A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXI
No. 1 (99) - Summer 1964

[Cover photo: In the mountains of the Lower Tauern, Austria. (Photograph by Heinz Berg.)]


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: $2.00 a year (four issues); single copy 50 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 I think of what I know,
Earth is hard my feet below,
And around me is a wall
Leaning in about to fall,
’Neath a roof that hides the sky;
And within that space am I.

“When I think of what I dream,
Then around me flaws a stream,
Sometimes near and sometimes far,
Sometimes glassing sun and star.
And within my little land
Sometimes Lords of Beauty stand;
And the mountains are afire
With their purple-old desire;
And along dim shores the sea
Sometimes whispers tales to me.
Yet my mountains and my sea
Will not let my dreams be free.

“But there is no roof above,
When I think of what I love,
And there is no earth beneath:
I am one with life and death.
And my world is larger far
Than the realm of any star;
And within me deep and deep,
Universes wake and sleep.”
- Kenneth Morris, Welsh Poet and Theosophist (1879-1937) [3]


Geoffrey A. Barborka

QUESTION: I have not been able to find any exposition of the “Monadic Centers” in The Secret Doctrine and I am somewhat perplexed in regard to their rationale. As this phase of the teaching was brought forward by Dr. de Purucker for the purpose of clarifying certain concepts, I do not seem to be able to make much headway in the matter. Can you provide further elucidation?

ANSWER: The subject of the “Monadic Centers” was, as stated, first presented by Dr. de Purucker in his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, chapters xviii and xix, wherein diagrammatic representations are also furnished. Six Monadic Centers are depicted in the diagram, named: Atman, Divine Ego; Jivatman, Spiritual Ego; Bhutatman, Human Ego; Pranatman, Personal Ego; Beast-Ego; Body. The centers are portrayed as spheres, representing foci of energy, each sphere diminishing in size in descending scale from first to sixth, and all six enclosed in an egg-shaped sphere. As is the case with all diagrammatic representations, care must be taken not to regard them as being actualities - a caution which the author emphasized again and again in his work. In fact he refers to this representation as a paradigm, adding these words:

“It is not a graphic representation, that is, a picture; it is a paradigm. A paradigm is a graphic symbol, but not a picture of a thing” (Fund., p. 203.).

In the enumeration of the Monadic Centers (given above), the fifth in the descending scale is named the Beast-Ego, which is explained as “Beast-Soul” or Vital-Astral Soul, and is equated to Kama and Prana in the sevenfold classification of the principles of man’s constitution. This has been referred to as the “Animal Monad” and brings to mind the term “Animal Soul” used by A.P. Sinnett as an equivalent for the principle of Kama in his enumeration of the seven principles. In connection with the word “soul” Dr. de Purucker added this explanation: “Remember that the word ‘soul’, in our ancient Wisdom, means ‘vehicle’.” (Fund., p. 205.)

One of the difficulties encountered in the study of the Monadic Centers is that occurring in connection with what has been termed the Animal Monad (the Beast-Soul), in which an “entification” has been suggested. Evidently, however, Dr. de Purucker’s words in connection with the three lower centers would appear to have been overlooked, for he has distinctly stated that there is no abiding principle in this center. Quoting his words in regard to the egoic center which is termed the Pranatman, that is the Human Soul or “Man,” it should be noted that these words are made applicable to the three lower centers in his paradigm, hence applicable to the “Animal Monad”:

“the Human Soul or Man: this is formed of Manas, Kama , Prana; and the egoic center corresponding to it is the Pranatman, or the personal ego, which is mortal. There is no abiding principle from and including this, downwards; no abiding principle in ‘man’ whatsoever. The next below is the Beast-Soul, or the Vital-Astral Soul” (Fund., p. 227.). [4]

Returning to the consideration of the paradigm: because the six monadic centers are depicted as spheres, it would seem to convey the idea that they are separable; however, unquestionably they may be regarded as being linked together if not actually united. This factor was in fact hinted at in connection with the exposition made by the author when presenting the paradigm. It was stated in this manner:

“Now please notice in this diagram the role played by the Self represented roughly by the line dropped from the highest and running through and permeating all the planes below its Archetypal Origin. I wish to call to your attention the fact that not merely Plato, but the entire Greek school of mystic philosophies, spoke of the Self as immanent in Kosmos” (Fund., p.205.).

Therefore, an individual who knows how to do so, would be able to function consciously in a desired monadic center, just as an adept is able to function in certain of his principles (as has been indicated in The Secret Doctrine).

Since the author equated the monadic centers with specific principles, it would seem that in this factor a clue is provided for a greater understanding of the subject. Therefore, another diagrammatic portrayal is presented depicting the seven principles of man’s constitution in tabular form, specifically for the purpose of regarding how these principles are operative. In other words, in the appended tabular portrayal the principles are regarded from their functional aspect. Alongside this tabular representation the monadic centers are placed, together with the author’s explanatory arrangement of the seven principles.

Having thus allocated the monadic centers with man’s principles, the next step in pursuing the study of this subject is to consider the monadic centers in a dual aspect. It has been elsewhere demonstrated by the present writer,* (*See “Solving an Enigma,” The Theosophist (Adyar), Vol. 82, No.1, October, 1960, pp. 50·58.) that the septenary principles should be considered in two aspects, namely, the functional and the formative. The functional aspect represents how the principles are operative during man’s life an earth; the formative aspect represents the manner in which man is “builded.”

The two aspects in which the monadic centers may be regarded are suggested to be: (1) the “intelligence side,” as focal centers of consciousness; (2) the “form side,” as focal centers for life-atoms. For, in every cosmos this dual aspect is ever present: the intelligence side is represented by the designers (or Architects); the form side is represented by the fabricators (or Builders - to use the familiar terms of The Secret Doctrine). Or the two aspects may be regarded as the consciousness aspect and the vehicular aspect; or yet again, by the most frequently used terms of Spirit and Matter. An illustrative example is available in the Lokas and Talas: the lokas represent the spirit aspect; the talas represent the matter aspect.

The consciousness may be directed upon any one of the focal monadic centers - by one who knows how to do so; thus portraying the activity of the intelligence side. The activities of the form side of the centers is carried on by means of congeries of life-atoms; [5]

that is to say life-atoms of a specific grade are thus grouped together. Each group of life-atoms pertains to and is applicable to its appropriate center.

In support of this idea, attention is drawn to one of the Stanzas of Dzyan, namely Stanza VII, sloka 5, given in the form of a catechism: “Who forms Man? The seven lives, and the One Life” (S.D., I, 34.). The One Life has reference to Atman, and Atman “is the direct emanation of the one Life or the Absolute Deity” (S.D., .I, 248.). The seven lives signify the life-atoms pertaining to the seven Kingdoms: the three Elemental Kingdoms , the Mineral, Plant, Animal and Human Kingdoms . “Every visible thing in this Universe was built by such Lives, from conscious and divine primordial man down to the unconscious agents that construct matter” (S.D., I, 250.).

To be sure, the characteristic of the consciousness involved in a particular monadic center would have a particular bearing upon the life-atoms grouped in that specific center. This may be clarified by reference to what Dr. de Purucker has written concerning Life-Atoms:

“What do we mean when we speak of Life-Atoms? We do not mean, the Teachers do not mean, that they are only and merely the atoms of Prana, for they are only one small part of the vast hosts of the Life-Atoms. The Life-Atoms in general mean the Atoms of Life, of the Universal Life forming our Planetary Chain. Hence, the expression ‘Life-Atoms’ is a short and convenient way of saying the building-blocks of the Universe, the bricks, so to say, of the vital Kosmos” ( Fund., 492-3.).

Now in the effort to clarify the Concept of the monadic centers, the idea has been expressed by some individuals that the fifth monadic center - termed the Animal Monad - would in the course of evolution eventually be raised to the status pertaining to its next superior monadic center: that is to say, that which is termed the Animal Monad would evolve into the status of the Human Monad. However, it may be pointed out that whereas in the lowest centers such a concept could be understandable, in the loftier center - specifically, the second center or Jivatman - the situation would be untenable. For this reason: as outlined in The Secret Doctrine, with regard to the Monadic Essence or Atman, with which the lower sheaths of man are connected:

“As to his seventh principle, it is but one of the Beams of the Universal Sun. Each rational creature receives only the temporary loan of that which has to return to its source” (S.D., I, 224.).

“Alone, the Divine Ray (the Atman) proceeds directly from the One” (S.D., I, 222.).

“It is the only immortal and eternal principle in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole - the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle” (S.D., I, 16 fn.).

In seeking for an elucidation upon this aspect of the subject, therefore, the suggestion is made that it is the life-atoms which are grouped into and associated with a particular monadic center that are enabled to evolve from one grade or status to the next superior grade - because of their association with the individual in whose constitution they live and move and have their being, albeit focalized in a center.

One more suggestion is offered to add to this exposition. When the life-atoms have attained the peak of that phase of their evolutionary journey, which may be described as an association with the monadic centers pertaining to the superior Dhyani-Chohanic Kingdom, and have become impregnated with the characteristics pertaining to such a monadic center, then at the close of that planetary Manvantara such superlative life-atoms are ready and able to graduate from the role of life-atoms. In such a status they are then able to commence the evolutionary ascent of the Ladder of Life. The latter term signifies entering into the hierarchical Kingdoms, the first phase of which is represented by that class of beings situated on the lowest rung of the Ladder of Life. Such beings are termed the third, or lowest, class of Elemental Kingdoms.


Iverson L. Harris

“... tell me whether I am too sanguine when I say that if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulses through the next hundred years - tell me, I say, if I go too far in asserting that earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now!”

These words, with which H. P. Blavatsky closed The Key to Theosophy in 1889, not only bespeak her vision and her hope for the inhabitants of this earth: more specifically they challenge all Theosophists as to the role they might play in bringing that vision and that hope to fulfillment. The challenge is emphasized in one small but very weighty word: if. As Shakespeare reminds us: “Much virtue in i-f.”

What are the prospects of the earth’s becoming a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it was in 1889? Have Theosophists individually and collectively contributed to bringing about the betterment envisioned by H. P. B. and Those who sent her?

Yes, in some ways more perhaps than the world’s discouraging aspects would warrant our assuming. As one London journalist declared thirty years ago, H. P. B.’s own accomplishment was “to change the whole current of European thought.” Moreover, it can never be truthfully said again of East and West, as Kipling did, that “never the twain shall meet.” Actually, East and West have met. Eastern philosophy and outlook and even vocabulary are no longer limited to a handful of learned Orientalists; they have become a part of Western culture and widely adopted in the Occident. A Buddhist is now the duly elected General Secretary of the United Nations! Would anyone have dreamed of such a change of Weltanschauung in the days when H. P. B., Col. Olcott, William Q. Judge and others founded the T. S., brought to the attention of the West the treasures of Hindu and Buddhist philosophy and at the some time reminded our Eastern brethren of their own magnificent cultural heritage? [8]

Certainly, also, in the realms of scientific and religious thinking and discovery, the omniscient materialism and the narrow-minded church dogmatism, against both of which H. P. B. fought so heroically, no longer wield the unquestioned authority over Western thinking that they did in H. P. B.’s day. She literally “broke the molds of mind.” It is now commonplace for advanced scientific thinkers and researchers and liberal churchmen to accept and proclaim some of the scientific postulates and universal spiritual verities which H. P. B. promulgated more than three-quarters of a century ago, and for which she was ridiculed and persecuted.

But as the Twenty-First Century approaches, we ask ourselves again: Is the earth actually closer to becoming a heaven than it was in 1889? Has the Theosophical Society survived in unity today as it was (at least in name) when H. P. B. wrote The Key to Theosophy? Has it lived true to its mission and to its original impulses?

Sixty-five years of active association with the Theosophica1 Movement, ever since 1899, forty-three years of which were spent at Point Loma, have brought me certain definite and I hope mature conclusions:

(1) It is not enough to accept the motto of the Theosophical Society, “There is no religion higher than truth,” on abstract and philosophical grounds alone. We must be ready also to face the truth regarding mundane facts, such as are demanded in a court of law.

(2) We must endeavor to think, not like prosecuting attorneys or counsel for the defense, out like honorable judges determined to arrive at a just verdict in view of all the facts.

(3) While loyal to the basic truths of the Wisdom-Religion and grateful to the teachers who have transmitted these to us and thereby molded our lives for the better, it is not necessarily incumbent upon us to support all the policies or actions of all the administrators of the different Theosophical groups, however well-intentioned or sincere or expedient these may have been.

(4) The use of the Masters’ names in order to bolster individual claims or to support specific ventures is always perilous and can be downright blasphemous and disastrous. The final test: “By their fruits ye shall know them.”

(5) The attempt of any human being, however talented and perhaps at times inspiring, to dominate his fellowmen and to force them into specific lines of thinking or conduct can lead to unhappy and at times tragic consequences.

(6) The folly, fanaticism, ignorance and/or credulity of members of almost every Theosophical group, have given the Movement a much-blurred image before the public and well-nigh defeated the Masters’ declared purpose: “The Chiefs want a “Brotherhood of Humanity, a real Universal Fraternity started; an institution which would make itself known throughout the world and arrest the attention of the highest minds” (Mahatma Letters, p. 24.).

(7) The inherent truth and spiritual vitality of the message itself, as given to the world by the Masters, H. P. B. and those who have loyally followed them, is evidenced by the fact [9] that the Theosophical Movement is still alive in the hearts and aspirations of hundreds of individuals, despite what so many of Theosophy’s adherents have done - unwittingly for the most part - to kill it.

But the good name of Theosophy can be resurrected and the high purposes of the Movement can continue along the lines laid down by the Masters and H. P. B. This is surely the most important goal to work for. The spiritual life of humanity is inextricably involved in the success or failure of the effort.


W. Emmett Small
(Concluded from previous issue)

In our introductory meeting we spoke of the Three Fundamental Propositions or Postulates of the Secret Doctrine which, if understood, sum up all the wisdom in a capsule. Thus, again, in a sense the few sentences outlining these fundamentals are a symbol which we can pocket and carry with us, throwing aside other unnecessary impedimenta, wherever our journey leads us, but keeping always these basic tools. It is inescapable in our final Summary that we should review these fundamental postulates. We might see also - without pressing the analogy - how they may be considered likewise as representing Love and Knowledge and Reverence.

There is the BOUNDLESS. It comprises all. To know it is impossible because no finite part can comprehend the Whole. It embraces all Time and Duration and all Space. It is all history, past and present, and the future is enwrapped in it.

From out the Boundless issue the worlds and all beings which infill them. Love speaks, and galaxies and solar systems and planets and men are born, following a cyclic pattern, and then are indrawn into their Divine Parent, to reissue, to be reborn, according to Law and Harmony and Order - according to Karma - according to what they have made themselves to be.

And the third great Teaching preserves for man the god-spark, eternally the central fire of his being - for every being and every thing at its heart is rooted in the Boundless, and therefore has the potentiality of the Boundless within it. And the aim and purpose of all being is to evolve from out the hidden seed the Flower of Divinity.

No words better than H. P. Blavatsky’s express these ideas. They begin with the great organ-tones: “An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE ...” You will study them, ponder them, many, many times, turning to her Proem in Volume I of The Secret Doctrine. And you will remember her pregnant statement in connection therewith:

“Once that the reader has gained a clear comprehension of them and realizes the light which they throw [10] on every problem of life, they will need no further justification in his eyes, because their truth will be to him as evident as the sun in heaven.” (The Secret Doctrine, I, 17.)

We have spoken of Ideas. We have spoken of Symbols. We have also learned something of Analogy, which helps us intuitively to grasp truths which otherwise might elude our pedestrian fumbling or be viewed out of perspective, twisted or distorted. As ABOVE SO BELOW are the key words that become for us a compass to steer by, to check direction and course on our passage through the stars.

We have also learned of Nature’s habits or cycles and the relationship of man with nature in this regard. Our Earth Number is 7, and tides, moon, gestation periods, growth, conform thereto. Our heart beats 72 times a minute, or 4,320 times an hour; 72 years represent one degree of arc of the sun cycle. We breathe some 25,920 times in 24 hours, a number representing the length of the Sidereal Year. Larger cycles reflect themselves in smaller ones.

Now, then, who are we and where are we? We are in our Fourth Round; we are Fourth-Rounders. Those who have advanced beyond us, the Teachers of the Race, are Fifth-Rounders. Gautama the Buddha was a Sixth-Rounder. We are members of the Aryan, the Fifth Root-Race. The Fourth was Atlantis, the Third Lemuria. We have nearly reached the mid-point of our, present Race; that comes, as H. P. B. explains in The Secret Doctrine, in about 16,000 years, and will be marked, as all such mid-points are, by a great racial cataclysm. So, pill-pointing our place in our great journey, we have almost completed four and a half sub-races of our Fifth Root-Race of the Fourth Round on our physical Globe. The duration of a Root-Race is approximately nine million years; so we have four and a half million years to go before its end. The time for a single Round is 308,448,000 years. This is called a Manvantara, “the reign of one Manu,” that is, the time between a root-Manu on Globe A and a seed-Manu on Globe G. We have passed through three and a half Rounds; in fact, at the mid-point of the Atlantean civilization we had reached the nadir of our Globe life. It was the most material point of our journey. We have passed upward on the ascending arc since then to our present position in the Fifth Root-Race, but only approaching its mid-point. A crucial period is therefore coming. It is spoken of as “the time of choice.” Millions of egos will succeed and pass on to consciously conclude their journey toward Dhyan-Chohanhood; others will fail - and have to make the attempt in the next great cycle.

Let us remember, then, that in certain large cycles already the upward forces of Nature are with us. Let us also recall that the first 5000 years of Kali Yuga, the Black or Iron Age, ended in 1898. A confluence of important cycles was indicated then, as H. P. B. points out. May 1941 marked the ending and the beginning of another great cycle, according to Dr. de Purucker, and the so-called Atomic Age was ushered in. This probably points to the closing of the precessional cycle of 2160 years marked by the overshadowing energies first propelled into our sphere by the great Avatara Jesus when he came about 120 years [11] before the now recognized era. Therefore, it is, I believe, obvious that the new precessional cycle is closely connected with the birth of the Theosophical Society, the rejuvenation of the Theosophical Movement, through the impulse given by the Masters of Wisdom through their Agent H. P. B. in the dosing decades of the 19th century, she who, as one writer (not a Theosophist) recorded, changed the entire current of European thought - toward the Sun.

Who are we ? We are that Aspect of Consciousness registered on the thermometer of Self with which for that moment - and moments can be life-times - we have allied ourselves. Intrinsically each one of us is an incarnate god. Flashes of perception, momentary greatness of deed, reflect this. But as of today we are not the inner god because we cannot sustain god-ness continuously: we are our Human Self - and in fact have a hard time being entirely and nobly human - stretching toward more conscious union with Divinity, but drawn also to our less evolved self, our vehicular or animal self. We are Kama- Manas. Eventually we shall raise that Lesser Self to the status of true humanhood, and then we, the Eternal Pilgrim, will have become a being of pure Mind, illumined by Compassion, Buddhi- Manas, and we shall play a part commensurate with such lordly attainment.

Where are we ? We live many lives. Illogical thinking alone can support the idea that we are “created” for the few earth-years within our immediate view, and that when these end, we achieve a static condition of foreverness - extremely pleasant or unpleasant. We live many times, and, as said, in the seven Rounds we shall pass through on this Earth-Chain, we are now Fourth- Rounders. Only an adept can tell how many more lives we individually shall need to live, before we complete our present Round - ahead, on time, or behind in the long journey; to enter our inter-Round period of rest; and to emerge as Fifth- Rounders. We do not know because such specific knowledge would not be helpful. But to know generally something of our journey - past and future - is helpful because it strengthens that inner certitude of direction and meaning in life, - and the Scheme of Things, and aids us to meet wisely the present which presses round us NOW. As all philosophers have told us, it is not so much what happens to us as how we meet it that counts. How we meet it in the last analysis is contingent on the sum of knowledge and wisdom of our self at our command today. In a sense where we are is of less importance than who we are.

Yet where we are going - our destiny, which is conscious reunion with the god within - as well as where we are now and who we are, cannot be separated in thought. They blend into one, and can form part of our own individual meditation on the Basic Teachings of Theosophy, on the Three Fundamental Postulates of the Secret Doctrine, on whatever key of Esoteric Teaching and philosophy we choose. They can all form part of our lifelong study of what Love is, what Knowledge is, what Reverence is, what TRUTH is.

We conclude our study with the words of a great Teacher trained in the Science of Life:

“Behold the Truth before you: a clean life, an open mind, a pure [12] heart, an eager intellect, an unveiled spiritual perception, a brotherliness for one’s co-disciple, a readiness to give and receive advice and instruction, a loyal sense of duty to the Teacher, a willing obedience to the behests of TRUTH, once we have placed our confidence in, and believe that Teacher to be in possession of it; a courageous endurance of personal injustice, a brave declaration of principles, a valiant defence of those who are unjustly attacked, and a constant eye to the idea of human progression and perfection which the secret science (Gupta-Vidya) depicts - these are the golden stairs up the steps of which the learner may climb to the Temple of Divine Wisdom.”


Montague A. Machell

Grief for the dead is less an emotion than a physical presence; the conspiracy of the living to forget death is called life, and that goes on.”

The above statement in one of our most widely-read weeklies amounts to saying: “We live perennially identified with death - calling our existence ‘life’” - a rather grim conclusion if to death is attached, as it generally is, the sense of complete finality.

Yet, does it not seem strange that, for many hundreds of years, society should have clung so tenaciously to a term of existence whose momentary transience is so generally accepted, particularly so, since in the overall plan so brief an episode seems to serve no recognizable purpose? Still, we know that all over this globe, for millions of years, “life” has been going on and has left ruins, relics and systems of thought reminiscent of eras of the loftiest imaginings and achievements. Among these systems, moreover (too often dismissed as “pagan superstitions”), are to be found beliefs regarding death completely antithetical to our own, most especially among those races of greatest antiquity; which seems to suggest that in those days people lived much longer, or that in their teachings death had not the finality it has in our own.

There is ample support for the last belief inasmuch as life, as viewed by the most ancient civilizations, was endowed with a wholeness that dared to contemplate All Time and All Space. With the early Egyptians, Hindus, Tibetans, and races preceding them, Universal concepts regarding man and his world seem to have held no terrors. These peoples believed in Universal Life for all, an Eternity of Time for all, a limitless Pattern of Unfoldment for all. In the wards of a Tibetan Lama, Anagarika Govinda: “Completeness can only be established within ourselves ... through a change or reversal of our very foundations of existence into a state of universality by dematerializing the hard crust of individual self-hood.” This is to say our universality is inherent in our spirituality - our surrender to THE ONE.

“Death” insofar as it had a place in the religious life of these people, [13] held that place as an aspect of life, since for them Life Universal was a basic concept. The soul, they taught, be it of man or of his universe, was eternal, earth-life sustaining itself by the aid of periods of rest and rejuvenation. Since, according to their teachings, the purpose of life is the Flowering of the Deathless Self here on earth, the idea of just one earth-existence, concluded after sixty-five or seventy years and never renewed, appeared totally irrational. Their deeply rooted conviction of a spiritual purpose shaping every living thing on earth, and their profound reverence for that purpose, lent to each season of earthly existence a lofty and radiant meaning. A careful study of the sacred scriptures of these earlier races reveals the fact that they thought and willed in terms of LIFE, which no death and no change could destroy. Reincarnation, the law of Rebirth, was for them simply a revelation of the supremacy of Spiritual Life as indispensable to man’s unlimited spiritual unfoldment.

One of the striking values of a philosophy such as this, compared with our own materialistic, one-life doctrine, is that in it eternal relevance is a built-in feature, since spiritual growth is an eternally challenging and adequate objective for earthly living, be it for one life or a hundred. But the hundred supply more elbow room! Deprived of an adequate objective, there is little more left to life than a brief, uncertain grubbing in the dust of earthly materialism, with no deeply challenging reason for living. It is out of a life deprived of such reason for living that is born first a cynical irreverence and second a dread of death; this brief life interval, if it is all we have to look forward to, is infinitely precious for its own sake. But, unrelated to a vast and lofty spiritual purpose, it must, of necessity, fall back upon purely physical and material satisfactions. Herein lies the temptation to say “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die!” - an attitude of mind responsible for most of the world’s unhappiness.

“The conspiracy of the living to forget death is called life, and that goes on!” These words contain their own confession of failure. No one to whom Life, in its eternal and universal implication, conveys the sublime and majestic meaning the word actually embodies, could so belittle that implication as to suggest “forgetting” any aspect of it. Anyone “forgetting” to take daily nourishment, and, absent-mindedly, dying of starvation, would be justifiably judged insane. It is a comparable “insanity” to “conspire to forget” any essential aspect of Life. Death, which comes to all, is an aspect of Life, and since the Law of Life is a beneficent and harmonious Law, it follows that death partakes of that beneficence - a beneficent Rest Period - not a heartless and meaningless “end” to a project by no means completed.

To understand death is to immensely enlarge life - to return to it its Before and After with the sublime impetus of unlimited spiritual unfoldment. Daring to perceive life as great enough to contain death; having the courage to see it as a step taken repeatedly on the radiant Path of Life, is to identify oneself with the Law of Growth, the Growth of the undying Spiritual Reality that is man.

The “conspiracy” referred to in the above quotation is an admission of [14] a tragic inadequacy in our evaluation of life. Perceived as a sublime, universal Pattern governing, not just man, but this entire universe, life reveals itself in terms of Deity unfolding its unearthly beauty in every aspect of Itself, be it the commonest daisy or the supremely illuminated sage. In estranging himself from this One Source, allowing himself to revolve around some rather ignominious earthly personality, man has cast aside the spiritual elan of a divine destiny and cut himself off from light, power and guidance rooted in the heavenly center of his being. “Man know thyself,” said Socrates, summing up in those words the mystery of man’s self-redemption. What the Deathless Self does for the vulnerable mortal self of a man is his ultimate “religion.” To make that religion work, he must know his spiritual potential to be indestructible. Spiritual faith must have knowledge for its enduring foundation - Self-knowledge. The man who, through countless incarnations, has acquired this knowledge and the integrity to live by it, can, with the assurance of absolute faith, ask: “Death, where is thy sting? Grave, where is thy victory?”


Laura Gaunt

In this latter day of the Theosophical Society when so many students are rousing themselves from opium dreams of astral investigation and facing their world with a new-found clarity of mind - let us hope it is not the sanity of the instant of death - there is one question in the hearts of all: if this is not the way, then how does one become a practical occultist? Is study the Open Sesame? Is it diet and exercise which mould the body and make it a fit vehicle for the soul? Is it all three together? Does the soul have to be awakened? Who are the teachers to be followed?

Fortunately the workings of Karmic Law can be relied upon, and each individual unit of the human race is being hurried forward into the effects created by his or her previous actions. For Theosophists this is the moment of decision in the arena of life. It is at the moment when the “new” concepts of Theosophy, based upon just, immutable, impersonal laws or principles are first applied to the effects of old selfishness that the quality of the life intensifies, and the consciousness expands to create new, vital, beneficent causes. Every time a repressive personal relationship, such as enmity, is neutralized by love, the one who loves finds released within his mind and heart an understanding of the very workings of his soul. It must be experienced to be believed! Every time a limiting physical handicap is surmounted with courage there is such an increase in the power of the will that it becomes possible to do or to refrain from doing many things which trouble others less fortunate - to stay on a diet, to give up smoking, to learn irregular verbs.

It is the some courage and the effort required to achieve a rather ordinary goal, in spite of a severe [15] physical handicap, which give to the will enough strength and concentration to go past exoteric tasks to esoteric ones, to demand more from life, to dream dreams with the seed of fulfillment in them. If the wielder of the will is spiritually developed, the patterns he creates will be beautifully beneficent. If not, they will still be potent, for the law is that for every measure of force expended there will be a corresponding and equal effect.

Our former decisions constantly confront us and these “results” take the form of events or situations in our day-to-day existence. The measure of our success in meeting these crystallized incidents from our past and modifying our former attitudes so that we become harmless to all, is the measure of our progress in the study of occultism. Only if we can translate the abstract concept of the universality of the divine, the essential unity of all that is created, into the concrete act of benevolence toward those whom we personally meet, can we say that we are practical occultists instead of theorizers about occultism or practitioners of magic.

In study groups we can become aware of the existence of just laws operating in the universe. Only in life can we apply them. A careful reading of The Mahatma Letters will reveal that this is true of Masters as well as pupils. The only difference between us is that a Mahatma is learning to adhere to the just law in matters of the spiritual life, while beginners are more likely to be confronted by physical, emotional or intellectual problems, since very few are even beginning to function consciously in their spiritual sheaths.

It would seem, therefore, that life among our fellows is the field of force which tests our fitness as occultists, and that study, diet and exercise are only important insofar as they enable us to understand and to apply to our own lives the great law of the universe. This is the essential oneness of everything in that universe, from smallest atom to largest aggregate.

When we can say “Greeting, brother!” to all that is, then we will be Mahatmas; when we can say “Greetings, brother!” to our fellowmen, then we will be practical occultists.


“Let us hope that, in spite of atom bombs, or because of them, atomic power for creative purposes will lead the world to realize that power of every kind (the power of machines, the power of governments, the power of national leaders, or religious leaders) is for use and not abuse, that there is something greater than the mind which can harmonize conflicting ideologies. There must be alchemy at the spiritual as well as at the physical level. Modern man must learn to use power without identifying himself with it.” - V. Wallace Slater, in The Theosophist, April, 1964. [16]


Collected Writings

With the passing of time, the writings of H. P. Blavatsky, the chief Founder of the modern Theosophical Movement, increase in importance and value. Together with the Letters from the Adept-Brothers, they are the unshakable foundation for all genuine occult work today and in future centuries. The astounding developments in modern science confirm many of the teachings outlined by H. P. Blavatsky. Her writings contain a great number of prophetic statements still to be substantiated by further scientific research.
Every, student in the Theosophical Movement, irrespective of affiliation, should be conversant with the contents of H. P. Blavatsky’s writings, and every Lodge or Group within the organized Societies should be in possession of them as source material.
The supply of the Volumes available now is limited. We urge everyone to secure his copies at an early opportunity. They will be richly repaid for the effort by the wealth of information and teaching contained in these Volumes.

The following volumes are available at recently reduced prices:
Vol. V (1883) - 416 pages - $5.00.
Vol. VI (1883-85) - 481 pages - $5.00.
Vol. VII (1886-87) - 433 pages - $6.50.
Vol. VIII (1887) -507 pages - $6.50.
Vol. IX (1888) - 487 pages - $6.50.
Large octavo; Illustrated; Bound in cloth; Fully Indexed.

Volume X will be published shortly; further Volumes to appear from time to time. It is also planned to reprint in due time Volumes I, II, III, and IV, which have been out of print for many years. These second editions will be revised and considerably augmented.
Order from: “THEOSOPHIA”, 551 South Oxford Ave., Los Angeles, California 90005, U.S.A. (Make checks or money-order payable to “Theosophia”.)