A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XIX
No. 1 (91) - Summer 1962

[Cover photo: Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (From an early photograph said to be of 1868.)]


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.



When in spring the snowpack begins to leave the high country a pilot at altitude may trace the journeying of the waters.

The brooks hurry down to form the creeks whose confluences meld into the lesser rivers which joining together seek the seas, whence in time the waters are lifted again to be cloud-borne to the uplands in endless continuation of the cycle.

Often in high solitude I have regarded this benevolent conspiracy of land, sea and sky and pondered that perchance herein is the script of a mystery whose secret is inscrutable but ever pressing on my mind.

Could this cycle of going out from the fathomless source and this returning in variable time and this ultimate pouring through the delta be the pattern of the journey of my soul?

Is birth the launching of a mission and life a questing and death a returning to the source in preparation to be born again?

Has my climbing of the shafted stairs of sun brought me to see some message of the great teacher or does the watershed but mirror some instinct of my mind?

I cannot know. I have no skills for disputation of the holy thoughts. But I may bless the wings which lift me up to see a thing which echoes Him who said, “Ye must be born again.” - Gill Robb Wilson, Publisher, in Flying Magazine, July, 1961.


But civilization can only revive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind independent of the one prevalent among the crowd and in opposition to it, a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the end determine its character. It is only an ethical movement which can rescue us from the slough of barbarism, and the ethical comes into existence only in individuals ... That is the condition in which we are now, and that is why it is the duty of individuals to rise to a higher conception of their capabilities and undertake again the function which only the individual can perform, that of producing new spiritual ideas. If this does not come about in a multitude of cases nothing can save us. - Albert Schweitzer. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

The Theosophical Movement is a universal spiritual force akin to the Sun. Its manifestations throughout the ages have been many, and the nature of its activities diversified. Its world-wide objectives and far-reaching goals have been partially embodied in various Schools of Thought, and its exponents and workers have been men and women of vastly differing character and stature, yet animated by the same spirit of universality and truth.

The modern Theosophical Society, as an integral part of this ageless Movement, is equally universal in its nature, all-embracing in its sympathies, and diversified in its lines of endeavor. As such, it has no creeds and no dogmas, no set articles of belief, and no forms of worship. As an Organization of world-wide proportions, it is an association of seekers after truth, whose chief bond of union is a sincere recognition of the fact of Universal Brotherhood, and an earnest desire to create a nucleus of such Brotherhood in action.

Viewed from this more or less generalized standpoint, “it is easy,” quoting the words of H. P. Blavatsky, “to become a Theosophist. Any person of average intellectual capacities, and a leaning towards the meta-physical; of pure, unselfish life, who finds more joy in helping his neighbour than in receiving help himself; one who is ever ready to sacrifice his own pleasures for the sake of other people; and who loves Truth, Goodness and Wisdom for their own sake, not for the benefit they may confer - is a Theosophist.”* (* In “Practical Occultism,” Lucifer, Vol. II, April, 1888, p. 150.)

But there is vastly more to genuine Theosophical work than is apparent from its more or less exoteric aspect in ancient or modern times. Behind the outer organizational forms, and the lofty ethical objectives of its activities, there has always existed a body of teachings, whose primary custodians and exalted exponents are those perfected men who stand at the apex of human global evolution, and to whose existence H. P. Blavatsky pointed in our age with so much directness and emphasis. Were it not for this system of philosophic and religious teachings, embodying a complete philosophy of life; were it not for the fact that such teachings open the gate which leads to the knowledge of Nature’s secrets, and to the ultimate companionship with such perfected men; were it not for the existence of an esoteric training· in discipleship and occult science, the outer work of the Theosophical Movement in any age, hence of the Theosophical Society in our days, would have collapsed long ago from lack of vital strength. This all-important fact is sometimes lost sight of by students and should be brought to their ·attention when opportunity arises of doing so.

Like any other scientific discipline, even of the most materialistic kind, occult science is based upon unalterable foundations which are merely the statement of specific natural laws which are FACTS of Nature - not the result of human imagination or wishful thinking. To be sure, we, as students, can cognize as yet but very few of these natural laws, and very imperfectly so, [4] while striving to understand more. Still, we can understand at least to some extent, and our understanding tells us that the nature of these laws and the method of their workings are as definite as any of the laws of physical nature, such as are explained in reliable scientific textbooks. By neglecting the simple laws of physics and chemistry, to mention but two domains of science, our suspension bridges would fall down, our planes be grounded, our trains run off the track, and our chemical laboratories explode. By neglecting what we already know of occult laws, or by substituting for them other laws of our own imagination, we run the risk of becoming hopelessly confused in our studies and of hurting ourselves both in this life and in the conditions which follow it.

And let it be distinctly understood that reliable exponents of these occult laws do exist, and basic pronouncements concerning their workings can be had for the asking; such pronouncements are to be found in the printed literature embodying the basic teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy, in the very language of the Founders of our present-day Movement and their own Teachers. There is no dearth of information on this score, nor any need to become frustrated because no source of knowledge seems available. However, it is of primary and imperative importance to make sure that the source consulted is a reliable one, and that the teachings are actually those which come from individuals thoroughly familiar with occult science, and therefore capable to teach. And that is where spiritual discrimination is of the essence.

What is especially required is discrimination between the spiritual and the psychic, between that which pertains to the realm of the Higher Manas illumined by the Buddhic light, on the one hand, and that which belongs to the Astral, in all its glamorous and bewildering diversity. Nothing short of a thorough understanding of the genuine occult teachings can help the student to avoid psychic pitfalls and undertows, whose very nature is illusion and deception. Nor is it a valid argument to say that even the psychic and astral can be very noble and high, almost quasi-spiritual. It can, of course, in its highest reaches; but to recognize it as such would require a comprehensive spiritual knowledge possible only in the higher stages of occult training.

The downgrading and pollution of the genuine teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy are very easy. The natural tendencies of the human being towards psychism and the love of wonder are a guarantee for that.

The age-old teachings concerning the nature of death and the after-death states can be dragged down very easily to the level of ordinary spiritualism.

The occult tenets concerning avataras, messengers, and their work among men, can be twisted into a glamorized form of mediumship and “controls” with no difficulty whatever.

Facts of ordinary magic, occult forces, and elementals, can be built into a fantastic structure of ceremonialism and ritualism, which latter are the very antithesis of genuine occultism.

Various facts concerning Initiation and Adepts can be distorted at the slightest provocation into quasi-magical hocus-pocus, and decorated with symbols and formulae reminiscent of [5] the worst in clericalism and ecclesiastical tomfoolery.

Psychic by-paths have existed in all ages, and invariably have been the bane and eventual downfall of genuine occult Movements in any part of the Earth and in any civilization. It is disintegration by means of psychic involvements and quasi-mediumship that put an end to any genuine Mystery-School throughout history, not persecution from its declared enemies. And the modern Theosophical Movement is no exception to the rule. Its psychic deviations are many, and its future depends to a very large degree upon either the successful transmutation of these into spirituality, or their eventual elimination from a Temple which they invariably pollute with forces, objectives and practices which are foreign to the ageless purposes of the Theosophical Movement in its traditional nature.

In the present rapidly rising condition of mankind, with its marked tendencies towards mediumship and psychism - as adequately prophesied by H. P. B. herself - a consideration of these subjects becomes of special importance, with a view to the ultimate sanity of the Movement as a whole, and of its workers individually.

In this connection, we should bear in mind what H. P. B. has written to the effect that “in dealing with the dicta of psychics and mediums, it must always be remembered that they translate, automatically and unconsciously, their experiences on any plane of consciousness, into the language and experience of our normal physical plane. And this confusion can only be avoided by the special study-training of occultism, which teaches how to trace and guide the passage of impressions from one plane to another and fix them on the memory.* (* Lucifer, Vol. II, April, 1888, pp. 155-56.) The implications of these words are of extreme importance!

Therefore our problem is dual in its nature: we have to remember that our Theosophical work is entirely non-dogmatic, devoid of any creed, and free of required beliefs. It promulgates no system of theology, and welcomes all seekers of Truth. Yet, back of its exoteric aspect, there exists a profound body of teachings which are the formulation in human language of the facts which underlie the structure of nature and the operation of its laws, on planes both visible and invisible. This body of teachings is in the custody of perfected men who have fully established the validity of these facts by means of first-hand experimental investigation. The latter is our own individual birthright as well, if we live up to the conditions necessary for its pursuit.

If these two aspects of our Movement can be harmoniously coordinated and lived up to, our work will move ahead unimpeded and strong into the new era of spiritual awakening, whose unmistakable symptoms can be discerned upon the horizon of man’s undying hopes. [6]


W. Emmett Small

Who was H. P. Blavatsky? What is her status in the Theosophical Movement today?

These are not new questions. They have been asked by generations of Theosophists since the founding of the Society; but they should be asked with a new urgency today. In their answering lies a challenge for all Theosophists.

Surely it is nothing new to students of the Ancient Wisdom that H.P. Blavatsky was more than a mere founder of a Society. She was many things: an inspired ego of great intellectual capacity; a self-sacrificing worker for a great Cause; a trained disciple and chela of Teachers. But, more important, she was a conscious channel through which definite, distinct and tested teaching was received, and through her pen given to the world.* (* At first through the pages of Isis Unveiled; then through her journals, The Theosophist and Lucifer, and her great work The Secret Doctrine, and also through personal Instruction to her pupils. Consult The Collected Writings of H. P. Blavatsky, edited by B. de Zirkoff, several volumes of which are now in print. This collection shows the amazing amount of information that she gave out, of a spiritual and intellectual nature, on occult subjects still very little known, studied, or understood by Western minds.) In this latter sense she was a type of avatara, able to set aside her own human intermediate nature so that the void thus made could he filled by the Buddhic light and Manasic power of Greater Beings. In this highest sense some writers refer to her as H. P. B., in contradistinction to H. P. Blavatsky.* (* For a clear exposition of the difference between H. P. Blavatsky, the woman chela, and H.P.B., the mouthpiece of Greater Beings, readers are invited to study G. de Purucker’s article “The Exoteric and Esoteric H. P. Blavatsky.” This first appeared in The Theosophical Path, December, 1931, and later was published in a posthumous volume, Wind of the Spirit.)

This avataric aspect is not something spoken of glibly before public audiences, but to the student of Eastern philosophy the idea of avatar as is not unknown, and to the Theosophist it should, of course, be rightly understood. There are various types or grades of avataric manifestation. The great Indian Sage Sankaracharya was one such; Jesus of Palestine was another. Their work of enlightening mankind is of a distinct nature, often, according to cyclic law, embracing a period of years known as a precessional cycle, over which their influence extends as a tide of spiritual-intellectual-psychical energy washing over portions of humanity, or humanity as a whole. Thus it is often also called a Messianic cycle, a cycle of a Teacher, The cycle ending and the cycle now in its beginning mark those zodiacal points in the arc of time when the influence of one Teacher retires from the scene and, that of another emerges. The period of 2160 years beginning with the Avatara Jesus closed, and the new cycle of the same length began, with the launching of Theosophical work in the last quarter of the 19th century and the coming of H.P.B. As we ponder this statement of fact, we find in it immense significance for all Theosophists.

If we accept H.P.B. in her avataric aspect as a great impersonal intellectual-spiritual Force or Energy in Nature, her writings for us are far [7] more than the scintillating ruminations of, a gifted writer, far more than a fascinating collectanea of the bizarre, strange and occult. Through her words we get a true picture of Nature, because, as the faithful amanuensis of her Teachers, H.:P.B. taught what they, and their Teachers in turn, re­ported after sending out their consciousness into the invisible worlds and learning what is there, by temporarily becoming the thing itself. Such findings were the concern of generations of Seers; and thus the teaching, checked and kept free from error, is given when the time is ripe - given in degree - to one trained and trusted, to pass on the light as received.

As a channel of light, H.P.B.’s words, therefore, carry more weight than the opinions of others, perhaps well meaning but untrained and undisciplined. We respect that meaning and ponder it, and we give the body of her teaching that serious study which it deserves, knowing that through it - short of rare immediate intuitive perception and illumination that may not come often in a single lifetime - we have probably the best opportunity of seeing into the real meaning of things than by any other way. In other words, by a study of her work we have come to know H.P.B.; and by the same token we have a rule by which to know others and to place them where they belong. We also come to know ourselves, and to know that the awakening of our highest intuitions will ever correspond with growing understanding of the teachings. Inevitably, under the power of the sun the flower of the soul opens and blooms.

But all this is not a matter of worshipping H.P.B. Once and for all let us do away with the silliness such a statement implies. It is, however, a matter of placing her where she belongs. Reams of stuff have been written by those who thought they knew H. P. B., and those who knew her not at all, endeavoring to show her as an erratic, unreliable, fraudulent, though often brilliant, personality. Such material ranges from the condescension, for example, of a G. R. S. Mead, to the outright attack of a Solovyoff or a Coues. Direct onslaught stirs friends and students to alert defense; but damning with faint praise, and under cover of a scholarly reputation and personal association, though brief, as Mead did, takes friends off balance and nurtures seeds of distrust, misconception and untruth. No one in his right mind would declare that H. P. B. was perfect. She was decidedly human - in one aspect of her nature. But she was also - what she was. It is facts that we want, truth, and H. P. B. would be the first to declare this alone is the aim of our study, and last of all worship of the personality of a teacher, no matter how great.

What then of this avataric aspect of H. P. B., this ability to reflect in the lake of her being the true sun of truth? It is something far different and utterly opposed to a psychic’s recital of glimpses into the invisible world, which can be at times clear, at times unclear and muddy, at times reflecting a truth, a partial truth, or an untruth which gives a totally wrong picture of things. Again we say , it is not a matter of placing H. P. B. on a pedestal or of saying that nothing can be a right or true doctrine unless we find it in The Secret Doctrine or in other of her works. But it is a [8] matter of who and what H. P. B. was and represents. Once we decide that, everything else falls into line. The present writer goes so far as to feel that the immediate destiny of the T. S. could well hinge in large degree on what answer we give to this question.

Sad and bitter history has served to show the dangers of Authority, cruelly misused, and its true office misinterpreted. In the T. S., does fear still grip us that such Authority might impose a rigid clamp on individual aspiration and ability to see truth? There is no dogma in the T. S. Belief in any teaching is not demanded; support alone of the concept of universal brotherhood is required of its members. Yet, one may ask, what kind of a member is he who does not believe in theosophical teaching? It is a strange and interesting paradox which permits this in the Theosophical Society, perhaps unique among organizations. No doubt there is sound reason for it; for to be dogma-ridden - and there is always the human tendency of this in any rigid set of enforceable beliefs, no matter how noble - would be subversive of the very idea for which Theosophy stands. To be dogma-free is what Theosophy stands for. Its basic idea is freedom - but, let us add, freedom essentially to awaken within each one of us the inner being, the sleeping god, the Buddhic consciousness. Freedom there is, too, of course, to accept as Theosophy that which is not Theosophy, but obviously that would be a masquerade of truth, and make of such an individual a non-Theosophist. How then shall we awaken that inner god? It is by a study of the teachings, a living of the life they point to. But first we must be sure of the source of those teachings. It is not stultifying, it is not going backward, it is not crystallization to turn again with new understanding to H.P. B. as the giver of these original teachings, whether we use in her case the ugly word Authority or not. Let us face it: there is an Authority that is of the nature of the being itself, with which one does not argue. Victor Hugo said, At night I accept the authority of the torches. So one might add, I accept the authority of the Sun - when I need its warmth, its light. For the same reason we accept the authority of H. P. B., or, if you wish, of that School of Thought and Wisdom she represents. To reject her-because she stands for far more than we may know - is, I sincerely believe, to reject Theosophy itself.

We must learn to think over the wide arcs of centuries. If H. P. B. was what she was in 1875, her work, that avataric Energy and Force she represented then, still lives. A key to extending our vision as Theosophists, our strength, and our ability to act wisely and dynamically, is a true understanding of H. P. B. - what she was actually, not what someone else thought she was. If we can get the truth there - and we can - we need not fear for the future of the Theosophical Society.


Simmer, but Do Not Boil
A man should be like tea; his real strength appearing when he gets into hot water. - Anonymous, publ. in the PRS Journal, Spring, 1962. [9]


Montague A. Machell

The above statement of Spiritual Law is perennially apposite in daily living. In its literal definition: “Everything in Life GROWS.” That is what Life is for. The potential Spiritual Self grows toward fuller spirituality; the Mortal Self grows ever nearer to its Immortal Essence; the Personal Self outgrows, little by little, its personal limitations; the Self of Matter, under the urge of aspiration, grows aware of and sensitive to the Spiritual Self. This is the Law of Life.

So long as you and I are consciously seeking growth - even in the smallest degree - we have little to fear, since we have the Spiritual Tide with us, we are “on the side of Life.” Even in our pitiably uncertain advances, we are taking our first steps as “Lords of Existence,” because we have consciously and willingly “chosen Life.” So long as that choice is a conscious, positive, sincere directive in our daily living, we are justified in receiving protection from Life against Existence. We have done with “blind Fate,” with the Laws of Chance. We have discovered a Pattern in Life, and have chosen to unfold according to that Pattern. Because it is an invincible Pattern of Growth, and because we have chosen to make it our own, we are completely justified in seeing ourselves to an ever increasing degree Lords of Existence.

As such, we have nothing to fear save daring too little, trusting too feebly, asking too modestly. To the degree that we grow conscious of our own divine origin, our own divine destiny, everything is possible, and Joy becomes our hourly and daily birthright - the joy of glimpsing the Pattern and fearlessly surrendering to it. To know the purest joy and fullest exhilaration, we are requited to recognize that the Plane of Life and the Plane of Existence are two different worlds. The strength and integrity of our spiritual resolve are accurately measured by our spiritual poise and confidence. These will never be nourished by worldly standards and slogans, by personal gossip and the whims and fancies of the social set. They must be maintained in spite of, and in the face of the all-prevailing illusions in the midst of which we live. “Look inward. Thou art Buddha!” say the scriptures. He who would know the keen, fearless zest of conscious Growth, must look inward always - never outward, since to choose the Plane of Growth is to reject the Plane of Mortal Dalliance - to forget its language and become a stranger to its shams anti confusions.

The Law of Life can alone operate in the Realm of Life. It cannot·operate or protect the devotee of the Realm of Existence. The devotee·of Growth must stand fast on his own plane if he would know the benedictions of that plane. To the degree of his own Spiritual Integrity he becomes, now and eternally, a Lord of Life. As such he is challenged to play the Conqueror - the very Lord of Life - fearlessly. He must know Triumph. He must know that he is born to Triumph! [10]


Margaret Chamberlain

As a new student of Theosophy, un-affiliated with any organized Society, I take what is very likely the attitude of literally hundreds of other observers, namely, that the Theosophical Movement is predicated upon “Universal Brotherhood.” With this objective before us, we can sense the steep and often seemingly impassable terrain we must travel, and yet recognize what a very workable objective it is, the only one that is capable of elevating humanity to its rightful ascension. If, it were not so, the intuitive mind would necessarily incline in the opposite direction, and realize that we could most, emphatically contemplate the destruction, in due time, of the whole of mankind by the collective forces it has been generating for ages. This course, however, does not fit with the laws of Nature and the fulfillment of the entire purpose of the Earth and its children, laws which are constantly in motion, elevating all kingdoms of life through cycles of higher and ever higher evolution, the very panorama of which our limited senses cannot perceive.

Since the Theosophical Society was founded for the purpose of forming a nucleus of this Universal Brotherhood, comprising many individuals and a great number of organized sections throughout the world, one who is relatively new in the work and study is at once convinced that there must exist a degree of unity among those who make up this nucleus, such as cannot be found in any other Religio-Philosophy-Science in the world, a cementing with the Venusian influence, by which the whole of our Universe coheres together in beautiful rhythm and symmetry. One cannot imagine for a moment that teachings which are of the magnitude of those offered by Theosophy, could ever be promulgated by a body of workers and devotees who were practicing anything other than loving Brotherhood, both amongst themselves and with regard to all others in the world, with whom they come in contact.

Errors, human frailties, lack of judgement, confusion, as well as un-intended hurts inflicted upon others, are not unlikely on the part of every human; acts which will most likely be committed at one time or another, but which are soon recognized and warmly forgiven, while expecting, and in fact, encouraging all others to exercise their freedom to think independently for themselves. To love every human being as our Brother; to sacrifice beyond the call of duty for his sake; to answer his plea for help and understanding him in times of suffering; to tenderly think of him as a living human being with the fierce, or mayhap, but a feeble beat of his true heart pounding deep within; to stand in awe of him as a Divine Being, with the grand potential of developing to that fully integrated state. All of this we should have ingrained in our hearts and consciousness, even if we are poles apart in agreement on issues of greater or lesser import. Were it not so, it would hardly be possible that the Life-Forces, intended for carrying out of the plan laid down by those far advanced Beings, and thought of as the [11] “Movement,” would be still embodied within the Theosophical Society, and endure beyond the personal aspirations of a few.

I write as I do because I wish to convey the observation of one who does not have years of study to colour the impressions received. I am not well versed in the history of the T.S.; I cannot qualify to discern what the several Societies are accomplishing, or failing to accomplish; but I have naturally heard rumors to the effect that there exists within the T.S. a degree of cleavage; and to these whisperings I have vowed I will not add energy. I cannot willingly admit the idea that the teachings I believe in with all my heart and being are in any wise channelled through a disunited, non-integrated, or loosely-held-together organ, as this would be totally incongruous with the life and pulse behind the profundity of our Spiritual Cause.

I will leave this dark ghost, in the shape of opposing forces and undermining motives, to its eventual and final terminus. When it is said that faith can move a mountain, my faith is not a belief without proof. It is a faith in knowing that all dedicated souls actively engaged in the Theosophical Movement will rise with the greatest crescendo of any century recorded yet, united together as the fingers of one hand, moving forward as the indomitable planets in their orbits, fulfilling the plan of the Masters.

I know as well as anything, that all of us who call ourselves Theosophists will privately examine our lives and motives, in the light of that which constitute a true Theosophist, fully prepared and dedicated to take part in building the impetus for 1975, when the Gate can be once again flung wide open, for the power of Universal Brotherhood to enter into the world, aflame as a torch, radiant and inextinguishable, to kindle the pilot light in millions of aching hearts.

I will see you at the Gate ...


High scholarship and a knowledge of metaphysics are good things to, have, but the mass of the people are neither scholars nor metaphysicians. If our doctrines are of any such use as to command the efforts of sages in helping on to their promulgation; then it must be that those sages - our Masters - desire the doctrines to be placed before as many of the mass as we can reach ... Intellectual study only of our Theosophy will not speedily better the world. It must, of course, have effect through immortal ideas once more set in motion, but while we are waiting for those ideas to bear fruit among men a revolution may break out and sweep us away. We should do as Buddha taught his disciples, preach, practice, promulgate, and illustrate our doctrines. He spoke to the meanest of men with effect, although having a deeper doctrine for greater and more learned minds. Let us, then, acquire the art of practical exposition of ethics based on our theories and enforced by the fact of Universal Brotherhood. - Unsigned, publ. in The Path, VII, pp. 186-87. [12]


William Q. Judge

[Originally published in The Path, Vol. II, October, 1887.]

There is such a thing as being intoxicated in the course of an unwise pursuit of what we erroneously imagine is spirituality. In the Christian Bible it is very wisely directed to “prove all,” and to hold only to that which, is good; this advice is just as important to the student of occultism who thinks that he has separated himself from those “inferior” people engaged either in following a dogma or in tipping tables for messages from deceased relatives - or enemies - as it is to spiritists who believe in the “ summerland” and “returning spirits.”

The placid surface of the sea of spirit is the only mirror in which can be caught undisturbed the reflections of spiritual things. When a student starts upon the path and begins to see spots of light flash out now and then, or halls of golden fire roll past him, it does not mean that he is beginning to see the real Self - pure spirit. A moment of deepest peace or wonderful revealings given to the student, is not the awful moment when one is about to see his spiritual guide, much less his own soul. Nor are psychical splashes of blue flame, nor visions of things that afterwards come to pass, nor sights of small sections of the astral light with its wonderful photographs of past or future, nor the sudden ringing of distant fairy-like bells, any proof that you are cultivating spirituality. These things, and still more curious things, will occur when you have passed a little distance on the way, but they are only the mere outposts of a new land· which is itself wholly material, and only one remove from the place of gross physical consciousness.

The liability to be carried off and intoxicated by these phenomena is to be guarded against. We should watch, note and discriminate in all these cases; place them down for future reference, to be related to some law, or for comparison with other circumstances of a like sort. The power that Nature has of deluding us is endless, and if we stop at these matters she will let us go no further. It is not that any person or power in nature has declared that if we do so and so we must stop, but when one is carried off by what Boehme calls “God’s wonders,” the result is an intoxication that produces confusion of the intellect. Were one, for instance, to regard every picture seen in the astral light as a spiritual experience, he might truly after a while brook no contradiction upon the subject, but that would be merely because he was drunk with this kind of wine. While he proceeded with his indulgence and neglected his true progress, which is always dependent upon his purity of motive and conquest of his known or ascertainable defects, nature went on accumulating the store of illusory appearances with which he satiated himself.

It is certain that any student who devotes himself to these astral happenings will see them increase. But were our whole life devoted to and rewarded by an enormous succession of phenomena, it is also equally certain that the casting off of the body would [13] be the end of all that sort of experience, without our having added really anything to our stock of true knowledge.

The astral plane, which is the same as that of our psychic senses, is as full of strange sights and sounds as an un-trodden South American forest, and has to be well understood before the student can stay there long without danger. While we can overcome the dangers of a forest by the use of human inventions, whose entire object is the physical destruction of the noxious things encountered there, we have no such aids when treading the astral labyrinth. We may be physically brave and say that no fear can enter into us, but no untrained or merely curious seeker is able to say just what effect will result to his outer senses from the attack or influence encountered by the psychical senses.

And the person who revolves selfishly around himself as a centre is in greater danger of delusion than anyone else, for he has not the assistance that comes from being united in thought with all other sincere seekers. One may stand in a dark house where none of the objects can be distinguished and quite plainly see all that is illuminated outside; in the same way we can see from out of the blackness of our own house - our hearts - the objects now and then illuminated outside by the astral light; but we gain nothing. We must first dispel the inner darkness before trying to see into the darkness without; we must know ourselves before knowing things extraneous to ourselves.

This is not the road that seems easiest to students. Most of them find it far pleasanter work, and as they think, faster, to look on all these outside allurements, and to cultivate all psychic senses, to the exclusion of real spiritual work.

The true road is plain and easy to find: it is so easy that very many would-be students miss it because they cannot believe it to be so simple.

“The way lies through the heart;”
Ask there and wander not;
Knock loud, nor hesitate
Because at first the sounds
Reverberating, seem to mock thee.
Nor, when the door swings wide,
Revealing shadows black as night,
Must thou recoil.
Within, the Master’s messengers
Have waited patiently:
That Master is Thyself!


William Q. Judge

[Originally published in The Path, Vol. VIII, July, 1892.]

Some years ago it was proposed that psychometry should be used in detecting crime and for the exposing of motive in all transactions between man and man. This, the alleged discoverer said, would alter the state of society by compelling people to be honest and by reducing crime. Now for those who do not know, it may be well to say that when you psychometrize you take any object that has been in the immediate vicinity of any person or place of any action, or the writing of another, and by holding it to your forehead or in the hand a picture of the event, the writer, the surroundings, and [14] the history of the object, comes before your mental eye with more or less accuracy. Time and distance are said to make no difference, for the wrapping from a mummy has been psychometrized by one who knew nothing about it, and the mummy with its supposed history accurately described. Letters also have been similarly treated without reading them, and not only their contents given but also the unexpressed thoughts and the surroundings of the writers. Clairvoyants have also on innumerable occasions given correct descriptions of events and persons they could never have seen or known. But other innumerable times they have failed.

Without doubt if the city government, or any body of people owning property that can be stolen, had in their employment a man or woman who could declare beyond possibility of ever failing where any stolen article was, and who stole it, and could in advance indicate a purpose on the part of another to steal, to trick, to lie, or otherwise do evil, one of two things would happen. Either criminals or intending offenders would abide elsewhere, or some means of getting rid of the clear-seer would be put into effect. Looking at the alluring possibilities of clairvoyance so far as it is understood, many persons have sighed for its power for several different reasons. Some would use it for the purposes described, but many another has thought of it merely as a new means for furthering personal ends.

Its delusions are so manifold that, although mystical and psychical subjects have obtained in the public mind a new standing, clairvoyance will not be other than a curiosity for some time, and when its phenomena and laws are well understood no reliance greater than now will be placed upon it. And even when individual clairvoyants of wonderful power are known, they will not be accessible for such uses, because, having reached their power by special training: the laws of their school will prohibit the exercise of the faculty at the bidding of selfish interest, whether on the one side or the other.

If it were not always a matter of doubt and difficulty, natural clear-seers would have long ago demonstrated the unerring range of their vision by discovering criminals still uncaught, by pointing out where stolen property could be recovered, by putting a finger on a moral plague-spot which is known to exist but cannot be located. Yet this they have not done, and careful Theosophists are confirmed in the old teaching that the field of clairvoyance is full of delusions. Coming evil could in the same way be averted, since, present error is the prelude and cause of future painful results.

The prime cause for delusion is that the thought of anything makes around the thinker an image of the thing thought about. And all images in this thought-field are alike, since we remember an object by our thought-image of it, and not by carrying the object in our heads. Hence the picture in our aura of what we have seen in the hands of another is of the same sort - for untrained seers - as our ideas on the subject of events in which we have not participated. So a clairvoyant may, and in fact does, mistake these thought-pictures one for the other, thus reducing the chances of certainty. If an anxious mother imagines her child in danger and with vivid thought [15] pictures the details of a railway accident, the picture the seer may see will be of something that never happened and is only the product of emotion or imagination.

Mistakes in identity come next. These are more easily made in the astral plane-which is the means for clairvoyance - than even upon the visible one, and will arise from numerous causes. So numerous and complex are these, that to fully explain them would not only be hopeless but tedious. For instance, the person, say at a distance, to whom the clairvoyant eye is directed may look entirely different from reality, whether as to clothing or physiognomy. He may, in the depths of winter, appear clad in spring clothing, and your clairvoyant report that, adding probably that it symbolises something next spring. But, in fact, the spring clothing was due to his thoughts about a well-worn comfortable suit of this sort throwing a glamour of the clothing before the vision of the seer. Some cases exactly like this I have known and verified. Or the lover, dwelling on the form and features of his beloved, or the criminal upon the one he has wronged, will work a protean change and destroy identification.

Another source of error will be found in the unwitting transfer to the clairvoyant of your own thoughts, much altered either for better or worse. Or even the thoughts of some one else whom you have just met or heard from. For if you commit the seer on some line of thought, having just read the ideas on the same subject of an· other who thinks very strongly and very clearly, and whose character is over-mastering, the clairvoyant will ten to one feel the influence of the other and give you his ideas.

Reversion of image is the last I will refer to. It has been taught always in the unpopular school of Theosophy that the astral light reverses the images, just as science knows the image on the retina is not upright. Not only have the Cabalists said this, but also the Eastern schools, and those who now have studied these doctrines along theosophical lines have discovered it to be a fact. So the untrained clairvoyant may see a number or amount backwards, or an object upside down in whole or in part. The reliance we can place on the observations of untrained people in ordinary life the scientific schools and courts of law have long ago discovered; but seekers after the marvelous carelessly accept the observations of those who must be equally untrained in the field of clairvoyance. Of course there are many genuine cases of good clear-seeing, but the mass are not to be relied on. The cultivation of psychic senses is more difficult than any physical gymnastics, and the number of really trained clairvoyants in the Western world may be described by a nought written to the left.


In the beginning of this year, The Post Office Department raised the cost of handling undeliverable 2nd, 3rd, and 4th class mail by 60% to 100%. When you move without notifying us, we pay the Post Office for the service of letting us know the new address, or for a notice that the new address is not available. With the new increases, this fee is now more than we can afford. Please send us a notice of your change of address promptly. We will appreciate it very much. - Editor, Theosophia. [16]


Arthur P. Moran*

[* Mr. Moran is a retired Attorney at Law, residing in Los Angeles , California . For a number of years he was Assistant Attorney in the Office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of California at Los Angeles . He is an active Fellow of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), and frequently lectures on Theosophy from the platform of Theosophical Lodges; on, such occasions he gives a clear and practical presentation of the Theosophical teachings. We are happy to publish his little article, as Mr. Moran, owing to his long years of service in the Cause of Theosophy, may be looked upon as a “bridge” between today and the early, and now distant, era of our Movement. - Editor, Theosophia.]

In the year 1893 I became 21, and as a resident of the City of Chicago, I availed myself of the opportunity to attend many of the functions of the World Fair which was celebrated that year in commemoration of the discovery of America in 1492.

I was fortunate in having attended a number of the sessions of the World Parliament of Religions and I was present at the session at which William Q. Judge and Annie Besant addressed the Congress as representatives of the Theosophical Society. I also attended a meeting of the Theosophical Congress at which Mr. Judge related some incidents of phenomena which accompanied the appearance of Madame Blavatsky on different occasions. It was the speech of Mr. Judge that particularly impressed me.

At both of the meetings where I heard Mr. Judge, he spoke freely and eloquently and appeared as a worthy representative of the cause he presented. I have read that at the time he was in a precarious condition of health. While he did not appear to me to be robust, no difficulty of speech was observable to me during the addresses on the occasions mentioned. My remembrance is that I sat near the center of an auditorium that seated perhaps less than a thousand, people and I experienced no difficulty in hearing and understanding. Reports that the condition of his health seriously interfered with the delivery of his speech must be in error.

I cherish the remembrance of this remarkable man because it was his presentation of Theosophy that was my first introduction to Theosophical principles which have been an inspiration and guidance to me through a long life time.

Los Angeles, California,
April 21, 1962.


I have crossed beyond that very impassable place, in which the fancies are the gadflies and mosquitos, in which grief and joy are cold and heat, in which delusion is the blinding darkness, avarice the beasts of prey and reptiles, desire and anger the obstructors, the way to which consists in worldly objects, and is to be crossed by one alone; and I have entered the great forest. - Anugita.