[Cover photo: Elias Ashmole, 1617-1692. Portrait in the Ashmolean Museum dated 1689, and attributed to John Riley. British antiquarian and student of mystical lore. In H.P.B.'s words: "... the first operative Mason of any consequence ... the last of the Rosicrucians and alchemists. (Isis Unveiled, II, 349.)]
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Two worlds I know: one ringed with holy fires,
"Walk on. For life is movement, ceaseless movement, and uses forms as it has need of them. These endless warriors, spirit and matter, life and form are the warp and weft whereon the Namelessness creates the pattern of our days ... Life moves on, and we, flames of the light in a prison of our own devising, must move on likewise, or be left behind." - Christmas Humphreys, in Walk On! 
The basic propositions and principles of the Esoteric Philosophy are outlined without ambiguity in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky, her own Superiors in the occult hierarchy, and a few of their early disciples. It is to the dissemination of these basic thoughts and teachings that the life and work of the Founders was primarily devoted. Organizational details were merely the unavoidable framework required for the harmonious and efficient task of making the teachings known to an ever-increasing number of people throughout the world.
Careful examination of the present day Theosophical climate and the publications issued by existing Theosophical Organizations, disclose, even to a casual observer who examines the situation without prejudice or vested interests to defend, that a great variety of extraneous ideas and totally unrelated subjects have infiltrated the Theosophical philosophy during the twentieth century, with dire effects and regrettable results.
Ideas in complete or partial antagonism to the original installment of the teachings have become current throughout the Movement, only too often unrecognized or blindly accepted on "authority" by those who seem to be unaware of the basic principles of the Esoteric Philosophy as such. Many of these ideas have been imported from the general field of psychism, mediumistic clairvoyance (which has nothing to do with spiritual vision), astral visioning, overwrought imagination creating deceptive mental pictures, and wishful thinking. All in all, we have had for years a condition of psychic pollution which imperatively demands remedial ecological action, so as to purify the muddy stream of Theosophic and pseudo-Theosophic thought.
It is indeed an idea at least worth striving for, namely, to meet the 1975 centennial anniversary of Theosophical Society with a clear cut understanding, throughout the organized Movement, of what the original principles and teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy really are, and what are the deplorable departures from these teachings and the pseudo-teachings which have been allowed to pollute the originally limpid and invigorating stream from the fountain-head of Truth. To achieve this requires sincerity of purpose, fearless investigation, purposeful appraisal of the facts involved, and a refusal to be dominated by any vested interests or worldly pursuits against Truth and Facts.
In any such project of Theosophical Ecology, those engaged in it must be prepared ahead of time for persecution and misunderstanding, and to be shown as the "enemies" of the Movement and as being, most likely, influenced by "black magicians" or their emissaries. This overworked trick is still very much alive in some quarters and might be used any moment to save the day. Ecology in the Theosophical field is often as unwelcome as it seems to be in various industrial fields, and this primarily on account of the fact, well known throughout history, that inconvenient truths ought not  exist, and that search for historical facts and spiritual foundation-principles often comes to a halt when the existence of an Institution is endangered.
But of what value are any Institutions or Organizations when compared with the validity of the teachings, the purity of Theosophic thought, or the future well-being and growth of generations of thinkers yet unborn?
It is not our intention to imply that a clear cut distinction between the genuine Theosophical teachings and their distortions is easy to see. On the contrary, it is sometime very difficult, and requires a thorough knowledge of the teachings, as well as the ability to recognize subtle casuistry where it exists and to avoid self-deception. Distortions of the original teachings are the result of "astral intoxication" which often arises in psychically-sensitive people who become, for a number of co-related reasons, excessively charged with substances and forces native to the intermediate astral sub-planes. This shuts out for the time being normal access to their reasoning powers and the ability to appraise what they see in terms of sound judgment, intuition and analogy. Emotional reactions set in which further distort the pictures or impressions. There are, as a matter of fact, many modifications of mediumship, or mediumistic sensitivity, and they have nothing to do whatever with seances or trance-mediums. Precisely because of being so different from ordinary spiritualistic mediumship, they are often unrecognized, or parade under some high-sounding and totally misleading name.
Dealing with this overall subject usually brings up irate objections on the part of some who are determined to show that Theosophy cannot be defined in terms of any set teachings; that it has no creeds, no dogmas and no beliefs; and that the Theosophical Society has no doctrine to proclaim. All this is partially true, but it disregards other facts. And one of the most important facts is that H.P.B. and her Teachers started the whole project in the last quarter of the nineteenth century to bring back from oblivion the "accumulated wisdom of the ages; a "metaphysical and ethical system intended to bring about among men a right thought to be followed by action"; a teaching called by H.P.B. "the Great Doctrine - which the Theosophical Society, faithful to the promise of its triple programme, is engaged in bringing to light." It is "the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization."
In all of her writings, primarily in The Secret Doctrine, the fundamental principles or tenets of that doctrine and that system are outlined with clarity and strength, so that no doubt can exist as to what Theosophy is, and what it is not. Had H.P.B. not done that, the spiritual weapon which she used to cut through the entrenched materialism of the age would have been blunted, and nothing very decisive would have come about from this initial effort at a spiritual rebirth.
In addition to our constant effort to disseminate the teachings and the ethical ideals of Theosophy, we must not lose sight of the obvious fact that the field of Theosophic thought must be swept clear of the accumulated dross by means of a wisely devised program of ecological purification. 
The reasons and circumstances which lead people to accept the Theosophical teachings are many and varied. Some realize that they are rediscovering things which they had known long ago, others that the blinkers have been removed from their eyes, and that they are seeing before them a vision of the future of mankind which is inspiring and in which they want to take an active part.
There are those, however, who having studied the teachings to some extent and perhaps attended some meetings, conclude that the explanation of life as given by Theosophy is cold.
We are told that long ages ago during what was called the Golden Age men lived in harmony together, taught and guided by those great beings whom we call Masters or Mahatmas. It was even said that the sheep lay down with the lion. It was a time when humanity was not so deeply sunk in matter, and we might call it the childhood of our race. Perhaps it is for this time that even now, we feel a strange longing.
We know, however, that this state did not last forever. We were exiled from the "Garden of Eden" and, like the prodigal son, have to find our way home. Those great ones who guided us in the past have never deserted us. They help us still, but, like children who must leave the protection of the family in order to grow strong, we have to learn to assume our own responsibility in this school of life, if we are to fulfill our destiny. We have to throw away our crutches and learn to walk on our own feet. It is when we realize this that we may become interested in Theosophy.
The world at the present time seems to be in a chaotic state, and this is always true when the old order is changing. Much we deplore, but we find hopeful signs too - among them an urge among some of the young to create a better and happier world. But in spite of this, there seems to be a longing for someone to lean on. We sense this very clearly when we see their reaction to the teachings of Billy Graham. If we listen to some of the modern songs, we hear such phrases as "walking with God," "talking with God" or "putting our lives into the hands of God" or "what the world needs now is love, sweet love." One cannot disagree with this if it is real love we mean, and not self-love. Possibly it is a matter of interpretation. The word "God" means different things to different people. We, with our finite minds, cannot hope to define the Infinite. We can only study life in all its reaches, knowing it is rooted in Divinity. Our nearest approach to this is a spark of this Divinity seated in the human heart, as it is in the heart of every unit of life. Therefore our search is not only outwards but increasingly inwards. At this point we cease to pray for personal success or comfort or for forgiveness of sins. Rather we try to set our own house in order and rid ourselves of those things which obstruct the guiding light of the Higher Self.
It was John Kennedy who said to the American people "Do not ask what your country call do for you. Ask what  you can do for your country." It is this attitude which those who believe in the brotherhood of Man are asked to take towards Life.
Sometimes we hear people say, in speaking of the Law of Karma - the law which says that we reap what we sow - "How can you go to someone who is suffering and tell them that this has been brought about by some former deed of his own?" Surely no one would do such a thing, especially at a time like that. We do indeed suffer from ourselves but suffering is of different kinds and is incurred for different reasons. Few of us yet, except in very obvious ways, can know what the reasons are in their entirety. We do know that suffering is a part of growth. We cannot imagine what anyone would be like if they had never suffered, nor could we imagine the future of anyone who consistently breaks the laws of life with impunity. We are all in this together, fellow-students in the school of Life, heading for a common goal. There are no favorites.
However, there are those who have made this journey before us - those whom we revere as the Masters of Wisdom. They know the difficulties ahead of us and will help us when we show ourselves capable of using such help in their work for mankind.
It appears that in life there is necessary and unnecessary suffering. Some we can avoid, some we have to endure like growing pains. Often we are faced with a choice. We (the personality) wants to do something very badly, but the still small voice says "No." If we follow the dictates of the personality we may enjoy temporary pleasure but we feel a vague discontent which will not let us alone. If we do the reverse by listening to the inner voice, we may be temporarily disappointed. However, the one way takes us a step forward, the other a step backward.
Naturally, no one enjoys suffering. It would not be suffering if we did, but through it we learn to have compassion which is perhaps the greatest quality anyone can possess.
There is another type of suffering - the sacrificial kind - and we can find no better example during our times than that of our own great teacher, H.P. Blavatsky. Before undertaking her life work (which was described in the 61st edition of Pear's Cyclopedia as "changing the thought of the world"), she was warned by her Master that if she accepted it, it would entail great suffering for her. We know how true this was. Once again, later in her life, she was given a similar choice. She accepted the suffering once more and bequeathed to us The Secret Doctrine. In her book The Voice of the Silence which is "fragments from the Book of the Golden Precepts," are these words: "Let thy Soul lend its car to every cry of pain like as the lotus bares its heart to drink the morning sun. Let not the fierce Sun dry one tear of pain before thyself hast wiped it from the sufferer's eye."
We are sometimes asked "Why do you Theosophists spend so much time studying and holding meetings? Why don't you get out in the world and try to solve some of the practical and immediate problems which confront mankind?" We certainly appreciate the efforts of those who do exactly this, and many of our members do something along this line, but it is not our most important work. 
Let us imagine that a number of people are going on a long and difficult journey, encompassing many lives. They may live in different countries, exist on different planes of nature, and meet all endless variety of circumstances. Would it not be most important for them to know where they are going, what is the object of their journey and how best to reach their goal? This is what all the great religious teachers and philosophers have been telling us, and in our age H. P. Blavatsky, the Messenger of the Masters, has opened the door a little wider and given out for all to see, some of the teachings which were hitherto kept for disciples only.
These teachings are what we students of Theosophy are trying to understand, trying to live, and trying to pass on to our fellow men.
If this could be accomplished in any degree, the barriers between religions, countries and ideologies would begin to crumble and we might once more live in harmony together - this time as responsible human beings.
In conclusion, if Theosophy is cold, it is the coldness of a fresh and invigorating breeze which blows away the cobwebs and gives us new strength. Perhaps after all, it is what Dr. de Purucker called "The Wind of the Spirit."
Never is Life a static experience. Always, so far as it is Life, it involves Growth. Growth means increasing capacities, which, in themselves, represent increasing resources. Possession of increasing resources spells increasing responsibilities. To truly know a basic truth is to be responsible for embodying that truth. Knowledge is responsibility. Every man is responsible for the goals he accepts in life, be his choice selfishly personal or selflessly inspired by Principle. Each choice made affects not merely himself, but all whose relationship is colored or shaped by his choice. Life is not simply mine; it reacts upon all affected by the choices I make, therein making me responsible to them.
Perchance the most basic of those choices is that which governs and shapes my relationship to Death. In this relationship I am responsible for cleaving to a complete acceptance of Life Everlasting, born of my acceptance of the basic spiritual nature of myself and of Life. So long as I am alive and capable of choice, I am responsible for choosing LIFE, as alone capable of imparting meaning to Death. Though I find myself, at 83 years of age, with Death "just around the corner," my responsibility to Life is not in the slightest degree lessened. More than at any earlier season of earthly experience, I am, at this period, responsible for affirming my Consciousness of Life, imparting to it the power to enrich this approaching experience of Death, which, by now, should be readily recognized as a form of "initiation" in life!
The reality of this "initiation," illuminated by my unshakable recognition  of it, I am in this moment responsible to convert into a Divine Impulse that can direct and shape my entry into a forthcoming incarnation. As a conscious Lord of Life, it is surely my responsibility to pre-design in this life the pattern of the life to come. In this sense it becomes my responsibility to see to it that it shall not be a "hit-or-miss" proposition.
Herein is involved that Divine Perspective that takes in more than approaching Death - devoting itself to what lies beyond - the as yet undreamed and incalculable miracles a forthcoming incarnation can accomplish. In one form only am I justified in entertaining an idea of Death: a Portal of Larger Illumination that shall illumine those celestial fields that lie beyond. In this hour, let me remind myself, I am approaching a Portal of Initiation. Does it not challenge and invoke the crowning peak of triumphant Spiritual Attainment I know to be the measure of my inborn divinity?
"O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?"
Recent efforts by some Bible scholars to establish both the authenticity of the Gospels and the life of Jesus have received wide publicity and deserve serious attention by concerned Theosophists. The position of Theosophy on the controversial subject of Christian Origins, chiefly revealed through the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and her Adept Teachers, needs to be reexamined and central truths reaffirmed. Today's scholars need to be reminded, as H.P.B. so wisely pointed out in her 1887 essay "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels," that "The origin of all religions - Judaeo-Christianity included - is to be found in a few primeval truths, not one of which call be explained apart from all the others, as each is a complement of the rest in some one detail. And they are all, more or less, broken rays of the same Sun of truth, and their beginnings have to be sought in the archaic records of the Wisdom-Religion." (Collected Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 209.)
Resurrecting the Testimonium Flavianum
Readers of The New York Times for February 13, 1972, were astonished to note that an early description of Jesus by the first-century Jewish-Roman historian, Flavius Josephus (ca. A.D. 37 to A.D. 100), and long considered a forgery by most scholars, may perhaps, when considered in its newer rendering, not be a forgery after all. It seems that Professor Shlomo Pines and Professor David Flusser of Hebrew University in Jerusalem have come out in favor of a 10th-century Arabic version of Josephus' famed reference to Jesus - the Testimonium Flavianum - which originally appeared in his historical work - The Antiquities of the Jews and was hitherto known only in highly suspected Greek and Slavonian  texts. The Times article states: "While the suspect passage describes Jesus as the Messiah and states his Resurrection as a fact, the newly discovered version is close to the Greek wording and gives positive impressions of Jesus but attributes the beliefs in his divinity to the Christians." The two texts cited in the Times, are, as follows:
"GREEK TEXT: About this time there lived Jesus, a wise man, if indeed one ought to call him a man. For he was one who wrought surprising feats and was a teacher of such people as accept the truth gladly. He won over many Jews and many of the Greeks. He was the messiah. When Pilate, upon hearing him accused by men of the highest standing among us, had condemned him to be crucified, those who had in the first place come to love [him] did not cease. On the third day he appeared to them restored to life. For The prophets of God had prophesied these and myriads of other marvelous [things] about him. And the tribe of Christians, so called after him, has still up to now not disappeared.
"ARABIC TEXT: At this time there was a wise man who was called Jesus. And his conduct was good, and [he] was known to be virtuous. And many people from among the Jews and other nations became his disciples. Pilate condemned him to be crucified and to die. And those who had become his disciples did not abandon his discipleship. They reported that be had appeared to them three days after his crucifixion and that he was alive; accordingly, he was perhaps the messiah concerning whom the prophets have recounted wonders."
The questionable Greek version was known to H. P. Blavatsky when she wrote Isis Unveiled nearly a hundred years ago. She raised several objections to accepting the several parentheses of the passage as genuine, referring to it as "a preposterous incongruity, even though supported by so ripe a scholar as Renan" (Isis, Vol II, p. 328.). We might well ask: Would she be likely to accept the newly publicized Arabic version, were she alive today? This writer thinks not, principally because the newer version of the Testimonium Flavianum asserts that Jesus "was perhaps the messiah," something which Jews traditionally have never come to accept. Then, too, it seems highly unlikely that Josephus could have taken this point seriously enough to consider it as a possibility. Madame Blavatsky was also well aware of the messianic expectations of the Jews in this context, for she writes: "Their 'Messiah' was then and is still expected" (ibid.). In expanding further upon the role of Jesus, H.P.B. was also careful to point out that he was a Jewish Adept and a Nazarene: "To assure ourselves that Jesus was a true Nazarene - albeit with ideas of a new reform - we must not search for the proof in the translated Gospels, but in such original versions as are accessible. Tischendorf, in his translation from the Greek of Luke iv, 34, has it 'Iesou Nazarene'; and in the Syrian it reads 'Iasua, thou Nazaria' " (Isis, Vol. II, p. 137.). More recently the prominent English scholar, Dr. Hugh Schonfield, has come out strongly in favor of the view that Jesus was a member of the Nazarene (or Nazorean) sect. In his book, The Passover Plot, Dr. Schonfield makes a number of references to "the life of Jesus and the activities of his original followers,  known as Nazoreans (Nazarenes) " (p. 11.).
Whether the new version of Josephus' troublesome passage is truer than its forerunner remains to be seen. The passage may even, as Professor Pines feels, have been unaltered by Christian hands in its Arabic rendering. The matter is, of course, unsettled. Having good reason to question the Arabic version, the present writer remains unconvinced and is in agreement with the Times reporter when he states: "The research is probably not conclusive enough to satisfy extreme skeptics" and finds it remarkable that "Professor Pines concedes as much."
Is St. Mark's Gospel the Oldest?
Another theory advanced this year bearing on Christian Origins is that of Father Jose O'Callaghan of the Pontifical Biblical Institute in Rome. Briefly, Father O'Callaghan thinks that the dating of St. Mark's Gospel is to be moved back from about 70 A.D. to 50 A.D. His argument was presented in an article in Biblica and reported in The New York Times on April 2, 1972. Father O'Callaghan's argument rests upon a fragment of the Dead Sea Scrolls of Mark vi, 52-53. As stated in the Times: "Father O'Callaghan said he assumed that some of the faded letters on the fragment, which came from a cave at Qumran near the Dead Sea, were misread in the past. He dates the fragment to 50 A.D. on the basis of internal evidence and the date of other fragments which have already been identified." Previously, the oldest piece of evidence for the Four Gospels was a fragment of John dating back to 130 A.D. known as the Rylands Papyrus. If Father O'Callaghan is correct, we will have a fragment 80 years older and which, according to the Times, would "mean the scholars have a document written only about 15 years after the death of Jesus, when eyewitnesses were presumably still around."
Some serious difficulties remain in the way of O'Callaghan's argument. Dating fragments of the Dead Sea Scrolls is not as simple - or as precise - as it looks from a distance. Some scholars, such as Dr. Solomon Zeitlin (a teacher of rabbinics and history) of Dropsie University, do not feel the Dead Sea Scrolls can ever be placed as far back as the first century A.D. An article in The New York Times of February 13, 1972 states: Professor Zeitlin's most celebrated joust with skeptics is against defenders of the Dead Sea Scrolls. After analysis of wording and punctuation, he insists they were composed in the Middle Ages." While this may be an extreme position, it nevertheless highlights some of the difficulties involved in arriving at a true picture of Christian Origins.
Another problem in seriously considering Father O'Callaghan's argument is the fact that serious objections have already been raised by critics. As the Times article of April 2, 1972 states: "How did a Christian document come to be found in the Dead Sea Scrolls among records of the Essenes, a group usually identified as a Jewish Community?" Again, "Because of some Latinism in the text, Mark is generally supposed to have been written in Rome. 'If so,' asked Leander E. Keck of the Vanderbilt Divinity School last week, 'then how did it get into a Palestinian cave?'"
Apart from Father O'Callaghan's  theory and the objections which it has raised, we still have a problem with the evidential worth of Mark's Gospel per se. Although Mark may very well be the oldest of the Four Gospels, Matthew, and Luke having apparently used it as source material, it is not free of editorial corruptions, as has been shown by such eminent scholars as Harnack and Guignebert. Madame Blavatsky, also aware of Gospel inconsistencies, pointed out in "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels" that Mark xvi contains "the forged passage (an interpolation of eleven verses from the 9th to the 20th)" and that scholars of the revised 1881 version of the New Testament themselves admitted that "the two 'oldest Greek MSS.' omit the verses nolens volens, as these have never existed."
Restoring the Esoteric Standpoint
In trying to comprehend how Christianity began, it is essential to have some knowledge of the times and the many currents of thought prevailing. We now know, for example, that the establishment of Christianity was essentially the work of Paul, whose writings show some influence of Gnosticism. But we must also keep in mind that the Gospels and the New Testament as a whole owe much to the influences of the ancient Mysteries, both as enacted in Egypt and elsewhere in the Mediterranean. In her article "Notes on Abbe Roca's Esotericism of Christian Dogma" H.P.B. declares that "... the New Testament is but a Western allegory founded upon the universal Mysteries, the first historical traces of which, in Egypt alone, go back at least 6,000 years before the Christian era." (Collected Writings, Vol. VIII, p. 373.) The Egyptian contribution in this respect is staggering and the great English Egyptologist, Gerald Massey, was certainly aware of it when he wrote in his magnus opum, Ancient Egypt: The Light of the World: "No Egyptologist has ever dreamed that the Ritual still exists under the guise of both the gnostic and canonical gospels, or that it was the fountain-head and source of all the books of wisdom claimed to be divine" (Book IV, p. 2.). To his lasting credit, Massey discovered some 180 parallels between Horus of Egypt and Jesus of Nazareth.
In the last analysis, Jesus must come to be viewed by Christians as an Adept, a Nazarene well-versed in the Jewish esotericism of his time. Theosophists have good reason to believe that he lived between 120-70 B.C., as one Jeshu (or Joshua), whose father was Panthera. Madame Blavatsky writes (Isis, Vol. II, p. 386.): "The child born was Jesus, named Joshua. Adopted by his uncle Rabbi Jehoshuah, he was initiated into the secret doctrine by Rabbi Elhanan, a kabalist, and then by the Egyptian priests, who consecrated him High Pontiff of the Universal Secret Doctrine, on account of his great mystic qualities."
More emphasis must also be placed on Jesus as Christos, the Spirit in man, for as H.P.B. stresses in "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels," "Christ - the true esoteric Savior - is no man, but the Divine Principle in every human being." 
Unfortunate it is that for many of us the great truths of life do not take hold until the sunset years. It's been that way with me. Looking back, I see myself preaching Theosophy, and also dreaming of wealth, power, fame, and the other baubles of self-aggrandizement.
How desirable they seemed, and how worthless now! Like dead leaves of autumn, scattered by the wind, crumbling into dust. Now I know that it doesn't matter whether one is rich or poor, honored or dishonored, loved or ignored. These are the externals of life.
What really matters, and what took me years to learn, is changing the heart and mind, eliminating the black dross of selfishness, and transforming oneself into something the universe can use for the betterment of the universe.
"Abstain because it is right to abstain, not that yourself shall be kept clean," says Light on the Path. It is "right" to clean house and change the personal self into a temple where the Light of Divinity can shine, but only if the self thereby becomes a servant to the Whole.
It means joining the Order of tile Yellow Robe, becoming "as nothing in the eyes of men," and working "as those work who are ambitious." Wonderful words; but how do you get people to take them to heart and apply them?
One call spend a lifetime preaching and writing books on spiritual service, but unless demonstrates it in his own life, few souls will be led through the gates of salvation.
I have been an eager beaver Theosophist for nearly forty years, and I know that if I had worked one-tenth as hard reforming myself, as I did amusing audiences with fancy rhetoric, I might have done some good.
It's the hardest thing in the world to hold, day after day, that resolution to change the heart and mind. It's hard because it means repudiating almost everything one has been, and was happy to be, in the Springtime years. But the old self has to go - not die, but be transformed - and that hurts, and brings an awful loneliness.
It has to be done, or one is undone. The Two Paths are there - one leading to the gods, the other to oblivion. I ask myself: are you aspiring to the god-worlds to save yourself, or to become of some value to mankind? The snake of self would settle for heaven rather than cease to be!
Theosophists are not supposed to pray as good Christians do, but sometimes, waiting for sleep, I pray to the Heart of the Universe. Perhaps it's foolish, but I do it anyway.
My prayer goes something like this: give me not comfort, happiness, possessions - none of the things of earth - but help me to forget the little self, merge it in the splendor of the Greater Life, and become a useful servant in the Divine Plan.
It is a prayer of no-compromise, of surrender to the Whole, a surrender without conditions, a giving back of all that the Universe has given. It is my sunset prayer. 
"If you give a gift to someone and he doesn't accept it, whom does it belong to?" This question opens the parable of a gift to the Buddha - an abuse - which he didn't accept. It is linked with the idea of sunyata, or "the great emptiness." Ingrained with this thought is the ability to say to oneself, "Nothing seemingly from outside me can hurt, as I can absorb it into infinite Emptiness, swallow it up, because it is my own anyway."
The oneness of everything must in the end be disclosed. In the Mayavic regions of personal consciousness where our soul wins its immortality the "All" is seen as diffuse, laden with "thought-coverings." Buddhist Sutras teach that one must patiently disengage these thought-coverings. They are self-erected barriers which nature is trying to level down. We installed them, not nature, although an almost cosmic blight seems to encase them. The enlightened soul cannot be abused by these thought-coverings unless it struggles against them. Becoming harmless oneself, there is nothing sharp in them to rankle an outsider. Harmlessness opens our life as merciful rain and sunshine open buds in spring.
A man may, however, decide to bend low under stress, as the unbreakable reeds, and still be rooted to the spot. Passive goodness is not enough. A far greater, but more difficult way is to deliberately set himself to do the opposite of what is expected of him. Having been abused by another he will extend a kindness to him. That kindness might be a refusal to join in ugly gossip against the person who has wronged him. Or maybe he can say a word of understanding which will throw the whole picture into a new light and cause others to see the act as a passing phase or mood, which will come to nothing if handled intelligently. Let it be absorbed by the Sunyata.
"Gently to speak, kindly to judge" are strengthening actions in the moral fibres of the world, where even our thoughts imperceptibly effect far-reaching change. By these strengths we eventually become as Bodhisattvas. It is true we have not won our freedom from worldly allurements, but in breaking down resentment, the barriers of "self and others" are released. This frees us from both entanglements and estrangements. It also exteriorizes a problem. Problems seem to come through other persons, because the other people are ourselves. Within the rough appearance of these lies a friend, a test, a "spiritual influx," because nothing can reach us but what is our own. So if we do not go down to the level of the seeming opponent, our composure may envelope him. Composure may also result from an acceptance of circumstance, an indifference to the outcome. We have, perhaps, been a target for insult, due to some weak spot in our system. We can draw over that weakness the protection of a courageous turn of mind and heart.
A Mahayana doctrine attributed to Seng-tsan, the third Patriarch of the Dhyana Sect carries the lovely title: "On Trust in the Heart." It may be found in Buddhist Texts Through the  Age, edited by Edward Conze. Although immensely popular in China and Japan, it will remind one of the more ancient passages of the Bhagavad-Gita on equanimity:
"The Perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose;
Such is the "use" of abuse. Win compassion by these paltry onslaughts. Life's trials, and even insults of those held most dear, are sure to dissolve into nothing if we let them be absorbed into our greater Being.
We Flow, All Things Flow
I agree with you that many people do a lot of changing before thirty, and, as you suggest, we keep changing forever. We are never the same. There is always movement. And yet it's a bit of a paradox. Something within remains as Witness to the change, experiencing the change, almost it seems directing the change. The old Greek philosopher Herakleitos put it more philosophically: panta rhei: all things flow. I think we, our inner selves, flow, outwardly expressing that inner self more and more throughout our lives, so that, if we're intuitively alert, our outer becomes more and more harmonious with the inner. Even outer experiences conform more and more then to the inner direction.
Reimbodiment, Renewal of Form
Let me tell you quite simply and briefly what the idea of reincarnation embraces. There is no death - in the sense of annihilation, in the sense of loss of Self-identification. There are many deaths - at night, at the end of a human lifetime, at the close of a manvantara - but life goes on. It is a cyclic inbreathing and outbreathing, manifestation and absorption, activity and rest, cause and effect. And this is the way man, and the universe, "work," the way they "are." Our own human Understanding of all this varies with the individual: some see in larger and clearer perspectives, some with limited and blurred vision. But the thing itself - das ding an sich, as the German philosopher would put it - is not changed by our view. There is man. There is the universe. There is the super-galaxy. What is it? What made it what it is? How does it function in space and in time? These are all parts of the overall question. But what stands out clearly is that as a way of growth, or a method, or a technique for evolving onward, reimbodiment is necessary, a renewal of form for the invading spirit to express itself through. And so we have what is loosely called Spirit and Matter. Loosely, because Matter itself is informed with Spirit,  only in a less evolved state, and could in fact be called embryo-spirit. For the whole trend and aim of evolution is for that Matter to be lifted to the plane, so to say, of Spirit, to become it. That too, is man's destiny: to raise what is lower to something higher; for the lesser to become greater; for the consciousness that we now know as human to become consciousness that is divine.
Man's Greatest Teacher
The greatest Teacher, we must never forget, is within us. It is our own Higher Self, our own Nirmanakaya. We can tune in, so to say, to hear its command. And we can obey! But, I believe, it is wrong to make a hardship of it. As K.T. used to say: Grow as the flowers grow. That means, of course, impersonally, simply, beautifully, responding to sun and soil and nutrients of the environment. So must our Soul grow, not sweatingly, not through exacerbation or flagellation, but smilingly as the lotus opens its petals to the morning sun. I know, as well as you, that in a sense this is not easy. But it becomes more easy as we seek to co-operate with universal nature.
Adventure in Living
During the summer I read Harry Benjamin's Adventure in Living: Autobiography of a Myope. I loved it. It was so honest above all else, so un-preachy, yet so filled with the desire to help others; also so full of the opposite of self-pity, yet not pretending life had not been hard, a struggle. And then, the light that came to him - on his lonely walks, or after communion with himself, or after some depressing experience. I think it is a noble story. I only wish I could have read it while Harry was here so I could have written him about it. I feel that I keenly understand some of the inner experiences he went through, and that in these we shared a common experience, and I think he might have been pleased that someone in far-off California in some ways had similar, parallel feelings and thoughts and awakenings.
I enjoyed what he has to say about D. H. Lawrence, and that he didn't accept the usual run of the mill ideas about him, but found him a good man struggling hard to express the inner fineness of his character.
And I shared with some of my classes what Harry had to say about his own method of writing and his reliance on his subconscious. They liked it. I am sure, the more I think of it, that Harry did a great work first through helping those seeking a saner way of life by proper diet, by over-coming eye-strain, and later, by giving them a spiritual and sensible outlook on life.
I came across these words of Henry Thoreau recently: I'm sure Harry would understand them:
"It is not that we love to be alone, but that we love to soar, and when we do soar, the company grows thinner and thinner till there is none at all ... We are not the less to aim at the summits, though the multitude does not ascend them."
And this, too, by him:
"I cannot even whisper my thanks to those human friends I have ... And why should I speak to my friends? for how rarely is it that I  am I; and are they, then, they? We will meet, then, far away ..."
The Way of the Awakening Man
Nature is a marvelous, complicated, in its details humanly incomprehensible, process. But we - human beings, or, if you prefer, Globe Chains - are watched over, guided, helped along our various pathways simply because there is no other way. It is the Way of continuously expanding Life. There is nothing of sentimentality in it. It is just. It is simply the way. That is one reason why so many reared in the shadow of so-called Orthodox religion don't cotton to our esoteric teachings. They like to fool themselves with the thought that they can escape their evil actions; they cradle themselves with the feeling that by "praying" Someone will take over the consequences of their mistakes. They prefer cosy dream to the austerity, the simple beauty rather of Things-as-they-are. I guess it depends, to a great extent, on what part of your own constitution you live in (at the moment). It isn't always easy to latch on to the higher, and take what comes with knowledge that it brings spiritual enlightenment. The lesser part of you would like comfort, would like even ritual and symbol, the outer vestments of the hidden truth. But that is not the way of the awakening man.
GLOSSARY OF SANSKRIT TERMS
Manu - Yuga - Kalpa - Satya - Karma - Bhakti - Buddha - Dharma - Mahatma - Sunyata - Avatara - Sambhala - Brahmana - Upanishad - Atma-Vidya - Aryavarta - Maha-Kalpa - Devangari.
A most valuable compendium of succinct definitions of over 500 Sanskrit philosophical terms, and an explanation of the method of pronouncing each word and every letter of the Sanskrit alphabet. In Sanskrit the Word - Vach -and the Svara, or mystic sound or tonal value of the word, are of great importance, forming the intoned mantra-syllables and words brought together to create incantation. The author elaborates on this in a Foreword "On the Origin and Significance of Sanskrit."
GEOFFREY A. BARBORKA, Theosophical scholar and author of The Divine Plan: a Commentary on H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine, has been for years a student of Oriental philosophy and the Sanskrit language. His other works include: H.P. Blavatsky, Tibet and Tulku, The Mahatmas and Their Letters (in process of being printed), Man's Potent Force, The Christmas Story, and H. P. Blavatsky the Light-Bringer.
Order from: Point Loma Publications, Inc., P.O. Box 9966, San Diego, Calif. 92109 Size: 8" x 5-1/2"; Pages: 80; Binding: Paper; Price: $1.00.