[Cover photos: Seasonal Changes on Mars. The photographs, taken by E.C. Slipher at the Lowell Observatory, show the shrinking of the south polar ice-cap. (Courtesy Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, Calif.)]
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"The way to make our whole movement full of life and vigor, is to take ourselves and our lodges in hand, and make them what they should be, by being extremely practical not in a superficial way, not mechanically with limited aims, but by making every action of ours possess a significance, a meaning which comes from the deepest sources in ourselves.
"Being practical does not mean scraping the surface, tilling the superficial soil; it has another meaning, from the standpoint of Occultism, from what it has to the ordinary man of the world. We have to be practical in the true sense of the term, according to Nature's laws. We speak of Karma, which is a law of Nature. When we understand this doctrine or truth, we act in a certain way, and such action is practical action. But the man who does not understand the law may think he is highly practical when he gets rich at the expense of others. Of course he is deluded, not practical at all, from Nature's standpoint. We must be practical by expressing the Theosophy we know in every tangible form, in every detail of our lives.
"When we do so, we shall find that we become so highly charged with power, with life which flows from the inner heights, that our Society will form a magnetic field in an invisible atmosphere. That field will make its own connection with points which have an affinity to it. Those who have such an affinity will be drawn into the organization. I do not mean by this that we need not speak to others of Theosophy or distribute books and leaflets. There has to be action on all planes simultaneously. Our aim should be to make the Society full of life, full of vital qualities, the right magnetism, so that it attracts those people who are capable of fulfilling its purpose, who are suitable for being part of its organization, who will make it the kind of channel that it ought to be. ... There is hope so long as there is a channel open for the life to keep flowing ... The Society exists in order to introduce a new quality into the thoughts, the lives, the feelings of people. Progress does not mean that we go on as we have been going, but only a little faster, that we whirl round more furiously on the tracks we have hitherto pursued. It means that in our living there is the emergence of a new vision ..." - N. Sri Ram, in The Theosophist, July, 1956. 
As probably many of our readers already know, on the evening of September 6, 1956, the planet Mars was closer to the Earth than it has been since 1924, its distance from us being then just a little over 35 million miles. An approach similar to this one will not take place until the year 1971.
Since Mars takes about two years to revolve around the Sun, and the Earth one year, the interval necessary for the Earth to gain one lap on Mars is somewhat over two years. If the orbits of the two planets were concentric circles, with the Sun at their center, the Earth would always pass Mars at exactly the same distance from it.
According to the discoveries of Kepler, however, the planets of our solar system revolve around the Sun in ellipses, having the Sun in a common focus. It means, therefore, that in the case of every planet there is along its orbit around the Sun a point where it is closest to the Sun (perihelion), and a point where it is farthest from it (aphelion). A line drawn through these two points, and passing therefore through the Sun, is called the major axis of the orbit of the planet.
When a straight line can be drawn from the Sun through the Earth to Mars, the planet Mars is said to be in opposition, because, as seen from the Earth, it appears in the opposite direction from the Sun. Now it is obvious, of course, that the most favorable opposition would occur when Mars is at or near its perihelion, some 129 million miles from the Sun. At such an opposition, the Earth is some 94 million miles from the Sun. The difference between these two distances is 35 million miles. If the opposition takes place when Mars is at its aphelion, the distance between the two planets is about 63 million miles. Owing to the respective positions of the major axis of the orbit of Mars and that of the orbit of Earth, the most favorable opposition of Mars occurs when the Earth passes between the Sun and Mars in the month of September, as it did this year. At that time, the Earth is close to its Autumnal Equinox position along its orbit, while Mars is at approximately its Winter Solstice position along its own orbit. Therefore, at the most favorable oppositions, the North Pole of Mars is tipped away from the Earth, and its South Pole is tipped towards it.
Apart from the various surface markings presumably observed on Mars, confirmed by some and denied by others, the most conspicuous phenomenon taking place on it is the periodic and gradual disappearance or "melting" of what are presumed to be polar ice-caps on Mars, and their gradual re-appearance, in accordance with the changes of seasons on the planet.
Who has not read Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, a delightful book for young and old, which contains in the form of curious fantasies many intuitive hints concerning the mysteries of Nature. It appeared in October, 1726. In Part III which opens with a description of "A Voyage to Laputa," there is to be found the following passage (chapter iii): 
[Diagram - file attached: Orbits of the Earth and of Mars in their respective positions. The diagram illustrates how the axes of rotation of the two planets are tipped. The orbit of Mars is in nearly the same plane as that of the earth, which is the plane of the diagram. We are looking at the north poles of both planets; their axes are not pointed straight at us, i.e., they are not at right angles to the planes of their orbits, nor are they pointed in the same direction. The diagram indicates the years of several oppositions of Mars between 1956 and 1971, with their respective positions along the two orbits and the distance between Earth and Mars in millions of miles. (Courtesy of Griffith Observatory, Los Angeles, Calif.)]
"They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the center of the primary planet exactly three of his diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours, and the latter in twenty-one and a half; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the center of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly bodies."
The satellites of Mars were also  mentioned by Voltaire in his story of Micromegas.
These two satellites were actually discovered in 1877, by Asaph Hall at the Naval Observatory of Washington. They are so small and so near the planet itself as to be invisible except with large telescopes at favorable times. How is it that Jonathan Swift knew anything about them?
The outer satellite, called Deimos, is some five miles in diameter and revolves around Mars in about 30 hours (Mars' own revolution about its axis being equal to 24 hours and 37 minutes). The inner one, Phobos, is about ten miles in diameter and revolves around the central planet in a period of only 7 hours and 39 minutes. As seen from the surface of Mars, Phobos rises in the West and sets in the East. No other known satellite in the solar system revolves in a shorter interval than the rotation of the planet to which it belongs.
From the standpoint of the ancient Esoteric Philosophy, Mars is one of the seven Sacred Planets, and is sevenfold in its structure, as all the planets are. The globe of Mars which we perceive with our physical eyes is the lowest globe of the Mars planetary chain - Globe D in the accepted Theosophical terminology - i.e., the physical globe of that chain, and corresponds therefore to the physical globe of our own planet.
Mars is younger than the Earth, i.e, its body, its physical sphere is younger. At the present time it is in a state which has been termed "obscuration" by early Theosophical writers. This is by no means the best term that could be devised for this particular purpose, but it is partially descriptive of the situation and has become familiar to many students. From a certain analogical standpoint, it could be said that the physical body of Mars is asleep though this term again would be only partially correct. Obscuration means that the larger part of the hosts of living entities evolving on the Mars chain of globes, have now left its physical globe to go to higher spheres or globes of this chain. The center of gravity, as it were, of the Martian evolution is not on its physical globe at present, contrary to the state of the Earth Planetary Chain where the center of gravity of the evolutionary momentum is on this physical globe inhabited by all of us.
The fact that the physical globe of Mars is in obscuration does not mean that there is no life on it. It is not in a process of decay or decomposition, no more so than our own physical body is in decay when we are asleep at night. There are many vital processes going on on Mars, even though it would be too difficult as yet to prove it scientifically. There are on the planet Mars, i.e., on its physical globe, certain beings left there by the life-wave that has largely left it when this globe went into obscuration. These beings are known in Sanskrit as sishtas, meaning "remainders," or "remains," and are those whose duty it is to keep the Seeds of Life on that globe until the incoming flow of the returning life-wave reaches it again, finding bodies ready for the monads to inhabit. These sishtas are of seven different kinds: three elemental, the mineral, the plant, the beast, and the human; and in all cases they are the superior or highest classes - each of  its own kind and kingdom - left on the globe when obscuration set in. From the teachings that have been given out about Mars, it would appear that this planetary chain is in its Third Round, and that the latter has sometime ago run its course on the most material or physical globe of Mars. From this it would follow that the Third Round stage of evolution is now taking place on globes superior to the lowest one, such as Globe E or F, on the ascending arc.
In connection with the evolution of various planets, it should be borne in mind that they are living beings in process of growth. Every globe in their chain of globes is what might be called an electro-magnet, and their magnetic power is due to the tremendous vital forces which are coursing through them. Every globe of a chain is surrounded during its period of dynamic evolutionary growth - its manvantara - with a thick envelope or sheath of cosmic dust which in the early days of the modern Theosophical Movement was called the "meteoric continent." These veils are composed of particles which are partly due to the globe itself; and rise up from it as effluvia, but are mainly of interplanetary and interstellar origin. They are what might be called the detritus of former manvantaras, karmically drawn back to the various globes, as life-atoms are drawn back to the, reincarnating man. The material of which these veils are composed is of a magnetic kind and responds to the powerful magnetic attraction of the globe itself, becoming an integral portion of its aura.
It is this thick veil of meteoric dust in its various degrees of ethereality that is mistaken by our astronomers for "clouds" which they say surround all the planets known to them, except Mars. Owing to this fact, they are unable to see the actual surface of any of the planets, again with the exception of Mars. The physical globe of Mars is different from the other physical globes we see such as Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, etc., because it is in obscuration. The forces of attraction on it which are holding the "meteoric continent" together have been relaxed, as it were; they have become much weaker, allowing the larger part of the particles composing the veil to escape into interplanetary space. Mars has still a very thin gauzy veil of meteoric matter, but it is not thick enough to prevent our eye from catching definite glimpses of the surface of the physical globe itself. Even at that, astronomers are not too sure about what they see on the surface of Mars, as exemplified by the famous "canals," described by some, and denied by others.
When the life-waves of evolving entities begin again to reach the physical globe of Mars, that globe will again gradually become enveloped with a thicker veil of cosmic dust, as its vital magnetic forces will again attract it from the surrounding space.
The Earth itself is surrounded with a similar sheath of magnetic matter, as its physical globe is at present in full evolutionary development and growth. Our physical eye-sight, in its present stage of development, cannot perceive the type of matter of which this sheath consists; it pierces right through it, like an X-ray through other types of matter. Modifying this statement somewhat we might say that our eye-sight  perceives only a small portion of this surrounding shell, and what we see of it we call the blue of the sky. The nature of this envelope is such that physical eye-sight can see through it unimpeded when looking out. Yet it is opaque when viewed from the outside. Curiously enough, modern science has devised a type of glass used for windshields and other windows, through which everything outside can be clearly seen, but which appears very dark, and partially obscures the inside, when looked at from the outside. The simile may not be perfect, but it may serve as an illustration.
Now that television is ousting radio as the chief home entertainment, the health authorities everywhere are becoming even more worried than they were about the effect of incessant waves of light and sound upon listeners and viewers, particularly children. A few years ago a Swiss writer dealt with the whole subject of the influence of the spoken word and cognate noises upon the world of today. His work, Die Welt des Schweigens was published in Zurich in 1949, and was reviewed in the Times Literary Supplement (London) in the same year. The student of mantrika-sakti (one of the six primary forces in Nature) will sympathize with M. Picard's contentions about the contribution made by the misuse of sound to the anxiety and restlessness of this modern age.
If anyone should doubt the nature of the tremendous occult power which is Sound in its highest potency, let him ponder these words:
"For Sound generates, or rather attracts together, the elements that produce an ozone, the fabrication of which is beyond chemistry, but within the limits of Alchemy. It may even resurrect a man or an animal whose astral 'vital body' has not been irreparably separated from the physical body by the severance of the magnetic or odic chord. As one saved thrice from death by that power, the writer ought to be credited with knowing personally something about it" (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 555.).
It is not astonishing that greater attention is being paid to this subject today, when we are ushering in an Atomic Age. For we are told by H.P. Blavatsky that "Atoms are called 'Vibrations' in Occultism; also 'Sound' - collectively." (S.D., I, 633.) M. Picard, in his observations of contemporary life, suffers no delusions about the potency of sound in our civilization. He explains the evidence of discontinuity and bewilderment in mankind today, and some of the unfortunate nervous changes that seem to be taking place in human nature, by the general loss of silence. The whole basis of our outlook is being transformed, for (as M. Picard points out) silence as well as speech is indispensable to our true nature:
"And it is not something negative - a cessation of speech - but positive, an original phenomenon like love, faithfulness, death and life."
Enumerated in the eightfold Path  of Gautama Buddha was "Right Speech." M. Picard remarks that as silence has gradually disappeared the spoken and written word has become increasingly meaningless:
"Silence today is nothing but a pause between noises. Thus in the general din that fills the world, words lose their sense and become mere word-noises (Wortgerausche). Silence no longer produces speech, but one word produces another in endless repetition, with less intention of making sense than of being audible."
M. Picard's judgment is that the words of poets like Laotse and Sophocles - which sprang profoundly from the silence within their own souls - can hope to find no parallel in an epoch where what men seek in fiction and poetry (and music!) is largely noise. In striking examples, he shows the deterioration of so many modern authors in a world of words without meaning:
"Words have qualitative value, but word-noises are uttered merely for their quantity and can contain anything: for example, Bolshevism, Nazism, Antisemitism. They provide the apparatus of irresponsibility and the expressions of mass thinking."
M. Picard has some pungent things to say, too, about the word-noises which, perhaps, have reached their maxima on the radio:
"Man does not make the radio; the radio makes man - it gives him stimuli and opinions, and establishes his relationship to objects and to his very existence. One need only skillfully infuse into the noise of the radio any concept one wishes to popularize, and it is likely at length to be accepted without criticism by the listener."
Certainly, the use of wireless propaganda in the last quarter of a century has confirmed this diagnosis. In 1888, when The Secret Doctrine was published, there were not many who believed the truth of H.P.B.'s contention that "the spoken word has a potency unknown to, unsuspected, and disbelieved in by the modern 'sages'. Today we know something of the appalling evil that can befall the soul of a nation by crafty use of the spoken word on the radio, reaching millions of passive listeners. As to the effect upon the individual, M. Picard reminds us that if somebody speaks to us we have, usually, an opportunity of answering. The fact that, in front of a radio or television set, answers are neither possible nor expected, makes the listener or viewer restless, morbid and nervous. For this reason, he sees a special aptness in Kierkegaard's words: "The present state of the world, our whole life, is sick. If I were a doctor and were asked: 'What advice can you give?' I would answer: 'Create silence!'" Theosophical students will remember in this connection that the early Gnostics "claimed that their Science, the GNOSIS, rested on a square, the angles of which represented respectively Sige (Silence), Bythos (Depth), Nous (Spiritual Soul or Mind), and Aletheia (Truth)" (The Secret Doctrine, II, 573.) 
[Originally published in The Theosophist, Vol. III, No. 8, May, 1882, pp. 197-98. Though the actual author of this article is not known, there is evidence that it may have been written by one of the high chelas or initiates connected with the early phase of the Theosophical Movement. The footnotes are by H.P. Blavatsky herself.]
A Yogi is a man who has prepared himself by a long discipline of body and spirit, and is thereby rendered capable of dealing with phenomena, and receiving occult communications at will, the theory being that he, so to say, paralyzes his physical brain and reduces his mind to complete passivity by one of the numerous modes at his command, one of which is the magnetization of the second set of faculties pertaining to and exercised by the spiritual or inner man. The soul is inducted by the body, and, in its turn, is used to liberate the spirit, which is thus placed into direct rapport with the object desired. For example: - A telegraph line at stations A, B, C, D, E, in ordinary cases, sends messages from A to B, B to C, and so on; but, when the several stations are connected, the message may be received direct at E from A without the intermediate stations being made aware of it. In the same manner, the nerves becoming passive, the "Yog" power controls the other faculties, and finally enables the spirit to receive a communication, which, in the other case, it cannot, because it must act through several mediums.
As the magnetic power is directed to any particular faculty, so that faculty at once forms a direct line of communication with the spirit,* (* Sixth principle - spiritual soul.) which, receiving the impressions, conveys them back to the physical body.** (** In the normal or natural state, the sensations are transmitted from the lowest physical to the highest spiritual body, i.e., from the first to the 6th principle (the 7th being no organized or conditioned body, but an infinite hence unconditioned principle or state), the faculties of each body having to awaken the faculties of the next higher one to transmit the message in succession, until they reach the last, when, having received the impression, the latter (the spiritual soul) sends it back in an inverse order to the body. Hence, the faculties of some of the "'bodies" (we use this word for want of a better term) being less developed, they fail to transmit the message correctly to the highest principle, and thus also fail to produce the right impression upon the physical senses, as a telegram may have started, from the place of its destination, faultless and have been bungled up and misinterpreted by the telegraph operator at some intermediate station. This is why some people, otherwise endowed with great intellectual powers and perceptive faculties, are often utterly unable to appreciate - say, the beauties of nature, or some particular moral quality; as, however perfect their physical intellect, - unless the original material or rough physical impression conveyed has passed in a circuit through the sieve of every "principle" - (from 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, up to 7, and down again, from 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, to No. 1) - and that every "sieve" is in good order, - the spiritual perception will always be imperfect. The Yogi, who, by a constant training and incessant watchfulness, keeps his septenary instrument in good tune and whose spirit has obtained a perfect control over all, can, at will, and by paralyzing the functions of the 4 intermediate principles, communicate from body to spirit and vice versa - direct. - Editor, The Theosophist, [H.P. Blavatsky].) The  spirit cannot grasp at the communications it desires to receive, unassisted by the physical organization, just as, in the case of a lunatic, the spirit is present, but the faculty of reason is lost, and, therefore, the spirit cannot make the man sane; or as in the case of a blind man, the spirit and reasoning powers are sound, but the faculty of sight is destroyed; hence the soul of the blind man cannot realize the impressions which would be conveyed to it by the optic nerves and retina.
The spirit is an immortal ether (principle?) which cannot be impaired in any way, and, although it is, to a certain extent, subservient to the body and its faculties during the life-time of the body it is attached to, it can, through their agency, be so liberated in a higher or lesser degree as to be made to act independently of the other principles. This can be achieved by magnetic power or nerve power, if preferred, and thus the spiritual man be enabled to receive communications from other spirits, to traverse space and produce various phenomena, to assume any shape and appear in any form it desires.
The secret of the theory is this, that the Yogi, possessing the power of self-mesmerization and having a perfect control over all his inner principles, sees whatever he desires to see, rejecting all elementary influences which tend to contaminate his purity.
The medium receives his communications differently. He wishes for "spirits"; they are attracted towards him, their magnetic influences controlling his faculties in proportion to the strength of their respective magnetic powers and the passivity of the subject; the nervous fluid conveys their impressions to the soul or spirit in the same manner, and often the same results are produced as in the case of the Yogi, with this important difference that they are not what the medium or spiritist wishes, but what the spirits (elementary influences) will produce; hence it is that sometimes (in spiritism) a question on one subject is asked, and a reply of a different nature received, irrelevant to the point and more or less after the "Elementary's" disposition. The spiritist cannot at desire produce a fixed result, - the Yogi can. The spiritist runs the risk of evil influences, which impair the faculties the soul has to command, and these faculties - being more prone to evil than good (as everything having a great percentage of impure matter in it) - are rapidly influenced. The Yogi overcomes this, and his faculties are entirely within his control, the soul acquiring a greater scope for working them and keeping them in check; for, although the soul is their ruler, yet it is subservient to them. I will give a familiar illustration: - A battery generates electricity, the wires convey the current, and the mechanism is put in motion. Just so, the soul is the generator or battery, the nerves the wires, and the  faculties the mechanism made to work. The Yogi forms a direct connection between his spiritual soul and any faculty, and, by the power of his trained will, that is by magnetic influence, concentrates all his powers in the soul, which enables him to grasp the subject of his enquiry and convey it back to the physical organs, through the various channels of communication.* (* Or - direct, which is oftener the case, we believe. - Editor, The Theosophist [H.P. Blavatsky].)
If the Yogi desires to see a vision, his optic nerves receive the magnetic fluid; if an answer to a question is wanted, the faculties of thought and perception are charged by him; and so on. If he desires to traverse space in spirit, this is easily done by him by transferring the faculty of will,** (** From the physical to the Spiritual body and concentrating it there, as we understand it. - Editor, The Theosophist [H.P. Blavatsky].) and, as he may have acquired more or less power, so will he be able to produce greater or minor results.
The soul of the medium does not become the generator. It is not the battery. It is a Leyden jar, charged from the magnetic influence of the "spirits." The faculties are put in action just as the spirits, so-called, make them work from the jar they have charged with their own currents. These currents, being magnetic, take after the invisibles' own good or evil disposition. The influence of a really good spirit is not left upon the earth after death, so that, in reality, there are no good spirits, although some may not be mischievous, while others may be full of real devilry. The question arises, how the influences of the bad ones are left behind, when the soul exists no more on earth after death? Well, just as light from the sun illumines an object, which reflects certain invisible active rays, and these, concentrated in a camera, produce a latent image on a photographic plate; in like manner the evil propensities of man are developed and form an atmosphere around him, which is so impregnated with his magnetic influence that this outer shell (as it were) retains the latent impressions of good or evil deeds. These, after death, are attached to certain localities, and travel as quick as thought wherever an attractive influence is exercised the stronger, they being less dangerous as less attracted to men in general, but more to spiritists who attract them by the erratic power of their will, i.e., their own ill-governed magnetic power. Have not many experienced coming across a man unknown to them, whose very appearance has been repulsive, and, at the sight of whom, feelings of distrust and dislike spring up in them spontaneously, although they knew nothing of or against him? On the other hand, how often do we meet a man who, at first sight, seems to attract us to him, and we feel as if we could make a friend of him, and if, by chance, we become acquainted with that person, how much we appreciate his company. We seem lost in hearing him speak, and a certain sympathy is established between us for which we cannot account. What is this, but our own outer shell coming in contact with his and partaking of the magnetic influences of that shell or establishing a communication between each other. 
The medium is also influenced by his own spirit sometimes, the reaction of his nerves magnetizing some faculties accidentally, while the elementary spirits are magnetizing the other senses; or a stray current reaches some faculty which their magnetism has not reached, and this leads to some of those incomprehensible messages, which are quite irrelevant to what is expected, and a frequent occurrence which has always been the great stumbling block at all seances.
How many times do we pause and reflect upon the value of the traditional esoteric knowledge that has been handed down to us?
Do we ever think of the sacrifices made in our behalf and the difficulties encountered by others, who have been responsible for helping to perpetuate this Ancient Wisdom?
Is it possible that we do not appreciate the modern Theosophical effort?
With the multifarious types of information and "new" things that fill the thought atmosphere of our times, to what may we turn, or to whom, in order to know how to evaluate things?
Three things we can do: (1) Start thinking deeply about the matter; (2) Examine the Theosophical literature carefully; (3) Consult with others who we have reason to believe can give us some light. The result should be that we will have a sound basis upon which to form an intelligent understanding.
We all have the literature in our homes and most modern libraries are well supplied, though they could doubtless use more. The question is: to what extent do we use it? Do we buy a new Theosophical book merely to grace the shelf of a book case or table? Do we know the value of re-reading and research? Do we ponder over what we read?
Perhaps the modern printing press and the ease and convenience with which we may obtain literature has lessened our degree of appreciation. Occult knowledge in past ages was hidden very securely away from an undeserving world. The fact that it is so readily available today could be a way of causing it to be hidden, strange as that may sound.
On the other hand, the abundance of genuine occult material written in clear and unveiled form may be a very distinct indication that there are many egos in our midst, and more coming in rapidly into incarnation at this time, who deserve this accessibility.
The value of knowledge is measured by the extent of the understanding use that is made of it. What we need today is not more knowledge; but to know how to find and intelligently use that which is already here. This brings in the factor of how we should make use of our time. Do we find ourselves saying we have no time, or there isn't enough time? Couldn't we find  15 minutes or half an hour in a day, by cutting out some of the other things that consume valuable time.
For example: 15 minutes spent in a library recently brought out this bit of interesting information on early Christianity, in an old book entitled Origines Ecclesiasticae, by the Rev. Joseph Bingham (1668-1723).
"The Christians at first were called 'Therapeutae' or worshipers of the true God, or spiritual physicians who undertook to cure men's minds of all vicious and corrupt affections."
H.P.B.'s Theosophical Glossary was then checked, revealing the following under "Therapeutae":
"A school of Esotericists, which was an inner group within Alexandrian Judaism and not, as generally believed, a 'sect.' "They were 'healers' in the sense that some 'Christian' and 'Mental' Scientists, members of the T.S., are healers, while they are at the same time good Theosophists and students of the esoteric sciences. Philo Judaeus calls them 'servants of god.' As justly shown in A Dictionary of ... Literature, Sects and Doctrines ... in mentioning the Therapeutes - 'There appears no reason to think of a special 'sect,' but rather of an esoteric circle of illuminati, of 'Wise men' ... They were contemplative Hellenistic Jews."
Continuing now with another reference from the above referred book by the Rev. Bingham, who asks or explains why the Christians were called 'Gnostics':
"Sometimes Christians also style themselves by the name of Gnostics, men of understanding and knowledge, because the Christian Religion was the truest Wisdom and knowledge of the most divine and heavenly things. This name was aped and abused by a perverse sort of heretics, who are commonly known and distinguished by the name of Gnostics, because of their great pretenses to knowledge and science falsely so-called. Yet this did not hinder but that the Christians sometimes laid claim to it, as having indeed the only just and proper right to make use of it. For which reason Clemens Alexandrinus, in all his writings, gives the Christian philosopher the appellation of Gnostic."
The above reference and erroneous conclusion of this author is not true as it is self-evident that he does not have the esoteric key to know that Clemens, in referring to the Christian philosopher really meant that the Christian Initiate was a Gnostic, or Knower, which is vastly different.
In conclusion the student is referred to the Introductory of The Secret Doctrine, which should be periodically re-read by every Theosophist, and particular attention is here drawn to the following statement therein made by H.P.B.:
"It is maintained, on purely historical grounds, that Origen, Synesius and even Clemens Alexandrinus, had been themselves initiated into the mysteries before adding to the Neo-Platonism of the Alexandrian school, that of the Gnostics, under the Christian veil. More than this, some of the doctrines of the Secret schools - though by no means all - were preserved in the Vatican. ...
"Fragments have survived geological and political cataclysms to tell the story; and every survival shows evidence that the new Secret Wisdom was once the one fountain head, the  ever-flowing perennial source, at which were fed all its streamlets - the later religions of all nations - from the first down to the last. This period, beginning with Buddha and Pythagoras at the one end and the Neo-Platonists and Gnostics at the other, is the only focus left in History wherein converge for the last time the bright rays of light streaming from the aeons of time gone by, unobscured by the hand of bigotry and fanaticism." (xliv-xlv.)
"The Secret Doctrine was the universally diffused religion of the ancient and prehistoric world. Proofs of its diffusion, authentic records of its history, a complete chain of documents, showing its character and presence in every land, together with the teaching of all its great adepts, exist to this day in the secret crypts of libraries belonging to the Occult Fraternity." (xxxiv.)
When this knowledge is again made widely known to the race at large, the liveliest and most meaningful scrolls of all time will blaze forth across the pages of human history for all to see, in order that ignorance, fear, superstition and intolerance might be replaced with "light for the Mind, love for the Heart, and understanding for the Intellect," which is to be had in this and every age by the earnest, unprejudiced seeker of Truth.
Whether its hypnotism, mesmerism, reincarnation or whatever we need more light on, let's learn to check Theosophical literature and other competent sources with an open mind.
It is sometimes possible to attract attention to a truth or fact by means of a phantasy when otherwise even a good description will not drive it home to the consciousness. Recently one came to mind which illustrates this, if duly considered from several aspects, and I will endeavor to sketch the idea so that you may consider it at leisure.
Imagine that all people around us and those we meet did not have any heads so far as we knew or could see. Their actions and lives generally would be little different from what we are accustomed to see and recognize. Of course they would not have hats, nor would there be the necessity of haircuts or shaving, or optical glasses for those with irregular or uncoordinated vision. We might be puzzled to account for thought and mental processes, but, after all, we know very little about these beyond the fact that normal people have the use of a brain apparatus. Clairvoyants and sensitives, however, seem to get results from and through what we call an auric periphery, irrespective of the physical brain and its centers of perception.
Carry this condition further, and speculate upon the possibilities; and then some strange probabilities will come to mind. If clairvoyants and others do not need a head to be aware of contacts and conditions, do we actually depend on the head and its contents as much as we are told to believe? The logical inference seems to be that the head centers and contents are the means of translating and transforming certain energies into such as  relate almost entirely to our physical material world, or the planet Earth and its particular relationships. It has often been proved that objects placed over the Solar Plexus are "seen" even when the eyes have been bandaged and the clairvoyant is entirely unaware through the usual senses of what is occurring.
Now these various points are worthy of deep consideration for the reason that the human evolutionary phase is changing rapidly from all previous ones. The Mind function is being stimulated to appreciate reason and reasons, and at the same time there is a rapidly increasing refinement in texture and sensitiveness of the cellular and molecular components of the total human so far evolved.
Consider another fact, which is not at all phantastic. How very little we depend on what we see with our eyes when we contact and deal with fellow humans! We can note the clothes, features, and many other items if we put our attention on them; but for the greater part, having once recognized the individual, it is the individual with whom we deal, and we are more or less oblivious to everything else, so long as there is free contact and association without any very striking limitations, such as stuttering, slow mental processes, physical abnormalities and such like. The implications involved in these facts are many and profound. For instance: obviously there must be a center from which superior forces and qualities radiate into and through the inferior expressions and strata; that center is a synthesizing totality of the individual in ranges beyond the human, yet as an integral part of the planet first and of the Cosmos ultimately. The designations given in the various philosophies are aids to understanding, but are apt to become sometimes obstacles to realization, because they become counters of expression and argument.
In this connection the words "divine," "spiritual," and "atmic" are particularly apt to be used without being more than postulates, necessary, but very nebulous. The value of them and of many others is in the fact that there is no ultimate in any case; in any series or category, if we are to reach any understanding within human limits, we must grant and accept grades and degrees which need specification in quality if not in extent.
When the above points are fully considered, it is quite possible to understand that ALL IS, HERE AND NOW; but when dealing with a specific instance - such as Humanity and its evolution, its past, and its status in the greater BEING of the planet Terra and of the Solar System, then the more accurately we can express the facts and the status the greater will be the usefulness of the steps we take towards conscious integration, as belonging to a greater Whole, each having a definite function and place.
It should be apparent therefore that no unit or family can be cognizant of very much beyond its own particular stage and state at any time, but that at transition periods the expansion of consciousness in all directions becomes possible, within the limits prescribed by the qualities so far developed or evolved. When this is clearly understood, then there will be fewer idealistic phantasies and more solid progress - and usefulness. 
CHAPEL OF ALL FAITHS
We wish to give a well-deserved publicity to the following report which exemplifies the spirit of the second chief Object of The Theosophical Society. We hope this splendid example will be followed in many other parts of the world.
"The religious horizon widens. The Church of the Divine Paternity, Universalist, New York City, has built a chapel dedicated to all faiths. It is the first of the kind in this country.
"The altar holds gold symbols of the world's great faith; the cross of Christianity, the wheel of Buddhism, the Star of David (Judaism), the crescent of Islam, the Arch of Shintoism. There are also to be seen the symbols of Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism and Zoroastrianism.
"Said the presiding pastor at the dedication: 'All religions advocate the belief in the Fatherhood of God and the Brotherhood of Man. By recognizing the contribution which each religion has made to the world's culture and the common aims of all religion, we can live together in a unity of spirit despite surface differences.'" - From the New Age Interpreter, July-September, 1956.
H. P. BLAVATSKY COLLECTED WRITINGS
We are most grateful to all those who have responded to our recent notices concerning the Reserve Fund, and we take the liberty of expressing the hope that they will not forget us in the future. Editor, Theosophia.