A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XIX
No. 2 (92) - Fall 1962

[Cover photo: Don Jose Xifre, 1846-1920 (Reproduced from The Theosophist, Vol. XXXII, September, 1911.)]


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.




They tell me that Point Loma is no more,
That all my friends have vanished from the Hill;
But, thinking of its pathways and the shore,
I close my eyes and see Point Loma still.

I hear the wind that cries along the sea;
I know again the skies of morning-blue,
The meadows and the blossoms blowing free,
The words we said, the things we used to do.

They tell me all is gone, forever gone;
But I know better - everything is there,
Resplendent in a bright, Eternal Dawn!
That sparkles on the joy-enchanted air!

And someday I’ll go hack, and dream and rest
At old Point Loma ... in the golden West.
- George Cardinal LeGros.


In this era of world wars, in this atomic age, values have changed. We have learned that we are the guests of existence, travelers between two stations. We must discover security within ourselves. During our short span of life we must find our own insights into our relationship with the existence in which we participate so briefly. Otherwise, we cannot live! This means, as I see it, a departure from the materialistic view of the nineteenth century. It means a reawakening of the spiritual world, of our inner life - of religion. I don’t mean religion as a dogma or as a church, but as a vital feeling.” - Boris Pasternak. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

For a considerable number of months past, various Theosophical magazines and journals have expressed views and counter-views on the subject as to whether Theosophy was a definite doctrine or only general approach to Truth, whether the Theosophical Society as such had a specific philosophy to teach, and whether Theosophy could be defined.

With the exception of a very few instances in which some helpful and clear ideas were given expression to, most of what has been written on the subject is either an evasion of the chief issue at stake or a lot of double-talk - a state of affairs not altogether unfamiliar to the Theosophical magazines of the last decade or two.

We do not question the motives of the writers, nor their desire to be of help to others; we simply deplore their confused state of mind, and their very obvious ignorance of the subject.

The question can be put very simply: was H. P. Blavatsky, as a direct Messenger from her own Teachers, sent into the outer world of men to proclaim and define specific and basic ideas on the structure and operation of the Universe, which had been forgotten for centuries past, or was she not? Even a cursory acquaintance with the contents of her writings would show any unprejudiced student that this question has to be answered in the affirmative. These writings contain the fundamental principles of a body of teachings known as the Esoteric Philosophy or the Secret Doctrine, and their outline is definite enough to make it possible for the student to reject a lot of other ideas, opinions, and imaginings which are in direct contradiction thereto.

The main cause for confusion on this subject, and the reason for uncertainty, is ignorance of H. P. Blavatsky’s writings, a fact which is widely prevalent among individuals who are prominently associated with Theosophical organizations and are lecturing on behalf of them.

Let us ask ourselves: of what lasting good or purpose would H. P. Blavatsky’s mission have been , had she come with no definite message but merely a general “approach to Truth”? Would her own Teachers have wasted their own and her time and energy on “general approaches,” when the need was to re-awaken from oblivion the occult knowledge concerning the nature of the Universe and man, a knowledge buried for centuries under the dead-weight of sacerdotalism, theology, superstition and crass materialism? Are these disintegrating and death-dealing influences to be fought with “general approaches” to Truth, a kind of warm summer breeze wafting playfully among the weeds? Or do they have to be handled in a masterly manner by a giant mind and the soul of a hero in determined onslaught upon their entrenched bastions? If the latter, it would have to be done by an individual who had something very concrete and specific to offer mankind as a substitute for their ignorance and inertia.

If the Esoteric Philosophy cannot be defined, and if the Theosophical Movement has no definite philosophy [4] of life, nor very specific doctrines to offer, its scheme is worthless to a thinker, and its proud claims are so much “hot air”! Fortunately, this is not the case, even though some recent writers have come pretty near to telling us it was so.

H. P. B1avatsky’s writings literally teem with such statements as: “the Esoteric Philosophy teaches,” “the Secret Doctrine proclaims,” “it is the teaching of the Archaic Philosophy,” “those who know teach,” and others. If these specific passages were to be systematically underlined with a pencil throughout her writings, they would present, if read consecutively, or re-arranged for that purpose, a clearly defined philosophy of life, a doctrine as specific and positive as are the principles of mathematics, chemistry or astronomy, which no one would call a “general approach” to Truth.

It is only a thorough acquaintance with the basic principles and teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy, such as are outlined in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and in the Letters of the Adept-Brothers, that can help the student to avoid becoming waylaid by all sorts of pseudo-teachings claiming to be “theosophical,” but in reality contradicting the Esoteric Philosophy on every major point, or cleverly confusing the issue. Without such an understanding of, and acquaintance with, these teachings, it is extremely easy to become a prey to mere psychic imaginings and to find oneself eventually somewhere on the borderline between Theosophy and Spiritualism, unable to discriminate between the two. A large proportion of books published at present by Theosophical organizations are full of this borderline Spiritualism, and the net result of their publication and sale is to confuse the seeker and to lead him or her astray from the genuine teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy. The Karmic reaction of this unwise policy is bound to be heavy in due time, and the sooner this condition is eliminated, the better it will be for all concerned.

The original source of the Theosophical teachings outline at length such basic subjects as: the nature of the after-death states; the structure of the Earth Planetary Chain; the origin of man and of the animal stocks; the nature of the Solar System and its planets; the sevenfold division of man and the Universe; the hierarchical gradation of consciousness; the distinction between the psychic and the spiritual; the nature and evolution of the elemental kingdoms of life; the structure of the Astral Light and its role in the operations of Nature, and many others.

On any and all of these subjects, the teachings presented are very definite, and there is left no doubt whatever that the student is dealing with a system of thought the greater depths of which are merely hinted at and sensed through the preliminary outline given.

It is therefore of imperative need that theosophical speakers throughout the world, whose primary duty is to instruct and not entertain the public, become thoroughly versed in the teachings of Theosophy as drawn from the original sources of the Movement. Only thus can they ever hope to attract and hold the finest minds of the race, who, tired of mere psychological platitudes, are searching for a universally-minded philosophy rooted in the facts of nature. [5]


J. M. Prentice

This essay is not an exhaustive or definitive treatise on KARMA; it comprises vagrant thoughts which came to the writer during a long and painful convalescence and recovery, in which a profound belief in Karma played an important therapeutic part.

As Sanskrit is a key language in the expression of human thought, so Karma is a key-word in the language itself.

KARMA derives from a root-word meaning action. It is more philologically correct to transliterate it as Karman, but long usage and familiarity have made it much more acceptable to the average student than its more pedantic form. It is the hidden cause behind every action, working on all planes of being simultaneously, although most obvious on the physical plane, where so much of our activity is centered. It is at once a great binding and freeing force, which covers the whole active life of a man and a God; it is the ensouling force in the Law of Gravity, upon which the whole Universe revolves. It is found in the conservation of matter and of energy, of the Law of Substance itself, to use terms in physics that have almost passed out of the current coin of such usage. It was Karma that caused the apple to smite the cranium of Isaac Newton; it was Karma that enabled him to visualize the law of gravity therefrom.

Newton ’s first principle, that action and reaction are equal and opposite, is its most concrete expression. Also its best! But it is much more; it has been said·that he who knows the secrets of Karma has at his disposal all the causes and effects in the Universe. It is the last thing to be unveiled in the last and greatest of all initiations - that which starts with a man and a God, and ends with God only. It governs all the history of both Mankind and the Universe in which he operates; it is the first thing to appear in the dawn of Manifestation; it is the last thing to vanish when the long night of Pralaya is ushered in. Only those Gods who are the very incarnation of Memory remain, to manifest again when a new dawn appears, as it must do.

“The Gods alone ...
Remember everlastingly; They strike
Remorselessly, and ever like for like.
By Their great memories the Gods are known!”

Karma is a Theme and Variations that encompass the Universe. There is a Karma that comes into manifestation as the memory of the past Manvantara; there is national, racial and family Karma inextricably woven into individual lives. Causes and effects are presided over by great Beings called the Lipikas, dimly visualized as the Fates of more than one mythology. Reincarnation is the mechanism whereby absolute justice prevails. It is wholly wrong to speak of good or bad Karma - there is no such thing. It depends upon the way in which each individual reacts and responds, whether the thing in itself seems good or evil. Work with Karma and it will support you; try and fight it and you will be destroyed by it. [6]

The word Karma has become closely associated with another Sanskrit word to form a compound: Karma-Yoga. Yoga means Union with God, and Karma-Yoga aims at the attainment of liberation by the utter and complete dedication of every action to the will of the Supreme. Every action must become suffused with a dedication to God, every thought, word and deed must be laid on the altar of Self-Sacrifice; with the result the doer has no longer any concern. Karma-Yoga is one of six great systems of Indian philosophy, and it is set forth in its most suggestive and magnificent form in the Indian scripture the Bhagavad-Gita. (It is not always realized that this great scripture is an attempt to reconcile two systems of Yoga: Karma-Yoga and Sankhya-Yoga. These two systems are irreconcilable, but from their juxtaposition there emerges another system that is the summation of all philosophy - Raja-Yoga, the Royal, kingly teaching that transcends as it transforms all other systems.)

In a word, Karma-Yoga is UNSELFISHNESS. The English poet Shelley once wrote, in an ironical mood, some lines which can he interpreted on a higher plane than the poet realized, which is the essence of all true poetry. He wrote:

“The seed ye sow another reaps,
The wealth ye find another keeps,
The Robes ye weave another wears,
The arms ye forge another hears,”

But to the one who has dedicated everything to God these are matters of no consequence: he sows, he finds, he weaves and he forges that all Mankind may profit thereby.

Yet all this does not imply or demand that we blindly accept everything as it comes and dismiss it with the remark: “O well, I suppose it is my Karma.” This is the fool’s way, the cowardly way. Karma means action and everything that comes is a trumpet-call. We do our best, we accept the consequences, and we emerge, in due season, or after many seasons, actionless! We no longer have to act when action means nothing personal, nothing selfish, to us. We are conscious workers with God. Thus illumination comes. Herein all schools of philosophy find their ending. Seeking salvation we go to that God Who is the light of his own thoughts; says one of the Upanishads, and whosoever knoweth Him speedily crosses the ocean of death and this world - THERE IS NO OTHER WAY TO GO. In the light of this teaching so many modern schools of pseudo-occult thought fall into a true perspective, if not into nothingness.

Closely associated with Karma is another Sanskrit key-word: DHARMA. The literal and easy translation is DUTY, but there is much more implied. It is that duty which devolves upon us, having regard to our past accomplishments and our prospective evolution towards higher stages. The present writer once asked a student who had been very close to that great Theosophist, H. P. Blavatsky, for a definition of Theosophy. After quoting what has now became a theosophical cliche to the effect that Theosophy was a life to be lived and not a doctrine to be believed, he paused for a moment and said: “Theosophy is doing the right thing, at the right time and in the right place, with the right motive!” To which I replied Amen! [7]

Dharma, like Karma itself, is at once simple and intricate. It is a way of life laid down for a single individual, and, strictly speaking, for him alone. The Bhagavad-Gita has much to say concerning it. Therein we are told with heavy emphasis, that it is better to do one’s duty even badly, than the duty of another, well performed. Again and again we are warned that the Dharma of another is full of danger. That, undoubtedly, is what Blavatsky had in mind when she said: “Follow the path I show; do not attempt to follow me and my path!” And the path she indicated is that upon which we do our own duty, fearless and unperplexed, where we wage battle next, as Browning’s Habbi Ben Ezra realized.

This pathway can and often is a very lonely path. We are subject to misunderstanding, misrepresentation, calumny and suspicion. Yet, if we pause to consider, there are Those who have trodden this very path to its very end, and who stand, watching our progress, and ever ready to assist when such assistance can be granted. I remember, sixty years after its first reading, some lines of Tennyson, in Locksley Hall Sixty Years After:

“Ere she [Earth] gain her Heavenly-best, a God must mingle in the game:
Nay, there may be those about us whom we neither see nor name,
Felt within us as ourselves, the Powers of Good, the Powers of Ill,
Strowing balm, or shedding poison, in the fountains of the Will.”

But there is even more in it than this. In one of her most exalted moments Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote:

“Never more
Alone upon the threshold of my door
Of individual life will I command
The uses of my soul …”

This is the really great moment in each aspirant’s life, when he surrenders his all, to become the ALL. It is then that the dewdrop slips into the shining sea. Then and then only can the words Consummatum est, the death speech of each individual Calvary , be spoken. Thereafter will come the Resurrection; but this takes us into worlds with which we are not yet familiar. It is a state which has the most profound effect upon the Race, the nation, the family and the individual. The triumph of one has become the gain of the individual everywhere, whether in incarnation or not. It is a Mystery into which we may peer without ever seeing the details. In a very subtle way we are each one of us our brother’s keeper; our actions are reflected in his, so that by every individual action the whole of the Race is imperceptibly raised or lowered: “The little more, and how much it is; the little less, and what worlds away!” And behind everything is the brooding force of Karma, which, as Euripides has so nobly said, bringeth Justice ere the end of the long journey which we call Life be trodden. Before all this we can only stand spell-bound, silent as the stranger who views the beauty of the Taj-Mahal, with its towers and minarets moon-drenched, while deathless stars move nightly overhead! [8]


Montague A. Machell

“The absolute had suddenly revealed to me its almost physically felt absence, and already I did not know at which spring to quench my thirst. It was on that day, I think, that I was born as an artist.” - Romain Gary.

If we postulate Man as spiritual in origin and destiny; if we postulate a universe spiritual in origin and destiny; then, for both of these, the supreme fact is their identical spiritual purpose.

If this identical spiritual purpose is a fact, then it stands to reason that Wholeness in man and his universe must express this purpose. Denial of it betrays an incomplete man and an incomplete universe. Any development at odds with Spiritual Law must be an inadequate, hence deformed development.

If, again, Man and his Universe are dedicated to a spiritual purpose, then, any growth or progress taking priority over this purpose, i.e. materialism for its own sake, must be an irrational growth, begetting an irrational social structure. Insofar as it seeks to turn its back on spiritual values and a spiritual destiny, such a culture may be termed juvenile - moronic! And there are evidences to suggest that many of the evils plaguing society today spring from Immaturity. Too many of the flowers of so-called modem sophistication are but juvenilia, natural only to a society unlearned as to the innermost nature of man and his destiny.

Experience shows that preaching this truth is not greatly rewarding. Words are, too often, the seeds of discord; they invite denial or argument. But, embodied in a human life, the same truth can have unquestioned influence. He who makes it so dynamically a part of his daily living that every atom of his body vibrates to its music, becomes a centre of force and beneficence which influences for good even those who do not understand the force that touches them. To constitute oneself an uncluttered channel through which this spiritual awareness may flow, may well be the loftiest goal a human being can strive for. Herein he is placing himself on the side of Absolute Reality - Spiritual Reality - upon which the Universe is built.

Our supreme responsibility, it would seem, is to vindicate that Reality as the motivating force in daily life. The rareness with which this responsibility is assumed makes it a unique attribute differentiating the courageous exponent from most of his fellows, isolating him to a degree, perchance, if he is honestly consistent in his attitude.

In so much of our religion, our philosophy and our art we seem to confuse the two terms Reality and Realism. Most of the time our claims to “Realism” find expression in little more than a display of the sordid and unlovely aspects of life. The Spiritual Reality of life, on the other hand, as an expression of man’s objectives in living, finds few champions. Nor does this point of view overlook lives of beauty, nobility and selflessness. But it does take note of the tragic [9] uncertainty, frustration and heartache in so many of these lives, resulting from the lack of any ABSOLUTE pattern on which to build. The words of Romain Gary: “I did not know at which spring to quench my thirst”, and other unquoted passages following this in “Promise at Dawn” suggest this doubt and uncertainty, together with the tendency to look without for an answer rather than to reconcile oneself to the fact that the answer must come from within-from one’s own SPIRITUAL ABSOLUTE. The words “All life is for the purpose of the soul” point to the fact that we are “alive” to the degree that we recognize our life to be a Spiritual Pilgrimage.

Merely being good, honest, kind and gentle is not enough. For one’s life to have vital significance it must be consciously rooted in and directed toward a single spiritual objective, toward ultimate Spiritual Reality - fulfillment of the Spiritual Self. We are challenged to make everything subordinate to this, to recognize that all our goals and objectives draw whatever significance they have from our complete identification with the Spirit’s Purpose. What the world says, what the neighbors think, what gossiping society repeats - all these are irrelevant; fame, riches, popular acclaim, are devoid of meaning save as a means to, or attributes of, REALITY’S TRIUMPH, the one attribute in which we may justifiably exult - our Basic Divinity!

An interesting aspect of this pursuit of Reality is a fact too often lost sight of, namely, that, the law of life is GROWTH. This entire universe is never static, but in all its parts UNFOLDMENT is taking place. LIFE is literally UNFOLDMENT. Hence, he who makes LIFE his ally, makes an ally of this Tide of Unfoldment, and can be, to an extent at least, carried along by it towards his ultimate destiny. This, possibly, is what the great Chinese sage, Lao-tse, is referring to when he says:

Inner experience is the one reality of life, and men whose minds are focused upon outward experience divide themselves from truth by the very emphasis which they place upon the theory of outward accomplishment.”

Needless to say, this altitude in a world dedicated to ruthless material competition, to “getting ahead,” must necessarily isolate a man from his earthly associates. And yet, insofar as he clings to the awareness of the basic Spiritual Reality of all men, he knows they are all a part of himself and what he owes himself he also owes them, and hence, can never be really separate from them.

As a man begins to make progress in this dedication to LIFE in its larger meaning, his tensions, his fears and his worries lessen; he begins to realize what a priceless refuge this still, strong Pattern of Reality can offer him. Insofar as he remains true to it, he senses more and more the greater rhythms of the Universe of which he is a part, and his life is more and more deeply harmonized and synchronized by them. Herewith, a budding awareness of the order, logic and saneness of Spiritual Law begets in him a rare serenity and confidence in this mystery called LIFE. It is a mystery divinely conceived and beneficently motivated. It can be trusted to the extent that we are true to our own highest potentialities. To be sure, it is a selfless pattern since it [10] involves calmly but positively separating the personal self from the Universal Spiritual Self and identifying oneself absolutely with the latter.

This separating of the two selves is a tremendously vital matter, for, actually, if one were only willing to recognize the fact, one always has the choice of being either the Lord of Life or it’s victim, depending upon whether he makes himself a Giver or a Taker. Let him but realize fully that, as an integral part of his universe, he can consciously work with and for that universe, choosing the role of a contributor to beauty, order and rationality; then, at once, he constitutes himself one of the Lords of Life. He makes himself a part of the Divine Administration, as it were. As such, he is in a position to view his own and all life objectively ·- with the eyes of the Spirit. On the other hand, let him start begging Life for favors: at once he has lost control of the situation - he takes what Life deals out to him - he has to, because, through Desire, he has become a Vassal instead of a Lord.

A wise teacher has said: “Selfishness is the insanity of the age.” If by “selfishness” we imply Desire on the rampage, then, most certainly, here is the insanity that robs man of his Lordship in the Kingdom of Life . “Where a man’s treasure is, there will his heart be also.” May it not well be that, bemused as we are with yearnings for personal gains and advantages, we have become well-night incapable of viewing Life objectively? Once a man ceases to retain an objective view of Life, once he surrenders his Spiritual Perspective, he ceases to be part of the Administration and becomes a pauper, dependent upon the State.

Physical growth is to a certain extent dependent upon an adequate exercise of bodily muscles and functions. Fail to exercise them and you lessen their growth. So it is with the Spiritual Self. Fail to exercise it in conscious service, conscious administration of its timeless resources of understanding, of love, of compassion, and it loses significance and becomes a cipher in the Administration of Life. In a Spiritual Universe the Spiritual Administration is indispensable to the Universe and to the Spirit Itself. We LIVE, in the deepest sense, to GIVE of our Immortal Self to the Self of the Universe. Never for one moment ask “What has Life in store for me?” Instead, open your eyes to the dawn of each day, asking: “What can I add of beauty, of symmetry, of nobility to my Universe today? What contribution of love and of understanding can I make to the Divine Administration? How can I become more aware of the indescribable splendor of being a participant in this Heavenly Pattern - of being one of the Lords of Life?”

Merely to remember one’s identity with the Universal Pattern is to be reminded that as one surrenders to It, It in turn sheds Its benediction, its guidance and protection on oneself. Most assuredly, “The Lord is mindful of His own.” To resolutely dedicate oneself to the service of Life is to register a claim upon Life. That claim is never ignored. It boils down to either being a rather insignificant and inadequate applicant for Spiritual Social Security or a free, enlightened Administrator of the boundless riches of the Universe for the redemption of all mankind. Give up thy Social Security, if thuo wouldst live! [11]

“When I became a man, I put away childish things.” When shall we achieve spiritual ·manhood and womanhood? To reject Illusion for Reality, the ephemeral for the enduring, personal gains for spiritual values - these are indications of approaching maturity. Over and over again man has to remind himself that he is a spiritual denizen of a spiritual universe governed by spiritual law. The realized Truth of his Spiritual Identity is the one supreme REALITY. It’s attainment is a goal magnificently worth living for! No other realization on earth will ever prove completely rewarding!


Charles Johnston

[Originally published in The Theosophist, Vol. VIII, December, 1886.]

Have you ever stood on the share, and watched the incoming tide? First a tiny ripple advances a few inches over the yellow sand, then retreats, as if frightened by its daring, into the deeper sea, a second wave advances further than the first, and in its turn retreats, to be followed again by another, and so wave follows wave, each gathering greater strength and volume till the sea sweeps in towards the land, and covers all the broad stretch of sand with water. So is it ever with the tide of knowledge and truth. So was it with Christianity. The first wave began in the sermon an the Mount of Olives, and flowed an till it reached its limit on Calvary; it was adorned with many strange wanders and marvelous sights, it was surrounded with mystery and miracle, and its founder was credited with till then unheard of powers; multitudes were gathered together, and all men went after him. What was the end of all this turmoil and excitement? Sad indeed it is to contemplate and brief is the record of it; they all forsook him and fled. The wave had reached its limit and flowed back into the sea from whence it came.

A few years afterwards the second advance began, for the tide was really turned, and there was the vitality of true life in the doctrine of Jesus. The seed which he had sown germinated and grew. Paul, the man “approved of God,” took up the work where it had been left off. Not now were seen wonders and marvels, novel doctrine and young enthusiasm, but earnest teaching and sustained effort, wise instruction and constant example. Time passed on; Paul was no more, and all the first generation of disciples were dead; still Christianity lived and progressed, advancing to a fuller tide of wisdom and righteousness. Yet it seems that the tide has turned again, and has ebbed far from its highest limit. So is it with other religions. Truth and sincerity are departing from them, and their early spirit has fled. The Theosophical movement claims to be the returning tide of the Spirit and Truth which have ebbed from the world’s religions. Its first advance has already been made, and it has been marked by strange and marvelous occurrences - no longer ‘miracles’ but ‘phenomena’ - by wonderful theories [12] and new-born ideas. When first coming to the study of Theosophy we have talked learnedly of such things as Sthula-sariras and Mulaprakrili, of psychic currents and astral forms, and a hundred others as extraordinary. We have gathered together to talk of the decadence of religions, and of the wonderful future before Theosophy. But while doing so we have not always remembered that it is we ourselves who must make the future, if it is really to exist at all; and while accusing the old religions of superstition and materialism, we have ourselves, perhaps, been lacking in the earnestness and sincerity, without which the religions we find fault with would never have survived their birth. Let us ponder well on the matter, for now is the dead-point of Theosophy, and it depends upon each one of us whether it will ever pass that dead-point, and go on towards the glorious future we are so ready to predict for it. A year or two will decide whether there is in Theosophy the vitality of true life. If the seed which was so prolifically sown in the beginning of the movement has borne real fruit in the minds of those who have received it; if the lessons so patiently taught have been profitably received, the movement will become a real power in the world of suffering men and women. When the first generation of theosophical teachings has passed away, and the early supporters of the Society are no more, how shall we be able to take our stand in their places and carry on the work they have begun, unless we have been strengthened and purified by the lessons they have taught? Is theosophy to advance a second time, or is it to perish out of sight like some imperfect thing born out of due time? It is useless for us to say ‘we are weak and unworthy, we are unable to bear the burden which is laid upon us,’ for if we do not carry on the work entrusted to us, who is to give it permanence and power to live? Rather let us strive, with an earnest appreciation of our duty, to make ourselves worthy and able to maintain the light which is given into our hands. We find ourselves in the midst of a world of sin and suffering, of cruel privation and murderous hate, a world in which bright hopes are blasted and pure aspirations mocked; where all that is noblest and truest is held up to ridicule, where each one is mercilessly striving to get the better of his neighbour; where men become daily more grasping, lustful, and brutish, and women become more vain, and worldly, and less tender and true; where the rich grind the poor and drive them often to starvation, and to violence which is hardly crime; where the learned, and the cultivated, turn with contempt and sneering from those poor and ignorant ones, at the expense of whose heart-blood their wealth and education and knowledge have been gained; a world where those who call themselves wise are preaching away the best hopes and noblest beliefs of mankind; a world from association with which those whom we have known pure and honourable and beautiful, emerge callous and stained and hard-hearted. We see each man rising up against his neighbour, ready to slay him, or, far worse, ready to ruin and destroy all that he holds most precious; we see each step in the knowledge of nature’s powers turned into a fresh engine of destruction and cruelty; [13] today’s scientific discoveries becoming tomorrow’s torture-engines. We see some of the loveliest flowers of our race turned to polluted and unholy things. Are we so paltry and cowardly and base that we do not feel prompted to stretch forth even a finger to change these things? Are we not rather called on to strive with all our power and might to lift a little of the heavy burden of the world’s woe? That theosophist is a traitor to his cause, and a base abuser of his privileges who fails in any degree to afford to all a noble example of upright and constant adherence to the high ideal he professes to hold. He who is not ever on the side of righteousness and truth, if he be a theosophist, is deserving of contempt and scorn. What weapon does Theosophy offer for the maintenance of the struggle against the evil around us? Is it not that ideal of Universal Brotherhood for which each of us has pledged himself to labour, on entering the Theosophical Society? And what is this Universal Brotherhood, if it be not that everyone of us, and every member of the race to which we belong, should stand in his true and sacred relation to every other human being? Recognizing this to be so, we must first know ourselves, and then find our true relation to Humanity. Looking within ourselves we find two powers ever at war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit and the Spirit against the flesh. We find two opposing centres from which all the forces of our life proceed; the one centre is the self, the other is the soul. In the soul are three powers, three windows through which we perceive the Harmony of the Eternal; these windows are the emotional, the intellectual and the moral powers. Through the emotional nature we perceive the eternal Harmony in its aspect of Beauty, not merely that we perceive beautiful things, but that we perceive in things the quality of beauty. Through the intellectual nature we perceive the eternal harmony in its aspect of Truth, perceiving in things the quality of reality. Through the moral nature we perceive the eternal Harmony in its aspect of goodness, recognizing of words, acts, and thoughts that they are righteous. Perceiving Beauty, the active Will of man seeks to embody it in beautiful art. Perceiving Truth, the Will seeks to reproduce it in truthful science. Perceiving Goodness, the Will of man seeks to attain to it in righteous acts, and it is not the desire to be strong and active which draws us but the beauty and truth and goodness. Ever waging war with goodness, ever hostile to the soul, we find the self. For the self, the egotism, we seek to gain pleasure and enjoyment and from it we seek to ward off pain and opposition. The selfs thus seeking for gratification are gradually drawn on to wallow in the mire of indulgent excess, and are led to strive and battle with other selfs for disputed and coveted pleasures, taking as weapons the impetuous fire of the evil desires. From this excess and strife arise lust and gluttony, hate and wrath, cruelty and murder, and all the children of evil. The eternal Harmony ever calls on us with sweet and winning voice to leave the mire of selfishness and sin, to be true to goodness and to cleave to Truth. But the cry of self ever rises fierce and loud ‘serve me and worship me, caring not for others, seek only the gratification of desire.’ [14] And hearing the voices let us remember that there is no cure for desire, no cure for the misery of longing, no cure for the love of gratification, save in the fixing of the sight and hearing upon that which is invisible and soundless, let us begin even now to practice it, for so a thousand serpents will be kept from our path. Let us live in the eternal. Learning thus our own nature, we perceive that by attaining to its perfection we shall fill our true place in Humanity and so realize the ideal of Universal Brotherhood. By gaining knowledge ourselves we become able to teach others to realize this ideal, and thus may we lighten the sin and suffering of the world. Slow and arduous will be the work, years and ages must pass by before it is finished, we must give up our places to other bands of workers in this great labour; but when at last the work is ended and the strife has ceased, and glorified and redeemed Humanity advances towards its perfection, great and glorious will the rewards be. To each one the Spirit of Truth says, ‘Put thy feet into the fetters of wisdom, and thy neck into her chain; come unto her with thy whole heart, and keep her ways with all thy power; search and seek and she shall be made known unto thee, and when thou hast laid hold on her let her not go; for at the last thou shalt find her rest, and it shall be turned into thy joy; then shall her fetters be a strong defence unto thee, and her chains a robe of glory; for there is a golden ornament upon her and her bands are purple lace; thou shalt wear her as a robe of honour, thou shalt put her on as ‘a crown of joy.’



Don Jose Xifre was a Spanish nobleman and devoted Theosophist, born in 1846 in an aristocratic Spanish family of great wealth in the North of Spain. Information about his early life is somewhat uncertain. He was educated partly in France, and later at Oxford where he was on close friendly terms with the Prince who was later to become King Alfonso XII. It has been reported that the latter acknowledged Jose Xifre on his death-bed as the only disinterested friend he ever had.

He spent much time in youth reading German philosophers. He married Maria Chacon y Silva, Marchioness of Isasi, Countess of Campo Alegre, of the noble House of Santa Cruz, and had two daughters by this marriage who later were ladies-in-waiting to the Queen of Spain. The marriage was an unhappy one, but as Spain recognized no divorce there seemed to be no solution to the problem.

It has been stated that, when Queen Isabella II lost her throne, and was exiled to Paris, Jose Xifre loaned her a considerable fortune. He was closely identified with the Court during the relatively brief reign of Alfonso XII; after the latter died of consumption in 1885, Xifre retired completely from palace life. [15]

It is not definitely known when he made his first contact with Theosophy, but it must have been towards the middle eighties. After joining the T.S., he became at once very active in the Movement, in spite of the opposition of the Church. Soon after his admission to membership in the T.S., he met H.P.B. on a business trip to London , and became one of her favorite students. He said that she twice saved his life. Once he had been visiting London to see her, and came one day to take leave. H.P.B. said: “You are not going to leave today.” Xifre replied he had to leave that evening for the continent. “No, you shall not go,” said H.P.B. “But, I must go, it is absolutely necessary for me to go, II cannot put off my departure,” said Xifre. “You shall not go, you must stay over the night in London,” said H.P.B. Xifre obeyed this command. Next day she showed him the daily paper; he found in it a detailed account of a fearful smash up of the mail train by which he would have travelled had he left England by the boat he had intended to take.

The Theosophical work produced by Xifre, Francisco Montoliu, Jose Melian, Manuel Trevino and others, within a relatively brief period of a few years, was enormous and stands as a witness to what can be accomplished by dedicated students. By the end of 1889 (see Lucifer, Vol. V, Dec., 1889, pp. 343-44.) Spanish translations of Isis Unveiled, Esoteric Buddhism, Light on the Path, The Buddhist Catechism and The Key to Theosophy had already been completed awaiting publication. A pamphlet entitled Que es la Teosofia was being distributed to the Universities, Libraries and Clubs throughout Spain . At a later date various articles, translated from the English and French, and published in pamphlet form, were similarly distributed. At the beginning of 1891, a number of lectures were delivered, some of them before earned institutions, arousing sympathetic response. Throughout 1890 and 1891, The Voice of the Silence and some of Mabel Collins’ books were translated. A series of fortnightly pamphlets called Estudios Teasoficos was inaugurated; this plan included a scheme for supplying readers with mimeographed translations of portions of The Secret Doctrine.

The first Spanish Group of the T.S. was started in 1889. After the death of Montoliu, Branches were formed in Barcelona and Madrid. In May, 1893, a journal was started at Madrid entitled Sophia; within a very short time it became one of the most outstanding as well as good looking Theosophical periodicals on the continent, with most valuable contents, both original and translations. Its complete files are now very difficult to obtain.

It was only to be expected that the organized opposition of the Church, and the persecution of the Jesuits, would make themselves felt sooner or later. Their efforts were directed primarily at ruining financially Jose Xifre who had financed out of his own great wealth the various theosophical ventures which had been started, maintaining a printing establishment of his own, and distributing free of charge great quantities of Theosophical literature. Gradually the fortune of Jose Xifre began to diminish and various circumstances arose [16] which contributed too his ultimate financial ruin. The attacks of the Jesuits became especially virulent after 1909, when Dr. Annie Besant had appointed Jose Xifre Presidential Agent for the T.S. in Spain.

Eventually, Xifre left Spain and lived mostly in Paris , and later in Switzerland. About 1917 he became very ill with angina pectoris, and further financial reverses forced him too sell the last thing he had - a chalet at St. Moritz. A French Theosophist bought it, and instead of paying for it in cash, made arrangements too supply Xifre with a small income for life. He then went back too Paris, where he died Sept. 27, 1920, climbing up the staircase to his small room in the Hotel de la Paix. His funeral was arranged by The Theosophical Society in Paris.

Perhaps the greatest and most lasting result of Jose Xifre’s indefatigable work, in close collaboration with a few trusted friends and co-workers, was the publication of a superb Spanish translation of The Secret Doctrine, the first volume of which appeared in 1895 (Madrid; Establecimiento Tipolitografico de Juliah Palacias, 27, Calle de Arsenal), and the second one in 1898. It has been stated by Col. Olcott (The Theos., XVII, Feb. 1896, p. 313.) that the chief translator was Jose Xifre himself, “upon whom the heaviest share of the labour fell,” and who supplied the large sum of money necessary to bring out the first volume, in fine topography, an excellent paper, and in a rich binding. The translation is in pure classical Spanish. The other translators were Jose Melian and Manuel Trevino.

Jose Xifre was a man of wide education, a good linguist who spoke French and Italian fluently and had a working knowledge of German and English; he was kind-hearted and amiable, affectionate, loyal too the care, chivalrous, with keen sense of right and wrong, unflinchingly true too his high principles, courteous as a knight, and utterly dedicated to the Cause of the Theosophical Movement. He inspired many other students to do their utmost for the work they loved, and spread the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom by word of mouth and pen (using at times the word “Vina” as a pseudonym) whenever opportunity arose to do so. No matter how trying may be the conditions in present-day Spain in regard to all mystical and genuinely theosophical work, the seeds sawn by Jose Xifre and his co-workers around the turn of the 20th century are bound to produce in due course a rich and wide-spread karmic harvest, when the time is ripe far causes engendered to bring about their inevitable results. Then the name of Jose Xifre may be far better known than it is at present.