[Cover photo: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - Picture taken in London, in 1884, by Mrs. Laura Langford Holloway.]
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War, and preparation for war, and thought towards war: these are a confession of weakness. To maintain peace is a proof and manifestation of strength. I would not dare criticize the patriotism of any honest man, or reflect in any way on those who do what they think is their duty; but a man's foes are they of his household; and so it is with a nation. Our enemies are not outside, but within: in our own national mind and customs, our national aggressions and fallings short.
We distrust our neighbors because we distrust ourselves. I do not mean in this or that nation alone, but all over the world. We might all of us talk less about being proud of our countries, and work more for the spiritual advancement and regeneration.
It is universal ideals that the world is aching for today. We need to understand as never before that our responsibilities are not for ourselves alone, not for our own countries alone; but for the whole human family. Territory and trade may be much; national honor may be much; but the general salvation of human society here in the world - that is ALL.
The most vital need of every people on earth is permanent peace; and to get permanent peace we must create and sustain an international spirit of World-Patriotism - which will come as the result of recognition that what affects one nation, affects all; that as far as one ascends towards the peaks of knowledge and well-being, so far all others will follow; as deep as one may fall away from its ideals and into national selfishness, to that depth, or lower, in the nature of things the others will be dragged down too: that each nation must partake of the good and bad karma of all. - Katherine Tingley in The Gods Await, pp. 39-4. 
In these times of general anxiety, wide-spread confusion and bewilderment, many thoughtful people ask the question: what explanation has the Ancient Wisdom to offer with regard to the perplexing pattern of things in the present world, and the strange behavior of certain portions of the human race?
It should be stated at the very outset that no one explanation will ever suffice to cover the entire complex problem as we see it. Innumerable closely inter-related factors are at play at any one time in the world's picture, and their explanation lies in the understanding of the causes which bring them about. The Ancient Wisdom has no cut-and-dried explanation in store for those who are seeking an easy solution to problems that are complexity itself.
But there is one factor which plays a very prominent part in what might be called the dynamics of the Ancient Wisdom, and which has not received, as far as we know, sufficient attention on the part of the students. It is a factor which goes a long way towards explaining certain aspects of the overall world-pattern, and provides a clue to many strange events taking place around us.
This factor has to do with the cyclic return of ideas and impressions. This occult law has been pointed out very clearly by William Quan Judge, in a paper read by him before the Sixth Annual Convention of American Theosophists, in 1892. To quote from his address:
"... If you look at one of these electric lights - take away all the rest, leaving one only, so as to have a better impression - you will find the light makes an image on the retina, and when you shut your eyes, this bright filament of light made by a carbon in an incandescent lamp will be seen by you in your eye. You can try it, and see for yourselves. If you keep your eye closed and watch intently, you will see the image come back a certain number of counts, it will stay a certain number of counts, it will go away in the same length of time and come back again, always changing in some respect but always the image of the filament, until at last the time comes when it disappears apparently because other impressions have rubbed it out or covered it over.
"That means that there is a return even in the retina of the impression of this filament. After the first time, the color changes each time, and so it keeps coming back at regular intervals, showing that there is a cyclic return of impression in the retina, and if that applies in one place, it applies in every place. And when we look into our moral character we find the same thing, for as we have the tides in the ocean, explained as they say by the moon - which in my opinion does not explain it, but of course, being no scientist, my view is not worth much - so in man we have tides, which are called return of these impressions; that is to say, you do a thing once, there will be a tendency to repeat itself; you do it twice, and it doubles its influence, a greater tendency to do that same thing again. And so on all through our character shows this constant return of cyclic impressions."
The same law applies on the collective scale of humanity, or any other larger or smaller scale that you may choose for consideration. Impressions once registered by groups of individuals, if allowed to run their course, will recur almost inevitably sooner or later. These impressions will not recur, however, with perfect identity, but in a somewhat altered manner, and with possible variations on the main theme. The time of their recurrence will coincide with the era or epoch in which the  egos who produced these particular impressions collectively, are re-embodied together for new experience upon this globe. They bring these impressions with them, though this is not the only factor involved in this occult law.
This return of impressions is a function of Nature which should not be misunderstood as implying a tread-mill repetition of circumstances over which we have no control. That would be a very hopeless theory, full of potential despair and frustration. The return of impressions finds us, as egos, greatly altered. Our reactions are different from those we had in the past. Our understanding has changed. Our karmic stage-setting has altered. And the alteration, however small, applies also to other kingdoms of life surrounding us. Everything has altered, because everything changes all the time, however insignificant that change may be in a relatively short period of time.
But in spite of altered conditions and patterns of behavior, we are strongly affected by this return of impressions which, as such, have an intimate psycho-magnetic connection with our own characters, and the very fabric of our being. We are apt, as individuals and as collective groups, to fall under their spell and to allow ourselves to repeat actions, thoughts, emotions and attitudes which the very fact of the return of impressions suggests. The great majority of people do fall under this spell and allow themselves to perpetrate actions and indulge in types of thinking which they find floating around them, as it were, in the very ambient of the astro-mental atmosphere they breathe. Thus follows a type of behavior which repeats actions indulged in long ago. It is only those human beings who begin to understand the inner workings of occult laws, who are enabled thereby to apply their awakening will to this complex problem, and to initiate new and more constructive thoughts and actions at a time when old ones have a tendency to assert themselves. They thereby become self-conscious creators of nobler impressions and more constructive ideas.
There is nothing that is inevitable. This includes wars and conflicts of any kind. These negative patterns of thinking are the return of old impressions from other lives, as well as from the life-patterns of other men with whom we are connected hereditarily (the last word on physical heredity has never yet been said by advanced occultists who know!). They cannot be entirely avoided and completely set aside by the present type of humanity, but they can be greatly altered, mitigated in their pernicious influence, and changed to a very marked degree, by means of collective effort on the part of other types of people, whose thoughts and actions are directed consciously and deliberately towards producing impressions of a far nobler kind. These will also return and be strengthened through repetition. What applies on the negative side of being, applies equally well on the positive, for there is but one Law running through the pattern of Nature. That Law is primarily one of cyclic repetitive action, of action and re-action, of ebb and flow, of motion forward and recoil, of in-breathing and out-breathing, on all and every scale of being, cosmic and microcosmic.
From a careful consideration of this occult law of return of impressions, the student can gather an understanding of the practical steps to be taken for the overcoming of habits which he desires to outgrow. The problem is that of substitution of one type of thoughts for another, of one set of impressions for another. Habits are cyclic in nature, and re-assert themselves periodically, as everything else does. Moods, mental attitudes, psychological reactions, physical propensities, intellectual and other interests or inclinations - all of these come and go, manifest themselves and recede for a time, only to manifest once more with a certain amount of impelling force, driving us to action along one or another line. Some of them, if indulged in repeatedly, grow stronger, others are gradually discouraged and  die out. To let a habit "die out" is decidedly not the occult approach to the solution of this problem.
The dynamics of the process by which a habit can be overcome is to substitute by a definite effort of the will the diametrically opposite trend of ideas or feelings to those which it is desired to eradicate, and to do so at the precise time when the habit asserts itself the strongest. It is a method which may first appear futile to the beginner. Perseverance, however, will show that when the habit under consideration asserts itself again, the opposite trend of thoughts tends to repeat itself also, and a certain struggle between the two takes place. It is a beneficent and constructive struggle between two parts of our consciousness.
By strengthening the trend of ideas, feelings, and actions which we desire to cultivate and make "habitual" in our nature, and by doing so particularly at such times when we are conscious of the return of habitual patterns of thinking and feeling which we desire to overcome, we deliberately give birth to cycles of a higher nature and release energies from within ourselves which in due course of time substitute themselves, almost automatically, for the psychological patterns of the older type, and finally displace them altogether.
In this way we can become truly active in self-directed evolution and inner unfoldment. However small may be our individual achievement at first, it is bound to have a wider effect, both upon other aspects of our consciousness and upon other people we come in contact with, because everything in Nature is bound by inseparable ties.
Our present-day war-like propensities, our habits of thought and feeling which drive us to violent conflicts with each other, whether physical or psychological, are deposits of old and inveterate patterns of behavior which we have built into our characters, and which we find it extremely hard to overcome. But they can be overcome. The way to do is to stop extolling wars as heroic and necessary, and to educate people into a growing understanding of the obvious fact that they are but wasteful, stupid, sub-human, and utterly absurd habits which solve no problems and only create new ones, which produce no constructive results under any circumstances whatsoever, and leave no victors on either side. Above all else, perhaps, it should be conceded that warlike behavior is the most unscientific way of life imaginable, in an age when science, research, travel, commerce and common sense have demonstrated beyond the shadow of a doubt that the world we live in is One World, and Humanity but one great family.
The day is inevitably approaching when the awakening consciousness of people all over the earth will demand a permanent cessation of the old disruptive methods of collective behavior which have plagued civilization for so many centuries. No political methods, no economic pressures, and none of the existing ideologies can do that successfully. To bring it about, there is need of a spiritual awakening, a change of thought-patterns, a revolution wholly internal and psychological, whereby mankind collectively renounces once and for ever methods of thinking and acting which can lead to nothing short of racial suicide. When once the human race, through its noblest representatives the world over - banded together by ties of brotherhood and spiritual understanding - renounces coercion and force as an adequate means of progress, and substitutes for these co-operation, arbitration and mutual sacrifice for the good of the Whole, wars and violent conflicts will have become a nightmare of the past, and the highway to a brighter future will stretch unimpeded and free before us. 
The following two letters contain ideas and suggestions of very grave import to students of Theosophy, particularly on this continent. We commend them to the most earnest consideration of our readers and trust they will give to them the close attention which they deserve. They are of special significance, we feel, at the present disturbed and uncertain time in human affairs.
The first letter is addressed to the Second Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society, American Section, held at Chicago, Ill., April 22nd and 23rd, 1888. The second one was sent to the Fifth Annual Convention of the same body, held at Boston, Mass., April 26th and 27th, 1891. It is followed by an additional message written but three weeks prior to the passing of H.P. Blavatsky.
These and other letters from H.P. Blavatsky were originally published in the Report of Proceedings of the respective Conventions to which they were addressed. - Editor.
TO WILLIAM Q. JUDGE,
MY DEAREST BROTHER AND CO-FOUNDER OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY:
In addressing to you this letter, which I request you to read to the Convention summoned for April 22nd, I must first present my hearty congratulations and most cordial good wishes to the assembled Delegates and good Fellows of our Society, and to yourself - the heart and soul of that Body in America. We were several, to call it to life in 1875. Since then you have remained alone to preserve that life through good and evil report. It is to you chiefly, if not entirely, that the Theosophical Society owes its existence in 1888. Let me then thank you for it, for the first, and perhaps for the last, time publicly, and from the bottom of my heart, which beats only for the cause you represent so well and serve so faithfully. I ask you also to remember that, on this important occasion, my voice is but the feeble echo of other more sacred voices, and the transmitter of the approval of Those whose presence is alive in more than one true Theosophical heart, and lives, as I know, pre-eminently in yours. May the assembled Society feel the warm greeting as earnestly as it is given, and may every Fellow present, who realizes that he has deserved it, profit by the Blessings sent.
Theosophy has lately taken a new start in America which marks the commencement of a new Cycle in the affairs of the Society in the West. And the policy you are now following is admirably adapted to give scope for the widest expansion of the movement, and to establish on a firm basis an organization which, while promoting feelings of fraternal sympathy, social unity, and solidarity, will leave ample room for individual freedom and exertion in the common cause - that of helping mankind.
The multiplication of local centres should be a foremost consideration in your minds, and each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus will be formed, round which other people will gather, forming a centre from which information and spiritual influence radiate, and towards which higher influences are directed.
But let no man set up a popery instead of Theosophy, as this would be suicidal and has ever ended most fatally. We are all fellow-students, more or less advanced; but no one belonging to the Theosophical Society ought to count himself as more than, at best, a pupil-teacher - one who has no right to dogmatize.
Since the Society was founded, a distinct change has come over the spirit of the age. Those who gave Its commission to found the Society foresaw this, now  rapidly growing, wave of transcendental influence following that other wave of mere phenomenalism. Even the journals of Spiritualism are gradually eliminating the phenomena and wonders, to replace them with philosophy. The Theosophical ideas have entered into every development or form which awakening spirituality has assumed, yet Theosophy pure and simple has still a severe battle to fight for recognition. The days of old are gone to return no more, and many are the Theosophists who, taught by bitter experience, have pledged themselves to make of the Society a "miracle club" no longer. The faint-hearted have asked in all ages for signs and wonders, and when these failed to be granted, they refused to believe. Such are not those who will ever comprehend Theosophy pure and simple. But there are others among us who realize intuitionally that the recognition of pure Theosophy - the philosophy of the rational explanation of things and not the tenets - is of the most vital importance in the Society, inasmuch as it alone can furnish the beacon-light needed to guide humanity on its true path.
This should never be forgotten, nor should the following fact be overlooked. On the day when Theosophy will have accomplished its most holy and most important mission - namely, to unite firmly a body of men of all nations in brotherly love and bent on a pure altruistic work, not on a labour with selfish motives - on that day only will Theosophy become higher than any nominal brotherhood of man. This will be a wonder and a miracle truly, for the realization of which Humanity is vainly waiting for the last 18 centuries, and which every association has hitherto failed to accomplish.
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
According as people are prepared to receive it, so will new Theosophical teaching be given. But no more will be given than the world on its present level of spirituality, can profit by. It depends on the spread of Theosophy - the assimilation of what has been already given - how much more will be revealed, and how soon.
It must be remembered that the Society was not founded as a nursery for forcing a supply of Occultists - as a factory for the manufactory of Adepts. It was intended to stem the current of materialism, and also that of spiritualistic phenomenalism and the worship of the Dead. It had to guide the spiritual awakening that has now begun, and not to pander to psychic cravings which are but another form of materialism. For by "materialism" is meant not only an antiphilosophical negation of pure spirit, and, even more, materialism in conduct and action - brutality, hypocrisy, and, above all, selfishness, - but also the fruits of a disbelief in all but material things, a disbelief which has increased enormously during the last century, and which has led many, after a denial of all existence other than that in matter, into a blind belief in the materialization of Spirit.
The tendency of modern civilization is a reaction towards animalism, towards a development of those qualities which conduce to the success in life of man as an animal in the struggle for animal existence. Theosophy seeks to develop the human nature in man in addition to the animal, and at the sacrifice of the superfluous animality which modern life and materialistic teachings have developed to a degree which is abnormal for the human being at this stage of his progress. 
Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of the Society are Theosophists without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him. Kindness, absence of every ill feeling or selfishness, charity, good-will to all beings, and perfect justice to others as to one's self, are its chief features. He who teaches Theosophy preaches the gospel of good-will; and the converse of this is true also, - he who preaches the gospel of good-will, teaches Theosophy.
This aspect of Theosophy has never failed to receive due and full recognition in the pages of the "PATH," a journal of which the American Section has good reason to be proud. It is a teacher and a power; and the fact that such a periodical should be produced and supported in the United States speaks in eloquent praise both of its Editor and its readers.
America is also to be congratulated on the increase in the number of the Branches or Lodges which is now taking place. It is a sign that in things spiritual as well as things temporal the great American Republic is well fitted for independence and self-organization. The Founders of the Society wish every Section, as soon as it becomes strong enough to govern itself, to be as independent as is compatible with its allegiance to the Society as a whole and to the Great Ideal Brotherhood, the lowest formal grade of which is represented by the Theosophical Society.
Here in England Theosophy is waking into new life. The slanders and absurd inventions of the Society for Psychical Research have almost paralyzed it, though only for a very short time, and the example of America has stirred the English Theosophists into renewed activity. "Lucifer" sounded the reveille, and the first fruit has been the founding of the "Theosophical Publication Society." This Society is of great importance. It has undertaken the very necessary work of breaking down the barrier of prejudice and ignorance which has formed so great an impediment to the spread of Theosophy. It will act as a recruiting agency for the Society by the wide distribution of elementary literature on the subject, among those who are in any way prepared to give ear to it. The correspondence already received shows that it is creating an interest in the subject, and proves that in every large town in England there exist quite enough isolated Theosophists to form groups or Lodges under charter from the Society. But, at present, these students do not even know of each other's existence, and many of them have never heard of the Theosophical Society until now. I am thoroughly satisfied of the great utility of this new Society, composed as it is to a large extent of members of the Theosophical Society, and being under the control of prominent Theosophists, such as you, my dear Brother W.Q. Judge, Mabel Collins and the Countess Wachtmeister.
I am confident that, when the real nature of Theosophy is understood, the prejudice against it, now so unfortunately prevalent, will die out. Theosophists are of necessity the friends of all movements in the world, whether intellectual or simply practical, for the amelioration of the conditions of mankind. We are the friends of all those who fight against drunkenness, against cruelty to animals, against injustice to women, against corruption in society or in government, although we do not meddle in politics. We are the friends of those who exercise practical charity, who seek to lift a little of the tremendous weight of misery that is crushing down the poor. But, in our quality of Theosophists, we cannot engage in any one of these great works in particular. As individuals we may do so, but as Theosophists we have a larger, more important, and much more difficult work to do. People say that Theosophists should show what is to them, that "the tree is known by its fruit." Let them build dwellings for the poor, it is said, let  them open "soup-kitchens" etc. etc., and the world will believe that there is something in Theosophy. These good people forget that Theosophists, as such, are poor, and that the Founders themselves are poorer than any, and that one of them, at any rate, the humble writer of these lines, has no property of her own, and has to work hard for her daily bread whenever she finds time from her Theosophical duties. The function of Theosophists is to open men's hearts and understandings to charity, justice, and generosity, attributes which belong specifically to the human kingdom and are natural to man when he has developed the qualities of a human being. Theosophy teaches the animal-man to be a human-man; and when people have learnt to think and feel as truly human beings should feel and think, they will act humanely, and works of charity, justice, and generosity will be done spontaneously by all.
Now with regard to the Secret Doctrine, the publication of which some of you urged so kindly upon me, and in such cordial terms, a while ago. I am very grateful for the hearty support promised and for the manner in which it was expressed. The MSS. of the first three volumes is now ready for the press; and its publication is only delayed by the difficulty which is experienced in finding the necessary funds. Though I have not written it with an eye to money, yet, having left Adyar, I must live and pay my way in the world so long as I remain in it. Moreover, the Theosophical Society urgently needs money for many purposes, and I feel that I should not be justified in dealing with the Secret Doctrine as I dealt with Isis Unveiled. From my former work I have received personally in all only a few hundred dollars, although nine editions have been issued. Under these circumstances I am endeavouring to find means of securing the publication of the Secret Doctrine on better terms this time, and here I am offered next to nothing. So, my dearest Brothers and Co-workers in the trans-Atlantic lands, you must forgive the delay, and not blame me for it but the unfortunate conditions I am surrounded with.
I should like to revisit America, and shall perhaps do so one day, should my health permit. I have received pressing invitations to take up my abode in your great country which I love so much for its noble freedom. Colonel Olcott, too, urges upon me very strongly to return to India, where he is fighting almost single-handed the great and hard fight in the cause of Truth; but I feel that, for the present, my duty lies in England and with the Western Theosophists, where for the moment the hardest fight against prejudice and ignorance has to be fought. But whether I be in England or in India, a large part of my heart and much of my hope for Theosophy lie with you in the United States, where the Theosophical Society was founded, and of which country I myself am proud of being a citizen. But you must remember that, although there must be local Branches of the Theosophical Society, there can be no local Theosophists; and just as you all belong to the Society, so do I belong to you all.
I shall leave my dear Friend and Colleague, Col. Olcott, to tell you all about the condition of affairs in India, where everything looks favorable, as I am informed, for I have no doubt that he also will have sent his good wishes and congratulations to your Convention.
Meanwhile, my far-away and dear Brother, accept the warmest and sincerest wishes for the welfare of your Societies and of yourself personally, and, while conveying to all your colleagues the expression of my fraternal regards, assure them that, at the moment when you will be reading to them the present lines, I shall - if alive - be in Spirit, Soul, and Thought amidst you all.
Yours ever, in the truth of the GREAT CAUSE we are all working for,
TO THE BOSTON CONVENTION, T.S., 1891.
For the third time since my return to Europe in 1885, I am able to send to my brethren in Theosophy and fellow citizens of the United States a delegate from England to attend the annual Theosophical Convention and speak by word of mouth my greeting and warm congratulations. Suffering in body as I am continually, the only consolation that remains to me is to hear of the progress of the Holy Cause to which my health and strength have been given; but to which, now that these are going, I can offer only my passionate devotion and never-weakening good wishes for its success and welfare. The news therefore that comes from America, mail after mail, telling of new Branches and of well-considered and patiently worked out plans for the advancement of Theosophy cheers and gladdens me with its evidence of growth, more than words can tell. Fellow Theosophists, I am proud of your noble work in the New World; Sisters and Brothers of America, I thank and bless you for your unremitting labors for the common cause so dear to us all.
Let me remind you all once more that such work is now more than ever needed. The period which we have now reached in the cycle that will close between 1897-8 is, and will continue to be, one of great conflict and continued strain. If the T.S. can hold through it, good; if not, while Theosophy will remain unscathed, the Society will perish - perchance most ingloriously - and the World will suffer. I fervently hope that I may not see such a disaster in my present body. The critical nature of the stage on which we have entered is as well known to the forces that fight against us as to those that fight on our side. No opportunity will be lost of sowing dissension, of taking advantage of mistaken and false moves, of instilling doubt, of augmenting difficulties, of breathing suspicions, so that by any and every means the unity of the Society may be broken and the ranks of our Fellows thinned and thrown into disarray. Never has it been more necessary for the members of the T.S. to lay to heart the old parable of the bundle of sticks than it is at the present time; divided, they will inevitably be broken, one by one; united, there is no force on earth able to destroy our Brotherhood. Now I have marked with pain a tendency among you, as among the Theosophists in Europe and India, to quarrel over trifles, and to allow your very devotion to the cause of Theosophy to lead you into disunion. Believe me, that apart from such natural tendency, owing to the inherent imperfections of Human Nature, advantage is often taken by our ever-watchful enemies of your noblest qualities to betray and to mislead you. Sceptics will laugh at this statement, and even some of you may put small faith in the actual existence of the terrible forces of these mental, hence subjective and invisible, yet withal living and potent, influences around all of us. But there they are, and I know of more than one among you who have felt them, and have actually been forced to acknowledge these extraneous mental pressures. On those of you who are unselfishly and sincerely devoted to the Cause, they will produce little, if any, impression. On some others, those who place their personal pride higher than their duty to the T.S., higher even than their pledge to their divine SELF, the effect is generally disastrous. Self-watchfulness is never more necessary than when a personal wish to lead, and wounded vanity, dress themselves in the peacock's feathers of devotion and altruistic work; but at the present crisis of the Society a lack of self-control and watchfulness may become fatal in every case. But these diabolical attempts of our powerful enemies - the irreconcilable foes of the truths now being given out and practically asserted - may be frustrated. If every Fellow in the Society were content to be an impersonal force for good, careless of praise or blame so long as he subserved the purposes of the Brotherhood, the progress made would astonish the World and place the Ark of the T.S. out of danger. Take for your motto in conduct during the coming year, "Peace  with all who love Truth in sincerity," and the Convention of 1892 will bear eloquent witness to the strength that is born of unity.
Your position as the fore-runners of the sixth sub-race of the fifth root-race has its own special perils as well as its special advantages. Psychism, with all its allurements and all its dangers, is necessarily developing among you, and you must beware lest the Psychic outruns the Manasic and Spiritual development. Psychic capacities held perfectly under control, checked and directed by the Manasic principle, are valuable aids in development. But these capacities running riot, controlling instead of controlled, using instead of being used, lead the Student into the most dangerous delusions and the certainty of moral destruction. Watch therefore carefully this development, inevitable in your race and evolution-period, so that it may finally work for good and not for evil; and receive, in advance, the sincere and potent blessings of Those whose goodwill will never fail you, if you do not fail yourselves.
Here in England I am glad to be able to report to you that steady and rapid progress is being made. Annie Besant will give you details of our work, and will tell you of the growing strength and influence of our Society; the reports which she bears from the European and British Sections speak for themselves in their record of activities. The English character, difficult to reach, but solid and tenacious when once aroused, adds to our Society a valuable factor, and there are being laid in England strong and firm foundations for the T.S. of the twentieth century. Here, as with you, attempts are being successfully made to bring to bear the influence of Hindu on English thought, and many of our Hindu brethren are now writing for Lucifer short and clear papers on Indian philosophies. As it is one of the tasks of the T.S. to draw together the East and the West, so that each may supply the qualities lacking in the other and develop more fraternal feelings among nations so various, this literary intercourse will, I hope, prove of the utmost service in Aryanising Western thought.
The mention of Lucifer reminds me that the now assured position of that magazine is very largely due to the help rendered at a critical moment by the American Fellows. As my one absolutely unfettered medium of communication with Theosophists all over the World, its continuance was of grave importance to the whole Society. In its pages, month by month, I give such public teaching as is possible on Theosophical doctrines, and so carry on the most important of our Theosophical work. The magazine now just covers its expenses, and if Lodges and individual Fellows would help in increasing its circulation, it would become more widely useful than it is at the present time. Therefore, while thanking from the bottom of my heart all those who so generously helped to place the magazine on a solid foundation, I should be glad to see a larger increase in the number of regular subscribers, for I regard these as my pupils, among whom I shall find some who will show the capacity for receiving further instruction.
And now I have said all. I am not sufficiently strong to write a more lengthy message, and there is the less need for me to do so as my friend and trusted messenger Annie Besant, she who is my right arm here, will be able to explain to you my wishes more fully and better than I can write them. After all, every wish and thought I can utter are summed up in this one sentence, the never-dormant wish of my heart, "Be Theosophists, work for Theosophy!" Theosophy first, and Theosophy last; for its practical realization alone can save the Western world from that selfish and unbrotherly feeling that now divides race from race, one nation from another; and from that hatred of class and social considerations that are the curse and disgrace of so-called Christian peoples. Theosophy alone can save it from sinking entirely into that more luxurious materialism in which it will decay and putrefy as civilizations have done. In your hands,  brothers, is placed in trust the welfare of the coming century; and great as is the trust, so great is also the responsibility. My own span of life may not be long, and if any of you have learned aught from my teachings, or have gained by my help a glimpse of the True Light, I ask you, in return, to strengthen the Cause by the triumph of which that True Light, made still brighter and more glorious through your individual and collective efforts, will lighten the World, and thus to let me see, before I part with this worn-out body, the stability of the Society secured.
May the blessings of the past and present great Teachers rest upon you. From myself accept collectively the assurance of my true, never-wavering fraternal feelings, and the sincere, heartfelt thanks for the work done by all the workers.
From their servant to the last,
[Additional message read at the same session of the Fifth Annual Convention,
at the conclusion of the preceding letter.]
TO THE FIFTH CONVENTION OF THE AMERICAN SECTION OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY.
I have purposely omitted any mention of my oldest friend and fellow-worker, W.Q. Judge, in my general address to you, because I think that his unflagging and self-sacrificing efforts for the building up of Theosophy in America deserve special mention.
Had it not been for W.Q. Judge, Theosophy would not be where it is today in the United States. It is he who has mainly built up the movement among you, and he who has proved in a thousand ways his entire loyalty to the best interests of Theosophy and the Society.
Mutual admiration should play no part in a Theosophical Convention, but honour should be given where honour is due, and I gladly take this opportunity of stating in public, by the mouth of my friend and colleague, Annie Besant, my
deep appreciation of the work of your General Secretary, and of publicly tendering him my most sincere thanks and deeply-felt gratitude, in the name of Theosophy, for the noble work he is doing and has done.
[This excerpt from the writings of Count Lev Nikolayevich Tolstoy is to be found in Section vi of his essay on Christianity and Patriotism, written in the year 1894. The text is translated from the original Russian. - Editor.]
... The bells will peal, the drums will sound, the priests will begin to pray for successful slaughter - and the old, well-known and terrible story will begin all over again. The editors of the daily press will start virulently to stir up men to hatred and manslaughter in the name of patriotism, happy in the thought of an increased income. Manufacturers, merchants, contractors of military supplies, will hurry joyously about their business, expecting double profits. All sorts of government officials will be buzzing about, foreseeing a chance of purloining more than they usually do.
Military authorities will bestir themselves mightily, drawing double pay and rations, full of expectation of receiving for the killing of people all kinds of meaningless trifles which they so highly prize - ribbons, crosses, galloons and stars. Idle ladies and gentlemen will make a great fuss, enlisting in advance in the Red Cross Organizations, preparing themselves to dress the wounds of those whom their own husbands and brothers will mutilate; and they will imagine that in so doing they are performing a most Christian work.
And smothering despair within their souls by songs, debauches and liquor, hundreds of thousands of simple-minded, good-natured people, torn away from peaceful labor, from their wives, mothers and children, will march, with weapons of murder in their hands, anywhere they may be driven. They will march to freeze, to starve, to be sick, or to die from disease, and finally they will arrive at the place where they will be killed by the thousands, or kill other thousands themselves, and with no reason whatsoever - men they have never seen before and with whom they have no quarrel.
And when the number of sick, wounded and killed becomes so great that there are not hands enough left to pick them up, and when the air will have become so infected by the putrefying smell of this cannon-fodder, that even the authorities find it disagreeable, a truce will be arranged, they will somehow manage to pick up the wounded, the sick will be brought in and huddled together in heaps, the killed will be covered with earth and lime - and once more the herd of deluded men will be led on and on, till those who have devised this project weary of it for a time, or till those who thought to find it profitable, receive their spoil.
And again will men become infuriated, brutalized, and bestialized, and love will wane in the world, and the incipient Christianization of humanity will be delayed for decades and centuries. And again will the people, who gain thereby, begin to say with assurance that, if there is a war, this means that it is necessary, and again they will begin to prepare the rising generations for it, by corrupting them - from childhood.
All that we are is the result of what we have thought; it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, suffering will follow him as the wheel follows the beast which draws the cart; but if he speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness will follow him as a shadow which he never leaves behind.
Hatred ceaseth not by hatred. Hatred ceaseth only by love. This is the everlasting law. - From the Dhammapada. 
Does not the Law of Karma imply the same restrictions as does the doctrine of Predestination?
Decidedly not. The universal operation of Nature known by the term of Karma (or Karman) should be looked upon as a continuous and ever-present drive or momentum on the part of universal forces and energies to re-adjust disturbed equilibrium. The disturbance of equilibrium throughout Nature is the result of misuse of free will, to a greater or lesser extent, and by evolving entities of greater or lesser degree of attainment. Therefore, what is termed karma is the result of free will. It might even be said that an act or thought or feeling of a very beneficent and spiritually-constructive kind "disturbs" the equilibrium, in that it sets into play certain forces which, while intended for the good of all, or a part, change polarities and the distribution of other forces in the surrounding Nature, and therefore bring upon the doer the accumulated result of his action; of course such result can be nothing else but good in quality and beneficent in its workings.
By Nature we should understand the truly inconceivable, and in reality infinite, hosts of evolving beings, both below and above the level of evolution upon which we stand today. Nature is not an abstraction, and should not be allowed to become one in the mind of the seeker. Every action, thought and feeling which we give expression to, evokes from the surrounding evolving entities, visible and invisible, one or another degree of response. They re-act to our outgoing energy and the sum total of such re-actions, when viewed from the highest and widest viewpoint we can possibly conceive, constitutes in its totality an ever-present force which tends at all times to re-establish a state of equilibrium wherever a temporary dislocation of it has taken place. It is an utterly impersonal function of what we term "Nature" for lack of a better term. It is a habit of Nature, and should not be regarded as a "law". The latter implies a "law-giver", and this would lead us straight into the old fallacy of a personal God.
Karma implies no restrictions of any kind except such as we have imposed upon ourselves by former action. If the idea of "predestination" is to be entertained at all in this connection, it would have to be used in the sense that you or I have predestined ourselves - as far as our present-day circumstances and traits are concerned - in former lives, and therefore have forged those chains which shackle us today. As there is no other being or abstract force which has conditioned us, or which has ordained that we behave in this, that, or another fashion, there can be no individuality, however far and high such might be conceived, who can be considered responsible for our lives. We ourselves are the responsible agents, and mould our own characters according to whether we wisely use or misuse our freedom of choice.
If we try to swim against the current of a river, we experience the full force of the current. If we buck a heavy wind, we feel resistance to motion. Similarly, if we "buck" the current of evolution by means of actions which are directed against the general flow of nature's forces spirit-ward, we experience resistance and feel the reaction upon us of those forces and currents which run smoothly with the overall trend of evolution. It is this resistance to our separative action which manifests itself as karma. It is a sufficient indication that our action is wrong, or that our attitude to life is inharmonious.
The idea of predestination on the part of so many people is simply a subconscious (or shall the say super-conscious?) feeling that there exists somewhere in the Universe a power which regulates things and ordains them. The idea in itself is not wholly wrong, as long as it is interpreted in terms of our own free will (from former lives) and of Nature's universal trend to maintain harmony and equilibrium at  all cost, and to re-establish them at the earliest possible moment, when they have been disturbed through unwise action on any plane and in any sphere whatsoever.
Could you recommend several introductory books on Theosophy? I have found "The Secret Doctrine" too deep and technical for my background of occult study.
To speak of H.P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine first. This work is not a textbook in the usually accepted meaning of this term. It is rather an encyclopedia of Occultism, a work of reference and of research. However, by collating together various passages in this monumental work, and by underlining certain others, and reading them in a special consecutive order, it is possible to make a textbook of a very advanced kind. Some very profound teachings are recorded therein, but they are purposely veiled at times and placed in the midst of other and collateral material, historical, mythological, etc., with the idea of testing the intuitions of the student. It is certainly a work which only very few people can understand without some preliminary study of Theosophy.
The following books are to be highly recommended for the beginner, although some of them are deeper than others; so-called "beginners" are of course individuals who by no means stand all of them on the same level, and what can be recommended to one as being "simple," often proves to be too deep for him. There are grades of understanding on all levels of approach and study. To enumerate a few of the simpler textbooks:
The Ocean of Theosophy, by William Quan Judge, gives a comprehensive view of the main teachings of Theosophy, couched in precise and careful language. Many aspects and phases of the teachings become apparent only upon second and more careful reading, and there is a great deal of additional meaning "between the lines."
The Ancient Wisdom, by Annie Besant, is a clearly written epitome of theosophical teachings intended as an introduction to the work of H.P. Blavatsky. It is one of the earlier and, in our judgment, one of the best works by this author.
From Atom to Kosmos, by L. Gordon Plummer, is a brief, succinct and logical outline of the Esoteric Philosophy, written with a great deal of originality and with a view to a scientific approach.
Man in Evolution, by G. de Purucker, is a work which correlates the age-old teachings of Theosophy with certain aspects of modern science, especially genetics and anthropology. It contains, however, certain passages which summarize fundamental propositions and tenets of the Ancient Wisdom with no direct relation to science, and these portions of the work are of basic value.
The Key to Theosophy, by H.P. Blavatsky, is a classical introduction to the Ancient Wisdom, written in the form of questions and answers. In certain portions it is very simple indeed, and most practical; in other portions, this work touches upon certain deeper teachings, and these passages require very careful thought on the part of the student.
For devotional reading and meditation, we recommend H.P. Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence; Mabel Collins' Light on the Path and Through the Gates of Gold; and G. de Purucker's Golden Precepts of Esotericism. 
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: Intern'l Hdqrts., Adyar, Madras, India. C. Jinarajadasa,
President. Off. Organ of the Pres.: The Theosophist.
THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY: Intern'l Hdqrts., Covina, Calif., U.S.A. Arthur
L. Conger, Leader. Off. Organ: The Theosophical Forum.
THE UNITED LODGE OF THEOSOPHISTS: selected list of centers -
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