READER'S NOTES
The April-May issue of Messiah records the death of its founder Editor-Publisher, George Cardinal Legros on February 15, 1988. He was in his 83rd year.
Cardinal worked unstintingly for Theosophy for over half a century. His name appears in The Canadian Theosophist as early as the 1930s, when he participated in the various international / inter-organizational conferences held in that period. In 1959 he started his own independent journal, The Theosophical Reminder. This ran for 60 issues until publication ceased in June, 1964. The first number of Messiah appeared in March, 1974.
As well as these publishing activities, Theosophical correspondence courses were also offered. This activity, and Messiah, are being carried on by his associate Marcheta Henry, to whom we send best wishes for the continued success of Cardinal's work.
Messiah is published from Box 5, Weaubleau, Missouri, 65774 U.S.A.
Solovyoff s Fraud, Beatrice Hastings' critical analysis of A Modern Priestess of Isis, V.S. Solovyoff's scurrilous attack on H.P. Blavatsky, has been republished by the Edmonton Lodge. It is a facsimile of the original, which ran serially in The Canadian Theosophist 1943-4. The 76-page book includes an Introduction by Michael Gomes entitled "Beatrice Hastings and the 'Defence of Madame Blavatsky'." (This appeared in the C.T. last Fall.)
Solovyoff s Fraud may be purchased from the Edmonton Lodge, T.S., P.O. Box 4804, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6E 2A0. The price is $4.00 plus postage.
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.
9. THE ASTRAL LIGHT - PART I
Question. What is the significance of Akasa?
Answer. First it should be stated that the term Akasa is derived from the Sanskrit verb-root kash, meaning to shine; it is used in two distinct ways: (1) In connection with the Tattvas and rendered Etheric Force: the fifth in the series of element principles - the other four being Air, Fire, Water, Earth. It is often rendered Aether, so as to indicate that Akasa is not equivalent to the Ether of science.
(2) "The Akasa is the eternal divine consciousness which cannot differentiate, have qualities, or act; action belongs to that which is reflected or mirrored from it. The unconditioned and infinite can have no relation with the finite and conditioned." (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings X, 361).
Question. Is there a connection between the Astral Light and Akasa?
Answer. There is a connection, in view of the fact that the term "Astral Light" is used in two ways: (1) The Universal Astral Light; (2) the Earth's Astral Light - representing the lowest reaches of Akasa and signifying in this aspect, technically, the Linga-sarira of the Earth. To quote The Secret Doctrine:
"The astral light stands in the same relation to Akasa and Anima Mundi, as Satan stands to the Deity. They are one and the same thing seen from two aspects: the spiritual and the psychic - the super-ethereal or connecting link between matter and pure spirit, and the physical." (S.D. I, 197; I, 247 6-vol. ed.; I, 219 3rd ed.)
"Akasa - the astral light - can be defined in a few words; it is the universal Soul, the Matrix of the Universe, the 'Mysterium Magnum' from which all that exists is born by separation or differentiation. It is the cause of existence; it fills all the infinite Space; is Space itself, in one sense, or both its Sixth and Seventh principles." (S.D. II, 511-12; IV, 81 6-vol. ed.; II, 538 3rd ed.).
Continuing the exposition of Akasa by turning to another source:
"In the ABSOLUTE or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not so
exist; but Divine Ideation is limited by the Universal Manvantaras. The realm of Akasa is the undifferentiated noumenal and abstract Space which will be occupied by Chidakasam, the field of primordial consciousness. It has several degrees, however, in Occult philosophy; in fact, 'seven fields'....The Astral Light is that which mirrors the three higher planes of consciousness, and is above the lower, or terrestrial plane; therefore it does not extend beyond the fourth plane, where, one may say, the Akasa begins.
"There is one great difference between the Astral Light and the Akasa which must be remembered. The latter is eternal, the former periodic. The Astral Light changes not only with the Maha manvantaras but also with every sub-period and planetary cycle or Round." (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, X, 360-1).
There is yet another concept in connection with Akasa, which is expressed in this manner:
"According to the Buddhists in Akasa lies that eternal, potential energy whose function it is to evolve all visible things out of itself.
"That is to say, the Aryan Akasa - is another word for Buddhist SPACE (in its metaphysical meaning.)" (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings III, 413).
Question. What is the connection between the Astral Light and the Recorders?
Answer. Reference is here made to the Divine Beings known as the Lipikas - a term derived from the Sanskrit verb-root Lip, to write; hence the Divine Recorders.
"Mystically, these Divine Beings are connected with Karma, the Law of Retribution, for they are the Recorders or Annalists who impress on the (to us) invisible tablets of the Astral Light, 'the great picture-gallery of eternity' - a faithful record of every act, and even thought, of man, of all that was, is, or ever will be, in the phenomenal Universe." (S.D. I, 104; I, 165 6-vol. ed.; I, 130 3rd ed.).
"Connected as the Lipika are with the destiny of every man and the birth of every child, whose life is already traced in the Astral Light - not fatalistically, but only because the future, like the PAST, is ever alive in the PRESENT - they may also be said to exercise an influence on the Science of Horoscopy." (S. D. I, 105; I, 166 6-vol. ed.; I, 131 3rd. ed.).
An interesting point in connection with the recording process is made here by referring to the powers demonstrated by means of psychometry. In writing about psychometrists, H.P. Blavatsky mentioned the Dentons, who she states had:
"developed their psychometrical powers to a marvelous degree. If any object - a letter, bit of clothing, fragment of stone or other material from a building, or of a geological specimen, etc., were given them to clasp in their hands or hold against the middle of their foreheads - an inch above the line of the eyebrows - they would at once come into sympathy with the Akasa, or soul, of the person or thing with whom or which the object had been in relation, and describe the same. Step by
step, these researches proved the truth of the old Aryan dogma that the Akasa is the cradle and grave of objective nature; and that it holds imperishably the records of everything that ever existed, every phenomenon that ever occurred in the outer world." (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, IV, 555.).
- Vol. 59, No. 4
SECRET DOCTRINE CENTENARY
OCTOBER 29-30,1988 - PASADENA, CALIFORNIA
The Theosophical Society (Pasadena), as part of its International Conference scheduled for October 27 - November 2, 1988, will devote the weekend of October 29-30 to a centenary commemoration of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine. Members of theosophical organizations, independent students of theosophy, and interested friends are invited to participate in the Saturday and Sunday sessions. The program will feature speakers, panels, slide presentations, displays and general discussion.
There is no admission charge, but registration is required before August 15. Late registration will be accepted on a space-available basis.
For registration and information on transportation, hotel/motel accommodations (conference rates), and meals in the Pasadena area, please write to:
The Theosophical Society
P.O. Bin C
Pasadena, CA 91109 U.S.A.
T.S. SUMMER CAMPS
Camp Indralaya is on beautiful Orcas Island (near Seattle-Victoria). The 1988 summer program runs through July and August. For details, write Camp Indralaya, Rt. 1, Box 86, Eastsound, WA 98245, U.S.A.
Pumpkin Hollow Farm
Pumpkin Hollow Farm is located not far from Albany, N.Y. The program runs from May to October. For details, write Pumpkin Hollow Farm, R.F.D. No. 1, Box 135, Craryville, N.Y. 12521, U.S.A.
Far Horizons Camp is located in the High Sierras, King's Canyon National Park, California. Program runs from June to September. For more information, write Camp Director, Far Horizons Inc., Box 857, King's Canyon National Park, CA 93633, U.S.A.
Ozark Camp & Educational Center
Programs June 11 -15 and a Fall program in September to be announced. For more information, write Camp Manager, Ozark Theosophical Camp, Box R.R. 225, Sulphur Springs, AR 72768, U.S.A.
CHANGING YOUR ADDRESS?
If you are a subscriber or a member-at-large and are planning to change your address, please send us a change of address card as soon as possible. If you are a member of a Lodge, please advise your Lodge Secretary so that the information may be passed to us. Second class mail is not re-addressed by the post office. - Eds.
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)
HOME STUDY COURSE
A Theosophical correspondence course is now available to Canadian readers. It is offered to new students of Theosophy, especially those who are unable to participate in local study groups.
Further information may be obtained by writing HOME STUDY, R.R. No. 3, Burk's Falls, Ont. POA 1 CO.
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.
BEACONSFIELD STUDY CENTRE: Secretary, Mrs. Suzanne Hassanein, 81 Heritage Rd., Beaconsfield, P.Q., H9W 3V2. (Phone 695-2618 or 697-8198).
CALGARY LODGE: President, Mr. Ted G. Davy, Secretary, Mrs. Doris Davy, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W. Calgar, Alta. T3C 2M3
DHARMA STUDY CENTRE: Secretary, Mrs. Diane Mottus, Box 145 Glendon, Alta., T0A 1P0
EDMONTON LODGE: President, Mr. Ernest E. Pelletier; Secretary, Mrs. Rogelle Pelletier, South Side Edmonton Post Office Box 4804, Edmonton, Alta. T6E 2A0. (Phone 434-9326).
HAMILTON LODGE: President, Sharon L. Taylor; Secretary, Mr. Richard D. MacPhail, 200 Hunter St. West, Apt. 18 Hamilton, Ont L8P 1R6 MONTREAL STUDY CENTRE: Leader, Mrs. Phoebe Stone; Secretary, Mr. Fred Wilkes, 3679 Ste. Famille, No. 22, Montreal, P.Q. H2X 2L5
TORONTO LODGE: Acting President, Mrs. Barbara Treloar, Apt. 288, 2095 Roche Ct, Mississauga, Ont L5K 2C8 (Phone 822-4352) Secretary, Mr. Wilf Olin
VANCOUVER LODGE: President, Mrs. Marian Thompson; Sec.-Treas. Mrs. Anne Whalen, Lodge Rooms, Room 413, Dominion Building, 207 West Hastings St., Vancouver, V6B 1H7.
HERMES LODGE, VANCOUVER: President, Mr. Larry Gray; Secretary, Mrs. Eva V. Sharp. Lodge Rooms: 2 - 2807 West 16th Ave., Vancouver, B.C. V6K 3C5. (Phone 733-5684 or 266-7340.)
KALEVALA STUDY CENTRE, VANCOUVER: Secretary; Mrs. Hellin Savolainen, 2282 Gravely St., Vancouver, B.C. V5L 3C2.
ORPHEUS LODGE, VANCOUVER: President, Mrs. Lillian Hooper. (Phone 987-8633 or 731-7491.)
VICTORIA LODGE: President, Mrs. Fiona Odgren; Secretary, Mrs. Mollie Yorke. (Phone 592-9838).
ATMA VIDYA LODGE: Secretary, Mrs. H. Tidberry. Enquiries c/o General Secretary.
BLAVATSKY INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS
2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Aberta T3C 2M3
- 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
Postage extra on all titles