[Cover photo: Grand Canyon, Colorado, from Lipan Point.]
"... The Theosophical Society stands for the Brotherhood of Man without any distinctions of physical birth (whether of race or of caste or of colour) of emotional upbringing (through religious faith or through the inclinations of sex) and of intellectual affiliations (to creeds, sects or dogmas). In other words, it cultivates an outlook which looks at man as Man. There is an essential unity of men made possible because of the Oneness of Life that inspires every human being. This Life manifests itself in myriads of forms. The Brotherhood Movements that we see around us are mostly based on similarities of manifested forms such as professions, economic classes, political nationalities, etc. The Brotherhood for which The Theosophical Society stands is based on the Oneness of Life irrespective of its manifestations. It is thus a Brotherhood Movement based on the Spiritual conception of Man. Political, Economic, Social or Religious brotherhood will be of no avail without the Spiritual Brotherhood of Man. And so The Theosophical Society furnishes the very background on which the Superstructure of Human Fellowship in different spheres of life may be erected.
"In order to make this ideal of Spiritual Brotherhood a practical reality it is necessary to develop a synthetic outlook on life. It is the great mission of The Theosophical Society to lead an ever-increasing number bf men and women in all Countries to look at life from this synthetic standpoint so that the foundations of World Brotherhood may be well and truly laid. In this stupendous task of emotional, intellectual and ideological synthesis to the end of establishing World Brotherhood, The Theosophical Society ... has to become a bridge-builder bringing nations, religions, creeds, castes and races together in one human family. If this is the mission of The Theosophical Society it is quite evident that it cannot identify itself with any particular branch of human activity. It must remain a movement which invites people belonging to all branches of human activity in order to lead them to a synthetic approach towards all problems of life. Such a synthetic approach is possible only when diverse manifestations of human life are related to the fundamental unity of Man. ... It is therefore imperative that the Universality of The Theosophical Society is maintained at all costs. ..." - Rohit Mehta, Gen. Sec'y, Indian Section, T.S. (Adyar), in The Indian Theosophist, May-June, 1947. 
From time immemorial and in all races of men, the two Solstices and the two Equinoxes were times of deep spiritual significance, and were looked upon in the light of sacred traditions all over the world.
Of these four turning points in the yearly cycle, the Winter Solstice was in some respects the most significant. It was dedicated to the birth of Sun-Gods, Avataras, lnitiates, Masters of Life and Saviors of Men. It was a time when universally certain initiatory rites were performed in the crypts and temples of initiation. These rites have never died out, and take place even today.
Imperial Rome had its Saturnalia which under the Ceasars lasted most of December, ending December 24th. These festivities gave us our present Christmas customs, such as cards, gifts, and general merriment. December 25th was known as Dies Natalis Solis Invicti - the Day of the Birth of the Unconquered Sun, also as Sol novus - new Sun, especially cultivated by the votaries of Mithraism. The Mithraic Mysteries, which later became the state religion of the Roman Empire, celebrated the birth of the Sun-god Mithra on what was known as the Night of Lights.
In the Greek Mysteries of Eleusis a midnight Holy Birth was part of tile ritual, and the midwinter ceremonies at Delphi were centered around the figure of the cradled Dionysus in his form of Bacchus-Zagreus.
With the Scandinavians and Teutons we find the midwinter festival of the Hoggunott (Holy Night). Odin (Woden) and his consort Berchta were said to descend on the nights between December 25th and January 6th, on a white horse, to bless earth and men. Among the Germanic and Celtic tribes we find also the Yule festival, well known from Icelandic sagas, and which is responsible for our holly, mistletoe, yule-log and wassail bowl. It is interesting to note that the German name for Christmas is Weihnachten; this is usually derived from a word meaning vigil, on account of all-night ceremonies performed it the time; but it is rarely pointed out that the word einweihen means to initiate, and therefore the root-idea of this term is definitely connected with initiatory rites.
With the Anglo-Saxons December 25th was known as modra niht, the night of the mothers, very obviously implying a holy birth. With the ancient Druids the same season was celebrated with bonfires, processions and rites, on hills and towers. It is also said that the Japanese call the month of December the month of the arrival of the Gods.
Similar ideas, rites and celebrations have been connected in ancient times with a number of other "divine incarnations," such as Tammuz and his mother Mylitta, among the Babylonians and Assyrians; Adonis and Astarte or Adonaia, among the Phoenicians and Syrians; Atys of Phrygia, and Mariatta with her new-born child, among the Finnish tribes.
According to a great many authorities of the early Christian era, Christmas, as we know it today, was not celebrated in the first centuries. Origen asserts that in the Scriptures sinners alone, not saints, celebrate their birthday. At a later date, the birth of Jesus was celebrated at one or another time of the year, with considerable variations of season. It would appear that the Western Church, as late as the fifth century, ordered that the birth of its Savior be celebrated on the day of the Roman feast of Sol Invictus. There can be little doubt that the rising Church was anxious to detract the attention of Christians from the old pagan feasts, and therefore adapted its own cycle of celebrations to the rhythm already established from ancient days.  It was wise in doing so.
We see, therefore, that the chief characteristic of the Winter Solstice festival, apart from any sectarian adaptations, is its universality. The essential idea which underlies our own Christmas is not Christian in origin. At best, it is a Christianized form of an ancient, universal, midwinter celebration centering around the caves of initiation, symbolic of certain mystical events in the life of a neophyte striving for spiritual illumination.
The true nature of the Winter Solstice season and its spiritual symbolism cannot be correctly understood without reference to the other three pivotal points of the yearly cycle, which form a coherent whole.
The Cosmic Cross formed by the Solstices and the Equinoxes has symbolized from time immemorial the four chief turning-points of a human life-span: the birth or beginning, figuratively spoken of as the North; adolescence or the sun-rise, known as the East; full manifestation of manhood, maturity of life's strength, symbolized by the South, and very significantly connected in universal mythology with the Gods of Death; and the closing of life, the eventide of all incarnation, and the passing into the Great Beyond, typified by the West all over the world.
On a similar pattern of meaning the spiritually-conscious men and women throughout the ancient world based the celebration of the Four Sacred Seasons of the mystic year, primarily on the initiatory tradition. The first of these seasons was the Winter Solstice, symbolic of the Great Birth. It stood first of all as a symbol of the birth of the Inner God in the heart of the disciple, the time when the neophyte, after long training and preparation, stood at that particular point in his spiritual career when a permanent link was forged between his merely human consciousness and the spiritual consciousness of the indwelling Christos or Buddha within himself. The neophyte became an Initiate, but only a "beginner" in this new and grander sphere of Life. It is but natural that this mystical event should coincide with a time in the yearly cycle when the Sun, in its apparent motion in the sky, stops in its southerly direction and begins to move northward once more. No one will deny the immense influence that this fact has upon nature as a whole.
The second pivotal point was the Spring Equinox, symbolic of Adolescence, when the innate powers of man begin to assert themselves and mould his life in a more definite way. In the outward nature, it is a time of burgeoning and flowering forth. The sap mounts and re-invigorates the trees and shrubs. That which manifests itself on lower planes of life as mere procreation is but the lower reflection of spiritual processes on higher levels of universal life, and corresponds to spiritual creation, or creativity. Therefore this season was symbolic of a greater development in the inner life of the Initiate, whereby he too, having already been "born" at the Winter Solstice, reached the "adolescent" period of his spiritual journey, as it were, and was ready to pass through higher initiatory rites and trials, and to achieve deeper knowledge. This should be the inner meaning of our Easter, had we not lost the ancient keys.
Then comes the Summer-Solstice, symbolic of full maturity in a man's life-span. With the latter there also comes a time of temptation; the one great problem of a life-time asserts itself, different for every individual and dependent to a large extent upon his previous lives. He gathers all his strength and produces, whether spiritually, mentally, or otherwise, the fruitage of former years, the result of his "spring flowering," and this fruitage may be good, bad or indifferent, according to the man. This season stood as a symbol of "mature manhood" in the spiritual life of the Initiate, when his career was in full sway and he had taken his rightful place in the life of the Hierarchy to which he belonged.
Then follows the Autumnal  Equinox, symbolic of the recession of vitality, the ingathering of forces, the ripening of wisdom, the efflorescence of spirituality, and the gradual withdrawal of consciousness into other and higher worlds for a period of rest. It corresponded to the withdrawal of the Initiate from the world of men, and into spheres too high and lofty for human perception. Therefore was that season called the Great Passing.
The same One Law governs all. That which manifests itself fully on the scale of 365 days, as far as outward nature is concerned, takes place in man's life on the scale of some 70 or 80 years, more or less. The same sequence applies to the initiatory cycles, but embraces in its span many successive lives. Everything has its birth, its day of adolescence, its time of full maturity and strength, and its moment of withdrawal and passing. A new birth follows in due course of time. A new cycle opens, this time on a higher curve of the mystic spiral. It is the same with the life of a planet, of a sun, of a solar system, of a galaxy, and beyond. And it is equally true in the realm of the atom. As above, so below. Infinite variety under the law.
The ancient symbolism does not lie. The Initiate is always born of a Virgin-Mother, immaculately conceived. He is born from within the immaculate spiritual depths of his own divine Selfhood, the Christos-Spirit, the Buddhic Splendor within himself, for ever unsullied by the touch of matter. His Mother is the womb of that spiritual consciousness which is but a ray from the Cosmic Consciousness, the ever-prolific fountainhead from which spring forth all the Avataras and the Divine Incarnations throughout endless time.
A Star always heralds his birth. The appearance of great initiates - and probably of lesser ones as well - is not accidental. They are not born by chance. They come at stated times, cyclically determined, and according to profound occult laws which are part of the very life of the planet itself. These cycles are clearly discernible to the Adepts, who can read their approach on the cosmic dial of the Zodiac and its correlation to the planets. All this is intimately connected with the position of the Earth in its orbit, and other, much more intricate motions of an astronomical-astrological nature. Hence the symbol of a heralding "Star," seen by the Magi, or those who "know."
His birth takes place in a stable, a manger, a cave, wherein he is surrounded with animals of all kinds. Of course: how could it be otherwise? Is not the human soul surrounded with the forces, and powers, and potencies, latent and active, of the animal selfhood in man? Is not the neophyte the one who is struggling to subdue these forces, to purify them and to raise them? The manger is but a symbol of his lower nature, whose entire make-up has to be attuned to the higher, integrated with it, redeemed. Only then are the "animals" in that manger at perfect peace among themselves, and brought into willing subjection to the Master within.
The birth of Initiates has been connected from immemorial times with trees, flowering shrubs, and evergreen branches, -although our own Christmas tree with its candle lights is a later introduction, yet one which is very ancient in essence and most fitting in symbolism. It is but another form of the Aswattha Tree of the Hindus, the Yggdrasil of the Scandinavian and Germanic peoples, the Irminsul of the Saxons, and the Druidic Oak. They really symbolic of the Tee of the Universe, which stands for the manifested planes of life: rooted in the Infinite, springing forth from the Unknown, spreading far and wide throughout the Boundless, bearing the luminaries of Space - planets, suns, stars, galaxies - like fruits on its branches, ever fruitful, ever growing, ever green.
Because its symbolism is born in the Mystery-Crypts of the ancient world, our Christmas festival - whatever its temporary degradation may be - cannot die out. Because its essential significance resides in the facts and events of the  initiatory Cycle, it cannot disappear from the collective consciousness of mankind, however many outward changes it may undergo.
Is it not wonderful to realize that whatever may be going on in the outer world of men - Christmas is still with us!
Whatever may be the horrors of human violence, the nightmare of bloodshed, the inhumanity of man to man - there is a Christmas!
And a thousand new wars and revolutions, holocausts to human selfishness and greed, will not obliterate the Spirit of Christmas, with its universal message, its vision of beauty, its spiritual serenity.
For neither the passage of time, nor race, nor religious system of thought, affects the central idea of this season; it is universal in its mystic application and therefore timeless.
Let us, therefore, keep in mind the sacredness of the Winter Solstice, its Spiritual solemnity! It concerns the entirety of the human race, and not one is excluded from it.
Initiations as of old occur even today, though their very existence may be denied by a generation that sneers at anything which cannot be demonstrated by the vaunted "laboratory technique." Initiates are born from time to time, and in remote places of the earth. Neophytes undergo their initiatory ordeals under the guidance of competent Teachers. Some succeed; some fail, some go out into the world of men, to teach, to guide, to adjust; also to suffer martyrdom at the hand of the Powers of Matter, and often at the hand of those who professed to be their disciples at first. The story of Judas is perennially true, and is not confined to Palestine. Others do not teach among men in the outer world. Theirs is a different task behind the veil of outward seeming.
The times we live in may be hard to some; perhaps to most. They may become harder yet. They may become sadder and even more replete with seemingly unsolvable problems. But let us not be dismayed! Let us have courage. Let us have hope. Let us have faith in the divine potentialities of every man, through which the Master of Life in each one of us will be born in due course of time.
As long as the Fires of the Winter-Solstice burn bright upon the altars of our homes, as long as the Spirit of Christmas dwells in our hearts, sings therein and prevails over the outer darkness ... there is always hope, always courage, always Vision. In the light of that Vision the whole Human Race presses onward ... passes on ... towards those distant goals of perfection where a New Sun shines upon a regenerated Humanity.
For there will always be a Christmas. ALWAYS!
Jesus taught Theosophy in a manner and in words appropriate to the men of his era; and because what be taught is Theosophical, therefore we Theosophists claim him as one of us. He was the Theosophical Teacher of the people to whom
he came in his era, but a very great and noble one; for Theosophical Teachers vary among themselves, just as ordinary men do. There are the average Teachers, then the greater, then the still greater, and finally the greatest, if you like to call them so; but their hierarchy does not stop there.
"Believe not," said in substance the Syrian Sage of old to his disciples, "men when they come to you and tell you: 'Lo I am the Christ, follow me!' Or when another one comes and says: 'Lo! I am the Christ, follow me!' Believe them not." But when one comes before you, in the name of the Christ-spirit, and tells you to follow truth whose ringing tones are heard in every mortal heart of man, and who speaks in the name of the god within, in the name of the inner Christ, in the name of the inner Buddha, then, said in substance the Syrian Sage, "He is my own. Follow him." - G. de Purucker, The Story of Jesus, pp. 26-27. 
Every educated Englishman has heard the name of General Yermoloff, one of the great military heroes of this age; and if at all familiar with the history of the Caucasian wars, he must be acquainted with the exploits of one of the chief conquerors of the land of those impregnable fastnesses where Shamil and his predecessors have defied for years the skill and strategy of the Russian armies.
Be it as it may, the strange event herein narrated by the Caucasian hero himself, may interest students of psychology. That which follows is a verbatim translation from V. Potto's Russian work "The War in Caucasus." In volume II, chapter The Period of Yermoloff (pp. 829-30-31 and 832) one reads these lines:
Silently and imperceptibly glided away at Moscow the last days allotted to the hero. On April the 19th, 1861, he died in his 85th year, seated in his favorite arm-chair, with one hand on the table, the other on his knee; but a few minutes before, in accordance with an old habit of his, he was tapping the floor with his foot.
It is impossible to better express the feelings of Russia at the news of this death than by quoting the obituary notice from the (Russian) Daily "Caucasus," which did not say a word more than was deserved.
"On April the l2th, at 11 3/4 a.m., at Moscow, the Artillery General, famous throughout Russia - Alexéy Petrovitch Yermoloff, breathed his last. Every Russian knows the name; it is allied with the most brilliant records of our national glory: Valutino, Borodino, Kulm, Paris, and the Caucasus, will be ever transmitting the name of the hero, - the pride and ornament of the Russian army and nation. We will not enumerate the services of Yermoloff. His name and titles are: a true son of Russia, in the full significance of the term."
It is a curious fact that his death did not escape its own legend, one of a strange and mystical character. This is what a friend who knew Yermoloff well, writes of him:
Once, when leaving Moscow, I called on Yermoloff to say good bye, and found myself unable to conceal my emotion at parting.
"Fear not," he said to me, "we will yet meet; I shall not die before your return."
This was eighteen months before his death.
"In life and death God alone is the Master!" I observed.
"And I tell you most positively that my death will not occur in a year, but a few months later" - he answered, "Come with me" - and with these words he led me into his study; where, getting out of a locked chest a written sheet of paper, he placed it before me, and asked - "whose handwriting is this?" "Yours," I said. "Read it then." I complied.
It was a kind of memorandum, a record of dates, since the year when Yermoloff was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel, showing, as in a programme, every significant event that was to happen in his life, so full of such events. He followed me in my reading, and when I was at the last paragraph, he covered the last line with his hand. "This you need not read," he said. "On this line, the year, the month, and the day, of my death are given. All that you have read was written by me beforehand, and has come to pass to the smallest details, and this is how I came to write it. 
"When I was yet a young Lieutenant-Colonel I was sent on some business to a small district town. My lodging consisted of two rooms - one for the servants, the other for my personal use. There was no access into the latter but through the former. Once, late at night, as I sat writing at my desk, I fell into a reverie, when suddenly on lifting my eyes I saw standing before me across the desk a stranger, a man, judging by his dress, belonging to the lower classes of society. Before I had time to ask him who he was or what he wanted, the stranger said, 'Take your pen and write.' Feeling myself under the influence of an irresistible power, I obeyed in silence. Then he dictated to me all that was going to happen to me during my whole life, concluding with the date and hour of my death. With the last word he vanished from the spot. A few minutes elapsed before I regained my full consciousness, when, jumping from my seat, I rushed into the adjoining room, which the stranger could not by any means avoid passing through. Opening the door, I saw my clerk writing by the light of a candle, and my orderly lying asleep on the floor across the entrance door, which door was securely locked and bolted. To my question 'who was it who has just been here?' - the astonished clerk answered, 'No one.' To this day I have never told this to any one. I knew beforehand that while some would suspect me of having invented the whole thing, others would see in me a man subject to hallucinations. But for myself, personally, the whole thing is a most undeniable fact, an objective and palpable fact, the proof of which is in this very written document."
The last date found on the latter proved, after the death of the General, to be the correct one. He died on the very day and hour of the year recorded in his own handwriting.
Yermoloff is buried at Orel. An inextinguishable lamp, made of a fragment of a bomb-shell, burns before his tomb. On the cast-iron of the shell these words are wrought by an unskilled hand, "The Caucasian soldiers who served on the Goonib." *
* "Goonib" is the name of the last stronghold of the Circassians, on which the famous Murid Shamil the Priest-Sovereign of the Mountaineers was conquered and captured by the Russians, after years of a desperate struggle. Goonib is a gigantic rock, deemed for a long time impregnable but finally stormed and ascended by the Russian soldiers at an enormous sacrifice of life. Its capture put virtually an end to the war in the Caucasus. a struggle which had lasted for over sixty years, and assured its conquest. [Editor, Lucifer] 
The ever burning lamp is established through the zeal and grateful love of the lower ranks of the Caucasian Army, who collected among themselves from their poor pittance (copeck by copeck, verily!) the needed sum. And this simple monument is more valued and admired than would be the richest mausoleum. There is no other monument to Yermoloff in Russia. But the proud and lofty rocks of the Caucasus are the imperishable pedestal on which every true Russian will always behold the majestic image of General Yermoloff, surrounded by the aureole of an everlasting and immortal glory.
And now for a few words about the nature of the apparition.
No doubt every word of General Yermoloff's concise and clear narrative is true to a dot. He was pre-eminently a matter-of-fact, sincere, and clear-headed man, with not the slightest taint of mysticism about him, a true soldier, honorable, and straightforward. Moreover, this episode of his life was testified to by his elder son, known to the present writer and her family personally, for many years during our residence at Tiflis. All this is a good warrant for the genuineness of the phenomenon, testified to furthermore by the written document left by the General, bearing the correct and precise date of his death. And now what about the mysterious visitor? Spiritualists will, of course, see in it a disembodied Entity, a "materialized Spirit." It will be claimed that a human Spirit alone could prophecy a whole series of events and see so clearly in Futurity. So we say, too. But having agreed on that point, we diverge in all the rest; i.e., while Spiritualists would say that the apparition was that of a Spirit distinct from and independent of the Higher Ego of the General, we maintain precisely the reverse, and say it was that Ego. Let us argue dispassionately.
Where is the raison d'être, the rationale of such apparition of prophecy; and why should you or I, for instance, once dead, appear to a perfect stranger for the pleasure of informing him of that which was to happen to him? Had the General recognized in the visitor some dear relative, his own father, mother, brother, or bosom friend, and received from him some beneficent warning, slight proof as it would have been, there would still be something in it to hang such theory upon. But it was nothing of the kind: simply "a stranger, a man, judging by his dress, belonging to the lower classes of society." If so, why should the soul of a poor disembodied tradesman, or a laborer, trouble itself to appear to a mere stranger? And if the "Spirit" only assumed such appearance, then why this disguise and masquerading, such post-mortem mystification, at all? If such visits are made of a "Spirit's" free will; if such revelations can occur at the sweet pleasure of a disembodied Entity, and independently of any established law of intercourse between the two worlds - what can be the reason alleged for that particular "Spirit" playing at soothsaying Cassandra with the General? None whatever. To insist upon it, is simply to add one more absurd and repulsive feature to the theory of "Spirit-visitation," and to throw an additional element of ridicule on the sacredness of death. The materializing of an immaterial Spirit - a divine Breath - by the Spiritualists, is on a par with the anthropomorphizing of the Absolute, by the Theologians. It is these two claims which have dug an almost impassable abyss between the Theosophist-Occultists and the Spiritualists on the one hand, and the Theosophists and the Church Christians on the other.
And now this is how a Theosophist-Occultist would explain the vision, in accordance with esoteric philosophy. He would premise by reminding the reader that the Higher Consciousness in us, with its sui generis laws and conditions of manifestation, is still almost entirely terra incognita for all (Spiritualists included) and the men of Science pre-eminently. Then he would remind the reader of one of the fundamental teachings of Occultism. He would say that besides the attribute of divine omniscience in its own nature and sphere of action, there exists in Eternity for the individual immortal Ego neither Past nor Future, but only one everlasting PRESENT. Now, once this doctrine is admitted, or amply postulated, it becomes only natural that the whole life, from birth to death, of the Personality which that Ego informs, should be as plainly visible to the Higher Ego as it is invisible to, and concealed from, the limited vision of its temporary and mortal Form. Hence, this is what must have happened according to the Occult Philosophy.
The friend is told by General Yermoloff that while writing late in the night he had suddenly fallen into a reverie, when he suddenly perceived upon lifting the eyes a stranger standing before him. Now that reverie was most likely a sudden doze, brought on by fatigue and overwork, during which a mechanical action of purely somnambulic character took place. The Personality becoming suddenly alive to the Presence of its Higher SELF, the human sleeping automaton fell under the sway of the Individuality, and forthwith the hand that had been occupied with writing for several hours before resumed mechanically its task. Upon awakening the Personality thought that the document before him had been written at the dictation of a visitor whose voice he had heard, whereas, in truth, he had been simply recording the innermost thoughts - or shall we say knowledge - of his own divine "Ego," a prophetic, because all-knowing Spirit. The "voice" of the latter was simply the translation by the physical memory, at the instant of awakening, of the mental knowledge concerning the life of the mortal man reflected on the lower by the Higher consciousness. All the other  details recorded by the memory are as amenable to a natural explanation.
Thus, the stranger clothed in the raiments of a poor little tradesman or laborer, who was speaking to him outside of himself, belongs, as well as the "voice," to that class of well-known phenomena familiar to us as the association of ideas and reminiscences in our dreams. The pictures and scenes we see in sleep, the events we live through for hours, days, sometimes for years in our dreams, all this takes less time, in reality, than is occupied by a flash of lightning during the instant of awakening and the return to full consciousness. Of such instances of the power and rapidity of fancy physiology gives numerous examples. We rebel against the materialistic deductions of modern science, but no one can controvert its facts, patiently and carefully recorded throughout long years of experiments and observations by its specialists, and these support our argument. General Yermoloff had passed several days previously holding an inquest in a small town, in which official business he had probably examined dozens of men of the poorer classes; and this explains his fancy - vivid as reality itself - suggesting to his imagination the vision of a small tradesman.
Let us turn to the experiences and explanations of a long series of philosophers and Initiates, thoroughly acquainted with the mysteries of the Inner Self, before we father upon "departed spirits" actions, motives for which could never be explained upon any reasonable grounds.
The echo of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki horrors still reverberating in our ears like a trumpet call, announces in no uncertain notes the dawn of a New Age.
Humanity, the Great Orphan, has been for weal or for woe, catapulted into the "Age of Atomic Power."
Atomic fission, long sought by science and feared by most thinkers, being now an accomplished fact, it would be idle to argue as to the desirability or undesirability of its arrival at a moment when the most painful and chaotic conditions prevail the world over and human relations stand at such low ebb. We must acknowledge, particularly as theosophists, that events of such magnitude as this one, while possibly arriving at a seemingly inopportune moment, must surely take place on schedule, in so far as time is concerned, according to the Cosmic Clock of human evolution.
The dawning of a New Age must be characterized by some outstanding factor which serves as a milestone dividing the past from the future, a factor the influence of which is felt even before its emergence. The characteristic of this New Age is atomic fission, a factor embodying in itself, like the "apple of Eden," the potential for both good and evil, a choice which perforce must remain at our own discretion. As the breach into the atomic world widens, new and still more powerful forces will be placed in the hands of man. Many, like the conquest of gravitation, are already in the laboratory stage. The field of magnetic forces is receiving all of a sudden special attention on the part of science. New instruments, devices and processes to harness and control these forces will soon emerge, to change completely the rhythm and psychology of out civilization.
The masses of the world appear either ignorant of or unconcerned with this tremendous and fearsome power and its implications, but the men sitting at the gambling tables of power-politics, some with loaded dice and others with the consumate shrewdness of chess players, are well aware of this  potential and its consequences, as well a the risk involved in their game. Therefore, at least for the immediate future, they will play for a draw.
But we are mainly concerned with the meaning of the New Age and the role which the theosophists, or rather the Theosophical Movement, should play in it, in order to be of some service to humanity and to justify its existence.
To judge from the events of the last few years, this New Cycle, rushing in like a tidal wave, is sweeping away the past: old institutions are crumbling; crowns, governments and systems are tottering, shaken from their foundations; customs, heretofore respectable and proper, become obsolete, and even long-established religions are groping in a vacuum. The tempo of life in all its multiple ramifications, like a noisy, discordant composition conducted by a gigantic mad genius, becomes faster and faster. Insecurity - the precursor of hopelessness and despair - is felt all along the line, reacting as a stimulant to selfishness and greed.
It is clearly seen that the veil which heretofore hid from the consciousness of the masses the fast-widening contrasts and inequalities of life, is wearing thin, revealing only that which they are able to see, mainly the ugly aspect of material existence: the struggle for life, to them without meaning or purpose, without comprehension and without hope. "The dross left by our pious forefathers" is fast being swept away. But the main vice, the chief evil of the past, instead of being swept away with the rest of the dross, prevails yet, with even greater force. Man has not received his due recognition. He is not considered as the primary factor of civilization; he is rather viewed as an appendage incidental to the whole material scheme, just as "expendable" in war as in peace, either to produce material wealth or to satisfy personal ambitious. Man is, indeed, the "Great Orphan," left to his own devices for lack of a spiritual philosophy to guide his footsteps.
A New Age calls for new orientations, new institutions, new ideas and policies. But in order to be sane and constructive, we must start from the principle that man is the primary factor in the whole scheme, and that all else is incidental to man's evolution on this earth. Life then will have meaning and purpose. We, as theosophists, recognize this fact at least in theory, but for many years we have fallen into the ugly vice of dividing ourselves and of placing power-politics within the respective organizations, thus getting farther and farther away from the real objectives of the Theosophical Movement. These and other faults which it is not necessary to mention, have prevented the Theosophical organizations from doing a really constructive job.
There are enough Theosophical Societies and theosophists scattered all over the world to make within the next few years an appreciable dent in the thought and psychology of this New Cycle, which will serve, if not to save humanity from the catastrophe which is fast approaching, then at least to cushion and minimize the impact of the black terror. But in order to do this we must as soon as possible unite as theosophists and act in a concerted effort to spread far and wide, by all available means, at least the most fundamental truths among the masses of the world. If we cannot do this now, all the Theosophy we have learned will not be worth two bits to us or to anyone else.
Let us think of Theosophy, not is a subject for mere intellectual discussions in parlor gatherings on a wintry night, but as a dynamic philosophy of life intended to awaken the masses to an understanding that man is primarily a divine being.
Between now and the time, towards the last quarter of the century, when another teacher may appear amongst us, much could be accomplished, if we approached the problem in an impersonal manner and with determination, forgetting our personal differences and thinking only of the duty we owe to the Masters and to Humanity! 
In the early days of the Theosophical Society, there was a lodestone that attracted many serious-minded people, and its powerful influence has persisted even to the present day, though the approach to it is somewhat different, thanks to the very sane and down-to-earth teachings given out by the late G. de Purucker.
The magnetic pull that attracted all and sundry was the question of Chelaship, and the attendant questions: "Are the Masters real men? If others have received communications from them, why not I? Why don't I have the same opportunities to be taught by them?" The motives behind these and many other questions ran the gamut from mere curiosity-seeking to really unselfish longing to join those who live for the benefit of humanity. Because of this, certain very important articles were written by H. P. Blavatsky and others, to wit: "Chelas and Lay Chelas," the letters on Chelaship and W.Q. Judge's "Letters That Have Helped Me," and an article in "Man, A Fragment of Forgotten History," not to speak of the exhaustive writings on the same subject in "The Mahatma Letters."
It was very natural that attention should be drawn to the subject of Chelaship at that time, because the Masters themselves were brought much more openly before the world than they are now. In fact, it is with certain reluctance that they are spoken of today, because their names have been dragged in the mud, and the nature of their work in the world has been cheapened by false information and twisted explanations of their methods, all for the benefit of the gullible who are ready at the drop of a hat to believe that they have taken their exalted places among the elect of mankind.
No less important than the articles mentioned above are the precepts of G. de Purucker in "Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy," "The Esoteric Tradition," and "Golden Precepts of Esotericism." These later writings assume a much more gentle guise than the stern warnings of H.P. Blavatsky. Perhaps that is because G. de Purucker realized that the emotional and psychic excitement about the subject had to a large extent died down, and that the time had come for a new light to be thrown upon it, making it apparent that the path of discipleship is a natural path, and that difficult though it is, to be sure, it is just as possible for people in the West as it is for Hindus and Asiatics, because it is essentially the way to peace and the cessation of suffering of heart, mind and body.
The thoughts that I will set down are in no sense my own, for there is no monopoly on ideas, and many readers will recognize them as theirs, and will probably have given expression to them in their own turn.
In the first place, like the mountains that look blue because of the distance, Chelaship wears a kind of glamour to those who see it from afar. Let us but approach it even superficially, and this glamour disappears in a trice, for the Path of Chelaship is ourselves as we grow, and the painful process of sloughing off our weaknesses has absolutely no glamour about it. Quite the reverse, for we begin to see ourselves objectively, and the picture is anything but flattering.
The need for distinguishing the true from the false is of primary importance, for the very desire for Chelaship tends to excite the imagination of the individual, and nothing is easier than to become self-deluded. There is a great temptation to imagine that one has achieved, when actually one only desires, and while in one sense this shows that at least the individual has the desire to become one with his Higher Self, it is really the greatest  deterrent to his own progress. The whole question of Chelaship is built on paradoxes, and H.P. Blavatsky gave us the key to the whole matter when she said: "First deserve, then desire."
Speaking of paradoxes, let us jot down a few of them, as this may help to clarify the picture, for, like a coin, it is incomplete unless we can view it from two angles. In the following we should have no difficulty in distinguishing heads from tails.
Fools rush in where angels fear to tread. It is the "angel" in man that becomes the Chela, not the lower self that often plays the " fool."
To attempt to become adept is the most difficult task a man call undertake. The Path of Chelaship is the most natural path in the universe. It means giving up suffering, and the causes of suffering.
Chelaship is achieved when one has placed oneself under the direct tutelage of all Adept. The work of a Teacher is to lead the disciple to the feet of his own inner Guide, than which for him there is none higher.
It would be extremely dangerous for most of us to be put in touch with the Masters. All who are doing the Masters' work place themselves under their care, and receive help front them.
All the evil propensities of a man's nature are "boiled out" and come to the Surface in Chela-training. Chelaship calls out, because it requires, the best in a man. He becomes his own Higher Self made manifest.
The fact that there were a few in the early days (notably Damodar and Subba Row) who made the grade, is a staff for anyone who would essay the difficult ascent. As H.P.B. said in substance: "Nothing call hold back the aspirant if he has a determination that brooks no denial, and if he has within him the elements of success." This last is very important, because it takes into account the man's own karman, and it might be said, as a consequence, that success depends upon a man's having a favorable karman, built up through a series of lives.
We have been shown a ray of hope, and we may glean it for ourselves from observation and study. Although we have been impressed with the fact that success has been attained by very few indeed, and may at times think: "Chelaship can have nothing to do with me. It is so far beyond me that in some twenty lives, perhaps, I can begin to think seriously about it," we are nevertheless assured by G. de Purucker that at least certain aspects of it are attainable by all who sincerely desire to work for the spiritual awakening of Humanity.
The will to work in itself quickens the feet of the student, and brings to him some awareness of the richness of the inner life. After all, Chelaship is a matter which concerns the inner nature of the man. Therefore, outwardly an individual may be quite unaware of any progress that he may have made, and to deny the possibility of entering the Chela-life may be the denial of the experiences of his own Higher Self, with a consequent retardation in his progress. It may be that only after his Inner Self has acquired a certain amount of experience and growth, can it impress the mind of the outward man with the awareness of the inner life. This awareness comes slowly, appearing first as intuitions, "hunches," as they are called. The man is fortunate if these intuitions take the form of an increased understanding of the operations of Nature, for then it means that his consciousness is expanding, and his progress will be relatively quick.
Because of this, a man need not look for special signs, nor need he be formally told where he stands. He can judge this largely for himself. Among many indications, perhaps the answer to the following question will be the most important: Can he, even if he wished to, cease to work for the spiritual enlightenment of mankind? For one thing only is important to us - to work unceasingly, to lift the heavy load of  suffering hat weighs on the world. To console a single heart weighted down by grief will carry the pilgrim's feet a thousand times farther than months of meditating on how to reach the Mahatmas. The most workable formula I know of is composed of 1 part of living the life mixed with 1 part of studying the teachings. For living the life awakens the understanding, and knowing the doctrine opens the nature to a new understanding of the life to be lived. The rest will take care of itself.
The growth that is possible in the nature of the disciple follows in miniature the pattern of the spiritual growth that takes place in Humanity at large, as the result of the work of the Hierarchy of Compassion. This Spiritual Hierarchy is universal in its field of action, and its human representatives form what is known as the Brotherhood of the White Lodge. We are taught that early in the history of the human race, certain individuals who had progressed beyond the norm, took counsel among themselves, and by a deliberate act of white magic made of themselves the first vehicles for the manifestation of certain super-terrestrial beings who are part of the very fabric of this Hierarchy of Compassion. Those greater beings were ready and waiting, and when the human vehicles were also ready, they established contact and have been with us ever since. Precisely the same thing happens in the nature of the student of Life. He has within the core of his being a god who is ready and waiting to manifest his spiritual-divine energies through the mind of the man, and when the man by a supreme effort of his own Spiritual Will makes that contact, he then becomes a Mahatman. Chelaship is the training whereby the man awakens within himself the faculties that make this At-One-ment an accomplished fact. If it were not that these greater feats have been accomplished, Chelaship would be possible in neither the East nor the West.
So it is wholly right that we should have longings and perhaps a kind of nostalgia when we consider the matter of Chelaship. A great deal of common sense must be used in respect to our own thoughts and feelings on the subject. There is a fine line of demarcation between modesty on the one hand, and a recognition of our spiritual assets on the other, for we must know our strength and have confidence in our ability to grow. We have no right to ignore our higher possibilities, for the need is as great today as it ever was, and no matter how small our beginnings, there is a task to fit everyone's strength.
At present it is not of the least importance that we should see the Mahatmans, but it is of vital importance that we should be doing their work. The rest will take care of itself.
"... he who would profit by the wisdom of the universal mind, has to reach it through the whole of humanity without distinction of race, complexion, religion or social status. It is altruism, not ego-ism even in its most legal and noble conception, that can lead the unit to merge its little Self in the Universal Selves. It is to these needs and to this work that the true disciple of true Occultism has to devote himself, if he would obtain theo-sophy, divine Wisdom and Knowledge.
"... We are in the Kali Yuga and its fatal influence is a thousand-fold more powerful in the West than it is in the East; hence the easy preys made by the Powers of the Age of Darkness in this cyclic struggle, and the many delusions under which the world is now laboring. One of these is the relative facility with which men fancy they can get at the 'Gate' and cross the threshold of Occultism without any great sacrifice. It is the dream of most Theosophists, one inspired by desire for Power and personal selfishness, and it is not such feelings that can ever lead them to the coveted goal. ..." - H.P. Blavatsky, 'Occultism versus the Occult Arts,' Lucifer, Vol. II, May, 1888. 
... that Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), whose centenary is being celebrated this year, became a member of the Theosophical Society in 1878, and held in very high esteem the Founders of the Movement and their objectives.
... that Mohandas Karamchand Ghandi, according to his own testimony (See Mahatma Gandhi, His Own Story, edited by C. F. Andrews, Macmillan Co., 1930, pp. 90-92), was induced to read for the first time his own native and priceless Bhagavad-Gita by two Theosophists in England, who later introduced him to H.P. Blavatsky and to Annie Besant who had just then joined the T.S. He also read The Key to Theosophy. All of this meant a turning point in his life.
... that Major General Abner W. Doubleday (1819-1893), of Gettysburg fame, also a distinguished inventor and the founder of baseball, identified himself at a very early date with the Theosophical Society, and was appointed "President ad interim" of same, when Col. Henry Steel Olcott and Madam H.P. Blavatsky left New York for India, in 1878.
... that one of the very few reviews of H. P. Blavatsky's works appearing in Russian literary journals, namely, a review of The Key to Theosophy, was written by one of the greatest philosophers born on Russian soil, unfortunately but little known abroad, Vladimir S. Solovioff (See Russkoye Obozreniye - Russian Review - Vol. iv, August, 1890, pp. 881-886), a Platonist and mystic whose insight into Buddhist thought established a powerful link between him and the objectives of the Theosophical Movement.
... that the so-called co-axial telephone cable, now being laid across the United States, was conceived by one of our most active and able Theosophists, the late Major Hubert S. Turner, inventor and lecturer, who used in connection with this invention one of the key-passages in H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine (such as Vol. I, pp. 129 et seq.), regarding the "Ring Pass-Not," and applied its Profound Occult idea to the world of physical forces. As above, so below, truly!
... that the United States Department of the Interior, Office of Education, Washington, D. C., has issued some time ago a three-page leaflet entitled "Did Atlantis Exist?", enumerating a number of interesting points in confirmation of the probable existence of this lost continent, some of which points are a vindication of certain passages in the writings of H.P. Blavatsky.
... that the Masters knew exactly when the hour of India's freedom will strike. In a letter to A. P. Sinnett (The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A.P. Sinnett, p. 206), H.P.B. writes: "... Master says that the hour for the retirement of you English has not Struck nor will it - till next century and that 'late enough to see even Dennie an old, old man' as K.H. said some time ago ..." Dennie was A. P. Sinnett's son, born in 1868; he would have been 79 had he lived till 1947. To the vision of an adept much of what we miscall the "future" lies in full view as an open book. 
We gratefully acknowledge the receipt of the current issues of the following magazines and journals: The Theosophist (Adyar, India), Brahmavidya (Adyar), El Teosofo Sudamericano (Montevideo, Uruguay), O Teosofista (Sao Paulo, Brazil), The Canadian Theosophist (Toronto, Canada), Theosophia (Aarhus, Denmark), Theosophical News and Notes (London, England), The Indian Theosophist (Benares, India), Theosophy in Ireland (Dublin, Ireland), Boletin Mexicana and Dharma (Mexico), Amanecer (San Pedro de los Pinos, Mexico), De Theosophische Beweging (Amsterdam, Holland), The American Theosophist (Wheaton, Ill.), Davenir (Montevideo, Uruguay), The Theosophical Movement (Bombay, India), Theosophy (Los Angeles, Calif.), Het Theosofisch Forum (Rotterdam, Holland), Teosofiskt Forum (Stockholm, Sweden), The Golden Lotus (Philadelphia, Pa.), The New Age Interpreter (Los Angeles, Calif.), Free Mind (Portland, Ore.), Divine Life and Biosophia (Mexico), The Quarter Hour (Los Angeles, Calif.), Eirenicon (Hyde, England), The Rosicrucian Magazine (Oceanside, Calif.), Ludziom Dobrej Woli (South Bend, Ind.), Bolletino Mensile (Savona, Italy), Teosofisk Tidskrift (Stockholm, Sweden).
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