A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XVIII
No. 4 (90) - Spring 1962

[Cover photo: Spring in Tirol (Photo by Lobl.)]


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.



"Only one kind of religion counts today, and that is the kind which is radical enough to engage in this world’s basic troubles. If it cannot do that, then it can do nothing which merits our concern or the world’s respect. Religion which is interested only in itself, in its prestige and success, in its institutions and ecclesiastical niceties, is worse than vanity. Religion reveals itself in struggling to reveal the meaning of the world.

“In the records of the trial of Joan of Arc is a moving passage in which she addresses her judges. In all boldness she answered the bishop questioning her: ‘You say that you are my judge. Take good care of what you do, for in truth I am sent by God, and you are putting yourself in great danger? It does not require much manipulation to turn this incident to our situation. If we think ourselves sitting in judgment on the world - a very favorite posture of church and clergy, by the way - we had better take warning. The world may be sent by God, and unless we deal with it seriously and humbly we may indeed be in great danger.

“But honest man do not want easy answers, trumped-up panaceas, peace of mind at any price. They have a world on their hands, burgeoning with unprecedented power, frightened by its own momentum, haunted by something that it lost a long time ago.

“It needs help, but not condescension. It needs men bold, but modest, who will put a shoulder under the darkness of a world where God is lost, under lives where the pain of wanting to believe is enough to break your heart; under the vast compassion of the lost, whose last hope and trust is to be true to their fellowmen in an agony whose meaning they cannot divine.

“It has its hunger, terrible and ineluctable; it will not be satisfied with ‘cheap grace’ or specious sentiments or pious respectability. It has doubts, shame, pride, embarrassment and dread, and it finds it hard to be honest, because we ourselves are not often honest.

“The world is sent by God, and we - ministers of His grace are in great danger.” – Dr. Samuel H. Miller, Dean of Harvard Divinity School , in The Ladies Home Journal, January, 1962, p. 100. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

The essential value of the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, as a Philosophy of Life, is in the fact that they can be applied to daily living and practiced as a way of life.

The greatest need in the present-day world is for Ethics - a religio-philosophical system of thought based on the highest ethical conduct.

We have become conditioned to crime, callous to injustice, inert to exploitation, and accustomed to blood-shed, persecution, warfare, destruction of human lives and corruption of human behavior.

None of the existing institutions of organized religion is able to stem the tide of this moral downfall, and this mainly because none of them is able to provide any solid scientific foundations for the need of ethical behavior.

The key-note of Theosophical Ethics is self-control - the ability to behave in accordance with the highest dictates of one’s conscience. In this, most of us are mere learners, but learners in a science of life which potentially contains within itself the solution of all problems of human consciousness.

Living in a world of great confusion and uncertainly, facing repeated problems, both in our personal lives and the life of the nations, we should develop within ourselves qualities of consciousness which would make of us, in due time centers of creative force, channels for good, embodiments of strength and good will to others.

What are some of these qualities?

What are some of the attitudes of mind and heart which we should cultivate in order to grow in inner stature?

One of the most important ones is to arouse a universal outlook on life, coupled with world-wide sympathies, and an all-embracing understanding, inclusive of all the peoples of the earth we live on.

Let us enlarge our Vision! Let us widen our Horizon! Let us not permit our minds to become absorbed in the mere routines of everyday life!

Beyond the everyday concerns, the personal duties of family life, the professional interests, is the greater life of the world in its majestic sweep, untouched by the sordidness of most human affairs.

Let us from time to time step into that greater life! It is the only way to recharge our spiritual batteries, as it were, and to rebuild our often slackening courage in meeting the many difficulties of personal life.

We should make a definite effort to give ourselves time to consider, think over, and dwell upon,·great Universal Ideas - Global Fraternity, Ever-Present Life from the atoms to the stars, immensity of the future, untapped resources of the human mind and heart.

We should visualize ourselves as a potential god-like being, trying lo unfold and express its inherent divine potentialities, knowledge and strength. According to the power of our spiritual ideal, and the intensity of our inner Vision, will be our results.

We should commune with space: go out and look at the mountains, at the ocean, at the fields; step out into the night and let our eyes and our minds roam over the immensity of the star-lit sky; think of ourselves as [4] integral part of the All, with space and infinity within and without.

As our consciousness expands, we will eventually refuse to be contented with the emotional effusions of the crowd and we will claim our heritage of creative thinking. We will also conserve our vital resources by declining to take part in prevailing hysterias, political, social and religious.

Instead, we will cultivate an attitude of calmness, quietude and serenity. Ordinary emotions are of the surface, like the waves of the stormy sea. Beneath them lie the depths of the human soul, where the real you abides. Everything worthwhile in human life stems from these unplumbed depths, and is born from out of their silence.

Great sorrow and tragedy are silent; unsuspected loneliness is silent; deep sadness of the human heart is silent too; lofty thoughts, flashes of inspiration are born of the silence; yea, even great and abiding love is of very few words!

To one of pure heart, every experience is a window opening upon the vast fields of the Divine, fields swept by the Wind of the Spirit, bathed in radiant sunlight.

Let us take kindness for a Watch-word - never-failing kindness and understanding. Let us also try to forgive. Resentment is easy; forgiveness means strength; it takes a man to practice it.

Let us cultivate fearlessness, courage, justice, both in the small and in the great, including justice to oneself, and to accept with equanimity that which is pleasant and that which is hard to bear. Remember: they will both pass away! As it is the hard things which teach us more lasting lessons, we can develop an attitude of grateful acceptance of whatever comes our way.

Let us try our best to get along with others. It can be done in an easier and more dignified way, if we look upon others as fragments of the One Universal Life. We should also remember that what we see in others is quite often what others see in us. We are mirrors to each other. Though differing outwardly, we all partake of the same fundamental consciousness - the consciousness of the One Universal Self. Viewed in this light, men are but life-atoms of a vast evolutionary current that flows from age to age.

Above all else, let us stand for Principles and not for personalities! The latter are but the shimmering waves on the ocean of life, while the former are the deep currents of life itself, bearing us toward distant goals.

If we wish to grow inwardly and to become nobler and stronger, we will of necessity be tested. There is no other way. Life is a series of awakenings, and each awakening is as birth into a larger sphere of life. Each birth has its pangs; therefore growth is often painful. The chrysalis of the lower, personal self must be broken through before the butterfly - the Soul reborn - can emerge into the boundless freedom of the sky. [5]


Harold W. Dempster

A genuine body of teaching dealing with the facts of life - truly a wisdom of and from the Gods - exists today and has always existed.

These teachings are the basis upon which Theosophical organizations should operate and not merely upon their objects; for without the teachings there could be no Theosophical Societies.

It is true that one should have the right to accept or reject a doctrine or teaching; but can you not imagine the effect upon one’s understanding if one were to reject Karma, Reincarnation or Evolution as taught by Spiritual Teachers, or if one chose to accept the teachings pertaining to Jesus’ birth and death as literally true when the fact is that they are actually allegorical, which is true of most sacred or religious writings.

The Ancient Wisdom is not an ordinary kind of knowledge, regardless of the·fact that it may be denied or entirely unknown to many who may be considered to be highly educated, according to the world’s present standards.

One reason for this peculiar state of affairs is due to our present educational system being based upon untrue or partially true orthodox teachings, especially in religious circles; Science itself has been extremely materialistic, but is now beginning to show signs of a more spiritual view, at least amongst a few of the leading Scientists. The effect of the old religious canons and concepts, as well as those of materialistic Science, are still with us. In fact, the old and erroneous ideas have been taught for so many centuries to millions of individuals that they have become accepted as the common knowledge of the day.

For example: the idea that man is born in sin is untrue, if taught as a whole truth. The fact is that man is born and re-born many, many times, in both sin and virtue, which he has made for himself in previous lives.

A sound philosophical premise must therefore be that his future destiny in lives yet to come will be based upon what he himself makes of his present life. This is an ethical teaching that forms an important part of the Ancient Wisdom, and when coupled with its twin doctrine of Reincarnation, a magnificent philosophy can be established on which a real spiritual culture can be built.

The lack of emphasis upon the teaching of individual responsibility and the over-emphasis upon the one-life-idea, have been the principal causes of man’s present moral weakness. Moral strength comes from an inner knowing that we must reap the consequences of all our actions. Thus one learns to accept courageously one’s own destiny as being fair and just because it was self-made. This moulds a man’s character into a thing of beauty and strength, and produces in him an altitude that brings him inner peace and more wisdom to deal with the problems of his life.

Another basic reason for the decline of moral values in our present civilization is the burning and destruction of records of esoteric truths in the early centuries of the Christian era, which permitted the promulgation of wrong teachings to a large percentage of the population for a long period of time. [6] This is a blight upon the human race and every effort should be made to remove it by the dissemination of correct teachings. To combat this evil force was one of the principal reasons for the establishing of the Theosophical Society in the last century. Despite the smallness of its numbers it has partially succeeded, as evidenced by the large amount of literature appearing now and which shows a wide acceptance of the idea of Reincarnation, as one instance, as well as by the pronouncements of several modern scientists that “Consciousness is the fundamental structure of the Universe - not matter.”

In the Introductory to The Secret Doctrine (pp. xl-xli) by H. P. Blavatsky appears the following paragraph:

“However superhuman the efforts of the early Christian fathers to obliterate the Secret Doctrine from the very memory of man, they all failed. Truth can never be killed; hence the failure to sweep away entirely from the face of the earth every vestige of that ancient Wisdom, and to shackle and gag every witness who testified to it. Let one only think of the thousands, and perhaps millions, of MSS. burnt; of monuments, with their too indiscreet inscriptions and pictorial symbols, pulverised to dust; of the bands of early hermits and ascetics roaming about among the ruined cities of Upper and Lower Egypt, in desert and mountain, valleys and highlands, seeking for and eager to destroy every obelisk and pillar, scroll or parchment they could lay their hands on, if it only bore the symbol of the tau, or any other sign borrowed and appropriated by the new faith; and he will then see plainly how it is that so little has remained of the records of the Past. Verily, the fiendish spirits of fanaticism, of early and mediaeval Christianity and of Islam, have from the first loved to dwell in darkness and ignorance; and both have made

‘… the sun like blood, the earth a tomb,
The tomb a hell, and hell itself a murkier gloom!’

Both creeds have won their proselytes at the point of the sword; both have built their churches on heaven-kissing hecatombs of human victims. Over the gateway of Century I. of our era, the ominous words ‘the KARMA OF ISRAEL,’ fatally glowed. Over the portals of our own, the future seer may discern other words, that will point to the Karma for cunningly made-up HISTORY, for events purposely perverted, and for great characters slandered by posterity, mangled out of recognition, between the two cars of Jagannatha - Bigotry and Materialism; one accepting too much, the other denying all. Wise is he who holds to the golden mid-point, who believes in the eternal justice of things.”

(As so many important points are contained in this ‘Introductory’ to The Secret Doctrine, it is recommended that Theosophical students re-read it very carefully from time to lime, as it will refresh their memory for ‘The Need of Such a Book’ and ‘What the Book is intended to do’.)

It is also considered appropriate and timely to quote in part from Katherine Thingley’s Foreword to the Point Loma Edition of The Secret Doctrine:

“Her [H.P.B.’s] mission was to restore to Humanity its lost ideals; to point out once more that pathway of true knowledge, and the gateway of a pure life; it was to sound once more the keynote of Truth to reverberate throughout the coming cycle. It was to teach once more as living realities the facts of Man’s divinity, of the higher and lower natures in him, and the eternal warfare that must go on until the lower is subjugated and controlled; to show that Karma, the law of strict Justice, of exact retribution, that we reap what we sow, is the law that governs all life, absolute, unfailing; that the knowledge of it and the doctrine of Reincarnation is the great hope for humanity; and that the life of altruism, based on a true Wisdom, is the only sane life, on which all true progress depends. If the student will accept these primary truths of Theosophy, and will seek to live according to them, every page and every line of The Secret Doctrine will have its message for him. But mere book-study will avail little; something more than that is required and demanded of the student of Theosophy; the full understanding of the teachings of all Theosophical works, and pre-eminently of The Secret Doctrine, is only possible as the life conforms to those teachings. The true doctrine is secret, hidden; not by the teacher, but in the very nature of the teaching itself, and to gain it, the student must enter by the only door which gives entrance.”

Karma and Reincarnation, however, are only two doctrines of the Ancient Wisdom out of many more that can only be briefly mentioned here, such as:

(1) Evolution: meaning the unwrapping from within the inner consciousness of what is latent there - a knowledge or Wisdom that needs to be remembered, or ‘recollected’ as Plato taught. All things in the Universe are evolving on this basis and the forms are merely the vehicles used by the consciousness.

(2) Gradations of various evolved states of consciousness of every entity and group of entities throughout the Cosmos, known under the general classification of Hierarchies.

(3) Cycles of descent and ascent for everything in Space - short and long cycles, the Great Cosmos itself following this pattern eternally.

(4) Periodic appearance and disappearance of Spiritual Teachers, such as Krishna, Buddha, Christ and many more, and great Spiritual organized efforts, such as the T. S., for the purpose of re-stimulating an interest in the true Ancient Wisdom, to point out the errors of past and present teachings of other schools of thought, and to give proper interpretation to ancient myths and sacred writings which Occultism alone can do.

(5) The essential Divine origin of every entity in the Cosmos, establishing that all things have a common origin, making Universal Brotherhood a fact of Nature. That Unity or Oneness is all that actually is and that separateness is only an appearance and not a reality. [8]

(6) The choice of the right or left-hand paths to be made by all self-conscious entities, which determines their future state.

(7) Initiations into Mysteries is the normal experience for all members of the human race, upon reaching through their own efforts a moral and intellectual level entitling them to have first hand knowledge of the facts of nature.

(8) Activity and rest for all things throughout Space and Time is the normal stale of the Universe.

(9) Everything that is manifesting is unreal, illusory, because it is ever-changing - the Doctrine of Maya.

(10) Gods are behind the Universe - not a personal God - and without them chaos would reign. Instead, we have law, order, system and a harmonious pattern. They are the Divine Architects and Builders of Universes and World-Systems, and they exist in very large numbers, if we are talking about all the Gods in the Divine Scheme of things. They are the source of our Wisdom; hence the phrase “Wisdom of the Gods.”

(11) Everything in the Universe has its own individual essential characteristics which make it truly distinctive and individualized, a condition which increases in degree as the evolution of the entity proceeds.

(12) Heavens and hells are self-made and are caused by the previous actions, thoughts and feelings of the Re-incarnating Ego and these states are experienced both here and in the after-death conditions.

(13) An “absolute” exists only as a relative state or condition, and not as a finality, since that would be an impossibility in an eternally living and evolving Universe.

(14) Nirvana is not a permanent state, but a very high condition of blissful consciousness that endures for the length of time earned by the Buddha who enters it; then the Nirvanic state ends for that Buddha.

(15) There are 7 great Rounds of Time and 7 great Root-Races of Humanity that evolve in a particular World-System. We occupy the stage in the 4th Round and belong to the 5th Root-Race of that Round on this globe. These Rounds last for millions of years and we are at present just past the half-way mark of the 7 Rounds, which will be the end of this particular Manvantara, to be followed by a long Pralaya or period of rest; thence manifestation again occurs for another great Septenary cycle.

(16) Mann and Spirit are the opposite poles of the One, and are therefore not two different things but a single unity.

(17) All Space is filled full of conscious entities.

(18) The entire Cosmos is a Living Being. [9]

(19) All physical objects such as Galaxies, Suns, Solar Systems and Planets, down to the molecules and below, are the physical vehicles of intelligences which rule them, and evolve by means of their aid and assistance.

(20) Mystery Schools are the centers of Esoteric Learning from which the Ancient Wisdom is promulgated for man’s spiritual evolvement. Loss of the knowledge of these schools and the ability to recognize their teachings accounts for most of the ignorance or Truth prevailing in the world today.

(21) The Boundless All cannot be reached, imagined or defined. The First Cause is forever a Mystery to the Greatest Intelligent Being evolving within it.

(22) Love and Compassion cement the Universe together and Divine law and order prevails everywhere.

(23) While the ultimate or underlying purpose itself appears to be a Mystery, in the manifesting areas universal growth would appear to be the most meaningful objective in which all things take part.

(24) Awakened man is taught the true Wisdom by authentic Spiritual Teachers, unfolding teachings about himself and his Divine origin and future destiny; and as he progresses in evolution, he himself becomes a teacher to help others find the Way.

There are some who advocate that all that is necessary to unite Theosophists of differing backgrounds is for everyone to get behind and support the three objects and join one Society. First of all, what makes a Theosophist? Is it a belief in certain objects or is it the recognition of the authenticity or the genuine Teachers and their teachings? It is for each individual Theosophist to determine for Himself what is genuine. The true teachings will ever be the important factor. To seek, find and follow the true is the highest object. To know the true from the false is part of our evolutionary development. For a while we may operate according to our own understanding, but there will come a time when only a knowing of the right teaching will be permitted. One could not become a true Initiate if one followed or believed in wrong teachings.

The central purpose of the Mystery-Schools is to teach that which is true - universally true. Untold harm is done by impure or untrue concepts of Truth carelessly given. To teach occult truth is a great responsibility. That is why we need at our present stage Teachers who know by first hand knowledge, or those who are approaching that stage. It is so easy to be fooled. True, we should learn to stand on our own feet; but we had better be certain that the ground upon which we choose to stand is not made of quicksands. As an old proverb has it:

“Error runs down an inclined plane, while Truth has to climb laboriously its way up hill.” [10]


Montague A. Machell

This title (more figurative then literal), is less overwhelmingly learned that it sounds. It has not to do with constellations, nebulae or star-clusters, per se, but is related to a pattern of thought that unfolds beyond this physical, time-fettered earth on which we live, seeking constantly a Wholeness in which material particulars achieve an appropriate modesty.

Night after night, I stand beneath these desert stars of unearthly brilliance, watching the glorious winter constellations unfold out of all eastern womb of darkness. The more I contemplate their splendor, the more a breathless awareness of some relationship between myself and the unbounded beauty of a limitless universe overwhelms me. I return to my studio wearing a nimbus of everlasting glory which this desert night has deigned to bestow momentarily upon me. Yesterday, tomorrow, president Kennedy, Summit conferences, Congolese massacres, and the price of gasoline - all these things lose some of their immediacy. The hour borrows a heritage in Time and Place, that ever was and ever will be, revealing itself for the moment as truly epic. Something at the heart of Time and Place absorbs all physical and temporal details into itself. Beyond Phoenix, beyond the Pacific, beyond China and the last outpost of civilization on this earth - on to, and beyond Mars, Jupiter and Saturn, this Heart of Life, this Oneness of The Supreme, links all - the greatest and the least - in a heavenly significance of the One Reality - call It what you will. It alone holds the ultimate meaning of all our earthly gobbledy-gook!

To wake in the morning with an undertone of thought and aspiration that lends TODAY the inherited significance of many, many incarnations, this HERE the inherited magnificence of Carthage, Athens, Troy and Denderah - makes of that awakening a “magic casement” to Life! To discover the non-existence of the Commonplace, is the reward of nothing less than a radiant SELF-knowledge - a reverent awareness, and utter dedication to the Deathless SELF, that murmurs in Its musings:

“I am Memmon!
I am He that calleth upon the dawn!”

“O my Divinity! Thou doest blend with the earth and fashion for Thyself temples of mighty power!”

an invocation to THAT, which, above Form, beyond Time and Place, lends to the Illusion of life’s raw material the radiance of Spiritual Reality, and is, beyond all else, an Invocation to Interplanetary Thinking!

To achieve it, I must penetrate the depths of my heart, beyond Sound unto Silence, beyond Things unto Essence, beyond Personality unto Spiritual Selfhood. This I hold to be the primary meaning of the term “living.” It means marshalling all outward sounds, signs and phenomena at the behests of an Ultimate Significance - the bidding of THE ONE - the “Father,” if you will, in a complete awareness that “I and MY FATHER are one!” [11]


J. M. Prentice

Some weeks ago a private letter of mine was duplicated, without my permission or approval, and circulated through a group of students. It contained a passing reference to “the Exiles,” that obscure group of egos who are at once the Commando regiment of The Lodge and the unsung, almost unrecognized heroes of so many lost causes in the world of the Occult.

To some of those who know, the subject impinges so much on the esoteric that they remain silent in the face of any reference to the subject. Even I am diffident about writing much on the subject itself, because my knowledge is superficial, gathered at odd times over the years. Therefore I cannot say “I know” but content myself by saying “Thus have I heard.” It does seem to me, however, that those who ask questions are in honour bound to receive a reply, sufficient to provide an answer, but not to add any additional information, if there be such.

These Exiles, then, are a group of egos who can be trusted, under all circumstances, to remain faithful to the tasks allocated to them, and for the fulfilling of which they incarnate. “Faithful unto death - and after” might well be their motto. It is doubtful if they know, in their brain-minds, of the responsibility they carry. They work in secret and do their duty - the rest is a sacrifice which they lay on the Altar of Karma. (In my own experience during the last war it was said of one man that he was engaged on a Secret Intelligence matter for four years which was so secret that even he did not know what it was all about!)

They have made sufficient progress on the Path to enable them to be sent into incarnation on all sorts of missions where they must act alone, without acknowledgement, without support. In their immediate preparation they may, and do, experience a miniature Dark Night of the Soul during a specific incarnation, which, in some instances, may last as long as seven years. Let us remember that during the period 1879-1886 William Q. Judge himself went through such an experience. He was left alone, as he said, and some of his letters to Colonel Olcott at this time were fraught with a pathos that can only he described as magnificent. Yet there came the rebirth of energy, confidence and purpose that made his last years so full of achievement. Well has he been described as “the greatest of the Exiles” (Dedication of Letters that have helped Me).

One or the most important tasks which an Exile can undertake is to remain true to the original teachings which emanate from The Lodge. It is not so much something which he undertakes as it is something which devolves upon him. He may not always know what he does, or why he does it; his inner Self, however, may realize the falsity of the doctrine that is being propagated and inspire him to action. For all this, he is sometimes regarded as a centre of disharmony, a destroyer, a breaker-up of institutions. He is cold-shouldered by those who are, all unwittingly, being misled; in some cases he may be treated as an outcast, but he goes on his way [12] unperturbed. In such cases he is a breaker of moulds of thought that are impeding the work of the Lodge.

Very often he is placed ill a position of extreme isolation, but only because he can be trusted to remain true to the ideals, the wishes, the instructions of Those who are higher than he. He expects no recognition and gets none. He knows that he cannot count on them for support, at least in an outward sense, but he feels, perhaps instinctively, that he has Their support on higher planes. In that sense he is never alone. How much of this may be transmitted to his brain-mind will be determined by his stage of development, but at best it can be very little. No one is ever called upon to face up to more than he can bear; if such a condition comes about, he is relieved of his task by death or by physical removal. This applies generally; it is part of the working of the Great Law. He has accepted an obligation and he goes on to make the best and the most of it, in his own strength. And this brings us to a very important point: none of the Exiles will ever admit being, or claim to be one of this very elect band. To make or admit such a claim would be in itself its own denial. That is why so little is known or can be revealed. That there are many other activities on the part of the Lodge, besides the sponsorship of the Theosophical Society, is well known, and this is in one sense the point where two departments of work impinge.

I feel that what I have written is as much as I can say in answering the questions submitted to me. More might be said by someone who has more knowledge and the permission to say it. By the way, the use of the masculine pronoun throughout does not mean that membership in the Exiles is limited to the male sex; as far as I know there is no such limitation. But very often for the work in hand a masculine body may serve the better purpose.

Let me reiterate that what is written herein is as much as will be permitted to seep through. And above all, any claims to distinction carry with them their own denial. Whatever additional information may come to those who seek it must be impersonal, otherwise it can be dismissed as untrue. It is not often that as much is given to the public; the danger of such publicity is obvious. The Christ said that he who would do His Will would know the truth of His doctrine. If you think you are an Exile, try acting like one, and be prepared to keep on going for at least seven years!!!


“No one seems even to suspect the real true nature of the Theosophical Society, which cannot die. Individual branches may collapse, but the Parent Body, whether in Adyar or the North Pole, cannot be annihilated; for it is the nursery and granary of the Societies of the Twentieth Century ...” - H. P. B. in a private letter to a group of students of the London Lodge; approximate date is 1884 or 1885. [13]


William Quan Judge

[The Theosophical Forum, New York , No. 31, January, 1892.]

Has a mother the right to use her will-power in throwing off disease and the painful result of accidents from herself and children? Please draw the line clearly between white and black magic in such work, occult work.

William Quan Judge: - It is not clear from the question whether the querent means to ask about the use of the will pure and simple or about the practice of mind-cure, as it is called, or spiritual healing. In respect to the use of the will considered alone, the editor of Forum has replied sufficiently, I think, especially pointing out that the use of that power is not well understood; and it would seem that the questioner does not understand it.

There is a remarkable absence of treatment of the question of the will in such books as the Yoga Aphorisms and the like, the very books where one would expect to see something about it if it is a thing that can be treated of separately. But we may see the reason for this when we remember the old saying of the Kabalists, that “behind will stands desire.” And by considering men as we see them, this saying appears to be a true one, for in everyday life and in every act we perceive that the prime mover is desire, and that the question of weak will or strong will depends on that in nearly every case. The wicked are of strong will because they have strong desires, and the weak person will be found to act with the most powerful will when the desire is strong. Their appearance of being weak arises from the fact that they are pulled about every moment by contrary wishes, not being concentrated enough to have definite wishes of their own. And it is here that the distinction between White and Black Magic can be easily found, for if the desired object be a selfish one or against the general good, then the act performed will be of the nature of Black Magic. The will is only used as an agent to carry out the desire. So in the case of an actual adept of either school, will is at his disposition no matter what be his object.

Now if the question put is in view of the practices of the so-called metaphysical healing schools, then a very different set of questions arises of mixed nature, some including moral aspects and some not, but everyone raising a doubt about the claims made of curative power, as also about the way in which any cures that do take place have been accomplished.

The editor has pointed out that a well balanced and centered mind will conduce to health, as has been held for ages; even savages know this and act accordingly. And if one finds from actual experience that the fact of his or her being of a cheerful, happy, contented, charitable, loving, faithful, sunny disposition will always have the effect of giving health to those about in the family or elsewhere, then there can surely be nothing wrong or inexpedient in such a state. And that, in my opinion, is the right limit for the practice of metaphysical healing. For if one goes beyond that, and, following the rules of these schools, proceeds to send his thoughts out to another with the object of taking hold of that other’s mind, then there is the [14] greatest danger and also Black Magic. For no one has the right to take the mind of another, for any purpose, into his possession. If such be done, then the other ceases to be a free agent. And this is true as much in the case of one’s child as in that of any other person. Moral wrong attaches here because one is acting on another. But in the event of acting on oneself there can only be a question of expediency, and that is a very wide and important one, since momentous consequences may flow to us and to others from the tendencies we set up in ourselves.

Bodily ailments may be roughly divided for the purposes of the present into two classes, one being those that are acute or due to the imagination or the reaction of the imagination on the processes in the bodily economy; the other being those due to strong physical karma showing out in diseases in the mortal envelope, and being entirely beyond the reach of the imagination and not due to reactions from the mind of the sufferer. These last are of the greater number; we see them in small children as well as in adults, and also in savages and the semi-savages of our own civilization who compose what some people call a lower element in the social body.

In the first class the physical troubles from reaction will of course disappear so soon as the person trains himself to look at life cheerfully and to grow into a more independent frame of mind. The cures are not due to the causes assumed in the schools we refer to. They come about as a natural result of the new state of mind withdrawing from the nerves and fluids of the body the old strain and oppression. When those are removed the actual state of health at the bottom comes to the surface. And the result would be the same in the instance of the most degraded savage who might be induced by accident or by the words of his medicine man to fix his mind in another direction. Obviously there it would not be due to a system of philosophy. And additional proof of this is to be had in the very schools we speak of. In those we see widely different systems; one requires faith in the Bible and in Jesus, and the other does not, and yet each makes equal claim to success. H. P. Blavatsky says: “This is all the secret. Half, if not two-thirds of all our ailings and diseases are the fruit of our imagination and fears. Destroy the latter and give another bent to the former, and nature will do the rest.”

In the second class of diseases it is quite true, as has been often·said by the metaphysical healer, that the disease comes from thought, but the error is in supposing it to be present thought had in this body. The thoughts are those of a past life, and have passed altogether from the mind plane into the realm of causes for dynamic disturbance, or of tendency, that are quite beyond the reach of the present imagining power, but sure to result in the course of time in visible difficulty suddenly appearing, or resulting from our going into situations that bring to us the germs of disease. For Karma acts on us not only in inherited troubles but also in accord with the tendencies we have set up in ourselves in a previous life. Those latter impel us to go to places or to mix with such people as that the inevitable result will be to cause effects on our mind or body that otherwise would not be [15] felt. As in the case of one who set up in a previous life a tendency to consort with good and cultured people; this will come out and lead to a similar line of action with very different results from the case of one whose tendencies were in the opposite direction.

These causes for disease then being in the mind plane from the last life, and having become mechanical causes in this, are now on their way out of the system in the proper channel, and that channel is a physical, mechanical one. They are leaving us by the way of the body, are on the way down, and should not be stopped and sent back to the mind plane again. They should be treated by the ordinary methods of hygiene, of medicine, of surgery, of food. Hygiene and food furnish the right conditions for adjustment, and make no new present cause for trouble; medicine helps nature in her mechanical acts of purging and alteration; and surgery replaces dislocations, removes dead tissues, or puts bones that are broken into position for proper joining. No one would be so foolish as to say that thinking will remove from the brain the pressure of a fractured bone that is making the patient mad, or that imagination will set a dislocated shoulder. And if rotting food in the stomach is affecting the head and the whole system, it is certainly wiser to get rid of the offending substance as quickly as possible, supplying the body with good food in its place, than to let the evil stay to be absorbed as evil into the tissues while one busies himself by calling on the higher power of mind to make him think he is not disturbed while nature is going on with her cure. In many cases this latter is all that happens, for any strong-minded person can resolve to endure great pain during the process of rectification of internal trouble by ordinary change of tissue and of fluids. So a disciple of the schools in question may be so full of the notion that mind, or God, or Christ is curing him that he endures until the vis medicatrix naturae has done its work.

Granting that these causes are on their way down and out, the effect of calling with a powerful will on the same plane of power is that the cause may be sent back to the inner mind and disappear from the body. But this is no cure: it is something like one’s cutting off his hair because the flies walk in it, it is planting once more in our deathless body disease that will surely come out again in another life as disease, or as madness in that one or presently in this. And in the life of many a practitioner nowadays this has happened. For wherever one is very sensitive the practices enjoined create abnormal states that have resulted in dementia. [8]

But a still more pressing danger lies in the half-truth of the practices. They are, divested of all pretention to systematic and right philosophy, partially correct yoga practices.

As soon as they are begun they set up in the astral currents in the practitioner definite changes that at once begin to react on the humors and fluids in the body and are strong enough to bring about definite alteration in the physical envelope. This has been known for ages and has been treated of by the older Hindus. But they have always been careful to say that they ought not to be gone on with in the absence of a guide who is competent to know every symptom, to note [16] every effect, and to give the right corrective.

These correctives were not purely mental either, for many of them have to be physical, since the rapidity of the changes and the effects of the practices far outrun any application of mental correction in many instances. And this knowledge did not mean a mere following of a definite rule, but included an ability to see the peculiarities of each person as he proceeded. For as each is under a different set of laws peculiar to himself, the strict following of a general rule would lead to the greatest danger.

But what do the “metaphysical healers” know of this?

Nothing but the vague rule of the doctors that one must watch the patient and know, if possible, something of his medical record. Outside of that they are at sea with no pilot. They are inviting the explosion of forces they know nothing about, and when the difficulty arises they are powerless. From actual experiment I know the facts to be as stated. The pulse may be lowered or increased, or the first symptoms of paralysis produced, or fainting brought on, singing in the ears and mist before the eyes made to show themselves; but where is the corrective? Unknown, for the simple reason that when we are dealing with such forces as these we are out of the realm of general rules for correction and must be able to at once see the exact inner state of the person and to select unerringly out of the vast range of possible cures the right one so that it shall work without any mistake.

What, then, shall the querent do for herself and her children, as she asks? Use her best judgment, follow the best rules for the cure of diseases, train her children to be self-reliant and careful so that they shall have few accidents, teach them to avoid evil and danger and keep their minds and bodies in right condition, and karma will take care of the rest. And if they are hurt or really sick, then send for a good physician.



A major addition to standard Theosophical textbooks, and a signal contribution to the Theosophical literature in general, by a man of wide and thorough scholarship, as well as of mature judgment, raised in the atmosphere of Theosophy, and experienced in the presentation of its teachings. This work outlines all entirely new approach to the study of H. P. Blavatsky’s magnum opus. It should be available in every Lodge and Study-Class throughout the length and breadth of the Theosophical Movement, and be translated into foreign languages.

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