A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XVI
No. 3 (81) - Winter 1959-60

[Cover Photo: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky - Probably the last photograph taken of her in 1890 or 1891.]


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.




Build on resolve, and not upon regret,
The structure of thy future. Do not grope
Among the shadows of old sins, but let
Thine own soul's light shine on the path of hope
And dissipate the darkness. Waste no tears
Upon the blotted record of lost years,
But burn the leaf, and smile, oh! smile to see
The fair white pages that remain for thee.
Prate not of thy repentance. But believe
The spark divine dwells in thee; let it grow.
That which the up-reaching spirit can achieve,
The grand and all-creative forces know;
They will assist and strengthen as the light
Lifts up the acorn to the oak-tree's height.
Thou hast but to resolve, and lo! God's whole
Great universe shall fortify thy soul.
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox

"Life has to become for us a matter of discovery, of learning for oneself rather than learning from others. It is this capacity for discovery which most of us have lost. We have taken things second-hand, because there is not a fresh mind with a deep and original approach. Ours is a mind which has settled into so many grooves of thought. So each of us has to change himself, that is, his nature, which is really an acquired nature, before life can become what it can be with all its possibilities and the riches around us." - N. Sri Ram, Theosophical News and Notes, Nov.-Dec., 1959. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

As we stand on the threshold of a new decade, according to the calendar current among most of the Occidental nations, the mind is apt to dwell on various conditions of our era so obviously displayed all around us.

It is the age of around-the-world jet travel, of colored television, of electronic computers, of missiles to the moon, of deep-sea explorations, of pushbutton comforts and other scientific wonders, whose name is legion.

It is also the age of crass materialism, world-wide exploitation, ruthless dictatorships, physical starvation and economic hopelessness among millions on several continents, of passion for personal power, of insane cults and ideologies, political and religious, and of wide-spread corruption and the total loss of the dignity of man.

The simple fact that these contradictory conditions exist at the same time, and in all parts of the world, should be sufficient proof that what is called science bears no relation to the higher and more spiritual values of life, builds no ethical foundations, does not of itself improve the conditions of life, and has no effect upon the development of man's ethical nature or spiritual capacity.

As a matter of fact, science without ethics, physical progress devoid of spiritual values, can be the gravest danger to the future of mankind and provide all the required condition for its extinction. Intellectualism and mere scientific genius can and do produce a world-wide "climate" which is apt to drive large portions of the human race into paths of mutual destruction, and a mental and emotional condition of complete frustration and denial, eventuating in soul-suicide.

It is self-evident, of course, that science is therefore not the almighty god which millions of people have thought it to be, or are still thinking so.

The student of the Ancient Wisdom is impressed more with the ethical condition of mankind than with physical developments, marvelous as the latter may be from the standpoint of mere "cleverness" or "cunning." It is of great interest and value to have the world criss-crossed with ether waves originating from broadcasting antennae, provided there are soul-stirring and uplifting messages carried by them to those in need of help and encouragement. It is marvelous to have people travel with the speed of sound from one continent to another, provided they are bearers of good will and ambassadors of understanding. It is of great importance to have the presses of the world print newspapers and magazines, provided these contain thoughts which build, construct, regenerate, uplift and sustain, and information concerning actual facts of life and history. But the same marvels of science become a grim irony, a tragic comedy, when used to increase exploitation, build monopolies, spread concerted lies about people and nations, and confuse everybody and sundry, unless the individual is alert enough not to be sold the adulterated mental product which is thrown at him these days in such abundance.

What is needed today more than anything that science can give us - at least science as we know it today - [4] is a resurgence, a re-birth, of true ETHICS - an appreciation of the deeper, more spiritual values of life, a reawakening of our dormant sense of ethical values, and a resurrection of that dignity of man which has been buried now for quite some time under the heap of reinforced concrete, steel girders, spun glass, processed food, tranquilizer pills, launching pads, scandalous magazines and liquor joints which have become some of the symbols of Occidental civilization, now being sold as fast as possible to "underdeveloped" nations all over the earth.

What has become in our Occidental world of the simple ideals of ordinary men, men unaffected as yet by the "blessings" of science? Pride of one's work well done; justice tempered by mercy; the ability to sacrifice something of one's personal benefit for the sake of the interests of another; firmness of character; frugality in life's habits and needs; discipline at home and on the job; love of one's work for the sake of the work, and not of its profits. These are not qualities of temperament which belong in some distant future to a progressed humanity; they are merely qualities which we ourselves have seen exhibited by millions of people some years ago in many lands where the same qualities are today practically non-existent. Something has happened, to be sure; find that something is a downfall of ethical values which no amount of mechanistic development, in other words, no amount of ordinary "science" can ever give back to us.

And as "charity begins at home," according to the old proverb, it is of paramount importance that we, as students of Theosophy, should appraise our own actions, motives, plans, and avocations, in the light of the noble Ethics preached by the Sages of the human race, and embodied in their writings or their traditional tales and legends. Where do we stand today, each one of us? How do we "stack up" in the sum total of human suffering, confusion, bewilderment and aimlessness, as well as in the midst of whatever aspiration and faith and nobility of purpose there may be around us?

Does our own life inspire others who may contact it? Does our example strengthen and uplift? Does it infuse courage, evoke patience, give vision to those in need of these? Are we the pacifying, calming influence among men where strife and struggle are present? Are we involved in small, pesky, mean, and totally useless pursuits - or are we free of these and engaged upon noble themes and objectives whose vast scope, even if not understood by others, inspires respect and commands attention? Each one of us is his own judge in these matters. Let us ask ourselves pertinent questions and answer them the best we can, in the light of, and perchance in the unsuspected presence of our own Higher Self! Our conscience is the best of judges, and it never sleeps!


"It is our work to change men's hearts by changing their thoughts; give them ideas and ideals for them to follow and live up to. And to work with malice towards none, with a yearning to do justice to all, even to those with whom we most disagree." - G. de Purucker, Messages to Conventions, p. 188. [5]


William T. Stead *
[Originally published in Borderland, London, June, 1891.]

*[William Thomas Stead (1849-1912) was a famous English journalist, son of a Congregational minister. His editorship of the Pall Mall Gazette (1883-89) was marked by a vigorous handling of public affairs; he introduced the "interview," made a feature of the Pall Mall "extras," and his great originality exercised a considerable influence on both journalism and politics. In 1885, he initiated a crusade against vice, and, while largely instrumental in the passing of the Criminal Law Amendment Act, was imprisoned for three months on a charge arising from his courageous crusade. On leaving the Pall Mall, he founded the renowned Review of Reviews (1890) and published cheap reprints of poets and classic writers. Interested in psychical research, he conducted a Journal called Borderland (1893-97), in which a great many remarkable articles may be found. He gradually became an enthusiastic supporter of the peace movement and gave his encouragement to various unpopular themes and reforms. Among his best known works is the one entitled If Christ Came to Chicago (1893). Stead was one of the big men of his day, who helped in the introduction of a number of useful reforms, and whose influence extended over the whole English-speaking world. His word carried weight in his time, and it does so today. Stead went down in the "Titanic" on April 15, 1912. His courageous and forceful words in defence of H.P. Blavatsky will be long remembered by grateful students of Theosophy. - Editor, Theosophia.]

Among the many and varied spiritual teachers to whom I have listened in the course of a very eclectic journalistic career, Madame Blavatsky was one of the most original. There are those who imagine that because they can crack a joke about a teacup, they have disposed of Theosophy, just as there are some who seem to think a sneer at the pigs of Gadara roots up the foundations of the Christian religion. To such gentry it will no doubt be a scandal that I should devote the Character Sketch this month to "H.P.B.," whose death last month deprived London of one of the most remarkable of its inhabitants. Madame Blavatsky, they say, "was an imposter, a vulgar fraud. She was exposed by the Coulombs, shown up by the Psychical Research Society, and last, if not least, she has been jumped upon, almost before her ashes were cool, by the Pall Mall Gazette." They say all that, no doubt, but when all that is said and more besides, the problem of the personality of the woman remains full of interest, and even of wonder, to those who look below the surface of things.

Madame Blavatsky was a great woman. She was not the faultless monster whom the world ne'er saw, and it must be admitted she was in more senses than one something of a monster. She was huge in body, and in her character, alike in its strength and weakness, there was something of the Rabelaisian gigantesque. But if she had all the nodosity of the oak, she was not without its strength; and if she had the contortions of the Sibyl, she possessed somewhat of her inspiration.

Of Madame Blavatsky the wonder-worker I knew nothing; I did not go to her seeking signs, and most assuredly no sign was given me. She neither doubled a teacup in my presence, nor grew a gold ring out of a rosebud, nor did she even cause the familiar raps to be heard. All these manifestations seemed [6] as the mere trivialities, the shavings, as it were, thrown off from the beam of cedar wood which she was fashioning as one of the pillars in the Temple of Truth. I do not remember ever referring to them in our conversations, and it is slightly incomprehensible to me how anyone can gravely contend that they constitute her claim to respect. It could be almost as reasonable to contend that Christianity is based upon the liquefaction of the blood of St. Januarius.

What Madame Blavatsky did was an immeasurably greater thing than the doubling of teacups. She made it possible for some of the most cultivated and skeptical men and women of this generation to believe - believe ardently, to an extent that made them proof against ridicule and disdainful of persecution, that not only does the invisible world that encompasses us contain Intelligences vastly superior to our own in knowledge of the Truth, but that it is possible for man to enter into communion with these hidden and silent ones, and to be taught of them the Divine mysteries of Time and of Eternity. She not only made it possible for them to believe it, but she made them believe it, and founded what was to all intents and purposes a Church upon that article of belief. That is a great achievement, and one which a priori could have been laughed at as impossible. Yet she performed that miracle. Madame Blavatsky, a Russian suspected of being a spy, converted leading Anglo-Indians to a passionate belief in her Theosophy mission, even when the Jingo fever was hottest, and in her declining years she succeeded in winning over to the new-old religion Annie Besant, who had for years fought in the forefront of the van of militant atheism.

A woman who could achieve these two things was a woman indeed. "But," it will be objected, "her Theosophy was all moonshine." Perhaps it is; but is not moonshine better than outer darkness, and is not moonshine itself but the pale reflection of the rays of the sun? I am not, however, by any means prepared to admit that the creed which Madame Blavatsky preached with such savage fervor deserves to be scouted as mere moonshine.

To begin with, it has at least the advantage of being heretical. The truth always begins as heresy. In every heresy there may be the germ of a new revelation. Then, in the second place, it brought back to the scientific and skeptical world the great conception of the greatest religions, the existence of sublime beings, immeasurably superior to the pigmy race of men, who stand, as it were, midway between the Infinite and ourselves. Of the immense but invisible hierarchy which to our forefathers spanned the fathomless abyss between God and man, hardly even the memory now remains. In her strange, weird fashion Madame Blavatsky resuscitated this ancient faith: To men like Mr. Sinnett her great doctrine of the Mahatmas, of the existence of a brotherhood of sublime sages, the viceregents of the Infinite, did something to repeople the void which modern scepticism has depopulated. But she did more than this. Others have taught of the existence of Thrones, Principalities, and Powers in heavenly places. But between them and us there has been a great gulf fixed. The Archangel is as mute as Deity, the benevolence of the patron Saint never leads him to open up communications with his mortal clients. Madame Blavatsky taught not merely that the Mahatmas existed, but that they were able and willing to enter into [7] direct communication with men. Madame Blavatsky proclaimed herself as the directly commissioned messenger of the celestial hierarchy, charged by them to reveal the Path by which anyone who was worthy and willing might enter into direct communion with these sublime Intelligences. I was but an outsider in the court of the Gentiles, a curious observer, and never a disciple. I cannot speak of these inner mysteries to which only the initiates are admitted. But Mr. A.P. Sinnett, journalist and man of science, Anglo-Indian and man of the world, assures me, in accents of impassioned conviction that he and others who have followed her teachings have entered into the reality of that spiritual communion, and have no more doubt of the reality of the existence of the Mahatmas than they have of the rate-collector, or the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Mr. Schmiechen, the artist, even painted the portrait of a Mahatma, but except on his canvas the sublime brotherhood remain somewhat shadowy to the uninitiated.

Madame Blavatsky, in the midst of a generation that is materialist and mechanical, which probed everything, and dissected even the human heart with a scalpel, did at least succeed in compelling a race of scientists and economists to realize the existence of the conception that all material things are but a passing illusion, and that the spiritual alone is.

Madame Blavatsky also reinforced and almost recreated in many minds the sense of this life being a mere probation. In this respect her teaching was much more in accord with the spirit of the New Testament than much of the pseudo-Christian teaching of our day. She widened the horizon of the mind, and she brought something of the infinite sense of vast, illimitable mystery which characterizes some of the Eastern religions into the very heart of Europe in the nineteenth century.

To have done all this, and to have done it almost single-handed, in face of the almost insuperable obstacles interposed by her own defects, renders comprehensible the theory that Madame Blavatsky had help the world could neither see nor take away. To her disciples she was but the frail and faulty-speaking trumpet of the Mahatmas, those lieutenants of Deity who commissioned her to teach, and also gave to her mouth matter and wisdom to proclaim the true doctrine for the redemption of man. These things are too high for me. I no more intermeddle with them than with the dogma of the Infallibility of the Pope. It is the human side, both of Theosophy and of Rome, that fascinates me. Madame Blavatsky may have had converse with semi-celestial Intelligences in Thibet. Of that I can say nothing. But I can say of my own knowledge that she was undoubtedly a very gifted and original woman to converse with in Ladbrooke Grove, a fiery, impulsive, passionate creature, full of failings, and personally the very reverse of beautiful. There she was, a wonderful and powerful personality, the like of which I have never met either in Russia or in England. She was unique, but she was intensely human, and a woman to her heart's core.

She aroused the passionate devotion of both men and women. She was to her followers as the oracle of God. They had this treasure in a very earthen vessel, but it was there. [8]


G. White Hickerson

We were talking the other day about the implications of faith. It appears that too often we suggest to ourselves by the idea of faith a dependence on some power or intelligence outside ourselves. This becomes a source of confusion in our minds. After all, confusion can only arise from our own lack of clarity concerning the fundamentals of ideas.

In the idea of faith is necessarily bound up the idea of the association with the Higher Self. As we know from our Theosophical studies, the Higher Self of one is the Higher Self of all; so it is not too hard to see how the confusion of placing faith in some power outside ourselves came about.

And it is not necessarily the so-called God-idea that is at fault here. It is true that the God-idea had its origin also in the identity of the Higher Self of all. What we suspect, however is that the carry-over, perhaps, of the God-idea has in some subtle way infused itself into our thinking in such a way, that inferentially we place trust and faith outside of ourselves, even though it be in the somewhat hazy identification of the Higher Self as "God."

We have not actually come to realize that WE ARE THAT HIGHER SELF. And it isn't too hard to see how a kind of inferiority complex could arise out of our hesitation to claim identification with this Higher Self. For to assert our claim to this identification, we must perforce assume both responsibility and authority. Responsibility for our thoughts and acts, and authority over the warring elements of our own being.

It is the assuming of authority, and fear of accepting the responsibility that have, it seems to us, caused some backsliding into the fields of negative faith, or the placing of hope in some source or power outside ourselves, which will eventually set things aright.

And it is the assuming of authority, even with acceptance of responsibility, but without sufficient knowledge (of the Oneness or Universal SELF), that has led to some pretty sad cases of dictatorships of all kinds.

Perhaps we have not stopped to think that the overt exercise of dictatorship may be in fact a cover for a serious inferiority complex, which indicates a lack of real faith held by the individual in his own power, either to accept or to assume genuine leadership. Why? Because he has to force his ideas upon others, who intuitively hold a mental reservation as to the fitness of the dicta being foisted upon them.

It is true that we are not in a position to judge of the reason behind lack of faith or its assumption in any individual, but we can look at it in ourselves, and consider it from the point of view of the Theosophical principles involved. After this examination is made we can consider calmly the possibilities inherent in the actions of those around us. We may judge acts! And we most certainly have the right to control our own actions.

Faith, or the power to identify ourselves with the Higher Self of all, requires the application of intelligence. [9] And this intelligence is of a particular kind. It is the kind which is self-consciously activated through the Buddhi-Manasic aspect of our evolving principles. This involves egoic self-consciousness to a perceptible degree.

The problem placed before us is that the kama-manasic aspect of our personal consciousness is not only inhibited to a large extent, but also becomes offended and afraid. It becomes afraid when we find ourselves standing alone, or when our personal power or authority is threatened or challenged. And it also becomes afraid from another cause: some have assumed the attitude of "listening and learning" perhaps for too long a time, thus permitting decisions to be made by others, when we should make them ourselves, and take the consequences.

The kama-manasic personality is very satisfied with this comfortable position of a kind of negative faith, which permits others whom we trust to make decisions - while the Buddhi-Manasic consciousness is very uneasy and disturbed, because the purpose of its evolutionary journey is being frustrated.

Without describing it in these terms, modern medicine has become aware of this situation in individuals and has assigned various psycho-somatic symptoms to this source of soul-frustration.

Once we assert with intelligent faith our identity with the Higher Self, the Buddhi-Manasic elements of our consciousness begin to come to life, and then it is the kama-manasic elements, or our personality, which becomes frustrated.

It appears that it is with the frustration of the kama-manasic personality in humans that the sudden assertion of dictatorship comes to life. It is a last stand fight against surrendering authority over the confused lower principles of our constitution (our feelings, emotions and bodily activities) - or our power to control the thoughts and activities of others in our society by a self-constituted dictator.

All around us we see examples of this struggle: all the way from dictatorships over nations, to blustering, stampeding individuals who insist on having their own way, regardless of what happens to all and sundry.

Intelligent faith in our oneness with the Higher Self gives us the power to sit down quietly and come to terms with the purpose of our Buddhi-Manasic principle (the individualized egoic self-consciousness), and we begin to see the light.

It is not too hard to see that it is not just faith that is needed, but intelligent faith. Once that intelligent faith is established, an authority which is directive becomes apparent in the life and acts on even the personal life of such an individual.

Whether this individual is just one of the multitude, even as you and me, or is so placed by his Karma, that his thoughts and acts affect the multitudes, this self-conscious intelligent faith makes the difference: whether he himself, his small circle of family and friends, or whole communities and nations shall be influenced for the betterment of humanity as a whole (that is, directed towards self-conscious evolution through soul-experiences), or whether large segments of the evolving wave of monads shall be momentarily degraded or frustrated by lack of genuine spiritual impulse, from those in a position to exercise authority, and [10] to show by example what the purpose of living is.

What's the answer? Well, each one of us can try it for himself. Yes, we will have to pay the price for standing up and declaring our independence. But has not independence always been purchased by sacrifice - and maintained by vigilance? And without this Self-conscious intelligent faith in the fact of our fundamental interdependence in THAT, which reflects itself in the Higher Self of all, and manifests in our own Buddhi-Manasic principle, our own Higher Self - how could we maintain our balance and have the courage to continue the work before us?


L. Kavonne

Theosophy has been a part of my life for many years, having been brought up in a Theosophically-minded home, and voluntarily accepting it myself in my adult years. Throughout these years of study and contact, Theosophy has given me a spiritual and logical basis on which to plan and live my life, and understand the reason behind universal events. For this, I am more than grateful to Theosophy. Still, modern-day Theosophy is not the spiritual force it was intended to be. Meetings and conventions seem to be falling into the pattern of organized, conventional church-type rituals, and Theosophy is becoming "personalized" - not treated as the Ancient Wisdom belonging to humanity, but given out as the personal intellectual inspiration of certain individuals.

What has particularly galled some of us is the hanging of halos on the leaders, past and present, almost canonizing them. In articles, quoted material, and general conversation, Theosophists frequently refer to some well known Theosophist as "our dear, beloved - " or "brother - ." Not long ago a well-meaning lodge member handed me a book written by a famous and controversial Theosophist disliked by many occult students. He suggested I should read it, whereupon I refused, saying the author and his ideas were not acceptable to me. In a shocked voice my friend said: "but it was written by one of our best people! Our dear - ." Apparently I had committed sacrilege, but it wasn't my rejection of the book that shocked. It was my lack of reverence for the exalted position of the author.

It is becoming a noticeable trend, that the more astounding is the occult feat, the more revered is the person among Theosophical Society members. In recent reading and conversation in Theosophical groups, there was a great deal of attention given to certain Theosophists, living and dead, who claimed they were able to remember exactly what they were in all their past lives. What was to be gained by calling attention to their boast? A brighter halo? At any rate, the remarks and statements were supposed to create a feeling of awesome reverence.

Nothing can be gained, and much can be lost, if the Ancient Wisdom is treated as an uninspired, conventional nucleus for the curious, a group of [12] worshipers placing halos on occultists. That is the problem. Where lies the solution? Get out of the personalizing rut! Stop idolizing learned leaders! If they are deceased, they have fulfilled their mission in the Theosophical Society. Our living leaders will accomplish much more for Theosophy if they are not hampered by an imaginary halo. The world is entering a new scientific and challenging age, and Theosophy should play an important part in it as the spiritual vanguard of a brave new world.


Harold W. Dempster

(This material was taken mainly from T. Subba Row's, Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita. He was a Theosophical scholar of H.P. Blavatsky's time, whose lectures on this subject were first published in The Theosophist magazine of 1886 and 1887; and republished in book form in 1954 by Theosophical University Press. Additional commentary has been added by the compiler. While it is recommended that each student should endeavor to make his own interpretation, the Gita is difficult to understand. Therefore, comments and explanations from other sources, especially from students of the Ancient Wisdom are desirable. In fact, it is doubtful if its profound meaning and teaching could be intelligently grasped without the assistance that this ancient philosophy affords. It is hoped that this offering will deepen one's present understanding and appreciation of this uniquely expressed Song-of-the Gods - also known as The Lord's Song and The Song Celestial.)

The Bhagavad-Gita has its roots in the Mahabharata, which term means literally "the great war," or, philosophically, the teachings pertaining to the evolutionary struggle upward toward the Divine Source, the origin and destiny of all things.

The story is related by Vyasa (meaning one who amplifies or expands, an interpreter or revealer). In older times, this term was applied to the highest Gurus or exalted Spiritual Teachers in India. This idea of Divine Revealers could also be considered in the same way as the Hindu Vedas (or Divine Knowledge), and the Upanishads, known as the interpreters of the Vedas or as "that which destroys ignorance and thus produces liberation of the spirit." These and modern Theosophical literature furnish the basic keys for understanding the message of the Gita. Fortunate indeed is humanity today, in having such easy access to this explanatory material in various Theosophical writings and lectures, in plainly worded, non-allegorical form.

Does this not indicate a new development in the evolution of man? Could it mean that man has now earned the right to have teachings formerly concealed in the Mystery Schools, which, when presented in the past to the public, were so by means of allegory and symbol? Does it not mean that those who in the present have a deep underlying interest in them, had it in a previous, or perhaps, several previous incarnations?

The Gita must not be treated as [12] though it were an isolated part of the Mahabharata; it should also be understood that much in it is not expressed, except by implication; or again, what is said is based on the assumption that the reader is already well grounded in the Ancient Wisdom. No very real comprehension is possible without this kind of an understanding as a basis. Its scope is really tremendous.

The two leading characters are, as every student knows, Krishna and Arjuna, who carry on a conversation throughout the entire poem, which reveals Krishna as the Wise One and Arjuna as the partially evolved individual or man in need of counsel and instruction. Arjuna has, or is called by, 10 or 12 different names, representing different parts of himself, and one omitted which is Nara, meaning Man. Krishna at times is the Logos, meaning the "word" or the manifested Deity, and, in a sense implies the "lost word" as referred to in Masonry, because man in his deep descent into matter lost the Wisdom of the Gods and is now in the process of recovering it.

Vyasa looks upon Arjuna as Man, or rather the Monad (or center of consciousness in man,) and upon Krishna as the Spirit that comes to save him, by showing him the way.

The Great Battle referred to which is to be fought on the plain of the Kurus (any sphere of manifestation) is the eternal struggle of the Lower to become the Higher, no matter how despondent or discouraged it may become at times. This is especially true for man in his present cycle of unfoldment, as he has passed through the lowest point of material involvement at the middle of the Fourth Round, and is now evolving towards his relative spiritual perfection which he will reach in the Seventh Round.

The one who sincerely desires to know - the Truth-seeker - is Arjuna, or man, when he reaches that partially awakened state. This very impulse sets up a reaction and the Truth-seeker is challenged by a large segment of nature, referred to in the poem as the 'relatives' of Arjuna. They are Arjuna's Karma - or our Karma - and the forces of Darkness which try to prevent progress on the path. The influence or intensity of these obstacles, and how to deal with them, depends upon Arjuna - or ourselves. Of what is Arjuna made? What is the degree of our courage at this point? Arjuna is despondent and reluctant to fight. Krishna counsels him that he must fight, because Krishna sees the whole picture, but Arjuna only part.

Different interpretations can be placed upon the word "fight" or the "Great War." It can be an open, objective struggle, or an internal and very subtle form of an inner conflict, or both. It can mean the strong effort that is required of anyone who is endeavoring to improve himself, or a strong desire to know the Truth. It requires the keenest discrimination and judgment, as well as balance, which not only calls for the greatest inner strength, but a special intelligence and technique, which could be considered as instruments or "weapons" of the aspirant, which he must use in order to acquire spiritual knowledge and illumination.

Sometimes this conflict or battle is pictured as a monster, such as in Bulwer Lytton's novel, Zanoni, in which [13] the Dweller on the Threshold, as he is called, appears before the neophyte and attempts to shake him free from his resolution to progress; he may surrender unless he is fully and duly prepared to meet this challenge.

This "Dweller" can take the form of doubt, despair and despondency, as the aspirant finds that he must give up many of his old affections, associations and worldly ambitions, which have been a part of him for many incarnations in the past. This may have crystallized into strongly formed bad habits difficult to break. He may feel stranded and alone, before he realizes his higher possibilities, or has some encouraging experiences which urge him forward.

In another sense, Arjuna represents the chela or disciple being tested as to his real worth, and his Guru or Teacher is a part of this in the form of Krishna. It is his Teacher who has been assisting him and instructing him in the teachings pertaining to the laws of the Universe, and how to prepare himself for the true Initiation into the Mysteries, which initiation could be considered as a conflict requiring the utmost courage. In his earlier initiatory trials he must descend into the lower worlds and face without fear the hellish conditions existing there, and help any who show an inclination to rise out of that sphere. Succeeding here, he must arise and travel in consciousness to other planets and to the Sun, all of which is an ordeal and experience of great magnitude. Then he must have will power of sufficient strength to return to his physical body on earth as an Initiate, meaning one who has experienced at first hand the conditions existing in these other worlds. He thus becomes a Teacher who knows whereof he speaks.

Is all this found in the Gita? This knowledge was known to the awakened type of humanity that existed in the world when Vyasa, a great Spiritual Teacher, related the story that we refer to as the Bhagavad Gita, many thousands of years ago. Therefore, it was not necessary to express it in so many words in the poem itself.

There are 18 chapters in the treatise, each one dealing with a different phase or aspect of human life. There appear to be many unnecessary repetitions, but this is often done by a Teacher in order adequately to impress his disciple.

Krishna lays great stress upon the mental, rather than the physical aspects, but recognizes that one may have many duties of a physical kind that should not be avoided, merely because they may seem ordinary and unimportant. Everyone should preform his duty regardless of its nature and do it well.

There have been great objections against Hinduism and Buddhism, because activities of the ordinary avocations of man are discouraged. This is based upon a misapprehension, for these religions teach that it is not the nature of the act, but the mental attitude of the performer, that is of importance. This is the moral teaching that runs through the whole of the Gita, and it is vitally important.

Some have taken Krishna's exhortation to Arjuna to worship him alone as supporting the doctrine of a personal God. This is erroneous. For while Krishna is here speaking of himself as Parabrahman, he is still the Logos, or the "word," as a first manifestation of Parabrahman. He also [14] describes himself as Atman (or Universal Self) which is one with Parabrahman, indicating there is no essential difference between Atman and Parabrahman. All "sons" of God, including Christ, have spoken of themselves as one with the Father. Christ said, "I and my Father are One," meaning I, the Christos, or Logos, or first manifestation, am at one with Parabrahman, or, as we often say, the Boundless, the All.

The Logos or Krishna, as a high consciousness or a first manifestation of Parabrahman, assumes certain attributes of the All, which is a paradox, because the All has no characteristics or attributes except limitlessness. In this high keynote Krishna speaks to Arjuna or mankind for the purpose of arousing and encouraging them to come up higher, to evolve, to become more than they now are.

Krishna also indicates, as did the Christ, that through him alone is salvation possible, meaning that Arjuna - mankind - must look to the higher elements or Beings outside and especially to a spiritual consciousness within himself, in order to receive the illumination necessary to become a Great One, a Mahatman, or Great Soul. This can not possibly be taken as a personal God idea, but rather as meaning an Impersonal Divinity that is the true Savior within each human being.

All that is sacred and sublime in the six different philosophical schools of India is combined in the Gita. By such a teaching, which is very lofty and at the same time practical, Krishna succeeds in dispelling Arjuna's doubts and despondency. This same result follows when a Theosophical teacher illumines his pupil by the words and style in which he imparts the philosophy - arousing in the pupil a keen and attentive interest. This has a strong influence and tends to arouse the inner egoic consciousness within the pupil himself, stimulating him to act, causing him to do something about his way of life and degree of perception.

Krishna points out to Arjuna that he is something more than the mere personal "I"; that there is an individuality within that is a higher part of himself, that it is connected with the Logos, and he shows that this is intrinsically one with Parabrahman, the Boundless itself.

This is the substance of the first 12 chapters in brief; the remaining six chapters deal with Kirshna's method of instructing Arjuna how he may become firm of purpose, as our own studies of our Teacher's instructions and teachings should make us.

The number 18 is constantly recurring in the Mahabharata; the latter contains 18 Parvas; the contending armies are divided into 18 army corps; the battle raged 18 days (representing the 18,000,000 years since man became a thinking, reasoning human being). The number 18 is also supposed to represent Krishna as one particular type of manifestation emanating from the Logos. Krishna is also the 7th principle in Man, counting upwards from the physical, and his gift of his sister in marriage to Arjuna signifies the union between the 6th or Buddhic principle (Christos) and the 5th or Higher Mind (the Reincarnation Ego), as a result of Initiation.

It is interesting to note that Arjuna did not wish Krishna to fight for him, but only to act as his charioteer (or sustainer) and to be his friend and counselor, as he should be ours. [15] From this it becomes clear that each human Reincarnating Ego should fight its own battle, assisted and illumined by the Higher Self, which can have many meanings. The Higher Self can be the Higher Mind when compared to the lower or brain mind; it can mean the Buddhic Principle or Immanent Christos, and this has a higher aspect which we call the Atman or Universal Self; and this is the Logos, which is the first manifestation of Parabrahman or the Boundless. It is the common denominator of all, and makes the whole vast scheme of things a veritable Universal Brotherhood.

Parabrahman or the Supreme Self should not be looked upon as something outside of ourselves; it is part and parcel of our very being.

One of the strongest passages in the Gita, although there are many such, is the following one, near the beginning of the 13th Chapter. Krishna, speaking to Arjuna, says:

"True wisdom of a spiritual kind is freedom from self-esteem, hypocrisy, and injury to others; it is patience, sincerity, respect for spiritual instructors, purity, firmness, self-restraint, dispassion for objects of sense, freedom from pride, and a meditation upon birth, death, decay, sickness and error; it is an exemption from self-identifying attachment for children, wife and household, and a constant unwavering steadiness of heart upon the arrival of every event whether favorable or unfavorable; it is a never ceasing love for me alone, the self being effaced, and worship paid in a solitary spot; it is a resolute continuance in the study of Adhyitma, the Supreme spirit, and a meditation upon the end of the acquirement of a knowledge of truth; this is called wisdom or spiritual knowledge; its opposite is ignorance.

"I will now tell thee what is the object of wisdom, from knowing which a man enjoys immortality; it is that which has no beginning, even the supreme Brahma, and of which it cannot be said that it is either Being or Non-Being. It has hands and feet in all directions; it is immanent in the world, possessing the vast whole Itself without organs, it is reflected by all the senses and faculties; unattached, yet supporting all; without qualities, yet the witness of them all. It is within and without all creatures animate and inanimate; it is inconceivable because of its subtlety, and although near it is afar off. Although undivided it appeareth as divided among creatures, and while it sustains existing things, it is also to be known as their destroyer and creator. It is the light of all lights, and is declared to be beyond all darkness; and it is wisdom itself, the object of wisdom, and that which is to be obtained by wisdom; in the hearts of all it ever presideth." * (*Quoted from the English rendering of William Q. Judge.)

Thus spake Krishna to Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita; and many, many more other things did he say. [16]


A. E.

[Originally published in The Irish Theosophist, Vol. V, October, 1896, pp. 4-5]

Each has a place of his own. No one can fill your place but you, and the sooner you learn this the better for you and all concerned with you.

Suppose I should try to do C--'s work (you know what it is), would he like it, think? And, as I am not accustomed to such work should I be able to do it?

All these people in the T.S. are trying to become Masters, are they not? But I tell you they forget the way to the Masters is not by pushing someone else out of work they wish to do, nor by favour-seeking with an object in view, but by a method some of them forget, I fear.

In the world pushing for position is all right from the standpoint of the world, but in occultism it is different. In the Lodge those only are noticed who are known to work for the advance of others. Did you ever think of this? Sometimes perhaps.

In the old days when workers were scarce some were used who were ambitious, for we had to take what we could get; but times change and the great big change, even on the face of things now, lies in this - that favour goes for nothing, the real people are the only ones who count, and if you are not real inside you will never cut much figure in this work, that's certain.

Say, if you knew how I smile sometimes over things you'd smile too; but there's sadness mixed with my smile and if there were not a lot of real genuine stuff in the T.S. I'd have gone off long ago.

There are centres for work. Workers are there, of course; what hinders their work the most? Coming in the air, flying in through the windows at them, coming in when some people enter the door, are seen curious hideous shapes, almost labeled, some of them, as bottles of poison from the chemists, with skull and crossbones. Labeled "Ambition," "Wish I was in your place," "I could do it better myself." What are these? They are thoughts of some who are aiming to be Adepts some day, thoughts of those who dream of brotherhood and have forgotten or are trying a side-track on the path to the Lodge of Masters.

It's no good, I tell you. Each has his place, none can take it, and he can take none other than that in which he is, his own place.

Knock out of yourself these things I am talking of and find your own work and place and the greatest problem of your life will be solved, and perhaps some may make a mental note of this, and others follow.

Leaders are not those who do all the work themselves; they are those who know how to help others to do the work, and have learned their own work and place, and care to do the best just there and nowhere else.

Therefore find your own place, and in finding your own you will help others find their own, and with the place for each filled by the only one for that place we can accomplish anything in the work of the world.