Vol. 71 No. 5 Toronto, Nov.-Dec., 1990
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine unless made in an official document.
This is the season of the shortest day.
Soon after, born of a sleeping Mother Earth,
A new year begins
Slowly at first, then swiftly
The new life will spring -
Mother Earth lies sleeping beneath our feet, Waiting.
Let us walk softly.
- Sheila M. Weaver (Sing The Earth)
(c) 1990 by Sheila M. Weaver
THE WORLD TREE
- L. Gordon Plummer
Among the many myths and legends stemming from the Scandinavian Mysteries, one of the most beautiful and meaningful is that of the World Tree, Yggdrasil. It is depicted as having its roots in the heavens and its branches and leaves on the earth. It provides an excellent theme upon which to compose an article that might enable us to see beyond or rather within what might appear to be only a fanciful picture.
We shall therefore put this symbolic tree to good use because we may present a picture of Yggdrasil as representing the universe, comprising uncountable numbers of living beings of all kinds. Each one contributes something to the universe as a whole; and the universe, consisting of countless galaxies, contributes and sustains every living being, whatever and wherever it may be. Incredible though this may sound, it becomes less so when we consider two illustrations from life.
Think of a tree. All of its leaves, stems, branches, also including the trunk and the root system - all of these grew from and still manifests the life of the tree, once in the form of a seed. All, down to the smallest leaf, partake of the life of the tree and are sustained by it. In turn, even the smallest leaf is important to the tree, and we are right when we say that each leaf plays its part. The same principle applies, whether we refer to the leaves on a tree, or to the countless living beings comprising the earth. Taking the universe as a whole, it all comes to the same thing and this is, in fact, the Theosophical viewpoint. It maintains that universal life is all inclusive. Hence it manifests in an infinite variety of living beings, and holds that they are all dispersed according to their kinds, in what we know on earth as the Kingdoms of Nature.
Our planet earth demonstrates the pattern which, we are taught, is followed in innumerable worlds throughout all of the galaxy that we recognize as comprising our "Home Universe." Furthermore, although outer details will differ, the pattern is copied in all galaxies as far as we know.
It is worth emphasizing that not only does each entity contribute something to the whole, but that the whole includes and sustains each and every part, down to the most minute. Thus, although a creature may perish, it is only the body that is destroyed, for the living being which inhabited the body is imperishable.
This statement may appear to some to be rather incredible, yet it is really a master-key that may unlock many of the mysteries of the relationship between universal life on the one hand and human life on the other.
At this point, we may move on into another line of study.
A child might ask, "What is on the other side of the sky?" How can anyone give an answer that would satisfy the child, when even the mature mind of its parent would be unable to frame a ready answer? He might have to say "More sky" and let it go at that. But Space is far more than a mere container of galaxies and cosmic dust. The Ancient Wisdom teaches that it is frontierless. It is infinitude itself. This being so, it does not "contain" anything, although everything that exists - thinking in terms of the atoms which combine to form all the chemical elements - produces a cosmic illusion. The impression
is given that matter is solid. Actually, every atom is a bundle of energy. The word illusion does not imply that a thing has no existence. It merely states that it is not what it appears to be.
The Ancient Wisdom has long proclaimed the illusory nature of the universe. The Sanskrit term is widely used among students of Theosophy. It is maya, and the objective of the teachings and the discipline is that the student must discover the Truth within the illusion. This is not always easy, for the knowledge of the truth does not reside in the senses so much as in the intuition, a faculty of the Higher Mind. Here is a good example:
It sometimes occurs that just at sunset, when there are broken clouds in the west, rays of light seem to be streaming not only upward, but to the north and to the south. That is pure illusion. The rays are parallel, but it would be difficult to persuade most people that this is so. It might be easier for an artist who understands the "vanishing point" in his painting. Yet even knowing this does not dispel the illusion as we watch the sunset. Therefore, we accept it as we see it.
Possibly the greatest illusion which confronts us is the feeling of "I am I" and "You are You". It is a perfectly normal viewpoint because it is a characteristic of the state of evolution in which we find ourselves in the Human Kingdom. Although we cannot dispel the illusion, we make great progress in the search for truth when we understand the universality of LIFE. It cannot be excluded from even the minutest particle, be it here or in the farthest galaxy.
The first step is to grasp this principle, and the next step is to realize that Life cannot be broken into fragments, as for instance the great distances between the galaxies, which we call empty space. Science understands this from its own viewpoint, in terms of energies of many kinds as well as minute particles. This understanding, however, does not include the Theosophical concept of universal Life, which points to the greatest concept of all, Divinity. We have no terms by which to define Divinity, because it is the CAUSE of everything. The Divine is not "in" us, for it is us - not only ourselves, but in all the spaces of SPACE.
So the answer to the question, "What is beyond space?" is indeed "More space." Yes. more and more, to infinity. The Divine is infinite in every sense of the word, and so is Space, and Matter, which might be called a condition of Space itself.
Although beyond any description, the Divine has certain characteristics that we can understand. It is variously described as the Heart of the Universe, Universal Compassion, Cosmic Mind, the ultimate Cause of all that is. This being within our grasp, we may also discover our inner selves to be all of that on the human level.
To return to the World Tree. It is usually presented as an evergreen, yet there are also deciduous trees, losing their leaves and going into dormancy during the winter months. Here we have another symbolic lesson. It points to a universal need for cycles of activity and rest, activity and rest. This applies to ourselves during waking and sleeping, and in a larger sense, during life and death and life again. It is equally true on the universal level, as taught in the more technical aspects of Theosophy.
The universe as we see it is in its daytime, and this is the long period of manifestation, known by the Sanskrit term, Manvantara. A long period of activity is followed by an equally long period of dormancy - unmanifestation we might call it - and which is known as the Pralaya. H.P. Blavatsky opens her great book, The Secret Doctrine, with passages from the Stanzas of Dzyan, the ancient scriptures from Tibetan esoteric writings. She presents glowing descriptions of Pralaya, and the re-awakening into manifestation, Manvantara.
Could we have a better symbol of this than in the deciduous tree? One fascinating aspect of the life of this tree is that at the time that it is shedding its leaves, the cells within the branchlets are those which will form the new leaves in the following spring. So, the life of the tree is carried over from one season to the next. What a lesson we have from Nature! As we reincarnate, the karmic seeds are already prepared at the time of death, and will be carried over into the next incarnation. We cannot escape the Karma of our past lives for we are the sum-total of all that we have been through during a long series of incarnations. We are what we have made ourselves to be, just as we are now building for our own future.
This is obviously a universal pattern, for Karma has a long memory. Lest we feel some anxiety for the future, we may be assured that all the good is also carried over from our own past lives.
Reincarnation is only one aspect of the universal law of Reimbodiment. As all life reimbodies in its own fashion, the process applies to the galaxies as well as to ourselves, and to the individual stars, solar systems, planets and so on. Is it not a great experience as awareness of our oneness with Infinite Compassion, another name for the Divine, comes into our lives slowly at first, but with ever increasing power? Gradually, we understand the inner meaning of Universal Brotherhood.
[Among the published works of L. Gordon Plummer are The Mathematics of the Cosmic Mind, The Way to the Mysteries, From Atom to Kosmos and By the Holy Tetraktys!: Symbol and Reality in Man and Universe.]
Yggdrasil. The "World Tree of the Norse Cosmogony; the ash Yggdrasil; the tree of the universe, of time and of life." The Yggdrasil is ever fresh and green, as it is daily sprinkled by the Norns, the three fateful sisters, the Past, the Present, and the Future, with the waters of life... It will wither and disappear only on the day when the last battle between good and evil is fought; when, the former prevailing, life, time and space pass out of life and space and time.
Every ancient people had their world-tree...
- H.P. Blavatsky, Theosophical Glossary
STUDIES IN EARLY AMERICAN THEOSOPHICAL HISTORY
- Michael Gomes
VII. H.P.B.'s AMERICAN CORRESPONDENCE
(Continued from p. 82)
The Theosophical Society
302 West 47th Street,
New York, December 12th, 1877
I am instructed by the "Society" to inform you of the fact that a dispute has arisen for the settlement of which your aid as a Corresponding Member of the Theosophical Society is desired. It involves the correctness of certain statements made by some of our unprejudiced scholars respecting the Brahminical calculations by the Zodiac. They seek to demonstrate that India is not alone the cradle of the human race, but also the source of civilization and science.
Some orthodox Christian writers aver that of the great astronomical cycle - the precession of the equinoxes which is completed in 25,868 years - less than one-fourth has passed since the world was created and man first appeared upon earth. In short, that not even the first cycle has yet accomplished its revolution. This is the old, ridiculous and exploded notion based upon the pretended Biblical Chronology.
To this, we Theosophists, answer that not only one but many cycles have been passed through - so many that no man can calculate the number, except perhaps in India. For proof we point to the Zodiacs of the Brahminic pagodas, which we claim to be the nearest infallibility as to correctness; all Christian scorn and abuse to the contrary, notwithstanding. You are in a position to verify our assertions by being upon the spot; and since you have expressed a willingness to labor with us in our researches, the Society will be pleased to hear from you at your early convenience.
We wish to know, what pagoda contains the most ancient calculations, and at what age its historical records begin. If the records of different pagodas vary in antiquity, we would know how far back the learned Brahmans respectively place the beginnings of their infallible astronomical chronology. We do not ask what age they ascribe to the earth; for, of course, that may be known by the four yugs, and the
(c) 1990 by Michael Gomes
respective number of years of the four summed up very easily. But when does your historical period begin? In what pagodas are the records preserved? Where are these temples situated and what are their names, and how old is each known to be?
The Western world depends for its facts about the Orient upon missionaries, and civilians of various grades interested in supporting Christianity - the gigantic fraud of so-called "civilized" nations. In other words, garbled facts are presented to a prejudiced court, by interested witnesses. Our work is to show the truth, and to do it, we count upon the help of our affiliated correspondents and the other native scholars whom they can enlist in the good cause.
Hoping for a favourable answer.
I am, Dear Sir, with respect and esteem for yourself (and devoted love for your country),
Yours very truly,
Corresponding Secretary of the Theosophical Society.
[To John Bundy, Jan. 26, 1878.]
I am a true, firm, if anything, too exalted spiritualist. Desiring as I do, to leave no stone unturned to force spiritualism and nobler truths upon the world of scientists in general and skeptics especially, I try to show the readers that I am neither credulous nor blind to the imperfections and short-comings of Spiritualism as it is now. I work in my own way and try to do my best. Why believe me a deceiver and a schemer?
I feel pained to see that I have no greater enemies in the world than spiritualists themselves, whose faith or rather philosophy I would see spread throughout the world and become the only and universal belief on earth. Please pitch into myself, cigarettes, entourage, fatness, Calmuck nose, etc., etc., as much as you like, and I will be the first to laugh but don't represent me as an enemy of true Spiritualism. Olcott is as sincere as myself in that. If he has several times protested against being called a spiritualist, I have as many times pitched into him for that. He may be a flapdoodle in his loose expressions, but he has always been a true spiritualist.
My dear Sir and Brother,
As I am about to leave the city of New York to take a needed rest at
the sea-shore, with no probability of my returning before I sail for Europe and India (whether I will stop in London one month or one year, fate alone knows). I have decided to send a portion of my books direct to Bombay to await my coming (some 250 volumes and as many unbound books). The President adds some of his. If any accident should prevent my coming there in person, you will please present them to any library of Arya Samaj. By accident I mean Death: for nothing except death will prevent our coming to India in due season. I have decided, as soon as I am in the Motherland to present the greater part of the volumes to such Samaj as you may designate: and I hope to bring a load more from England (and Olcott also). I hope you will not feel annoyed at my writing and bothering you so often, but I assure you I never breathe so easily as when I either write to, or receive letters from India. It seems to me as if I was sending a portion of my heart and soul to the blessed Motherland every time.
- H.P. Blavatsky
New York, 21st May 1878.
Is our friend a Sikh? If so, the fact that he should be, as you say, "very much pleased to learn the object of our Society" is not at all strange. For his ancestors have for centuries been - until their efforts were paralysed by British domination, that curse of every land it fastens itself upon - battling for the divine truths against external theologies. My question may appear a foolish one - yet I have more than one reason for asking it. You call him a Sirdar - therefore he must be a descendant of one of the Sirdars of the twelve mizals, which were abolished by the English to suit their convenience - since he is of Amritsir in the Punjab? Are you personally acquainted with any descendant of Runjeet Singh, who died in 1839, or do you know of any who are? You will understand, without any explanation from me, how important it is for us, to establish relations with some Sikhs, whose ancestors before them have been for centuries teaching the great "Brotherhood of Humanity" - precisely the doctrine we teach...
As for the future "Fellows" of our Indian Branch, have your eyes upon the chance of fishing out of the great ocean of Hindu hatred for Christian missionaries some of those big fish you call Rajahs, and whales known as Maharajahs. Could you not hook out for your Bombay Branch either Gwalior (Scindia) or the Holkar of Indore - those most faithful and loyal friends of the British (?). The young Gwikovar is unfortunately scarcely weaned as yet, and therefore not eligible for fellowship.
302 W. 47th St.
New York, July 30, 1878.
The printed circular enclosed will indicate to you the conditions of membership in the Theosophical Society. I may add, however, that since it was issued we have affiliated with the great Indian Brotherhood of the Arya-Samaj, and, by vote of Council have changed our title correspondingly. Henceforth our Society will be known as "The Theosophical Society of the Arya-Samaj of India." Thus, instead of exacting fees from the applicants for the benefit of our Society - now, that we are allied to an Oriental Body engaged in a just and worthy work, we have voted and passed a resolution that the fee of five dollars should be remitted in each case to Bombay, for the benefit of the Arya-Samaj.
Herewith, you will also find blank applications and obligations for yourself and son to sign, provided that after reading our Circular you still desire to unite with us. In such case, you will please procure and send me a postal order for L2, sterling, payable to Mr. Hurrychund Chintamon, 6 Meadow Street, Fort, Bombay, India. He is the representative of our Society near the Arya-Samaj and will remit you a receipt in due course of mail and - instructions.
That you are Hollanders by birth strongly commends you to our regard, for we have a lively appreciation of the sterling qualities of your national character, and believe that you yourself can materially aid in forwarding the reformatory work of our Society. As it is proper, that in joining us you should know what is the Arya-Samaj, permit me to give you an idea of it, as of the Chiefs to whom we have unanimously voted our allegiance.
It is a Society (Samaj) organized by the orders and under the supervision of the mysterious body (mysterious - to the non-initiated, of course) of adepts and philosophers, whose existence in India I have hinted at in my book. The founder and responsible chief of it is a very noted Swamee (a holy man) named - Dya Nand Saraswati - at once the purest and most erudite man of the Hinda pandits. Branches have been established in all parts of India, and one has just been organized in London. The object is to restore the primitive Vedic philosophy and teach with its help the now nearly lost to the outward world - psychological sciences, the knowledge of which gives to man the material and mathematical certainty of our Spirit's immortality and develops in man god-like powers. Of course, once that we accept the Aryan philosophy, seek to make the world converted to its great truths, we are bound to break down superstitious observances and dogmas of every exoteric,
human religion - especially that of Christianity. What our philosophy is until you are furnished with certain documents of the Arya Samaj you can abundantly learn from Isis, which was written under orders.
All who enter our Society pass through different degrees and sections (as in Masonry) from the lowest to highest. Promotion depends upon personal merit and devotion to the cause. A Ritual, Ceremonial, will be provided from India, and later we will communicate with you in regard to the work you are expected to do for the common cause. If you desire so, you can become the president of a Branch Theosophical Society of the Arya-Samaj in your place. I can write to the chiefs in India, and provide you with a charter. It is their desire that as many Samajses (Societies) as possible should be started in various countries in Christendom, for nowhere else is there as loud a call for reformatory work in ridding the people from bigotry and superstition as in these countries. We aim to establish a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, and - with the help of the "Supreme Unknown" - we will succeed. If, according to a French saying: "A brebis tondue, Dieu modere le vent" * - we who have two millions of "Brothers" behind our backs in India must certainly succeed.
Awaiting your reply and, on behalf of the Society, accepting the hands which you and your son extend to it.
I remain, Sir, yours faithfully,
- H.P. Blavatsky
(4) As the Nov.16, 1877 letter to Mordecai Evans indicates, H.P.B. was already in correspondence with individuals in India interested in the cause of the infant Theosophical Society. The earliest indication is a letter to T. Madahava Rao, Nov. 20, 1877 (published in the Hindu, Madras 1930), presenting him with a copy of Isis Unveiled. One of the earliest members of the Society in India was the Bengali writer Peary Chand Mittra, who was admitted Nov. 9, 1877. Col. Olcott had been in correspondence with him since June 5, 1877, but H.P.B.'s earliest surviving letter to him is this one dated Dec. 12, and was printed in an article in The Calcutta Review, Nov.-Dec. 1932, pp. 285-87, "Early Days of Theosophy in India" by Deva Prasad Sarvadhikary. The original is now in the Adyar Archives.
* "God moderates the wind for the shorn lamb." A variation of the oft quoted phrase of Henri Estienne (1531-1598): "A brebis tondue Dieu mesure le vent" - "God tempers the wind..." - Eds.
(5) John Bundy (1841-1892) took over the editorship of the Chicago Religio-Philosophical Journal in March 1877 after his father-in-law, Steven S. Jones, was shot to death by another spiritualist. The extract given here, from a letter to him dated Jan. 26, 1878, runs counter to what H.P.B. has already written on the subject, but I include it for the sake of completeness. It was quoted by William Emmette Coleman in a series on the early history of the T.S., "Spiritualism and the Wisdom Religion" (The Carrier Dove, San Francisco, Nov. 1891, p. 298), which sought to prove that the Founders were really renegade spiritualists.
(6) The association of Hurrychund Chintamon (or Harischandra Chintamani) and the Theosophical Society would be a study unto itself. The President of the Bombay Arya Samaj, founded by Swami Dayananda Sarasvati in 1875, he became the intermediary between the Theosophists in New York and the Swami who wrote no English. Olcott records in Old Diary Leaves Series 2 the disenchantment they suffered when they arrived in Bombay and found that he had pocketed the funds sent to the Arya Samaj. By 1879 even Swami Dayananda was calling him "worthless" (Dayanand to Shyamji Krishnavarma, 4 Mar. 1879, in the Autobiography of Dayanand Saraswati, New Delhi, Manohar,1978, p. 62). This letter is reproduced from Har Bilas Sarda's Life of Dayanand Saraswati, Amjer, 1946, p. 527.
(7) Reprinted from the Richard Hodgson "Report" in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (London), Vol. 3, 1885, p. 316, and probably to Hurrychund Chintamon. It is not dated but a number of sentences are similar to H.P.B.'s article "The Akhund of Swat" in the April 30, 1878, New York Echo. Here she also speaks of the death of Ranjit Singh in 1839, and adds that Mahan Singh, the father of Ranjit, had set off the Sikhs into twelve misls or divisions, each having its own chief (Sirdar), whose secret Council of State consisted of learned Gurus" (rept. in B:CW I, 373).
(8) Published under the title of "Early Letters of the Founders," The American Theosophist, Vol. 14, No. 8, May 1913, pp. 623-25. The recipient is not named but it is probably Peter van der Linden. His diploma shows that he was admitted to the Theosophical Society of the Arya Samaj of Arya-Vart in September 1878.
(To be continued)
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
I am pleased to welcome the following two new members of the Theosophical Society in Canada, as members-at-large:
Mrs. Liesel Deutsch and Mr. Manrico Madres-Lesic.
I regret to announce the death on August 29 of Mrs. Naemi Lind, of Vancouver, B.C., who had been a member of the Kalevala Study Centre. She was 96 years old. She had been with this study group ever since its founding, 21 years ago, but ill health in the past few years had kept her away from meetings. On behalf of the Theosophical Society in Canada, I extend condolences to her family and friends.
Our Annual Meeting was held on September 22, 1990, in Vancouver, and again in the meeting rooms of the Unitarian Church. (We were there the last time the meeting was held in Vancouver, in 1986, the day of my inauguration.) It was a bright sunny day, rather a bit warm, like 80 degrees F., and purists are invited to translate this temperature into meaningless metric. It was good to see familiar faces again, and some not so familiar. Again, I must apologize for the fact that I cannot remember faces, and may have seemed to slight some, quite unintentionally, and had to be reminded by others who they were, but I should have recognized them.
I was treated royally by the Hoopers, Lillian and Eric, of Orpheus Lodge. On the first night in Vancouver, they very kindly treated Ted Davy and me to a dinner at a restaurant with a magnificent view of the harbour. Cruise ships and a freighter passed by as we dined, which ships called our attention with enormous horn blasts. These ships were somewhat larger than those I have been used to seeing at yacht clubs - there, the largest encountered (not mine), was about 56-feet. Later that night I was taken up the mountain to see the panorama of the harbour and the city with its vast strings of lights.
My visit to Vancouver was not without its rough spots. On being assured at my hotel that I could stay there both nights, on returning after the dinner that followed the Annual Meeting I found someone else sleeping in my room, an annoyed male person rudely awakened by the security guard. It seems that after assuring me that they had accommodation for me on both nights, they proceeded to book my room to someone else. After my complaining, they found another empty room on the same floor for me, so all was not lost. I had visions of chasing about the city trying to find another room. On the way up to the new room, a gentleman in pyjamas got on the elevator with me, wheeling a fold-up bed. He explained that the regular bed in the room contained a few bugs of unidentified species, that had bitten him. He opened his pyjama top and showed me some red bite marks. Besides reminding me of what I had written about biting bugs in these pages in the July-August issue, I had great misgivings about what to expect by sleeping in another bed, the previous night's bed being bugless. And this in a seemingly high class and new hotel. I suppose they fumigate when they find there is contamination, but someone has to get bitten first. This was the second night's entertainment. The next morning I flew back to Toronto.
I wish to again thank the Lodges in Vancouver - Hermes, Orpheus and Vancouver Lodges - for their work in hosting this event, renting the hall, and other arrangements in-
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OFFICERS OF THE T.S. IN CANADA
- General Secretary - Stan L. Treloar, R.R. No. 3 Burk's Falls, Ont. P0A 1C0
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
- Viola P. Law, 204 - 2455 Beach Drive, Victoria, B.C. V8R 6K2
- Catherine O'May, 44 Dunfield Ave., Apt. 1124, Toronto, Ont. M4S 2H2
- Ernest E. Pelletier, 14004 - 48 Ave, Edmonton, Alta. T6H 0G2
- Wolfgang C. Schmitt, 50 Quebec Ave., Apt. 502, Toronto, Ont. M6P 4B4
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cluding the dinner afterwards; and particularly thank Lillian and Eric Hooper again for their great assistance to me in meeting me at the airport, plus transportation around town. I also thank Mr. Mcraine, the new President of Hermes Lodge for the ride back to the hotel.
I would like to remind all Lodges and Study Centres to advise me every time they have an election, of the names of the elected officers, if differing from before. I need to know who is the President (or leader, if a Study Centre), who is Secretary, and who is the Treasurer. Other officers and the name of Librarian, if any, are not required. Usually I get these changes sent in, sometimes second hand as an off remark from someone who assumes that I was already informed. I need to keep my records up to date.
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY IN CANADA ANNUAL REPORT 1989-90
In past Annual Meeting addresses I have urged members to form Study Centres, the seedlings of Lodges, and this past year one was almost formed in Kingston, Ontario. It may yet take off. To this end we have inaugurated an advertising subsidy for Lodges and Study Centres of seven or less members, whereby we will pay half their costs up to $100 for advertising in a local paper, for the purposes of attracting the public.
Our membership dropped a little during the period of this report, which is to June 30, 1990. Membership at June's end was 231, down 11 from 242 the year before. There were only nine new members during the en-
tire year, and very few joined a Lodge. The losses were from deaths, resignations and drop-outs from non-payment of dues.
Our Lodges and Study Centres are our most important energy centres, or chakras, if you will. It is in these centres that the most important activity, group activity occurs. The Soul is group conscious, and active participation in a group is a step in the process of Soul growth. The Lodge and Study Centre provides a meeting of ideas by the lectures and classes and group discussions held - an exchange of ideas, even if one may disagree with what is said on occasion. Some Lodges and Study Centres have libraries. These groups are most important to the welfare of the T.S. in Canada. I am frequently asked by a potential new member, "Where is the nearest Lodge, or is there a Lodge or Study Centre near me?" with the most frequent answer being that there is none, but you could join and try to form one. Our largest Lodge, therefore, is that group known as "Members at Large." Many of these live close enough to form a Study Centre, if they would extend the effort, and many are in areas with a large enough general population that a little effort to form one would make a Study Centre which could soon grow into a Lodge.
Going beyond the legitimate time covered by this report, I am pleased to announce that in July and August just past, we have gained eight new members, two reinstatements and one demit into our group from the U.S.A., and unfortunately two deaths; so a net gain of nine, equal in two months to the entire amount of new members last year. All new members this summer, and a few gained last term, were from readers of The Quest magazine who wrote to our associates in the American T.S. asking to join, to be told that the international Rules state that one must join in the country of one's residence if there is a T.S. organization there. Because of this, I shall be placing an advertisement in The Quest announcing our existence to Canadian readers who might be inclined to join the T.S. I should hope that our Lodges will still work to entice new members. As hinted previously, some Lodges appear static, then age diminishes the membership until the Lodge is then a Study Centre, then demise if there are no replacement members. There are several cities that used to have Lodges, but no more, and by the process I just outlined; and these cities could support Lodges now, if someone, a Member at Large, would make the effort.
This past year we lost a valued Director, Mrs. Winnifred Mollie Yorke, who died last April after a long illness. Her past work for us will be missed. In her place, the Board of Directors, according to provisions in our By-Laws, elected Miss Catherine O'May to fill the vacancy on the Board. Miss O'May is from Toronto, and has been a director of the Toronto Theosophical Society for a few years. The Board also selected Miss O'May to be our new Corporate Secretary.
The Victoria Lodge has produced a tape of their popular program, "Intimations", which many who attended our Annual Meeting two years ago in Victoria will remember. This tape, produced by a professional recording company, is being offered free to all Lodges and Study Centres who would like to have a copy, paid for by the T.S. in Canada, if the request is made before October 15 this year. The general membership and public can purchase the tape for $9.00 from Victoria Lodge.
- S. Treloar
September 22, 1990.
During the summer break a number of out-of-town visitors were in Calgary. Homi and Gool Amrolia from Vancouver and their daughter Sheroo from England, were driven over by their daughter-in-law Persis for a short visit with Ted and myself. Later in the summer we were surprised to open the door one evening to find a former member of Calgary Lodge, Joe Kyriakakis, standing there. Joe was on his way back to Toronto from the west coast, and had a short time between buses.
We were also pleased to welcome Brett Forray of Los Angeles who stopped for a brief visit with Dolores Brisson and Gay Gering of the Edmonton Lodge. We had an afternoon of interesting discussion and, in particular, Brett told us about the video production "The Perennial Wisdom" in which he and other members of the Los Angeles Center for Theosophic Studies had been involved (Reviewed in C.T. Sept-Oct. 1990).
Another welcome visitor was Joan Sutcliffe of Toronto whose article "Karma: Justice and Freewill" appears in this and the previous issue of the magazine.
The Lodge commenced its fall program on September 5 with the regular Secret Doctrine study class. We are now on the last 83 pages of Vol. II, having started our study with Vol. I in the fall of 1975.
On Saturday, September 22, Ted attended the Annual Meeting of the Theosophical Society in Canada, which was held this year in Vancouver.
Our first end-of-month presentation of the season on September 26 brought us a visit from Michael Gomes, author of The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement. Michael spoke on his work and research, and in the discussion period that followed those present were able to ask questions regarding Theosophical history. While in Calgary, Michael was invited to address a graduate seminar at the Department of Religious Studies, University of Calgary. His knowledge of the early days of Theosophy in India was relevant to this group's general topic: India and the West, with emphasis on the issue of cross-cultural understanding.
In view of the fact that our October special meeting would have fallen on Hallowe'en, it was decided to leave that night free for the many little people in our area, and instead the end-of-month presentation was on October 24. The video tape "Nicholas Roerich: Messenger of Beauty" was shown, and all agreed it was a beautiful production. In the following discussion, Roerich's life and philosophy were discussed, as well as his and Helena Roerich's connections with Theosophy.
It was with great happiness that we welcomed back our member Hank van Hees to our regular meetings after his stay in hospital.
- Doris Davy, Secretary
The last week of June saw a fellow Theosophist from Los Angeles come to Edmonton to witness first hand the eighteen or so hours of daylight which the Summer Solstice shines upon us here at the 53rd degree of Latitude. Brett Forray, President of the Los Angeles Center for Theosophic Studies, honoured us with the Canadian premiere of a video which some of their members had recently completed, titled "The Perennial Wisdom." Brett was very closely involved with this production and provided us with interesting insights into Flapdoodle
Productions' first effort. The video is an excellent presentation of the "Fundamental Teachings of H.P. Blavatsky," as its subtitle implies. A pot-luck supper followed the lively period of discussion which ensued.
On Wednesday evening Brett spoke on "Psychism vs. Spirituality," a subject he decided upon after learning of our recent study of "Fragments of Occult Truth." In his talk he touched upon the subject of siddhis and the fact that psychism is a lower aspect of these. He went on to discuss the noetic, higher manasic nature of man. Occultism and the occult arts were differentiated. Then he detailed how one who made use of these occult arts was either a mystic, theosophist or occultist. Brett also provided titles of various articles as follow-up reading. The current interest in things phenomenal made this topic very timely as well.
On September 29, the members had the pleasure of welcoming Michael Gomes, researcher, author of The Dawning of the Theosophical Movement and contributor of historical articles to The Canadian Theosophist. The next day Michael spoke on "Exploring the Past," which dealt with history not in terms of facts and dates, but in a broader context. He expounded on the importance of knowing at least a bit of history in order to enable one to realize the source of and under which circumstances various writings were produced. This then leads one to magnify one's field of inquiry by pursuing studies which might otherwise have been disregarded because they were unfamiliar. Discussion carried on until a pot-luck supper was served.
While here, Michael did some research in the Edmonton T.S. Library and Archives. The years of effort to collect and/or photocopy rare and long out of print materials proved helpful to him as he searched for obscure items to include in a comprehensive bibliography he is currently compiling.
We have resumed our detailed, chronological study of The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett for yet another term. Each Letter is read paragraph by paragraph, and discussion and comments - both impersonal and related closely to the subject - are encouraged. Students are also invited to bring quotations from other source writings.
- Rogelle Pelletier, Secretary
Hermes Lodge reopened on September 12. The first meeting was chaired by Lance Mcraine, our new President. He asked for a vote of thanks for Larrie Gray for his good work as President over the past years. He then addressed the members as to how he planned to carry out the three objects of the Society.
The Executive decided to change the Wednesday evening meetings to Saturday afternoons from 2:30 to 4:00. This will make it easier for the older members to attend, especially in winter. We plan to show videos and have discussions. In the meantime, the Monday Secret Doctrine study class continues to meet, starting at 1:00 p.m. A group of Krishnamurti students are planning to show Krishnamurti videos on Wednesday evenings over a period of six weeks.
The Executive also discussed the proposed federal Goods and Services Tax, and the effect it will have on book and magazine prices. However, things may change, so we are adopting a "wait and see" attitude.
Our Librarian, Diana Cooper, reports that the Hermes Lodge Library has the largest collection in Canada of the (English T.S.) Blavatsky Lectures. We are proud of Diana and her excellent work in the Library.
It was nice to see so many T.S. members from across Canada at the Section Annual General Meeting, which was quite a success. It makes us wish we lived closer together so that we could see one another more often.
We received some sad news from Dr. C.V. Agarwal, General Secretary of the Indian Section, advising us of the passing of Miss Joan Morris on June 1 last. Joan, a former member of Hermes, was in her nineties. She had lived in India and worked for the Theosophical Society in India for many years.
Eva Sharp, Secretary
The fall program is now in progress. Meetings are scheduled for Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m., and on the 1st, 3rd and 5th Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. All meetings are held at the Pine Room (Upstairs), 2451 Windsor Road. Visitors are always welcome. Our focus for the coming months is the theme: "Spiritual Growth and the Golden Precepts of Theosophy."
A series on Light on the Path started on October 22. Dialogue and open discussion was led by Melissa Dixon, Dorita Gilmour and Ron Ramsay.
A two-part program on "The Spiritual Psychology of Dr. Roberto Assagioli" began on October 29. This was led by Fiona Odgren and Rosalind Fasihi.
Ron Ramsay, Secretary
Intellect is not all powerful by itself .... to become "a mover of mountains" it has first to receive life and light from its higher principle-Spirit. - K.H.
A READER'S NOTES
It is a pleasure to report that Theosophical History journal is once more being published. The first issue in its new format is Vol. III, Part I, dated January, 1990. The editor is James A. Santucci, who expects that by April, 1991, the quarterly will be up to date.
The new publisher is The Theosophical History Foundation, incorporated as "a nonprofit public benefit corporation." The Foundation's Board of Directors comprise Dr. Santucci backed by April and Jerry Hejka-Ekins, and J. Gordon Melton.
In an editorial foreword, Dr. Santucci pays tribute to Leslie Price, the founder-editor of Theosophical History, and the resuscitation of his creation is in itself a form of tribute. The praise is well-deserved: Leslie's contribution to the Movement is of a magnitude that all, regardless of affiliation, should acknowledge with gratitude. The journal he founded, practically single handed, just five years ago has already proved its worth.
Subscriptions ($12.00 U.S. per year) made payable to Theosophical History should be sent to: Dr. James A. Santucci, Department of Religious Studies, California State University, Fullerton, CA 92634 U.S.A.
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.
KARMA: JUSTICE AND FREEWILL
- Joan Sutcliffe
(Continued from page 76)
Karma is often equated with the Christian injunction "As ye sow, so shall ye reap." Whenever we perform an action we set in motion a cause, and sooner or later the effect of that cause must come back to us. Karma is an impersonal and unerring law, and there is no escape from its cycle. Once the cause is set in motion the effect is inherent. This is not fatalism. Actually, the whole subject of Karma is very closely associated with the subject of "free will". We choose how we will sow, and when faced with the reaping we have the choice as to how we shall react. We have the innate power to create a new pattern of actions at any time and any place. However, because we have a tendency to repeat the same thoughts and actions it seems we are caught in a web of Karma. But we do have the will power to change it, and thus re-direct Karma.
How does Karma work? Occult science teaches that there is no portion of the universe that is not living matter. As the air is filled with invisible atoms, so the ethereal planes of nature are completely occupied by myriads of tiny life forces, to which Theosophy gives the name of "elementals". Whenever we think, our thought is ensouled by an elemental of the mental plane. That elemental being gives life to the thought, and in return is coloured by the nature of that thought, and linked to us. Having the feeling of life it seeks to repeat the sensation, so it remains in our psychic atmosphere, urging us to re-think in the same manner, so that its power of sentient life will increase. Thus, it becomes easier to repeat that type of thought, and continue to repeat it; and the elemental grows stronger and stronger. As we form a habit of thinking that way, elementals similarly impressed by others are attracted to us, all clamouring for expression.
You may have experienced feeling very slight annoyance over some minor irritation, then suddenly growing heated psychically and being carried away in uncontrolled anger, out of all proportion to the cause. These are our thought-activated elementals demanding expression, and taking us unawares. This often happens in crowds, where collective elementals arouse mass emotions through stirring these life entities in individuals.
As the flow of electricity is due to the movement of electrons, so every thought, every feeling, every act uses these elemental life forces. The circulation of blood, reactions of the nervous system, the breathing cycle, digestive functioning, etc., are all carried out by means of elementals. Our mental processes and our emotional expression directly use them. Hence we can see that our future attitude and make-up will be coloured by the character we have given to the millions of life centres that are attached to us.
There is an interesting article by W.Q. Judge, "The Moral Law of Compensation," which suggests that the mechanics of Karma
operate through the elementals. He gives the example of a boy who is slightly retarded and cruel to animals. The elementals of each animal, stamped with its pain and suffering, also become stamped with the memory of the boy; and in his next incarnation, in which he is of naturally good intelligence, they are magnetically attracted to him. Entering his brain consciousness where, negatively charged they populate his mental atmosphere, they ensoul his thoughts and thus interfere with his clear thinking and decision making. Also, because the flow of magnetism from the fingers is filled with these living forces, these unhappily impressed elementals also congregate here and spoil his accomplishments with his hands.
We can therefore see how we find ourselves trapped in a web of our own weaving. We have made these living forces very powerful and it needs a deliberate exertion of the Will to impress them differently, and gradually to attract finer ones. We must begin by changing at the mental level. It is necessary to break our attachment to old patterns of thought. When we find ourselves reverting to negative thinking, we should turn our attention to higher ideals and inspired writings. When we feel ourselves being aroused by tumultuous emotion we should consciously reject the associated elementals and try to identify with the Higher Ego. This is one of the purposes of repeating a mantra or memorizing sacred texts. Perhaps here can be seen the rationale of the famous adage of the positive-thinking schools: "Day by day in every way I am becoming better and better."
Reforming alcoholics have a very successful program. They begin by coming to terms with themselves inwardly, and accepting that there is a higher power than the drinking personality, whether by preference it is God or an Inner Self. They learn to think positively, to look for the finer and better points in their lives, to change their attitudes. Thus they are beginning to change the elementals, and change their Karmic course. There is a certain body chemistry established through alcoholism which may take time to rebalance. This is Karma expending itself at the physical level. It may even take an incarnation of metabolic disturbance to work off the Karmic reaction, but because the inner Will is set in the mental effort to impress the elementals differently, Karma may draw that soul to the study of careful diet and health care, and then in a following life the Ego might enter a healthy and well-balanced body, and perhaps become a pioneer in naturopathic medicine. Here is an example of growth through adversity. The Karma of an unhealthy body through previous alcoholic excess led to the gaining of knowledge and the possibility of service to others through it.
As stated previously, the inner planes of matter are completely filled with living forces. Thus, when we think, we create focus points of consciousness which grow according to the strength and frequency of similar thinking into elemental entities, which may be attracted to other people. We are not separate beings isolated from our fellows; and our thoughts, emotions and actions cannot help but affect those other souls with whom we are in contact. Our attitude may evoke a certain response in friends, and just by our presence we may change the thinking of a whole group, say our workmates.
By the interplay of our lives with other people we stimulate changes in them as they do in us. Our Karma is therefore intricately wound up with the Karma of others. When we interact with another person we create a Karmic link with that soul, for relative good or bad. "Relative" - for this is judging from the
personality's point of view. For example, if our Soul-Ego needs to learn forgiveness, and we are brought into very close association with one with whom we have Karmic ties of past struggles and antagonisms, then there is an opportunity to learn, and at the same time to help our adversary.
If we are to develop the quality of forgiving, we must be exposed to the conditions that will naturally arouse anger and bitterness, so that we are called upon to make a real effort to overcome our natural tendencies. By experiencing what seems unforgivable, we are tested and tried, and as we realize the self-destructiveness of carrying resentments, we learn to forgive.
At the most immediate level our Karma is involved with that of the family in which we are incamating. Our Higher Ego has brought us here because there are Karmic ties - lessons to be learned from those particular surroundings; or perhaps another soul we might influence wisely because of a mental compatability formed in other lives; or perhaps a Karmic duty to be performed, for example, an incapacitated child we have to care for.
Beyond the family group we are Karmically involved in the societies and communities in which we work, and beyond them in the race to which we belong. Besides our individual Karma we share in the collective Karma of these groups. By way of example, all of us who are interested in the teachings of Madame Blavatsky are part of the Theosophical Movement. We have probably all worked together in the same work in a past cycle, for societies reincarnate too. Each of us tries to do our part, and may carry the movement forward, or make mistakes which tarry its progress. Similarly, we suffer misunderstandings within the organization now because of misdirected aims of our colleagues in the past.
Likewise, we who are part of this materialistically thriving western hemisphere will share its Karma. Even though as separate individuals we have not worked for the pollution of the atmosphere, thus endangering wildlife and life as a whole, nor have we personally sought to deplete the world's resources and exploit great forests; yet because we are part of a society that has knowingly done so, we shall be swept along with the Karma of the race. We shall suffer the same consequences, for the same souls are brought to incarnate again together in a new cycle. As individually responsible souls, however, we have the free will as to how we will respond within the race.
The courageous soul who takes a lone stand against general depravity and greed will outgrow the race and be drawn to like-motivated companions in time. There are small groups who speak out, seeking to stimulate the moral conscience of the community. Such souls bring something good to the whole race. Perhaps by osmosis they spread nobility and higher qualities through the collective racial mind; and they may become its guides and teachers in its Karmic rebirth. The opportunity lies with each of us to raise the whole communal consciousness. Effete or minority groups who are put down and subdued by socially superior ones still have the free will as to how they will react. It is possible they might be a redeeming force, introducing finer concepts, and thus help the aggressor forward in spite of its inflictions. In our own country we have the native peoples who have been treated shamefully by the predominating race, yet by their ancient philosophy and practical example they are teaching conservation and respect for the land, thus awakening more spir-
itual ideals in a younger and less wise group of souls.
In the occult and deeper reality, beyond the race, we are part of the Karma of the world, of the whole of humanity. In his inmost self man is one with the universe. Because we are human in this particular lifewave of evolution we are essentially part of the responsibility for whatever happens in it. Every thought, every feeling, every act that we perform is impressed on the Astral Light and becomes part of the Karma of the world. It will react in our life and also in the world life.
The Masters tell us that they cannot interfere with our Karma. Morally they are prevented from stopping wars, famines, earthquakes, etc. It is our collective Karma, brought into being by our own actions as a world group; and it is only by experiencing the reactions that we can gain a sense of our responsibility and the realization of ourselves as a brotherhood who must work together as a world consciousness. The Masters explain that the evil which man does, his selfish thoughts and sensuous feelings, all become a collective force on the astral plane, which builds up and then are projected back into expression in our world as cataclysms, epidemics, wars, etc.
This would seem to explain the occult cause of the occurrence of the widespread sickness today called AIDS. Sex has become very much misdirected from its original purpose, that of procreation. The Secret Doctrine gives a history of the deviation of the sexual function in man from the first separation of the sexes in the Third Root-Race, and the mistakes that were made by the then irresponsible humanity. Worse deviations followed in the great racial period of Atlantis, this time by a responsible and self-conscious humanity. In our present era sexual desire has become one of the most predominant features, and its gratification is considered a moral right. The true purpose of sex - procreation - we have tried to thwart in every way, by birth control and even abortion. Such strong sexual desire has built up a tremendous misappropriated force on the astral plane, which has to react back on the physical plane.
Because man is one with the whole world and his individual Karma is interwoven with the world Karma, every degradatory act draws back the progress of the world, even be it ever so little. Correspondingly, the whole world is lifted up by the achievements of great souls. The Light of Asia describes the thrilling response of all nature and the wondrous illuminating force for the world when the Buddha reached Nirvana. The Voice of the Silence announces the deep joy to humanity when a new Arhan is born.
I do believe that because of the great and self-sacrificing effort of H.P.B. in presenting to humanity the Ancient Wisdom, the world has been tinged with great ideas. Through her unique mystical nature and her tremendous courage the light of the more spiritual planes has lit up the world's consciousness, and we have been lifted forward.
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.
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.
14. THE ELEMENTS - PART I
Question. What is the significance of dhatu?
Answer. Dhatu is a Sanskrit term for "element". One of the meanings given in the Sanskrit lexicon is Maha-bhutas; and five "great elements" are listed: Aether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth.
The term Dhatu occurs in The Secret Doctrine quoted from a "private Commentary" in this manner:
"Matter or Substance is septenary within our World, as it is so beyond it. Moreover, each of its states or principles is graduated into seven degrees of density ... As there are seven Dhatu (principal substances in the human body) so there are seven Forces in Man and in all Nature." (I, 289-90; I, 330-31 6-vol. ed; I, 309 3rd ed.).
Here is an explanation of Mahabhuta: a compound of maha, great, and bhuta, the past participle of the verbal root bhu, to be; rendered gross element. In some Hindu schools of philosophy the Prakritis (when the word is thus used in its plural form) are equivalent to the Mahabhutas, and regarded as the eight producers or primary essences which evolve the whole visible world. These eight are enumerated as Avyakta, Buddhi or Mahat, Ahamkara, and the five Tanmatras. The meaning of these three Sanskrit terms - as used in Sankhya philosophy - is as follows: Avyakta, literally "unevolved," the primordial element or productive principle whence all the phenomena of the material world are developed; Mahat, literally "the great," the intellectual principle and the source of Ahamkara; Ahamkara, literally, "the I-making faculty," the conception of individuality, the conception of self. It should be added that when the word Prakriti is used in its singular form, it has the significance of original or primary substance. The Prakritis arise from this Original Substance, or Prakriti. The Mahabhutas or "gross elements" or element-principles are the resultants of the developed or evolved Tanmatras (Rudiment Element-Principles): Aether, Air, Fire, Water, Earth.
The Secret Doctrine calls attention to the fact that the elements undergo evolution during their manifestation "on our chain." The word "chain" refers to the concept that "every sidereal body, every plant, whether visible or invisible, is credited with six companion globes." (I, 158-9; I, 213 6-vol. ed; I, 182 3rd ed.). Continuing the theme of the evolution of the elements:
"The elements, whether simple or compound, could not have remained the same since the commencement of the evolution of our chain. Everything in the Universe progresses steadily in the Great Cycle, while incessantly going up and down in the smaller cycles. Nature is never stationary during manvantara, as it is ever becoming, not simply being; and mineral, vegetable, and human life are always adapting their organisms to the then reigning Elements, and therefore those Elements were then fitted for them, as they are now for the life of present humanity. It will only be in the next, or fifth, Round that the fifth Element, Ether - the gross body of Akasa, if it can be called even that - will by becoming a familiar fact of Nature to all men, as air is familiar to us now, cease to be as at present hypothetical, and also an 'agent' for so many things. And only during that Round will those higher senses, the growth and development of which Akasa subserves, be susceptible of a complete expansion. As already indicated, a partial familiarity with the characteristic of matter - permeability - which should be developed concurrently with the sixth sense, may be expected to develop at the proper period in this Round. But with the next element added to our resources in the next Round, permeability will become so manifest a characteristic of matter, that the densest forms of this will seem to man's perceptions as obstructive to him as a thick fog, and no more. (S.D. I, 257-8; I, 301-2 6-vol. ed; I, 278 3rd ed.)
- Vol. 61, No. 1
Question. The order in which the Elements developed in the Four Rounds is given as: ". . . Fire, Air, Water, Earth" and a footnote re-emphasizes the accuracy of this by saying: "The order in which these Elements are placed above is the correct one for esoteric purposes and in the Secret Teachings." (I, 252) Again, on page 260 we read: "The Second Round brings into manifestation the second element - AIR . . . " We have checked all three editions of The Secret Doctrine and find in all three the following wording as on page 251: "The Second Round brought forth and developed two Elements - Fire and Earth..." Is "Earth" here a misprint?
Answer. In view of the citations presented one would be inclined to think that "Air" was intended in the last quotation. However, there is one point that should be taken into consideration before dismissing the subject. It is this. Just as The Secret Doctrine states that every one of the seven principles - into which the human constitution is divided - has seven aspects, or as the commentary phrases it: "every 'man' in man (every principle)" (S.D. II, 29) - so has each Element a sevenfold aspect. Here is the enumeration of the seven Elements: Adi-tattva (the Original Principle); Anupapadaka-tattva (The Spiritual Principle); Akasa-tattva (the Aether Principle); Tejas-tattva, Fire; Vayu-tattva, Air; Apas-tattva, Water; Prithivi-tattva, Earth. Since the Element of Air is under predominant consideration, an aspect of each of the seven Element-Principles may be allocated to Air. Hence the "Earth-aspect of Air" may well be what is being considered in the citation.
The thought underlying this suggestion arises from the fact that in the same sentence from which the querist's citation was taken, the humanity of the Second Round is referred to; and that humanity must certainly have had an "Earth" upon which to exist - even
though that humanity is described in a very singular manner, to say the least: a species of humanity quite beyond present-day comprehension. To quote:
"The Second Round brought forth and developed two Elements - Fire and Earth - and its humanity, adapted to this condition of Nature, if we can give the name Humanity to beings living under conditions unknown to men, was ... 'a two-dimensional species'." (S.D. I, 251; I, 295 6-vol, ed; I, 270 3rd ed.)
Karma: Rhythmic Return to Harmony. Edited by V. Hanson, R. Stewart and S. Nicholson. A Quest Book. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1990. xix + 291 pp. Softcover. $11.50 U.S.
This is a collection of 25 articles on karma. Although derived from an earlier Quest Book which itself appeared in two editions, it is much more than just another edition of that work. (Reviewed in C.T. Jul-Aug 1975 and Jul-Aug 1981.) Indeed, well over half the contents are included here for the first time.
It is not so very long ago that in the west the word karma had limited use outside Theosophical circles. Now it seems to have been accepted into the language to the point where it is even used quite casually in conversation. However, it is a term which is subject to numerous misconceptions in popular usage, some of which even show up in this book.
The additional material covers a broad range of thought on what is after all a difficult concept. If for no other reason, it is useful to have such a wide variety of views on karma between two covers. Diversity may or may not help understanding, but at least it challenges us to discriminate!
The new titles have been borrowed from a number of sources, and some were first published a number of years ago. For instance, Ananda Coomaraswamy's selection is from a 1916 book. There are too many to list: here are a couple I think are worth mentioning:
"Karma, Jung and Transpersonal Psychology", a paper by Harold Coward originally delivered at the 1982 Karma and Rebirth: Post-Classical Developments conference held in Calgary. It was included in the conference proceedings, and was singled out for mention in the C.T. review (Jan-Feb 1987).
Alfred Taylor's "Can We Avoid Karmic Debts?" is from a 1970 Krotona School of Theosophy publication of Commentaries and Analogies based on his Secret Doctrine studies. In it Taylor has some interesting things to say regarding health in relation to karma. Incidentally, the title is not his, and in my opinion is an unfortunate choice considering the thoughts contained in his text.
Of the first and second edition material eliminated from the present book, it is very disappointing that Lina Psaltis' compilation "Karma - The Womb of Time" will not be seen by new readers. As I wrote here in 1975: "It makes not only a first-class introduction to the book but also to the subject generally."
Considering the steadily increasing interest in karma, I can do no less than to conclude with another borrowing - this from the 1981 review. "Surprisingly, there are but few titles in Theosophical book lists that deal exclusively with karma. This one, dealing as it does with a complex subject from a variety of individual viewpoints, is well worth keeping in print."
- Ted G. Davy
BEACONSFIELD STUDY CENTRE: Secretary, Mrs. Suzanne Hassanein, 81 Heritage Rd., Beaconsfield, P.Q., H9W 3V2. (Phone 695-2618 or 697-8198).
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ATMA VIDYA LODGE: Secretary, Mrs. H. Tidberry. Enquiries c/o "Bird Sanctuary," R.R. No. 2, Cobble Hill, B.C. V0R 1L0
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