Vol. 70 No. 5 Toronto, Nov.-Dec., 1989
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
- Dudley W. Barr
Despite the over-emphasis on sentimentality at this season of the year, there is a magic in the Christmas Season which creates a temporary new world. Something is born at Christmas; it could become the saviour of men; it could lead men and women into Brotherhood if it only remained with us. But the magic does not last; what we call sanity floods in upon us after the day is over, and all the might-have-beens are washed away. The Child of Christmas Present does not survive.
Christmas is a survival of an ancient custom of setting apart, or keeping "holy" a day in the winter solstice. Our brother, the sun, is reborn at that time for all peoples of the northern hemisphere. From then onwards he increases in strength daily and, in cooperation with our mother the earth, pours out his abundance upon mankind.
Was it not natural that this period should become associated with the birth dates of the great Saviours, the suns of our spiritual consciousness? The season became linked with the birth of the Teachers, regardless of actual birth dates. For example, there is no valid authority for fixing the birth date of
Jesus on December 25th; this date was fixed variously by the earlier Christians in almost every month of the year. As time went on the old "pagan" custom of holding a festival in the winter solstice was expropriated by the Christian Church, and the day became known as Christmas Day, or Christ's Birth Day.
But the magic of Christmas does not arise because the day was held in remembrance of the birth of Jesus, Baldur or Mithras. The Christmas Season is traditionally one of open-hearted and open-handed kindliness, good cheer and generosity. True it has been commercialized, and true, a great deal of the Christmas giving is not done in the spirit of the day. However, despite all that, there is a genuine response to the idea. Perhaps in the winter of our souls there is some little flash of remembrance, some recollection of a Brotherhood embracing all men and women. Our essential spiritual problem is amnesia. Here in these bodies and minds the divinity is cribbed, cabined and confined - any experience which unlocks the prison cells opens the way to a wider awareness. In the vision of the seer, the ecstacy of the saint, the
samadhi of the yogi, the confines of personality are surmounted entirely and the Self is known in its true nature.
In Christian language that experience is called the birth of the Christ consciousness. The hope of the ages is that all men will some
day awake to full spiritual remembrance. Some have done it, others are striving to achieve - and perhaps each day is a Christmas day for some soul traveling on the Path of Return.
- The Canadian Theosophist, Dec. 1951.
THE ETERNAL FEMININE AND THE WISDOM-RELIGION
As Seen in the Myth and Reality of Sophia-Helena
- William R. Laudahn
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?"
Forever seeking greater favour in Divine eyes, the eternal feminine Soul Mate and Lover impatiently awaits reassurance. Magically, the image answers: of all forms, the most ideal, exquisite and mysterious is Sophia, Wisdom, enraptured of Cosmic Spirit.
Her outer attractions are a cool intelligence and the excitement of cleverness. But the real, or inner Sophia, is described by a fine discernment and sage calmness reflecting Divine Passion. After the long secrecy of yet another dark night, she joins the immortals endlessly celebrating a quiet, all-consuming love for the One in the Many.
Thus originated, metaphysically, the great esoteric, gnostic, theosophical tradition. Often without their precise awareness, it is followed by renowned or obscure poets, mystics and perennial philosophers. Only at heart are they religious. While respecting other paths, they are not driven to formalism, persistent proclamations or blind faith. Universal truth is sought by
them through inner means. They know that progress to the eternal and infinite Centre may start from any point. It may proceed from error and evil as well as from the good, the true and the beautiful. Any one may lead to any other. Whether or not by these names, they join the divine Theos, the sage Sophia - and the remarkable Helena, who embraced them all - in Theosophia, the Wisdom Religion.
Together in spirit, Sophia and Helena share a mystical relation in the meaning of their names. A Commentary on Pistis Sophia states that "... Sophia, whether regarded as a unity, or as a duality, or again as cosmic mind, possessed of many names. Among these [are]... Helena..." (H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings (B:CW) XIII, 41.) The New Testament's Simon Magus called his consort Helena Epinoia (thought). This symbolized "...the union through which Will and Thought become one and are endowed with divine powers... the female potency." (B:CW XII, 558.)
This power is primary where "Intelligence (Wisdom) came first." The Living
Gnosis perceives that both mythical and "real" formidable females of Fate and good Fortune may represent the Knowledge and Wisdom forever forged to the name of Sophia. Is not Helena Petrovna Blavatsky such a one? With acute feminine insight she outlined, in her first great book, Isis Unveiled the "principal articles of faith" of this religion of religions.
These are, "unity of God, the immortality of the spirit, belief in salvation only through our works, merit and demerit..." Faith and belief are figures of speech indicating knowledge, or gnosis. For she then quoted from an ancient source that "'of all the duties, the principal one is to acquire the knowledge of the supreme soul (the spirit); it is the first of all sciences, for it alone confers on man immortality.'" (II, 116.)
Elsewhere, Helena had identified Sophia as "feminine wisdom" and representing "Divine Intelligence." (ibid. II, 156 and I, 130.) Devoted and dedicated as Sophia is to this wisdom, she becomes at one with it. Her expanse and virtues, therefore, have endured through the ages. Antiquity named her "the first and the last," recognizing a unique status. Honoured in the Greek Mysteries, she stimulated the progress in consciousness from mortality to immortality. No bounds were set in probing the mysteries of Being.
As the archetype of the Goddess of Wisdom, she was esteemed symbolically by the early Theosophists, the Gnostics - those who knew. They too freed themselves from long-sanctioned religious specifics and simplicities. While visualizing Unity, they acknowledged duality and "evil" on our plane. Fearlessly, they gazed upon Sophia's dual nature, bright and dark, higher and lower. As Wisdom, she shares with us this complex individuality. Her superiority is in knowing that the ground of all opposites is in Divine Unity.
More than one aspirant has noted that it is easy to behold Divine Unity while in contemplation or meditation, under ideal circumstances. Later, they find that the rosy picture fades in the "real world" of business, politics, society, home life and other "distractions".
Nevertheless, while they last, all expressions are an integral part of Reality as we know it. Theosophically, what is Below differs not, in spirit, from the Above. In their Wisdom, Sophia and Helena adhere to the yoga, or union with Theos, the One in All. Here is the wider Love and the greater Good. It is the meaning of immortality. If the One, or Absoluteness was merely another limited god, our spirit - a part thereof - would not be, either now or hereafter.
The Allness of Deity may and should be expressed in Brotherhood and Love. But the overview is clouded by the vast, tumultuous variety of temporary physical and mental forms. The limited mind and personality can hardly cope with the array. For most, the Oneness is seen, only in theory, behind and within all diversity. But it remains that, in spirit, there is no high or low, or other distinctions. To reach such a level requires our wider experience and deeper realization. Compassionately, Sophia aids ensouled humanity to advance on a spiral path towards greater potential.
A special quality of Sophia's human appeal is her fiery nature. Driven by deepest affection and highest will and desire, she is possessed of the most brilliant Divine Passion. This Passion ignites supernal Light everywhere. Pythagoras, Plato, Shankara, Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Spinoza and other "God-intoxicated" seek-
ers, including Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, were so illuminated. Their ideal of Love is in revealing the true dimensions of Soul: the Sun God (as Son or Daughter) in each conscious entity. Many lesser beings find such a bright intensity blinding, and well beyond their present understanding.
As Wisdom, Sophia turns night into day for Understanding's sake. Her burning passion for Truth's entirety offers no less than a glimpse, feeling, even participation in and of the eternally Real. For this, Sophia's cosmos is bathed in everlasting radiance, piercing perpetual shadows of ignorance. In this glow, forms emerge and vanish. Some are prominent during their long or brief day in the Sun.
Before that Day, incomplete material and spiritual configurations seem to fill all space. The gods appear to smile on them. In this world the truly fair forms often place last and least.
As to Sophia, none is so fair, abiding and meaningful. Therefore, she is ignored in high and low places over long periods. Of her many detractors and bitter enemies, some are jealous of her great love, hurling charges of immorality. Others scoff. Not a few lack vision and are driven by pettiness. Like the foes of Socrates, they want her to cease and desist - even unto death.
This fate has awaited Sophia's followers from Pythagoras and Plato to Blavatsky. In the world of our making, "passion and imperfection rules." Evil, as we know it, lurks among the Good, entering like rain into each life. In themselves, all forms are neutral. It remains for us in our limitations to put a name to Evil. Eternity witnesses all possibilities. Each event, whether described as good or evil, is to be recognized for what it is, or can be. What is helpful is the ability to see endless inter-relationships, selecting what is significant for the time and place. Then, like the Wisdom teachers we will know as much as possible what Divinity is.
Divine truths are concealed by ignorance and indifference. Usually, old habits are blindly followed, within the larger context of the play of opposites. The meanness and equivocation of lower nature competes with the altruistic and rightly purposeful. Mankind tends to exaggerate what is less pleasing in the physical and psychic realms. Human apathy, tragedy and pathos mimic the play of the gods in the Eastern heaven. "As below, so above," said Hermes, with the approval of Sophia and Helena. United in essence, diverse in appearance, the world challenges us. Not yet "lost", we may find our way to the Source that facilitates right thought and action.
Following in the steps of Sophia, and those in her tradition of discernment and spiritual knowledge, it is possible for the human spirit to approach the omnipresent Centre. It is the bright point where the World Soul and Individual Soul converge. "Gods in the making," it is called. Eastern scriptures show the Devas, whether good, bad or indifferent, as "resplendent", moving and "shining " in an infinite sea of Light and Darkness.
From this "Ocean of Theosophy" with its depths, expanse, and shores of mystery, a spiritual Rock of Ages stands out. As "truth remains one" its metaphysical crystals reflect the visible and invisible universe. All sides are inscribed with a single maxim: the individual and cosmic monad are one. As Helena said in Isis: "God and immortal spirit." (I, 467.) This is the "Good" of Plato and Plotinus, the "One in the Many" of the mystics. It is "the Same, the Same," as
Emerson poetically echoed the Orient.
Man and Nature, acutely or dimly, are touched by the thrill of cosmic vibration. Sophia's passion and reason for being depend on That which mysteriously moves, gently or violently, holding together, tearing apart, and re-uniting all physical, mental and spiritual substance. We are in That, which is in us. This is a universal condition which may be known and experienced by the individual soul. Sophia and her Companions make us aware of the fact and meaning of perpetual psycho-physical action, reaction and seeming inaction.
Inspired by the spirit of Sophia which informs the sages of the Past and Present, Helena Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine gives highest honours to the "root idea" and "active power" that is "eternal, abstract Motion." It is the Great Breath blowing universes in and out. It carries and is the seed and nucleus of every event in all the worlds. In her words: "...that dual motion transfers Kosmos from the plane of the Eternal Ideal into that of finite manifestation..." Eternal, Infinite Motion is "Everything that is, was, and will be...." (The Secret Doctrine I, 282.) Sophia's admirers so cherish this wondrous pattern that, most appropriately, it is called Divine - Deity itself.
In ancient times "...the unrevealed Deity was recognized ... under its only philosophical aspect - universal motion, the thrill of the creative Breath in Nature." (ibid., I, 2.) Coming from "nowhere," going "nowhere," it simply is, being "already there." Otherwise, the moving story could not be told. There would "be" Nothing - as, ultimately, there is "No Thing." Within and behind all landmarks is the "pure, imperishable land" of no objects, things, or ideas. What else really matters?
Changing appearances hardly matter, even if they involve life and death. Inwardly, according to Hegel's theme, all actions, events, personalities, ideas and ideals, reflect the movement of World Spirit. This is especially noticeable in politics, where the game is played out, often with flair. There, as in religion, colourful and charismatic personalities flash on and off the screen of history. Behind the personalities, pushing them forward, are mass movements and special interests. A political virtue is the tendency to compromise, balancing all feelings for the good of the greatest number.
Usually, the time and energy of religious activity proudly excludes rationality. Philosophy and theosophy find no welcome there. This type of religion reflects much, including the opposites of righteousness and hypocrisy. A natural product of the emotions, pseudo-religion says that God is apart and distinct from the world and its travail. Often, and fervently, it proclaims "Love" and the "glad tidings" of supernatural salvation through a variety of personality cults.
Sophia's Wisdom seeks the utmost fulfilment in the All-Inclusive. Sagacity, intuition and insight play a key role. Sophia thereby knows "God" as the Absolute, Boundless Space, the total Cosmos. Included is spirituality, consciousness, matter. This Wisdom, in the words of The Secret Doctrine, "recognizes the non-separateness of the Universe and everything in it from the Absolute ALL..." (II, 384fn.)
Each passing phase of the grand Totality may not be significant to us, although it really is. An event, or non-event, millions of years ago, might have changed our situation today. As for the present, it is important, soulwise, to appreciate whatever value may exist. While much is irrelevant, there is always hope. In the face of unfavourable results, a few of us may attempt change or simply stand and wait for better times. Some enjoy the ongoing contest. Others relax and admire the view. But Helena's teachings made clear that the higher individuality is "acquired ... by natural impulse, and then by self-induced and self-devised efforts (checked by Karma)." (ibid., I, 17.)
The spiritual essence keeping God, Man and the Universe together is the keynote of the Wisdom Religion, subscribed to by Sophia and Helena. Restoration to God is where, in Arnold's The Light of Asia, "the dewdrop" of selfhood "slips into the shining sea" of divine parentage. Regenerations are the conscious direction of individual and cosmic processes. These include Karma, Reincarnation and Transformation, all to be applied to the great transmigration from, within and to, Divinity. The ancient religious philosophers (such as Gnostics, Neo-Platonists, Kabalists, Sufis and others) often accepted these doctrines in principle. They allowed no distractions, however, from God and Immortality - which afford Karma, Incarnation and Reincarnation their meaning.
As we must talk and discuss, doctrines are good conversation pieces. At worst, they are fetters of the soul. The truth was spoken when Helena said that theosophy has no dogma, unless Divine Unity could be so called. It pervades theosophy - and the universe.
Does oneness with the One imply obliteration of the self? Of the personality and lower self, of course. Who wants them around forever? H.P. Blavatsky insisted that absorption - including Nirvana's "blowing out" - does not mean annihilation. "Spirit," she wrote, "lives spiritually." The spirit merging with Totality "in Nirvana" is not less than "intimate union" with the individual Higher Self. (Isis Unveiled, I, 117.)
Later, she expanded on this, saying that "divine Wisdom being diffused throughout the infinite Universe, and our impersonal HIGHER SELF being an integral part of it ... in that which though eternal is still individualized - i.e., the noetic Principle, the manifested God within each rational being ... For the Divine spiritual 'I' is alone eternal, and the same throughout all births; whereas the 'personalities' it informs in succession are evanescent, changing like the shadows of a kaleidoscopic series of forms in a magic lantern ... Whether it be called Sophia, Krishna, Buddhi-Manas or Christos, it is ever the 'first-born' of ... the Universal Soul and the Intelligence of the Universe." ("The Dual Aspect of Wisdom," B:CW XII, 313.)
Here, as elsewhere, Helena and Sophia speak with one tongue. That they have much in common is not remarkable. With strong lower natures, numerous uninformed and misinformed foes, few real friends, the wonder is that they are recognized at all. What they possess spiritually is well earned. They are both devoted to the Highest as the most Inward. Upon graduation from sensational and inaccurate accounts of "the Priestess of the Occult," it is possible to value the worth of Helena's literary and scholarly qualities as expressed in her Collected Writings, including Isis
Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.
Unlike the fair Helen of Troy, Helena Blavatsky's outward form could hardly inspire the launching of ships, and cause martial engagement. Physically, no. Emotionally, yes. In the metaphysical world, Helena remains formidable. This comes as a surprise to many who had underestimated her powers, personal and other. Aside from higher influences, she was personally talented. Alexander Wilder confirmed this when he observed that "she was ready in conversation, and at home on any topic, however abstruse." Biographer William Kingsland wrote that "she normally possessed this stupendous knowledge, and that no occult or abnormal influences need to be assumed." (The Real H.P. Blavatsky, p. 169.)
Such influences, especially the agency of Adepts, is an important part of Helena's mystique - the Mystery of H.P.B. The pervasive influence of Sophia-Wisdom is vital to the Wisdom Religion. What would Theosophia be without Sophia? This is freely and fully acknowledged in all of Helena's works. She claimed no originality - although she was an Original. Her drive is responsible for the continuity of Theosophy's tradition into this century - and probably those to come. Spiritual sisters, Sophia and Helena were aware that mere technicalities of life, death, this world and the next, are irrelevant in the light of their mutual passion for the Divine. Seeing the vision, overcoming obstacles, we may join them in the world's most meaningful Quest.
ANIMALS AND EARTHQUAKES "WHEN THE SNAKES AWAKE" - Review Article
- Ted G. Davy
The following was written several years ago for another journal. As far as is known it was never published. It is an unashamedly biased review inasmuch as I approached the book already a firm believer. This was the result of an earlier incident in which a dog's awareness of a severe earth tremor hundreds of miles away left me convinced as no other form of persuasion could.
Anyone who has witnessed the anomalous behaviour of animals prior to an earthquake could never again be sceptical regarding the reality of their amazing sensitivity. Although so far it has not been satisfactorily explained, it is a fact. Yet for the most part of this century such behaviour, as well as other precursors of earthquakes, have largely been ignored - if not treated with contempt - by modern science. Now comes a book* that will prompt many to echo the author in asking:
"Why did modern earthquake research... close itself to the rich oral tradition of earthquake predictions? Why did earthquake research stubbornly insist that the detailed reports of animal behaviour ...[and other phenomena]... before eathquakes were nothing
but figments of popular imagination, when they reappeared after every great disaster through hundreds and thousands of years?" - p.7
If this book is as influential as it deserves to be, such questions will no longer be valid in a few years time. Fortunately, it seems as if these negative attitudes of scientists who specialize in the study of earthquakes are gradually breaking down. In China for several years past every conceivable method of earthquake prediction has been given serious and urgent study. The practical applications of this research has already resulted in the prevention of great loss of life.
Helmut Tributsch, a Professor of Chemistry at the Free University of Berlin, crossed disciplinary lines when he began to research phenomena connected with earthquakes. His interest was sparked following the major 'quake at Friuli in Italy, in 1976. Intimately familiar with the region around the epicentre, he revisited the area and questioned local inhabitants about their related experiences. Among other interesting facts that emerged from these interviews, he became intrigued with the accounts he was given of strange behaviour exhibited by animals in advance of earth tremors. Out of that interest developed this fascinating study, which can hardly fail to contribute to the current total knowledge of earthquakes.
In and around Friuli he learned of the erratic behaviour of farm, domestic and wild animals alike. Chickens refused to roost; deer left their usual habitat even to expose themselves in open valley; cats mysteriously disappeared from the villages only to return two or three days after the earthquake; mice and rats came boldly out into the open; dogs became more aggressive, barked furiously, and some bolted; cattle were unusually noisy and restless - they were disturbed at being tethered. In general, all birds and animals exhibited signs of agitation and nervousness; and all attempted to get out and stay in the open, as if aware of coming disaster.
His inquiring mind led Tributsch to investigate phenomena associated with other recent earthquakes. He then went on to search the literature, going as far back as classical references dating to the 4th century B.C. He found a remarkable consistency in the reports from all over the globe in all historical periods. In addition to anomalous animal behaviour, other common pre-earthquake phenomena came to light, such as major changes in ground water levels; discoloured and cloudy well water; and even fish panicking. The book's title refers to tales of hibernating snakes abandoning their nests, only to freeze on the surface.
Reports of recent studies in China indicate one especially intriguing anomaly. It is that even plants may have reactions in advance of earthquakes. Here is a field of study that may well pay dividends, should further evidence along this line be forthcoming.
As for the timing of earthquake precursors, they may appear from days to minutes earlier. Interestingly, the points of greatest sensitivity are not necessarily at the epicentre, or even along fault lines. Naturally, most reported incidents originate from points lying along a radius of a few miles from epicentre, yet records also exist of abnormal animal behaviour at a considerable distance.
Prof. Tributsch examined a number of theories to account for the anomalous behaviour he investigated. None satisfac-
torily explain all the phenomena. He favours the idea of animals being extremely sensitive to changes in electrostatic fields which occur as a result of subterranean disturbances. All the theories mentioned of course pertain to physical conditions. A student of Theosophy reading this book, however, will no doubt approach these theories with the reservation that sensitivities on planes other than the physical are also involved.
This well-researched book, which unfortunately lacks an index, presents evidence that can no longer be ignored. Scientists engaged in this field will surely eventually overcome their prejudices and reactionary tendencies and add this valuable material to their data. Nevertheless, it is fervently to be hoped that earthquake researchers will not emulate their peers in other disciplines who seem to think that animals can only be studied in laboratories, often under inhumane conditions. By observing nature directly in the known earthquake zones, they may well be rewarded with discoveries that will be a credit to their discipline(s) and be a service to all humanity.
* When the Snakes Awake: Animals and Earthquake Prediction, by Helmut Tributsch. Cambridge, Mass.: The MIT Press, 1982, xi + 248 pp.
The 1989 San Francisco disaster prompted recollection of this book - thanks to a friend's reminder - and the decision to publish this review. In retrospect, my assumptions are shown to be unduly optimistic. In the five or so years since it was written, there have been several major earthquakes, most of which seem to have happened without local populations being aware of the impending calamity. One of these days perhaps those responsible for such things will, like the snakes, wake up.
VIEWS ON GURUS
The office of Guru or Guide is to adjust the disciple in his progress, and not to drag or push him forward.
- H.P. Blavatsky, E.S.T. Instructions in Collected Writings, XII, 496.
The relation of Guru and Chela is nothing if it is not a spiritual one...
The Guru is the guide or readjuster, and may not always combine the function of teacher with it.
- William Q. Judge, Letters That Have Helped Me, pp. 42-3.
In the East, the Guru and Chela stand in the relation of the Higher and the Lower Manas - ONE, yet for ever separated, unless the lower forces itself upon the Higher.
- H.P. Blavatsky, in a letter to Annie Besant and Isabel Cooper (-Oakley). Quoted in The Inner Group Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky, p. 51n.
How is it possible to distinguish between a true guru/Master and a false one?
It would seem that our ability to distinguish between a true guru or Master and a false one is in direct relation to our mental and spiritual development. The first thing we have to learn is discrimination. For instance, we can only discern as much truth in a book as is manifest within us. So we have to strive to lead the life of a Theosophist even to see what it is we read.
H.P.B. says that true Masters do not sell the secrets of spiritual truth for money. In any case, as the theosophical struggle for truth is by way of self-induced and self-devised efforts, if there were an easier way, the Masters in their wisdom and compassion would surely have told us. So the next thing in learning to distinguish between a true guru and a false one is that there is no easy way.
Another clue is on page 303 of The Key to Theosophy: "...our indiscretions have made it a little easier for others to find the way to these [Theosophical] Masters..." Now as H.P.B. cannot possibly mean that we should all set off for the East, perhaps she means that we should travel towards their ideals inwardly and one day we will be pure enough in mind to be in the same state as these Masters. Then we will "find" them.
But that is a contradiction, as it is we who are lost, not they; what we need to do is to try to find ourselves or our true state, and then the question of true or false gurus does not arise.
Another way of looking at it:
There are plenty of warnings about false gurus. While it is true that when we are grown sufficiently at the mental/ spiritual levels we shall "know" inside, a real Master/and or his teachings when we come face to face with him/it, yet at our present stage, some outside indications of the false are useful; to eliminate what is not right is sometimes a good way to arrive at what is.
So there are two main things to be aware of: 1) is the so-called guru asking for large sums of money and 2) is he offering quick/ immediate personal advancement/ gain/ power/ "happiness"/ etc.? If so, be very wary indeed.
It might also be mentioned that equally suspect are groups/ philosophies/ systems telling you that study/ knowledge are not necessary - and there are many, many of these. Study requires effort and application; and since most of us have a greater or lesser lazy streak in our characters, it is all too easy to follow such a person.
But there is no easy way out, no short cut, nor, necessarily, do all paths lead to the ultimate goal. It is more than possible to take a wrong turning, but one life or another we have to find the right way, by our own effort and striving.
- Jean Coulsting, Viewpoint Aquarius, April 1989, p. 21.
The Eternal Atman is the true Initiator, the true Guru. Nothing must eventually come between the aspirant and That. In his Guru he must worship That; in himself That. His love and devotion must not fall into a worship of form or feature or abode. His Guru is to him an expression of truth higher than himself. It is as that he worships him; but he distinguishes between the vessel and its content.
- E.T. Sturdy, Lucifer, Vol. XII, Aug. 1893, p. 552
There be many gurus, and some good ones whom it is no great task to differentiate, seeing that those who make the loudest claim are least entitled to respect. They who are the true guides into Knowledge know that nothing can be taught, although the learner easily can be assisted to discover what is in himself. Other than which there is no knowledge of importance except this: that what is in himself is everywhere.
- Talbot Mundy, "The Sayings of Tsiang Samdup" in The Devil's Guard, p. 184.
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
I am pleased to welcome into the fellowship of the Society Mr. Daniel Langlois of Montreal, as a Member-at-Large.
I regret to announce the loss of a member, Mr. Raymond Lacroix, of the Hermes Lodge, Vancouver, who died on September 13, 1989. On behalf of the Society, I extend condolences to his family and friends.
And while on the subject of lost members, a slight shift to lost members of a different kind. Each year on September 30 we have to drop those members who have not paid their dues. Two dozen were dropped this time. Each year some of these will take the hint - now less subtly given than the forerunning reminders - and pay and get back into the fold. There are no official notices of dues sent out other than the frequent notices in this magazine, and in my column in particular. Reminders are sent after the due date of June 30 on a separate slip of paper with the magazine, and in the notices of the Annual Meeting. Most members do pay in time, or before the magazine editors or I get around to sending reminders.
Part of the problem is simply forgetting. If that is your problem, or even if it is not, I would remind all members that they can pay for more than one year - two or more years paid in advance is quite acceptable - and a few members do this. One advantage of paying for several years in advance, besides obviating forgetting to pay, is that if the dues are increased, the paid-in-advance members are not hit with the increase until the number of years they have paid in advance for expires.
It has always been possible to pay for life. If a Member does this through his or her Lodge, the Lodge sets the fee, which must include $250 to be paid over to the Canadian Section as a one-time payment. Or, the Lodge must pay the Life Member's dues each year to the Section at the current rate. Or a Member can pay directly to the T.S. in Canada for a Life Membership, currently at $250 - a one-time lump sum payment - (and it may increase after June 30,1990). If a Member pays this way, and is also a member of a Lodge that charges its own dues, such a member would still have to pay Lodge dues each year, or make arrangements for a suitable method of life payment with that Lodge's Board of Directors.
At present we have two members who have paid their dues to the Section for life, and another who paid for life through a Lodge. For those who want to remain on this plane for a long time, I have noticed that members who stay with us, paying their dues year after year last to their 80's or 90's and some to 100. The oldest to my personal knowledge died at 102 years of age. There are a few exceptions to this long standing members' life span observation, but there is a hint there.
The Annual Meeting was held on Saturday, September 23, 1989 at the new headquarters of the Toronto Theosophical Society. This was the first time I had seen my home Lodge's new place. It is an older home made over to suit Lodge use. It is rather small when one compares it with the previous quarters in an old church nearby. However, it is cosy, with all spaces filled, but suitable for the smaller membership. It also has air conditioning, certainly an asset for a lecture on a hot evening.
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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
The Annual Meeting gave me a slight bit of apprehension at first, as there was not a quorum for some time, and greatly delayed the start. But more than enough did eventually show up. We shall have to consider if the by-laws should be changed to reduce the required quorum, to accommodate the reality of a reduced membership.
After the business portion of the meeting, tea and coffee were served as Members gathered in groups to chat and renew acquaintances with friends from farther-away places. A film on the building of gothic cathedrals was shown, but no one seemed to pay any attention to it. This offers a bit of proof to a theory of mine - and the Executive of our Lodges, please take note for when you next are to host a Section Annual Meeting - that our Members are very satisfied to take light refreshments and chat with friends after the meetings, moreover at great length (about two hours at this just-past meeting); and that "entertainment" such as an expensive imported (or otherwise) lecturer is not really required to keep the membership happy after the business portion and before the dinner, if any.
We were served with a delicious (and to my surprise) vegan dinner - I had expected ordinary vegetarian - with a tasty ersatz cutlet made of tofu. A few asked the cook for the recipe, but without success - a trade secret.
Many thanks to Toronto Lodge and their hard-working volunteers for hosting a successful meeting. The Annual Meeting for 1990 is tentatively to be held in Vancouver. No date set as yet.
Some years ago I saw a debate on TV between a female animal rights activist and a male overseer of all lab animals in a certain province, whose job is to see that animal
"rights" of that province are not violated. (If you snicker here, you are in agreement with me that animal "rights" laws are a farce.) In this debate the male was bested. He took a position adverse to the woman, which said a lot as to his suitability for the job, but again, what can you expect?
It occurred to me then that to subject an animal to conditions that are not its natural conditions was an act of cruelty, varying in degrees with the situation. To be kept in a cage in a lab is cruelty to an animal, even if it is fed. Animals are routinely fed both new and commonly-used substances which poison them, to find the lethal dose - hardly an intelligent activity since it is the human lethal dose that they are after. The apologists do not think that this is cruelty as long as the animals are kept well beforehand in the aforementioned cage.
Our International President, Mrs. Radha Burnier, has a very good essay in the October, 1989 issue of The Theosophist, to which I commend your attention. In it, she attacks the subjection of animals to unnatural conditions and situations, and rightly points out, from the theosophical perspective, that these lives were put into their particular niche in nature for an expression of part of the Deity's divine purpose. Is it not a pity that we do not have many Christians in our so-called "Christian" society? If we did, then more might pay some heed to the injunction in the Bible, Galatians vi: 7, "Verily, God is not mocked, as a man soweth, so shall he also reap." And often as we hear part of this quotation, an important part is as often omitted - "... God is not mocked..." - S.T.
Every living creature, of whatever description, was, is, or will become a human being in one or another Manvantara. - H.P. Blavatsky.
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IN CANADA ANNUAL REPORT 1988-89
The year ended June 30, 1989, was good for us financially, but not so good from the view of membership strength. We had 242 members at June 30, 1989, down one from the standing at June 30, 1988. During the summer, two members died, and one resigned, so the current trend is a bit negative. This trend could be altered if more members, particularly members-at-large, were to take it upon themselves to be initiators of action. As I have said before, one has but to place an ad in a local paper for interested persons to meet to form a group to discuss occultism, theosophy, philosophy, and the common inner meanings of the major religions. It will work: it has been tried before, and it works, and our current largest Study Centre is proof of this.
I get asked by newly-joined members-at-large if there are any nearby Lodges or Study Centres. The answer is "No" in most instances, since only three provinces have Lodges, and one has two Study Centres. The new member does not have to delay starting a centre on the basis that he/she has not been studying these things for the past forty or more years: start a centre where all are new to theosophical concepts, and grow in learning together.
The advantage of a group - Lodge or Study Centre or whatever - is that in a group the personality, that individual and separative sense of "I-ness" tends to disappear. And so it must, eventually, if one is to attain to the goal for Mankind.
Some join the Theosophical Society to get knowledge of the scheme of things, which is not satisfactorily covered currently by either science or the outer religions. Others join
because they realize that there is "something better than this" - something, the Fifth Kingdom in Nature, to which they must attain, and they can find out the methods of attainment from the literature and resources that the Society has available. Thus I stress initiating action, and group activities. An increase in membership would result. But an increase is not an end in itself - rather see it as an increase in the number of those trying to evolve faster.
Our financial position is better than I had foreseen. With the purchase of a DeskTop publishing system, as earlier authorized, I had thought that we would have had a small deficit. But we ended the fiscal year in the black.
The DeskTop Publishing system was purchased this past Spring. It was not operable until just a few weeks ago, in late August. Several adjustments had to be made in the existing equipment it was attached to, some software programs had to be purchased, and were greatly delayed in delivery. There will be a further delay in the full use of the system until I have time to master the instruction book.
Earlier in the year the General Secretary's office copier died, so a new and better one was purchased. Two kind and generous donors gave us more than enough to make this purchase, to cover the cost by more than one and a half times. So some was left over to go towards the DeskTop Publishing. Our previous office copier was also purchased from funds available from a gift for that purpose.
With this new copier we are able to do our printing requirements, except for the magazine, and thus effect a saving in our operating costs. The election materials this year, including the ballot slips, and the Annual Meeting notice were all done in the office and not farmed out to a print shop as was done previously. I will be able to print our letterhead now, at some savings, since the present supply of "done elsewhere" letterheads is used up. The new letterhead will be in colour, blue, instead of the black used currently and for years past. A few of you have already received the new blue form, which I tried out to see what the reaction would be.
This past year was an election year for the General Secretary and the Board of Directors for a three-year term. I was elected by acclamation. (In this country, an acclamation is an acclamation. Other places take note.) I thank the members for their continued confidence in me in this job, which is largely secretarial-office work.
There were nine candidates for the seven directorship positions. Elected were, in alphabetical order: Ted Davy; Lillian Hooper; Viola Law; Ernest Pelletier; Wolfgang Schmitt; Sharon Taylor; Mollie Yorke. The new members to the Board are Mr. Ernest Pelletier and Mr. Wolfgang Schmitt. Mr. Pelletier is also the President of Edmonton Lodge. Mr. Schmitt has been on this Board before, and has been a Director of the Toronto Lodge in the recent past.
I wish to thank those candidates who did not garner enough votes to get in this time, for offering their services by standing for election. Perhaps they will be here in the future. I wish also to thank those two Directors who did not stand for re-election, Mr. Peter Lakin and Mr. Simon Postma, for their past services on our Board.
- S. Treloar
President and General Secretary
September 23, 1989.
Over the summer months our member, Gary Lawrence, built a very nice mahogany bookcase to enable us to shelve the books bequeathed to the Lodge Library by the late Stan Elliott. Thank you Gary.
Our end-of-the-month presentations have continued to interest both members and friends. Laetitia gave a paper on "Theosophical Perspectives on Organ Transplants" and Darcy spoke on "Occultism Today". Both presentations prompted some lively discussion.
In the first part of November, our member, Mehroo Wadia, has a showing of over forty of her oil and water colour paintings at the Devonian Gardens in Calgary. They depict flowers and scenes from Nature. Impressionist in style, the subjects such as Energy and Environment are expressed in Abstract forms.
- Doris Davy, Secretary
Due to the increase in members and visitors during the past year, Victoria Lodge found it necessary - albeit sadly - to move from our very lovely and comfortable quarters in the home of Mollie Yorke to a new location. We all feel most grateful to Mollie for her hospitality.
Our new address is the Pine Room at Windsor Park Pavilion, 2451 Windsor Road, Victoria. We hold an 8 p.m. meeting every Monday, and a 2 p.m. meeting every first and third Wednesday, with the Secret Doctrine study being held in members' homes on alternate Wednesday afternoons.
The Fall program is "Great Thinkers, Past and Present" and we use tapes, readings and music, with different speakers occasionally taking the Chair. This has proved very interesting, and discussion has been lively. The afternoon meetings are Chaired by various members and a Question Box holds slips to be taken out one at a time at random, for discussion. Any member or visitor is welcome to add an unsigned question slip to the box. Refreshments are served at the afternoon meetings, and occasionally at the evening meetings.
The Lodge members are very grateful to our President, Fiona Odgren, and her helpers for the work which went into the move to new quarters to make them attractive and suitable for our gatherings.
- Dorita Gilmour, Secretary
Man's mind is a prison
From which escape is rare.
Cornered by his theories,
Hampered by obsessions,
Restricted by conceit,
He sits upon Thought Mountain.
Solidified by dead ideas,
Fed by personal gain,
Intensified by separation and pain:
No wonder he sleeps.
Oblivious to the REAL
I sit upon a ring of broken thoughts,
Smashed in the light of new knowledge,
Scattered by the force of understanding.
Now I face the Unknown
Sometime to be the Known.
STUDIES IN EARLY AMERICAN THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY
- Michael Gomes
III. THE ANTE- AND POST-NATAL HISTORY OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
(Concluded from page 81)
Four months later Col. Olcott and Mme. Blavatsky left for India. According to Col. Olcott, "When the Founders sailed away to Bombay, in December 1878, they left little more than the name of the Society behind them; all else was chaotic and unmanifested. The breath of life entered its infant body in India. From the great, inexhaustible store of spiritual power garnered up there by the Ancient Sages, it came into this movement and made it the beneficent potentiality it has become. It must be centuries before any other country can take its place. A Theosophical Society with its base outside India would be an anomaly; that is why we went there" (Olcott, "T.S. Solidarity and Ideals," The Path, October, 1894, p. 202).
William Q. Judge, who had stayed behind in America, did not agree. "The T.S., as an organization founded at N.Y. in 1875, never had any existence outside of New York City, and could not, and cannot, have... They sent a 'Committee' to India and they founded a new Society there. They were to 'investigate and report,' but as yet they have not rendered their report" ("Historic Sketch of the Theosophical Society," New England Notes, Boston, April 27, 1895, p. 6. This sketch is also printed in the Report of Proceedings, N.Y., 1895, of the Ninth Annual Convention of the American Section, Boston, Mass., April 28-29, which became the First of the newly declared Theosophical Society in America. A toned-down version appeared in The Path, May, 1895, reprinted in Echoes II, 197-202).
As Mr. Judge remarks, "A great deal of confusion has existed as to the 'Parent' Society" ("Historic Sketch," p. 4). After leaving America, Olcott, as "President, T.S." appointed Major General Abner Doubleday (1819-1893), President ad-interim; Corresponding Secretary ad-interim, David Curtis; Treasurer, George Valentine Maynard; Recording Secretary, W.Q. Judge ("Foreign Order No. 1," London, Jan. 17, 1879). He instructed Doubleday, "What you can do is to keep in working order a Committee of the chief officers of the Society to keep us and our work before the public, and keep up an active interest in all matters
copyright, 1989 by Michael Gomes
connected with the East and its mysteries and wisdom" (Olcott to Doubleday, Jan. 17,1879, The Theosophical Forum, Point Loma, Oct. 1939, p. 282).
The next year, H.P.B., as Corresponding Secretary, officially informed Doubleday that the General Council "having confidence in your devotion to the cause of Universal Brotherhood and to the general objects of the Society," upon the nomination of the President, had elected him a Vice-President of the Parent Society, "now in Bombay, India" (H.P.B. to Doubleday, April 17,1880, Bombay, The Theosophical Forum, Nov. 1939, p. 368). This is how he is referred to in the later entries added to the Minute Book by John Judge as Acting Secretary in 1882.
Boris de Zirkoff, Mr. Judge's biographer, notes in his Theosophical card index (now at Wheaton, IL) under the heading "Theosophical Society" that the New York body was "not the Parent Society any more!" citing the Supplement to The Theosophist, Dec. 1889, p. 8, where the statement in an American paper that there is a "Parent Society in New York" is corrected - "There is only ONE Theosophical Society" with "Headquarters at Adyar in India." Mr. Judge had replied to the question, "Is there a 'Parent' Theosophical Society?" earlier that year stating, "strictly there is not... The term 'parent' should be abandoned, as it implies separation" (The Path, N.Y., June, 1889, rept. Echoes, II, pp. 392-93).
In December, 1883, the remaining New York members were organized as the Aryan Theosophical Society. In those early days, as Josephine Ransom has noted, "each new Branch was at first called a 'Society"' ("The Origin of Lodges," Theosophical News and Notes, London, Mar-Apr 1943, p. 12, rept. in The Canadian Theosophist, May 15,1943, pp. 84-87). Judge was elected Lodge President, and the next year he finally made his long-anticipated trip to India, staying at the Society's headquarters for a few months. He started the monthly Path in New York in 1886, and later that year was elected General Secretary of the newly formed American Section, a position he held until a year before his death in 1896.
These early years were not particularly easy ones for the young man of 24 who entered H.P.B.'s charmed circle in August, 1875. Married the year before, Judge was a struggling law clerk, whose only child died three years later. His home life was not conducive to his Theosophical studies (Judge to Damodar Mavalankar, July 26, 1881, in Sven Eek's Damodar, p. 63). Olcott remembers him as being "just an ordinary, everyday sort of young man... Though so very much my junior in both age and experience, I liked him from the first; and have always fully appreciated his excellent qualities as they developed themselves in the
course of time" ("Old Diary Leaves," The Theosophist, Nov. 1892, p. 37).
The great distance between Brooklyn, where Judge lived, and Manhattan, and the late hour that the meetings of the Society adjourned, must explain his absence from so many of them. The only person who attended all of the 26 meetings held by the Theosophical Society between 1875 and 1878 was Olcott. If truth be told, it was Olcott who paid the bills, Olcott who reaped the ridicule, and Olcott who made the sacrifices.
H.P.B. points out that when the $5.00 initiation fee was abolished "as inconsistent with the spirit of the Association," and members who had promised to defray the expenses failed to do so, "It was the President-Founder Col. H.S. Olcott, who had to pay henceforth for all. He did so for over 18 months. The 'fee' was re-established before the Founders left for India with the two English delegates - now their mortal enemies - but the money collected was for the Arya Samaj of Aryavarta, with which Society the Theosophical became affiliated. It was the Prest.-Founder who paid the enormous traveling expenses from America to India, and those of installation in Bombay, and who supported the two delegates out of his own pocket for nearly 18 months. When he had no money left, nor the Corr. Secretary either - a resolution was passed that the 'initiation fee' sums should go towards supporting the Head Quarters" ("Original Programme of the Theosophical Society" 1886, B:CW VII, p. 149).
Before leaving for India in 1878, Col. Olcott and Mme. Blavatsky collaborated on a one-page circular that defined the aims and plans of the Theosophical Society. It stated, "The objects of the Society are various. It influences its fellows to acquire an intimate knowledge of natural law, especially its occult manifestations. As the highest development, physically and spiritually, on earth, of the Creative Cause, man should aim to solve the mystery of his being. He is the procreator of his species, physically, and having inherited the nature of the unknown, but palpable Cause of his own creation, must possess in his inner psychical self, this power in a lesser degree. He should, therefore, study to develop its latent powers, and inform himself respecting the laws of magnetism, electricity and all other forms of force, whether of the seen or unseen universe.
"The Society teaches and expects its fellows to personally exemplify the highest morality and religious aspiration; to oppose the materialism of science and every form of dogmatic theology, especially the Christian, which the Chiefs of the Society regard as particularly pernicious; to make known among Western nations the long suppressed facts about Oriental religious philosophies, their ethics, chronology, esotericism,
symbolism; to counteract, as far as possible, the efforts of missionaries to delude the so-called 'Heathen' and 'Pagans' as to the real origin and dogmas of Christianity and the practical effects of the latter upon public and private character in so-called civilized countries; to disseminate a knowledge of the sublime teachings of that pure esoteric system of the archaic period which are mirrored in the oldest Vedas, and in the philosophy of Gautama Buddha, Zoroaster, and Confucius; finally and chiefly, to aid in the institution of a Brotherhood of Humanity, wherein all good and pure men, of every race, shall recognize each other as the equal effects (upon this planet) of one Uncreate, Universal, Infinite and Everlasting Cause" ("The Theosophical Society" B:CW I, 276-77).
(Next: "Colonel Olcott and the American Press: 1875")
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 by 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.
12. EARTHQUAKES, ETC.
Question. In regard to the recent earthquakes which have been happening around the world, to mention a few: in Southern California, in Jugoslavia, in Turkey, in Italy, in Chile. What does The Secret Doctrine have to say about earthquakes?
Answer. The Secret Doctrine is especially concerned with cataclysmic earthquakes which result in complete changes of the face of the earth.
"The continents perish in turn by fire and water: either through earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, or by sinking and the great displacement of waters. Our continents have to perish owing to the former cataclysmal process. The incessant earthquakes of this and the past years may be a warning." (S.D. II, 776 fn.; II, 820 3rd ed.; IV, 345 6-vol. ed. - written in 1888).
As to the causes of earthquakes and other disasters on earth:
"As we are assured by Archaic Scientists that all such geological cataclysms - from the upheaval of oceans, deluges, and shifting of continents, down to the present year's cyclones, hurricanes, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, tidal
waves, and even the extraordinary weather and seeming shifting of seasons which perplexes all European and American meteorologists - are due to, and depend on the moon and planets; aye, that even modest and neglected constellations have the greatest influence on the meteorological and cosmical changes, over, and within our earth, let us give one moment's attention to our sidereal despots and rulers of our globe and men. Modern Science denies any such influence; archaic Science affirms it." (S.D. II, 669; II, 738-9 3rd ed.; IV, 268-9, 6-vol. ed.)
Elsewhere H.P. Blavatsky refers to a passage in Isis Unveiled which should be read in this connection:
"At the close of what Censorinus wrote should be called the 'greatest year', '...our planet is subjected to a thorough physical revolution. The polar and equatorial climates gradually exchange places; the former moving slowly toward the Line, and the tropical zone, with its exuberant vegetation and swarming animal life, replacing the forbidding wastes of the icy poles. This change of climate is necessarily attended by cataclysms, earthquakes, and other cosmical throes. As the beds of the ocean are displaced, at the end of every decimillennium and about one neros, a semi-universal deluge like the legendary Noachian flood is also brought about.' But in regard to the 'greatest year' of Censorinus, '... no one outside the sanctuary knew anything certain either as to its duration or particulars. The Winter of this year was called the Cataclysm or the Deluge - the Summer, the Ecpyrosis. The popular traditions taught that at these alternate seasons the world was in turn burned and deluged. This is what we learn at least from the Astronomical Fragments of Censorinus and Seneca." (Isis Unveiled, I, 30-1)
Question. Has H.P. Blavatsky given any hint about the time-period involved in these cyclical cataclysmal events? What about the 16,000 year period which was mentioned in The Secret Doctrine?
Answer. A 16,000 year period is indeed mentioned on page 331 of Volume II. Let us see if it is applicable to the period here referred to, by quoting some paragraphs relating thereto. But first the significance of "Vaivasvata Manu's Humanity" and "Subraces" should be explained. Vaivasvata is the name of one of the Manus, who are regarded by the Brahmans as Rectors or Planetary Watchers of the Earth. There are 14 Manus and they are regarded as supervisors of the Rounds. Vaivasvata is the Root-Manu of the Fourth Round. Consequently Vaivasvata Manu's Humanity signifies the First Root-Race of the Fourth Round on this Earth. A Sub-race does not indicate a race which is lower in degree or in a lower evolutionary stage. Using the terminology of Root-Races as equivalent in meaning to a Major Evolutionary Developmental Stage, then each Root-Race is composed of Seven Sub-races - which indicates seven minor evolutionary developmental stages to one major evolutionary stage. A Family Race represents a racial group which exists for a period of approximately 30,000 years.
"Thus, since Vaivasvata Manu's Humanity appeared on this Earth, there have already been four such axial disturbances; when the old continents - save the first one - were sucked in by the oceans, other lands appeared, and huge mountain chains arose where there had been none before. The face of the Globe was completely changed each time; the survival of the fittest nations and races was secured through timely help; and the unfit ones - the failures - were disposed of by being swept off the earth. Such sorting and shifting does not happen between sunset and sunrise, as one may think, but requires several thousands of years before the new house is set in order.
"The Sub-races are subject to the same cleansing process, as also the side-branchlets (the family Races). Let one, well acquainted with astronomy and mathematics, throw a retrospective glance into the twilight and shadows of the Past.
"Let him observe, take notes of what he knows of the history of peoples and nations, and collate their respective rises and falls with what is known of astronomical cycles - especially with the Sidereal year, equal to 25,868 of our solar years. If the observer is gifted with the faintest intuition, then will he find how the weal and woe of nations is intimately connected with the beginning and close of this sidereal cycle. True, the non-occultist has the disadvantage that he has no such far distant times to rely upon. He knows nothing, through exact Science, of what took place nearly 10,000 years ago; yet he may find consolation in the knowledge or - if he so prefers - speculation on the fate of every one of the modern nations he knows of - about 16,000 years hence. Our meaning is very clear. Every sidereal year the tropics recede from the pole four degrees in each revolution from the equinoctial points, as the equator rounds through the Zodiacal constellations. Now, as every astronomer knows, at present the tropic is only twenty-three degrees and a fraction less than half a degree from the equator. Hence it has still 2 ½ degrees to run before the end of the Sidereal year; which gives humanity in general, and our civilized races in particular, a reprieve of about 16,000 years." (S.D. II, 330-1; II, 345 3rd ed.; III, 329-30 6-vol. ed.).
- Vol 52, No. 4
In the Sep-Oct C.T. (p. 85) I am given sole credit for the Hermes Lodge new members' presentation kit. However, I wish to point out that this was a joint project, and Diana Cooper's name should also be included. She it was who did most of the research and all of the typing, as well as other work in connection with this project.
- Gladys Cooper
A READER'S NOTES
One of our members, Sheila M. Weaver, has self-published a small collection of her poems entitled Sing the Earth. The publication was prepared especially for the "ReBirth of Mother Earth" gathering at Edgewood, British Columbia this past summer.
Readers who remember Sheila's beautiful poem "Soil" which was published in the Sep-Oct 1987 issue of the C.T. will know the quality of her work. Like it, the poetry in Sing the Earth is inspired by a reverence for Nature, and every line strives to reflect the spiritual essence of the particular form of nature it addresses.
The beauty of these poems is complemented visually with fine calligraphy by Stan Jones. The printing is on recycled paper. $6.00 will get you a copy. From the poet/ publisher, P.O. Box 46627, Station G, Vancouver, B.C. V6R 4G8.
Recently, I pulled out of a bookcase an almost forgotten slim volume of selections from Dante. It had been purchased - probably for the price of only a small coin - at a Toronto Lodge second hand book sale over thirty years ago. Presumably originally softcovered, it had been rebound, economically but sturdily. At the foot of the inside back cover in small neat handwriting is penned: "H.S.S. bound Aug. 1947, No. 2638." The initials H.S.S. stood for Henry Scholey Saunders (1864-1951), a long-time member of the Toronto Theosophical Society.
What an extraordinarily gifted person he was! A graduate pharmacist, he followed a career along this line for a dozen or more years. But his heart wasn't in it, and he turned to a greater love, music. After teaching for a while at the Toronto Conservatory, he played cello for the Toronto Symphony for thirty years, and was variously employed as a musician with other groups.
Another of his special talents was fine painting. This was already evident in his youth, and when he was in his mid seventies he began painting Canadian flora in watercolours, and had completed nearly 1,400 by his 86th birthday.
Obviously he was able to passionately absorb himself in all his hobbies. This was especially the case with the one which many would say was a contribution of exceptional importance to American literature: the collecting of Whitmaniana. By the time this collection was acquired by Brown University in 1932, it was compared favourably with that of the Library of Congress.
Not exactly coincidentally, but close to the time I rediscovered the small book that had been rebound by H.S.S., a local newspaper ran a Canadian Press story marking the "retirement" of the famous "Marquis" variety of wheat. This had been developed originally by Percy and Charles Saunders in 1892, crowning the pioneering work of their father, William Saunders. By the time of World War I "Marquis" was giving Canadian prairie farmers record yields. It became the Canadian standard against which all other wheat was judged. But nothing is permanent: The CP item reported that in deference to later and superior varieties, "Marquis" has been more or less relegated to the equivalent of an agricultural museum piece.
Now Percy and Charles Saunders were Henry's younger brothers. That newspaper article prompted me to pull out and re-read relevant chapters of Elsie Pomeroy's fascinating biography of the family: William Saunders and His Five Sons: The Story of
the Marquis Wheat Family. (Ryerson Press, 1956.) Miss Pomeroy, by the way, was another Toronto Lodge member of fond memory: her name has been mentioned in this column on at least one occasion. She also wrote a biography of the poet Sir Charles G.D. Roberts, who was a personal friend of hers.
What a family, those Saunders! Pomeroy's biography doesn't exaggerate. And certainly Henry Saunders was not the least brilliant of the five remarkable brothers.
One of Henry's minor hobbies was bookbinding. The number 2638 on the sample in my possession is indicative of his indefatigable industry in everything he undertook. Much of his obviously extensive use of this skill was for the benefit of his personal library and the Whitmaniana collection, but he also repaired and bound books for the Lodge Library, and for fellow members and friends. On at least one occasion he taught a bookbinding class for the volunteers who worked in the Library.
Even in his advanced years, he kept on with this activity. Pomeroy records No. 3185 done in 1951 which must have been one of the last. She adds the comment: "The keeping of detailed records amounted to genius with Henry Saunders." Almost an understatement, and in view of his other achievements, his genius obviously went a lot further than record-keeping.
If there were an honour roll of Canadian Theosophists, Henry Saunders' name would surely be on it. Not because of his art, music, etc., but that he was "...a gentle, lovable soul, a true comrade of the way," as he was remembered in his C.T. obituary.
H.S.S. Binding No. 2638 is back on its shelf now. I'm grateful for the whim which disposed me to take it down in the first place. - T.G.D.
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
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: Secretary, Mr. Fred Wilkes, 3679 Ste. Famille, No. 22, Montreal, P.Q. H2X 2L5
TORONTO LODGE: President, Mrs. Barbara Treloar, Secretary, Mr. John Huston; 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, 1604 6055 Nelson Ave., B.C. V5H 4L4.
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. Dorita Gilmour
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