A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XV
No. 3 (77) - Winter 1958-59

[Cover photo: Hammardalssjon, Jamtland, Sweden.]


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.



"Said the University of Toronto's President Sidney Smith to his students: 'If you choose to work, you will succeed; if you don't, you will fail. If you neglect your work, you will dislike it; if you do it well, you will enjoy it. If you join little cliques, you will be self-satisfied; if you make friends widely, you will be interesting. If you gossip, you will be slandered; if you mind your own business, you will be liked. If you act like a boor, you will be despised; if you act like a human being, you will be respected. If you spurn wisdom, wise people will spurn you; if you seek wisdom, they will seek you. If you adopt a pose of boredom, you will be a bore; if you show vitality, you will be alive. If you spend your free time playing bridge, you will be a good bridge player; if you spend it in reading, discussing and thinking of things that matter, you will be an educated person'." - Time magazine, October 22, 1956.

"We shall not reach the goal by thought and meditation alone. It must be balanced by the love and service of all life around us. This includes not only the people we love, but the people too we perhaps do not love, but who are in need; and still further, all the kingdoms of Nature, even the flowers and inanimate objects. To the spiritually awakened man there is nothing 'common' or 'unclean.' He cannot do otherwise than treat everything with respect and gentleness ... We begin by serving unobtrusively all those around us, and that service does not consist in telling people what to do, or officiously taking decisions and actions out of their hands. This is pure egotism. Sometimes the only service possible is our own silent attitude of mind." - Clara Codd, in The Technique of the Spiritual Life, pp. 118-19. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

The recent case of Boris Pasternak, renowned writer and poet, whose name has of late circled several times around the world, hides within its tragic outlines a profound lesson for all thinking men.

Doctor Zhivago - the work which gave rise to an international furor, with repercussions in every civilized land, is not merely a book, another book on the dusty shelves of public libraries, or in the cosy homes of "well-read" people. Whatever may be its contents, its language, its portrayals and descriptions, it stands unchallenged as a living indictment of an era, a judgment pronounced by the unbeatable logic of history upon the actions and ideas of men whose clever word-weavings have hoodwinked one half of the world for well-nigh two generations.

Pasternak's book contains the one feature, the one factor which no dictatorship, no ruling clique, no self-sufficient tyrant can ever permit to stand unchallenged - it expresses ideas contrary to the established order of things, and differs in its approach from the rules of behaviorism decreed by those in power as legal, acceptable and good.

All else is therefore heresy, impermissible, and evil. So says the self-appointment custodian of human behavior, the final arbiter of human conscience, and so must it be!

But freedom of man's mind, and liberty of speech are subject to no man-made laws, and are rooted in the workings of those universal laws of evolution which no dictatorship, whether political or ecclesiastical, can ever understand or acknowledge, as they spell the eventual end of all dictatorships, and the final debacle of all tyrannies the world over.

Real freedom consists in a state of affairs where liberty for all is the keynote of human action, the essence of human laws, and the verdict of human conscience. Liberty under the law, not license of human passions! Wherever the freedom of human consciousness is restricted by those in power, whose delusions of grandeur make them imagine their own puny selves to be the guardians of truth and the arbiters of supreme justice, the irresistible workings of spiritual laws provide sooner or later some unexpected outlet, which brings forth some totally unpredictable event or personality whose thought or action serves as a witness that freedom cannot die.

It is stated on good authority that when the Nobel Awards were recently presented in a glittering ceremony at Stockholm, with the King and his Court in attendance, and the various recipients had assembled to accept the just reward for their labors, the impressive gathering was dominated by one man - Boris Pasternak - the Man who was not there ...

Was he really not there? ... He must have been in thought! And the thought of a man is that man himself. Let this be bourne in mind! The pivotal events of history, the crucial points in its devious paths, are fashioned by the thoughts of men, not by their temporary bodies. Giordano Bruno, Socrates, John Huss, Joan of Arc, Tolstoy, Hypathia, Lincoln, Pasternak - a motley crowd indeed - are Ideas rather than persons. They portray the triumph of human freedom of conscience over the senses, the slavery of matter, the shackles of ignorance. As thoughts, they remain present in succeeding ages, when their personal lives may have already been forgotten, and the delineaments of their personalities lost in the mists of bygone times. Mankind is nourished by Ideas and Ideals, not by bread alone, still less by dive-bombers, production lines, farming combines, or giant tanks. In an era of crass materialism, of a [4] soul-denying science, and a worthless psychology, mankind needs stars of the first magnitude in the firmament of its inner life, beacon lights of the Eternal - not miserable monkeys pitilessly shot out of missiles to establish beachheads upon the Moon!

The case of Boris Pasternak - the Man who was not there - holds a profound lesson for students of the Ancient Wisdom. It shows above all else how imperative it is for us, as students and seekers, to keep within our own ranks freedom of thought inviolate and strong! There is no dictatorship in the Theosophical Movement, no mental slavery, no rules of behaviorism, no mental or emotional cells within the narrow confines of which you and I are "respectable" or "proper," and outside of which we become heretics, nonconformists or enemies. For the very essence of the Theosophical Movement is "free and fearless investigation of all and everything," in the very words of its chief Founder.

In our Movement which stands for spiritual freedom under the aegis of Universal Laws, there are no books that are permitted, while others are banned. If such a state of affairs ever arises in some fragment of the Movement, it would simply be a witness for long-entrenched human weaknesses, a proof of the fact that every human being has within himself the seeds of obscurantism, power-politics and lust to rule. It is therefore unavoidable that such conditions, if they exist at all, be eventually uprooted, and freedom of thought restored in accordance with the lofty Ideals of the Movement to which our lives are pledged.

In the secret heart of all human life there is a Divine Urge which ever cries out for new and fuller realizations. It is the elan vital of Bergson, the vital leap forward, the hungering quest of the human heart for life, for life more abundant. It demands expression, and its demand is imperious; it must he satisfied, come, what may.

Only that civilization which can lead that great human passion for life onward and upward can establish its claim to the future and to all the endless possibilities of that future. In the present era of human thought, the only civilization which can possibly endure is that one which embraces in its beneficent influence every child of the human race, encompasses all the hopes of mankind, and protects the expression of the most opposite views and ideas. No other social order has even the remotest likelihood of enduring in an era which moves irresistible towards a Federated Humanity.

What we need today more than anything else is faith in the aggressive universalism of Truth. It is our only escape from smallness, bitterness, mediocrity and eventual stagnation.

The vital surge of the human mind and heart demands for its Apostles men and women who experience that passion for the onward-moving life of mankind, who can interpret its message and lay bare its imperatives. Among free men - yea, and sometimes even among slaves - new leaders arise to meet the challenge of great emergencies. These are the men who deny the don'ts and can'ts of conservative eras, who go out and dare the impossible.

The demand of today is for men and women of a higher order altogether. Men and women who have done with the labels of sect or party, who are possessed by the passion for Truth, and are prepared to damn the consequences.

These indeed we can follow, for in them is the promise of the New Era, the emblem of a brighter Dawn. There is nothing more irresistible than the contagion of a triumphant Spirit!

And the Man who was not there ... is just that kind of emblem, a new and enduring guarantee of the resurgent life of the Spirit in man.

If old H.P.B. were here today, she of the heroic days of the movement, what a scathing Editorial would have erupted from her flame-dipped pen!

A Happy New Year to All! [5]


Proofs of its Existence - Mediums in Ancient Times
H. P. Blavatsky

[Originally published in the Spiritual Scientist, Boston, Vol. III, October 14, 1875, pp. 64-65.]

Happening to be on a visit to Ithaca, where spiritual papers in general, and the Banner of Light in particular, are very little read, but where, luckily, the Scientist has found hospitality in several houses, I learned through your paper of the intensely interesting, and very erudite attack in an editorial of the Banner, on "Magic"; or rather on those who had the absurdity to believe in Magic. As hints concerning myself - at least in the fragment I see - are very decently veiled, and, as it appears, Col. Olcott alone, just now, is offered by way of a pious Holocaust on the altar erected to the angel-world by some Spiritualists, who seem to be terribly in earnest, I will - leaving the said gentleman to take care of himself, provided he thinks it worth his trouble - proceed to say a few words only, in reference to the alleged non-existence of Magic.

Were I to give anything on my own authority, and base my defence of Magic only on what I have seen myself, and know to be true in relation to that science, as a resident of many years' standing in India and Africa, I might, perhaps, risk to be called by Mr. Colby - with that unprejudiced, spiritualized politeness, which so distinguishes the venerable editor of the Banner of Light - "an irresponsible woman"; and that would not be for the first time either. Therefore, to his astonishing assertion that no magic whatever either exists or has existed in this world, I will try to find as good authorities as himself, and maybe, better ones, and thus politely proceed to contradict him on that particular point.

Heterodox Spiritualists, like myself, must be cautious in our days and proceed with prudence, if they do not wish to be persecuted with all the untiring vengeance of that mighty army of "Indian Controls" and "Miscellaneous Guides" of our bright Summer Land.

When the writer of the editorial says, that "he does not think it at all improbable that there are humbugging spirits who try to fool certain aspirants to Occult knowledge with the notion that there is such a thing as magic"(?) then on the other hand, I can answer him that I, for one, not only think it probably, but I am perfectly sure, and can take my oath to the certainty, that more than once, spirits, who were either elementary or very unprogressed ones, calling themselves Theodore Parker, have been most decidedly fooling and disrespectfully humbugging our most esteemed Editor of the Banner of Light into the notion that the Apennines were in Spain, for instance.

Furthermore, supported in my assertions by thousands of intelligent Spiritualists, generally known for their integrity and truthfulness, I could furnish numberless proofs and instances where the Elementary Diakka, Esprits malins et farfadets, and other such-like unreliable and ignorant denizens of the spiritworld, arraying themselves in pompous, world-known and famous names, [6] suddenly gave the bewildered witnesses such deplorable, unheard-of, slip-slop trash, and betimes something worse, that more than one person who, previous to that, was an earnest believer in the spiritual philosophy, has either silently taken to his heels; or if he happened to have been formerly a Roman Catholic, has devoutly tried to recall to memory with which hand he used to cross himself, and then cleared out with the most fervent exclamation of Vade reto, Satanas! Such is the opinion of every educated Spiritualist.

If that indomitable Attila, the persecutor of modern Spiritualism, and mediums, Dr. G. Beard, had offered such a remark against Magic, I would not wonder, as a too profound devotion to blue pill and black draught is generally considered the best antidote against mystic and spiritual speculations: but for a firm Spiritualist, a believer in invisible, mysterious worlds, swarming with beings, the true nature of which is still an unriddled mystery to everyone to step in and then sarcastically reject that which has been proved to exist and believed in for countless ages by millions of persons, wiser than himself, is too audacious! And that skeptic is the editor of a leading Spiritual paper! A man, whose first duty should be, to help his readers to seek - untiringly and perseveringly - for the TRUTH in whatever form it might present itself; but who takes the risk of dragging thousands of people into error, by pinning them to his personal rose-water faith and credulity. Every serious, earnest-minded Spiritualist must agree with me, in saying, that if modern Spiritualism remains, for a few years only, in its present condition of chaotic anarchy, or still worse, if it is allowed to run its mad course, shooting forth on all sides, idle hypotheses based on superstitious, groundless ideas, then will the Dr. Beards, Dr. Marvins, and others, known as scientific (?) skeptics, triumph indeed.

Really, it seems to be a waste of time to answer such ridiculous, ignorant assertions as the one which forced me to take up my pen. Any well-read Spiritualist, who finds the statement "that there ever was such a science as magic, has never been proved, nor ever will be," will need no answer from myself, nor anyone else, to cause him to shrug his shoulders and smile, as he probably has smiled, at the wonderful attempt of Mr. Colby's spirits to reorganize geography by placing the Apennines in Spain.

Why, man alive, did you never open a book in your life, besides your own records of Tom, Dick and Harry descending from upper spheres to remind their Uncle Sam that he had torn his gaiters or broken his pipe in the Far West?

Did you suppose that Magic is confined to witches riding astride broomsticks and then turning themselves into black cats? Even the latter superstitious trash, though it was never called Magic, but Sorcery, does not appear so great an absurdity for one to accept, who firmly believes in the transfiguration of Mrs. Compton into Katie Brinks. The laws of nature are unchangeable. The conditions under which a medium can be transformed, entirely absorbed in the process by the spirit, into the semblance of another person, will hold good whenever that spirit or rather force should have a fancy to take the form of a cat.

The exercise of magical power is the exercise of natural powers, but SUPERIOR to the ordinary functions of Nature. A miracle is not a violation of [7] the laws of Nature, except for ignorant people. Magic is but a science, a profound knowledge of the Occult forces in Nature, and of the laws governing the visible or the invisible world. Spiritualism in the hands of an adept becomes Magic, for he is learned in the art of blending together the laws of the Universe without breaking any of them and thereby violating Nature. In the hands of an experienced medium, Spiritualism becomes UNCONSCIOUS SORCERY; for, by allowing himself to become the helpless tool of a variety of spirits, of whom he knows nothing save what the latter permit him to know, he opens, unknown to himself, a door of communication between the two worlds, through which emerge the blind forces of Nature lurking in the astral light, as well as good and bad spirits.

A powerful mesmerizer, profoundly learned in his science, such as Baron Du Potet, Regazzoni, Pietro d'Amicis of Bologna, are magicians, for they have become the adepts, the initiated ones, into the great mystery of our Mother Nature. Such men as the above-mentioned - and such were Mesmer and Cagliostro - control the spirits instead of allowing their subjects or themselves to be controlled by them; and Spiritualism is safe in their hands. In the absence of experienced Adepts though, it is always safer for a naturally clairvoyant medium to trust to good luck and chance, and try to judge of the tree by its fruits. Bad spirits will seldom communicate through a pure, naturally good and virtuous person; and it is still more seldom that pure spirits will choose impure channels. Like attracts like.

But to return to Magic. Such men as Albertus Magnus, Raymond Lully, Cornelius Agrippa, Paracelsus, Robert Fludd, Eugenius Philalethes, Khunrath, Roger Bacon and others of similar character, in our skeptical century, are generally taken for visionaries; but so, too, are modern Spiritualists and mediums - nay worse, for charlatans and poltroons; but never were the Hermetic Philosophers taken by anyone for fools and idiots, as, unfortunately for ourselves and the cause, every unbeliever takes ALL of us believers in Spiritualism to be. Those Hermetics and philosophers may be disbelieved and doubted now, as everything else is doubted, but very few doubted their knowledge and power during their lifetime, for they always could prove what they claimed, having command over those forces which now command helpless mediums. They had their science and demonstrated philosophy to help them to throw down ridiculous negations, while we sentimental Spiritualists, rocking ourselves to sleep with our "Sweet Bye and Bye," are now unable to recognize a spurious phenomenon from a genuine one, and are daily deceived by vile charlatans. Even though doubted then, as Spiritualism is in our day, still these philosophers were held in awe and reverence, even by those who did not implicitly believe in their Occult potency, for they were giants of intellect. Profound knowledge, as well as cultured intellectual powers, will always be respected and revered; but our mediums and their adherents are laughed and scorned at, and we are all made to suffer, because the phenomena are left to the whims and pranks of self-willed and other mischievous spirits, and we are utterly powerless in controlling them.

To doubt Magic is to reject History itself as well as the testimony of ocular [8] witnesses thereof, during a period embracing over 4,000 years. Beginning with Homer, Moses, Hermes, Herodotus, Cicero, Plutarch, Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyana, Simon the Magician, Plato, Pausanias, Iamblichus, and following this endless string of great men, historians and philosophers, who all of them either believed in magic or were magicians themselves, and ending with our modern authors, such as W. Howitt, Ennemoser, C. Des Mousseaux, Marquis de Mirville and the late Eliphas Levi, who was a magician himself - among all these great names and authors, we find but the solitary Mr. Colby, Editor of the Banner of Light, who ignores that there ever was such a science as Magic. He innocently believes the whole of the sacred army of Bible prophets, commencing with Father Abraham, including Christ, to be merely mediums; in the eyes of Mr. Colby they were all of them acting under control! Fancy Christ, Moses, or an Apollonius of Tyana, controlled by an Indian guide! The venerable editor ignores, perhaps, that spiritual mediums were better known in those days to the ancients, than they are now to us, and he seems to he equally unaware of the fact that the inspired Sibyls, Pythonesses, and other mediums, were entirely guided by their High Priest and those who were initiated into the Esoteric Theurgy and mysteries of the Temples. Theurgy was magic; as in modern times, the Sibyls and Pythonesses WERE MEDIUMS; but their High Priests were magicians. All the secrets of their theology, which included magic, or the art of invoking ministering spirits, were in their bands. They possessed the science of DISCERNING SPIRITS; a science which Mr. Colby does not possess at all - to his great regret no doubt. By this power they controlled the spirits at will, allowing but the good ones to absorb their mediums. Such is the explanation of magic - the real, existing, White or sacred magic, which ought to be in the hands of science now, and would he, if science had profited by the lessons which Spiritualism has inductively taught for these last twenty-seven years.

That is the reason why no trash was allowed to be given by unprogressed spirits in the days of old. The oracles of the sibyls and inspired priestesses could never have affirmed Athens to be a town in India, or jumped Mount Ararat from its native place down to Egypt.

If the skeptical writer of the editorial had, moreover, devoted less time to prattling Indian spirits and more to profitable lectures, he might have learned perhaps at the same time, that the ancients had their illegal mediums - I mean those who belonged to no special Temple, and thus the spirits controlling them, unchecked by the expert hand of the magician, were left to themselves, and had all the opportunity possible to perform their capers on their helpless tools; that such mediums were generally considered obsessed and possessed, which they were in fact; in other words, and according to the Bible phraseology, "they had the seven devils in them." Furthermore, these mediums were ordered to be put to death, for the intolerant Moses the magician, who was learned in the wisdom of Egypt, had said, "Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live." Alone, the Egyptians and Greeks, even more humane and just than Moses, took such into their temples, and when found unfit for sacred duties of prophecy they were cured, in the same way as Jesus Christ cured Mary of Magdala and many [9] others, by "casting out the seven devils." Either Mr. Colby and Co. must completely deny the miracles of Christ, the Apostles, Prophets, Thaumaturgists, and Magicians, and so deny point-blank every bit of the sacred and profane histories, or he must confess that there is a POWER in this world which can command spirits, at least the had and unprogressed ones, the elementary and Diakka. The pure ones, the disembodied, will never descend to our sphere, unless attracted by a current of powerful sympathy and love, or on some useful mission.

Far from me the thought of casting odium and ridicule on our mediums. I am myself a Spiritualist, if, as says Colonel Olcott, a firm belief in our souls' immortality and the knowledge of a constant possibility for us to communicate with the spirits of our departed and loved ones, either through honest, pure mediums, or by means of the Secret Science, constitutes a Spiritualist. But I am not of those fanatical Spiritualists, to be found in every country, who blindly accept the claims of every spirit, for I have seen too much of various phenomena, undreamed of in America. I know that MAGIC does exist, and 10,000 editors of Spiritual papers cannot change my belief in what I know. There is a white and a black magic; and no one who has ever traveled in the East, can doubt it, if he has taken the trouble to investigate. My faith being firm I am, therefore, ever ready to support and protect any honest medium - aye, and even occasionally one who appears dishonest, for I know but too well, what helpless tools and victims such mediums are in the hands of unprogressed, invisible beings. I am furthermore aware of the malice and wickedness of the elementary, and how far they can inspire not only a sensitive medium, but any other person as well. Though I may be an "irresponsible woman" in the eyes of those who are but "too responsible" for the harm they do to EARNEST Spiritualists by their unfairness, one-sidedness, and spiritual sentimentalism, I feel safe to say, that generally I am quick enough to detect whenever a medium is cheating under control, or cheating consciously.

Thus magic exists and has existed ever since prehistoric ages. Begun in history with the Samothracian mysteries, it followed its course uninterruptedly, and ended for a time with the expiring theurgic rites and ceremonies of christianized Greece; then reappeared for a time again with the Neo-Platonic, Alexandrian school, and passing, by initiation, to sundry solitary students and philosophers, safely crossed the mediaeval ages, and notwithstanding the furious persecutions of the Church, resumed its fame in the hands of such adepts as Paracelsus and several others, and finally died out in Europe with the Count de St. Germain and Cagliostro, to seek refuge from the frozen-hearted skepticism in its native country of the East.

In India, magic has never died out, and blossoms there as well as ever. Practised, as in ancient Egypt, only within the secret enclosure of the Temples, it was, and still is, called the "sacred science." For it is a science, based on natural occult forces of Nature; and not merely a blind belief in the poll-parrot talking of crafty elementary ones, ready to forcibly prevent real, disembodied spirits from communicating with their loved ones whenever they can do so.

Some time, a Mr. Mendenhall devoted several columns in the [10] Religio-Philosophical Journal, to questioning, cross-examining, and criticizing the mysterious Brotherhood of Luxor. He made a fruitless attempt at forcing the said Brotherhood to answer him, and thus unveil the sphinx. I can satisfy Mr. Mendenhall. The BROTHERHOOD OF LUXOR is one of the sections of the Grand Lodge of which I am a member. If this gentleman entertains any doubt as to my statement - which I have no doubt he will - he can, if he chooses, write to Lahor* (* [Evidently a misprint for Luxor. - Editor, Theosophia.]) for information. If perchance, the Seven of the Committee were so rude as not to answer him, and would refuse to give him the desired information, I can then offer him a little business transaction. Mr. Mendenhall, as far as I remember, has two wives in the spirit world. Both of these ladies materialize at M. Mott's, and often hold very long conversations with their husband, as the latter told us of several times and over his own signature; adding, moreover, that he had no doubt whatever of the identity of the said spirits. If so, let one of the departed ladies tell Mr. Mendenhall the name of that section of the Grand Lodge I belong to. For real, genuine, disembodied spirits, if both are what they claim to be, the matter is more than easy; they have but to enquire of other spirits, look into my thoughts, and so on; for a disembodied entity, an immortal spirit, it is the easiest thing in the world to do. Then, if the gentleman I challenge, though I am deprived of the pleasure of his acquaintance, tells me the true name of the section - which name three gentlemen in New York, who are accepted neophytes of our Lodge, know well - I pledge myself to give to Mr. Mendenhall the true statement concerning the Brotherhood, which is not composed of spirits, as he may think, but of living mortals, and I will, moreover, if he desires to, put him in direct communication with the Lodge as I have done for others. Methinks, Mr. Mendenhall will answer that no such name can be given correctly by the spirits, for no such Lodge or Section either exists at all, and thus close the discussion.


Covering the years 1886-1887.

This new Volume of the Uniform Edition of H.P.B.'s Writings, published by The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, is now off the Press. As the earlier Volumes, it contains a vast amount of erudition, teachings, and information on a multitude of occult and related subjects. It may be obtained in the United States from The Theosophical Press, P.O. Box 270, Wheaton, Ill., and in Europe from The Theosophical Publishing House, 68 Great Russell St., London, W.C.1, England.
Price in the U.S.A.: $8.00. [11]


Harold W. Dempster

The "Gita" can be considered as a useful preparatory work designed to condition the neophyte or Truth-seeker to become a worthy recipient of Spiritual Knowledge. Taken literally, it will sometimes mislead; understood allegorically, it opens the inner doorway to the storehouse of true wisdom hidden within the seeker's own heart.

"The aspirant for the archaic wisdom is always told: There is a way by which to gain truth ... wisdom. Yet any knock except the right one is unheard. In a paradoxical sense one must practice before one may receive the full light of knowledge. The knock itself is, first, living the life. One must come with peace in his heart and with a yearning for light so strong that no impediments or obstacles will daunt the courageous soul." (G. de Purucker in The Esoteric Tradition.)

It is a well known method used by the Mystery Schools, that in certain cycles of human history, when inner teachings are to be revealed, such teachings are often simultaneously concealed by means of a mystical drama or allegory. In other time periods, such as the present one, many esoteric truths are stated openly, and otherwise obscure writings are publicly explained.

H.P. Blavatsky says in Isis Unveiled: "The grandest mysteries of the Brahmanical religion are embraced within this magnificent poem," and in her Collected Writings, Vol. IV, page 21: "The Gita is a record of the ancient teachings during the mystery of Initiation."

But, in addition to being an advisory treatise for the Truth-seeker in the form of the wise counseling that Krishna (The Higher Self) imparts to Arjuna (The Reincarnating Ego, or Lower Self, relatively speaking), when the drama is being considered from the human standpoint as applying to the whole human race, it is also a writing that deals with the Esoteric Teachings of the Ages. Here is what H.P.B. has to say in support of this in her Collected Writings, Vol. VI, page 147:

"Since the birth of the Theosophical Society and the publication of Isis, it is being repeated daily that all the Esoteric Wisdom of the ages lies concealed in the Vedas, the Upanishads and Bhagavad-Gita. Yet, unto the day of the first appearance of Esoteric Buddhism (by A.P. Sinnett) and for long centuries back, these doctrines remained a sealed letter to all but a few initiated Brahmans who had always kept the spirit of it to themselves. The allegorical text was taken literally by the educated and the uneducated, the first laughing secretly at the fables and the latter falling into superstitious worship, and owing to the variety of the interpretations - splitting into numerous sects .... Most undeniably, not 'nearly all' - but positively all the doctrines given in Esoteric Buddhism and far more yet untouched, are to be found in the Gita, and not only there but in a thousand more known and unknown MSS of Hindu sacred writings."

What sort of teachings does Mr. Sinnett's Esoteric Buddhism (1883) contain? Some of the chapter headings and subtitles in the table of contents may be mentioned here: [12] Esoteric Teachers, Occult Training, The Constitution of Man, Esoteric Cosmogony, The Planetary Chain, The Lower Kingdoms, The World Periods, Rounds and Races, Periodic Cataclysms, Atlantis and Lemuria, Devachan, Spiritual Destinies of the Ego, Karma, Division of the Principles at Death, Subjective Progress, The Astral Shell - Its Habitat and Nature, Elementals, Mediums and Shells, Accidents and Suicides, The Human Tide-wave, Gradations of Spirituality, The Choice of Good and Evil, The Sixth Sense, The Esoteric Buddha, Nirvana, The Pursuit of Truth, and much more.

Since the publication of this book, and in addition to H.P.B.'s writings and The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, subsequent writings of Theosophical Teachers and students have greatly clarified and expanded these and other esoteric teachings, so that the open-minded Theosophical student has the advantage of all this material in helping him to understand the Gita - and himself. The Gita in turn aids him further in his understanding of these teachings - and again, himself and the Universe - as he meditates upon its hidden and innermost meanings, each one receiving illumination based on his own degree of development. Each one should interpret the poem in his own way; yet we each need the aid of commentary at our present stage.

It might be considered presumptuous on the part of the writer to attempt to define the meaning of this profound epic. No claim is made to its correctness or fullness of definition. It is rather an attempt to accept the challenge, self-chosen, of giving a partial description of what its meaning is. Perhaps others will do likewise.

Briefly stated, it is a devotional book in the form of a dialogue between two principal characters, Krishna and Arjuna. The play opens with the stage all set for a big battle to take place on the plains of the Kurus (the present state of evolution of any individual or of the race as a whole). On one side are the Kurus, whom Arjuna recognizes as his relatives and because of this is reluctant to fight. They represent the material forces of the Universe and of its various parts, or the lower elements in Arjuna himself (or in ourselves). It could also be said that it is Arjuna's Karma on the lower side of his sevenfold nature, which must be worked out before he (or we) can advance to higher levels of understanding, on the Spiritual Path of union with the Divine.

Arjuna is on the opposite side, and the Pandavas represent the spiritual urge or upswing of evolution, since we are now on the upward are in the second half of the Fourth Round. Arjuna prefers not to engage himself, which is typical of human nature so frequently desirous of following the path of least resistance in order to enjoy a life of sensation, pleasure and selfish gratification. But Krishna, being wiser, counsels him that he must fight, because he must go with the upward stream of the evolution of consciousness - the destiny of man and all things in the Universe.

Being partially awake spiritually, Arjuna finally realizes, to the degree of his present knowledge and understanding, that it is necessary to make a choice; so he resolves to fight. This means that he wishes to evolve and grow by means of unselfishly motivated action in order that he might [13] become wise, and thus be better able to help his fellows spiritually along the upward Path. His fighting (or striving) is the effort he wishes to make to move forward towards inner contact with the Buddhic Splendor in the higher part of himself. When he makes this contact, he will learn the blessings of freedom from brain-mind bondage and its limitations. He will be then on his way to becoming, in time, an Initiate, which will give him first-hand knowledge of the Mysteries.

Mr. Judge points out in his commentary that two main points are stressed: Selflessness and Action. The first implies developing inwardly by an unselfish impersonal attitude and purpose. The second, or action, refers, of course, to the eternal fact that there is always manifestation, regardless of resting periods.

There are several different translations and commentaries. Each should choose the one that suits his needs best and deliberately try to develop his own interpretation of it. The Yoga of the Bhavagad Gita by Sri Krishna Prem is an excellent treatise on the subject. He goes into it chapter by chapter and brings out a volume of interesting and illuminating points.

To unite with the Great All is the goal of evolution and experience; to feel that Presence in one's being even now is inspiring and satisfying, really beyond words to describe. Let us learn as the Gita suggests to perform every action with dedication and sacrifice to the Divine. This of itself produces selflessness. Let us learn to perform action without thought of reward, to accept every event whether favorable or unfavorable with an equal mind. This renders us more free from attachment and enables us to become more united with the Higher Self within us. Let us really learn to know that the whole of the manifesting Universe is illusory, because ever-changing; therefore unreal. Only the Boundless is Real and Eternal. In the profoundest sense, we are the Boundless; we have come from it and to It shall we return, only to come forth again, eternally.

Bhagavad is one of the many names for the Deity and Gita means song; Sir Edwin Arnold renders it The Song Celestial, from the Mahabharata, being, as he puts it, "a discourse between Arjuna, Prince of India, and the Supreme Being, under the form of Krishna, wearing the disguise of the charioteer."

Annie Besant calls it The Lord's Song and in her Preface says: "Moderation is the key-note of the Gita, and the harmonizing of all the constituents of man, till they vibrate in perfect attunement with the One, the supreme Self. This is the aim the disciple is to set before him. He must learn not to be attracted by the attractive, nor repelled by the repellant, but must see both as manifestations of the one Lord, so they may be lessons for his guidance, not fetters for his bondage. In the midst of turmoil he must rest in the Lord of Peace, discharging every duty to the fullest, not because he seeks the results of his actions, but because it is his duty to perform them. His heart is an altar, love to his Lord the flame burning upon it; all his acts, physical and mental, are sacrifices offered on the altar; and once offered, he has with them no further concern."

In commenting upon Arjuna's plight of not desiring to fight his relatives in [14] the opposing army, she says: "The answer is the burden of the book: Have no personal interest in the event; carry out the duty imposed by the position in life; realize that Ishvara, at once Lord and Law, is the doer, working out the mighty evolution that ends in bliss and peace; be identified with him by devotion, and then perform duty as duty, fighting without passion or desire, without anger or hatred; thus activity forges no bonds, Yoga is accomplished, and the soul is free ... Such is the obvious teachings of this sacred book."

Some well known passages in Mr. Judge's rendition are (Krishna speaking): "I produce myself among creatures, ... whenever there is a decline of virtue and an insurrection of vice and injustice in the world; and thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness ... There is no purifier in this world to be compared to spiritual knowledge; and he who is perfected in devotion findeth spiritual knowledge springing up spontaneously in himself in the progress of time ... Those who are wise in spiritual things grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. I myself never was not, nor thou, nor all the princes of the earth; nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be ... One who is confirmed in this belief is not disturbed by anything that may come to pass ... Learn that He by whom all things were formed is incorruptible, and that no one is able to effect the destruction of It (the Boundless) which is inexhaustible ... Let, then, the motive for action be in the action itself, and not in the event. Do not be incited to actions by the hope of reward, nor let thy life be spent in inaction. ... Equal mindedness is called Yoga ... Yoga is skill in the performance of actions... A man is said to be confirmed in spiritual knowledge when he forsaketh every desire which entereth into his heart, and of himself is happy and content in the Self through the Self. His mind is undisturbed in adversity; he is happy and contented in prosperity, and he is a stranger to anxiety, fear, and anger. Such a man is called a Muni (a Wise man) ... action is superior to inaction. The journey of thy mortal frame cannot be accomplished by inaction. He should not create confusion in the understandings of the ignorant, who are inclined to outward works, but by being himself engaged in action should cause them to act also ... Throwing every deed on me, and with thy meditation fixed upon the Higher Self, resolve to fight, without expectation, devoid of egotism and free from anguish ... Death is certain to all things which are born, and rebirth to all mortals; wherefore it doth not behoove thee to grieve about the inevitable."

Thus spake Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita ... and many, many more things did he say. [15]


Dara Rittenhouse

An instant impression of being somewhere before has come to many of us in our travels. It may be a certain bend in the road, a distant hill or butte that momentarily startles us from our somewhat passive acceptance of the world we move in. Again it could be a single word from a companion along the way. These experiences seem to come unexpectedly, passing or fading as quickly as they arrive.

There is another type of experience involved in traveling which is equally puzzling. Why do people feel a longing to go somewhere, perhaps for years, and suddenly the opportunity eventuates? What makes it the right time? Others in their own family seem unconcerned or totally unattracted to the area. It is as if the move would involve a pulling up of roots.

For the person who travels a great distance, to another land, sometimes it seems to be just that. There is a joy and expectation as if revisiting a familiar but long forgotten home. He feels in himself that somehow he will know what it's like, even before he reaches his destination. And he does. So much so that he almost travels with an air of confidence that is deceiving. At the time he forgets that his roots have been planted in another nation, and are of another culture, another psychic foundation. The seeds of some past experiences seem to sprout unseen in his nature. They unconsciously support the illusion that he has always lived here, known these peoples, worked among them.

We know that on the basis of reincarnation nothing is ever really lost of the soul's experience in other bodies. We know that these bodies are more than the limited periphery of arms and legs. They include places we have lived in - worlds it may be. Does traveling to these points of a former existence re-vitalize them in our consciousness? Does it increase our sense of world patriotism? Quite possibly so.

Even in traveling it is more like putting on a new (or old?) set of clothes for the time being, rather than going from one point to another in time and space. We don't feel any loss of essential identity. We can be physically transported very quickly into another area of the globe, even if we don't know the science of levitation. We may not even be aware of the exact moment when we seem to have acquired a different garment than the one we left behind.

We may argue that in sleep such experiences occur without physically -moving. So why depend upon a geographical journey? But rather than concern ourselves with the particular sheath or sheaths a man experiences his travels in, we can draw an analogy between these states which are typical to both. As a man is awakened from a deep slumber, and feels for a moment an abruptness, the shock of his present circumstances rushing in upon him; so may one return from a journey with a like reaction.

This was a very real experience for the writer this summer, on the return flight to the U.S. from Europe. When my feet were again on native soil I actually felt a shock, similar to returning from a strange dream. Never [16] had I realized (before analyzing this experience) what it meant to be sharing the race Karma of a nation, as strongly as I did on that day, or how much the psychic atmosphere of a country surrounds and impregnates those living in its geographical area.

This may explain why many who remain in our country find it difficult to understand the ways of other nations. This jolt of ones present Karmic ties, in contrast to others that are more ancient, has not been experienced by them. Or maybe in the normal duties of a man they assert themselves more peacefully. A man can make of traveling a sort of Nirvana, or evasion of present duties. Like the legendary Navajo Coyote he can be "always traveling about." However, may it not also be a means of realizing the vastness of the evolutionary process, of which our present life is but a mere fragment?


"At the present time one of the most urgent needs is for a simplification of Theosophical teachings. Theosophy is simple enough; it is the fault of its exponents if it is made complicated, abstruse or vague. Yet enquiring people are always complaining that it is too difficult a subject for them, and that their education has not been deep enough to enable them to understand it. This is greatly the fault of the members who have put it in such a manner that the people sadly turn away. At public meetings or when trying to interest an enquirer it is absolutely useless to use Sanskrit, Greek or other foreign words. Nine times out of ten the habit of doing so is due to laziness or conceit. Sometimes it is due to having merely learned certain terms without knowing and assimilating the ideas underneath. The ideas of Theosophy should be mastered, and once that is done it will be easy to express those in the simplest possible terms. And discussions about the Absolute, the Hierarchies, and so forth, are worse than useless. Such ideas as Karma, Reincarnation, the Perfectibility of Man, the Dual Nature, are the subjects to put forward. These can be expounded - if you have grasped the ideas and made them part of your thought - from a thousand different points of view. At all meetings the strongest effort should be made to simplify by using the words of our own language in expressing that which we believe." - William Quan Judge, The Path, Vol. X, February, 1896, pp. 331-32.



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