A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XIX
No. 3 (93) - Winter 1962-1963

[Cover photo: Bertram Keightley, 1860 - 1945.]


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.



“The birth of Jesus, a sacred event to the West, is honored differently by peoples of the East. Buddhists and Hindus honor all holy men; and Moslems, like the Bahais, include Jesus as a prophet. His teachings are indeed part of the fabric of all religions.

The Christian creed, however, still has some of the flavor of the Crusades: ‘Accept this faith or else.’ This intolerance, which Jesus rejected, keeps our faith from becoming truly universal. When it proclaims that it is the only road to salvation, its world influence is greatly narrowed.

In many feudal lands, the church is the overlord whose voice is seldom heard on the side of justice and equality. The Christian church has in critical areas promised the villagers much in their future life, yet not helped them find a bit of heaven on earth. Churches are fined with gold; the villages, with misery.

In Africa, where Christianity has come to mean the white man’s religion, Islam is galloping through the Dark Continent.

Christmas is in crisis, not because communism is enchanting, but because Christianity has defaulted. The brotherhood of man for which every race yearns is not our working creed. Out pulpits usually cater to community prejudices, or their teachings are so generalized as to have no practical impact on daily affairs. As a result, our pulpits are seldom a force for social justice at home or abroad. They could be.” - William O. Douglas, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the U.S., in Look magazine, Dec. 31, 1962 , p. 17. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

Another year has dawned upon the scene of human successes, failures and confusions. It promises much, and threatens a great deal as well.

As we survey the actualities and opportunities within the world-wide Theosophical Movement, we feel impelled to sum up our New Year’s wishes on its behalf in just one basic and an-inclusive wish: to review the original purposes and objectives for which this Movement was inaugurated, and to dedicate every ounce of energy and every moment of time to the dissemination of the original teachings.

To do this, the organized Theosophical Movement needs a great deal of house-cleaning - a chore which some have constantly avoided, while others have consistently decried. Behind both altitudes lurk various psychological, and sometimes even physical, vested interests. In many cases, however, the real cause for it is crass ignorance of what the original objects are, and how to distinguish between the original teachings and their subtle modifications and psychic corruptions.

As is obvious to any impartial observer from even a cursory study of H. P. Blavatsky’s writings, and the Letters written to various individuals by her own Teachers, one of the chief objectives of the modern Theosophical Movement has been from the very outset to stem the tide of impending psychism, and to provide an esoteric background of teaching which would give sufficient explanation of the real facts underlying the psychic manifestations and phenomena sorely besetting the human race of the present era.

From time to time, owing to certain little known laws in the cyclic operation of Nature, the thin dividing lines between the physical plane and the lower sub-planes of the astral world grow thinner yet. This results in an inrush of psychic forces and substances into the physical sphere and a condition of psycho-mental confusion on the part of human beings ignorant of what is taking place. Occultists of advanced knowledge and wisdom know when such a period is to be expected, and therefore can set up the necessary road-blocks and other preventive measures to counteract this condition. As pointed out by H. P. B., “during epidemics of this kind the kingdom of the dead invades the region of the living, though fortunately its dregs are bound by the ties of their former conditions, and thus, when worked by mediums, they cannot break through the limits and boundaries in which they acted and lived ... and the wider the doors are opened to them the further the necromantic epidemic is spread; the more unanimous the mediums and the spiritists in spreading the magnetic fluid of their evocations, the more power and vitality are acquired by the glamour” (The Path, New York, Vol. IX, Feb., 1895, pp. 379-80; from a letter to her relatives).

Writing to her sister, H. P. B. made the following extremely important statement which has remained until now buried in an old Russian journal [4] and is here translated into English for the first time. She said: “To complete the chaos, apparitions from the lowest levels of the invisible world have rushed in through thousands of spiritualistic centers, completely knocking humanity off the straight·and right path. The Occident has lost its faith and requires scientific data, in order to rise ethically out of the filthy swamp of materialism, wherein equally filthy superstitions spread by mediums threaten to drown it. Thus the basic principles of the Esoteric Philosophy of the ancients are given to it ... Perchance these will bring it to reason ...” (Russian Review, Dec. 1891, pp. 574-75.).

And yet we find through the length and breadth of the organized Movement both books published under the auspices of The Theosophical Society, and public speakers lecturing on its behalf, presenting to the public and to their fellow-students ideas based on their own psychic visions, ideas diametrically opposed to the principles of the Esoteric Philosophy, and teachings which, instead of upholding the basic postulates of the Ancient Wisdom, are a hodge-podge of watered-down Christianity and quasi-Spiritualism - “that most insane and fatal of superstitions,” to use the words of Master K. H.

How has this ever come about? And what is being done about it? It is high time that the organized Theosophical Movement set its own house in order, cleaned its own Augean Stables from the accumulated refuse, and lived up to the original and all-important objective of the Movement: to disseminate the real teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy, the genuine doctrine of traditional occultism, which alone can stem the tide of psychism, and wash clean the structure of the Theosophical Movement itself from influences that have polluted it for many years.

It is either that, or the final disintegration of the organized Movement as such! It is either Theosophy, the Esoteric Philosophy of the ages, or a welter of psychic imaginings and delusions, dragging thousands of people into an abyss of ignorance, self-deception and spiritual death!

Our attitude in such matters becomes even more important and decisive when we remind ourselves of the possibility - even if theoretical as yet - that another major effort may be made by the Lodge of the Teachers around the last quarter of the century, to strengthen the fabric of this Movement and to give it another impulse, which could carry it over into the next century. Can anyone imagine that such an effort would be made by the Teachers within the structure of an organized Movement which will have lost its hold upon the original teachings? Or are we to think that the Teachers will waste precious time and energy to “purify” the Movement from the accumulated dross? They might just as well start a totally new effort somewhere else in the wide world, among men and women whose minds are free from superstitions and eager to receive Truth.

The lines laid out for the New Year are clear enough! Win we follow them? [5]


H. P. Blavatsky

[Excerpts from an Editorial originally published in Lucifer, Vol. V, January, 1890.]

A HAPPY NEW YEAR TO ALL! This seems easy enough to say, and everyone expects some such greeting. Yet, whether the wish, though it may proceed from a sincere heart, is likely to be realized even in the case of the few - is more difficult to decide. According to our theosophical tenets, every man or woman is endowed, more or less, with a magnetic potentiality, which when helped by a sincere, and especially by an intense and indomitable will - is the mast effective of magic levers placed by Nature in human hands - for woe as for weal. Let us then, Theosophists, use that will to send a sincere greeting and a wish of good luck for the New Year to every living creature under the sun - enemies and relentless traducers included. Let us try and feel especially kindly and forgiving to our foes and persecutors, honest or dishonest, lest some of us should send unconsciously an “evil eye” greeting instead of a blessing.

Unhappily - or shall we say, happily - man in this dark cycle is denied, as a collective whole, the faculty of foresight. Whether we take into our mystic consideration the average business man, the profligate, the materialist, or the bigot, it is always the same. Compelled to confine his attention to the day’s concern, the business man but imitates the provident ant by laying by a provision against the winter of old age; while the elect of fortune and Karmic illusions tries his best to emulate the grasshopper in his perpetual buzz and summer-sang. The selfish care of the one and the utter recklessness of the other make both disregard and often remain entirely ignorant of any serious duty towards Human kind. As to the latter two, namely the materialist and the bigot, their duty to their neighbours and charity to all begin and end at home. Most men love but those who share their respective ways of thinking, and care nothing for the future of the races of the World; nor will they give a thought, if they can help it, to post-mortem life. Owing to their respective psychical temperaments each man expects death will usher him either through golden porches into a conventional heaven, or through sulphurous caverns into an asbestos hell, or else to the verge of an abyss of non-existence. And lo, how all of them - save the materialist - do fear death to be sure! May not this fear lie at the bottom of the aversion of certain people to Theosophy and Metaphysics? But no man in this century - itself whirling madly towards its gaping tomb - has the time or desire to give mare than a casual thought either to the grim visitor who will not miss one of us, or to Futurity.

They are, perhaps, right as to the latter. The future lies in the present and both include the Past. With a rare occult insight Rohel made quite an esoterically true remark, in saying that “the future does not come from before to meet us, hut comes streaming up from behind over our heads.” For the [6] Occultist and average Theosophist the Future and the Past are both included in each moment of their lives, hence in the eternal PRESENT. The Past is a torrent madly rushing by, that we face incessantly, without one second of interval; every wave of it, and every drop in it, being an event, whether great or small. Yet, no sooner have we faced it, and whether it brings joy or sorrow, whether it elevates us or knocks us off our feet, than it is carried away and disappears behind us, to be lost sooner or later in the great Sea of Oblivion. It depends on us to make every such event non-existent to ourselves by obliterating it from our memory; or else to create of our past sorrows Promethean Vultures - those “dark-winged birds, the embodied memories of the Past,” which in Sala’s graphic fancy “wheel and shriek over the Lethean lake.” In the first case, we are real philosophers; in the second - but timid and even cowardly soldiers of the army called mankind, and commanded in the great battle of Life by “King Karma.” Happy those of its warriors by whom Death is regarded as a tender and merciful mother. She rocks her sick children into sweet sleep on her cold, soft bosom but to awake them a moment after, healed of all ailing, happy, and with a tenfold reward for every bitter sigh or tear. Post-mortem oblivion of every evil - to the smallest - is the most blissful characteristic of the “paradise” we believe in. Yes: oblivion of pain and sorrow and the vivid recollection only, nay once more the living over of every happy moment of our terrestrial drama; and, if no such moment ever occurred in one’s sad life, then, the glorious realization of every legitimate, well-earned, yet unsatisfied desire we ever had, as true as life itself and intensified seventy-seven times sevenfold ...

Happy NEW YEAR to ... all the Brethren scattered an over the wide globe. Only we, theosophists, so kindly nicknamed the “ sevening lunatics,” would prefer another day for our New Year. Like the apostate Emperor, many of us have still a strong lingering love for the poetical, bright gods of Olympus and would willingly repudiate the double-faced Thessalonian. The first of Januarius was ever more sacred to Janus than Juno; and janua, meaning “the gate that openeth the year,” holds as good for any day in January. January 3, for instance, was consecrated to Minerva-Athene, the goddess of wisdom and to Isis, “she who generates life,” the ancient lady patroness of the good city of Lutetia. Since then, mother Isis has fallen a victim to the faith of Rome and civilization and Lutetia along with her. Both were converted in the Julian calendar (the heirloom of pagan Julius Caesar used by Christendom till the XIIIth century). Isis was baptized Genevieve, became a beautified saint and martyr, and Lutetia was called Paris for a change, preserving the same old patroness but with the addition of a false nose.* (* This festival remains thus unchanged as that of the lady Patroness of Lutetia-Paris, and to this day Isis is offered religious honours in every Parisian and Latin church.) Life itself is a gloomy masquerade wherein the ghastly danse macabre is every instant performed; why should not calendars and even religion in such case be allowed to partake in the travesty? [7]

To be brief, it is January the 4th which ought to be selected by the Theosophists - the Esotericists especially - as their New Year. January is under the sign of Capricornus, the mysterious Makara of the Hindu mystics - the “Kumaras,” it being stated, having incarnated in mankind under the 10th sign of the Zodiac. For ages the 4th of January has been sacred to Mercury-Buddha,* (* The 4th of January being sacred to Mercury, of whom the Greeks made Hermes, the R. Catholics have included St. Hermes in their Calendar. Just in the same way, the 9th of that month having been always celebrated by the pagans as the day of the “conquering sun” the R. Catholics have transformed the noun into a proper name, making of it St. Nicanor (from the Greek nikao, to conquer), whom they honour on the 10th of January.) or Thoth-Hermes. Thus everything combines to make of it a festival to be held by those who study ancient Wisdom. Whether called Budh or Budhi by its Aryan name, Mercurios, the son of Coelus and Hecate truly, or of the divine (white) and infernal (black) magic by its Hellenic, or again Hermes or Thoth, its Greco-Egyptian name, the day seems in every way more appropriate for us than January 1, the day of Janus, the double-faced “god of the time”·servers. Yet it is well named, and as well chosen to be celebrated by all the political Opportunists the world over ...

Meanwhile, let every nation, as every reader, fly for inquiry to their respective gods if they would learn the secrets of Futurity. Thus the·American, Nicodemus-like, may go to one of his three living and actually reincarnated Christs, each calling himself Jesus, now flourishing under the star-spangled Banner of Liberty. The Spiritualist is at liberty to consult his favorite medium, who may raise Saul or evoke the Spirit of Deborah for the benefit and information of his client. The gentleman-sportsman can bend his steps to the mysterious abode of his rival’s jocky, and the average politician consult the secret police, a professional chiromancer, or an astrologer, etc., etc. As regards ourselves we have faith in numbers and only in that face of Janus which is called the Past. For - doth Janus himself know the future? - or ... “perchance himself he does not know.”


“Beware when the great God lets loose a thinker on this planet. Then all things are at risk. It is as when a conflagration has broken out in a city, and no man knows what is safe, or where it win end.

There is not a piece of science, but its flank may be turned tomorrow; there is not any literary reputation, not the so-called eternal names of fame, that may not be revised and condemned. The very hopes of man, the thoughts of his heart, the religion of nations, the manners and morals of mankind, are all at the mercy of a new generalization. Generalization is always a new influx of the divinity into the mind. Hence the thrill that attends it.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson. [8]


Montague A. Machell

This, I imagine, is the basic problem of every aspirant to Spiritual Realization. Not only does he inhabit a world where Spiritual values constitute an “under-privileged” class, accorded third or fourth place, as compared with first-place material values, but man himself, a spiritual captive, is fighting his way out from under material domination. So long as he continues to reincarnate on this earth, we may assume that he still has Karmic harvests to reap - he is still in some degree material. This means that his Spiritual vision is still seeking to govern his material kingdom. There is still Duality - Division. His nature is a House Divided. So long as there is division, there must ever be the tension of contest, wherefore “peace” is unattainable.

How to achieve the peace and serenity of Reconciliation with the Spiritual Self? Clinging to the idea of battle between the two aspects of human duality must obviously tend to, accentuate division. If there is anything of practical value in the injunction “Love thy enemies,” might it not be that by pledging Manas to Buddhi, a sense of compassion on its part for the outlawed enemy - Personality - could represent a first step towards Reconciliation? To begin with, a hard-won understanding of the nature and objectives of unredeemed Matter in daily life must surely offer a useful approach. We can scarcely hope to deal intelligently with a form of consciousness we do not understand.

What about Desire? What is it, basically? Could it, by any chance, be a distorted hunger for Wholeness, out of which this Duality came forth? If this were the case, one might expect this hunger in the Material Personality to display the feverish impatience and mistrust born of its transient, un-enduring state in earth life. The SELF, immortal and timeless, aspires, one supposes, merely to a more perfect realization of THAT which IT is. Such aspiration is calm, serene, un-feverish, because it is basically assured. In any gesture of helpfulness would not the SELF first seek to reassure and calm the anguished, time-burn, materially handicapped Lesser Self?

It can hardly be a mistaken point of view to assume that one driving force in the temporal Personality is an exultant pride of Separateness, most vividly revealed in human egotism. Here, again, could it not be that distortion is due to an unacknowledged inferiority complex? It is fairly safe to assume, I should say, that deep down in its must nearly honest self-study, the Personality knows that, in and of itself, it is not adequate. Its very Separateness is menaced by the Law of Wholeness. It came from THE ONE. To THE ONE it must return - at last. Hence, the obligation of the SELF, understanding this driving delusion of Separateness, to convince the Personality of its attraction (however disguised and distorted) toward the identical consummation - WHOLENESS.

Taking its stand on the firm ground of Spiritual Immortality, I see the SELF calming the frantic Personality with [9] the words: “Relax, trust, believe! Thy goal is mine. Both are assured. Share with me that heavenly assurance. Take my hand and let us cross the gulf together. We are one and must share the Vision and the Divine Destiny. Lend me thine ardor! Be thine my serenity!”


L. Gordon Plummer

It would be difficult to conceive of anything as elusive as Truth for the reason that we seek it, and it is not to be discerned, with our sense-apparatus. And yet it may be discovered in the must commonplace things around us.

As an illustration: the universe we live in is a vast maze of illusions. We react to these illusions, and our senses tell us that the things we see and hear and touch are real. For example, we imagine the world to be flat. It certainly appears to be. However, we are satisfied that it is roughly spherical, because experiments have proven it to be so. Nevertheless, we gain inspiration from the world as we see it, and not as it is in fact. The hills, the countryside and the oceans are beautiful, and that sense of beauty has no bearing on the true shape of the Earth, or its motions.

Also, we see the sun rise every morning, and set every evening, and our senses tell us that this is real. We know however, that it is an appearance that results from the turning of the Earth on its axis. Knowing this does not make it evident to our senses, however. We do not feel the turning of the Earth. And it is a must fruitful aspect of our present study to realize that the beauty of the sunrise is in the illusion, and not in the reality of the spinning Earth. One may go out on a clear morning, and feel spiritually uplifted when watching the sunrise, and feel the growing warmth of the day. The sounds of Nature proclaiming the new day are full of inner meaning for us. However, a person may sit for hours with a terrestrial globe, spinning it in front of a lamp, and watching the various features on the globe enter the illumination, and leave it again, representing day and night, and he may feel nothing more than an intellectual interest in the phenomenon.

As another example, consider the seasons. In those areas of our country wherein the difference between the seasons is more apparent, we feel the resurgence of life in the spring-time, and the full flowing of vitality in the summer, the waning currents of life during the autumn, and the deep sleep of winter. Now we know (or think we know) that this is due to the revolution of the Earth around the Sun, so that at a certain position of the Earth on its orbit the north pole is inclined toward the Sun, and, we say that it is summer in the northern hemisphere; and at the opposite point on the orbit, the north pole is inclined away from the Sun, and we say that it is winter. Between these two points, there are the two positions of the Earth for Spring and Autumn. Well, one may take a [10] model of the Earth on a revolving mechanism, and turn a crank, and watch the globe move around the sun time after time, and never get the thrill of the seasons that come and go throughout the course of the year. And it matters not one whit to the creatures of the wild that the Earth is positioned thus and so. They respond to the ebbing and flowing of the currents of life.

And so we come to a very interesting point of philosophy. It constitutes a paradox. It is precisely within the illusion that we come closest to the Heart of things which is TRUTH itself, and not through an intellectual grasp of the reason behind the appearances of Nature. And the deep feelings that stir our hearts at the sight of the sunrise and at the rush of life during the spring-time are much closer to the Heart of Being. It is these responses to Nature that bring us an awareness of true Reality.

NQW let us apply this to man’s life. Probably the greatest illusion about ourselves is the sense of separateness, the feeling of “I am I.” We may study the ancient teachings concerning the unity of all life, and come to an intellectual grasp of the idea that we are all united by spiritual ties of brotherhood, but this does not bring us a conscious awareness of it. And yet it is in the little things of life that we sometimes get our deepest inspiration. An act of generosity can do wonders in raising the human spirit. So can the sense of fair play, or the face of a child. What can equal the satisfaction that comes from a job well done? And then in the larger spheres of human life, consider those who have given their lives in service to mankind.

The pages of history are lighted by the lives of dozens of these selfless men and women. And it is just this spirit that is so sorely needed at the conference tables today. Without it we cannot even approach to a peaceful world. Our statesmen do not need teachings about Rounds and Races; they are looking for the spirit of true kindliness and mutual trust.

“Aha!” 'I can hear someone say, “You are now telling us that we do not really need those very difficult teachings of Theosophy.” And I will say: “Aha! Here is the greatest paradox of all.” Where would our civilization be if it had not been determined that the Earth is a globe, and that it does indeed turn upon its axis, and move in an orbit around the Sun? Can anybody deny the importance that this knowledge has in our daily lives, let alone in our more advanced technology?

If the human race could only understand the crucial importance of the technical teachings of Theosophy, it would realize that there is no time to lose. We have lost too much time already, and as a human race, we are already far behind the evolutionary standing that we should hold to at the present time. And this is due to our own mistakes, brought about primarily through ignorance and indifference.

Technical Theosophy is the formulation so far as it is possible to do so, of the teachings about the operations of Nature, and Man’s place therein. The Masters of Wisdom and their disciples have been the custodians of this knowledge, and H. P. Blavatsky was their mouthpiece for this present cycle. Whereas she represented them in her own person, they have since been [11] represented to the world with varying degrees of success in the Theosophical Movement, as a body of students. When we become aware of this, it behooves us not to turn our backs upon the sacred trust they left us. To us has been given the responsibility and privilege of keeping these teachings alive in our hearts and minds, and to the degree that we have succeeded in passing them on as we have received them, we have upheld their work. To the degree that we have changed the intent of the teachings, through differing and individual interpretations, whether through undue emphasis on psychic revelations, or on pure imagination, to that degree we have failed.

Somewhere in the Mahatma Letters, Master K. H. says in substance, “Ingratitude was never one of our vices. We are honest debtors, and always repay.” Does it not occur to us that to the degree that we can be true to the trust that is placed upon us, we ourselves can come within the circle of their greater work, and that through our own awakening intuitions, we may become more and more fully aware of the inner significance of the teachings? The deepest teachings cannot be communicated in words; they must he experienced. And no one can tell when the moment may arrive for him when an awakening will come. But we can say with certainty that it will never come to him who turns his back upon the teachings.

There, it appears, lies our responsibility.


J. M. Prentice

Let us commence this study by remembering, by realizing, that Reincarnation is in itself a mechanism whereby the Law of Karma is able to operate in its great work of bringing equilibrium to a disturbed world. To think of reincarnation without having Karma in the background of the mind can lead to the grossest error. In one sense we do not reincarnate; we are reincarnated by a force far greater than our individual selves. We return to physical life in order to make amends, to progress by correcting errors of judgment, to develop the God-given qualities which are inherent in the SELF which is the spiritual centre of the Universe and of ourselves.

When an individual comes into con­tact with the conception of reincarnation in anyone life, the reaction is either positive or negative. To one it presents a glorious opportunity for future progress, offering a glorious vista, future development that will lift the individual to heights hitherto unimagined; to the other it means the slavery of being bound to the wheel of birth and death (“Good heavens! Have I got to go through all this again?”). It is most easily accepted where it has been known in a previous incarnation.

To some it brings a sense of the urgency of things, a sense of impending time, with a desire to return immediately, in order to carryon or complete some special task that will obviously remain unfinished when the life span ends. To others it means a [12] long rest between incarnations, wherein faculty is developed, ability increased, and with it a greater capacity for service. Browning’s Rabbi Ben Ezra summed it up:

“And I shall thereupon
Take rest, ere I be gone
Once more on my adventure brave and new:

Fearless and unperplexed,
When I wage battle next,
What weapons to select, what armour to indue.”

Let us pause far a moment and see if we can learn something by analogy. Many decades ago it was put to me thus: Imagine a glass of pure, colour-less water, from which a teaspoonful is extracted. Into this spoonful five drops of dye are introduced, and then the contents of the spoon are returned to the glass. Immediately the water in the glass is faintly tinted with the colouring matter. Then another teaspoonful is extracted, new colours are introduced, and the contents of the glass enriched thereby. So this goes on in perpetuity, with the water becoming mare irridescent with each new addition. Nothing is ever last, but each incarnation (teaspoonful) adds to the glory.

As a matter of fact this analogy seems more suited to our Occidental minds than the analogy used in the Hindu Scriptures of the Sutratma, the thread-soul on which each incarnation is threaded, like pearls on a string.

It seems to me that those people who yearn for an immediate reincarnation assume that they will bring back with them the conscious memory of what they have been engaged upon, so that they can resume their labors at the point where they left off, as on awakening from a night’s sleep, to take up the work of the day. But this may be a mistaken idea. It will not suit our purpose to be dogmatic on these things; our knowledge is still fragmentary. Consequently I do not ask that any reader should feel impelled to accept as an article of faith what is being presented. There are indeed a number of cases, especially in the East, where an almost immediate reincarnation has brought with it the knowledge of what has occurred in the immediate past life of the individual concerned. Very few of these cases have been subjected to scientific investigation, consequently their impact on the world at large has been very slight.

Moreover, there is the time factor to be considered. It has been suggested somewhere that time is fifty times faster on the Astral Plane, and five hundred times faster on the mental plane. (“A thousand years in Thy sight are but as yesterday, when it is gone”.) So that immediate may mean five years or fifty or even five hundred, as compared with the ordinary cycle of 800 years and the still larger cycle of 1,200 years. These apply to the majority of average individuals. It all depends on the amount of material which has been accumulated, to be assimilated in the after-death worlds. I seem to remember that Blavatsky says somewhere that a man like Plato would be out of incarnation for at least 5,000 years.

There is another factor: there is a scintilla of selfishness, of spiritual pride in such a wish. We assume that we are of such importance that the work cannot go on successfully unless we are there to participate in it. This is a subtle temptation. I confess that I have always longed for an immediate [13] reincarnation, and have frequently written rather facetiously about it in writing to some personal friends. I do feel that I have not accomplished anywhere near to what was possible in this incarnation, that my experiences, such as they are, have given me a fierce enthusiasm to accomplish a great deal more. “The little more, and how much it is; the little less and what worlds away.” Many of us feel that there is a greater need for trained occult students in the world to-day than in any previous age. We may indeed be found worthy to return to participate in the re-creation of the world as we know it, but let us not be deluded that we shall bring with us the complete knowledge of the past. As a matter of fact nothing, I feel, could be more embarrassing than to have nearly a complete knowledge of our former lives. There would be the consciousness of mistakes, of failure in so many ways and in so many things. It would easily become an intolerable burden, and the contemplation of the past might seriously impede the work of the present. If we do return immediately, it will be because we have certain abilities that are needed, that can be utilized in ways which we may not fully understand. There is nothing wrong in such an ambition, provided always that there is no element of selfishness in it.

It means a terrific sacrifice, for one thing. Dr. de Purucker has given more knowledge about the post-mortem conditions than any previous Teacher. He has described the vital importance of the Inner Rounds and the Outer Hounds, which the perigrinating Soul must experience in order that its spiritual development may take place in orderly fashion. This must be abandoned for the time being, and the reincarnating self may be dimly conscious of something missing. This may even extend to a degree that there may be something eccentric in his general behaviour. But to consider this would lead us too far, consuming both space and time.

For the average individual it is much better, perhaps, to concentrate on the work in hand, and not worry over what the future may hold for him or her. A long, undisturbed sleep between day and day provides us with a physical fitness that nothing else can provide. So with the intervals between incarnations - there will be the purging of all that is false and misleading, the dreamlike experience of Devachan, in which we will relive all that is pleasing in the life ended, meeting, not the actual selves of those who toiled with us but our conception of them, embracing all that is best in them. And there will be a spiritual reality behind all this dream-consciousness which win fit us for future activity. To all save the exceptional few the normal is best.

One final thought. Let us not try and persuade ourselves or others of our past greatness, by assuming that we have been so and so in our past incarnations. I have met three Joans of Arc, three Marys, Queen of Scots, two St. Francises of Assisi and an assortiment of others equally heroic or venal. Let us not delude ourselves, but rather, again like Rabbi Ben Ezra, go on our way.

“Fearless and unperplexed,
When I wage battle next,
What weapons to select, what armour to indue.”

Herein liveth Eternal Peace! [14]



Bertram Keightley was an English Theosophist and staunch friend and collaborator of H.P.B. during the London days. He was born at Birkenhead, April 4, 1860. His father was a Liverpool solicitor and owner of much land which later greatly increased in value. Both his parents were to some degree influenced by the mystical Christianity of Swedenborg, so that Bertram escaped the more orthodox forms of faith. His education began at Charterhouse, a famous school, and was then carried on in Germany and France , and finished at Trinity College, Cambridge, where he majored in mathematics. He also took the degree of Master of Arts. Being endowed with an eager intelligence, he was especially attracted by philosophy and science, and combined the critical acumen of the student with a genuine love and intuition for mysticism. While still at Cambridge, he studied mesmerism and was led to the reading of Eliphas Levi, mediaeval mystics and neo-platonic writers. He came into Theosophy quite naturally. Having come across Sinnett’s Esoteric Buddhism and recognizing in it the outline of a system which would co-ordinate previous study and furnish a complete philosophy of life, he promptly made the acquaintance of the author. He first merely attended the meetings of the London Lodge, T.S.; then, early in 1884 he was admitted to the Theosophical Society, together with his nephew, Dr. Archibald Keightley, and Mr. and Mrs. Cooper-Oakley, by Col. H. S. Olcott himself, then in England.

He first met H.P.B. at a special meeting of the London Lodge which was held in Mr. Hood’s rooms in Lincoln Inn, April 7, 1884 , for the purpose of electing a new President. H.P.B. had been in Paris but a few hours before, where she was staying at the time. William Quan Judge tells (The Path, Vol. VIII, Aug., 1893, p. 143.) how H.P.B. suddenly informed him that she was ordered by her Teacher to go quickly to London and attend the London Lodge meeting, although she was not well at the time. An old tie between H.P.B. and Bertram as well as Archibald Keightley was no doubt renewed, and they placed themselves and all they had at her service. Bertram spent much of the spring and summer of 1884, in H.P.B.’s company in Paris and London , going with her to Elberfeld , Germany , in the fall of the same year. He met W. Q. Judge that same summer, when he was in England on his way to India.

In the year 1885, Bertram Keightley was Hon. Sec. of the London Lodge T.S., and continued to be associated with it until the formation of the Blavatsky Lodge in 1887. In that year, H.P.B. being quite sick at Ostende, he and his nephew went over twice to that city to urge her to come over to London and help with the work there. After his second visit, he and Dr. Keightley accompanied her to England , after she had decided to make the move.

In the same year he joined with Dr. Archibald Keightley and Countess Constance Wachtmeister in forming the celebrated household at 17, Lansdowne Road , London , making it possible for H.P.B. to reside in England . From that time dates the active participation of both the Keightleys in the preparation of [15] the manuscript of The Secret Doctrine for the press.* (* Vide, Bertram Keightley, Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky. Adyar, Madras; Theos. Publ . House, 1931. 37 pp. Illus.; as well as his and Dr. A. Keightley’s account in Countess C. Wachtmeister’s Reminiscences, etc.) Bertram Keightley was largely responsible in meeting the financial deficiencies incurred in the printing of this work. Apart from this, he helped H.P.B. with her newly-founded magazine Lucifer, and later, together with his nephew, typed and duplicated her E.S. Instructions.

At the request made by H.P.B. herself, Bertram Keightley came to New York in the Fall of 1889, and visited the majority of the Branches in the United States, attending the Chicago Convention of April 27-28, 1890, as special delegate, afterward returning to Europe. A month later, again at H.P.B.’s request, he embarked for India, reaching Bombay August 31st, 1890.* (* The Theosophist, Vol. XII, Suppl. to Oct., 1890, pp. ii-xxiii.) He was soon elected General Secretary of the newly-formed Indian Section which was chartered January 1, 1891. He also organized the Indian E.S.

Simultaneously with the founding of the Indian Section, Bertram Keightley started the publication of a monthly journal called The Prasnottara, very similar to The Theosophical Forum issued by W. Q. Judge in the U.S.A. It was intended for Questions and Answers and was to be distributed free to the Members of the Section.* (* Published from Jan., 1891 to about March, 1904, when Theosophy in India took its place.)

While in India , Bertram Keightley travelled extensively, working among the various Branches and founding new ones. H. P.B. died while he was absent from England. After her passing, he joined Col. H. S. Olcott at Colombo, Ceylon, and sailed with him for a brief visit to London, returning to India shortly afterwards, and leaving India again in January, 1893.

On this last trip he suffered shipwreck on his way from Madras to Colombo. The SS. Niemen, a coasting steamer of the “Messageries Maritimes,” was wrecked off the coast of Trincomalee on the Eastern shore of Ceylon, within a few hundred yards of shore. Bertram Keightley was the last of the passengers to leave the sinking ship. All of them spent the night in crowded boats, unable to cross the surf till daylight, and then were obliged to walk many miles through sand, marsh, mud and jungle to the nearest village, in the blistering sun and without food or water. Bertram Keightley was barefoot. A few articles were washed ashore, but almost all of his luggage was totally lost, money, letters, personal souvenirs - worst of all, his “dispatch box,” containing notes collected during two years for a work on Indian literature, and his cherished letters from H.,P.B.* (* The Path, Vol. VIII, April, 1893, pp. 30-31; Lucifer, Vol. XII, p. 75.) It took him four days to get to Colombo . This misadventure came after another in which he was robbed.

Being in London in April, 1893, he again travelled to America , and was a delegate from the European and Indian Sections at the American Convention [16] of that month. In July, 1893, being back in London, he was present at the Third Convention of the T.S. held there, William Q. Judge being present also. In May, 1894, Annie Besant and he went to Sweden to attend the First Annual Convention of the Swedish T.S.

During Judge’s so-called “trial” Bertram Keightley was in London, his attitude being diametrically opposite to that taken by Dr. Archibald Keightley.

He remained in England until the death of his mother. Later he broke up his home and sailed for India, together with Annie Besant who was on her way to Australia, reaching Colombo August 13, 1894. Before going to Adyar, he lectured extensively in various parts of India, going first to Calcutta. Together with Annie Besant and Countess C. Wachtmeister, he took part in the organization of the Benares Center, which became the headquarters of the Indian Section.

At the time of the so-called “split” of the original T.S., Bertram Keightley remained with the main body under the Presidency of Col. H. S. Olcott, and served for some time on the General Council of the Society, and as General Secretary of the British Section, 1901-1905. At a later time, after the passing of Col. Olcott, being opposed to the “presidential policy” of Annie Besant, he publicly expressed his dissent, but remained in the T.S., and it is said that he had promised H.P.B. never to leave it. From that time on until his passing at Cawnpore, in 1945, he lived in practical seclusion and took no active part in the activities of the Theosophical Society.

Throughout the years of his work, Bertram Keightley was an eloquent speaker in the cause of Theosophy, and contributed a considerable number of essays and articles to various Theosophical periodicals. His Reminiscences of H. P. Blavatsky (Adyar, 1931) originally appeared as a contribution to the pages of The Theosophist.

SOURCES (in addition to those referred to in the text above): The Path, Vol. VI, pp. 196-97; Vol. VII, Aug. 1893, pp. 14.3-44; Lucifer, Vol. XV, pp. 171, 255, 507; The Canadian Theosophist, Vol. XXV, p. 339; The Theos., Vol. XXX, Sept. 1909, pp. 729-30.


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