A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XVII
No. 1 (83) - Summer 1960

[Cover photo: Lac Leman and the Dents du Midi (courtesy Fransioli, Montreaux).]


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.



"I have observed my own processes of thought many and many a time, and I notice that many and many a time I have been saved from drawing a false conclusion by being reluctant to accept that conclusion until I have examined it. That is an excellent rule that we all try to follow. But I likewise have observed that if I am cowardly or lazy, and refuse to face a thought or a problem squarely, nobody suffers but me. I am the loser. So I have learned to think, and try to think clearly, to be afraid of thinking no thought whatsoever, but always to strive to see that the thoughts that pass through my mind as the instruments of cogitation shall be high ones; not to give in to snap-judgments, not led astray by emotional volcanic outpourings, nor what is worse I think, led into judging others with injustice. This is an exercise the Hindus would call Yoga. It is an exercise I recommend to anyone who wants to improve himself. Watch your thoughts. Watch your processes as you think those thoughts. Discard the thoughts you do not like. But be careful in so doing lest you refuse to receive a divinity knocking at the door of your heart when you are at first too blind to perceive its divine character." - G. de Purucker, in Wind of the Spirit, p. 98.

"According to the ancient Indian view, the challenge of one's karma is met only when the man gives his service to the full in the environment he is in. This does not mean he should not change its nature, but it means he should accept it in the sense of making that total contact with it which is responding not merely intellectually but also with all the other aspects of his being, so that what results is total action out of his 'real self.' It is his action which transforms what exists, namely, himself, his own karma and the existing conditions. This view of one's dharma, although it was given in the old codes as a set of moral precepts, is based on a profound perception of how man is related to his environment, and how this relation can be changed." - N. Sri Ram, in The Theosophist, April, 1960, p. 4. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

Civilizations, social orders, and human institutions come and go like the tides of a mighty sea. The evolving Egos, which as a group or host, build any particular civilization, re-embody in due course of time more or less together, and form another civilization, the direct result of the former one.

From time to time, there arise in history what might be called climacteric cycles. They represent a convergence of many karmic threads or lines of karmic destiny. Such cycles are marked by rapid and usually violent developments during which an enormous change takes place within a short and crowded time. At such times, there is a breaking up of old molds, both mental and physical, chiefly mental and psychological, and there is also the ushering of new ideas.

We of the twentieth century live precisely in such a cycle. How many of us recognize it for what it is? How many of us project the Theosophical Movement in which we work against the vast backdrop of this world-wide climacteric change in the consciousness of mankind?

During a climacteric cycle there appear in the midst of the human race what has been called "Men of Destiny," who are in the last analysis focal points for the distribution of delayed and accumulated karma. Some of these are agents of destruction, and others agents of regenerative forces. But both of them, let us bear in mind, are an inseparable part of the workings of Cosmic Law, which means Cosmic Justice.

The present-day struggle is mainly between the forces of crass materialism and those of a spiritual reawakening; between the powers of mental and psychological inertia, and those of a resurgent spirit. Considering the relatively low scale of evolution upon which mankind operates as a whole, the forces of material concerns are often successful in their efforts, at least temporarily so. Immediate material ends and objectives have a greater appeal to the majority of men, than more distant spiritual goals seen only by those whose vision extends beyond the narrow horizon of materialism.

The question is often asked: Can our Civilization survive?

What is Civilization? It is certainly not the complex of devices, mechanisms, techniques and instrumentalities by means of which we live today. It is not the sum total of gadgets invented by the technological genius of men. These are but means to a material end.

Civilization is the realm of spiritual ends, of spiritual-intellectual factors, as expressed in art, literature, morals, religion and philosophy, in educational and cultural pursuits, in a harmonious social order. It is the realm of the spiritual goals for which we live.

Civilization is not made up of things; it is made up of values, of ideals, of ideas. Civilization is not what we use; it is what we are.

Appraised in this light, the civilization of the Occidental world has never been particularly high anyway. Compared with others, it falls short in some of the most important factors. During its entire life-span to date, it has been [4] based on warlike conflicts, aggression, mutual enslavement, rapine and the exploitation of the weak by the strong. Most of its wars have been religious wars, originating in sectarian dogmatism and intolerance, as well as politico-economic chicanery. Far be it from us, however, to disregard the sum of violence which has marked certain periods in the history of other civilizations now swept off the stage of history. The whole of mankind is yet in one of its relatively low cycles of development.

No civilization can endure for any length of time, or claim a high recognition from the tribunal of History, which fails to base its life upon simple human decency, justice for all, fair play in its dealings; and whose fundamental key-note remains brutal selfishness, coarse materialism and haughty disregard of the best interests of others.

And yet, even in the midst of crass materialism and spiritual negation there are always present in our amidst witnesses to a spiritual vision, men and women who proclaim in one way or another the imperial nobility of the human soul. We have recently seen one of them - Pasternak, pass away into fields of rest, in the midst of much earthly suffering, physical and psychological, as has always been the case with those who have striven to hold high the beacon-light of Truth and Freedom in the surrounding darkness of unbelief. In how many different parts of this world, and in how many cycles of man's history, would not his words apply? - "Your leaders speak many words but you forget the most important; that you cannot love by force ... What has for centuries raised man above the beast is not the cudgel but an inward music: the irresistible power of unarmed truth!"

The figure of Pasternak, like that of many other inspired men and women throughout the ages, remains to haunt the social order which both produced it (paradoxically enough) and refused it a hearing. His pain-racked body has returned to the earth it came from, but his memory, indelible and unwelcome to many, remains to cast a shadow athwart the dreary deserts of spiritual emptiness where his voice, perchance, can be heard even better because of its uniqueness ...

Through suffering and agony of heart, men see from time to time another glimpse of the Great Vision. Their spiritual intuitions are touched. The age-old refrain of a unified mankind is heard once more through the echoing halls of their bruised and saddened hearts. And out of this dawning realization, born of suffering and nourished by aspiration, there will appear in time the nucleus of a greater civilization, whose gleaming star is rising even now upon the distant horizons of man's undying hope.


"There is but one way that a man shall live, and it is this: to face the circumstances of his life, whatever they may mean of sorrow, pain, or renunciation, and in the midst of them courageously and cheerfully to fulfil his duty and carve out his destiny." - Cave. [5]


By Count E. A., F.T.S.

[The authorship of this remarkable story, which originally appeared in The Theosophist, Vol. I, April and May, 1880, is uncertain. The narrative bears a great similarity to other stories written by H.P.B. in collaboration with the Adept known as Hillarion Smerdis, such as "The Ensouled Violin," or "An Unsolved Mystery." The initials E.A. could very well stand for Endreinek Agardi, a pupil of Master M., and an F.T.S. (Fellow of The Theosophical Society) on the strength of H.P.B.'s own explanation in one of her Scrapbooks. - Editor, Theosophia.]

The strange story I am about to say was given me by one of its principal heroes. Its authenticity cannot be doubted, however skeptical one may feel as to the details of the narrative - and this for three good reasons: (a) the circumstances are well known at Palermo, and the incidents still remembered by a few of the oldest inhabitants; (b) the shock produced by the dreadful occurrence on the narrator was so violent as to turn his hair - the hair of a young man of 26 - as white as snow in one night, and make him a raving lunatic for the next six months; (c) there is an official record of the death-bed confession of the criminal, and it can be found in the family chronicles of the Prince di R-- V--. For myself at least, no doubt remains as to the veracity of the story.

Glauerbach was a passionate lover of the occult sciences. For a time, his only object was to become a pupil of the famous Cagliostro, then living at Paris, where he attracted universal attention; but the mysterious Count from the first refused to have anything to do with him. Why he declined to accept as pupil a young man of a good family and very intelligent, was a secret which Glauerbach - the narrator of the tale - could never penetrate. Suffice it to say that all he could prevail upon the "Grand Copt" to do for him, was to teach him in a certain degree how to learn the secret thoughts of the persons he associated with, by making them speak such thoughts audibly without knowing that their lips were uttering any sound. And even this comparatively easy magnetic phase of occult science he could not master practically.

In those days, Cagliostro and his mysterious powers were on all tongues. Paris was in a state of high fever about him. At Court, in society, in the Parliament, in the Academy, they spoke but of Cagliostro. The most extra ordinary stories were told of him, and the more they were extraordinary the more willingly people believed them. They said that Cagliostro had shown pictures of future events in his magic mirrors to some of the most illustrious statesmen of France, and that these events had all come to pass. The king and the royal family had been of the number of those who were allowed to peer into the unknown. The "magician" had evoked the shades of Cleopatra and Julius Caesar, of Mohammed and Nero. Ghengis Khan and Charles the Fifth had held a conversazione with the minister of the police; and an outwardly pious, but secretly skeptical Christian Archbishop having shown a desire to [6] have his doubts cleared, one of the gods was summoned - but did not come, for he had never existed in flesh. Marmontel having expressed the desire to meet Belisarius, he, upon seeing the great warrior emerging from the ground, fell senseless. Young, daring and passionate Glauerbach, feeling that Cagliostro would never share with him more than a few crumbs of his great learning, turned in another direction, and at last found an unfrocked abbot, who for a consideration took upon himself to teach him all he knew. In a few months (?) he had learned the weird secrets of black and white magic, i.e., the art of cleverly bamboozling fools. He also visited Mesmer and his clairvoyants, whose number had become very large at that period. The ill-fated French society of 1785 felt its doom approaching; it suffered from spleen and greedily seized upon anything that brought it a change in its killing satiety and lethargic monotony. It had become so skeptical that, at last, from believing in nothing, it ended by believing anything. Glauerbach, under the experienced direction of his abbot, began practicing upon human credulity. But he had not been more than eight months at Paris, when the police paternally advised him to go abroad - for his health. There was no appeal from such advice. However convenient the capital of France for old hands at charlatanry, it is less so for beginners. He left Paris and went, via Marseilles, to Palermo.

In that city the intelligent pupil of the abbot got acquainted with, and contracted a friendship with Marquis Hector, youngest son of the Prince R-- V--, one of the most wealthy and noble families of Sicily. Three years earlier, a great calamity had befallen that house. Hector's eldest brother, Duke Alfonso, had disappeared without leaving any clue; and the old prince, half-killed with despair, had left the world for the retirement of his magnificent villa in the suburbs of Palermo, where he led the life of a recluse.

The young Marquis was dying with ennui. Not knowing what better to do with himself, under the directions of Glauerbach he began studying magic, or at least, that which passed under that name with the clever German. The professor and pupil became inseparable.

As Hector was the Prince's second son, he had, during the life of his elder brother, no choice left him, but to join either the army or the church. All the wealth of the family passed into the hands of the Duke Alfonso R-- V--, who was betrothed, moreover, to Bianca Alfieri, a rich orphan, left, at the age of ten, heiress to an immense fortune. This marriage united the wealth of both the houses of R-- V-- and Alfieri, and it had all been settled when both Alfonso and Bianca were mere children, without even a thought as to whether they would ever come to like each other. Fate, however, decided it should be so, and the young people formed a mutual and passionate attachment.

As Alfonso was too young to be married, he was sent traveling, and remained absent for over four years. Upon his return, preparations were being made for the celebration of the nuptials, which the old Prince had decided should form one of the future epopees of Sicily. They were planned upon the most magnificent scale. The wealthiest and noblest of the land had assembled two months beforehand and were being royally entertained in the family [7] mansion, which occupied a whole square of the old city, as all were more or less related to either the R-- V-- or the Alfieri families in the second, fourth, twentieth or sixtieth degree. A host of hungry poets and improvisatori had arrived, uninvited, to sing, according to the local custom of those days; the beauty and virtues of the newly-married couple. Livorno sent a ship-load of sonnets, and Rome the Pope's blessing. Crowds of people curious to witness the procession had come to Palermo from afar; and whole regiments of the light-fingered gentry prepared to practice their profession at the first opportunity.

The marriage ceremony had been fixed for a Wednesday. On Tuesday the bridegroom disappeared without leaving the slightest trace. The police of the whole land was set afoot. Uselessly, alas! Alfonso had for several days been going from town to Monte Cavalli - a lovely villa of his - to superintend in person the preparations for the reception of his lovely bride, with whom he was to pass his honeymoon in that charming village. On Tuesday evening he had repaired there alone and on horseback, as usual, to return home early on the following morning. About ten in the evening two contadini had met and saluted him. That was the last any one saw of the young Duke.

Later, it was ascertained that on that night a pirate vessel had been cruising the waters of Palermo; that the corsairs had been ashore, and carried away several Sicilian women. In the latter part of the last century, Sicilian ladies were considered as very valuable goods: there was a large demand for the commodity in the markets of Smyrna, Constantinople, and the Barbary Coast; the rich pashas paying for them enoromous sums. Besides pretty Sicilian women, the pirates used to smuggle away rich people for the sake of the ransom. The poor men, when caught, shared the fate of the working-cattle, and fed on flogging. Everyone at Palermo firmly believed that young Alfonso had been carried away by the pirates; and it was far from being improbable. The High Admiral of the Sicilian navy immediately despatched after the pirates four swift vessels, renowned above all others for their speed. The old Prince promised mountains of gold to him who would give him back his son and heir. The little squadron being ready, it spread its sails and disappeared on the horizon. On one of the vessels was Hector R-- V--.

At nightfall, the watchers on the deck had as yet seen nothing. Then the breeze freshened, and about midnight it was blowing a hurricane. One of the vessels returned to port immediately, the two others were driven away before the gale and were never heard of more, and the one, on which was young Hector, returned two days after, dismantled and a wreck, to Trapani.

The night before, the watchers, in one of the beacon towers along the shore, saw a brig far off, which, without mast, sails or flag, was being furiously carried along on the crest of the angry sea. They concluded it must be the pirates' brig. It went down in full sight, and the report spread that every soul on board, to the very last man, had perished.

Notwithstanding all this, emissaries were sent by the old Prince in every direction - to Algiers, Tunis, Morocco, Tripoli, and Constantinople. But they [8] found nothing; and when Glauerbach arrived at Palermo, three years had passed since the event.

The Prince, though having lost a son, did not relish the idea of losing the wealth of the Alfieris in the bargain. He concluded to marry Bianca to his second son, Hector. But the fair Bianca wept, and would not he consoled. She refused point-blank, and declared she would remain faithful to her Alfonso.

Hector behaved like a true knight. "Why make poor Bianca still more miserable, by worrying her with prayers? Perhaps my brother is yet alive" - he said. "How could I, then, in view of such an uncertainty, deprive Alfonso, in case he should return, of his best treasure, and the one dearer to him than life itself!"

Touched with the exhibition of such noble feelings, Bianca began to relax her indifference for her Alfonso's brother. The old man did not lose all hopes. Besides, Bianca was a woman; and with women in Sicily, as elsewhere, the absent are always in the wrong. She finally promised, if she should ever have a positive assurance of Alfonso's death, to marry his brother, or - no one. Such was the state of affairs when Glauerbach - he who boasted of the power of raising the shadows of the dead - appeared at the princely and now mournful and deserted country villa of the R-- V--. He had not been there a fortnight before he captivated the affections and admirations of everyone. The mysterious and the occult, and especially dealings with a world unknown, the "silent land," have a charm for everyone in general and for the afflicted especially. The old Prince took courage one day and asked the crafty German to solve their cruel doubts. Was Alfonso dead or alive? That was the question. Taking a few minutes to reflect, Glauerbach answered in this wise: "Prince, what you ask me to do for you is very important ... Yes, it is quite true. If your unfortunate son is no more, I may he enabled to call forth his shadow; but will not the shock be too violent for you? Will your son and your pupil - the charming Countess Bianca - consent to it?"

"Anything rather than cruel uncertainty," the old Prince answered. And so the evocation was decided upon, to take place a week from that day. When Bianca heard of it, she fainted. Recalled to her senses by an abundance of restoratives, curiosity got the better of her scruples. She was a daughter of Eve, as women all are. Hector began by setting himself with all his might against what he regarded as a sacrilege. He did not wish to trouble the rest of the dear departed; he at first said, if his beloved brother was really dead, he preferred not to know it. But at last his growing love for Bianca and the desire to satisfy his father prevailed, and he too consented.

The week demanded by Glauerbach for preparation and purification, seemed a century to the impatience of all three. Had it been a day longer, they must have all gone mad. Meanwhile, the necromancer had not been losing his time. Suspecting that the demand in this direction would come one day, he had from the first quietly gathered the minutest particulars about the deceased Alfonso, and most carefully studied his life-size portrait which hung in the old Prince's bed-room. This was enough for his purposes. To add to the solemnity, [9] he had enjoined upon the family a strict fast and prayers, day and night, during the whole week. At last the longed-for hour arrived, and the Prince, accompanied by his son and Bianca, entered the necromancer's apartment. Glauerbach was pale and solemn, but composed. Bianca trembled from head to foot and kept her bottle of aromatic salts in constant use. The Prince and Hector looked like two criminals led to execution. The large room was lighted by only a single lamp, and even this dim light was suddenly extinguished. Amid the thick darkness, the lugubrious voice of the conjuror was heard to pronounce a short cabalistic formula in Latin, and finally, to command the shadow of Alfonso to appear, - if it was, indeed, in the land of the shadows.

Suddenly the darkness of the furthest recess in the room became illuminated with a feeble bluish light, which, by slow degrees, brought before the sight of the audience a large magic mirror, which seemed to be covered with a thick mist. In its turn, this mist was gradually dissipated, and finally, the prostrate form of a man appeared to the eyes of those present. It was Alfonso! His body had on the identical dress he wore on the evening of his disappearance; heavy chains clasped his hands, and he lay dead on the sea-shore. Water dripped from his long hair and blood-stained and torn clothes; then a huge wave crept on and, engulfing him, all suddenly disappeared.

A dead silence had reigned during the whole progress of this fearful vision. The persons present trembling violently tried to keep their breath; then all relapsed into darkness, and Bianca, uttering a feeble moan, fell senseless into the arms of her guardian.

The shock proved too much. The young girl had a brain fever which held her between life and death for weeks. The Prince felt little better; and Hector never left his room for a fortnight. No more doubts - Alfonso was dead, he was drowned. The walls of the palace were hung with black cloth, strewn all over with silver tears. For three days, the bells of many churches at Palermo tolled for the unfortunate victim of the pirates and the sea. The inside of the great cathedral was also draped from floor to dome in black velvet. Two thousand and five-hundred gigantic tapers flickered around the catafalque; and cardinal Ottoboni, assisted by five bishops, daily performed the service for the dead for six long weeks. Four thousand ducats were distributed in charity to the poor at the portal of the cathedral, and Glauerbach, clad in a sable mantle like one of the family, represented its absent members, during the funeral obsequies. His eyes were red, and when he covered them with his scented pocket-handkerchief, those near him heard his convulsive sobs. Never had a sacrilegious comedy been better performed.

Soon after, a magnificent monument of pure Carrara marble; sculptured with two allegorical figures, was raised in Alfonso's memory in St. Rosalia's church. On the sarcophagus grandiloquent inscriptions in Greek and Latin were cut by order of the old Prince.

Three months later, the news spread that Bianca was to be wedded to Hector. Glauerbach, who had meanwhile gone to travel all over Italy, returned to Monte Cavalli on the eve of the marriage. He exhibited his wonderful necromantic [10] powers elsewhere, and had the "holy" inquisition upon his heels. He felt full security only in the bosom of the family which adored and looked upon him as a demi-god.

On the following morn, the numerous guests proceeded to the chapel, which was resplendent with gold and silver and decorated as for a royal wedding. How happy looked the bridegroom! How lovely the bride! The old Prince wept for joy, and Glauerbach had the honor of being Hector's best man.

In the garden were spread enormous banquet tables at which were entertained the vassals of both the families. The feasts of Gargantua were less rich than such a festival. Fifty fountains spouted wine instead of water; but towards sunset, no one could drink any more, for unfortunately - for some people - human thirst is not infinite. Roasted pheasants and partridges were thrown by the dozens to the neighboring dogs, which they too left untouched, for even they were gorged to the throat.

Suddenly, among the gay and showy crowd, there appeared a new guest, who attracted general attention. It was a man, thin as a skeleton, very tall, and clad in the dress of the penitent monks or "Silent Brothers," as they are popularly called. This dress consists of a long, flowing, gray, woolen garment, girded with a rope at the two end of which hang human bones, and a pointed hood which entirely covers the face, except two holes for the eyes. Among many orders of penitent monks in Italy - the black, gray, red, and white penitents - none inspire such an instinctive terror as these. Besides, no one has the right to address a penitent brother, while his hood is pulled down over his face; the penitent has not only the full right but the obligation to remain unknown to all.

Thus, this mysterious brother, who so unexpectedly appeared at the wedding feast, was addressed by none, though he seemed to follow the newly-married couple, as if he were their shadow. Both Hector and Bianca shuddered every time they turned to look at him.

The sun was setting, and the old Prince, accompanied by his children, was for the last time going the round of the banquet tables in the gardens. Stopping at one of these, he took a goblet of wine and exclaimed: "My friends, let us drink to the health of Hector and his wife Bianca!" But, at this very moment, someone seized his arm and stopped it. It was the gray-frocked "Silent Brother." Quietly emerging from the crowd, he had approached the table and also taken up a goblet.

"And is there no one, old man, besides Hector and Bianca whose health thou couldst propose?" - he asked in deep, guttural tones - "Where is thy son Alfonso?"

"Knowest thou not he is dead?" - sadly answered the Prince.

"Yes! ... dead-dead!" echoed the penitent. "But were he only to hear again the voice he heard at the moment of his cruel death, methinks he might respond ... aye ... from his very grave ... Old man, summon here thy son Hector! ..." [11]

"Good God! What do you ... what can you mean!" - exclaimed the Prince, pallid with unnameable terror.

Bianca was ready to faint. Hector, more livid than his father, was hardly standing on his legs, and would have fallen, had not Glauerbach supported him. "To the memory of Alfonso!" slowly pronounced the same lugubrious voice. - "Let everyone repeat the words after me! Hector, Duke of R-- V-- ... I invite you to pronounce them! ..."

Hector made a violent effort and, wiping his trembling lips, tried to open them. But his tongue cleaved to the roof of his mouth and he failed to utter a sound. Every eye was riveted upon the young man. He was pallid as death and his mouth foamed. At last, after a superhuman struggle with his weakness, he stammered out, "To the memory of Alfonso! ..."

"The voice of my mur-de-rer! ..." ejaculated the penitent in a deep but distinct tone.

With these words, throwing back his hood, he tore open his robe, and before the sight of the horrified guests there appeared the dead form of Alfonso, with four deep gaping wounds on his breast, from which trickled four streams of blood!

The cries of terror and the fright of the spectators can be more easily imagined than described. In one moment the garden became empty; the whole crowd upsetting the tables and flying as if for life ... But, more strange than all, was the fact that it was Glauerbach who, notwithstanding his intimate acquaintance with the dead, was the most panic-stricken. Upon seeing a real ghost, the necromancer, who had raised the dead at will, hearing him talk as would a living being, fell senseless upon a bed of flowers, and was picked up, late that night, a stark lunatic, which he remained for months.

It was only half a year later that he learned what had taken place after the terrific arraignment. After uttering it, the penitent disappeared from the eyes of all, and Hector was carried into his room in violent convulsions, where, an hour later, after summoning his confessor to his bedside, he made him write down his deposition, and after signing it, drank, before he could be stopped, the poisonous contents of a hollow seal-ring, and expired almost immediately. The old Prince followed him to the grave a fortnight later, leaving all his fortune to Bianca. But the unfortunate girl, whose early life had been doomed to two such tragedies, sought refuge in a convent, and her immense wealth passed into the hands of the Jesuits. Guided by a dream, she had selected a distant and unfrequented corner in the large garden of Monte Cavalli, as the site for a magnificent chapel, which she had erected as an expiatory monument of the fearful crime which put an end to the ancient family of the Princes of R-- V--. While digging the foundations, the workmen discovered an old dry well, and in it, the skeleton of Alfonso, with four stabs in his half-decayed breast, and the wedding ring of Bianca upon his finger.

Such a scene as the one on the wedding-day, is sufficient to shake the most hardened scepticist. Upon recovering, Glauerbach left Italy for ever, and returned to Vienna, where none of his friends was at first able to recognize [12] the young man of hardly twenty-six in this old decrepit form with his hair as white as snow. He renounced the evocation of spirits and charlatanry for ever, but became from that time a firm believer in the survival of the human soul and in its occult powers. He died in 1841, an honest and reformed man, scarcely opening his mouth upon this weird history. It was but during the last years of his life that a certain person, who won his full confidence through a service he was enabled to render him, learned from him the details of the mock vision and the real tragedy of the family of the R-- V--.


Mabel Collins

[Originally published as an unsigned essay in the very first issue of H.P.B.'s magazine Lucifer, Vol. I, September, 1887. Most likely from the pen of Mabel Collins, Co-Editor at the time. Possibly dictated, at least in part, from a higher source of inspiration.]

The inner light which guides men to greatness, and makes them noble, is a mystery through all time and must remain so while Time lasts for us; but there come moments, even in the midst of ordinary life, when Time has no hold upon us, and then all the circumstance of outward existence falls away, and we find ourselves face to face with the mystery beyond. In great trouble, in great joy, in keen excitement, in serious illness, these moments come. Afterwards they seem very wonderful, looking back upon them.

What is this mystery, and why is it so veiled, are the burning questions for anyone who has begun to realize its existence. Trouble most often rouses men to the consciousness of it, and forces them to ask these questions when those, whom one has loved better than oneself, are taken away into the formless abyss of the unknown by death, or are changed, by the experiences of life, till they are no longer recognizable as the same; then comes the wild hunger for knowledge. Why is it so? What is it, that surrounds us with a great dim cloud into which all loved things plunge in time and are lost to us, obliterated, utterly taken from us? It is this which makes life so unbearable to the emotional natures, and which develops selfishness in narrow hearts. If there is no certainty and no permanence in life, then it seems to the Egotist, that there is no reasonable course but to attend to one's own affairs, and be content with the happiness of the first person singular. There are many persons sufficiently generous in temperament to wish others were happy also, and who, if they saw any way to do it, would gladly redress some of the existing ills - the misery of the poor, the social evil, the sufferings of the diseased, the sorrow of those made desolate by death - those things the sentimental philanthropist shudders to think of. He does not act because he can do so little. Shall we take one miserable child and give it comfort when millions will be enduring the same fate when that one is dead? The inexorable cruelty of life continues on its giant course, and those who are born rich and healthy live in pleasant places, afraid to think of the horrors life holds within it. Loss, despair, unutterable pain, come [13] at last, and the one who has hitherto been fortunate is on a level with those to whom misery has been familiarized by a lifetime of experience. For trouble bites hardest when it springs on a new victim. Of course, there are profoundly selfish natures which do not suffer in this sense, which look only for personal comfort and are content with the small horizon visible to one person's sight; for these, there is but little trouble in the world, there is none of the passionate pain which exists in sensitive and poetic natures. The born artist is aware of pain as soon as he is aware of pleasure; he recognizes sadness as a part of human life before it has touched on his own. He has an innate consciousness of the mystery of the ages, that thing stirring within man's soul and which enables him to outlive pain and become great, which leads him on the road to the divine life. This gives him enthusiasm, a superb heroism indifferent to calamity; if he is a poet he will write his heart out, even for a generation that has no eyes or ears for him; if he desires to help others personally, he is capable of giving his very life to save one wretched child from out a million of miserable ones. For it is not his puny personal effort in the world that he considers - not his little show of labour done; what he is conscious of is the overmastering desire to work with the beneficent forces of supernature, to become one with the divine mystery, and when he can forget time and circumstances, he is face to face with that mystery. Many have fancied they must reach it by death; but none have come back to tell us that this is so. We have no proof that man is not as blind beyond the grave as he is on this side of it. Has he entered the eternal thought? If not, the mystery is a mystery still.

To one who is entering occultism in earnest, all the trouble of the world seems suddenly apparent. There is a point of experience when father and mother, wife and child, become indistinguishable, and when they seem no more familiar or friendly than a company of strangers. The one dearest of all may be close at hand and unchanged, and yet is as far as if death had come between. Then all distinction between pleasure and pain, love and hate, have vanished. A melancholy, keener than that felt by a man in his first fierce experience of grief, overshadows the soul. It is the pain of the struggle to break the shell in which man has prisoned himself. Once broken then there is no more pain; all ties are severed, all personal demands are silenced for ever. The man has forced himself to face the great mystery, which is now a mystery no longer, for he has become part of it. It is essentially the mystery of the ages, and these have no longer any meaning for him to whom time and space and all other limitations are but passing experiences. It has become to him a reality, profound, indeed, because it is bottomless, wide, indeed, because it is limitless. He has touched on the greatness of life, which is sublime in its impartiality and effortless generosity. He is friend and lover to all those living beings that come within his consciousness, not to the one or two chosen ones only - which is indeed only an enlarged selfishness. While a man retains his humanity, it is certain that one or two chosen ones will give him more [14] pleasure by contact, than all the rest of the beings in the Universe and all the heavenly hosts - but he has to remember and recognize what this preference is. It is not a selfish thing which has to be crushed out, if the love is the love that gives; freedom from attachments is not a meritorious condition in itself. The freedom needed is not from those who cling to you, but from those to whom you cling. The familiar phrase of the lover "I cannot live without you" must be words which cannot be uttered, to the occultist. If he has but one anchor, the great tides will sweep him away into nothingness. But the natural preference which must exist in every man for a few persons is one form of the lessons of Life. By contact with these other souls he has other channels by which to penetrate to the great mystery. For every soul touches it, even the darkest. Solitude is a great teacher, but society is even greater. It is so hard to find and take the highest part of those we love, that in the very difficulty of the search there is a serious education. We realise when making that effort, far more clearly what it is that creates the mystery in which we live, and makes us so ignorant. It is the swaying, vibrating, never-resting desires of the animal soul in man. The life of this part of man's nature is so vigorous and strongly developed from the ages during which he has dwelt in it, that it is almost impossible to still it so as to obtain contact with the noble spirit. This constant and confusing life, this ceaseless occupation with the trifles of the hour, this readiness in surface emotion, this quickness to be pleased, amused or distressed, is what baffles our sight and dulls our inner senses. Till we can use these the mystery remains in its Sphinx-like silence.


G. White Hickerson

Have we nurtured unto ourselves a power for good, and come forward with a "too little and too late" practical presentation of Theosophy?

In a world that so badly needs the help Theosophy can give, as a living philosophy, how are people to judge it when its practitioners do an adroit act of dodging the issue when it comes to a practical application of brotherhood "in actu"?

Our "hold back" tendencies have involved everything from secrecy regarding "esoteric sections," to mistresses. And under cover of a "man's private life is his own business" some of us try to play at being so impersonal as to pretend to have no regard for the mundane exercise of earning a living.

This is no way to really be secretive. Pretense of this kind only points to pride - and a false pride at that. We are pretending to a position which we don't actually possess, for if we did possess it we wouldn't have to conceal or pretend to anything. Under the supposition that if no one really knows what we are about we are the more free to act - is a false security. This presumes that we are among those [15] "adepts" who have earned that right. Those who are such do not have to pretend to the order, so our preoccupation with concealment is merely a psychological ruse which proclaims the more loudly our illusions.

There are many public centers throughout the world where Theosophy is presented, to be sure - and there are also thousands of isolated students of Theosophy, known as such, and watched by neighbors - and fellow citizens, from a distance - for a long time before an approach is made either to a center or an individual. So it would seem that if we are really interested in presenting Theosophy in its best light, or getting an opportunity to present it at all, we had best look a little more closely at our personal lives, and the spectacle that this presents to observers.

And if we imagine that in this matter-of-fact age a "holier-than-thou" attitude is going to get us anywhere, we had better start our Theosophical education over again. This is an age where it is necessary to "lay our cards on the table" - and play the game straight over the board.

If others say these things about us we get all "het up", but when the criticism comes from within our own ranks we have either to admit that it has some truth in it, or that the fellow making the comment is just eating "sour grapes." Well? Each one will have to decide that for himself. But one thing is certain: If we wish to bring as many people to Theosophy as is possible, we must take into account that those who watch us from a distance, and know that we are students of Theosophy, are more likely to form a pre-judgment about us as people, than they are to judge the philosophy impersonally and on its own merits, until they are willing to come close enough to contact the literature directly.

"Into thy hands, brethren," will indeed be a hollow mockery, to re-echo in the breasts of unfaithful trustees in future incarnations, if we don't pay heed to our obligations.

And it appears that part of that obligation, at the moment at least, is to be unafraid to express a personal opinion. This implies that there is an individual, thinking being, behind the personal instrument who is willing to accept the responsibility for it.



This new Volume of the Uniform Edition of H.P.B.'s Writings, published by The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India, is now available. 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, III., and in Europe from The Theosophical Publishing House, 68 Great Russell St., London, W.C.1, England.
Price in U.S.A.: $8.00; in Great Britain: 42/-.
An early publication of Volume VIII is anticipated. [16]



As many students of H.P. Blavatsky's writings know, she wrote several rather long serial stories for some of the Russian journals of her day. A portion of this text was translated into English, French and German many years ago, and is known to the English-speaking public under the titles of: "From the Caves and Jungles of Hindustan," and "The Mysterious Tribes of the Blue Hills." These translations are not particularly good; for some reason or other, many passages have been eliminated, and, besides, the original text contains a great deal more material under the same titles. Eventually, the complete text will be published as an integral part of the Collected Writings now in process of publication.

But there is another interesting story from the pen of H.P.B. which has never before been translated into any foreign language. Its title is:


and it deals with the pageantry of 19th century India, its national customs and the Anglo-Indian background of those days. By comparison with the other stories, it is the shortest, and was originally published in the pages of the Russkiy Vestnik (Russian Messenger) of 1881, soon after H.P.B. and Col. Olcott attended the Viceregal Durbar held by the Marquis of Ripon at Lahore, on November 15, 1880.

This story of H.P.B.'s will soon be published in the pages of The Theosophist, the Official Organ of the President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), published at Adyar, India. All those interested in reading this literary production from H.P.B.'s indefatigable pen are invited to subscribe to The Theosophist well ahead of time, if they wish to secure for their file the complete text of this story. Publication of it will begin sometime in the Fall of this year.

Subscriptions for readers in the U.S.A. may be placed through The Theosophical Press, P.O. Box 270, Wheaton, Ill. ($4.00 a year); and through The Theosophical Publishing House, 68 Great Russell St., London, W.C.1, for readers in England and other European countries.

The Theosophist is the first Theosophical journal published by The Theosophical Society, its initial issue having appeared in October, 1879, about six months after H.P.B. and Col. Olcott sailed for India and landed in Bombay.

It has had an uninterrupted publication ever since. It is therefore especially gratifying to have these little known writings of H.P.B.'s appear in her own original journal, at this late date in the history of the Movement as a whole. - Editor, Theosophia.