THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume IX
No. 6 (54) - March - April 1953

[Cover photo: South Gate, Temple of Karnak; Egypt. (Photo by Hassin, Cairo, Egypt.)]

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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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THOUGHTS TO REMEMBER ...

"Apprenticeship is a severe test of will-power and unselfishness, and, lacking these, one may be sure of failure. Usually such persons fancy, because of the interest they take in occult literature, that they would like to be students under the Adepts, who possess the secrets of nature and have spiritual power to a degree little dreamt of by the generality of mankind. Such interest grows or weakens according to the impelling motive governing the character of the person. Appreciation of the study is the first step, and desire for more light is the applicant's passport to the probationary stage. His progress depends upon several conditions, which, if complied with in the main, will secure him a reasonable hope of success. These are a sound mind in a sound body, right moral principles, and a well-disciplined nature. Then begins the work of - what? Obeying certain set rules and regulations, issued like the ukases of a czar or the commands of a military chief? Many would like to have such, for it is easier to follow the directions of a leader than to discover the way without guidance. No. The impelling force must be in the neophyte, and without it he has nothing to hope for. Once it is shown that the desire to succeed is stronger than the distracting, engrossing, material cares of life which enthral the vast majority of people, the next step is made plain for the struggler, but it may require a much longer time and a greater test of patience than even a strong-willed person can always bring to the task. Those who persevere in the right direction succeed, but intuition must be developed to discover which is the true way ...

"The resolution once formed to be a chela, and that resolution fed by constant mental effort, the teacher is impelled to recognize that chela's qualifications and to direct his future steps. Chelas, it may be said with truth, are not created by any sudden zeal or spasmodic sentimental desire ... The road which the chela walks is strewn, every inch of it, with reminders of frays and skirmishes with himself. He has no other enemy half so powerful as his own selfish earthly nature, which he undertakes to discipline, and of whose strength he has no conception until he deliberately and earnestly begins the work of purification ..." - Man: Fragments of Forgotten History, by Two Chelas, pp. 146-48. [3]

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MUSINGS ALONG THE PATH
Boris de Zirkoff

As we ponder over the prevailing circumstances of life, and the difficult conditions in which many students of the Ancient Wisdom live at the present time, certain definite ideas suggest themselves for consideration, in an attempt to help ourselves - all of us in whatever land - to gain a greater perspective, a stronger sense of peace, and a wider vision.

First of all we might mention our common studies - studies of the teachings and precepts of the Ancient Wisdom, or at least as much of that as has been made available to us in years gone by.

We owe it to ourselves, as students and seekers, to make of that study the central point of our lives. A "central point" in any figure is theoretically a mathematical point without size. In actuality, it is a very minute point, whose size is hardly even comparable to the surface or volume of the overall figure or form. It is "central" not on account of its size, but on account of its importance, mathematical and structural, and it serves as the pivot around which everything else gravitates, and with which everything is intimately related.

By analogy, our studies of the Esoteric Philosophy do not have to occupy necessarily long hours in duration, and be "important" on account of the amount of time they consume. But these studies must be of such spiritual importance to us, and of such paramount significance in our life, that even a few moments of profound thinking, of deep meditation. and of self-identification with the teachings, would set the key-note of our consciousness and establish the general direction for our mental and emotional reactions for the rest of the day, and all through its manifold routines and duties.

If we knew how to do it, a few minutes of concentration on some of the lofty principles of thought contained in the teachings of Theosophy, would be sufficient. In most cases, however, students find it necessary to achieve by means of time what they are unable to reach by intensity.

It is to be remembered - and this on the ground of the experience of many generations of devoted students - that nothing is better than regularity in connection with our studies: a specific time set aside in our life when we know that a minimum of interruptions, and a maximum of quiet, will create the condition best suited in our life's routine for reading, pondering, meditation and self-analysis. Our lives differ greatly from each other, and no set rule can be formulated in these respects, although it might be suggested that the first hour upon rising, or the last hour before retiring, are very auspicious times. This does not exclude other periods of the day or night, if the prevailing circumstances are such as to warrant the adoption of some other technique of study.

Collective study of the teachings in a group of students is very good, but it is not sufficient; it must be reinforced by that quiet, solitary form of study which is not interrupted even by the thoughts and words of [4] co-students bent upon the same task. It is equally true that solitary study, with no participation in collective work with other students, is insufficient in most cases, and should be vitalized by active participation in the thoughts and reaction of others, which group-study certainly does.

Try therefore to adjust your lives, your duties, avocations, and personal obligations in such a fashion as to create, make, build for yourself a quiet spot of consciousness, a hermitage of your own in the midst of the world, where you can retire with great regularity for study and self-study; safeguard this spot (a spot in time rather than a locality!) from the intrusion of worldly elements; protect it from the onslaught of routines, habits, trifling nuisances, and the exasperating minutiae of every-day life; consider it to be your own Temple, whose portals can be tightly shut against any and all intruding and disquieting elements; and do not make the psychological mistake of imagining that in doing so you are practicing selfishness, exclusiveness or uncharitableness towards others. You are doing nothing of the kind, because your motive and purpose is to become strengthened and refreshed, spiritually speaking, so that you may go out into the world of everyday routines and duties that much more able to cope with whatever comes your way, and that much more fitted to help others. Are you selfish, exclusive or uncharitable, when you retire from this world, deliberately and regularly, and take refuge every twenty-four hours in the land of sleep, as you must do, whether you choose it or not?

The key-note of this entire process is in the intimate relation that exists, and must exist, between your studies of the ancient truths and their application in daily living, by means of your duties and obligations towards others. Only when this balance is well kept, do your studies build a solid foundation for the future. When that balance does not exist, and the student finds himself absorbed in hours of study, fascinated with its beauty, and forgetful of his outward duties and what he owes to others, he becomes progressively a more and more useless member of society whose mental and spiritual concerns, however lofty they may be in themselves, bear no vital relation to the woes and sufferings of an unprogressed and confused world. He shuts himself in a shell made up of his own spirituality (which can have a selfish aspect, strange as this may sound to some people!), and fails to learn the lessons of compassion and sympathy which only a close contact with the world of men can ever teach him.

Contrariwise, the student who devotes most of his time to benevolent work, beneficent activities, and acts of helpfulness, by means of and through his various duties and contacts, but never gives himself the time to ponder deeply and by himself over the great problems of existence; and does not attempt to commune with the higher part of himself in the silence of his hour of study, is apt to become very superficial in his reactions to life and to find himself with no sure spiritual-intellectual foundation which alone can make his outer work for others inspired and strong.

Another very important subject is [5] the application of the result of our studies to the affairs of daily life. Upon this subject, many misunderstandings exist, and many misconceptions are current, especially among new students.

That the ethical precepts of the Ancient Wisdom - universal in their principles of thought and present in all the great religions and philosophies of the world - are directly applicable to our daily duties and responsibilities, is of course obvious; and we can discover, as we go along, many new ways of putting such precepts into daily practice.

But many students, in their beginner-stage, have been at a loss to find any "practical" application to life of such teachings as those which are concerned with Rounds, Root-Races, invisible Hierarchies, Cosmic Cycles or submerged and long forgotten continents. Ideas have been expressed over and over again by those yet immature in this line of thinking, that such teachings are too abstract and metaphysical to have any practical value in life, while the world is in need of some simple way to solve the existing problems, with a down-to-earth philosophy of life.

This may be so from one standpoint, and the idea is not bad at all as far as it goes; the trouble is that it does not go far enough, and disregards a number of important factors. Some students, on account of their mental conditioning or background, are simply unable to grasp the deeper teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy; they do not have the psycho-intellectual tools with which to do so. For them the Ancient Wisdom has many simpler thoughts which they can fully understand and apply to their respective lives; and no blame can possibly be attached to people whose mental workshop lacks as yet the necessary spiritual mechanism for more serious and intricate work. In time, if they persevere and teach themselves how to think, they may outstrip even some of those students who today consider themselves proficient in the understanding of these deeper and more technical teachings.

But we are here primarily concerned with those students who have the mental and emotional equipment with which to grasp the more technical teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy; but who, on account of lack of careful and systematic thinking, consider them abstruse, metaphysical, unrelated to life, as we know the latter, and as we have to live it every day.

It would be possible to enter into a lengthy discussion on this subject, and to show that the teachings about Rounds, Root-Races, Hierarchies and Cycles have their representative factors in everyday life, and are reflected in the small, mirrored in the minute, and surround us everywhere without our noticing them. But this would take a great deal of time and space, and will have to wait for the present.

However, here is the key with which to approach this subject, and open for oneself vast vistas along the line of the "practical application" of seemingly "abstruse" teachings to what we call the "daily life." Serious study of these teachings, consecutive reading, collating of passages, pondering over the various implications. etc., raises the vibratory rate of the student's mind, elevates his consciousness, [6] establishes a new rhythm in his entire system, almost imperceptibly to himself. It is especially the case if and when such studies are continued over a long period of time, were it only a few moments on any particular day. Certain new mental grooves of a higher type are established; deeper and more salutary channels are built in the mental mechanism of the student; noble, lofty, quieting and harmonizing thoughts and feelings are unfolded and sustained; and the whole nature is raised as a result of ideas and conceptions - even if only partially understood - which strike notes of grandeur, sublimity, magnanimity, universality, all-inclusiveness and harmony. In due course of time, these thoughts become the main background of the student's mind, and he finds them present almost at all times as a backdrop against which are projected his various mundane activities. He has initiated an undercurrent which does not stop or cease, and this undercurrent begins gradually to permeate his various reactions to life. The worldly affairs of men, as well as his own duties and temporary avocations; his relation to other human beings and their relations to him; the surrounding circumstances, their changing karmic setting, and the passing "show" of outward life - all of these and many other factors take in the student's vision a new perspective; they are automatically compared with the grander, the greater, the more spiritual and enduring facts of being regarding which he has deeply thought; and in this comparison and inter-relatedness, the smaller issues of life are transcended, the petty emotional disturbances are outgrown, and the personal elements of daily life gradually assume their rightful place - a very un-important one - in the overall scheme of being, where the student senses the pulse of a mighty Force whose cosmic objectives and universal aims he knows to be at one with the nobler side of his own Self.

What can be more "practical" than to be able to view the smaller aspect of life, the personal, the fleeting, the imperfect, the relatively distorted and limited, in the light of the greater aspect of universal Life, and with the impersonal, the enduring, the more perfect, and the more harmonious and limitless, as its background? Is this not an "application" of the deeper teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy to "daily life"? Does it make of the student a mere dreamer, a metaphysician, an abstract thinker unrelated to his daily responsibilities and duties? Surely it does not. Any careful thinking along this line would result in a similar deduction.

And so next time when we are confronted with the nasty temper of X, or the entrenched selfishness of Y, or again with the narrow-mindedness of Z; or maybe when we have just been insulted by the bus-driver, or unexpectedly accused by a friend of having done something which we have not even dreamt of, or perhaps scornfully laughed at because we failed to recognize any enduring value in the prating of some political demagogue - let us relate these events and conditions to the scale of cosmic evolution, and ask ourselves what will remain of them all in a few thousand years from now. The chances are very great indeed that we will fail to become unduly excited over the [7] pinpricks of the personal aspect of life, and will remain unperturbed when face to face with its more ugly manifestations. This will be due primarily to the all-important fact that consecutive, serious study of very noble and seemingly "abstract" teachings has raised the key-note of our consciousness, so that it has lost, at least partially, its characteristics of feverishness and irritability; it has begun to vibrate in unison with something far greater and majestic, compared with which the passing phantasmagoria of personal events assumes the characteristics of a marionette-show, whose strings are pulled from behind the visible scene by forces and powers working constantly and steadily towards a higher, impersonal, cosmic Goal.

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APPRECIATION
L. B.

In the philosophies of old Greece we constantly find that the search for "The Good, the Beautiful, the True" was held as one of the major objectives; and in Christianity as well as in Buddhism, Love and Brotherhood were fundamental. The concepts we have of all these words vary with each one of us, and it is by no means easy to define them in such a way as to satisfy the practical desire we have for their common applicability. Each one of these as Ideas is very relative to the individual understanding, and upon analysis there is little agreement except in a general way.

If, however, we consider each from the standpoint of our appreciation of it in definite circumstances, it is possible not only to get enlightenment but also to make it practical in our lives, without undue strain or struggles. For instance: is not Good that which is beneficial? We can appreciate anything which tends to bring about wholesome results in any and all directions - Cosmic or Local. In a similar manner we can appreciate harmonious arrangements and scenes which appeal to our esthetic receptivity. What is True? Is it not anything that is based upon, and manifests fundamental laws in whatever degree? Therefore, there is Truth in everything according to its nature and the conditions under which we find it, because any manifestation, objective or subjective, must be a reaction, or as the fact, a composite of reactions, inevitable under existing conditions and circumstances.

The ideas we have of Love are nebulous and often irrational, and more often than not they are expressions of our desires and expectations; very rarely are they radiation of impersonal beneficence. But it is quite possible to have such an appreciation of what is harmonious and pleasing to our own natures, that it calls out an outpouring of a subtle energy that is not of the desire nature, but is a spontaneous radiation of joy and happiness.

Brotherhood in its essence is an abstraction; but brought down to earth [8] it is the Golden Rule in its positive or negative form in every-day life. "Helping and Sharing is what Brotherhood means" was taught to the children at Point Loma many years ago, and they not only understood it but practiced it forthwith, not as an injunction, but as a Truth which they realized.

The above analysis suggests that we could get a clearer understanding of problems if we would look into them from the viewpoint of our appreciation in a common and practical way, rather than treat them as abstractions or imagine them as being so complex that the essentials for ourselves are passed over or overlooked. This applies to the circumstances of every-day life and affairs, for in spite of our anxieties and difficulties we find that crises occur exceedingly rarely in the manner we anticipate them; so that when we cannot do anything at the moment, we can stand back of our lesser selves, and in that withdrawal clear the channels for any action required of ourselves or of the helpful aid which will meet the necessity.

This withdrawal from confusion and uncertainty will induce an attitude of "watchful waiting" in a more or less impersonal attitude of mind, when it is quite likely that the inner "Watcher" will have a broader understanding, and transmit it to the lower mind in so far as the culture and capacity of the present stage of evolution allows it.

The attitude of appreciation is a step beyond that of understanding because it includes values which are inclusive and not limited to the conditions and circumstances. When the mind reflects upon the reasons for our appreciation it opens the way for Ideas which are more or less translations of certain phases of Reality, but while doing so, it is in great measure warped by previous attitudes, knowledge and experience. Still, if the sense of appreciation be retained, the result of such reflections will be wholesome and conducive to an expansion of Consciousness.

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"Purge out of every heart the lurking grudge. Give us grace and strength to forbear and to persevere. Offenders, give us the grace to accept and forgive offenders. Forgetful ourselves, help us to bear cheerfully the forget fulness of others. Give us courage and gaiety and the quiet mind. Spare us to our friends, soften us to our enemies. Bless us, if it may be, in all our innocent endeavors. If it may not, give us strength to encounter that which is to come, that we be brave in peril, constant in tribulation, temperate in wrath, and in all changes of fortune, and down to the gates of death, loyal and loving one to another." - Prayer by Robert Louis Stevenson.

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"I belong to the Great Church which holds the world within its starlit aisles; that claims the great and good of every race and clime; that finds with joy the grain of gold in every creed, and floods with light and love the germs of good in every Soul." - Robert G. Ingersoll. [9]

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MEMORY IN THE DYING
H.P. Blavatsky
[Originally published in Lucifer, Vol. V, October, 1889, pp. 125-29.]

We find in a very old letter from a MASTER, written years ago to a member of the Theosophical Society, the following suggestive lines on the mental state of a dying man: - *
(* [H.P.B. refers here to a letter of Master K.H. received by A.P. Sinnett about October 1882, when he was at Simla, India. It is a very long communication, and contains answers to queries sent in by Sinnett. These queries and the Master's replies can be found in The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, pp. 144-178. Sinnett had asked:

"(16) You say: - 'Remember we create ourselves, our Deva Chan, and our Avitchi and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our sentient lives.'

"(17) But do the thoughts on which the mind may be engaged at the last moment necessarily hinge on to the predominant character of its past life? Otherwise it would seem as if the character of a person's Deva Chan or Avitchi might be capriciously and unjustly determined by the change which brought some special thought uppermost at last?"

To this, the Master replied:

"(16) It is a widely spread belief among all the Hindus that a person's future pre-natal state and birth are moulded by the last desire he may have at the time of death. But this last desire, they say, necessarily hinges on to the shape which the person may have given to his desires, passions, etc., during his past life. It is for this very reason, viz. - that our last desire may not be unfavorable to our future progress - that we have to watch our actions and control our passions and desires throughout our whole earthly career.

"(17) It cannot be otherwise. The experience of dying men - by drowning and other accidents - brought back to life, has corroborated our doctrine in almost every case. Such thoughts are involuntary and we have no more control over them than we would over the eye's retina to prevent it perceiving that colour which affects it most."

Immediately following the above sentence, there occurs the passage quoted by H.P.B. - Editor, Theosophia.])

"At the last moment, the whole life is reflected in our memory and emerges from all the forgotten nooks and corners picture after picture, one event after the other. The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse, and memory restores faithfully every impression entrusted to it during the period of the brain's activity. That impression and thought which was the strongest naturally becomes the most vivid and survives so to say all the rest which now vanish and disappear for ever, to reappear but in Deva Chan. No man dies insane [10] or unconscious - as some physiologists assert. Even a madman, or one in a fit of delirium tremens will have his instant of perfect lucidity at the moment of death, though unable to say so to those present. The man may often appear dead. Yet from the last pulsation, from and between the last throbbing of his heart and the moment when the last spark of animal heat leaves the body - the brain thinks and the Ego lives over in those few brief seconds - his whole life again. Speak in whispers, ye, who assist at a death-bed and find yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting on its reflection upon the veil of the Future ..."

The above statement has been more than once strenuously opposed by materialists; Biology and (Scientific) Psychology, it was urged, were both against the idea, and while the latter had no well demonstrated data to go upon in such a hypothesis, the former dismissed the idea as an empty "superstition." Meanwhile, even biology is bound to progress, and this is what we learn of its latest achievements. Dr. Ferre has communicated quite recently to the Biological Society of Paris a very curious note on the mental state of the dying, which corroborates marvelously the above lines. For, it is to the special phenomenon of life-reminiscences, and that sudden re-emerging on the blank walls of memory, from all its long neglected and forgotten "nooks and corners," of "picture after picture" that Dr. Ferre draws the special attention of biologists.

We need notice but two among the numerous instances given by this Scientist in his Rapport, to show how scientifically correct are the teachings we receive from our Eastern Masters.

The first instance is that of a moribund consumptive whose disease was developed in consequence of a spinal affection. Already consciousness had left the man, when, recalled to life by two successive injections of a gram of ether, the patient slightly lifted his head and began talking rapidly in Flemish, a language no one around him, nor yet himself, understood. Offered a pencil and a piece of white cardboard, he wrote with great rapidity several lines in that language - very correctly, as was ascertained later on - fell back, and died. When translated - the writing was found to refer to a very prosaic affair. He had suddenly recollected, he wrote, that he owed a certain man a sum of fifteen francs since 1868 - hence more than twenty years - and desired it to be paid.

But why write his last wish in Flemish? The defunct was a native of Antwerp, but had left his country in childhood, without ever knowing the language, and having passed all his life in Paris, could speak and write only in French. Evidently his returning consciousness, that last flash of memory - that displayed before him, as in a retrospective panorama, all his life, even to the trifling fact of his having borrowed twenty years back a few francs from a friend, did not emanate from his physical brain alone, [11] but rather from his spiritual memory, that of the Higher Ego (Manas or the re-incarnating individuality). The fact of his speaking and writing Flemish, a language that he had heard at a time of life when he could not yet speak himself, is an additional proof. The EGO is almost omniscient in its immortal nature. For indeed matter is nothing more than "the last degree and as the shadow of existence," as Havaisson, member of the French Institute, tells us.

But to our second case.

Another patient, dying of pulmonary consumption and likewise reanimated by an injection of ether, turned his head towards his wife and rapidly said to her: "You cannot find that pin now; all the floor has been renewed since then." This was in reference to the loss of a scarf pin eighteen years before, a fact so trifling that it had almost been forgotten, but which had not failed to be revived in the last thought of the dying man, who having expressed what he saw in words, suddenly stopped and breathed his last. Thus any one of the thousand little daily events, and accidents of a long life would seem capable of being recalled to the flickering consciousness, at the supreme moment of dissolution. A long life, perhaps, lived over again in the space of one short second!

A third case may be noticed, which corroborates still more strongly that assertion of Occultism which traces all such remembrances to the thought-power of the individual, instead of to that of the personal (lower) Ego. A young girl, who had been a sleep-walker up to her twenty-second year, performed during her hours of somnambulic sleep the most varied functions of domestic life, of which she had no remembrance upon awakening.

Among other psychic impulses that manifested themselves only during her sleep, was a secretive tendency quite alien to her waking state. During the latter she was open and frank to a degree, and very careless of her personal property; but in the somnambulic state she would take articles belonging to herself or within her reach and hide them away with ingenious cunning. This habit being known to her friends and relatives, and two nurses, having been in attendance to watch her actions during her night rambles for years, nothing disappeared but what could be easily restored to its usual place. But on one sultry night, the nurse falling asleep, the young girl got up and went to her father's study. The latter, a notary of fame, had been working till a late hour that night. It was during a momentary absence from his room that the somnambule entered, and deliberately possessed herself of a will left open upon the desk, as also of a sum of several thousand pounds in bonds and notes. These she proceeded to hide in the hollow of two dummy pillars set up in the library to match the solid ones, and stealing from the room before her father's return, she regained her chamber and bed without awakening the nurse who was still asleep in the armchair.

The result was, that, as the nurse stoutly denied that her young mistress had left the room, suspicion was diverted from the real culprit and the money could not be recovered. The loss of the will involved a law-suit [12] which almost beggared her father and entirely ruined his reputation, and the family were reduced to great straits. About nine years later the young girl, who, during the previous seven years had not been somnabulic, fell into a consumption of which she ultimately died. Upon her death-bed, the veil which had hung before her physical memory was raised; her divine insight awakened; the pictures of her life came streaming back before her inner eye; and among others she saw the scene of her somnambulic robbery. Suddenly arousing herself from the lethargy in which she had lain for several hours, her face showed signs of some terrible emotion working within, and she cried out "Ah! what have I done? ... It was I who took the will and the money. ... Go search the dummy pillars in the library, I have ..." She never finished her sentence for her very emotion killed her. But the search was made and the will and money found within the oaken pillars as she had said. What makes the case more strange is, that these pillars were so high, that even by standing upon a chair and with plenty of time at her disposal instead of only a few moments, the somnambulist could not have reached up and dropped the objects into the hollow columns. It is to be noted, however, that ecstatics and convulsionists (Vide the Convulsionnaires de St. Medard et de Morzine) seem to possess an abnormal facility for climbing blank walls and leaping even to the tops of trees.

Taking the facts as stated, would they not induce one to believe that the somnambulic personage possesses an intelligence and memory of its own apart from the physical memory of the waking lower Self; and that it is the former which remembers in articulo mortis, the body and physical senses in the latter case ceasing to function, and the intelligence gradually making its final escape through the avenue of psychic, and last of all of spiritual consciousness? And why not? Even materialistic science begins now to concede to psychology more than one fact that would have vainly begged of it recognition twenty years ago. "The real existence" Ravaisson tells us, "the life of which every other life is but an imperfect outline, a faint sketch, is that of the Soul." That which the public in general calls "soul," we speak of as the "reincarnating Ego." "To be, is to live, and to live is to will and think," says the French Scientist.* (* Rapport sur la Philosophie en France an XIXme Siecle. ) But, if indeed the physical brain is of only a limited area, the field for the containment of rapid flashes of unlimited and infinite thought, neither will nor thought call be said to be generated within it, even according to materialistic Science, the impassable chasm between matter and mind having been confessed both by Tyndall and many others. The fact is that the human brain is simply the canal between two planes - the psycho-spiritual and the material - through which every abstract and metaphysical idea filters from the Manasic down to the lower human consciousness. Therefore, the ideas about the infinite and the absolute are not, nor can they be, within our brain capacities. They can be faithfully mirrored only by our Spiritual consciousness, thence to be more or less faintly projected on to the tables of our perceptions on this plane. Thus [13] while the records of even important events are often obliterated from our memory, not the most trifling action of our lives can disappear from the "Soul's" memory, because it is no MEMORY for it, but an ever present reality on the plane which lies outside our conceptions of space and time. "Man is the measure of all things," said Aristotle; and surely he did not mean by man, the form of flesh, bones and muscles!

Of all the deep thinkers Edgard Quinet, the author of Creation, expressed this idea the best. Speaking of man, full of feelings and thoughts of which he has either no consciousness at all, or which he feels only as dim and hazy impressions, he shows that man realizes quite a small portion only of his moral being. "The thoughts we think, but are unable to define and formulate, once repelled, seek refuge in the very root of our being." ... When chased by the persistent efforts of our will "they retreat before it, still further, still deeper into - who knows what - fibres, but wherein they remain to reign and impress us unbidden and unknown to ourselves ..."

Yes; they become as imperceptible and as unreachable as the vibrations of sound and colour when these surpass the normal range. Unseen and eluding grasp, they yet work, and thus lay the foundations of our future actions and thoughts, and obtain mastery over us, though we may never think of them and are often ignorant of their very being and presence. Nowhere does Quinet, the great student of Nature, seem more right in his observations than when speaking of the mysteries with which we are all surrounded: "The mysteries of neither earth nor heaven but those present in the marrow of our bones, in our brain cells, our nerves and fibres. No need," he adds, "in order to search for the unknown, to lose ourselves in the realm of the stars, when here, near us and in us, rests the unreachable. As our world is mostly formed of imperceptible beings which are the real constructors of its continents, so likewise is man."

Verily so; since man is a bundle of obscure, and to himself unconscious perceptions, of indefinite feelings and misunderstood emotions, of ever-forgotten memories and knowledge that becomes on the surface of his plane - ignorance. Yet, while physical memory in a healthy living man is often obscured, one fact crowding out another weaker one, at the moment of the great change that man calls death - that which we call "memory" seems to return to us in all its vigour and freshness.

May this not be due as just said, simply to the fact that, for a few seconds, at least, our two memories (or rather the two states, the highest and the lowest state, of consciousness) blend together, thus forming one, and that the dying being finds himself on a plane wherein there is neither past nor future, but all is one present? Memory, as we all know, is strongest with regard to its early associations, then when the future man is only a child, and more of a soul than of a body; and if memory is a part of our Soul, then, as Thackeray has somewhere said, it must be of necessity eternal. Scientists deny this; we, Theosophists, affirm that it is so. They have for [14] what they hold but negative proofs; we have, to support us, innumerable facts of the kind just instanced, in the three cases described by us. The links of the chain of cause and effect with relation to mind are, and must ever remain a terra-incognita to the materialist. For if they have already acquired a deep conviction that as Pope says -

"Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain
Our thoughts are link'd by many a hidden chain ...

- and that they are still unable to discover these chains, how can they hope to unravel the mysteries of the higher, Spiritual, Mind!

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OPENING DOORS TOGETHER
Eileen Margaret Walker

What would happen if a group of people met together with "no holds barred," and discussed the issues most vital to them as theosophists and human beings? What if every theosophist felt that his ideas and convictions were meant to have a place in the present Theosophical Movement - even though, with the passage of the days and the years, he might alter both his convictions and his ideas? How can the human resources of mind and heart be released so that they may be poured into work for Theosophy?

To be a theosophist is not so much a matter of education as of aspiration; a theosophist is to be defined not by what he presently is, so much as by what he is dedicated to. The theosophist's task is not to acquire theosophical information, but rather to learn how to acquire knowledge theosophically. There are more opportunities for learning all around us, at every moment, than we ever avail ourselves of. And the reason why they are so many closed doors, as far as we are concerned, is that we do not understand fully how the mind is enlightened - specifically, how our mind is enlightened. H.P.B., therefore, does more than "teach," as we ordinarily understand the term: she teaches how to learn from anybody, any book, any experience, any time, anywhere.

One consideration H.P.B. emphasizes - not to be found in worldly education - is that true wisdom comes only through a pure motive, steadfast will, and unremitting work. Many who would never call themselves "writers" (although they might like to learn to write), have a strong and sure power of expression because they genuinely wish to share their deepest thoughts and feelings with others. A feeling of mutual respect often inspires this sort of exchange between two individuals, and in writing, one needs only to extend this feeling (in his mind, or abstractly) to people he does not know personally, who, reading his words, will feel a kinship with the author.

This act of imagination - imagining an audience who will be appreciative of the efforts made, if not always of the result achieved - is difficult. This is one reason why many are struck powerless by the very act of taking up pen or pencil or confronting a blank piece of paper. To overcome this, we [15] need to feel that it is important for us to say what we really think and know and feel, even if we cannot believe (to begin with) that what we say is important. Another way to overcome writer's inertia, as it may be called, is to remember how our minds are stimulated and often inspired by the simple words of someone else who is only telling what to him seems "common knowledge," and what to us is a "new idea."

Returning again to the question of motive, we will observe that the mind is somewhat like a vessel, which can only be further filled if it is first partly emptied. Why it should be so, is something of a mystery, but every one has had the experience of being saturated with theosophical information on a subject - or with Theosophy itself, as a study - until some occasion presented itself in which he had to "give out" what he had absorbed, or make use of some explanation he had mastered in the Teachings. Then, as if by magic, he feels an inner stimulus to return to the literature, to dig on deeper into the doctrines, to follow the explanation still further. Perhaps he has created a mental "vacuum," which irresistibly draws new ideas in to his mind.

Writing is one way of giving in this fashion, and often an idea, after it is written out, will cease to have the fascination for us that it once had - while going on to fascinate the reader. So, it is a common experience for the writer to feel, after having set forth what to him was an exciting or interesting idea, that it is "no good, after all." What he should say to himself is that it is no further good to him, but it may be to others - and he should let the others decide that for themselves.

Writing out an idea is also a psychological help in many instances. Where a problem or a question or some anxiety plagues our mind, and we cannot make a decision or get a clear picture of a situation, writing down what is going round and round in our heads has been known to clear matters up wonderfully. There is a real sense in which this brings difficulties "down and out" of our inner squirrel-cages. That is, they become objective, something we can see and study, as against something subjective which is almost wholly a matter of feeling and private interpretation, usually uncertain in the extreme.

By trying to write theosophically (no matter what we write about, or what style we employ); by trying to consider why we write and how we think; by trying to be sincere in what we say and to respect our own and the reader's integrity; by trying to distinguish between our imagination and our fancy; by trying to appreciate the effect of our intent and of our power to concentrate - by all these attempts, we shall find ourselves gradually able to discriminate the true from the false in all writing.

It is not enough to believe that H.P.B. wrote the Truth: we must be able to recognize what is true about what she wrote, what is true in what other authors write, and what is true in what we and our friends write. This power of discrimination and judgment does not apply only to the written word, but also to the spoken word, for here again, in the final analysis, we need to know for ourselves when truth is being spoken and when we [16] are hearing something else in the name of Truth.

H.P.B's writings are more useful to the sceptic than to the believer, in the sense that they are more apt to be used by the sceptic who appreciates their force, than by the believer who merely accepts their "truth." The questioner learns more than the yes-man; the honest doubter moves more swiftly toward wisdom than do the mentally lazy and obtuse who imagine that their "trust in H.P.B." will automatically draw into their heads the knowledge she worked for incarnations to master - through Doubt and Despair and Testing of the very Soul!

The theosophical student fords no quiet stream by conveniently-placed stepping-stones (placed there, forsooth! by someone else). He must wade into a rushing river, and set down his own stepping-stones, one by one - with, perhaps, many trips back to the shore to get the water out of his lungs and pick up another sturdy boulder. The man who is afraid to leave one idea for another, will never have his own bridge across that river of Doubt and Ignorance: he will try to stand on the first or second stone he puts down - or, possibly, on a stone he found in the river, discarded by some predecessor! The smaller the notion he is "marooned on," the more fearsome the river will appear, and the more impossible will seem the crossing. The lighter his step becomes, the briefer his stop on the successive stones, the safer - paradoxically enough - will be his journey. But for this, his heart must be light - it must be lifted with the desire to know for the sake of others.

We have nothing to fear but inertia, passive acquiescence, withheld convictions, disguised thoughts, unexpressed ideas. We are called upon to practice freedom of conscience to the best of our ability, for a free conscience goes with an open mind, a mind opened for others to enter and share, as well as for ideas to enter and grow.

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PROMOTION FUND

We deeply appreciate the donations which our good friends have recently sent to our Promotion Fund. We trust they will continue to keep us in mind. The following donations have been received between February 1st and April 1st, 1953: L.V. $2.00; W.J.C. $2.00; G.B. $0.50; L.E. $0.50; M.C.C. $3.50; H.D. $2.00; H.S. $0.50; J.C. $0.50; M.E.P. $0.50; H.R. $3.50; K.K. $22.00; F.L. G. 2.00; D.S. $2.00.

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"If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours." - Henry David Thoreau.