[Cover photo: Mesolcina Valley, Switzerland.]
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by an International Group of Theosophists.
None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editor is responsible for unsigned articles only.
“There are times and seasons in life when the great tide of opportunity rolls some coveted prize to our feet, and if we are alert and attentive at the moment, we perceive it, and our immediate goal is won.
“It behooves the would-be occultist to remember that each day of his life, each rounded circle from waking to sleeping and from sleeping to waking again, brings a gift which it is his to take for the perceiving, and whose particular loss is irremediable once the ebb has borne it away. Could this idea be sufficiently impressed upon the mind it would invest daily living with a dignity and poise rarely found, and enrich the most trivial occurrences with significance and purpose. Moreover, coherence would result, for each of these ‘gifts,’ if carefully gathered, would be found to fit one into the other, and to contain the key to surrounding perplexities, or the balm for burdens and sorrows. It would then become impossible to hasten through one hour in anticipation of the next, for we would not dare to lose an instant whose passage might contain the object of our search; and so the ‘killing of time’ as you phrase it, would appear for the ghastly travesty it is, since at those periods time in truth is devouring us while robbing us of our best possessions.” - Cave, Fragments, Vol. II.
“I call that mind free which resists the bondage of habit, which does not mechanically repeat itself and copy the past, which does not live on its old virtues, which does not enslave itself to precise rules, but which forgets what is behind, listens for new and higher monitions of conscience, and rejoices to pour itself forth in fresh and higher exertions.” - William Ellery Channing. 
The future of the organized Theosophical Movement depends almost exclusively upon the degree to which it is united into one solid fraternity of aims and ideals, and upon the extent to which it will have preserved the purity of the original teachings as promulgated by its Founders.
It should be remembered that:
“... Every such attempt as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in failure, because, sooner or later, it has degenerated into a sect, and so, last by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart.” (The Key to Theosophy, p. 305.)
In order to be in a position to preserve inviolate the system of teachings or the body of thought given out from the very first by the Founders and their immediate disciples, as well as by those greater than they who sent them forth on their mission, it is necessary to recognize that such a body of teachings was the main component within the framework of the original Movement. As a result of some curious mental quirk on the part of some people within the Movement, it would appear that the Theosophical Society actually had no specific teachings to present or promote, that it was to be merely a group of seekers for truth, each following his own path of investigation.
It can never be too emphatically stated that the modern Theosophical Movement, from its very inception, even prior to, 1875, was founded upon specific, well-defined, clearly-stated principles of thought which have always been the unalterable foundation of the ancient Gnosis under whatever temporary form it may have manifested itself in any age. Expressions, languages, terms differed, and will differ in the future; essential truths, principles, ideas and teachings will not. They have remained and will continue to remain easily recognizable from age to, age. Were it not so, the Movement would have no coherence, and therefore no, forward surge.
It has been pointed out by H.P.B. “... that during the last quarter of .every hundred years an attempt is made by those ‘Masters,’ of whom I have spoken, to, help on the spiritual progress of Humanity in a marked and definite way. Towards the close of each century you will invariably find that an outpouring or upheaval of spirituality ... has taken place. Some one or more persons have appeared in the world as their agents, and a greater or less amount of occult knowledge and teaching has been given out ...” (Key, p. 306.)
In speculating upon the possible future success of the Movement in the twentieth century, and the general condition of men’s minds and hearts, H.P.B. says:
“... besides a large and accessible literature ready to men’s hands, the next impulse will find a numerous and united body of people ready to welcome the new torch-bearer of Truth.” (Key, p. 307.)
It seems obvious, without any further explanation, that no, such united body exists today. The organized  Movement is divided into fragments and factions each one of which is, in spite of occasional honeyed words, basically opposed to the other. And as far as its “accessible literature” is concerned, the cross section of published Theosophical Catalogs exhibits a hodge-podge of occult, pseudo-occult, mystical, psychic, metaphysical, yogic and other rather weird material, much of which is in no way conducive to either building a united body of people or in presenting to the reader the essential teachings of the ageless Movement. Works containing diametrically opposite teachings often elbow each other in such Booklists, making many a would-be student wonder whether the organized Movement has anything definite to teach.
One of the inevitable results of this situation is that the organized Movement has “lost by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart.” As the years went by, the “degrees” became more and more perceptible, until the situation resulted in the present state of affairs. Having lost sight of the touchstone, the system of co-ordinates as it were, the Movement has been invaded by books and pamphlets which, appealing largely to the psychic, emotional, and wonder-loving propensities of men, repulse the earnest spiritual seeker and turn away from the Movement individuals who are in search of spiritual-intellectual foundations of thought; mystical in their devotional aspect, yet truly scientific in their logical consistency and sound reasonableness.
The difficulty experienced by some people within the Movement is to realize that specific teachings, definite principles of thought, and a basic system of ideas can exist and be promoted without any spirit of sectarianism, exclusiveness or entrenched righteousness. They fail to understand that genuine occultism is as specific in its postulates as the science of mathematics. Yet mathematicians, to our own personal knowledge, can be men of many varied approaches to the study of their science, and of very universal outlook. The validity of their mathematical knowledge consists in the fact that every aspect of their science is consistent with every other aspect. Let us apply the same argument to occultism. As long as every presentation of its essential teachings and propositions is consistent with all other aspects and teachings of that system of thought, there will remain ample freedom of expression for all students and writers, and no sectarian spirit will be born.
It is either that or the gradually increasing confusion in the organized Movement, confusion mainly due to the loss of the basic touchstone of Truth. From this confusion results bewilderment and absence of spiritual-intellectual certainty. From these follow a condition of aimless drifting without rudder or compass. Any passing current is welcome because it makes one move - just move along, somewhere, somehow! And the final result of this can only be:
“... that the Society will drift off onto some sandbank of thought or another, and there remain a stranded carcass to moulder and die.” (Key, p. 305.)
It would be fatal to imagine, as some have done, that Theosophy or the Esoteric Philosophy is a nice, neat little system of tabulated paragraphs, tied up with a beautiful little pink bow.  Those who think so are headed for terrible disappointment. While those who believe that the Theosophical Movement should be the abode of almost any kind of psycho-mental trash, visions, wishful thinking and imaginary nonsense, and that it should exhibit the impersonality of a waste-paper basket into whose hospitable interior everything can be thrown with impunity, are equally headed for an ultimate challenge which sooner or later will have to be faced. For Spirit is constantly working to upset the comfortable, and both of the above-mentioned alternatives are too comfortable to be true.
It is only by a sincere, whole-hearted and deeply-felt identification with the original message of the Founders that the present-day organized Theosophical Movement can ever hope to regain that dynamism of Truth, that quenchless enthusiasm, and that spiritual virility which alone can carry it across the dark and muddy river which some of us will have to ford between the violent Today and a safer Tomorrow.
[This Letter was written by Mr. Judge to the household of the London Theosophical Headquarters at the close of 1893, and was originally published in The Irish Theosophist, Vol. V, June and July, 1897.]
Once more in the absence of - I send you a word of brotherly greeting. I would ask you to read it impersonally in every part, as I have no reserved thoughts and no ulterior aim in it, and have not had any letters or news from anyone to lead me to write. We are so far away from each other that now and then such a greeting is well and should be taken in the spirit it is sent. It is not possible to send to any other household, as none other exists in the Society, you being unique in this, that you are the only one. Here we have no such thing, all nearly living at other places and this being a mere centre for work.
Many times have cooperative households been tried and failed. One was tried here and is famous. It was called the Brock Farm, but it had no such high aim and philosophy behind it as you have, and thus the personal frictions developed at any place of close intimacy broke it up. That should be a guide to you to enable you to watch and avoid. Yours may alter in number and in personnel, but can never be really broken up if the aim is high and the self-judgment strict and not self-righteous. I·am not accusing you of this, but only stating a common human danger, from which the Theosophist is not at any time exempt. Indeed he is in danger in your centre from the fact that strong force revolves around it. Hence all must be ever careful, for the personal element is one that ever has a tendency to delude us as it hides behind various walls and clothes itself in the faults, real or imaginary, of others.
Your centre being the only one as yet of such size, it is useful for you to think how you may best all act as to make it truly international. Each one has a right to his or her particular· “crank,” of course, but no one ought  to think that anyone else is to be judged from not being of the same stripe of “crank.” One eats meat, another does not. Neither is universally right, for the kingdom of heaven does not come from meat or from its absence. Another smokes and the other does not; these are neither universally right nor wrong, as smoke for one is good and for another bad; the true cosmopolitan allows each to do in such matters as he likes. Essentials are the only things on which true occultism and Theosophy require an agreement, and such temporary matters as food and other habitual daily things are not essentials. One may make a mistake, too, of parading too much his or her particular line of life or act. When this is done the whole world is bored, and nothing effective or lasting is gained except a cranky impression.
In a place like yours, where so many of all sorts of nature are together, there is a unique opportunity for gain and good in the chance it gives one for self-discipline. There friction of personality is inevitable, and if each one learns the great “give and take,” and looks not for the faults of the others but for the faults he sees in himself, because of the friction, then great progress can be made. The Masters have said that the great step is to learn how to get out of the rut each one has by nature and by training, and to fill up the old grooves. This has been misconstrued by some who have applied it only to mere outer habits of life, and forgotten that its real application is to the mental grooves and the astral ones also. Each mind has a groove, and is not naturally willing to run in the natural groove of another mind. Hence comes often friction and wrangle. Illustrate it by the flanged wheel of the steam-engine running on a track. It cannot run off nor on a track of broader or narrower gauge, and so is confined to one. Take off the flange and make the face of the wheel broader, and then it can run on any road that is at all possible. General human nature is like the engine, it is flanged and run for a certain size of track, but the occultist or the would-be one should take off the flange and have a broad-faced wheel that will accommodate itself to the other mind and nature. Thus in one life even we might have the benefit of many, for the lives of other men are lived beside us unnoticed and unused because we are too broad and flanged in wheel or too narrow and flanged also. This is not easy, it is true, to change, but there is no better opportunity that is hourly presented to you in the whole world, to make the alteration. I would gladly have such a chance, which Karma has denied me, and I see the loss I incur each day by not having it there or here. You have it, and from there should go out to all the earth soon or late men and women who are broad and free and strong for the work of helping the world. My reminding you of all this is not a criticism, but is due to my own want of such an opportunity, and being at a distance I can get a clearer view of the case and what you have for your own benefit and also for all others.
It is natural for one to ask: “What of the future, and what of the defined object, if any, for our work?” That can be answered in many ways.
There is, first, our own work in and on ourselves, each one. That has for its object the enlightenment of oneself for, the good of others. If that is  pursued selfishly same enlightenment comes but not the amount needed for the whole work. We have to watch ourselves so as to make of each a centre from which, in our measure, may flow out the potentialities for good that from the adept come in large and affluent streams. The future, then, for each will come from each present moment. As we use the moment so we shift the future up or down for good or ill; for the future being only a word for the present - not yet come - we have to see to the present more than all. If the present is full of doubt or vacillation, so will be the future; if full of confidence, calmness, hope, courage and intelligence, thus also will be the future.
As to the broader scope of the work, that comes from united effort of the whole mass of units. It embraces the race, and as we cannot escape from the destiny of the race we have to dismiss doubt and continue at work. The race is, as a whole, in a transition state, and many of its units are kept back by the condition of the whole. We find the path difficult because, being of the race, the general race tendencies very strongly affect us. This we cannot do away with in a moment. It is useless to groan aver it; it is also selfish, since we in the distant past had a hand in making it what it now is. The only way we can alter it is by such action now as makes of each one a centre for good, a force that makes “for righteousness,” and that is guided by wisdom. From the great power of the general badness we each one have a greater fight to wage the moment we force our inner nature up beyond the dead level of the world. So before we attempt that forcing we should, on the lower plane, accumulate all that we can of merit by unselfish acts, by kind thoughts, by detaching our minds from the allurements of the world. This will not throw us out of the world, but will make us free from the great force which is called by Boehme the “ Turba,” by which he meant the immense power of the unconscious and material basis of our nature. That material base being devoid of soul is mare inclined on this plane to the lower things of life than to the higher.
Hence until we have in some degree conquered that it is useless for us to be wishing, as so many of us do, to see the Masters and to be with them. They could not help us unless we furnish the conditions, and a mere desire is not the needed condition. The new condition calls far a change in thought and nature.
So the Masters have said this is a transition age, and he who has ears to hear will hear what has thus been said. We are working for the new cycles and centuries. What we do now in this transition age will be like what the great Dhyan Chohans did in the transition point - the midway point - in evolution at the time when all matter and all types were in a transition and fluid state. They then gave the new impulse for the new types, which resulted later in all the vast varieties of nature. In the mental development we are now at the same point; and what we now do in faith and hope for others and for ourselves will result similarly on the plane to which it is all directed. Thus in other centuries we will come out again to go on with it. If we neglect it now so much the worse for us then. Hence we are not working for some definite organization of the new years to come, but for a change in the Manas and Buddhi of the race. That is why it may seem indefinite, but it is, nevertheless, very defined and very great in scope. Let me refer you to that part of The Secret Doctrine, penned by Master himself, where the midway point of evolution is explained in reference to the ungulate mammals. It should give you a glimpse of what we have to do, and remove all vain longings for a present sojourn with our unseen guides and brothers. The world is not free from superstition, and we, a part of it, must have some traces left of the same thing. They have said that a great shadow follows all innovations in the life of humanity; the wise one will not bring on that shadow too soon, and not until some light is ready to fall at the same time for breaking up the darkness.
Masters could give now all the light and knowledge needed, but there is too much darkness that would swallow up the light, except for a few bright souls, and then a greater darkness would come on. Many of us could not grasp nor understand all that might be given, and to us would result a danger and new difficulty for other lives, to be worked out in pain and sorrow. It is from kindness and love that Masters do not blind us with the electric flash of truth complete.
But concretely there is a certain object for our general work. It is to start up a new force, a new current in the world, whereby great and long-gone Jnanis or wise ones will be attracted back to incarnate among men here and there, and thus bring back the true life and the true practices. Just now a pall of darkness is over all no Jnanis will be attracted by. Here and there a few beams strike through this. Even in India it is dark, for there, where the truth is hid, the thick veil of theological dogma hides all, and though there is great hope in it the Masters cannot pierce through to minds below. We have to educate the West so that it may appreciate the possibilities of the East, and thus on the waiting structure in the East may be built up a new order of things for the benefit of the whole. We have, each one of us, to make of ourselves a centre of light; a picture-gallery from which shall be projected on the astral light such scenes, such influences, such thoughts, as may influence many for good, shall thus arouse a new current, and then finally result in drawing back the great and the good from other spheres beyond the earth. This is not spiritualism at all, for it has no reference to the denizens of the spook-land in any way.
Let us then have great faith and confidence. See how many have gone out from time to time from your centre to many and distant parts of the world, and how many will continue to go for the good and the gain of man of all places. They have gone to all parts, and it must be that even if the centre should be disrupted by causes outside of you, its power and reality will not be destroyed at all, but will ever remain even after all of it may have gone as far as bricks and mortar are concerned.
I give you my best wishes and brotherly greetings for the new year and for every year that is to come. - Affectionately yours, WILLIAM QUAN JUDGE. 
[The Theosophist, Vol. V, June, 1884, pp. 210-11; also Collected Writings, Vol. VI, pp. 223-27.]
According to the newest edition of the Imperial Dictionary, by John Ogilvie, LL.D., a medium “is a person through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted by animal magnetism, or a person through whom spiritual manifestations are claimed to be made, especially one who is said to be capable of holding intercourse with the spirits of the deceased.”
As Occultists do not believe in any communication with the “spirits of the deceased” in the ordinary acceptation of the term, for the simple reason that they know that the spirits of “the deceased” cannot and do not come down and communicate with us; and as the above expression “by animal magnetism” would probably have been modified, if the editor of the Imperial Dictionary had been an Occultist, we therefore are only concerned with the first part of the definition of the word “Medium,” which says: a medium “is a person through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted”; and we should like to be permitted to add: “By the either consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being.”
It would be extremely difficult to find on earth a human being, who could not be more or less influenced by the “Animal Magnetism” or by the active Will (which sends out that “Magnetism”) of another. If the beloved General rides along the front, the soldiers become all “Mediums.” They become filled with enthusiasm, they follow him without fear, and storm the death-dealing battery. One common impulse pervades them all; each one becomes the “Medium” of another, the coward becomes filled with heroism, and only he, who is no medium at all and therefore insensible to epidemic or endemic moral influences, will make an exception, assert his independence and run away.
The “revival preacher” will get up in his pulpit, and although what he says is·the most incongruous nonsense, still his actions and the lamenting tone of his voice are sufficiently impressive to produce “a change of heart” amongst, at least, the female part of his congregation, and if he is a powerful man, even sceptics “that came to scoff, remain to pray.” People go to the theatre and shed tears or “split their sides” with laughter according to the character of the performance, whether it be a pantomime, a tragedy or a farce. There is no man, except a genuine block-head, whose emotions and consequently whose actions cannot be influenced in some way or other, and thereby the action of another be manifested or transmitted through him. All men and all women and children are therefore Mediums, and a person who is not a Medium is a monster, an abortion of nature; because he stands without the pale of humanity. 
The above definition can therefore hardly be considered sufficient to express the meaning of the word “Medium” in the popular acceptation of the term, unless we add a few words, and say: “A medium is a person through whom the action of another being is said to be manifested and transmitted to an abnormal extent by the consciously or unconsciously active will of that other being.” This reduces the number of “Mediums” in the world to an extent proportionate to the space around which we draw the line between the normal and abnormal, and it will be just as difficult to determine who is a medium and who is not a medium, as it is to say where sanity ends and where insanity begins. Every man has his little “weaknesses,” and every man has his little “mediumship”; that is to say, some vulnerable point, by which he may be taken unawares. The one may therefore not be considered really insane; neither can the other be called a “medium.” Opinions often differ, whether a man is insane or not, and so they may differ as to his mediumship. Now in practical life a man may be very eccentric, but he is not considered insane, until his insanity reaches such a degree, that he does not know any more what he is doing, and therefore unable to take care of himself or his business.
We may extend the same line of reasoning to Mediums, and say that only such persons shall be considered mediums, who allow other beings to influence them in the above described manner to such an extent that they lose their self-control and have no more power or will of their own to regulate their own actions. Now such a relinquishing of self-control may be either active or passive, conscious or unconscious, voluntary or involuntary, and differs according to the nature of the beings, who exercise the said active influence over the medium.
A person may consciously and voluntarily submit his will to another being and become his slave. This other being may be a human being, and the medium will then be his obedient servant and may be used by him for good or bad purposes. This other “being” may be an idea, such as love, greediness, hate, jealousy, avarice, or same other passion, and the effect on the medium will be proportionate to the strength of the idea and the amount of self-control left in the medium. This “other being” may be an elementary or an elemental, and the poor medium become an epileptic, or maniac or criminal. This “other being” may be the man’s own higher principle, either alone or put into rapport with another ray of the collective universal spiritual principle, and the “medium” will then be a great genius, a writer, a poet, an artist, a musician, an inventor, and so on. This “other being” may be one of those exalted beings, called Mahatmas, and the conscious and voluntary medium will then be called their “Chela.”
Again, a person may never in his life have heard the word “Medium” and still be a strong Medium, although entirely unconscious of the fact. His actions may be more or less influenced unconsciously by his visible or invisible surroundings. He may become a prey to Elementaries or Elementals,  even without knowing the meaning of these words, and he may consequently become a thief, a murderer, a ravisher, a drunkard or a cut-throat, and it has often enough been proved that crimes frequently become epidemic; or again he may by certain invisible influences be made to accomplish acts which are not at all consistent with his character such as previously known. He may be a great liar and for once by some unseen influence be induced to speak the truth; he may be ordinarily very much afraid and yet on some great occasion and on the spur of the moment commit an act of heroism; he may be a street-robber and vagabond, and suddenly do an act of generosity, etc.
Furthermore, a medium may know the sources from which the influence comes, or in more explicit terms, the nature of the being, whose action is transmitted through him, or he may not know it. He may be under the influence of his own seventh principle and imagine to be in communication with a personal Jesus Christ, or a saint; he may be in rapport with the “intellectual” ray of Shakespeare and write Shakespearean poetry, and at the same time imagine that the personal spirit of Shakespeare is writing through him, and the simple fact of his believing this or that, would make his poetry neither better nor worse. He may be influenced by some Adept to write a great scientific work and be entirely ignorant of the source of his inspiration, or perhaps imagine that it was the “spirit” of Faraday or Lord Bacon that is writing through him, while all the while he would be acting as a “Chela,” although ignorant of the fact.
From all this it follows that the exercise of mediumship consists in the more or less complete giving up of self-control, and whether this exercise is good or bad, depends entirely on the use that is made of it and the purpose for which it is done. This again depends on the degree of knowledge which the mediumistic person possesses, in regard to the nature of the being to whose care he either voluntarily or involuntarily relinquishes for a time the guardianship of his physical or intellectual powers. A person who entrusts indiscriminately those faculties to the influences of every unknown power, is undoubtedly a “crank,” and cannot be considered less insane than the one who would entrust his money and valuables to the first stranger or vagabond that would ask him for the same. We meet occasionally such people, although they are comparatively rare, and they are usually known by their idiotic stare and by the fanaticism with which they cling to their ignorance. Such people ought to be pitied instead of blamed, and if it were possible, they should be enlightened in regard to the danger which they incur; but whether a Chela, who consciously and willingly lends for a time his mental faculties to a superior being, whom he knows, and in whose purity of motives, honesty of purpose, intelligence, wisdom and power he has full confidence, can be considered a “Medium” in the vulgar acceptation of the term, is a question which had better be left to the reader - after due consideration of the above - to decide for himself. 
“... Friends and readers, you who aspire to something more than the life of the squirrel everlastingly turning the same wheel; you who are not content with the seething of the cauldron whose turmoil results in nothing; you who do not mistake the deaf echoes, as old as the world, for the divine voice of truth; prepare yourselves for a future of which but few in your midst have dared to dream, unless they have already entered upon the path.” - H.P. Blavatsky, in “The New Cycle,” Revue Theosophique, March, 1889.
The divine talisman that sets man above the animal kingdom is Spiritual Intuition which originates the Power of Choice. Man is that flower of unfolding consciousness that can “know itself,” and in that knowing can choose to shape and nurture that self. It is man’s one supremely significant distinction.
The instinct of the animal prompts it to eat, sleep and reproduce. Self-preservation and reproduction are the goals of instinct - adequate to the needs of the animal, but inadequate to an entity wherein spiritual consciousness opens the door on horizons of growth beyond self-preservation and reproduction. Not only does the human prospect make the program of animal activity inadequate, it makes its purposes and motivations inadequate. The animal grows, matures, and fulfills its cycle instinctively. Man is so equipped that by nature and destiny he is expected consciously to choose and consciously to realize a destiny greater and loftier. His program is not repetition, but inauguration. With the birth of spiritual consciousness comes the responsibility to set forth from this “now” towards a more glorious “then.” Without such conscious departure from a modest but potential Present towards a vastly greater Future, man cannot be truly said to “live.”
While accepting and being satisfied with an inglorious level of things as they are, a man can create quite a convincing impression of “going places” on the squirrel’s wheel of animal life. It is quite amazing, in fact, how “busy” a man can appear, spectacularly fulfilling purely “squirrel” functions that leave him, and all with whom he is associated, untouched by the most elementary ideas of growth, in terms of spiritual consciousness.
This state of affairs begins with a bland acceptance of circumstances and ideas “as they have always been,” and ends with creating a supposedly gratifying destiny built on these worn-out ideas and inadequate objectives - inadequate because they do credit to the instincts of the animal, rather than the aspirations of the spiritually conscious man.
But mere novelty is no solution to the puzzle. “New” ideas exert a certain stimulus due to their novelty. But they carry no guarantee of being better ideas. In fact, the dynamic power of the truths of the Ancient Wisdom-Religion bear witness to the fact that ideas of immeasurable antiquity have  formed the foundation of cultures and civilizations far higher than our own. Wherefore, he who would depart from accepted beliefs must achieve results that are not merely new, but that are rooted in a level of consciousness far above the reach of the most knowledgeable “squirrel”!
To encounter these beliefs, one is wise if, with an open mind, he investigates the ancient religions of ancient peoples of all races and climes - not what contemporary critics say about them, but the original words, so far as available, of the scriptures as given out ages ago. It is hardly rational to presume that this sublime universe “just happened,” without the formative guidance of an adequately spiritual design.
Such an investigation should reveal to the student certain basic teachings regarding the nature and destiny of man, suggesting at least the vastness of the arena of spiritual truth, and the degree of intensive self-study demanded of him who would incorporate these teachings in his own life.
What one has to remind oneself of again and again is that for anyone denied the perspective provided by Reincarnation, and the confidence born of a clear realization of man’s spiritual potentialities, just the hard grind of day-to-day living in one incarnation can transform the squirrel’s wheel into a disheartening human treadmill.
“Why go on, day after day,” one asks oneself, “with no tangibly heroic goal in sight, and little enough assurance that one can make the grade, anyway?” Two elements can vanquish a man before he gets well started: Time, and self-mistrust. Whether he realizes it or not, this meaningless stint of one earth-life in which to vindicate potentialities which he has been educated to mistrust, narrows his thought down to this very questionable Here and Now. Without an assured purpose of noble proportions based on immutable law, not on one’s own likes and dislikes, a man’s thought becomes centered upon uninspiring circumstances and undertakings that seem to have no worthwhile ultimate purpose. And those for whom they have a purpose are rarely spared the scourging fear of passing time. How can it be otherwise when a man with no deeper concern in life than making a fortune and retiring must live by the slogan “time is money”? Is not his life in today’s society dependent upon the one unchanging factor “money must be made”?
In addition to this there is to be taken into consideration the seed of inadequacy sown in his thinking by his orthodox religious instruction wherein he sees himself at the “mercy” of a “jealous God.” In the face of such obstacles how many can do more than muddle along, and hope for the best? This is the heritage of a grossly materialistic society and shallow, inadequate philosophies of life - devoid of any dependable assurance, and tragically cramped for space.
So long as man accepts this spiritual status quo, and takes its limitations lying down, the treadmill will continue to turn with him on it. To get off it he must first of all dare to believe that several million contemporaries can be wrong; that so-called spiritual teachings widely promulgated in our midst (backed by enormous resources of money and power) are the enfeebled, distorted adaptations of  spiritual truths of vast antiquity. They have been skillfully tailored to the acceptance of a basically selfish and unspiritual society. Wherefore, they subscribe to a sort of “manageable morality” that never stands in one’s way of availing one self of the main chance. In other words, a morality that is “good for business”! For a completely materialistic “one-life” denizen of our world today, such a philosophy may be regarded as an eminently workable one, dependably certain to multiply those evils that have reduced innumerable “great” civilizations to ruins.
That which “endures” - timelessly - is, and must be, essentially spiritual. LIVING is unfolding along spiritual lines. The dedicated disciple’s task is, little by little, to create a world society in which Unfoldment has at least a chance of getting started in our midst. Its ultimate realization is a matter of many incarnations. Its flower is, literally, Heaven on Earth, born of seed sown now!
Some will argue: “if seventy or eighty years of our one-life philosophy can become a heartless treadmill, what chance has a man of maintaining his sanity confronted with an eternity of unfoldment?” The answer is: “None, so long as he estimates life in terms of the Personal Self that dies with the body.” It may be stated fairly positively that the mind of the Personal Man, completely absorbed in the one-life objectives and perspective, is totally unconcerned with eternal values. Nevertheless, man is born of, and actually dedicated to, those values. His first task, therefore, is to discover a higher plane of consciousness native to the Spiritual Self and to live on that plane.
On that plane, with short-term, personal goals shut out, and Growth for the sheer joy of Growth constituting the dynamo of life, Time loses its power to terrify. Now, rendered radiant by the intuitive perceptions of limitless fulfillment possible of attainment, discovers horizons of unimaginable splendor. To be able to exclaim exultantly “LIFE is mine, and I am the child of LIFE,” is to experience an undreamed effulgence of spiritual joy. Since man and his universe are one, the whole earth becomes a Garden of Life wherein Beauty’s lowliest manifestation of the Spiritual Source of All, voices its hymn of Fulfillment.
“What is needed today is a global Lincoln, a man of depth and Compassion, a man of sorrows and suffering, a man who, will be fallowed because the living universal in him appeals to the craving universal in all men.” - Dr. Charles Malik in Guideposts.
The collection of teachings known as the Esoteric Philosophy is like a many-faceted jewel. Every different position that the observer takes reveals to him a new and exciting view; a different aspect of the jewel’s beauty. Yet the jewel itself does not change. The Ancient Wisdom also presents different aspects to the same observer at different times and places, and, on a larger scale, to any given race of men in different epochs, as well as to various races within the same epoch.
But this is not true of Theosophy alone, especially within the smaller scale of the individual. Many philosophies - religious philosophies, let us call them - are able to present different sides as we focus our attention on different parts of them; however, the Ancient Philosophy is distinguished by being the jewel whose facets far out-number its closest rival.
If, then, Theosophy means different things at different times, what does it mean for a teen-ager? Or more precisely, what particular aspect of Theosophy is most useful or helpful for a teen-ager? To answer this question, we must first try to discover if there is a special characteristic of the teen-age period of life.
At some time in a person’s life, a major change takes place in his thinking. This change occurs when he progresses from dependent to independent thinking, from unthinking acceptance of what he is told by his elders, to critical examination of what he hears. He begins to ask questions: Should I do this? Is it wrong? Why is it wrong? What am I? Who am I? Why am I?
The point I want to make is that this questioning usually begins when the person is a teen-ager. If that is so, the teen-age years are a time of transition, and we should see how the Ancient Wisdom appears to him during this phase of life.
Then it becomes clear that the out-standing characteristic of Theosophy for the teen-ager is that it stabilizes or orients him.
I do not mean by this, of course, that Theosophy presents a group of teachings which one must regard as absolutely true and unalterable. Quite definitely not. It is a gladdening thing that dogmatic thinking of this kind seems to be diminishing. For example, the Christian Church in general is doing some thinking which is quite daring in comparison with its own past. To see the direction which modern Christian thinking is taking, I highly recommend reading a short potent book called Honest to God, by Edward Robinson. This book has caused quite a stir in the Church; this is not surprising, since Dr. Robinson, who is a Bishop in the Church of England, maintains that the traditional ideas of Christ and God are not literal but symbolic representations of what Christ and God really are. This symbolism might have been appropriate 2,000 years ago, but not today, and hence we must discard the old symbolism, i.e., the traditional ideas of Christ and God. It is encouraging to see how this book from within the Church comes  close to many of our own Theosophical ideas.
Actually, I think that in academic circles, or in an academic atmosphere such as a college or a university, there is a greater danger of falling into the error of relativism than dogmatism. By relativism I mean the idea that there is no standard by which we can measure a philosophy, hence that there is no sense in which one philosophy is “better” than another; the ideas are, in a word, relative. The teen-ager who goes to college is susceptible to this malady if he has no basic philosophy to begin with, or if he, being exposed to many new and exciting ideas at college, completely discards any ideas that he previously may have held. The ideal, of course, is to avoid either extremes, and Theosophy enables him to do just that.
I consider myself very fortunate to have been exposed to Theosophy at a critical time and under favorable circumstances. I wish that more students of my age could become familiar with Theosophy, for I deeply feel that there are many who are ready to receive it, and who need it as a guiding principle for their lives.
H. P. BLAVATSKY
VOLUME ONE - 1874-1878
Originally published in 1933 by
Rider & Co.; a large portion of
its stock was destroyed in the London “blitz” and the Volume
became a collector’s item. Many students and numerous Libraries
have expressed through the years their desire to secure a copy of it
- as well as copies of Vols. II, III and IV which suffered the same fate.
PUBLISHED BY THE THEOSOPHICAL PUBLISHING HOUSE, ADYAR, MADRAS, INDIA;
AND THE THEOSOPHICAL PRESS, WHEATON, ILL., U.S.A.