Vol. 69 No. 4 Toronto, Sept.-Oct., 1988
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
- Gordon Limbrick
(Based on a talk given at the 1988 Annual Convention of the New Zealand Section of the Theosophical Society. Slightly abridged.)
Of all creatures on earth, the most complex and mentally advanced is man. He is elevated above the animal not only because he is self-conscious but because he has the inner capacity to reach horizons expanding to Infinity. Yet he is blind to this boundless potential because he does not understand himself. He is unaware of his essential nature. Having lost memory of his Divine origin, he has become deeply rooted in materialism and gropes blindly among other lost souls responding mechanically to the conditioned mind and senses.
Fortunately, he will ultimately awake to the transitory, ephemeral nature of a material existence, and seek for that which is eternal. This "crucial turning point" will mark the beginning of the ageless quest for Self Knowledge, a pursuit that was also prevalent in ancient Greece. There above the temple of Apollo in Delphi was inscribed the renowned injunction "Gnothe Seauton" - KNOW THYSELF. In a land where the gods were venerated, the sages were saying, in effect, "Realize that your first duty is to know who and what you are yourself." This has always been the first command of the Mahatmas, regardless of tradition, and was the precept repeated by the wise Socrates: "O Man, Know Thyself!"
To the Theosophist, this ancient decree symbolizes the purpose of Theosophy, namely, the quest for Truth, or Divine Wisdom, which is the root meaning derived from the Greek word Theosophia. Socrates taught that Self Knowledge was not intellectual knowledge, but that which springs from the deeper levels of Being; for the deeper a man is rooted in Spirit, the more he knows directly. It is only when man begins to rise above the world of sense that he begins to know.
Truth, we are told, is beyond the fleeting vision or the "flash of Satori". It is a state of abiding Light and Peace realized by means of a natural and gradual transformation
brought about by study, reflection and meditation. In the course of this transformation, the individual will recognize the "Veils of Ignorance" that yet shroud the Light of Knowledge, and having perceived them, he will painstakingly proceed to shed them. For beneath the subterfuge of Maya, and beyond the turbulence of thought, lies REALITY.
The Constitution of Man
Mystics tell us that man cannot know himself until he discovers that he is inseparable from the totality and ONENESS of existence. To realize this boundless vision he must first understand the nature and substance of his constitution. "In order to become the KNOWER of ALL SELF thou hast first of SELF to be the knower," states The Voice of the Silence (p. 5). The Rishis of India have always made a detailed analysis of the total constitution of man to make clear the distinction between man - as he imagines himself to be - and the REAL man, who is a Divine Being. The Samkya philosophy, for example, describes twenty-four Tattvas - elements of original substance that comprise the entire universe of mind and matter - all of which are represented and active in the human constitution. By categorizing and clarifying the nature of these components that range from Mahat down to the five gross elements of Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Ether, it was revealed to the Chela that he is different from them, that in essence he is One with the Purusha, or God, the unchanging witness of the grosser transitory coverings. They taught, therefore, that he must constantly identify with the Eternal Purusha - the real Self - rather than with its never ceasing, manifested fluctuations.
In Theosophy, the relationship between the ego-centric self and the all-encompassing Logos is explained in the working hypothesis of the Seven Principles which comprise the composite nature of man. Taimni, for example uses a diagrammatic concept of expanding circles to illustrate this relationship. Picture, if you will, a small circle surrounding the consciousness of the personality, which is limited to the physical, astral and lower mental planes. Extend this circle to the larger sphere of the Individuality which works through the Atmic, Buddhic and Causal planes and includes the personality within it. The Individuality, in turn, is contained within the far wider consciousness of the Divine Monad, man's boundless potential, his link with Eternity in the ineffable Atmic planes. Thus, from a cosmic perspective, the path of Self Knowledge may be seen as the "return journey" whence the soul passes through its outer envelopes - physical, astral and mental - along the road by which it came, lined with memories of lifetimes. And when, at last, its primal source is reached, the Jiva becomes the Jivamukta, having attained Self Knowledge while living. The Monad is finally free from the "cycle of birth and death."
What marvels lie in man! He embodies the amazing microcosm of the macrocosm encompassing the boundless Logos. Even the gods pine for the priceless inheritance of a human form, yet man remains ignorant of his mystic birthright. KNOW THYSELF! implore the Sages. Awake from this world of dreams. Remove the Veils of Ignorance before death overtakes you. Realize the "powers latent within you" while you live, for who knows in what circumstances he will again be born? In the words of the Indian poet-visionary Paltu:
"O man, thou art no passing mortal being. Within thee lie treasures unimaginable that seal thy destiny with immortality. Let not thy mortal frame
be cast aside before thou has discovered thine own inheritance."
Many are the paths to Self Knowledge. Teachers do but point the way. Our duty is to find the true Ariadne's Thread that will lead us out of the labyrinth of mind and matter to the Sanctum Sanctorum within the human skull, the abode of the Adept, where TRUTH lies resplendent. We must, at least, aspire towards Adeptship which is the pinnacle of man's evolutionary development, for all must reach that state before final release from Samskaric bondage.
The Barrier of Mind
The Ancient Wisdom teaches that those who would attain to Self Knowledge must first overcome the formidable barrier of Mind, which H.P.B. has aptly described as "the great Slayer of the Real." Yet it is paradoxical that without the instrument of the Mind, TRUTH cannot be experienced. "By mind bondage is built," states Shankara. "By mind is also built liberation." To be more precise, Self Knowledge lies in a placid mind: "Be still, and know that I am God." Patanjali affirms the same irrevocable law: "Yoga is the control of the thought-waves of the mind." Only a controlled mind can reach the serenity of Reality.
Seen from a Yogic perspective, Mind is merely an instrument of the Higher Self for all of its contacts with the material world, an instrument that does not possess intelligence, but is an avenue through which intelligence is expressed. It borrows its intelligence from the omniscient Atman permeating through the Buddhi-Manas or Higher Mind. The mind reflects that Consciousness and, therefore, appears to be intelligent. We might infer that Divine Consciousness, when channeled through the human mind, becomes limited consciousness, since it must express itself through the limited capacity of a human brain in relation to the potential of the individual at that stage of his evolutionary development.
As to the mind's origin, esoteric doctrine holds that the Monad or Soul, prior to its embodiment, acquired Mind from the region of Universal Mind for use on the lower planes. At that time, mind and soul were knotted together in a time-union and remain in that state until the soul is free from Samskaric bondage. As a result of this fusion, the vision of the soul is obscured by the "veiling power" of the mind and man is born in the state of Avidya, meaning spiritual ignorance, and begins to accumulate Karma.
Yet another barrier to self-knowledge is the all pervasive influence of the Gunas. Esoteric doctrine affirms that the Gunas are inseparable from Consciousness itself and inextricably woven into the fabric of nature and, therefore, serve to "veil" the mind of the unwary. The three qualities, or Gunas, are Sattva, relating to purity and light; Rajas, denoting energy and action; and Tamas, referring to inertia and darkness. They are the properties that bind the Higher Self to the body by permeating every thought, word and deed.
These vacillating qualities are reflected in everything; in music, art, in the personality and in racial characteristics. They are present in the changes of weather, in food, and even in the style and colour of the clothes we wear. When one quality prevails, the remaining two subside. The pattern is one of constant interchange. However, when the quality of thought is predominantly Sattvic, or pure, a catharsis ensues as the fetters of the lower mind are gradually loosened. Nevertheless, even the quality of Sattva must be transcended before the Self is realized. In brief, Sattva binds man to rebirth through
happiness, Rajas through action and Tamas through lack of judgement.
Separation from the power of the Gunas is an arduous task demanding constant awareness, discrimination and the cultivation of an attitude of indifference towards the constant fluctuation of the three qualities. Ultimately they are transcended by rising above the demands of the small self in complete surrender to the Higher Self. In the words of Krishna, "And he, serving me with unswerving devotion, and crossing beyond the Gunas, is fit to become Brahman."
At this point you are probably dismayed at the prospect of having to surmount so many obstacles just to get to "know yourself" and it will hardly reassure you when I confess that for the past seventy years I have not succeeded in discovering who I am myself, despite an unremitting practice of Yoga for the latter thirty years. However, it has been a rewarding, though humbling experience to see my imperfections as though through a transparency, and to realize how much I have yet to learn in my search for Self Knowledge.
It must now be evident that the key to Self Knowledge hinges on the mind which may be regarded as a spiritual pivot between Kama, the desire or lower mind, and Buddhi-Manas, its higher counterpart. Yoga doctrine reveals that there are four major modes of mental action. The first two are the Scattering and Darkening tendencies which mark the Monad's descent into matter. The remaining two are their related opposites, namely, the Gathering and Concentrating processes which reflect the Monad's ascent from matter, concomitant with the pursuit of Self-Knowledge.
The action of Gathering serves to overcome the Scattering and Darkening tendencies by reversing the process, that is, by gathering the mind to a controllable focus at the Ajna Chakra, or eye-centre. This practice develops "one-pointedness of mind" - a state that Patanjali calls Ekagrata and which is indispensable on "The Path of Return."
To achieve this, the incessant outgoing energy of the mind must be channeled inwards toward the Godhead. However, any attempt to re-orient the mind will be met with stubborn resistance, for assuredly habit is the mind's strongest action. Mind adores the routine of its well-worn tracks and will defend to the last its own conditioning. It is neither moral nor immoral, but operates as mechanically as a programmed robot. The aspirant must cultivate an impartial observation of the "tug of war" between the dictates of the lower mind and the aspirations of the Higher Mind, and must at all times be aware of the vulnerability of the lower mind to Karmic entanglement.
The Nature of Thought
Mind is the irresistible energy of its own thought-flow that sweeps us into the vortex of worldly pursuit and is determined to keep us there. Even during sleep the activity of thought continues in the form of dreams and when there are no dreams, as in the deepsleep state, there is still a certain consciousness, for on waking we know whether we have slept well or badly. Neither does death annihilate the activity of the mind entirely, for the Vasanas formed from our deepest mental impressions remain with the Casual Mind after the sheaths of personality have been discarded.
In the waking state, Self Knowledge will continue to evade us, while haphazard thought conjures up images about ourselves and false ideas of what life is all about. For example, we don't take things in exactly as they are: instead, we fit them into some existing system, some prior concept or model
which is deeply ingrained within us. Moreover, beyond these basic misconceptions we must recognize that the lower mind receives appearances only, and never the essence of things. Hence the need for constant introspection.
For Socrates, the unexamined life was not worth living, while Shankara demanded a searching enquiry into the nature of thought and existence, and constant discrimination between the UNREAL, the transitory visual world, and the REAL, present in the unseen sustaining power. Discrimination is the first step on the razor-like path to Self-Knowledge, especially regarding the nature of thought that builds happiness or misery and makes life what it is. "All that we are is the result of what we have thought," declare the opening lines of the Dhammapada. "It is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts." In other words: past thinking has shaped the personality, and present thoughts determine our destiny.
This is true of mortal man whose personality is a collection of memories which project themselves as thought. It does not apply to immortal man, who remains detached from the lower mind yet has the capacity, as Patanjali reminds us, "to look directly upon ideas." Understandably, the substance of thought is intangible to the average man, for there appears to be no separation between himself the thinker and his thoughts. The one is the product of the other. The Cartesian certitude, "I think, therefore I am," also appears to support the contention that mind, as such, knows no other reality than thought. Is there an alternative to grappling with an incessant stream of fragmented thoughtforms? Can we pierce beyond the barrier of mental images and reach a level of consciousness beyond human conception? Plotinus taught that Self Knowledge can be apprehended only by a faculty superior to reason, by entering into a state beyond the finite mind which he called Ecstasy. But TRUTH will always beggar description. It must be experienced deep within the core of one's being, for it exists in no other place. As Browning wrote:
... to KNOW
Rather consists in opening out a way
Whence the imprisoned splendour may escape,
Than in effecting entry for a light
Supposed to be without.
Know thyself to be the Imprisoned Splendour that awaits eternally to embrace you. "Thou Art That" declare the Upanishads. Become "what thou art" by the daily practice of meditation. Lift the mind from its agelong anchorage in matter, and thereby take a quantum leap from the state of fragmented thought to that of unswerving attention towards the Godhead. Close the nine portals of the body leading to Samskara. Go within and open the tenth door to Nirvana. KNOW that the body in its archetypal perfection is the temple of its Creator and must be kept as a fitting sanctum in strict compliance with nature's laws. Turn the mind inwards upon itself and reverently use the body as a laboratory in which experiments are put to test. Meditate, and by painstaking trial and error learn to separate the subtle body from its physical counterparts. The gradual metamorphosis will ultimately bring forth a spir-
itual rebirth, for to reach Nirvana, one must first reach Self Knowledge.
May I hastily add: "Thus I have heard it said."
The Voice of the Silence
No man can claim to Know Himself unless he is aware of his inseparable relationship with Primordial Sound, which the Rig Veda describes as "the First Holy Utterance." Emanating from Atman it manifests and sustains the creation until its dissolution. It is a "mystic sound" reverberating throughout the entirety of Existence, and is resonating in every cell of the body at this moment to give you life and consciousness. In fact, it is the only enduring aspect of man's being. Its unbroken melody "rings throughout eternities," affirms Madame Blavatsky. It is none other than the "Sounds of All Sounds" - the ineffable Voice of the Silence described in the cryptic and beautiful verses of her unique work, The Voice of the Silence.
The first part comprises a synopsis of the ancient art of Nada Yoga, a system that uses the medium of Sound, to wean the mind away from its attachment to the senses, and finally, to carry the Monad on the vast return journey to its Primal Source. This Sound Current has two, apparently distinct modes of operation: Terrestrial and Metaphysical. The terrestrial aspect is the outward centrifugal flow relating to the "descending principle" that sustains the universe and governs the Monad's descent into matter. Inherent within it are tones corresponding with sounds of Nature that are related to the "sevenfold manifesting principle" in man and the universe.
On the other hand, the Metaphysical attribute flows centripetally, inwards and upwards towards its Source beyond the Atmic planes and can miraculously be heard within the human skull. This return stream is the pristine Voice of the Silence, the "Soundless Sound" so-called, because it does not emanate from the physical universe. It is a spiritual sound and, therefore beyond the range of the human ear. Hence, the paradox, "The Voice of the Silence." In essence the Voice of the Silence is a combination of Light and Sound and its "Ringing Radiance" can be reached by all human beings through the soul's inherent faculty of "Inner Vision" and "Inner Hearing". Yet the greatest boon to man is its irresistible levitating power that will eventually liberate the soul from all earthly ties.
The six manifesting tones may be heard by holding the attention within the head instead of letting it run out to the external world. Some of you may already have heard one or more of its frequencies ringing in the skull without realizing its significance. At the outset the Chela learns to listen intently to each of the inner terrestrial sounds. These finally merge into one enchanting melody that swallows up all other sounds. Lack of time precludes elaboration. Suffice to quote H.P.B.'s summation: "Behold! Thou hast become the light, thou hast become the Sound ... the Voice unbroken, that resounds throughout Eternities ... the seven sounds in one, the VOICE OF THE SILENCE." The Chela has become the Adept. He has attained Self-Knowledge while living and is thus able to assist others to achieve life's only purpose.
But the journey does not end there, for the horizons of Self Knowledge extend beyond personal salvation. "Unless inner enlightenment finds corresponding service to mankind, the seeker treads a dangerous path and has worked in vain," affirms H.P.B. Having attained Self Knowledge, or even a glimpse of its indescribable splendour, we must bring down its perfection into our daily
lives. TRUTH must be demonstrable. We must give ourselves entirely to the Higher Self and make ourselves its instrument to do whatever worldly duties it demands. Beyond this "bundle of Skandhas," this "web of dreams" we call personality, we must, while living, unite with the only immortal substance of our total constitution, the immortal Voice of the Silence. Then we may rightly claim to "know ourselves."
Madame Blavatsky was the forerunner of a great spiritual revival which appears to be gathering impetus again. It is my belief that if the future role of Theosophy is to assist and guide those who seek TRUTH, we must now put to use the legacy that H.P.B. left to all members, that of free and fearless investigation. Of the Society's three Objects, it would appear the third falls authentically within the ambit of such an inquiry: "To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man." As one who is inclined towards the approach of the Mystic rather than that of the Occultist, I have always considered that man himself should be the first subject of "free and fearless investigation." Moreover, Theosophy teaches that man is inseparable from the universe of mind and matter and is therefore intrinsic in Nature itself. Furthermore, the Ancient Wisdom makes clear that when the "powers latent in man" are revivified - as a result of noble living and spiritual practice - the "unexplained laws of nature" will, as a consequence, be revealed as naturally as the petals of a flower open out to the sun. If this is so, the quest for Self Knowledge must take priority, not by means of external hypotheses, but by turning within and bravely exploring the depths of Being, the source of Higher Knowledge.
Needless to say, the dawn of Universal Brotherhood will remain a distinct dream until the INDIVIDUAL sets forth in earnest upon the path of Self Discovery, and realizes that Brotherhood is not a slogan to which the idealist pays lip service, but will be the result of a spiritual transformation within the individual that will ultimately unite all souls.
The above talk has also been published in Theosophy in New Zealand. In July, Gordon Limbrick moved from Canada to settle permanently in Australia. He will be greatly missed by the Victoria Lodge, of which he has been a member for several years. Readers who have enjoyed his articles published in earlier volumes of the C.T. will no doubt wish to join us in wishing Gordon well in his new homeland, and express the hope that his thoughts may continue to be shared with us through these pages. - Eds.
THE THREE TRUTHS
There are three truths which are absolute, and which cannot be lost, yet remain silent for lack of speech.
The soul of man is immortal, and its future is the future of a thing whose growth and splendor has no limit.
The principle which gives life dwells in us, and without us, is undying and eternally beneficent, is not heard or seen or smelt, but is perceived by the man who desires perception.
Each man is his own absolute lawgiver, the dispenser of glory or gloom to himself; the decreer of his life, his reward, his punishment.
These truths, which are as great as is life itself, are as simple as the simplest mind of man. Feed the hungry with them.
- Idyll of the White Lotus
GREAT PAN IS ALIVE
God, Man and Nature
- William R. Laudahn
Who and what is the Great Pan? "Look around and you will see." Before the Christian religion descended upon Greece, he was seen clearly in the tranquil hills, skies and seas. The mood would quicken in the quiet of the wilderness. Dark forests, storms, and the occasional shaken and battered Earth present other faces of "Him who reigns."
Out of touch, we no longer respond. In our sphere, Pan is often personified, even as a Nature spirit, but he cannot be kept down. He jumps over and around, with no territorial or other limits. The ancient Greeks and others would say of Pan that, at the highest level, there is universal energy, All and Everywhere. To most English speakers, a pan warms food. The Greater Pan warms food for the mind.
This is Pantheism, where God is All. The Secret Doctrine says that "...the eternal and ever-present root and essence" (I, 533fn) cannot be restricted. Good questions were asked by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, in "The Higher Pantheism":
The sun, the moon, the stars, the seas,
the hills and the plains -
Are not these, O soul,
the vision of Him who reigns?
Is not the Vision He? tho' He be not
that which he seems?
In her first great book, Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky declared that Pantheism sees "God in space in His only possible objective form - that of visible nature ... the better adapted to the needs of mankind." (I, 152) Her second great book, The Secret Doctrine, hints of "the mysterious form of God Pan - or Nature." (II, 510)
Pan is, indeed, mysterious, especially in his inmost or "Higher" aspects. "All" should include both the known and the unknown. Perhaps much of poetical and naturalistic Pantheism seems to confine Deity to objective Nature, but the Higher (H.P.B. would say "Esoteric") Pantheism, going beyond physics, abolishes all bounds.
Within clear bounds, any objective form may be strong or weak. In its beneficent power, physical Nature develops and sustains us. When the Force loses momentum, decline sets in, even for Mighty Man in his objectivity. That is the story of the physical body of Nature and Nature's God. In her glory, this Nature is found on Terra, our planet Earth in the present phase of global evolution. Confining God to this cover is justly found wanting. As ALL, Pan breaks free to wander in Infinity.
It is the spirituality of Space - Inner and Outer. The Inner cannot be seen or otherwise detected. We are at the portals of the Unknown and Unknowable. To us, with our bodies and forms, it is as "Nothing" - but what Power it packs! Here is the heart of the Higher or Esoteric Pantheism, placing no bounds on the All.
The boundless All - the Great Pan - of Divinity, in Blavatsky's words, "is the only possible escape from idiotic atheism based on lethal materiality, and the still more idiotic anthropomorphic (man-like) conceptions of
the monotheists." (S.D. II, 158) These monotheists are famous for their claim that there is only one God who is strictly separated from the Universe, except as "Creator". Pantheists observe, on the other hand, that the Universe is a part of God, and so requires no distinctly "Other" transcendental Creator. The dawn of theosophical speculation could imagine no better name for the Divine Unity than the Absolute. Another, later name was the Great Pan.
Our crude "common sense" forces clear distinctions, such as Creator, creation; God and the Devil; Good and Evil; this world and the next. Behind the scenes are quiescent evolving, emanating, "creative" and transforming forces for Change. The Winds of the Spirit move swiftly from the bottomless well within each person and part of the Great Cosmic Being, for ever outward to the (spiritually) endless Space. Majestic heights and vast chasms are in view, a view of the Being, beyond which is Non-Being.
Long ago the rift between God and the world was bridged. In old Hellas (Greece) the wild and frightening Pan (as in panic) was revealed as a Nature deity. Half man, half animal, he presided over pastures, flocks and forests, evoking the earthiness of Nature. Born in Arcady's wild, hilly and wooded solitude, he appeared with the head, chest and arms of a man, the legs, horns and ears of a goat. His tail was pointed. This is our present vivid image of "the Evil One."
After the upheavals that destroyed the old gods and world order, the new self-styled "Christian" masters demoted the gods to fallen angels. Pan's appearance was transferred to the Devil himself. By further philosophical extension, there is a relationship of God and the Devil, a concert of Good and Evil. All, then, is in balance with a tension of Positivity and Negativity. The Positive is strong, but much of our precious time is spent with the Negative. We are attracted by the lurid. While they last, the hard times can be long and dark, as world history attests.
Holy terror swept the 4th century Roman Empire when the Christian "cultural revolution" smashed idols and temples, and murdered prominent "Heathens" such as the fine female philosopher Hypatia. Churches rang with praise for the Lord as "Satan" staggered and fell. The cry rent the air that "Great Pan is dead." While the Dark Ages followed, there was a flickering Light ahead. Confounding the Cross, Pan rose again. How can ALL be annihilated? There is staying power in the pull of natural and universal tides.
Such forces surged in the life of Pan. The Secret Doctrine relates that "PAN" was at one time absolute nature, the One and GREAT ALL; but when history catches a first glimpse of him, Pan has already tumbled down into a godling of the fields, a rural god; and history will not recognize him, while theology makes of him the devil." (II, 581)
All has happened to Pan, quite naturally, for he is All. Such completion is more than either the Idealists or the Materialists bargained for. On our terms, it is neither totally good nor bad. Including these temporal categories, it penetrates further, inward and outward without limit. "In His steps," Man may also transcend, while usually descending. In any place or direction, as God or the Devil, Pan is there.
Man, like Pan, has his share of deviltry. "Did the devil make him do it?" Yes, his (Man's) own little Imp. Meanwhile, a little Angel bides his (or her) time, waiting for that rare moment. In the metaphysics of the Theosophical scheme, these angels, devils, humans and gods are interrelated in the One.
As All, the real Nature god includes Humanity. In this togetherness, each can say "I am God," One without a Second. Blasphemy!? No, but mystics have been burned at the stake for this remark. They should have made the statement in silence. Metaphysically true, this declaration is too easily challenged and questioned. Misunderstanding, however, is part of the All - part of Pan!
We are a part. Having - and being - the One which is All, and the All which is One, do we need another One? Before and after the seeming Fall of Pan, the Christians pleaded that we must exalt the Person of Christ. The few remaining Pagans replied that the new masters had borrowed the "Christos" concept of a Child of God from the old Greek Mysteries. As the Mysteries were abolished, and memories are short, no one knew this - or hardly anyone. There is "nothing new under the Sun." With the fragments of an otherwise forgotten and hidden knowledge, the seeker is no longer in spiritual slavery to Very Special Persons.
The great Equalizer is at the beginning or end of any cycle. Then all are equal "before God." Events and complications happen in between as they tumble forth from the single Potency at the Source. Finally, no one person or event, however exalted, bears any more of a Divine relation than the next person or event. Hell doesn't await if one rejects a special label attached by custom or faith on a special person. We are All-in-All.
The Good Lord, in his/her pantheistic universality, is all things to all men - and women - even "the least of these." While striking individuals stand out, as Lincoln said of the masses, "God must love them, he made so many." Busy in their daily lives, the masses cherish their beliefs and misunderstandings. While complicated in their own right, individuals are as details in the teeming throngs of Humanity.
God, also, they say, "is in the details." While transitory - and precisely because they are so - the parts are all-important. Where the building without the building blocks? Krishna, the Lord, in the Bhagavad-Gita tells his archer, Arjuna, that "there is no end of details of Me." (X, 19)
We look to the particulars, to our personal selves and our heroic or lesser efforts in creating civilization and culture. Though we may complain, the limitations in the process are inevitable. "It is Hell," we say, not realizing that it is also Heaven. "As above, so below." The Universal is in the part, the Whole in the point. "I am," indeed, "God"!
Our validity and vitality derives from the archetypes admired by Plato. Cosmic essence and our essence, are there. It is the Compassion of Divine Mind bearing Life, a Child from the Womb. The present precious phase that we know so well is only a seeming climax. The beat continues. As Genesis says, "It is good."
"'For the initiates,' says Eliphas Levi, 'the devil is not a person but a creative Force, for Good as for Evil.'" quotes The Secret Doctrine. (II, 510) What is good for the Immortals is not necessarily good in our limited, mortal view. "Acts of God" and Man do not always favour our plans, bodies and emotions. Fires, floods, storms, earthquakes, revolutions, social-economic depressions, accidents, ill-health - who wants these? But there they are. Diabolism rather than Divinity, we feel, seems to prevail. The "creative Force" appears to disregard our wishes.
One would assume that faith in God and trust in Good would have long since vanished. But no. A basic reason for the long
(Continued on page 90)
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
With a slight juxtaposition in my usual opening format for this column, it is with deepest regret that I announce that there were no new members to welcome in the past two months; but with great delight I announce that there were no deaths of members to report for this period.
The Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) will be held over Christmas, as usual. Members wishing to attend are advised to write to Adyar as early as possible to book and arrange accommodation. (Note: any member wishing to stay on the Adyar Estate is reminded that, besides writing ahead, the member is also to obtain a statement from a Lodge official and/or the General Secretary vouching for his/her good standing in the Society.)
I have a notice and greetings from the Australian Section inviting our Canadian members to attend their Convention, January 21 - 23, 1989. They also advise of, and invite us to attend, the fourth Indo-Pacific Conference, to be held January 23-27. Both events are to be on the campus of the University of Western Australia, in Perth. Those wishing to attend, and to enjoy summer in our winter, should write to: The Theosophical Society in Australia 4th Floor, 484 Kent Street, Sydney, N.S.W. 2000 Australia.
Now for a few words on behalf of our younger brethren, the (non-human) animals, as World Animal Day occurs in October. I noted somewhere a comment that many people (and I think the commentator was speaking of the English) regard their pets as family, and treat them as such. Well, why not? I could not conceive of doing otherwise. At least this shows that many people - not just the English - are making progress, and getting away from the all too ubiquitous speciocentricity of the human animal.
Other animals are speciocentric, you say? Well, are we humans not supposed to be a cut above the so-called beast? Something I am still waiting for, for the majority. It is to be observed that our pets are not speciocentric, or they would not live with humans.
There is only One Life. Common logic, as well as The Secret Doctrine of H.P. Blavatsky, tells us that: "Other than It, there nothing since has been." There being only One Life, of which each individual is a part still striving for recognition and identification with the One, a profound respect for life is called for. Those of us with pets who regard them as family are showing respect for life, and thus exhibiting a degree of harmlessness, or ahimsa in its positive aspect.
A reminder to generous readers who wish to help towards the expense of publishing the magazine, and/or of running the Canadian Section: income tax receipts valid for 1988 will be issued for donations received up to December 31. See masthead for the General Secretary's address.
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- 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
Members of Edmonton Lodge have continued with their regular study of The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett. A number of years will be required to complete this attempt at understanding the Masters' words!
While in California, Ernest and Rogelle Pelletier amassed a number of books for the Lodge Library. These will be catalogued and shelved by members of the Library Committee after regular meetings resume this Fall.
At our Annual Meeting the following members were re-elected to the various offices as follows:
President: Ernest E. Pelletier
Vice-President: Stephania Duffee
Secretary: Rogelle Pelletier
Treasurer: Dolores Brisson
Directors: Laurier Auger, Gaye Gering, Maurice Mercier
Also at this meeting, three members-at-large, who have been attending meetings regularly for some time, became members of Edmonton Lodge. They are Bruce MacDonald, Monique McConnell and Trevor Young.
In early August we had the pleasure of welcoming April and Jerry Hejka-Ekins, of Venice, California, who were passing through Edmonton while on holidays. They agreed to deliver their joint "Introduction to Theosophy" while here. April presented "Core Concepts of Theosophy" followed by Jerry's "Historical Overview" complete with slides. These presentations provided an excellent summary of Theosophy, both technical and historical, and were very informative for the inquirers who were in attendance.
- Rogelle Pelletier, Secretary
Last Fall, we in Hamilton started to view the video of Adam Warcup's seminar, A Mind to Embrace the Universe. The viewing and subsequent discussions afterwards inspired us to set up a more formal study class. Beginning in April, we met every Monday evening for ten weeks.
Topics covered included such as Universal Brotherhood, the Three Fundamental Propositions, Monad, Reincarnation, Karma, the Sevenfold Constitution of Man, Death, Dreams, and the relationship of modern Psychology to Theosophy. The enthusiastic students who attended took advantage of our small library after the meetings.
A gift of approximately one hundred books was donated by a past member. These complement the basic books we already have in our library, and were much appreciated by the Lodge and study group.
We are continuing to meet throughout the summer, even though some will be away, and are planning to start another ten-week course in the Fall, on an alternate day of the week to accommodate those on our mailing list who are unable to attend on Monday evenings because of other commitments.
Our Secretary, Richard MacPhail, moved to India recently, and we miss his lively contribution to our group very much.
Following is a list of the officers of Hamilton Lodge for the coming year:
President: Sharon Taylor
Vice-President / Librarian: June Ormerod
Secretary: Laura Baldwin
Treasurer: Sarah Lakin
We are feeling a resurgence of energy here in Hamilton, and are happy to report that we are able to offer those interested a stimulating and informative study class.
- Sharon Taylor, President
We held our Annual Meeting on June 22, and the following officers were elected:
President: Larry Gray
Acting Vice-President: Gladys Cooper
Secretary: Eva Sharp
Treasurer: Diana Cooper
Program Director: Marjorie Toren
Librarian: Diana Cooper
The President's Annual Report showed five new members admitted. He said that Hermes Lodge had progressed in every department, with members working together in harmony. Their generous spirit was demonstrated in the way funds were donated in just a few days for a new copying machine.
We have enjoyed many interesting videos, lectures and audio tapes, thanks to Marjorie Toren. The program included lectures by Dora Kunz, Phyllis Roberts, Willa May Pym, Naftaly Ramajakar and others. Wednesday evening classes under Naftaly were based on Taimni's Self-Culture, and on alternate weeks Larry presented tapes and videos. Secret Doctrine studies continued on Mondays and E.S. meetings were held bimonthly.
Diana Cooper has carried on as Treasurer since Arthur Cooper's death in November and, with Gladys' assistance, has done a most admirable job.
Our Library, under Diana Cooper's direction, with Marjorie Toren assisting, in-
creased from 1,700 titles to almost 2,000, the cassette section expanded from 110 to 150 items, and we now have 30 journal titles. The Library places a standing order for all new publications from the Theosophical Publishing Houses in Wheaton and London, Point Loma Publications, and the Theosophical University Press.
Library acquisitions have expanded to support the objects of the Society, and titles in the following fields have been acquired: Biophysics, Philosophy of Religion, Psychotherapy, Education, Evolutionary Biology, Environment, Cosmology, Theoretical Physics, Art and Mythology. Also, we now have a Sanskrit-English dictionary, donated by Vera Gill. We have also obtained a printout of the Seattle Lodge Library cassette collection, and have borrowing privileges there. A significant gift was a complete set of the Hermes magazine, plus a donation towards binding the same.
Gladys Cooper has been in charge of the New Book Concern, which is run as a convenience to members and not for profit. She reported that there is a standing order for all new titles from Wheaton, and that books from other publishers may be ordered.
On August 3, members of the Lodges in Vancouver and Victoria, about 30 in all, attended a get-together at the Chatwins' on Mayne Island. We all enjoyed the fellowship, the hospitality and the lovely surroundings.
We are planning a celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the publication of The Secret Doctrine, probably in October.
The Lodge will re-open in September after the Summer break.
- Eva Sharp, Secretary
The Annual Meeting of the Victoria Lodge was held on June 27, 1988, at which time the following members were elected to the Board of Directors for 1988-89.
President: Fiona Odgren
Vice-President: Melissa Dixon
Treasurer: Elizabeth Macintosh
Secretary: Eunice Ball
Librarian: Gertrude Ranfft
The Lodge engaged in a varied program of activities during the year including talks and discussions on Poetry, Art, Therapy, The Kabbala and Tarot, Kandinsky and the Spiritual in Abstract Art, and Music. Parallel to our regular Monday meetings, study groups met regularly on alternate Wednesdays for The Secret Doctrine and question and answer sessions.
For fund raising, we and the general public enjoyed a slide presentation on Scotland, lovingly prepared by Mary and Alastair Taylor. Later, a most successful garage sale raised funds for our quarterly publication Pathways.
At one of our final meetings we were sad to bid a fond farewell to a treasured member, Gordon Limbrick, who has gone to live in Australia. Very much their gain and our loss. We enjoyed a series of valuable talks from Gordon prior to his departure.
The Lodge looks forward to a lively fall and winter season, opened by the holding of the Canadian Section Annual General Meeting in Victoria on September 17. Energetic preparations for this are well under way.
During 1988-89 we plan to study Theosophy in Application to Daily Living, Mythology, and a number of inspirational booklets. It promises to be an exciting year.
- Eunice Ball, Secretary
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.
10. FOHAT - PART I
Question. Please explain the significance of Fohat.
"The word is a Turanian compound and its meanings are various. In China Pho, or Fo, is the word for 'animal soul,' the vital Nephesh or the breath of life. Some say that it is derived from the Sanskrit 'Bhu,' meaning existence, or rather the essence of existence. Now Svayambhu means Brahma and Man at the same time. It means self-existence and self-existing, that which is everlasting, the eternal breath. If Sat is the potentiality of Being, Pho is the potency of Being. The meaning, however, entirely depends upon the position of the account. Again, Fohat is related to Mahat. It is the reflection of the Universal Mind, the synthesis of the 'Seven' and the intelligences of the seven creative Builders, or, as we call them, Cosmocratores. Hence, as you will understand, life and electricity are one in our philosophy. They say life is electricity, and if so, then the One Life is the essence and root of all the electric and magnetic phenomena on this manifested plane." (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, X, 354).
In the statement of the first fundamental proposition in The Secret Doctrine, Fohat is described as
"the 'bridge' by which the 'Ideas' existing in the 'Divine Thought' are impressed on Cosmic substance as the 'laws of Nature.' Fohat is thus the dynamic energy of Cosmic Ideation; or, regarded from the other side, it is the intelligent medium, the guiding power of all manifestation, the 'Thought Divine' transmitted and made manifest through the Dhyan-Chohans, the Architects of the visible World. Thus from Spirit, or Cosmic Ideation, comes our consciousness; from Cosmic Substance the several vehicles in which that consciousness is individualized and attains to self - or reflective - consciousness; while Fohat, in its
various manifestations, is the mysterious link between Mind and Matter, the animating principle electrifying every atom into life." (S.D. I, 16; I, 81 6 vol. ed.; I, 44 3rd ed.)
When awakened by the propelling impetus of Fohat, the atoms, one by one, become vivified and pursue their activities. However, there is an important factor which should be kept in mind, namely, that a clear distinction should be made between the activities of Fohat in the Pre-Manifestation stages termed Pralayas, and the energies of that ever-present Force in the Manifested Universe, or a Manvantara. This was clearly stressed in this manner:
"Fohat is one thing in the yet unmanifested Universe and another in the phenomenal and Cosmic World." (S.D.1,109; I,169 6-vol. ed.; I, 134 3rd ed.)
Thus when a period of Manifestation is under way, Fohat
"is that Occult, electric, vital power, which, under the Will of the Creative Logos, unites and brings together all forms, giving them the first impulse which becomes in time law. But in the unmanifested Universe, Fohat is no more this, than Eros is the later brilliant winged Cupid or LOVE. Fohat has naught to do with Kosmos yet, since Kosmos is not born, and the gods still sleep in the bosom of 'Father-Mother.' He is an abstract philosophical idea. He produces nothing yet by himself; his is simply that potential creative power in virtue of whose action the NOUMENON of all future phenomena divides, so to speak, but to reunite in a mystic supersensuous act, and emit the creative ray. When the 'Divine Son' breaks forth, then Fohat becomes the propelling force, the active Power which causes the ONE to become TWO and THREE - on the Cosmic plane of manifestation. The triple One differentiates into the many, and then Fohat is transformed into that force which brings together the elemental atoms and makes them aggregate and combine." (Ibid.)
"Fohat, running along the seven principles of AKASA, acts upon manifested substance or the One Element, as declared above, and by differentiating it into various centres of Energy, sets in motion the law of Cosmic Evolution, which, in obedience to the Ideation of the Universal Mind, brings into existence all the various states of being in the manifested Solar System.....
"Fohat, then, is the personified electric vital power, the transcendental binding Unity of all Cosmic Energies, on the unseen as on the manifested planes, the action of which resembles - on an immense scale - that of a living Force created by WILL, in those phenomena where the seemingly subjective acts on the seemingly objective and propels it to action. Fohat is not only the living Symbol and Container of that Force, but is looked upon by the Occultists as an Entity - the forces he acts upon being cosmic, human and terrestrial, and exercising their influence on all those planes respectively. On the earthly plane his influence is felt in the magnetic and active force generated by the strong desire of the magnetizer. On the
Cosmic, it is present in the constructive power that carries out, in the formation of things - from the planetary system down to the glowworm and simple daisy - the plan in the mind of nature, or in the Divine Thought, with regard to the development and growth of that special thing." (S.D.I,110-11; I,170-1 6-vol. ed.; I, 135-6 3rd ed.)
"In his secondary aspect, Fohat is the Solar Energy, the electric vital fluid, and the preserving fourth principle, the animal Soul of Nature, so to say, or - Electricity." (S.D. I, 111-12; I,171 6-vol. ed.; I, 136-7 3rd ed.) - Vol. 60, No. 2
"Plotinus, the pupil of the great Ammonius Saccas, the chief founder of the Neo-Platonic School, taught that human knowledge had three ascending steps: opinion, science, and illumination." - H.P. Blavatsky, Isis Unveiled I, 434.
How is an idea illuminated into knowledge in the sense that Plotinus meant, and confirmed with reason and experience? Certainly it has to be done in such a way that there is absolutely no doubt whatsoever about it. When we go over the ideas that through the years of our life to date we have stored in our mind as knowledge, how many meet this requirement? Turning this question over in my mind the following came to the surface.
At college, an instructor in Surveying inadvertently brought about a condition that might fill the requirement. He had lectured for some time on how to "shoot" Polaris (the Pole Star), using a transit or theodolite in order to establish, or check, a bearing line on the ground. We did the calculations together, reducing sidereal time to standard time for the exact period when we would do the actual task, and established the vertical and horizontal angles necessary to set on the scales of the theodolite.
On the determined evening, we arrived at the chosen site in an open field some distance from the campus. The weather was just right, and there was no cloud cover; the canopy of stars was easy to see. We set up the theodolite on the end of a bearing line previously determined from geodetic monuments on the ground. The vertical and horizontal angles were entered on the scales.
When this was accomplished a rough check was made over the sighting line on the instrument to ensure it was pointing in the general direction of the Constellation of Ursa Minor, in which Polaris is located. There was the tail of the Little Bear, quite visible to the naked eye. It was then that the survey became very interesting.
We had heard all about distances, of course. In the classroom the figures did not really mean all that much. But now, out in the open with all that vast starry space surrounding us, and the firmament holding us in awe, it was an entirely different matter. How could anyone comprehend that the Pole Star we were looking for was twenty-five million times as far away from our solar system as our sun is from the earth?
Next was to identify the two target stars in
Ursa Major, namely, Alpha and Beta. It is supposed to be an easy exercise to visualize a line joining the two target stars and extend it about five times the distance between the stars - and there should be the approximate position of Polaris. Then, looking once more through the eye piece of the theodolite and focusing the optics - Lo! there in the centre of the fine hairs of the lens was a star, and indeed it was Polaris!
Up to that moment it had all been theoretical. Then, suddenly, there was the real thing, that little round light. Even to say it like that is wrong, for how can one define a star, all those light-years away, that is forty-seven times brighter than our sun, as "that little round light"? But there it was, reaching into the glass of the instrument in a triumphant demonstration of law!
This was the culmination of all the math we had learned to date - everything from times tables to spherical trigonometry. All seemed to unite in this one rightness of proof. Truly, this was an illumination of the whole process, and it was ignited in the reality of the happening. It also took on a feeling of adventure in a real sense, and gave a confirmation of being truly worthwhile. The thought surfaced as to how many things we really know in that way about life in general, about the reality of our present hopes?
Analysing the above: there is the use of law; the experience of law; and its exact application produced the illumination. It was only when the whole process had been gone through that first-hand knowledge resulted. If that had not been done; there could have been no lighting up of the knowledge in the mind.
A feeling of freedom came with this experience. It confirmed within that the knowledge was now the user's by right.
We find in time that we can also apply experiments like this to ourselves as human beings. We can take the offerings of the exact knowledge of our great teachers, reasoning them out as statements of law, and applying them exactly as stated. Then, when the application is done correctly, the illumination occurs.
The experiments can be carried out in all departments of our make-up, from ethics and morals to the health of our mental and spiritual consciousness. There is also a synthesis to the experiments, for the self-awareness achieved gives a greater insight to our real life, and law begins to be looked upon as ever present. Eventually all the aspects of law, like the beams of a sun, show the one law everywhere in the universe.
Is not this initiative what it is all about? Is not this what H.P.B. wanted us to do? To take the great ideas, study them, but study them as law, and apply them in all conditions, eventually finding, as did Plotinus, that by so doing an illumination of the ideas results. We can really only know what she meant by studying her ideas, and by applying the great clue given by Ammonius Saccas through Plotinus. In this way we serve the cause of all the great teachers. In this way we are truly thinking and acting in terms of universal brotherhood.
GREAT PAN IS ALIVE (Continued from page 82)
reign of religion and wide spread superstition is simple human credulity. A more fundamental reason is the unseen and underlying Wisdom Religion. Hardly known and seldom acknowledged, it is the Secret Doctrine of the ages.
Knowledge is needed here, not blind faith that sees so little. On our level there are dangers and threats too numerous to mention. Are they directed at us? That depends upon what is meant by "us": our bodies and personalities are vulnerable and perishable, as even Faith knows, when it forgets about "the Resurrection of the Flesh at Judgment Day."
Our Inner (or "Higher") Mind and Soul, is the last and best expression on our plane of the Fullness from the Void on the far side of the Absolute. Identical with its Source, that outpouring is as eternal. It is our true hope for Glory. With this, we need no other God or glorified Man, since their essence is Here, Within, Now.
What are the details and descriptions? The proofs? Many gurus and spiritual leaders will be happy to supply them - for a price. No one really knows all the details. They are endless and, at this time, beside the point. The general knowledge or Gnosis is what matters. Further explanations only diminish the subject, making it a glorified world with Beautiful People.
Each personality accompanies its body on the Way of all Flesh and desires. As God or Essence is not forever tied to a great body, even the present universe, so Eternity is not restricted to personality as presently evolved. Unlike our exoteric or "lower" selves, Soul does not march to the drum of Doom.
While this drum beats, old Pan plays his famous pipes. In romantic imagination, we listen to Our Song. It is one of Divine Unity as immediate Experience and Proximity. The Great Pan is alive and well in Eternity.
A READER'S NOTES
A new reprint of H.P. Blavatsky's The Key to Theosophy has been published by the Theosophy Company (India) Private Ltd., Bombay.
Verbatim with the original edition of 1889 (xiv + 367 pp), this conveniently sized softcover version is very reasonably priced at $4.20 (U.S.).
The Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, has put out a new and revised edition of H.P. Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine, edited by Virginia Hanson. It is a collection of over twenty articles, covering a very wide spectrum, as would be expected of the subject.
A review in this magazine of the 1971 edition expressed the opinion that H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine is "... an important publication. It should prove a most effective answer to the critics of Madame Blavatsky; also it should stimulate interest in the message she gave to the world."
The 1988 edition contains new contributions by John Algeo, Michael Gomes, Ralph Hannon, Doss McDavid and Adam Warcup. They are worthy additions to the several excellent articles contained in the original collection by such as Sri Madhava Ashish, Geoffrey A. Barborka, Boris de Zirkoff, Christmas Humphries, L. Gordon Plummer and W. Emmett Small, among others.
This Quest Book, xvii + 240 pp., retails at $7.25 (U.S.).
One can hardly fail to be impressed with the Theosophical Texts Series, edited by Raghavan Iyer, and published by the Concord Grove Press in Santa Barbara. The quality, pertinency and balance of the articles selected for each theme by now goes without saying. The quality of the printing is worthy of the books' contents.
Recent titles include Raja Yoga - subtitled "Integration and Insight" (93 pp.); Death and Immortality - "Change and Continuity" (91 pp.); Human Solidarity - "Universal Brotherhood" (78 pp.); and The Mystery of the Avatar - "The Divine Descent" (77 pp.) Each costs $8.75 (U.S.)
Of special interest to those who were present at the 1971 (not 1972 as stated) North American Theosophical Students' Conference, held at Toronto, is the inclusion in Human Solidarity of "Universality and Sectarianism"- one of the two principal addresses given by Raghavan Iyer. That was indeed a memorable event, and the publication of this particular talk resuscitates for me some of the glow of the moment.
"You either commit yourself a hundred percent, or you do not bother about it," said the eminent speaker in his address. What is represented in the Theosophical Texts Series, and its sister publications, is patently just such a full commitment to Theosophia, for which we should all be grateful.
THEOSOPHIA in Neo-Platonic and Christian Literature, by Jean-Louis Siemons. London: Theosophical History Centre, 1988. 32 pp. $8.00 U.S. incl. postage.
In The Key to Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky left no doubt as to the origin of Theosophy and related terms, as far as its usage within the modern Theosophical movement is concerned. She dated it back to the Alexandrian philosophers of the early centuries of the current era; and unarguably the application of the term throughout her writings bears far closer relationship to Neo-Platonism than to any later definition given to the word (e.g., by Boehme and others).
If confusion has been largely avoided in the minds of modern students of Theosophy, this is not the case with many outside the movement. I remember a quarter of a century ago a theologian at the University of Toronto desperately and rather pathetically insisting on categorizing us with Durkheim and other all but forgotten philosophers of a bygone generation. For the sake of the likes of him, therefore, Dr. Siemons' study of the Neo-Platonic term theosophia is most useful, as well as being a key reference source for Theosophists and historians.
As well as discoursing on the definition and origin of the term, this paper compiles all known occurrences of it in Neo-Platonic and early Christian literature (second to sixth century C.E.). Finally, a brief survey of "Later variations from the original meanings" is given, although this does not include meanings associated with the Christian mystics of the Middle Ages, which the author hints "could be outlined on another occasion."
Dr. Siemons has set a high standard for this type of research and presentation. The Theosophical History Centre is to be commended for publishing his excellent paper. - Ted G. Davy
The New Testament Commentaries of' H.P. Blavatsky. Compiled and Annotated by H.J. Spierenburg. San Diego: Point Loma Publications, Inc., 1987. xiv x 343 pp. Softcover. Price $8.00 (U.S.)
In presenting modern Theosophy through her writings, H.P. Blavatsky time and again called on the scriptures of many religions, including those long dead, to illustrate the universality of the Ancient Wisdom. In The Secret Doctrine, for example, are many instances where on a single page might be found four or five or more references to differ-
ent religions. She perfected this technique of using comparative scripture to support her teaching, and made particularly effective use of the sacred books of the Jews and Christians.
Students of Theosophy who are interested in the various western religions that were growing, flourishing or dying in the early centuries of the current era will attest to her originality. For the most part, her comments on the scriptures owe little or nothing to theological or popular interpretations. This is not surprising, in that the latter lean heavily on the dead letter, while she was more concerned with the inner, esoteric meanings.
Scattered throughout her work are hundreds of valuable pointers to the wisdom hidden in the New Testament. And they certainly are scattered: as well as those found on the pages of her major works, all fourteen of the volumes in the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings (BCW) series each contain from a few to dozens of references. That they should be compiled must have seemed most desirable to generations of students. With the completion of the BCW publications this became more practical than heretofore, and now, with The New Testament Commentaries of H.P. Blavatsky the need has been satisfied.
This book, however, is not merely a compilation of references. Dr. Spierenburg proceeds by gathering them in logical sequence with each book of the New Testament, chapter by chapter, verse by verse. First, he quotes from a standard English translation, a group of verses on which H.P.B. commented briefly or at length, and follows immediately with her commentaries on those verses. In some instances, a verse is also given in the original Greek, together with a transliteration and a word by word translation. In other footnotes, the compiler provides definitions, references and other useful information.
Comprehensive indexes cover both Old and New Testaments and Rabbinical texts; Blavatsky's Writings; and a detailed general index. ("Detailed" is somewhat of an understatement: the general index runs to over one hundred pages!) One can only greatly respect the compiler for his skills and industry.
In short, this is an extremely useful reference work. It is especially valuable to set alongside say, H.P.B.'s articles dealing specifically with an aspect of Christianity, such as "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels" (BCW Vol. VIII); also the "Commentaries on the Gospel of John" (BCW Vol. XI). In addition, Dr. Spierenburg's work could be the starting point for many a comparative study, for example, Christianity's debt to the ancient Mystery religions.
Apart from anything else, this publication should put to rest for all time the accusation that Blavatsky was anti-Christian. Indeed, page after page attests to the very opposite.
This must be rated among the most important Theosophical publications of recent years.
- Ted G. Davy
"THE SLEEPING SPHERES"
Now available: "The Sleeping Spheres" by Jasper Niemand, with notes by Willem B. Roos. Price $2.00 including postage. Available from: The Canadian Theosophist, 2307 Sovereign Cres. S.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T3C 2M3
WHITMAN ON ANIMALS
I think I could turn and live with animals, they are so placid and self-contain'd;
I stand and look at them long and long.
They do not sweat and whine about their condition;
They do not lie awake in the dark and weep for their sins;
They do not make me sick discussing their duty to God;
Not one is dissatisfied - not one is demented with the mania of owning things;
Not one kneels to another, nor to his kind that lived thousands of years ago;
Not one is respectable or industrious over the whole earth
So they show their relations to me, and I accept them;
They bring me tokens of myself - they evince them plainly in their possession.
I wonder where they get those tokens:
Did I pass that way huge times ago, and negligently drop them?
Myself moving forward then and now and forever,
Gathering and showing more always and with velocity,
Infinite and omnigenous, and the like of these among them;
Not too exclusive toward the reachers of my remembrancers'
Picking out here one that I love, and now go with him on
- Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
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.
STUDENT SURVEY SUMMARY REPORT
A summary report of the results of the "Survey of Students of Theosophy" conducted in May, 1987, is now available.
Survey objectives included attitudes, interests and ideas in regard to Theosophical organizations; to the dissemination of Theosophical teachings; and to networking, inter-organizational communication and collaboration.
The survey was conducted as a networking project independently of any organization or group.
The report summarizes the results of 70 completed 10-page questionnaires. Survey participants included members of most of the major Theosophical organizations. The U.S., Canada and New Zealand are represented.
Copies of the report -13 pages plus the questionnaire - are available from: Student Survey, P.O. Box 7220 F.D.R. Station, New York, N.Y. 10150-1907 U.S.A.
Please enclose $4.00 (U.S.) with order, payable to Michael Revere.
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 The Theosophical Society in Canada, R.R. No. 3, Burk's Falls, Ont. POA 1C0.
TORONTO THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY TRAVELING LIBRARY
The Traveling Library of the Toronto Theosophical Society is operating and offering books on loan by mail to Society members only in Canada. Inquiries to: Toronto Theosophical Society Traveling Library, 109 Dupont Street Toronto, Ontario M5R 1V4
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. Calgary, 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, Laura Baldwin, 304 Emerson St., Hamilton, Ont. L8S 2Y7
MONTREAL STUDY CENTRE: Leader, Mrs. Phoebe Stone; Secretary, Mr. Fred Wilkes, 3679 Ste. Famille, No. 22, Montreal, P.Q. H2X 2L5
TORONTO LODGE: President, Mrs. Barbara Treloar, Secretary, Mr. Wilf Olin. Lodge Rooms: 109 Dupont St., Toronto, Ont. M5R 1V4 (Phone 922-5571)
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, Mr. Eric Hooper, Sec. Treas. Mrs. Lillian Hooper. (Phone 589-4902 or 731-7491.)
VICTORIA LODGE: President, Mrs. Fiona Odgren; Secretary, Mrs. Eunice Ball. (Phone 592-7935).
ATMA VIDYA LODGE: Secretary, Mrs. H. Tidberry. Enquiries c/o General Secretary.
BLAVATSKY INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS
2307 Sovereign Crescent S.W., Calgary, Alberta 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