Vol. 72 No. 3 Toronto, July-Aug., 1991
The Theosophical Society is not responsible for any statement in this Magazine, unless made in an official document.
LAWREN HARRIS'S THEOSOPHIC PHILOSOPHY
- Ted G. Davy
According to John Ruskin, "He is the greatest artist who has embodied, in the sum of his works, the greatest number of the greatest ideas." By this definition, the Canadian painter Lawren Harris surely qualifies as one of the greatest artists of the century.
The great ideas he consciously and deliberately tried to express in his paintings were those with which he had become familiar in his studies of Theosophy. Unlike his famous contemporaries, Kandinsky and Mondrian, whose names are frequently linked with Theosophy, but who appear to have had but a superficial grasp of the subject, Harris had studied deeply what he referred to as the Divine Wisdom. He cared about it enough to want to pass on what it meant to him, and did so not only through his paintings, but also in writing and in lectures.
Recently, a new major exhibition of paintings by Lawren Harris opened in Calgary, and over the next two years will be seen on tour in four other Canadian centres. Entitled North by West, it focuses on the period during which Harris put on canvas his impressions of the Arctic and of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. The curator of this exhibition, Christopher Jackson, wrote in the catalogue:
"Not only did he try to live his life according to Theosophical principles, but he turned to Theosophy as the foundation for his art. He adopted its symbols and metaphors and used them to convey the Canadian landscape and its forms as material expressions of a higher spiritual reality." (1)
This statement is irrefutable and is consistent with the sort of recognition given by Canadian art critics to the influence of Theosophy on the work of Lawren Harris since his death in 1970. (2)
Last year, another exhibition, Canadian Mystical Painting, originating in London, Ontario, included works by Lawren Harris, Emily Carr and others. Inasmuch as each had had some exposure to Theosophy, or at least to oriental philosophy, it was appropriate that aseparate chapter on Theosophy was included in the exhibition catalogue. (3)
The author, Ann Davis, makes reference to the three fundamental propositions of The Secret Doctrine in order to give the reader an idea of the basic philosophy with which Harris was very familiar (though much less so as far as the others were concerned). Harris would have approved her felicitous choice of quotation: he had cited the same passages in one of his radio talks, and like most serious students of Theosophy would have considered the three propositions as embodying the essence of the teaching.
Except for discussing the subject in general terms, however, what Harris himself understood by Theosophy has been for the most part left unexplored by most commentators. The following is an attempt to determine more precisely the nature of Lawren Harris's own philosophy as far as it can be discovered in his Theosophical writings.
By way of introduction, and as a general observation, from internal indications in his radio talks and elsewhere, it can be reasonably inferred that he was mostly familiar with the Theosophical doctrines promulgated by H.P. Blavatsky, rather than with certain later writers whose works are sometimes labelled Theosophy - C.W. Leadbeater in particular. This is important to establish, because the differences between the two are generally not noticed or understood except by students of Theosophy. Other evidence backs up this inference. For example, an anonymous writer who must have known Harris well as a fellow member of the Toronto Theosophical Society wrote:
"There is much misconception about Theosophy and in the popular mind it has become associated with many things that are neither Theosophical nor akin to that new world which Theosophy adumbrates and to which Canadian art looks forward. Mr. Harris's Theosophy is of the saner order which belongs to 'the old times before us' but which is ever-living and ever-new, because it is of life itself and of the purpose of the Universe. It is therefore akin to art in its highest sense." (4) (Italics added.)
This should not be surprising, because those who introduced him to Theosophical ideas, and discussed these with him over a great many years were themselves Theosophists in the Blavatsky tradition - the "saner order" referred to in the above quotation. These included Roy Mitchell, Albert E.S. Smythe and Fred Housser.
In such individuals Theosophy finds expression not just in writing or lecturing, but as an attitude toward life. Harris seems also to have been of this mould. As a Canadian historian has put it, "Harris ... preached a way of life, not just a Sunday religion." (5)
Harris did not "preach" in the conventional sense, of course, but did try to describe in simple terms what he admitted was a complex system of thoughts. He wrote and spoke about such ideas as the Oneness of All Life, Universal Brotherhood, Karma and Reincarnation. These were the building blocks of his philosophy, which he was not ashamed to share with the general public. He suggested three "keys" offered by Theosophy "to the understanding of the manifold problems of life":
(1) The continuity of all life;
(2) In the cycle of reincarnation we have to learn from all essential experience;
(3) Within this cycle, man is twofold: at once a god, and a creature, an animal soul. (7)
Basic to the Theosophical attitude toward life is the goal of self-responsibility in the ultimate sense. Blavatsky insisted that all of us are responsible for our own spiritual evolution through "self-induced and self-devised efforts." (8) This was a concept on which Harris placed much importance. He even entitled one of his radio talks "Thought and Responsibility." He saw a parallel in art. "The aesthetic attitude," he said, "implies a divine being within each one of us and to be disclosed over the ages by self-devised, creative effort and experience." (9)
The conscious acceptance of individual responsibility means that old crutches must be discarded. This is probably the main reason why Theosophy is not a popular philosophy. But Harris held steadfast to this principle, and stated unequivocally:
"Nothing is ultimately gained by shifting responsibility to an institution, or a code, or a creed or dogma, or on to another individual or individuals." (10)
The ultimate gain is nothing less than steady progress in one's spiritual evolution.
"In order to make ourselves purposeful, creative beings, we should assume full responsibility for ourselves, and think in terms of that responsibility and of the unity of life." (11)
Mention of the unity of life is a reminder that this and the concept of the continuity of life recur again and again in his writings, and were unquestionably among the principal elements in Harris's personal philosophy which he derived from Theosophy. Theosophy, he wrote:
"...is a body of knowledge founded on the basis of the unity of life, and on one immutable, universal law, which expresses and maintains that unity." (12)
His understanding of "life", however, was infinitely deeper than would be derived from a mere biological definition. In the Theosophical world view it is inconceivable that anything can be without life, even those forms normally considered lifeless. Moreover, "life" is not limited to the physical, but is omnipresent through all the planes of consciousness including the emotional, mental and spiritual.
Once the premise of unity of life is accepted, the ideal of human brotherhood is at once seen to be a fact in nature. We are one with the universe; and brotherhood, in this deeper meaning, relates to the interdependence of humanity. As Harris expressed it,
"... brotherhood has a very deep, a very exacting meaning ... we would see the entire mankind as linked and bound together within one great, all-inclusive common experience with one goal before it." (13)
Not only the individual, but mankind as a whole has to evolve spiritually. As for the "goal":
"Growth, not happiness (except incidentally) is the goal of life. And we cannot skip one lesson that growth involves - for we must acquire all of the virtues, one after another." (14)
At the human level, the process by which growth is possible is reincarnation. A few citations will provide a window on how Harris viewed this important doctrine.
"Inseparable from the fact of the continuity of life is the idea of Reincarnation. Reincarnation is the method of continuing life for man, whereby he lives many lives on earth, but always in human bodies, never in a body of the animal species."
"Thus Theosophy views the life of any one individual as having had an endless future before it." (15)
He posed and attempted to answer the important ever-recurring question, what is it that reincarnates?
"It is not the body, for that dies and disintegrates.
"It is not the passions or desires, though these have a very long term, because they have to reproduce themselves in each life so long as we do not eradicate them.
"It is not the personality that reincarnates, and therefore it has no memory of past lives.
"Theosophy says that it is the spiritual man, the soul, that reincarnates. And that the personality is but an agent which the real man, the soul, uses to gather experience and knowledge of life for its continuing progress toward complete wisdom.
"When the soul reincarnates, it does not take up the personality of someone else, nor another's deeds, but is like an actor who plays many parts. And though the costumes, and the lines recited, differ in each new play, it is always the same actor inside." (16)
This explanation is in conformity with what H.P. Blavatsky wrote on the subject. Incidentally, Harris borrowed the simile of the actor from The Secret Doctrine. (17)
Reincarnation does not stand by itself, but is inseparable from the doctrine of Karma. This universal law "which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause" (18) is a law of justice, which evidently appealed to Harris's sense of the fitness of things. This theme dominates one of the radio talks, "Justice in Human Life," which essentially discusses Karma throughout without once mentioning the word.
"For within the Law of Justice, effects always follow causes, and equal them exactly - thus constant readjustments are inevitably taking place in the flux of life. These readjustments may be painful or otherwise, but they always represent the workings of the Law, which ceaselessly operates to re-establish harmony, to maintain an equilibrium." (19)
Consistent with his other views, he identified Karma as the operative force in connection with self-responsibility:
"... the Law of Justice places the entire responsibility for all we do, think and feel - good, bad and indifferent - on ourselves.
"This, the Theosophist maintains, is not only eminently just, but is the only way in which we can become real individuals, and find our true direction." (20)
Karma, being a universal law, is applicable not only to individuals, but to groups and nations. Harris explained "the disease of war" in terms of Karma. Commenting on the costly defence spending by nations, he said it was not so much their fear of being attacked but,
"... it is a deep, inherent, felt knowledge that the nations have done ghastly things from base motives, and the day of paying the price may be at hand. It is inexorable Karma continually staring them in the face. (21)
Although many people today - certainly a much greater proportion of the population
than in Lawren Harris's time - accept the twin doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma, probably few have thought about it as seriously as he. He had the gift of explaining the subject in terms that are easy to understand. For example:
"The Theosophist who holds that reincarnation for every man is a fact in nature, also knows that if a man in one life had laid the foundations of viciousness, he will earn a body in his next life that will be suitable to express, and work out, that viciousness. (22)
Many more citations can be given to illustrate Lawren Harris's Theosophical Philosophy, but the above selection indicates the spiritual path he had chosen to take. As has been shown, he certainly did not preach "just a Sunday religion." Indeed, his attitude toward conventional religion was skeptical to say the least. We have seen his abrupt rejection of creeds and dogmas, and this renouncement he reiterated on a number of occasions. Here is a stirring passage, indicating the depth of his feelings:
"We have each one of us to put our house in order; to refuse any longer to permit any organization, whether of church, or state or industry to do our thinking for us, or to permit them to substitute fetishes for thought; to rid ourselves of the false gods that would destroy our humanity, that eat away the power of understanding in our hearts. These are all of them creeds or dogmas, whether of church or state or commerce, under the guise of which men have destroyed each other for ages." (23)
How successfully Lawren Harris was able to express his personal philosophy through his art must be an individual assessment. Certainly, he tried. Other of Harris's writings, those in which he discussed his artistic philosophy, leave no doubt that it was fully compatible and intertwined with his Theosophic philosophy. It is as if they were one. No doubt he would have approved this description written by his friend and Theosophical colleague, Fred Housser:
"The creative life which the real artist represents is the Theosophical life as it was understood and expounded by the founders of the Theosophical Society. The true artist is an occultist." (24)
Notes and References
Lawren Harris's Radio Talks:
"Justice in Human Life," November 5, 1933. Reprinted in The Canadian Theosophist (C.T.), Vol. 68, No. 1 (Mar-Apr 1987) pp. 1-4.
"Theosophy - The Science of the Inner Facts of Life," December 3,1933. Reprinted, C.T. 67, 3 (July-Aug 1986) pp. 49-52.
"Thought and Responsibility," December 31, 1933. Reprinted C.T. 66,4 (Sept-Oct 1985) pp. 73-76.
1. Christopher Jackson, North by West: The Arctic and Rocky Mountain Paintings of Lawren Harris, 1924-1931. Calgary:
Glenbow Museum, 1991. Exhibition catalogue.
2. Of special mention are: Jeremy Adamson, Lawren S. Harris: Urban Scenes and Wilderness Landscapes, 1906-1930. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1978. Exhibition catalogue. Dennis Reid, Atma, Buddhi Manas: The Later Work of Lawren S. Harris. Toronto: Art Gallery of Ontario, 1985. Exhibition catalogue.
3. Ann Davis, The Logic of Ecstasy: Canadian Mystical Painting 1920-1940. London (Ontario): London Regional Art and Historical Museums, n.d. (1990). Exhibition catalogue.
4. "Mr. Lawren Harris's Class," Toronto Theosophical News, December, 1926. Reprinted in "A Lawren Harris Class," C.T. Vol. 65, 4 (Sept-Oct 1984) pp. 94-95.
5. Ramsay Cook, "Nothing Less Than a New Theory of Art and Religion: The Birth of a Modernist Culture in Canada," in The Logic of Ecstasy (see note 3) p. 22.
6. "Justice in Human Life," p. 1.
7. ibid. pp. 1-3.
8. The Secret Doctrine I, 17.
9. Lawren Harris, "Theosophy and Art." C.T. XIV, 6 (Aug. 1933) p. 163.
10. "Thought and Responsibility," p. 75.
11. ibid. p. 75.
12. ibid. p. 74
13. "Justice in Human Life," p. 3.
15. ibid. pp. 1-2.
16. "Theosophy - The Science of the Inner Facts of Life" p. 50.
17. The Secret Doctrine II, 306.
18. The Key to Theosophy, 201
19. "Justice in Human Life p. 2
21. Lawren Harris, "The Armaments
Racket". C.T. XV, 4 (June 1934) p. 126.
22. "Theosophy - the Science of the Inner Facts of Life," p. 50.
23. Lawren Harris, "War and Europe", C.T. XIV, 9 (Nov. 1933) p. 288.
24. Fred B. Housser, "Art and Artists," C.T. XIV, 8 (Oct. 1933), p. 252. (The Index to Vol. XIV gives the impression that Harris himself wrote this article; in it, however, Harris is described in the third person. For several years, Housser conducted a regular section in The Canadian Theosophist entitled "Theosophy in the Modern World" in which the unsigned "Art and Artists" appears. It seems fairly certain, therefore, that Housser himself wrote it. Housser was the author of A Canadian Art Movement.)
The hope of the world lies in just this that beyond all sentimental religious ideas; beyond all notions of a God outside his universe who can be propitiated by whatever payments or rites or sacraments; beyond the idea that someone else, whether man or son of God, can save us from our unsolved mistakes; and beyond all the horrors perpetrated by man on earth in the name of whatever God, or in the name of whatever temporary scientific idea - beyond all these, man has an innate sense of justice, of absolute eternal Law, and of the continuity of all life. And when all the rest is gone, sloughed off by vital experiences of its infringement, the One Law is seen as the ultimate of precision, of beauty and beneficence, because in it alone inheres the living spiritual identity of all mankind, true brotherhood and the immortality of the soul.
- Lawren Harris, "War in Europe," C.T. XIV, p. 286.
ON THE THREE OBJECTS
- Dudley W. Barr
The three Objects of the Theosophical Society might be thought of as (1) the ideal, (2) the preparation, (3) the process. All three are necessary and while a Theosophical student or a Theosophical group may indulge in a good deal of useful and interesting activity based upon one object only - or one object to the subordination of the other two - without the balance of others, the activity is partial and incomplete.
The third Object, the investigation of powers latent in man, and of the unexplained laws of Nature, is a requirement for actual practice in this field, although no one is compelled to undertake this as one of the conditions of joining the Society. Quite correctly, it is often announced from our platform that an acceptance of the ideal of human brotherhood is the sole requirement for admission. Many persons join the Society filled with a strong desire to unite with a group that accepts Brotherhood as its first principle. Their enthusiasm may lead them to throw their energies into all manner of humanitarian works - all good in themselves - but an intense interest in these works may, of itself, build between them and the ideal, a wall over which they cannot see. The formation of 'a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity,' is a majestic and intricate work which demands more than an initial enthusiasm to carry to a satisfactory end. It is not enough to dream of a noble building, and then instead of undertaking the arduous task of construction - drawing plans, gathering materials, excavating the soil, installing strong foundations, and finally, after long preparation, erecting the superstructure in which a multitude might dwell in harmony - go about busily patching up existing shelters in the hope that some day those shelters will be metamorphosed into a lofty building. All honour to those who give freely of themselves in trying to relieve the outer causes of human misery - but if Theosophical students concentrate upon these exclusively, the main purpose of the Movement is passed over.
The powers latent in man are often assumed to be the extrasensory faculties such as clairvoyance, clairaudience, thought transfer, psycho-kinesis, which are but secondary latencies of man's immense potentialities. They are extensions of the personal consciousness and may be developed and used without any awakening to the fact that the Self of man is not the personality. The primary latencies are those of that inner Self, the omniscience and the omnipotence of the one Life of which the inner Self is an undetached spark. To endeavour to draw near to that source of our being, to so discipline and clarify the vehicle of personal consciousness that it becomes a more efficient reflector of the powers of that Self, is to engage in most practical endeavour in the field of the third Object. Work in many activities to help mankind will await the graduate of this science.
The study of comparative religion is a subject on the curriculum of universities and many students take this course without any-
thing happening inside them to fire them with a desire to go further. It is looked upon as something necessary to obtain a degree; certain information has to be absorbed so that it may be repeated correctly at examination time. No one ever told the students that they stood in the position of postulants in the Mysteries, that this was an opportunity to pose questions, to demand answers. If an insatiable 'Why' had arisen in their minds, they would not have been satisfied with the bare bones of Buddhism, Hinduism and other religious faiths.
Every student of Theosophy is a postulant and asks questions of the mysteries of life and its manifestations. Comparative religion, philosophy and science are his fields of enquiry. Here he can develop his powers of comparison, of selection and of independent thought; here he can put his two's and two's together - sometimes, perhaps arriving at fives or sixes - but often discovering the not obvious four. His acquaintanceship with the basic ideas of the unity of life, the periodicity of manifestation under the law, the obligatory pilgrimage of all souls, gives him a unique background of approach. Religions, philosophies and sciences are means, not ends - tools, not accomplishments. They are important, not for their own sakes, but for their uses. Behind every religious symbol there is a universal truth, even though the symbol may be romanticized, distorted or perverted by those who revere its outer form. Behind every scientific fact there is a relationship of a part to a whole; a particular science is a co-ordinated body of classified and systematized knowledge concerning relationships. Each philosophical concept is an attempt to express relationships in terms of ultimate causes.
Before these three, the student of Theosophy stands as an asker of questions, a postulant who seeks to penetrate behind the appearances and to find more inclusive relationships. To him the symbols of religions, the facts of science, the concepts of philosophy, are not enough in themselves alone. What stands behind this facade? What is the ultimate relationship of all parts to the one whole? What is the ultimate Truth?
The first Object is to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood. This is the ideal; we are not required to create a brotherhood, but to establish a centre or centres in which the existence of the essential brotherhood of men is admitted to be a fact of Nature, and in which that brotherhood will be practised to the fullness of our understanding. Signing a membership application form does not magically admit us to that nucleus; it signifies only that the applicant is willing to try. Now he must commence his disciplinary and initiatory labours and then, to use Whitman's words,
"... only at last, after many years - after chastity, friendships, procreation, prudence, and nakedness; ... after absorbing eras, temperaments, races, after knowledge, freedom, crimes... after complete faith - after clarifyings, elevations, and removing obstructions ..."
he may at last be able to stand as an initiate in the brotherhood of men.
The field outside him, the religions, philosophies and sciences, afford him the means to exercise his reason and intuition; his interior powers, raised from their latencies, will give him the capacity to perceive the more inclusive relationships and will awaken within him a growing awareness of
the unity of all life. All living things will be viewed as parts of one stupendous whole of which he is a fragment - and all will become holy. He will know that he has a communal responsibility for all that emanates from him, his thoughts, deeds and emotions, for all these affect the race consciousness. He will learn to revere life, and compassion for all beings will be born.
The three Objects do not stand separate from each other; they constitute a trinity, a triangle of equal sides.
- The Canadian Theosophist, Sept-Oct., 1956
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.
15. THE INITIATE; THE ADEPT - PART II
Question. What becomes an Initiate? It was said earlier in answer to this question that it was the Personality.
Answer. The reason that "the personality" was given as the answer to the question "What becomes an Initiate?" was because of the reply given by the Mahatma to A.P. Sinnett. Mahatma K. H. wrote:
"Immortal then is he, in the panaeonic immortality whose distinct consciousness and perception of Self under whatever form -undergoes no disjunction at any time not for one second, during the period of his Egoship," (ibid, p. 129)
"Egoship" here signifies the personality, for it is the personality that does have "the perception of Self," and the Mahatma underlined "under whatever form." Moreover, he refers to the personality as the Ego in this sentence:
"Suffice for you, for the present to know, that a man, an Ego like yours or mine, may be immortal from one to the other Round. Let us say I begin my immortality at the present fourth Round, i.e., having become a full adept (which unhappily I am not) I arrest the hand of Death at will, and when finally obliged to submit to it, my knowledge of the
secrets of nature puts me in a position to retain my consciousness and distinct perception of Self as an object to my own reflective consciousness and cognition; and thus avoiding all such dismemberments of principles, that as a rule take place after the physical death of average humanity, I remain as Koothoomi in my Ego throughout the whole series of births and lives across the seven worlds .... Unless I make the same efforts as I do now, to secure for myself another such furlough from Nature's Law, Koothoomi will vanish and may become a Mr. Smith or an innocent Babu, when his leave expires." (ibid., pp 129-30)
In the quoted passage, the Initiate Koothoomi is referring to himself as an Ego - his personality. This is clearly indicated.
Question. (Continuing the previous question): It was said earlier that in answer to the query "What becomes an Initiate?" that it was the Personality, but it is a duality, a house divided against itself.
Answer. The suggestion is offered that it is a misapprehension to regard the personality as a duality. It is alone the Manas principle that becomes dual in manifestation; "for Manas alone there is no immortality possible" (The Key to Theosophy, p. 164). The confusion arises from considering the personality "from below" - that is, from the standpoint of the "body" looking upwards. Considered "from above" the confusion is eliminated, because as already explained the upadhi for the monad (Atma-Buddhi) is Higher Manas (Buddhi-Manas). In turn, the upadhi for the Reincarnating Ego is the Kama principle: Manas links with Kama, as well as Manas links with Buddhi - hence the duality of the Manas principle. In turn Lower Manas with its upadhis (the three lowest principles) forms the personality during a lifetime on earth and is given a name (Kama rupa).
The questioner uses the simile of "a house divided against itself." This is indeed applicable when the lower aspects of the desire principle, Kama, take over and rule a person's life. But when the personality follows the behest of the Reincarnating Ego - that is, when the voice of conscience is listened to - it is no longer a case of the house being divided against itself.
KROTONA FALL PROGRAM
The Krotona Fall program commences September 21 and continues through November 16.
Among the courses offered are: "From Whence This Great Creation Sprang..." - Joy Mills; "Nordic Mythology in the Light of Theosophy"- Curt Berg; "Conscious Self-Direction: Living from the Inside Out" - Nancy Elsinger. There will also be videos dealing with "The Story of Our Time" and "The Feast of Consciousness." A "Theosophical Forum" will be a weekly feature.
In addition, there will be special weekend or separate sessions, including: "The Spiritual Mission of America" - Robert A. McDermott; "Mind, Consciousness and Psychotherapy" -Ruben Feldman-Gonzalez; "Eco-Spirituality and Eco-Religion" - Henryk Skolimowski; "The Re-Emergence of the Goddess"- Elinor Gadon.
Further information from the Director, Krotona Institute, School of Theosophy, 46 Krotona Hill, Ojai, CA 93023, U.S.A.
NOTES AND COMMENTS BY THE GENERAL SECRETARY
I am pleased to welcome into The Theosophical Society in Canada the following new members: Mr. Remi Morelli, of Sudbury, Ontario; and Mr. W. Ken Briggs, of Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, both as members at large
In the May-June Notes I mentioned that one could benefit by reading The Secret Doctrine even in a "here and there" fashion by opening at any page. I gave two tidbits, the "imperishable northern island" and the size of the Universe, but did not supply the answers, letting the interested reader who did not already know them ponder for a while.
As to what or where this imperishable or permanent northern island is, chances are you -we - are standing on it. In one system of blinds I saw years ago, "north" indicated up, on top. In a book on geology read in the '50's (now unfortunately in storage, so I cannot give its title), the author explained that the solid rock base of most of our continents, which are thicker than the rock under the oceans, are granitic. These granitic rock types are composed mostly of silicon and aluminum compounds, which are less dense than basaltic rock which is under the sea bed (under the silt and sediment) and in the mantle or rock bed under the granite that forms our continents. The basalt under the granite is tending to the molten state. These granitic rocks of the continents are classified as SIAL rocks, that is, of silicon and aluminum. The basalts are somewhat different in chemical make-up.
The lighter granites float on the underlying basalt. The continents therefore are "islands", rather large, surrounded by water. The granite portions are rather permanent, with a few parts having ups and downs, and a little flooding when ice ages wax and wane. Originally the continents were one - an idea promoted by a Toronto Scholar, Dr. Tuzo Wilson, and generally regarded as proven as a result of the Geological Year. The original continent was called Gonwanda Land, or then there was Pangea, depending on who, when, or what one reads, and surrounded by the Tethys Sea. I am confident that H.P.B. was aware of the One Continent, as I shall rename it, which since separated into large parts, and she may have left us hints. The floating of the granite that is the base of the continents is now a geological fact. Whether experts on the S.D. will acknowledge that H.P.B. meant this in her blind is another matter, never to be really settled, since we cannot ask her now. Should a reader have a more definite island in mind as a favoured explanation, perhaps he/she would let me know, as I might want to visit it on a vacation sometime.
I also said in the previous issue that the size of the Universe could be derived from a brief statement in The Secret Doctrine, plus from something made famous by the scientist who kept a copy of the S.D. on his desk. That man was Albert Einstein. The statement in the S.D. is "Other than IT, nothing else has ever been." Everything is relative, all in manifestation exists relative to something else, compared to something else, the manifested parts in relationship or comparison to each other. Since, in the long haul, there is only ONE (the ultimate reduction of the Reductionists, if they could only but
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realise it), there is nothing else with which to compare it. The Universe may appear immense to us, who are infinitesimal in comparison to the size of the Universe, but since there is only ONE, there is nothing else with which to compare the size of the Universe. Therefore, the Universe has no size. It can perhaps be big, or very tiny. But that statement is a contradiction. Since the Universe has no size, that helps solve the problem of the space involved, or needed to contain it, if indeed the Absolute deemed it had any problem in containing the Universe when it wanted to manifest.
I thank those few kind souls who have paid their June 1991 -1992 dues, but regret that so far I have not been overworked in this department. For Canadian members, again, a reminder that the dues are due again. See boxed item in this magazine for fee details.
The Annual Meeting of the Lodge was held on Wednesday, May 29, when the following officers were elected for the ensuing year:
President - Phyllis Olin
Secretary - Doris Davy
Treasurer - Laetitia van Hees
Darcy Kuntz assumed the position of Librarian for another year.
The month of May saw our Secret Doctrine Study Class reach the end of Volume II, completing a study which commenced with Volume I in September, 1975.
The members at the Annual Meeting discussed a number of books which might be the focus of our study when the Lodge reopens in September. It was decided to concentrate on The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett.
During the past year our end-of-the-month special presentations had again proved popular, and it was agreed to continue this as a regular part of our Lodge program for the 1991-92 season.
Doris Davy, Secretary
The nature of Mind has been an enigma to many contemplative individuals since the appearance of reasoning humanity on this planet. The members of Edmonton T.S. have been studying The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett for over six years now, and the concept of Mind is a recurring theme permeating these. When regular meetings resumed in the fall of 1990, it was determined that research into Mind should be part of this term's study and a "MIND Symposium" was scheduled for spring, 1991. After months of study, research and working on our papers, the Symposium was held on April 28. Interestingly, of the nine presentations made, each individual approached the topic from a different angle. Discussion continued during the potluck supper which followed. The Symposium was deemed a success and other such events will likely be scheduled in future.
On May 8, 1991, five members of Edmonton T.S. attended the "White Lotus Centenary" event in Vancouver, B.C. Part of Edmonton's contribution to the program was the unveiling, by Ernest Pelletier, of a limited reprint of The Voice of the Silence. This was followed by Gay Gering who spoke on "H.P.B. and Mind," which concentrated on Blavatsky's lifelong efforts and contributions to this subject.
The program was very interesting, and the members of Edmonton T.S. congratulate and thank the members of the West Coast Lodges who arranged for such a varied and well coordinated undertaking.
WHITE LOTUS CENTENARY IN WESTERN CANADA MAY 8,1991
The idea for the Western Canadian Lodges to have an extra-special White Lotus Day Centenary was born from Stan Treloar's letter of November 8, 1990, enclosing details of the Blavatsky Centenary being arranged in Los Angeles on May 4-5, 1991 by members of ULT, TS (Adyar), TS (Pasadena) and others. Since it was not possible for many to attend there, we decided to have our own version based on their intentions: of expressing appreciation for H.P.B.'s life work.
As a result, a combined meeting of Vancouver Lodges (Hermes, Orpheus and Vancouver) plus Victoria and Edmonton Lodges on Wednesday May 8 attracted 38 members who enjoyed sharing a wonderfully inspirational program from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The day was hosted by Hermes Lodge, their rooms being decorated with lovely floral tributes.
Some members from each Lodge presented a variety of readings, piano pieces and songs; there was also an audiotape on
White Lotus Day by Judith Younghusband, and a slide presentation on the Lotus and Nature. From the Opening Circle which welcomes H.P.B. and her Masters, sounded the AUM and built the 5-pointed star, to the Closing Meditation on the White Lotus followed by the first movement of the Moonlight Sonata, the program fostered the beauty of H.P.B.'s teachings and raised our consciousness almost to a point of ecstasy.
Names of those responsible for this wonderful day are too numerous to mention: each Lodge did its own share. The program was coordinated by Doreen Chatwin of Vancouver Lodge. Ernest Pelletier of Edmonton Lodge presented the new Centenary Celebration edition of 100 copies of The Voice of the Silence. This edition is as close as possible to the original in every way, and will be a valued "Collectors' edition". A video tape was made, covering four hours, available through Marian Thompson of Vancouver Lodge (604) 926-3543.
Heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to all those who contributed towards making H.P.B.'s Day so very special.
- Doreen Chatwin
WHAT SHE TAUGHT US
- William Kingsland
If I were to write this short memoir simply as an imperfect expression of what H.P.B. was to me personally, and of the influence of her life and teachings upon my own life and aspirations, I should merely be adding one more testimony to that affection and reverence which she inspired in all who learnt to understand her in some degree. There were those who were attracted to her by the magnetism of her personal influence, by her extraordinary intellect, by her conversational powers, and even by her militant unconventionality. But I was not one of these. It was her message that attracted me; it was as a teacher that I learnt to know and love her. Apart from her teachings I might have looked upon H.P.B. as an interesting and unique character, but I do not think I should have been attracted to her, had not her message spoken at once right home to my heart. It was through that message, that I came to know H.P.B., not as a mere personal friend, but as something infinitely more.
Let me dwell therefore upon H.P.B. as a teacher, let me endeavour to express what it was that she set before me, and before so many others, the acceptance of which united us by ties which death cannot sever.
First, and above all else, she showed us the purpose of life.
And when I say this I mean much more than might be commonly understood by this phrase. I mean much more than that she gave us an interest and a motive in this present life, and a belief or faith with regard to the next. Those who have learnt the lesson of the illusory nature of that which most men call life, whether here or hereafter, need to draw their inspiration from a deeper source than is available in the exter-
nal world of forms. But to the born Mystic there is often a long period of waiting and seeking before that source is found. Many years are spent in testing and rejecting first one system, then another, until it seems perchance as if life could be naught but a hopeless problem. And perhaps just when all seemed darkest and most hopeless, when it even appeared best to abandon the quest, to take up the position, "we do not know, and we cannot know," just then it has been that the light has dawned, the teacher has been sent, the word has been spoken, which has recalled the lost memory of that hidden source of truth for which we have been seeking; and we have taken up once more, at the point at which we dropped it in a previous life-time, that great task which we have set ourselves to accomplish.
And thus she did something more than teach us a new system of philosophy. She drew together the threads of our life, those threads which run back into the past, and forward into the future, but which we had been unable to trace, and showed us the pattern we had been weaving, and the purpose of our work.
She taught us Theosophy - not as a mere form of doctrine, not as a religion, or a philosophy, or a creed, or a working hypothesis, but as a living power in our lives.
It is inevitable that the term Theosophy should come to be associated with a certain set of doctrines. In order that the message may be given to the world it must be presented in a definite and systematic form. But in doing this it becomes exoteric, and nothing that is exoteric can be permanent, for it belongs to the world of form. She led us to look beneath the surface, behind the form; to make the principle the real motive power of our life and conduct. To her the term Theosophy meant something infinitely more than could be set before the world in any Key to Theosophy, or Secret Doctrine. The nearest approach to it in any of her published works is in The Voice of the Silence; yet even that conveys but imperfectly what she would - had the world been able to receive it - have taught and included in the term Theosophy.
The keynote of her teachings, the keynote of her life, was - Self-sacrifice.
"But stay, Disciple ... Yet one word. Canst thou destroy divine COMPASSION? Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of Laws - eternal Harmony, Alaya's SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting Right, and fitness of all things, the law of love eternal ... Now bend thy head and listen well, O Bodhisattva - Compassion speaks and saith: 'Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?'"
And thus though doctrinal Theosophy speaks of Devachan and Nirvana: of rest for the weary storm-tossed pilgrim of life; of a final goal of bliss past all thought and conceiving; yet, to those who are able to receive it, it says that there is something higher and nobler still, that though thrice great is he who has "crossed and won the Aryahata Path," he is greater still, who having won the prize can put it aside, and "remain unselfish till the endless end."
And so H.P.B. often pointed out to us those men and women who were true Theosophists, though they stood outside of the Theosophical movement, and even appeared antagonistic to it. Already in the world a Theosophist has come to mean someone who believes in Re-incarnation
and Karma, or some other distinctive doctrine. But the term was never so limited in its application by the great founder of the Theosophical Society. She taught these doctrines in order that men might dissociate themselves from all forms of doctrine, and reach "Alaya's Self." There is no older doctrine than this of Divine Compassion, of Universal Brotherhood. It is the essence of all the teachings of all the Buddhas and Christs the world has ever known. It is above all doctrines, all creeds, all formulas; it is the essence of all religion. Yet men ever miss it, miss the one principle which alone can save the world, and take refuge instead in the selfish desires of their lower nature.
Individualism is the keynote of modern civilization; competition and survival of the fittest, the practical basis of our morality. Our modern philosophers and scientific teachers do all that is possible to reduce man to the level of an animal, to show his parentage, his ancestry and his genius as belonging to the brute creation, and conditioned by brutal laws of blind force and dead matter. What wonder then that one who believed so ardently in the divine nature of man, in the divine law of love, should oppose with scornful contempt the teachings of both religion and science which thus degrade humanity.
And she paid the inevitable penalty. Misunderstood, slandered, and vilified to the last degree, she lived a hero's life, and died a martyr's death. Only those who were her intimate friends knew how she suffered, mentally and bodily. The man who dies with his face to the foe, fighting to the last though covered with wounds, is accounted a hero. But in the heat of battle there is oblivion of pain, there is a superhuman strength of madness and frenzy. How much more should she be accounted a hero who could hold on to life, and work as no other woman has worked, through years of physical and mental torture.
Some few years ago she was at death's door. Humanly speaking, she ought to have died then. She was given up by the doctors; she herself knew she was dying, and rejoiced greatly. But the Master came to her, showed her the work that must still be done, and gave her her choice - the bliss of dying or the cross of living.
She chose the cross. And thus not merely did she teach us the meaning of Theosophy by precept, but also by example. She was herself the greatest of the Theosophists, not merely because she founded the movement, and restored to the world the treasures of ancient wisdom, but because she herself had made the "Great Renunciation."
- Lucifer, July, 1891.
There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the very heart of the Universe: I can tell you how to find those who will show you the secret gateway that opens inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte forevermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling - the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.
- H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings XIII, 219.
THEOSOPHY'S ESOTERIC PANTHEISM - William R. Laudahn
While generally considered unusual, out of the ordinary, or super-natural, God has long been a common word. It represents a unique, mysterious idea, the basis for Eternal Life. Aside from "Love" and "Spirit" however, the usual definitions and designations of God tend to diminish the otherwise awesome subject. Artificial personalities, in triplicate, have emerged, such as "Father, Son and Holy Ghost." India gives us Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, representing cosmic creative, preservative and destructive principles. Despite their invisibility, informal (especially Christian) teachings, such Beings only call attention to themselves. As such they altogether avoid the total visible and invisible Universe, which includes ourselves.
Most of us nominally believe that, apart from the Cosmos, there is only one God (monotheism), or many gods (polytheism). For various reasons, only a few have seen that God is not apart from, but includes the Universe. It is they who say that All is God (Pantheism). The clearer vision proceeds from otherwise quiet souls aroused. Albeit the physical vehicles for awakened minds and souls may not appear to be extraordinary, the subject is very much so.
At times the vision, understanding and knowledge - the Light - comes from a special beholding of the star-encrusted night sky. Even astronomy cannot count the heavenly bodies. In their turn, they comprise only a small part, however conspicuous, of all objects in the spiritually infinite Space. To our eyes, all appearances are beautiful or squalid, useful or ornamental. They are, nevertheless, everywhere. Many theologians have wondered "why God created so many things?"
The amazing and confusing variety of physical objects, organic and inorganic, is merely the tip of the iceberg. To naturalistic pantheism, however, what is seen or detected (or mathematically assumed) is All or God. In Esoteric Pantheism, that is just the beginning. The metaphysical "All" includes the unseen as well as the seen, the spiritual as well as the materialistic.
Why was all of this spirituality and materiality created? In Esoteric Pantheism, it was not created, especially in the sense of being "created out of nothing." All of the theosophical-type philosophers and metaphysicians teach that there is a flowing forth, or emanation, from the ever abundant and Present Source. It resembles the old Steady State of the Universe theory, where there is a "continuous creation from background material.
"Creation" by a man-made and manlike deity was never seriously considered until the triumph of the official church over the pagans and Gnostic Christians. For "all these ... Powers are ... but so many aspects of the one and sole manifestation of the ABSOLUTE ALL..." said Madame Blavatsky. It is "still collectively ONE, and on the ideal plane a nought - 0, a 'No-thing" (The Secret Doctrine I, 350).
While such insights are not common, all Essence is seen by the theosophical pantheist as infinite and eternal. Always, there is a contrasting order and chaos. Appearances
come and go, physically and mentally solidifying and vaporizing: one time something - then, again, nothing. At such times we are reminded of God "creating the world out of nothing." But philosophers might want to peer behind the eternal pairs of opposites, uniting them. There has always been a minority willing to glimpse the not-so-obvious unity of the constantly changing panorama. The esoteric pantheist sees the One in the Many, "the jewel in the Lotus." A vision of this type can be experienced anywhere, anytime, although at first the vision is often thought of as highly personal and unique. Thus, despite ignorance and opposition, it is "the Dream that never dies." Usually, the word and idea of pantheism (let alone Theosophy) is unknown to those so inspired. The word may, indeed, be fairly new, but the idea reaches back to antiquity.
A commentator on the ancient Qabballah observed that "there is a higher sense of pantheism from which no true Theosophist could wish to escape." The lower sense is, of course, the naturalistic view "that God was one with [only] the natural world." (A.E. Waite, The Holy Kabbalah, 193.) This cleavage was morally dramatized in The Secret Doctrine where it is reported that the pure Pantheists among "the first Atlantean races.... worshiped the one unseen Spirit of Nature, the ray of which man feels within himself ..." Others, in their superficiality, "offered fanatical worship to the Spirits of the Earth." (S.D. II, 273.)
In Pantheism, then, there is a broader or narrower approach, higher or lower, esoteric or exoteric. H.P. Blavatsky and the ancient and modern Theosophists tend toward the esoteric, spiritual, or symbolic interpretation in all instances. After noting that "the Cross within a circle symbolizes pure Pantheism," Blavatsky "hoped that during the perusal of [The Secret Doctrine] the erroneous ideas of the public in general with regard to Pantheism will be modified." (S.D. I,5,6.)
A typical and persistent false idea that she encountered was that Pantheism "would destroy the individuality of every individual being." Her response was that such a conclusion was based on purely physical theories which ignore the spiritual sense. The right understanding of "All" is important, that it includes the unmanifested as well as the measurable - each a phase of the All-One.
The Secret Doctrine explains that Pantheism "does not mean that every bush, tree or stone is God, or a god; but only that every speck of the manifested material of Kosmos belongs to and is the substance of 'God,' however low it may have fallen in its cyclic gyration through the Eternities of the everbecoming; and also that every such speck individually, and Kosmos collectively, is an aspect and a reminder of that universal One Soul - which philosophy refuses to call God, thus limiting the eternal and ever-present root and essence." (S.D. I, 533fn.)
In its "cyclic gyrations," from our perspective, the Essence "goes" everywhere, as it is everywhere. In all honesty, therefore, Madame Blavatsky noted that "one cannot claim God as the synthesis of the whole Universe, as Omnipresent and Omniscient and Infinite, and then divorce him from evil. As there is far more evil than good in the world, it follows on logical grounds that either God must include evil, or stand as the direct cause of it, or else surrender his claims to absoluteness. The ancients understood this so well... Everywhere the speculations of
the Kabalists treat of Evil as a FORCE, which is antagonistic, but at the same time essential, to Good, as giving it vitality and existence..." (S.D. I, 413.)
Certain Gnostic Christians exaggerated the role of Evil. For this, they were properly censured by Plotinus and others. Evil, so-called, is merely a part of the mix. It is not so much in the world as in our perception, that which goes against our well-laid plans. The raw material of the world is Good - or neutral, or Unknown to our passing fancies.
God, in popular fancy, is limited to the human idea of what is positive and affirmative to our desires - the lesser "Good." In that sense, as Blavatsky said, some philosophers object, attempting to avoid limitation. The "good Lord" though, retains mass appeal. It remains that the great philosophic Good encompasses all existence (and nonexistence), including our idea of Evil. The greater God of Pantheism is not only within, but beyond Good and Evil - the metaphysical ALL.
Those who knew of the All, the Gnostics of the early centuries of our era were inspired to compose divine love songs, putting to shame all of our Christian hymns. Combining two of them we find that: "Thou art the alone infinite and ... unknowable ... not expressible by any speech.... End of all things art thou and one and all and none... how shall I call thee?" (Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion, 288-89.)
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.
Recovering the Soul, a Scientific and Spiritual Search, by Larry Dossey, M.D. A Bantam books paperback. 319 pp. Price $12.95.
Larry Dossey is an M.D. Currently he is President of the Isthmus Institute of Dallas, an organization dedicated to exploring the convergences of science and religious thought. His previous books, like this one, are concerned with the interface of the human mind with health and illness.
In the Introduction he challenges the idea that the mind is an aspect of the physical brain; that man has no soul, as physical science of our time maintains. He sets out to prove that mind cannot be localized, and that when trying to recover the non-local nature of the mind, one will essentially recover the soul. This is an exercise in spirituality, as he shows, as well as in psychology and science. The soul is looked at with the use of both western terms and eastern religious descriptions.
In Part I he deals with the power of the mind beyond the brain in experiences of ordinary man. Teachings of religions, mystical experiences and the psychological views of Jung are given. Remarkable stories about the effects of prayer in healing are related. The best way to pray, it seems, is the "Thy will be done" approach. The outcome of scientific experiments indicates that man's thoughts about the results influence the whole experiment. Dossey describes examples of experiencing sharing with earth, plants and animals.
In Part II the proofs of science are dealt with. The scientists quoted are all interested in the philosophy of science, a subject that
most nowadays ignore. Valid reasons to believe that our non-local mind is immortal are put forward.
Dossey begins by naming some towering 20th century physicists and mathematician-logicians who had in common a view of man beyond the individual and the physical body, beyond time and space. He himself defines the "non-local mind" as mind unrestrained by space and time, not confined to the brains and bodies of individual persons. Other scientists quoted use the term "universal mind" as equivalent. Apparently, modern physics permits the possibility of non-material mind, completely free and independent from the physical brain.
David Bohm sees the universal oneness behind the apparent disconnectedness and unrelatedness, and talks about the Holographic Universe - the "Holoverse" - and sees implicate order in all. His theory points out that mind is ultimately one and immortal. Rupert Sheldrake is the first biologist who contrasts his theory of morphogenetic fields with the mechanistic approach in biology that denies any purpose or goals in nature. Many more scientists are discussed, all breaking through the narrow limits imposed on thinking in materialistic terms.
This chapter is stretching one's mind in all directions and helps to name intuitive insights that one may have. It correlates in many ways with the Theosophical world view.
Next, spiritual implications of non-local mind are discussed. This leads to the theory of "One mind", which is boundless in time and space. Dossey writes: "This leads us squarely into the lap of God, the One, Logos, Tao, Brahman, Buddha, Krishna, Allah, the Universal Spirit or Principle."
The attributes of boundlessness and limitlessness mean that at some level we share something with the godhead. "Creation" has to make room for "Emanation" in which he says man takes a part.
This medical doctor also talks about mind and health. He has found that a small amount of physical suffering and pain seems to increase the sense of a "local" self. However, the experience of severe suffering and pain can decrease this, and lead to "an expanded, non-local sense of being, which then can lead to a striking diminution of suffering..." Dossey warns us, however, not to get the idea that there is an automatic association between spiritual attainment and perfect health and longevity. He feels that there is a natural order in things that we would do best to honour at all times, and this includes "sickness and health, mind and body, strength and weakness." He advocates a life of moderation, in balance with nature. Death is seen as life because, paradoxically, the only way to feel certain about immortality is through a conscious acceptance of physical death.
Dossey does not see today's healer as standing alone. Sheldrake's idea about morphogenetic fields recognizes that each therapeutic act generates such afield, which gains strength through time; and modem healers can draw upon the abilities of countless forerunners.
Today it seems that religion as well as science, which both teach that "...we are born, suffer, decay and die," strip us of our omni-consciousness and our soul, he says.
I found this to be an inspiring book. My only reservation concerns the so-called proofs of the "Maharishi effect", as described in Chapter 10. The whole book is very read-
able for a non-scientist like myself, and it deals with many new discoveries in science. To those who are not yet convinced, solid evidence is given that part of them is soul.
- Laetitia van Hees
In Honour of Dr. Annie Besant. Lectures by Eminent Persons 1952-88. Published 1990 by the Indian Section, The Theosophical Society, Varanasi, India. x + 339 pp.
On the occasion of the birth centenary of Annie Besant in 1947, the Indian Section of the T.S. inaugurated a Convention Lecture in her name. In 1990, the Indian Section celebrated its own centenary, and one of the ways in which this was marked was the publication of a collection of 24 of the Besant Lectures.
Mrs. Besant was an active worker for the Theosophical Society for over 40 years, including her long term as President from 1907 until her death in 1933. Both before and during this entire period she was also busily involved in the fields of education and politics. It is fitting, then, that those who have been given the honour of presenting the Besant Lecture have been, with a few exceptions, leaders in education, law, politics, journalism and science. As would be expected, among the early lecturers were those who had been active workers with Mrs. Besant in the long struggle for India Home Rule. In India, she is equally, perhaps better known for these activities as for Theosophy. In general, it could be said at the very least that all have been inspired by her, whether they knew her or not.
It is not surprising, considering the diversity of the interests of the distinguished lecturers, that this book covers a very wide spectrum of thought. Of particular interest to Theosophical readers are those talks given by such as Radha Burnier, Rohit Mehta, N. Sri Ram, I.K. Taimni, and others.
It is not practical to discuss each of the papers collected here, but two struck me as being particularly worthy. Mrs. Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, speaking less than two years before the tragic assassination that ended her life, set a high standard. After modestly disclaiming her ability to give the "learned lecture the occasion demands," she went on to deliver one which is likely to be topical long after all the contributors have left the earthly scene. Speaking on "The Future of Man," she considered the topic from the standpoint of science, religion, philosophy and sociology. It is a brilliant exposition, such as few could undertake, least of all most of the current leaders of the world's largest nations.
Of the many thousands of articles and lectures on Karma found in Theosophical literature published over the past hundred years, Rohit Mehta's "The Mystery of Karma," would surely stand among the best. This was the Besant Lecture for 1959, over thirty years ago. In all that time, sad to say, he has given very few lectures on this continent. Members who attended the 1985 T.S. in Canada Annual Meeting in Toronto will remember with pleasure and gratitude the only occasion on which he spoke to a Theosophical audience in this country.
Mrs. Radha Burnier, President of the Theosophical Society, also one of the Besant Lecturers, wrote an appreciative Foreword; and Dr. C.V. Agarwal, General Secretary of the Indian Section, wrote the Preface to this fine collection, In Honour of Dr. Annie Besant.
- Ted G. Davy
A READER'S NOTES
The Centenary of H.P. Blavatsky's death continues to be marked by a varied group of publications.
This year's Special Issue of Sunrise magazine focuses on the theme "HPB, Theosophy and the Theosophical Society" and its 80 pages are packed with well-written, relevant articles. An annual subscription (6 issues) to Sunrise is $9.00 ($12.00 outside the U.S.). From: P.O. Bin C, Pasadena CA 91109-7107, U.S.A.
H.P. Blavatsky: The Mystery by Gottfried de Purucker is in print again. I well remember how strongly this book impressed me on first reading in 1974. Perhaps it could be described as a "spiritual" biography of H.P.B., but whatever it is called, it remains a unique treatment of a difficult subject - of a mystery indeed. The publisher is Point Loma Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 6507, San Diego CA 92166, U.S.A. At the time of writing, the price of this reprint is not available, but is bound to be reasonable.
Sports cards, depicting big league players, have long been part of the North American scene, and some of the scarce early items now fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars each. This year, the collecting craze of these cards has reached unprecedented proportions, and is as popular among adults as children and they are no longer limited to sports personalities. Michelle B. Graye came up with the brilliant idea of producing a "Big League" card with a well known portrait of H.P. Blavatsky on one side, and brief biographical sketch on the back. It is identical in style and size to the familiar baseball card, and comes in a plastic case to display and protect it. Only 200 were printed. If any are left, they may be obtained for $3.00 from Michelle at P.O. Box 1844, Tucson, AZ 85702, U.S.A.
A revised edition of Getting Acquainted with The Secret Doctrine, a Study Course by John Algeo, has been published by the Department of Education, Theosophical Society in America.
To other than students of Theosophy, it must seem remarkable that a hundred years after her death, H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine is still in print (in three English editions, plus many others in other languages, no less). What other 19th century non-fiction work boasts this sort of popularity? And can you imagine anyone putting together a study course for readers of, say, Darwin's Origin of Species, Spencer's First Principles or any other work that was famous when the S.D. first appeared?
Obviously, there are many new readers every year for this remarkable work, and for those who want to paddle before they take the plunge, John Algeo's new course is a useful introduction. As well as offering suggestions on how to study the S.D., it includes background information on its nature and structure. A bibliography is added, and the well-known notes by Robert Bowen on the S.D. and its study are reprinted with comments.
The Study Course is 66 pages in length. Sorry, have no information on price.
"My son, there is no such thing as sacrifice, except in the imagination. There is opportunity to serve, and he who overlooks it robs himself. Would you call the sun's light sacrifice?"
- Talbot Mundy, OM.
OFFICIAL NOTICE MEMBERSHIIP DUES
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TORONTO THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY TRAVELLING LIBRARY
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THE H.P.B. LIBRARY
c/o J. Freeman, Site No. 19, Comp. No. 2, R.R. 1, Vernon, B.C. V1T 6L4
Comprehensive literature of the Theosophical Movement lent by mail. Catalog on request. The library also publishes the following:
- The Voice of the Silence (Peking Edition)
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather:
H.P. Blavatsky - A Great Betrayal
H.P. Blavatsky - Her Life and Work for Humanity
H.P. Blavatsky - As I Knew Her
- Works by Alice Leighton Cleather and Basil Crump:
Buddhism - The Science of Life
The Pseudo-Occultism of Mrs. A. Baily.
- Nine "H.P.B. Pamphlets", including early articles from Lucifer.
- Write for price list.
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BLAVATSKY INSTITUTE PUBLICATIONS
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- Modern Theosophy, by Claude Falls Wright. Cloth $1.75
- The Exile of the Soul, by Roy Mitchell - a key to the understanding of occult psychology. Cloth $2.75
- Theosophic Study, by Roy Mitchell, a book of practical guidance in methods of study. Paper $1.00
- Course in Public Speaking, by Roy Mitchell. Especially written for Theosophical students. $3.00
- The Use of the Secret Doctrine, by Roy Mitchell. 10c
- Theosophy, An Attitude Toward Life, by Dudley Barr. 50c
- The Wisdom of Confucius, by Iverson L. Harris. 25c
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