A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XIII
No. 3 (69) Winter - 1956-57

[Cover photo: The Pyramids of Egypt.]


A Living Philosophy for Humanity

Published every Three Months. Sponsored by an International Group of Theosophists.
Objectives: To uphold and promote the Original Principles of the modern Theosophical Movement, and to disseminate the teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy as set forth by H.P. Blavatsky and her Teachers.
Editor: Boris de Zirkoff.
Subscriptions: $1.50 a year (four issues); single copy 40 cents. Send all subscriptions, renewals and correspondence to: 615 South Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles 5, California. Make checks and money orders 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 Editor is responsible for unsigned articles only.



The True Power

In the silences of a deep, strong life, lie great wells of force, and all who approach that life bathe therein, whether consciously or unconsciously. It is enough for you if you find such to be within yourself, enough to keep its waters pure and sweet - let them say what they will. For this is the truest teaching, the teaching that endures, and without it all words or acts are valueless. That which you live, all men in time will know. And its power over them will be greater as they find it within themselves - not emanating from you or any other source. The flowers growing on the river's bank owe their life to its refreshing flow, but the river considers them not, content to fulfill the law of its being and seek the ocean. Thus we often do most for others when we are not thinking of it, but striving merely in each moment for what is best and highest. The good, therefore, streams through us, and accomplishes far more by such impersonality. I would have you desire then that good should be accomplished, rather than that you should accomplish it. - Cave, in The Theosophical Forum, Vol. VI, October, 1900.

In these days we do not think much of our duties, but think exclusively of our rights. The whole keynote of Indian culture in the past was dharma. Every individual under the sun was supposed to be carrying on his shoulders, so to say, the duty which he was bound to discharge. So long as this sense of duty, obligation to the family, to the community, to various relatives existed, man was comparatively happy and contented, in spite of the poverty of his circumstances. No one can really be happy, however well off he might be, if he is merely clamoring for more and more ...

It is always in giving that a person finds happiness, not in clamoring for more, not in seeking to advance oneself at the expense of one's fellows, which only results in strife, greed and discontent ... - N. Sri Ram, in The Theosophist, August, 1956. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

We had dreamt of a better world ... We had been told by figures prominent on the stage of current history that the chances for peace and good-will among men were greater than ever ... With eager thought and hopeful heart, we had pictured ourselves a global family of nations bent upon a common task - the building of a new commonwealth of the people, dedicated to the arts of peace and progress. The harnessing of the atom for the good of all men, the development of science and research across all boundary lines and racial discrimination, the recognition of the simple right of all men to unfold their own particular lines of growth and culture ... all these, and many other noble ideals were floating in the ambient air, seeking for embodiment.

Then suddenly, torn violently from these ideas which reflected but our over-optimism, we saw coming upon us from the surrounding darkness of unregenerate human nature a black cloud of cruelty, oppression, greed and inhumanity. Brothers were killing brothers; men were trampling the inherent dignity of other men like themselves; innocent men, women and children were mowed down with the latest implements of destruction; deeds of unspeakable cruelty, selfishness, and brutality gave the lie to streams of high-talking and lofty word-weaving, and people who but a short while before had declared themselves to be the protagonists of liberty, freedom and equality, engaged in sordid chicanery, dishonest double-dealing, or outright rapine and devastation ...

We had dreamt of a better, nobler world ... Suddenly, we woke up from the enchanting, lovely dream, and looking around, after a few brief moments of dismay, found ourselves, of all places, back home in the jungle ... But our dream is not dead! It is still a living thing, pulsating, beating with its own heart-beat, flooding with its un-earthly radiance the higher levels of human consciousness, brooding over the imperfections of men and the temporary triumph of the powers of darkness ... That dream can never die! Out of it were born all the noble reforms throughout untold centuries of human progress; all the selfless deeds of valor which have helped the race to mount the thorny road of spiritual unfoldment and material growth; all the visions of the future which, from time to time, became the present, and gradually receded into the past, while greater visions rose upon the distant horizons of our hopes, beckoning us to come up higher ... Out of that ageless dream of human perfectibility and global consciousness came the mighty thoughts which have shaped the new forms of civilization, and gave impetus to men and women to attempt the seeming impossible, and to scale new heights of achievement ... Out of it will come other thoughts, yet mightier and nobler, which will sustain the coming generations in their struggle for a world of enduring peace and good-will among men ... [4]

We enter through the mystic Portals of Januarius with hope undimmed. We see the old and venerable god Janus, with his two faces, one turned towards the past, and the other towards the future, to which he holds the key. Many doors did he open in the past, now lost in the night of time; many other doors will he open into the un-dreamt possibilities of the future, and the ever-widening vistas of coming centuries.

It is precisely when the heavy clouds of human passions rise again from the depths of our as yet largely imperfect nature, that the time is auspicious to re-assert our noblest ideals, to take firm resolutions to work for the upliftment of the race, to impress upon our plastic minds thoughts of perpetual growth, endless improvement, unending change along the spiral course of evolution; it is just when ideals are trampled, and heroic deeds are denied or laughed at, that it is of paramount need for true men and women to proclaim the enduring strength of these ideals and the lasting value of noble action, backed by strong and lofty thoughts.

Herein lies the essential purpose and value of the modern Theosophical Movement. It is a granary of ideas intended to impregnate the fertile soil of a new cycle of thought, and its votaries are pioneers of the spirit, whose life is dedicated to the liberation of the human race from the shackles of the senses and the dominion of material interests. Others have done it in ages past, and still others will follow the present workers when these have gone to their temporary rest. It is a work of ages. It requires men and women of vision, to whom personal concerns of praise, well-being, recognition and reward are of very small value if any, and whose heart and mind are astir with the echo of a distant symphony whose chords are vibrant with the music of the spheres, whose strings respond to the Wind of the Spirit ...

The call is for men and women of magnanimous heart, of all-encompassing sympathy, of greatness of soul, whose quiet serenity of the spirit creates peace among discord, light in the midst of darkness, wholeness in separateness and good-will among contention. With good old Horace we may say: "Every man whom perverse folly, whom ignorance of the truth drives on in blindness, the Porch of Chrysippus and his flock pronounce insane. This definition takes in whole nations, this takes in mighty kings, all save only the sage" (Satires, II, iii, 43-46.). The future will establish upon a sound scientific basis the fact that all inhumanity of man to man is a state of temporary insanity, a "descent" or "stepping down" from the natural level of genuine humanhood, and therefore must be treated as a disease of the mind and an affliction of the soul.

The road to spiritual growth lies through the jungle of our personal selfhood, and the barbed wire entanglements of our passions; through the bleak and dreary lands of despair and doubt, and on to the sunlit slopes of intuitive knowledge, towards the pure snow-covered peaks of our Spiritual Himalaya, where the unfading glory of our own Divine Self shines in the silent stratosphere of our own inner being. [5]


Jagrata, Swapna, Sushupti: Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless Sleep
William Quan Judge

[Originally published in The Path, New York, Vol. III, August, 1888, pp. 147-49, under the pseudonym of Eusebio Urban.]

I speak of ordinary men. The Adept, the Master, the Yogi, the Mahatma, the Buddha, each lives in more than three states while incarnated upon this world, and they are fully conscious of them all, while the ordinary man is only conscious of the first - the waking-life, as the word conscious is now understood.

Every theosophist who is in earnest ought to know the importance of these three states, and especially how essential it is that one should not lose in Swapna the memory of experiences in Sushupti, nor in Jagrata those of Swapna, and vice versa.

Jagrata, our waking state, is the one in which we must be regenerated; where we must come to a full consciousness of the Self within, for in no other is salvation possible.

When a man dies he goes either to the Supreme Condition from which no return against his will is possible, or to other states - heaven, hell, avitchi, devachan, what not - from which return to incarnation is inevitable. But he cannot go to the Supreme State unless he has perfected and regenerated himself; unless the wonderful and shining heights on which the Masters stand have been reached while he is in a body. This consummation, so devoutly desired cannot be secured unless at some period in his evolution the being takes that lead to the final attainment. These steps can and must be taken. In the very first is contained the possibility of the last, for causes once put in motion eternally produce their natural results.

Among those steps are an acquaintance with and understanding of the three states first spoken of.

Jagrata acts on Swapna, producing dreams and suggestions, and either disturbs the instructions that come down from the higher state or aids the person through waking calmness and concentration which tend to lessen the distortions of the mental experiences of dream life. Swapna again in its turn acts on the waking state (Jagrata) by the good or bad suggestions made to him in dreams. All experience and all religions are full of proofs of this. In the fabled Garden of Eden the wily serpent whispered in the ear of the sleeping mortal to the end that when awake he should violate the command. In Job it is said that God instructeth man in sleep, in dreams, and in visions of the night. And the common introspective and dream life of the most ordinary people needs no proof. Many cases are within my knowledge where the man was led to commit acts against which his better nature rebelled, the [6] suggestion for the act coming to him in dream. It was because the unholy state of his waking thoughts infected his dreams, and laid him open to evil influences. By natural action and reaction he poisoned both Jagrata and Swapna.

It is therefore our duty to purify and keep clear these two planes.

The third state common to all is Sushupti, which has been translated "dreamless sleep." The translation is inadequate, for, while it is dreamless, it is also a state in which even criminals commune through the higher nature with spiritual beings and enter into the spiritual plane. It is the great spiritual reservoir by means of which the tremendous momentum toward evil living is held in check. And because it is involuntary with them, it is constantly salutary in its effect.

In order to understand the subject better, it is well to consider a little in detail what happens when one falls asleep, has dreams, and then enters Sushupti. As his outer senses are dulled the brain begins to throw up images, the reproductions of waking acts and thoughts, and soon he is asleep. He has then entered a plane of experience which is as real as that just quitted, only that it is of a different sort. We may roughly divide this from the waking life by an imaginary partition on the one side, and from Sushupti by another partition on the other. In this region he wanders until he begins to rise beyond it into the higher. There no disturbances come from the brain action, and the being is a partaker to the extent his nature permits of the "banquet of the gods." But he has to return to waking state, and he can get back by no other road than the one he came upon, for, as Sushupti extends in every direction and Swapna under it also in every direction, there is no possibility of emerging at once from Sushupti in Jagrata. And this is true even though on returning no memory of any dream is retained.

Now the ordinary non-concentrated man, by reason of the want of focus due to multitudinous and confused thought, has put his Swapna field or state into confusion, and in passing through it the useful and elevating experiences of Sushupti become mixed up and distorted, not resulting in the benefit to him as a waking person which is his right as well as his duty to have. Here again is seen the lasting effect, either prejudicial or the opposite, of the conduct and thoughts when awake.

So it appears, then, that what he should try to accomplish is such a clearing up and vivification of Swapna state as shall result in removing the confusion and distortion existing there, in order that upon emerging into waking life he may retain a wider and brighter memory of what occurred in Sushupti. This is done by an increase of concentration upon high thoughts, upon noble purposes, upon all that is best and most spiritual in him while awake. The best result cannot be accomplished in a week or a year, perhaps not in a life, but, once begun, it will lead to the perfection of spiritual cultivation in some incarnation hereafter.

By this course a centre of attraction is set up in him while awake, and to that all his energies flow, so that it may be figured to ourselves as a focus in the waking man. To this focal point - looking at it from that plane - [7] converge the rays from the whole waking man toward Swapna, carrying him into dream-state with greater clearness. By reaction this creates another focus in Swapna, through which he can emerge into Sushupti in a collected condition. Returning he goes by means of these points through Swapna, and there, the confusion being lessened, he enters into his usual waking state the possessor, to some extent at least, of the benefits and knowledge of Sushupti. The difference between the man who is not concentrated and the one who is, consists in this, that the first passes from one state to the other through the imaginary partitions postulated above, just as sand does through a sieve, while the concentrated man passes from one to the other similarly to water through a pipe or the rays of the sun through a lens. In the first case each stream of sand is a different experience, a different set of confused and irregular thoughts, whereas the collected man goes and returns the owner of regular and clear experience.

These thoughts are not intended to be exhaustive, but so far as they go it is believed they are correct. The subject is one of enormous extent as well as great importance, and theosophists are urged to purify, elevate, and concentrate the thoughts and acts of their waking hours so that they shall not continually and aimlessly, night after night and day succeeding day, go into and return from these natural and wisely appointed states, no wiser, no better able to help their fellow men. For by this way, as by the spider's small thread, we may gain the free space of spiritual life.



Most of us who are connected with what is known in these days as Theosophy have, at one time in our lives, believed that all knowledge of the higher kind was to be found in a certain old book, and in the teaching of the religion which claims that book as its especial property. It is probable we would still be holding that belief were it not for that restless something in the mind which is ever wanting to know, to know. We did not silence that enquiring faculty, but let it lead us wither it would. We found the teaching did not contain all we wanted to know. Then we acted hastily. We blamed the book, concluding it was a dead book, a book without a soul, and we severed our minds from it and the teaching. We felt sure there was no secret in the keeping of great Mother Nature which could be withheld from the ken of one determined to know, and with this keynote to our thought we adventured into strange regions of soul, our vision widening in the new environment. But now, after the passing of years, the old associations have faded from our minds, and some of us are again reading the old book and finding in its pages many things wonderful and wise.

What, we enquire, is the new thing which has come into our lives, making us see more clearly; making the old words, beforetime a jargon only, bring a living fire with their enunciation? What is it that was lacking in the [8] teaching, which we have now, in some measure, acquired knowledge of?

It is the Mysteries. We have seen the veil slightly lifted, and we find the book telling of hidden worlds of which we have learnt to know a little. It is now a long time since there was any school of the Mysteries connected with the religion of the West, the religion of the Cross. It has taught ethics only, and ethics alone cannot stand. The teaching became "goody-goody," and there were some whose rebel soul revolted, who preferred a forceful evil to a feeble-minded good.

But I said the veil has been slightly lifted. We have heard of those Perfect Ones who are our elder brothers, and through much brooding have learned something of their nature. We get glimmerings of that great majesty of soul which must be his who would aspire to companionship with those Princes in the "realm of the Overworld." We know that they have risen above the virtues. I would not be misunderstood, but I tell you it is useless to preach ethics to me unless I feel that echo within which comes from the Divine. I say that it is not the virtues which count, but that imperial quality of the soul which carries the virtues in its train as its proper attributes. And who will dare preach ethics whom the Self has not chosen and inspired? He whom the Self selects speaks, and lo! it is the voice of a lawgiver, who speaks that which he knows. Let us not suppose that this kingship of soul is a quality born of aught but the Self alone. It can only be his who is interiorly conscious that behind him opens the vast, who feels the beating of that great heart of love from which throbs the life of universes.

If it is not common property with all of us it is because we are incarnate in an imperfect form. The divine man cannot work perfectly with a vehicle he is unable to ensoul. But if you and I cannot have the majesty of the great ones, we have odd moments, far apart, maybe, when we appear to draw nearer to the Self. We can look forward to them and be prepared. We may look back on them and be inspired. They are like great stepping-places, and he who strides along them is a walker of the skies.

Now of these Perfect Ones how shall we think? As Companions. Of all the names we give them this is the one I love best. I am not a believer in the seclusion of the Adept. Do they not call themselves the Brothers? And this brotherhood is full, sufficient, complete. I cannot conceive of their finding a necessity for rules of conduct. Their companionship is spontaneous and free. It is not the brotherhood which is at pains to define the rights of the individual. Its soul is that spirit of love which is ever giving, giving, and knows no sense of loss. Yet in the far past, when the choice was ours, we preferred the world of lust and petty worries to their companionship. Yes, we made such a choice, else we would not be here; we should have passed on with the rest of our race. But let us not dwell on this; it makes the heart too sad, and the Path is still open.

Yet we make barriers for ourselves. We have to give up this thing and that, and we speak of sacrifices made in order that the Path may be trodden. Alas! that we should magnify our difficulties, making virtues where there are none. I say there should be [9] no talk of sacrifice. Weighed in the balance against the possibility of that high perfection there is nothing in this world worth the dignity of the name. Sacrifice is a word coined for higher use. What is it we have to give up? What is this huge thing we call the personality? It is naught but a habit of mind, a mould in which we have allowed our souls to be shaped. What ages of sorrow and suffering we go through, all that this habit of mind may be altered! Yet when we reach one of those stepping-places I spoke of, the work of aeons becomes for a brief instant an accomplished fact, and we see how thin and weak is the wall of adamant which separates us from the divine.

We have learnt this, then, from the Mysteries, which was not in the teaching, we have learnt of the possibility of perfection. Shall we endeavor to realize it? I say, Yes! Let us look for the goal which ever recedes, and follow it. What matters it how many lives await us here when the very determination to conquer sweeps the years aside, and we are again in the Golden Age? Let us recognize no barriers, no failures. If the way be beset with brambles let us take to ourselves wings and fly. Thus shall we be free: for him who follows that receding flame which burns in the heart Nature can forge no chain.


By an Eastern F.T.S.

[Originally published in The Theosophist, Vol. VI, March 1885, pp. 125-27.]

In considering this subject we must, above all things, take care to realize that the seven principles in man are not several entities or substances that can be separated and each considered as a distant individuality having definite characteristics peculiar to itself. In Sanskrit the different principles are called Upadhis, i.e., the sheaths or seats of the different states of existence of the ONE LIFE.

The seat of consciousness which gives rise to the feeling of individuality and the sense "I am I" is in the fifth principle.

If there is no fifth principle, i.e., if there is no consciousness of individuality, all the other states of existence are non-existent, for without a percipient ego there can be neither perception nor any object of perception. Hence it is said, that without the son (the germ of consciousness in the Logos roused into activity at the time of Cosmic evolution) there is no Father or Mother. The Father and the Holy Ghost come into existence when the Son is born, and this is the true occult explanation of the Trinity in Unity and Unity in Trinity. Perhaps it may be objected that animals can take cognisance of existence although they have no fifth principle; but the reason for this is that although the fifth principle is not united to the lower principles of the animals, it yet overshadows them. Thus, properly speaking, it is the fifth principle only which plays a prominent part in the various states of man in life and after [10] death. By its association (no matter how, for the present) with the lower principles, it generates earthly and material tendencies which attract it downwards. At the same time, being overshadowed by its father, the sixth and seventh principles, it generates higher aspirations which attract it upwards. After physical death, when the entity passes into Kama-Loka, the real struggle is confined to the fifth principle alone, that is, to the seat of consciousness together with the affinities generated in it during its earthly incarnation. In Kama-Loka, therefore, the fourth principle of Kama-Rupa, which is the Upadhi or seat of all earthly desires and passions, etc., drags towards itself those affinities of the fifth principle which are of a material nature, while the higher aspirations are attracted towards the sixth and the seventh principles.

The conception may be made clearer by remembering that the seventh principle is the source of energy, while the sixth principle is merely the energy radiated by the seventh. The states of existence of man may be divided into three which can be again divided into seven. The first three are: - physical life, astral life and spiritual life. The seven states are: - (1) Physical life, (2) the state between physical and astral life, (3) the astral life, (4) the state between the astral life and the spiritual life, and (5, 6, 7) the three states of spiritual life. In physical life, all the physical activities are strong while the astral life is exhibited in the temporary cessation of the functions of physical activities, as takes place in sleep, etc. Each life manifests itself only on those spheres to which its organisation is adapted. Thus for manifestation on this physical world a physical organism is essential, and without its help no activity can be manifested in this sphere. In this life we have as it were brought with us such all accretion of principles as has been produced by the effects of the causes generated in a previous incarnation. At the same time we have an organisation which enables us to generate new causes. When the physical body is worn out by the activities manifested through it, the cohesive force which held its particles together becomes weaker and weaker until physical death takes place. We do not therefore die at once (except in cases of sudden death caused by accidents, etc.), but are gradually dying every moment of our lives. The vital principle, finding its present Sthulasarira unfit for habitation, leaves it, to animate some other Sthulasarira. The third principle, which is the agglomeration of the magnetic emanations of the physical body, cannot but die at the death of the latter. The fourth principle, however, by its contact with the third in physical life, has gathered round itself some of its essence. But this essence is like the smell of a rose, which lingers only for a time after the rose has been destroyed. Hence it is that the so-called astral body is seen at a distance by the friends or relatives of a dying man. The concentrated thought, an intense desire to see a friend, etc., clothes itself in the fourth principle, which, by the essence of the third gathered around itself makes itself objective to the distant friend. And such a manifestation is possible, only so long as this essence is still retained. This is the reason for the Hindu custom for [11] burning the dead, for when the body is once burnt, no more astral essence can be drawn out from it. But a buried body, although in the process of decomposition, still furnishes the aura, however feeble it may be, through which the dead entity finds itself able to manifest itself. In the dying man the struggle between the physical and the astral man goes on till it ends in physical death. This result produces a shock stunning the astral man who passes into a state of unconscious sleep until he re-awakens into the Kama-Loka. This sleep is the second state of existence. It will thus become apparent why it is that "apparitions" are seen at the time of death. Sometimes it so happens that these "apparitions" are seen sometime after the supposed death of the man. But on careful examination it may be found that the man only appears to be dead; and although the medical faculty may not be able to detect any sign of life in him, still, in reality, the struggle between the physical and the astral man is not yet ended.

It is because this struggle is silently going on that the ancients enjoined solemn silence in the awful presence of death. When the man awakens into the Kama-Loka, he begins his third state of existence. The physical organisation, which alone enables man to produce causes, is not there, and he is, as it were, concerned only with those affinities which he has already engendered. While this struggle in the fifth principle is going in, it is almost impossible for the entity to manifest itself upon earth. And when a dweller on this earth tries to establish a connection with that entity, he only disturbs its peace. Hence it is that the ancients prohibited these practices, to which they gave the name of necromancy, as deadly sin. The nature of the struggle depends upon the tendencies engendered by the individual in his physical life. If he was too material, too gross, too sensual, and if he had hardly any spiritual aspirations, then the downward attraction of the lower affinities causes an assimilation of the lower consciousness with the fourth principle. The man then becomes a sort of astral animal, and continues in that state until, in process of time, the astral entity is disintegrated. The few spiritual aspirations that he might have had are transferred to the monad; but the separate consciousness being dragged into the animal soul, dies with it and his personality is thus annihilated.

If a man, on the other hand, is tolerably spiritual, as most of our fellowmen are, then the struggle in Kama-Loka varies according to the nature of his affinities; until the consciousness being linked to the higher ones is entirely separated from the "astral shell," and is ready to go into Devachan. If a person is highly spiritual, his Kama-Loka is of a short duration, for the consciousness is quickly assimilated to the higher principles and passes into Devachan. It will thus be seen that in any case intercourse with the Kama-Loka entities is detrimental to the progress of those entities and also injurious to the persons indulging in such intercourse. This interruption is just as bad and even far worse than the disturbance in the death-chamber on this Physical plane. When it is remembered that tile fourth principle by its contact with the fifth has assimilated in itself the essence of the [12] latter, it becomes an easy matter to account for those rare phenomena in which a higher degree of intelligence has been exhibited by the Kama-Loka entities dragged into mediumistic seances. Of course there are cases in which an "astral shell" acts merely as a mirror through which the intelligence of the "medium" is reflected, as there are others in which "elementals" make use of these "astral shells." But in those cases where the Kama-Loka entities actually appear and exhibit a rare intelligence, it is on account of the essence absorbed by the fourth principle during its connection with the fifth. There are again cases in which the Kama-Loka entities of "suicides" and of persons dying unnatural and accidental deaths may appear and exhibit rare intelligence, because those entities have to live in Kama-Loka the period they would have passed on earth if those accidents had not carried them away - before the struggle between the astral and spiritual affinities commences. The causes engendered by them during earth-life are not yet ripe for fruition and they must wait their natural time. But to recall these into "mediumistic" circles is equally dangerous as in the above-mentioned cases, and for the very same reasons. It may not be positively injurious in all cases, but at any rate the process is fraught with danger and should not be undertaken by inexperienced persons. As regards those good persons, who, it is apprehended, may on account of some unsatisfied desire linger on earth, the Hindus have a peculiar custom which is generally relegated to the limbo of exploded superstitions, because its scientific rationale is not properly understood. If the desire be of a spiritual nature, then of course, it is only concerned with the spiritual affinities set up in the Manas. But if it be of a material nature, such as some act to be done for the welfare of a friend or family, etc., etc., then only need it be taken into account. In ancient times, an initiate or adept was always present in the death-chamber, and attended to the necessary conditions and thus released the dying man from his earthly attractions. This is the real origin of "extreme unction" in the Roman Catholic Church and the custom of having a priest near the dying man in other religions.

Gradually as a materializing tendency began to assert itself, the Hindus invented a ceremony which is the next best thing they could do under the circumstances. It is a general belief among them that after physical death, the entity lingers on the earth for a period of ten days before passing into any other state of existence. During this period they perform a regular daily ceremony in which they prepare some rice balls and put them before crows. The belief is that crows are so sensitive as to detect any astral figure they see. If the man dies, having some unsatisfied desire, then his astral figure covers the rice balls which the crows cannot touch. If the balls are immediately touched, then it is concluded that the man having no unsatisfied desire is no longer earthbound. But if they are not, then the relatives of the dead person go on recounting all the wishes of the latter, that they can possibly think of, promising at the same time to fulfil them. When the right thing is hit on, then it is believed the entity immediately [13] goes off to its sphere, and the crows touch the balls. Whatever it may be, the Hindus have a horror of those elementaries and instead of dragging them into seances they try by every possible means to release them from the earth's atmosphere. When the struggle between the lower affinities and the higher aspirations of the man is ended in Kama-Loka, astral death takes place in that sphere as does physical death on this earth. The shock of death again throws the entity into a state of unconsciousness before its passage into Devachan. The "shell" left behind may manifest itself until it is disintegrated, but it is not the real spiritual man; and the rare intelligence exhibited by it, occasionally, is the radiation of the aura caught by it during its connection with the spiritual individuality. From its fourth state of existence, it re-awakens in Devachan, the conditions of which, according to Hindu books are, Salokata, Samipata and Sayujata. In the lowest state, i.e., of Salokata, the entity is only under the influence of the sixth and the seventh principles, while in the second state, i.e., of Samipata, it is fully over-shadowed by the latter. It is in the Sayujata state only that it is fully merged into its Logos to be thrown again into re-incarnation when it has fully enjoyed the effects of the spiritual aspirations created by it. It is only very highly spiritualised entities that reach this highest state of Devachan. Of course, the cases of adepts are here entirely left out of consideration, for as the Bhagavad-Gita says, the Jnani reaches that state from which there is no re-birth and which is called Moksha or Mukti. The period of gestation between the Devachan condition and the physical re-birth may be called the eighth state; but in the Hindu books the physical life being the basis of the seven after-states is not included in the category of the Sapta higher lokas, just as in the septenary principles, Parabrahma is not taken into account for the very same reason. From the subjective standpoint, the Parabrahma, and from the objective standpoint the Sthulasarira are not included in the septenary division, as the former is the basis upon which the whole structure is built.


"If common life is to be lived nobly and well ... it must be by common people exerting themselves as strenuously for some form of ideal excellence as they would for a great career; it must be by multitudes of common people living lives of greatness in obscurity without thought of applause or reward, but solely for the sake of the life itself, knowing it to be worth all it costs." - Lucien Price, in Another Athens Shall Arise. [14]


E. Hoffman Price

Many Theosophical students are opposed to the practice of astrology. One earnest member of a study group said to an advocate of the divine science, "Wouldn't it be better to devote all your effort to Theosophy?" Another, equally earnest and bewildered, came up with this gem: "How can you believe in astrology? In The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. says that the true astrology is lost."

Thus cornered by his well-meaning friends and fellow students, the least of the kasdim answered, "Astrology can no more be separated from Theosophy than can geometry, algebra, or calculus be set aside as not being part of the body of mathematics." Then, to the other critic, "Granted that the true astrology is 'lost', is that a reason for not seeking to recover it? It is only by persistent study and practice that one gains an inkling as to what H.P.B. meant by those lines. You will not have to read many pages of her collected works to learn that she did not discourage astrological research."

The third object of the Theosophical Society is "to investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers of man."

W.Q. Judge opens Chapter XIV of The Ocean of Theosophy by saying, "The doctrine of Cycles is one of the most important in the whole theosophical system, though the least known and of all the one most infrequently referred to."

The Secret Doctrine, Proem: "This second assertion is the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of flux and reflux, ebb and flow ... so perfectly universal and without exception, that it is easy to comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely fundamental laws of the universe."

After erecting, analyzing, and synthesizing several hundred horoscopes, the student will have acquired far more knowledge of cycles and the law of periodicity, than he could have won in several incarnations devoted to book study, stuffing his brain with the statements of other people. He will have experienced realities. He will have had glimpses of the meanings behind the words in the Theosophical books he has read.

Karma is generally portrayed in terms of reward and punishment. Those who manage to break through this materialistic and personality-centered roadblock begin to see karma as evolutionary experience from which the Pilgrim gains knowledge of the way back to the Source. But the practice of astrology gives him a more basic concept, a truer awareness, and for this reason:

A horoscope chart is a symbolic representation of the karma of that incarnation. That same chart, through its planets and zodiacal signs, gives the desire pattern of the native. Although the student does at first concentrate on what will happen, and when it will happen, he presently learns to interpret in terms of why these things are likely to occur. Given such and such desires, the native will have motivations that accord, thoughts followed by actions; and he will, because of his desires, attract the friends and [15] associates best suited for the fulfillment, happy or otherwise.

Both the Bhagavad-Gita and the Buddhist scriptures devote much space to the discussion of desire and its effects on the Pilgrim. The practice of astrology gives reality to these teachings, such as mere reading and discussion cannot possibly give. The difference is as that between reading a text book on chemistry, and experimenting in the laboratory.

The popular concept of astrology is such that the Divine Science is equated to fortune telling. This false notion prevents many a potential student from realizing that the Chaldaeans, the kasdim, had in their study of the stars one of the basic ways to wisdom. For the Theosophical student who has no "special gifts" - i.e., psychic or other powers - astrology is the best way of demonstrating, by experience, the validity of many of the fundamental concepts of Theosophy. It is a powerful aid in converting belief into knowledge.

Granted that most astrological practice centers on the individual and his progress, his doings, his vicissitudes; the study, however, need not he confined to the personal level. Benevolent insight into other men's lives cannot help but give glimpses of that which transcends the individual and personal: as below, so above ...



Is there a definite difference between learning and knowledge, and what is their relation to wisdom?

In the light of the theosophical teachings, there is a very definite difference between learning and knowledge, although we know only too well that this difference is rarely pointed out in ordinary books. We should limit the word learning to that which can be learned or acquired from outside sources of information, which means books, speeches, travels, general observation, and the like. The acquiring of a considerable amount of informative facts, and their systematic arrangement in one's mind, ready to be used when occasion arises, makes of a man a scholar, a learned individual, with a vast field of organized learning as a result of his studies. Under this general category we would also have to place an ordinary encyclopaedia, or a specialized text-book on any subject; they are the result of scholarly learning on the part of either one man or many people.

Knowledge, as a term, should be used to denote an inner realization of certain facts in nature, an awareness of reality in one or another sense of it. Knowledge is essentially a spiritual faculty, or perhaps rather the result of the functioning of a certain spiritual faculty. That faculty has to do with intuition, insight, discrimination, sound judgment, justice, open-mindedness, the ability to view things as a whole, instead of as mere separate portions of something unknown; this faculty is concerned with universal bases of life, with the groundwork of ethics (not mere human morals!), with synthesis as opposed to analysis, with the interrelation of all known facts and their overall function and role in the wholeness of the Universe; it is primarily concerned with what is good and [16] what is evil, what is fundamentally working for growth and enlightenment, and what is conducive to disorganization, failure and regress. This faculty, with all of its ramifications, when exercised and used with a will behind it, results in knowledge, intuitive knowledge, direct knowledge of reality; and such knowledge is not directly related to any learning of the mere brain-mind type, and is often found in men and women completely ignorant and un-learned in the ordinary acceptation of these words. Learning may be of some help to knowledge, but it does not produce knowledge; it can sustain it and give it support, but it cannot be its cause or even an important condition for the acquirement of knowledge.

Knowledge is acquired by the development of the spiritual and spiritual-intellectual qualities of our consciousness, and these include the nobly ethical qualities, so that the whole of our consciousness is raised in vibratory quality and becomes more and more attuned to the actual facts of nature, such actual facts being most of the time at considerable variance with supposed "facts" and alleged procedures established by means of purely material research in the field of learning.

Now when knowledge acquired through spiritual faculties is used in the conduct of the affairs of life, trivial or important, the result is wisdom or wise action, as wisdom is in reality applied knowledge (but not applied learning!)

To realize that water will boil at a given temperature, and to wait for this to happen on the gas-burner, is the result of learning or observation. To realize, deeply within oneself, that injustice and insincerity will result in trouble sooner or later, and that only justice and sincerity should be practiced towards others as well as oneself, is the result of knowledge acquired through experience, through many a failure and many a disappointment in the past, and through a broadening of one's spiritual vision. A book, however good, explaining the wisdom of justice and the advantages of sincerity, will never make anyone just or sincere, except perhaps in the sense of being a good hint to begin to do something about these faculties of one's consciousness. Still less will a book suffice to built the quality of wisdom or wise action in any man.

There is often more wisdom, therefore more basic spiritual knowledge, in the lives of poor peasants, or primitive tribes in various parts of the world, than in the cranial cavities of pompous scholars, mutually aggressive and jealous scientists, or sectarian and biased theologians, whose enormous scholarship has successfully veiled the light of their own inner Self, and reduced them to clever and sometimes cunning brain-machines storing up libraries of information and dishing it out occasionally in dry-as-dust terminology, for the bewilderment and further confusion of the crowds.