THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume IX
No. 3 (51) - September-October 1952

[Cover photo: Redwoods of Northern California.]

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THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy for Humanity

Published every Two Months. Sponsored by an International Group of Theosophists.
Objectives: To disseminate the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. To uphold and promote the Original Principles of the modern Theosophical Movement, as set forth by H.P. Blavatsky and her Teachers. To challenge bigotry and superstition in every form. To foster mutual understanding and co-operation among all students of Theosophy, irrespective of their affiliation.
EDITOR: Boris de Zirkoff.

Subscription: $1.50 a year (six issues); single copy 25 cents. Send all subscriptions, renewals and correspondence to: 136 North Catalina Street, Los Angeles 4, California. Make checks payable to "Theosophia."

None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editors are responsible for unsigned articles only.

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A THOUGHT TO REMEMBER ...

"The maturity of a civilization is not imposed upon a people by its laws or legislators. It is released through the people as the result of growth or expansion of consciousness. Institutions cannot exist which are inconsistent with the convictions of the citizen. They may seem to survive for a time, but they are ultimately absorbed or reformed or redirected by public enlightenment. If, therefore, we are burdened with what many feel to be inadequate politics, it is because we have not yet actually experienced this inadequacy as a fact of consciousness. History reveals how people have liberated themselves from unendurable situations and how leaders have arisen as embodiments of collective resolutions. It was in this way that our nation came into being, and we remember with gratitude those men who had the courage and vision to advance the causes near to our hearts ...

"Whenever and wherever a growth of consciousness reveals a need, personalities emerge as champions of principles. Such emergence is itself inevitable and gives those of firm resolution the opportunity to align themselves according to their dedications. Thus it is important that the intelligent citizen give the weight of his influence to those motions which his internal consciousness tells him are according to the will of Nature and Nature's God. True devotion, true patriotism, and true citizenship are best expressed through those who champion progress under law as it is given that we understand that will ...

"Obedience to the divine purpose does not imply unquestioning acceptance of the unknown. We are not supposed to continue in a state of ineffectiveness on the assumption that human helplessness contributes to the divine glory. We have been endowed with faculties of observation and reflection in order that we may advance our own destiny. Superiors wish to be understood and not merely honored; in fact, true honor is not possible without true understanding. The situations in which man finds himself constitute a series of challenges. We must improve to meet the emergency or we are overwhelmed thereby. There is nothing to support the notion that we were fashioned simply in order to be overwhelmed." - Manly Palmer Hall in Horizon, Autumn 1952, pp. 5, 12. [3]

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WANTED: UNIVERSALITY
Boris de Zirkoff

The key-note of the Theosophical Movement is Universality.

From time immemorial, under all climes and civilizations, the same Movement has manifested itself under many and varied forms; and under all conditions and circumstances, its universal character has been the true touchstone of its worth.

Whenever and wherever personal adulation, worship of human exponents, and a rising sense of separateness from other people, have risen above the basic message and the fundamental precepts of the Movement, the clear stream of the Ancient Wisdom has been polluted by the emotional tendencies to sectarianism resulting in ultimate fanaticism and spiritual decay.

For the very nature of the universal Theosophical Movement is its utter impersonality, all-inclusiveness and oneness, like unto the light of the Sun which is essentially one with it.

The appearance and disappearance of personalities, however exalted, within the Movement itself, is like the rise and fall of individual waves upon the endless expanse of the World Ocean. They come and go, perform their appointed task, deliver themselves of their specific message, and vanish temporarily out of our limited sight, only to re-appear in due course of time for another cycle of activity. But the Movement as a whole neither depends upon their appearance, nor is it affected by their withdrawal, for its roots are in the Eternal, and its structure is nourished by that mystic sap which flows from the Mother Source of all Being, as long as the planet itself endures.

Ages come and ages go; civilizations are produced by the genius of man and vanish after a while into the realm of memories; great monuments are erected by noble builders, and are ground to dust by the relentless processes of Nature; waves of culture follow other waves upon the surface of the globe, and periods of moral decay and barrenness are succeeded by periods of brilliant achievement and knowledge. But the Theosophical Movement exists through all of these and adapts itself to the ever-changing forms assumed for the time-being by the constantly shifting stage-setting of human life.

It behooves therefore all students of this Ancient Wisdom to rise above attachments to the passing forms, and to outgrow the need of placing their trust in persons, institutions, or organizations, none of which can be anything more than a temporary mould to manifest a fraction of the infinite message, and to house but a ray or two of the ever-shining Sun.

It is possible to doubt the validity of certain figures in the history of the Theosophical Movement. It is possible to become utterly disappointed in individuals in whom the student may previously have had a very great trust. It is even conceivable that the Movement would harbor for a while personalities whose entire objective is deception under the illusory cloak of sanctity. But, once you are convinced, it is impossible to doubt the worth of the teachings, the integrity of the [4] ageless wisdom, or the over-all purpose and aim of that mystic power which has manifested itself from age to age from behind the scenes of the outer life. For by doubting them, you doubt your own being and the deepest necessities and yearnings of your own soul.

The realization of the relative insignificance of personalities within the Movement is not synonymous with ingratitude towards them. This in itself would be a very shallow deduction. Personalities are needed and cannot be avoided by men and women of the present era; no more so than channels and canals are needed to convey water or other fluids and forces. But the river-bed is not the invigorating stream it carries, and the electric wire is not electricity. Let us be grateful to certain persons who, acting as Teachers, Adjusters, and Guides, are showing us throughout the ages the direction where the Path can be found, and point out to us the pitfalls to be encountered on our journey. If they are genuine men and women, and not frauds, they will embody in their behavior and demeanor both modesty and self-effacement, both sympathy and understanding, both universality of outlook and all-inclusiveness. Through them will shine a Light which will be greater than themselves, and we will know that Light because their personal consciousness will be translucent enough to convey the effulgence of that Light without too much blurring. Our gratitude should be to that greater Self within them that is dedicated to the ideal of universal service, not to the personal and necessarily faulty humanhood by means of which they work.

The moment we catch ourselves identifying the Movement with any, one personality in it, we fall away from the Ideals of the Movement and drop down onto a lesser level of consciousness. The distinction between the Movement and its personal exponents is a distinction between a Force and the channel that conveys some of it to any given point. They are interrelated but not identical.

It is entirely consistent with the above, and merely a paradox (but not a contradiction), to say that Messenger and Message are essentially one, that Teacher and Teaching are one and the same thing. But it is necessary for us to understand that this identification has to do with the spiritual consciousness of the Teacher and not with the foibles and weaknesses of his or her personal selfhood. We should not forget the fact, often disregarded, that, while any one exponent of the Movement is but a small fraction of the Movement, as far as his or her personality goes, yet both this exponent and we ourselves are in a mystic sense the whole of the Movement, in those inner and unfathomed reaches of our inmost Spiritual Self wherein are hidden the limitless and infinite sources of Being, beyond the mere "person" within us. As a matter of sober truth, it would be utterly impossible for anyone of us ever to convey a living truth to another, or to lift his consciousness, or to vivify within him the indwelling seeds of spiritual life, if the Power of our own Inner Self did not touch for a moment the corresponding Power within that other. And if this is true, it follows that as we learn how to do this more and more efficiently, we become less and less personal in our actions, and [5] more and more universal in our outlook. It is therefore easy to see that in this progressive process of enlargement of our consciousness, we may reach some day a level of knowledge where even our personal selfhood will have become a mighty power for good, as it will be saturated more and more with the universal force streaming from within our own Inner God. Such must be the highly trained and purified personal aspect of the Adepts themselves.

In our work for human enlightenment and service, in our self-conscious activity in the outer world, for the purposes and objectives of the Theosophical Movement, we should develop a high sense of individual responsibility and become largely independent of other people's authority and directives. We must cease to be leaners, and learn to be leaders. A leader is not a boss, nor is he a dictator. In the true sense of this much-maligned word, a leader is a man who has a keen sense of the spiritual needs of others, of their deepest yearnings and noblest desires, and who "leads" these out of their latent condition into outward expression, and helps the aspirant to express in his or her life the hidden potencies of the Inner Self. Were he, the so-called "leader", to impose upon others the power of his own stronger will, he would succeed in having a thoughtless herd of followers and obedient slaves, but never a band of strong individuals whose inter-dependent lives are based on spiritual knowledge and the mutual recognition of their indwelling nobility. The Theosophical Movement is in constant need of men and women whose outlook is universal and whose sympathies include all Life.

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WHOLE-HEARTEDNESS
Henriette de Hoog

Doing something whole-heartedly, taking part in a "project," with others, or for others, whole-heartedly - does not mean taking a leave of absence from our head, mind and common sense.

If we do a thing with our heart only, then, yes, there is danger that we give ourselves entirely, even to something that we would not do if we were in our right senses. But, if we undertake a work, and there are parts of that work that we do not "see," or if there are people involved whom we "doubt," we can still put our heart into it, for the sake of that part of it that we are in full agreement with - having "faith," we might say, that what is not clear may reveal itself to us, and hoping that those whom we doubt will prove themselves.

A time may come when we cannot proceed, because what we thought was a straight road, proved to be a crooked path, covered with dreadsome things. If we had not put our whole heart in it, for what we thought it was, we would not have become aware of the dark path, but would have passively jogged along, not understanding, and what is worse, not caring.

But if our heart is in it, our heart will receive warnings - if they are needed. Our trust and faith need [6] cultivating at the same time. We have to learn to trust and give another "the benefit of the doubt" until it has been made clear to us that the trust was misplaced.

Then?

We may be engaged in a work that is greater than "people" and although we may have lost our "trust," our "faith" in certain people, the work itself has proven itself to us and our heart remains in it and we work for it whole-heartedly.

If we confuse our broken illusions in regard to the people we have "found out," with the importance of the work, then we will also deny the work. The Work is for Souls and "people" are a pale reflection of Souls. It can be that we are no longer able to carry on the work, because "people" block our usefulness, and, through importance of place, prevent us from carrying out our part according to our Light!

Then, we can either take a figurative ax and proceed on a campaign of destruction, or we can quietly go on, doing the work as well as we can, in whatever direction we find the way open to us. For if our doubts are true and those we trust are unworthy, the work will go on. But the body through which we served that work may be either destroyed through the unworthy ones themselves, or it may carry on for a long time, animated by the momentum of the vitality of Truth which flowed through it once.

If we give ourselves wholeheartedly, we become aware of what happens around us, and the discoveries or "revelations" of dark things may shock us for a while and perhaps halt our steps momentarily; but after another while we shake our heads, regain our equilibrium and go on.

If we work half-heartedly, we are discontented with everything that happens - good, bad or indifferent - and we then have no discrimination. But if we put all our heart into it, and our heart is true, then we shall learn to see things for what they are and our discrimination will be strengthened, and will enable us to find ways and means to re-build, or build anew. We shall not be stopped!

The whole heart is not separated from the head. It is the never-sleeping, never-resting One, who is forever trying to "come through" and "express" Itself.

If a Vow is taken, with reservations, the pitfalls we meet, as our tests and trials, will overwhelm us and we will turn against "those who have maliciously dug those pits to make us fail."

If a Vow is taken whole heartedly, the pitfalls, even if we fall and hurt ourselves, will be recognized as our tests and trials and we shall learn to pity "those who dug those pits to affect our failure" for, although they have to meet their reckoning for that digging, the pits were still our tests and trials. We don't have to destroy those who worked for our downfall. We just have to learn to be careful where we step, so that we will not fall down. [7]

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LITERARY JOTTINGS
ON CRITICISM, AUTHORITIES, AND OTHER MATTERS

By An Unpopular Philosopher
[Lucifer, Vol. XI, No. 61, September, 1892, pp. 9-11.]

Theosophists and editors of Theosophical periodicals are constantly warned, by the prudent and the faint-hearted, to beware of giving offence to "authorities," whether scientific or social. Public Opinion, they urge, is the most dangerous of all foes. Criticism of it is fatal, we are told. Criticism can hardly hope to make the person or subject so discussed amend or become amended. Yet it gives offence to the many, and makes Theosophists hateful. "Judge not, if thou wilt not be judged," is the habitual warning.

It is precisely because Theosophists would themselves be judged and court impartial criticism, that they begin by rendering that service to their fellow-men. Mutual criticism is a most healthy policy, and helps to establish final and definite rules in life - practical, not merely theoretical. We have had enough of theories. The Bible is full of wholesome advice, yet few are the Christians who have ever applied any of its ethical injunctions to their daily lives. If one criticism is hurtful so is another; so also is every innovation, or even the presentation of some old thing under a new aspect, as both have necessarily to clash with the views of this or another "authority." I maintain, on the contrary, that criticism is the great benefactor of thought in general; and still more so of those men who never think for themselves but rely in everything upon acknowledged "authorities" and social routine.

For what is an "authority" upon any question, after all? No more, really, than a light streaming upon a certain object through one single, more or less wide, chink, and illuminating it from one side only. Such light, besides being the faithful reflector of the personal views of but one man - very often merely that of his special hobby - can never help in the examination of a question or a subject from all its aspects and sides. Thus, the authority appealed to will often prove but of little help, yet the profane, who attempts to present the given question or object under another aspect and in a different light, is forthwith hooted for his great audacity. Does he not attempt to upset solid "authorities," and fly in the face of respectable and time-honoured routine thought?

Friends and foes! Criticism is the sole salvation from intellectual stagnation. It is the beneficent goad which stimulates to life and action - hence to healthy changes - the heavy ruminants called Routine and Prejudice, in private as in social life. Adverse opinions are like conflicting winds which rush from the quiet surface of a lake the green scum that tends to settle upon still waters. If every clear stream of independent thought, which runs through the field of life outside the old grooves traced by Public Opinion, had to be arrested and to come to a standstill, the results would prove very sad. The streams would no longer feed the common pond called Society, and its waters would become still more stagnant than they are. Result: it is the most orthodox [8] "authorities" of the social pond who would be the first to get sucked down still deeper into its ooze and slime.

Things, even as they now stand, present no very bright outlook as regards progress and social reforms. In this last quarter of the century it is women alone who have achieved any visible beneficent progress. Men, in their ferocious egoism and sex-privilege, have fought hard, but have been defeated on almost every line. Thus, the younger generations of women look hopeful enough. They will hardly swell the future ranks of stiff-necked and cruel Mrs. Grundy. Those who today lead her no longer invincible battalions on the war-path, are the older Amazons of respectable society, and her young men, the male "flowers of evil," the nocturnal plants that blossom in the hothouses known as clubs. The Brummels of our modern day have become worse gossips than the old dowagers ever were in the dawn of our century.

To oppose or criticize such foes, or even to find the least fault with them, is to commit the one unpardonable social sin. An Unpopular Philosopher, however, has little to fear, and notes his thoughts, indifferent to the loudest "war-cry" from those quarters. He examines his enemies of both sexes with the calm and placid eye of one who has nothing to lose, and counts the ugly blotches and wrinkles on the "sacred" face of Mrs. Grundy, as he would count the deadly poisonous flowers on the branches of a majestic mancenillier - through a telescope from afar. He will never approach the tree, or rest under its lethal shade.

"Thou shalt not set thyself against the Lord's anointed," saith David. But since the "authorities," social and scientific, are always the first to break that law, others may occasionally follow the good example. Besides, the "anointed" ones are not always those of the Lord; many of them being more of the "self-anointed" sort.

Thus, whenever taken to task for disrespect to Science and its "authorities," which the Unpopular Philosopher is accused of rejecting, he demurs to the statement. To reject the infallibility of a man of Science is not quite the same as to repudiate his learning. A specialist is one, precisely because he has some one specialty, and is therefore less reliable in other branches of Science, and even in the general appreciation of his own subject. Official school Science is based upon temporary foundations, so far. It will advance upon straight lines so long only as it is not compelled to deviate from its old grooves, in consequence of fresh and unexpected discoveries in the fathomless mines of knowledge.

Science is like a railway train which carries its baggage van from one terminus to the other, and with which no one except the railway officials may interfere. But passengers who travel by the same train can hardly be prevented from quitting the direct line at fixed stations, to proceed, if they so like, by diverging roads. They should have this option, without being taxed with libeling the chief line. To proceed beyond the terminus on horseback, cart or foot, or even to undertake pioneer work, by cutting entirely new paths through the great virgin forests and thickets of public ignorance, is their undoubted [9] prerogative. Other explorers are sure to follow; nor less sure are they to criticize the newly-cut pathway. They will thus do more good than harm. For truth, according to an old Belgian proverb, is always the result of conflicting opinions, like the spark that flies out from the shock of two flints struck together.

Why should men of learning be always so inclined to regard Science as their own personal property? Is knowledge a kind of indivisible family estate, entailed only on the elder sons of Science? Truth belongs to all, or ought so to belong; excepting always those few special branches of knowledge which should be preserved ever secret, like those two-edged weapons that both kill and save. Some philosopher compared knowledge to a ladder, the top of which was more easily reached by a man unencumbered by heavy luggage, than by him who has to drag along an enormous bale of old conventionalities, faded out and dried. Moreover, such a one must look back every moment, for fear of losing some of his fossils. Is it owing to such extra weight that so few of them ever reach the summit of the ladder, and that they affirm there is nothing beyond the highest rung they have reached? Or is it for the sake of preserving the old dried-up plants of the Past that they deny the very possibility of any fresh, living blossoms, on new forms of life, in the Future?

Whatever their answer, without such optimistic hope in the ever-becoming, life would be little worth living. What between "authorities," their fear of, and wrath at the slightest criticism - each and all of them demanding to be regarded as infallible in their respective departments - the world threatens to fossilize in its old prejudices and routine. Fogeyism grins its skeleton-like sneer at every innovation or new form of thought. In the great battle of life for the survival of the fittest, each of these forms becomes in turn the master, and then the tyrant, forcing back all new growth as its own was checked. But the true Philosopher, however "unpopular," seeks to grasp the actual life, which, springing fresh from the inner source of Being, the rock of truth, is ever moving onward. He feels equal contempt for all the little puddles that stagnate lazily on the flat and marshy fields of social life. - H.P.B.

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PROMOTION FUND

We wish to convey our sincere thanks to all who have remembered of late our Promotion Fund. We trust our friends will keep this Fund alive, as it is of great help in meeting current expenses. The following donations have been received between Aug. 1st and October 1st, 1952: H.D.B. $3.50; M.W. $1.50; Anon. $10.00; C.E.W. $0.50; J.S. $0.50; E.V.D. $3.50; B.N. $1.50; L.C.C. $0.50; D.W. $0.50; F.L.G. $2.00; I.H. $0.50; D.H. $0.50; M.S. $1.00; E.C. $5.00; S.F. $3.50; Anon. $0.50; C.N.E. $1.00; R.A.D. $0.50; M.L. $0.50; H.T. $0.50; B.N. $2.50; R.G.O. $0.50.

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INCREASING THE CIRCULATION OF "THEOSOPHIA"

The Editorial Offices would welcome receiving from our subscribers and friends lists of names and addresses of people in their respective towns, or elsewhere, who may have "leanings" in the direction of Theosophy. We would send them sample copies of the magazine with a subscription-blank attached. Considering the many cities in the country our newspaper goes to, we should be able to get several hundred new names, if our friends help us by sending them in. This would be a real help! [10]

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DO WE DARE TO DOUBT?
Eileen Margaret Walker

Please realize the fact that so long as men doubt there will be curiosity and enquiry, and that enquiry stimulates reflection which begets effort ... - The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, page 227.

Do we dare to doubt? And how much, how far, for how long? Do we dare to say, "I don't know," "I'm not sure," "I can't tell" - and really mean the words? Do we dare to doubt our teachers, our friends, our loved ones, our selves? Can we hold up to question the club we belong to, the organization we joined, the company we work for - and the goal we pursue in each of these activities?

And if we have doubted any (or all) of these people or groups, how strong was our doubt, how severe was our questioning, how penetrating was our disbelief? Was our doubt a conventional one, whipped up in a moment of intellectual boredom, or for purposes of discussion - or did it shake us to the roots of our being, and haunt us day and night for months or years? Were we timid about our doubts, too polite to indulge them fully, or were we able to let the "cold light of day" play over our whole life - the shallows and the depths alike? Were we daring enough to admit our doubts to others, whatever they might afterward think of us and did we secretly hope these others would reassure us in a thoroughly convincing fashion? Or did we go one step further than our own doubts, and listen carefully to learn what doubts had occurred to others?

Some there are who take pride in certainty - as if to be certain were a sign of being right. Some there are who congratulate themselves on being devoted - as if the feeling of devotion itself were enough to sanctify the object of devotion. Some bind themselves to their latest faith - as if any faith could be final for the questing soul. Some rest on trust - and do not allow themselves to observe whether or not their trust is honored by those in whom it is fixed!

We forget, all of us who do these things, the true meanings of devotion, faith, and trust. Since these qualities are among the highest and most sacred human feelings, their right use opens the mind to new truths and prepares the heart for new aspirations. But, wrongly used, the same qualities can bring us into weird bondage with false religion, deceiving cults, and unscrupulous apostles. How will we know which is our position, unless and until we doubt and question whatever we have taken for granted?

But, it is often objected, what if our doubts are groundless? What if we doubt wrongly? The answer is that it is impossible to doubt "wrongly," if we doubt honestly, and properly speaking, we should not consider ourselves honest believers until we have been honest doubters of that which we hold to be true. It is not wrong to doubt, but it is foolish to stop thinking, once we have raised a doubt. It is not wrong to believe, but it is dangerous to assume that believing takes the place of knowing.

Because true and useful doubting takes considerable daring, it is a rare phenomenon. The thought of daring may make our spirits lift, but daring [11] to doubt - that has almost a chilling effect. It has wisely been said that it takes more courage to live for our convictions than to die for them, and one reason lies in this very matter of doubting. Strange as it may seem, it is often harder to doubt than to believe, for in believing, we tend to trust someone else's judgment, while in doubting - honest questioning - we are thrown back upon our own power of discrimination. (Of course, if we are taking our doubts, as well as our beliefs, at second-hand, we meet this difficulty only vaguely, as from a great distance.)

Let us state the matter another way: if our doubts do not cause us to wonder about our own canniness and/or our gullibility, if they do not bring us to recognize a few gaps in our own omniscience, then we are wasting our time in petty and pointless quarreling. To indulge in niggardly doubts, to cavil over minor points of difference which offend our cherished beliefs or preconceptions, to be constantly making objections - these bespeak the essentially frivolous mind, whose vagaries are insignificant.

To doubt courageously enough so that we are urged on with new interest to fresh inquiry, is reserved for minds of stronger calibre. Even then, it may be years before a growing doubt is frankly faced: years when small misgivings accumulate, only to be put aside in loyal, wilful blindness; years when the man strives, almost at the cost of his reason, to ignore the "voice of the silence" which tells him that all is not as it seems; years which finally are host to increasing hours of horror and dismay, as he contemplates the maya within the maya - the deception in the "heart" of the seeming-spiritual.

A deception, moreover, which he himself helped to create, by fastening his dreams, his spiritual hopes, upon a false apostle. No man can be deceived, unless he cooperates by deceiving himself, and so, along with the guilt of the betrayer goes the mistake of the betrayed. Until we are ready to admit that we have connived at our own deception, we can never hold an honest doubt. And until we are prepared to realize that we stopped ourselves from thinking at a certain point - thus allowing another mind to rule our mental roost - we shall never understand why we are so persistently reluctant to doubt! Doubt, in this sense, requires us to start thinking where we left off - and go on, to the bitter end. Is it any wonder we avoid the necessity as long as we can?

But embarking on a course of doubting is not the dark and disagreeable work it first appears. After the first shock is over, we may awaken to find that we have stirred up sleeping powers in ourselves that we should never have allowed ourselves to ignore. We begin by losing some of our self-confidence, but very soon a new self-respect comes to take its place, for we are cutting our own path through the wilderness of ignorance and half-truths, and the effort is exhilarating. Curiosity, inquiry, reflection, effort: the Master's words outline the spiral course to freedom for the soul. Each decision made within ourselves, each private conviction acted upon, each particle of self-knowledge that is turned into mental working capital: each and all are steps taking us slowly but surely into brighter spots of Light. [12] Thus the doubt that leads to first-hand knowledge relieves us, by the same token, from the doubts that go with fear and ignorance. The doubt that takes courage to pursue is the surest way of routing the misgivings that shackle our feet when we would move toward Truth.

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CHARACTER - BUILDING
E. Hoffmann Price

Some time or other we have all asked the question, "What are you doing?" and received in answer the reply, "Nothing." But in this very reply the person did something; he gave an explanation of the differences in character, which is very much "something."

As a matter of fact, all of us are building character, consciously or unconsciously, from the time we awake in the morning to the time we fall asleep at night. And this building of character is the most important work that one can engage in - the glorious task that only fortune's favored soldiers may whole-heartedly engage in. It is our great duty, the duty we owe not merely to ourselves and our next-door neighbors, but to the whole human family. This duty is always staring us in the face, but we are so blinded by false knowledge and ignorance, that we fail to see it. And worse still, we imagine, while engaged in its performance - albeit blindly - hat we are doing nothing.

In the building of character we all are working with the same materials: thought, will, and feeling. Yet how great are the differences in the characters under construction! Some are strong, some are weak, some are a mixture of strengths and weaknesses. What makes these differences? The workmanship of the different builders. To build well we must know, in the first place, what we are building, and in the second place, what are the materials we are building with. Only then can we build well and wisely.

Thoughts shape acts, acts build habits, and habits build character. In every thought we think, we give shape and color to character. When one aims to become a Master-builder, one has to organize one's thoughts accordingly. In the organization of our thoughts lies the whole secret of master-building. As a man thinketh so he becomes in character. By right thinking he becomes an Adept of the righthand path; by wrong thinking he becomes the opposite.

But there is a destiny, you say, "that shapes our ends, rough hew them as we may." True. A destiny that shapes even the ends of those who busy themselves doing nothing. But it is character that shapes destiny. In building character we are building our destiny. We should not try to build hastily; we should endeavor to build slowly and surely.

Character has been defined as a bundle of habits. The word "bundle" aptly qualifies character as expressed in the general run of people - a sort of Pandora box out of which something is likely to jump and bite us whenever we remove the lid. But true character is a harmony. It speaks, as Emerson says, above our heads. It is the music of the heart. Its notes are written on the staff of life notes of peace and good will. [13]

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SCIENCE MEETS ASTROLOGY
E. Hoffman Price

Mrs. Stevens phoned, saying, "My neighbor, Samuel Glasstone, has heard enough about your astrological work to make him wonder if you would agree to a test. He is a doctor of science, a doctor of philosophy, and the author of a good many scientific and mathematical text books. Will you join us at dinner, and then face the ordeal?"

After assuring her such would be a pleasure, I asked for the hour and minute of Dr. Glasstone's birth, as well as the day, month, year, and the place. This last is essential. The terrestrial latitude and longitude determine certain details of the horoscope. Since the scholar's hour of birth had not been recorded, my hostess gave me the data for Mrs. Glasstone.

The following evening I kept my rendezvous with science, taking with me the work book in which I had drawn a map of the heavens for 4:48 P.M., July 22, of a year which is strictly Mrs. Glasstone's business. Beneath the chart I had written the following:

"PROBABLE APPEARANCE: tall; face, long and narrow; head shape, long; hands and feet, long narrow; hair, red or reddish-blonde. Straightforward expression of eyes. Carries head high. Shoulders probably well squared, to accord with head. The ruler of the Ascending sign is Jupiter; the ruler of the ascending dekan is Mars, in Cancer. This Cancer influence may give a characteristic flare to the nostrils, and may modify the nose, shortening it, and giving concavity. Also, give somewhat of roundness to the figure, offsetting the characteristic flat-chestedness of Sagittarius Ascending. Facial angles softened. The Jupiter influence in Gemini reinforces the Sagittarius Ascendant's effect, giving a tall and slender, long-legged frame. And, longish nose."

It was clear from the moment of meeting that Dr. Glasstone had come without any determination to debunk a "medieval superstition." This was in sharp contrast to a previous encounter with one who, calling himself a scientist, asserted that of course be had never investigated astrology, because he knew in advance that it was nonsense!

No sooner had the courtesies of first meeting been disposed of when I handed my work book to Dr. Glasstone, saying, "Please read this description of your wife. And grade astrology in accord."

He said, "One hundred percent correct."

I said, "You are too generous. The actual flare of Mrs. Glasstone's nostrils is NOT such as I had in mind when I wrote this. Better deduct a few points from the score."

The next test consisted of reading to Mrs. Glasstone the table of those past years in which the Progressed Sun had made major aspects to the planets of her natal chart. Correlating these with the major transits of Saturn, I gave her a brief outline of each year, not as to its details, but as to its trend and flavor. Without hesitancy, she said that each had been correctly delineated, as also had been my description of her present mood and problem. [14]

The next step in the demonstration was to erect, after dinner, the horoscope of Merritt Hosmer, another guest. I said, "Since I have met both Mr. and Mrs. Hosmer previously, it would not be a scientifically convincing test for me to describe the personality or past of either. I shall instead give a brief sketch of Mrs. Hosmer's father."

Dr. Glasstone cut in, "Pardon me, but you mean, Mr. Hosmer's father don't you?"

"No, I mean Mrs. Hosmer's father." Perplexedly, he persisted, "But you have Mr. Hosmer's horoscope."

"Precisely, Doctor, and I propose to read from it a description of his father-in-law's personality."

When I had done so, Mrs. Hosmer exclaimed, "A perfect picture of dad!"

The scientist had by now absorbed about as much as his scientific detachment could take. "How do you explain all this?" he demanded. "What is the principle?"

"Doctor, the only explanation I could give would not come within the boundaries of any science which you recognize. What I have done is no more and no less than this: to follow the rules handed down through the centuries. They were ancient when Claudius Ptolemy of Alexandria wrote his text on astrology, the Tetrabiblous. This was about 150 A.D."

"When did astrology originate?"

"There are many traditions. According to one, the science of the stars was perfected by the Sabaeans, the ancestors of the Queen of Sheba, 473,000 years ago. According to another account, the Elder Brothers of Mankind, the Children of the Fire Mist, brought astrology to this planet when they came from Venus, 18,000,000 years ago."

The gallant scientist took that without a twitch. He asked, quietly, "Which version do you accept?"

"There are Those Who Know. But since I do not know, my answer would be based only on belief, surmise, conjecture, tentative acceptance. Whereas the scientific approach which we agreed would prevail this evening is confined to ascertainable facts, that which can be weighed, measured, or otherwise perceived by the senses. Once you declare that you are satisfied with this demonstration of astrology, we can suspend the rules, after which I shall be happy to go as far as I can with your questions."

Whereupon the rules were set aside, and we sat until three A.M., having a delightfully unscientific conversation on astrology, karma, reincarnation: for without the two last named, the first is incomprehensible, and relatively meaningless and also, useless.

This is only one of many encounters in which, through the use of astrology, I have been able to gain a hearing for the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy: those outlined in the Proem of The Secret Doctrine, and restated more elaborately elsewhere.

Most of our materialistic and theologically-conditioned population balk at the mention of karma and reincarnation. Their interest is usually rooted in no more than curiosity. However, astrology is intriguing. It has a certain glamour appeal. Its demonstration is concrete, in ascertainable facts and figures. This cracks the shell of [15] scepticism, and in many cases moves the sceptic toward receptivity as to more important matters.

These demonstrations are of course the most materialistic aspect of astrology. The "inner" astrology is an integral part of the Theo-Sophia, a facet of the Ancient Wisdom. But when one is working on anything as impermeable as an anvil, something as solid as a hammer is useful and necessary.

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I WOULD LIKE TO ASK ...

Theosophia would welcome receiving from subscribers and friends any Questions they may like to ask regarding the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom and their application to daily life. Any type of Question is welcome, with the exception of subjects bordering on political or sectarian matters, or organizational and personal differences. - Editor.

Is it conceivable that the overwhelming urge one may feel to gather scientific knowledge of all kinds, on a large, logically coherent basis, in order to gain deeper insight and judgment, an urge stronger than any other interests and connected with one's religious and artistic inclinations, may have its origin in former incarnations? Does it imply the necessity of working out and bringing to a close experiences of earlier lives?

We are inclined to answer in the positive. Such strong urges are certainly rooted in former lives. Strong urges and desires, both of a highly constructive and of a destructive nature, take time to accumulate to a point of intense power; they do not arise suddenly, and could not possibly be of recent origin, because they would have no intense energy to back them up with. The strongest inclinations, propensities or desires of this incarnation are invariably the result, the cumulative effect, of much thought, emotion, and possibly actual work, directed in past lives towards a given objective. We resume these trends at the threshold of a new incarnation, and intensify them during life; unless we be temporarily "switched off", as it were, into some by-path into which some other karmic drive directs us for a while. The strongest drive is bound to assert itself sooner or later with full force. Many threads of this life are interconnected with other lives of ours; not necessarily the one immediately preceding this one, however. This applies also to the difficulties encountered. It is safe to assume, in the light of the Theosophical philosophy, that whenever we meet with a seemingly immovable obstacle, physical, intellectual or psychological, this is precisely the point at which we failed in some past life, and were unable to surmount the difficulty facing us at the time. The problem repeats itself in some other form, and with a somewhat altered karmic stage. The essence of the problem has not changed, however.

It is, however, important not to become so completely absorbed by the urge spoken of above, as to become oblivious to many other calls of duty, maybe much closer to home; not to [16] become neglectful of our responsibilities to other people or to withdraw from the disturbing influences of surrounding life.

It is easy to forget everything else by identifying oneself with that which is nearest and dearest to our mind and heart, and which satisfies us most as an intellectual or even spiritual pursuit. It is sometimes of immense benefit and of paramount need to do so; but there are many circumstances in which an overwhelming urge for something noble and lofty has to be controlled in the light of other pressing duties, often unpleasant, but nevertheless right and just. Each life is different, and no set rule can possibly be formulated in these respects.

In other words, there is need of balance; we must try and tread the age-old Middle Way. Strong urges for noble achievements must be handled wisely, and action suggested by them should be entered into, but without rashness or selfish forgetfulness of all else. Sometimes, by means of these strong urges towards noble objectives, a definite Force from within our Inner Self is trying to manifest. There is need of discrimination, calm judgment and a constant attempt at self-control, which alone will spell in due course of time success and growth. Let us look upon our work and our character in the light of centuries instead of a few mere mortal years. It is only then that we gain perspective and vision. From these follow right action and wisdom.

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CORRESPONDING FELLOWS' LODGE

This Lodge is the outcome of the Correspondence Course in Theosophy started in England during the war. This Course is intended to introduce Theosophy to new inquirers. As students began joining the Theosophical Society, it was found that being scattered all over the British Isles, they were often isolated from other students and could not meet for group-study. Many, too, preferred studying at home. Hence this Lodge, which issues a Monthly Bulletin in which members take part by discussion, questions and answers, etc. The only prerequisite for joining the Lodge aside from a recognition of the principle of Universal Brotherhood - is that one is a sincere seeker for Truth wherever it may be found. It is not required that would-be members should first be proficient in a knowledge of technical Theosophy. The key-notes of the work of the Lodge could be summed up thus: 1) Recognizing and encouraging the full right of every member to his own independent thinking and opinions, no one member taking precedence over any other; 2) Putting the Ethics of Theosophy into practice in our lives, or at least endeavoring to do so; 3) Adherence to the teachings of Theosophy as brought forth by H.P. Blavatsky, without being dogmatic about it. Financial support is entirely voluntary. Ten shillings per annum covers the cost of materials for the Bulletin and postage; the work of duplicating being done by members themselves.

Students of Theosophy living in far away and isolated parts of the world are welcome to become members of the Corresponding Fellows- Lodge; an inquiry sent to Mrs. Elsie Benjamin, Sec'y-Treasurer, 24 Upper Brighton Road, Worthington, Sussex, England, is bound to bring a courteous and helpful answer. Why not get in touch with a group of intelligent and courageous workers?