A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXI
No. 2 (100) - Fall 1964

[Cover photo: Zugspitze and the Weissensee, Rhaetian Alps. (Photograph by Ludwig Shuster.)]


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.



Theosophia is 100-issues old today!

The magazine was launched during the chaos of World War II, with no financial backing and against the advice of two business men (both students of Theosophy) who told us we would not be alive beyond two or three issues at best. From the worldly standpoint, they were of course right. We had secured 25 subscribers at $1, and faced a $95 bill for the first issue. Two months later we had another 75 subscribers, but also another $95 bill for the second issue. After a while, somehow or other, things became equalized and no issue was ever missed or late in being published, though it was considered wise to limit publication to four issues a year. All bills have been paid when due, and no cent of debt has ever been incurred. The magazine is supported by its subscriptions and donations from readers and friends, most of which have been small.

We have conclusive proofs that the magazine is being read by a large number of Officials in the various Theosophical Organizations throughout the world, some of whom receive the current issues in exchange for the official Journals they publish in their own countries. To judge by the very large number of articles in Theosophia which have been translated into foreign languages - unasked and unsolicited by us - and published in the Journals of other countries, the contents of our magazine must be appreciated, for which we are duly grateful. This gives us a much larger number of readers than would be the case otherwise.

We have also noticed that some of the ideas and suggestions expressed in the pages of Theosophia have been adopted in various parts of the Movement and have contributed at least to some extent in changing the Theosophical “climate” here and there, and making it somewhat more wholesome.

We have a fairly good idea as to how long we will exist into the future: just as long as we are needed. Old Man Karman will see to that!

A sincere “thank you” to all our supporters and friends! We hope for their continued interest. - Editor, Theosophia. [3]


H. P. Blavatsky

[Excerpts from an important article published in Lucifer, Vol. I, November, 1887. We commend its deeply metaphysical and practical implications to the careful consideration of Students. Some passages in it reveal at close reading a deeper meaning. - Editor, Theosophia.]

… Theosophy is correctly ... termed “a high and Heaven-born religion.” It is argued that since it professes “to receive its advanced knowledge and light from ‘those more learned in the Science of life’.” the latter ought and must, “if appealed to by their votaries [the theosophists], aid them in discovering ways and means ... in organizing some great fraternal scheme,” etc.

The scheme was planned, and the rules and laws to guide such a practical brotherhood, have been given by those “more learned in the Science of [practical, daily, altruistic] life”; aye, verily “more learned” in it than any other men since the days of Gautama Buddha and the Gnostic Essenes. The “scheme” dates back to the year when the Theosophical Society was founded. Let anyone read its wise and noble laws embodied to this day in the Statutes of the Fraternity, and judge for himself whether, if carried out rigorously and applied to practical life, the “scheme” would not have proved the most beneficent to mankind in general, and especially to our poorer brethren, of “the starving multitudes.” Theosophy teaches the spirit of “non-separateness,” the evanescence and illusion of human creeds and dogma, hence, inculcates universal love and charity for all mankindwithout distinction of race, colour, caste or creed”; is it not therefore the fittest to alleviate the suffering of mankind? No true theosophist would refuse admission into a hospital, or any charitable establishment, to any man, woman or child, under the pretext that he is not a theosophist, as a Roman Catholic would when dealing with a Protestant, and vice versa. No true theosophist of the original rules would fail to put into practice the parable of the “Good Samaritan,” or proffer help only to entice the unwary who, he hopes, will become a pervert from his god and the gods of his forefathers. None would slander his brother, none let a needy man go unhelped, none offer fine talk instead of practical love and charity.

Is it then the fault of Theosophy, any more than it is the fault of the Christ-teachings, if the majority of the members of the Theosophical Society, often changing their philosophical and religious views upon entering our Body, have yet remained practically the same as they were when professing lip Christianity? Our laws and rules are the same as given to us from the beginning; it is the general members of the Society who have allowed them to become virtually obsolete. Those few who are ever ready to sacrifice their time and labour to work for the poor, and who do, unrecognized and unthanked for it, good work wherever they can, are often too poor themselves to put their larger schemes of charity into objective practical form, however willing they may be. [4]

“The fault I find with the Theosophical Society,” said one of the most eminent surgeons in London to one of the editors, quite recently, “is that I cannot discover that any of its members really lead the Christ-life.” This seemed a very serious accusation from a man who is not only in the front rank of his profession, and valued for his kindly nature, by his patients, and by society, and well-known as a quiet doer of many good deeds. The only possible answer to be made was that the Christ-life is undeniably the ideal of everyone worthy in any sense of the name of a Theosophist, and that if it is not lived it is because there are none strong enough to carry it out. Only a few days later the same complaint was put in a more graphic form by a celebrated lady-artist.

“You Theosophists don’t do enough good for me,” she said pithily. And in her case also there is the right to speak, given by the fact that she leads two lives - one, a butterfly existence in society, and the other a serious one, which makes little noise, but has much purpose. Those who regard life as a great vocation, like the two critics of the Theosophical movement whom we have just quoted, have a right to demand of such a movement more than mere words. They themselves endeavour very quietly to lead the “Christ-life,” and they cannot understand a number of people uniting in the effort towards this life without practical results being apparent. Another critic of the same character who has the best possible right to criticize, being a thoroughly practical philanthropist and charitable to the last degree, has said of the Theosophists that their much talking and writing seems to resolve itself into mere intellectual luxury, productive of no direct good to the world.

The point of difference between the Theosophists (when we use this term we mean, not members of the Society, but people who are really using the organization as a method of learning more of the true wisdom-religion which exists as a vital and eternal fact behind all such efforts) and the practical philanthropists, religious or secular, is a very serious one, and the answer, that probably none of them are strong enough yet to lead the “Christ-life,” is only a portion of the truth. The situation can be put very plainly, in so many words. The religious philanthropist holds a position of his own, which cannot in any way concern or affect the Theosophist. He does not do good merely for the sake of doing good, but also as a means rewards his own salvation. This is the outcome of the selfish and personal side of man’s nature, which has so coloured and affected a grand religion that its devotees are little better than the idol-worshippers who ask their deity of clay to bring them luck in business, and the payment of debts. The religious philanthropist who hopes to gain salvation by good works has simply, to quote a well-worn yet ever fresh witticism, exchanged worldliness for other-worldliness.

The secular philanthropist is really at heart a socialist, and nothing else; he hopes to make men happy and good by bettering their physical position. No serious student of human nature can believe in this theory for a moment. There is no doubt that it is a very agreeable one, because if it is accepted [5] there is immediate, straightforward work to undertake. “The poor ye have always with you.” The causation which produced human nature itself produced poverty, misery, pain, degradation, at the same time that it produced wealth, and comfort, and joy and glory. Life-long philanthropists, who have started on their work with a joyous youthful conviction that it is possible to “do good,” have, though never relaxing the habit of charity, confessed to the present writer that, as a matter of fact, misery cannot be relieved. It is a vital element in human nature; and is as necessary to some lives as pleasure is to others.

It is a strange thing to observe how practical philanthropists will eventually, after long and bitter experience, arrive at a conclusion which, to an occultist, is from the first a working hypothesis. This is, that misery is not only endurable, but agreeable to many who endure it. A noble woman, whose life has been given to the rescue of the lowest class of wretched girls, those who seem to be driven to vice by want, said, only a few days since, that with many of these outcasts it is not possible to raise them to any apparently happier lot. And this she distinctly stated (and she can speak with authority, having spent her life literally among them, and studied them thoroughly), is not so much from any love of vice, but from love of that very state which the wealthy classes call misery. They prefer the savage life of a bare-foot, half-clad creature, with no roof at night and no, food by day, to any comforts which can be offered them. By comforts, we do not mean the workhouse or the reformatory, but the comforts of a quiet home; and we can give chapter and verse, so to speak, to show that this is the case, not merely with the children of outcasts, who might be supposed to have a savage heredity, but with the children of gentle, cultivated, and Christian people.

Our great towns hide in their slums thousands of beings whose history would form an inexplicable enigma, a perfectly baffling moral picture, could they be written out clearly, so as to be intelligible. But they are only known to the devoted workers, among the outcast classes, to whom they become a sad and terrible puzzle, not to be solved, and therefore, better not discussed. Those who have no clue to the science of life are compelled to dismiss such difficulties in this manner, otherwise they would fall, crushed beneath the thought of them. The social question as it is called, the great deep waters of misery, the deadly apathy of those who have power and possessions - these things are hardly to be faced by a generous soul who has not reached to the great idea of evolution, and who has not guessed at the marvelous mystery of human development.

The Theosophist is placed in a different position from any of these persons, because he has heard of the vast scope of life with which all mystic and occult writers and teachers deal, and he has been brought very near to the great mystery. Indeed, none, though they may have enrolled themselves as Fellows of the Society, can be called in any serious sense Theosophists, until they have begun to consciously taste in their own persons, this same mystery; [6] which is, indeed, a law inexorable, by which man lifts himself by degrees, from the state of a beast to the glory of a God. The rapidity with which this is done is different with every living soul; and the wretches who hug the primitive taskmaster, misery, choose to go slowly through a tread-mill course which may give them innumerable lives of physical sensation - whether pleasant or painful, well-beloved because tangible to the very lowest senses. The Theosophist who desires to enter upon occultism takes some of Nature's privileges into his own hands by that very wish, and soon discovers that experiences come to him with double-quick rapidity. His business is then to recognize that he is under a - to him - new and swifter law of development, and to snatch at the lessons that come to him.

But, in recognizing this, he also makes another discovery. He sees that it takes a very wise man to do good works without danger of doing incalculable harm. A highly developed adept in life may grasp the nettle, and by his great intuitive powers, know whom to relieve from pain and whom to leave in the mire that is their best teacher. The poor and wretched themselves will tell anyone who is able to win their confidence what disastrous mistakes are made by those who come from a different class and endeavor to help them. Kindness and gentle treatment will sometimes bring out the worst qualities of a man or woman who has led a fairly presentable life when kept down by pain and despair. May the Master of Mercy forgive us for saying such words of any human creatures, all of whom are a part of ourselves, according to the law of human brotherhood which no disowning of it can destroy. But the words are true. None of us know the darkness which lurks in the depths of our own natures until some strange and unfamiliar experience rouses the whole being into action. So with these others who seem more miserable than ourselves.

As soon as he begins to understand what a friend and teacher pain can be, the Theosophist stands appalled before the mysterious problem of human life, and though he may long to do good works, equally dreads to do them wrongly until he has himself acquired greater power and knowledge. The ignorant doing of good works may be vitally injurious, as all but those who are blind in their love of benevolence are compelled to acknowledge. In this sense the answer made as to lack of Christ-like lives among Theosophists, that there are probably none strong enough to live such, is perfectly correct and covers the whole question. For it is not the spirit of self-sacrifice, or of devotion, or of desire to help that is lacking, but the strength to acquire knowledge and power and intuition, so that the deeds done shall really be worthy of the “Buddha-Christ” spirit. Therefore it is that Theosophists cannot pose as a body of philanthropists, though secretly they may adventure on the path of good works. They profess to be a body of learners merely, pledged to help each other and all the rest of humanity, so far as in them lies, to a better understanding of the mystery of life, and to a better knowledge of the peace which lies beyond it. [7]

But as it is an inexorable law, that the ground must be tilled if the harvest is to be reaped, so Theosophists are obliged to work in the world unceasingly, and very often in doing this to make serious mistakes, as do all workers who are not embodied Redeemers. Their efforts may not come under the title of good works, and they may be condemned as a school of idle talkers, yet they are an outcome and fruition of this particular moment of time, when the ideas which they hold are greeted by the crowd with interest; and therefore their work is good, as the lotus-flower is good when it opens in the mid-day sun.

None know more keenly and definitely than they that good works are necessary; only these cannot be rightly accomplished without knowledge. Schemes for Universal Brotherhood, and the redemption of mankind, might be given out plentifully by the great adepts of life, and would be mere dead-letter utterances while individuals remain ignorant, and unable to grasp the great meaning of their teachers. To Theosophists we say, let us carry out the rules given us for our society before we ask for any further schemes or laws. To the public and our critics we say, try to understand the value of good works before you demand them of others, or enter upon them rashly yourselves. Yet it is an absolute fact that without good works the spirit of brotherhood would die in the world; and this can never be. Therefore is the double activity of learning and doing most necessary; we have to do good, and we have to do it rightly, with knowledge.

* * *

It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid it down, to the following effect:-



“Strength to step forward is the primary need of him who has chosen the path. Where is this to be found? Looking round it is not hard to see where other men find their strength. Its source is profound conviction. Through this great moral power is brought to birth, in the natural life of the man, that which enables him, however frail he may be, to go on and conquer. Conquer what? Not continents, not worlds; but himself.” - Through the Gates of Gold, chap. v. [8]


Montague A. Machell

“Our mind, by the very fact ,of being able to discern infinite horizons, is only able to move by the hope of achieving, through something of itself, a supreme consummation - without which it would rightly fed itself to be stunted, frustrated and cheated ... The more man becomes man, the less he will be prepared to move except towards that which is interminably and indestructibly new. Some ‘absolute’ is implied in the very operative activity.” - Pierre Theilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man.

“The most clear, as the most familiar, type of development may be found in our own mental or physical evolution, which has served others as a model to follow ... If organisms are entities … then it is only just to conclude wild assert that the organic life strives to beget psychic life but it would be still more correct and in accordance with the spirit of these two categories of evolution, to say, that the true course of organic life is the tendency of spirit to manifest in substantial forms, to clothe itself in substantial reality. It is the highest form which contains the complete explanation of the lowest, never the reverse.” - N. N. Strachoff, quoted by H. P. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine, II, 654.

“Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part thy body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou has to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in SELF.” - H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence, III, 49.

“Some ‘absolute’ is implied in the very operative activity.”

“The true course of organic life is the tendency of spirit to manifest in substantial forms, to clothe itself in substantial reality.”

“Thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee, to feel thyself abiding in all things.”

These vital sentences, extracted from our three opening quotations, seek to underline this fact: ultimate wisdom is unattainable on the level of consciousness we habitually occupy. To attain it, the first step is a conscious resolve to discover and occupy the next level of consciousness.

In a richly rewarding discussion of the Basic Theosophic Teachings in Theosophia for Summer, 1964, by W. Emmett Small, the author states: “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.”

This is the indispensable step upward that must be taken to Theilhard’s “absolute,” to Strachoff’s “spirit manifesting in substantial forms,” to Blavatsky’s injunction “to feel thyself abiding in all things.” In brief, it is [9] quitting the Relative for the Absolute.

Two limitations, basic to the mortal personality, render this step upward a super-human undertaking: Blindness and Inertia.

The human personality is, in the majority of instances, so blinded by the “appearances” of matter that, until some small degree of inner development is achieved, it is powerless to visualize a form of thinking and acting that sees through and beyond these “appearances.” Added to this, the self of matter (through which we largely manifest), is utterly content with its own native environment. It strenuously objects to any change. Of itself it will not change! As H. P. Blavatsky has written: “Yet greater strength is needed to cross the zero-point and create new instincts and habits in the midst of conditions of life and habits of thought which are violently opposed to the new creation.”

This, it seems to me, is the primary problem. In the womb of the mother the foetus develops. When gestation is complete, the new-born infant forces its way out of the parent body, causing the mother birth-pains of greater or lesser intensity. Similarly, Manas (Consciousness) is destined, little by little, to gestate in preparation of achieving a life and world of its own. Being in source and origin Divine, its destiny is at last to break out of the Womb of Time, achieving birth as a Child of Eternity. This is the birth that transcends incarnation (infleshment in Time), demanding the fearlessness that shall burst the bonds of flesh - that Spirit may transform Its vehicle.

The first step for him who would achieve such spiritual liberation is to become fully aware of his state of bondage. This means beginning to think beyond matter, consciously striving to forsake Kama- Manas for Buddhi- Manas.

It is scarcely necessary to observe that this in itself is an heroic undertaking, particularly in view of the fact that it is a step one must take alone, in the face of strongly organized opposition on the part of the powerfully organized status quo. Not only must the disciple reconstruct his own plan of campaign; he must acquire an utter indifference to opposing arguments on every hand, pursuing his quest in wordless dedication to Truth. It is in such an hour as this that deep, steadfast meditation becomes a bulwark of strength. Closing the door on the Sanctuary of the SELF, the disciple yields himself up to the Universal Reality of Spiritual Truth. In so far as he dares face the fact, he knows that he is in quest of a Vision which, for him, does not yet exist. Yet, as much of wisdom as he has made his own assures him that this Universal Reality is the bedrock of his universe, the one Cornerstone whereon he can ever build his sanctuary.

Literally immersing his consciousness in these ancient truths, scanning them by the light of his night-lamp, pondering and repeating them as he closes his eyes at night, consciously or unconsciously, he attunes himself to his Source of Strength. He has cried aloud to the Great Ones to allow him to share Their task. In so doing he has placed himself on Their side, on the side of Reality, and, as H. P. Blavatsky has said: “let him once touch on the power which comes from knowing himself part of the human spirit, and nothing can crush him by its [10] greatness.” Even if it be but for a moment, he experiences the meaning of Truth Triumphant. Having caught that momentary glimpse, it is within his power consciously to embark upon the pathway of Life Triumphant. To know LIFE fully and fearlessly is to know Victory.

This, in the words of Theilhard de Chardin, is the “absolute implied in the very operative action.”

This, in the words of Strachoff, is “the tendency of spirit ... to clothe itself in substantial reality.”

This is carrying out the injunction in The Voice of the Silence, “to feel thyself abiding in all things.”

It is a stance and a perspective possible only to Buddhi- Manas - the next level of consciousness, whose dimensions are no longer relative, but Absolute, a plane on which the disciple begins to “live and breathe in all as all that he perceives breathes in him.”

Whereas, on the level of consciousness he is quitting he was perennially concerned with what was thought, said or done on the visible, material plane, on this next level those considerations gradually lose some of their significance. Directing his thought into the heart of life, he is primarily concerned with beautifying and purifying Causes - cleansing them of the dark stains of desire, freeing them of the evil potencies of selfishness, preparing new ground for his Garden of Deathless Beauty . Offering himself up to The Lodge, he begins a painstaking and meticulous examination of the new seed he must sow - seed native to Buddhi- Manas, the plane of creative thinking and doing.

It may help him to squarely face the fact that any rewarding pattern of living must involve Growth from within. Growth, in its turn, means change, and it is against change that the lesser self rebels. Having set itself in motion in the direction of Desire, at a certain pace - let us say andante ma non tanto - the mortal personality will resist strongly, in its native lethargy, any change in speed or direction. Given a sufficiently prolonged enjoyment of its own program, the lesser self waxes fat and lazy - “Tamasic” to an unholy degree: To generate a current capable of penetrating such complaisant lethargy the aspirant has need of contact with the Greater Self. From Buddhi- Manas alone can the heart seize the dynamic of Aspiration that shall shatter the drugged dreams of the lower ego. Once shattered and dispersed, the disciple enters upon the next plane of thought, whose Golden Thread is Compassion - Thought for All - the Absolute of Fulfillment.

In the vastness of this campaign “personal success” is lost sight of, wherefore failure is held at arm’s length so long as the disciple dedicates himself to the Triumph of All, a dedication that comes to be the cornerstone of daily and hourly living. He has no time to contemplate the thousand and one violations of his highest aspirations taking place all around him. He is, first and foremost, a Sower of Celestial Seed that he must spread broadcast, that the Blooms of Compassion may glow heart-warmingly amid this Harvest of Hate. Old Karmic fruit will not be gainsaid, but, assuredly, its harvest of sorrow shall be tempered by the labors of these Sowers of Compassion.

This is Living! This is Growing!

This is the Greater Self “achieving through something of itself a supreme [11] consummation.” This is a revelation of “the tendency of spirit to manifest in substantial forms, to clothe itself in substantial reality.” This is the triumph of him who has learned “to part the body from the mind, to dissipate the shadow and live in the eternal.” This is THE NEXT STEP!


L. Gordon Plummer

[Excerpts from an unpublished MS entitled Theosophy in a Modem World.]
(Continued from the Spring, 1964, issue.)

If I were to count the airplanes that fly over my home in the course of a single day, should probably be surprised by the large number. Nor can I escape them by going into the mountains, nor even to the desert far to the east. They seem to be with us all the time.

But I see all these airplanes from my position on the ground I must look up. Then one day I make a trip by air. My viewpoint has changed. Suddenly the world is spread out below me. My horizon, which normally is limited to a distance of but a few miles, has expanded so that I can take in a whole city at a glance. I can see the far countryside, and my view takes in hundreds of square miles. When I return to my home I still look at the airplanes flying overhead. I see them once more from below. But I have flown, so that in my imagination I can picture the world as it appears to the people up there. I know it because I have seen it.

Now, all that has gone before in this writing has been by way of an airplane ride. We have attempted to gain new viewpoints on the nature of Man and the Universe which have given us a different perspective. We have attempted, so far as we were able to do it, to see the whole matter from above, with a vastly increased horizon. This is the only approach that will serve any purpose at all if we are to learn something of the mystery of Death. So long as we take the usual “ground position,” we gain no insight, and we are faced with questions for which there are apparently no answers. If, however, we can understand the full meaning of the oneness between man and Nature we have the answer in our very grasp.

* * *

To the majority of people in the West the word Death has fearful connotations. Most of them dread the thought of dying. It is the age-old fear of the unknown. Man has only to step out into the forest, however, and he comes face to face with death. He walks on the dead leaves that cover the forest floor. He plucks a dead twig from a tree. He sees a fallen tree, rotting, and he suddenly realizes that it is useful to the forest. The decaying wood is returning valuable materials to the soil, enriching it with [12] nourishment for the younger trees. He comes upon a dead animal. What has not been eaten by scavengers is returning to the soil. All the decayed organic matter becomes humus, a most valuable ingredient of the soil. I have heard it said that it takes several hundred years to develop one inch of good top soil. And this rich, good earth is the product of the death of the forest creatures, and of the plants and trees.

Gradually our ideas about death undergo a change. We learn that in Nature all things are valuable. Life and death go hand in hand to produce a healthy forest. Does not the flower die to produce the seed with its promise of future life?

* * *

It has often been said by thoughtful people: “But people are not interested in death. They want to learn how to live here and now. What happens to them after death is too remote and unreal.”

Well, it is possible that if they were to speak more accurately they would say that they are not intellectually interested in the after-death conditions of their “souls.” In other ways people are intensely interested in death. Before a child can speak he has been given a toy gun, and he almost instinctively knows what it is for. By the time he is three or four his toy gun is often his dearest possession. Have you never watched him aim it at passers-by? When he says: “Bang!” he means it. When he is a little older he joins with others in playing war. Death and violence are constantly in his thoughts as he watches television and the movies. When he is old enough to belong to a Boy Scout Troop he learns something about conservation of life. This may be the first tangible effort to counteract the instinctual tendency to kill on sight. In spite of the best efforts on the part of his Scout leaders, it will occur that when he sees a bird his first thought is, “I wish I had my .22.”

Does the instinct to kill pass with the years? Hardly. As a young man he loves to go deer hunting, let us say. Certainly he loves to fish. These sports all involve the taking of life, and it is in comparatively recent years only that protective laws have been passed limiting hunting to certain specified seasons, and in the education of people as to the wise use of fire-arms. Without these enforced curbs upon human selfishness many valued species of wildlife would long ago have become extinct.

In the main, it is the accidents involving the death of many people that make the headlines of our newspapers. These items of news are read first. When some important discovery in science is announced, the first thought is: “What is its military significance?” We have the extremely distasteful paradox in the fact that while our most advanced and intelligent minds today are working on means to make permanent peace a way of life, the means by which it is hoped to bring this about involves the preparations for more and more terrible wars, working on the assumption that peace can exist only when there is sufficient fear of war. The course of history should have taught us that such stop-gaps are of temporary value only. It might be tempting to go into a discussion on war and peace if I felt qualified to do so, but it would leave the trend of thought that has been started. These [13] things were brought out to emphasize the fact that all through our lives we are preoccupied with death. Death is a stem reality to us, and it is so interwoven into our lives that it seems we cannot afford not to understand something about it, and it is our purpose to try to lift the veil of mystery which surrounds it and gain a further insight into the grandeur of human and cosmic consciousness, because on such themes only can we adequately build our lesson.

* * *

I have talked with people who firmly believe that war is a necessary accompaniment to human civilization. They will say that without war we stagnate. They point to the wars that have occurred all through recorded history. Well, if we are to adopt this viewpoint and take into account the untold suffering that goes hand in hand with war, the maimed and wrecked lives that are its aftermath, then we arrive at a point when we say that life is cruel, and makes a mockery of altruism, and that the highest motives for the public good are unrealistic and doomed to failure.

Let us examine this question more closely and learn the facts. As we observe Nature we are forced to admit that violence plays a major role. And violence, it would appear, must necessarily play an important part in human life. Well, it has and undoubtedly will for centuries to come until-

And here we come to the crux of the problem and the reason for human life.

The physical, emotional, psychological, mental and spiritual makeup of man sets him apart from the animals in one all-important respect. Whereas the animals live entirely on this earth and are concerned solely with the matter of living and self-preservation and propagation, man lives on two planes of consciousness at one and the same time. That is why he has developed faculties of the mind and of the spirit that spring from the roots of his being and that are in realms of consciousness unattainable to even the most highly developed of the animals. The only way this idea is to be verified is for us to examine ourselves closely and find out that it is true. Theorizing about it will never bring conviction to our minds. It must be a matter of experience.

From this higher aspect of human consciousness come the impulses that cause our best minds to work for real and lasting peace. Humans may be only very dimly aware of the source of their highest aspirations, but it is the salvation of humanity that these are within the framework of natural law. There can be no super-natural. The word has no meaning at all. And the spiritual aspects of human nature are as much a part of the cosmic plan as are the motions of the atoms and the stars.

Now, while there is certainly activity and growth in the spiritual and divine aspects of human life, these things are no more related to war and violence than heat and cold are to be related to the principles of geometry. Taking the grand view, then, we are passing through a critical stage in human evolution. Appearances notwithstanding, there is a change taking place in human consciousness. Nothing happens rapidly in Nature. We must scan the centuries before such changes are to [14] be detected. And if we are to look back across the centuries to the Dark Ages and the Middle Ages we may then understand better wherein there have been marked changes in human characteristics. By and large we will find that we are moving away from the narrowness of thinking that was apparent along both religious and scientific lines. In spite of recurrent crises which bring the world to the very verge of global war, the fact that we have been able to avert the catastrophe thus far is indication enough of the gradual building of moral fiber. It cannot be all set down to the fear of war.

What it all amounts to then, is that with the upward trend in human evolution those characteristics of human consciousness that are allied to the animal nature in each one of us are making a last ditch stand for supremacy. They cannot win in the end because evolution moves on, but they can raise some terrible crises in human affairs, and that is just what they are doing. And while we pride ourselves on our great technological advancement, yet by and large humanity is unbelievably stupid along some lines. Some day we will wake up and realize that certain ways of life are natural to the animals but bring about tragic results when followed by humans. We must realize eventually that the laws that govern spiritual consciousness are the laws that should naturally direct human affairs, because man is essentially a spiritual being.

Now, in speaking or writing in this manner we seem to be dealing in very unreal and nebulous ideas. But I would like to give an illustration which might show us that this is far from the case. The principles of relativity seem to be very unreal and far away to the average man. He is not even aware of the many intellectual problems that are solved by the highly trained scientist. Nonetheless, these problems are very real to the man of science, and he knows better than he can explain to the layman that some of the most common everyday phenomena, by which we all live and which we take for granted, are actually brought about by the energies operating within the farthest galaxies. “Let the galaxies take care of themselves”, says the layman. How little does he dream that life would be impossible for him if the Universe were not constructed just as it is, and he may well thank his stars that the distant galaxies behave the way they do!

It is somewhat the same with spiritual things. If we imagine that a truly spiritually minded man is an impractical dreamer we have no idea at all as to the nature of spirituality. A spiritually awakened man will be level-headed and practical in all things that concern his daily life, but beyond that he will have an ever-increasing joy that in time fills his whole being. This joy comes from the growing awareness of the reality of those departments of Nature that we call Spirit. And being consciously aware that he is indissolubly linked with, because he is a part of, Nature in all her realms, brings him·face to face with the reality of his own inner self, of whose very existence he had once been totally ignorant.

And so we could elaborate this theme as far as we like. To what purpose? It would be to show that no matter where we are, whether it be on this earth experiencing human life, [15] or elsewhere in the vast realms of Nature, we are always and infallibly under the sway of natural law. We cannot escape it because the principles of cosmic life apply everywhere. There is no such thing as leaving the universe, which encompasses so much more than the physical cross-section that we know and can test with our tools of science. When a man dies, then, his spirit comes into its own and is more truly alive than when it was imprisoned within a house of flesh during that sojourn we call Earth-life. (To be continued)


Geoffrey A. Barborka

A subscriber to Theosophia sends in the following:

Question: To my mind· the big question about monads is this: (a) What is the difference between the ‘monadic essence’ and individual monads? (b) Is it similar to the concept of ‘Universal Mind’ being an aggregate of all minds?

Answer: (a) Individual Monads are best regarded as representing pilgrims passing through a particular phase of evolutionary development. Thus in the case of humanity: the individual monads are pilgrims at present partaking of the evolutionary development pertaining to the Human Kingdom .

Since the term “Monad” as utilized in The Secret Doctrine is, employed in two ways: (a) as a Monadic Essence (therefore, strictly speaking a monad in the Greek sense of the word); (b) as Atma-Buddhi (therefore a duad), it may be confusing at times. The context usually indicates the meaning that is intended.

Consequently, the most comprehensive way to regard the problem is this: (1) to regard the Monadic Essence as Atman - that from which the Monad emanates or comes into being (although this is not the originating Source of Atman: the Fount is regarded as Paramatman). (2) to regard the Monad as Atma-Buddhi. (3) To regard an “individual Monad” as a pilgrim who is passing through the evolutionary phase pertaining to the Human Kingdom; and therefore when in manifestation - that is to say, whether on earth or in the after-death states - as Atma·Buddhi-Manas (but as Higher Manas without Lower Manas).

Now it should be borne in mind that when the resting period arrives for the Monad (that is to say the time period known as the Solar Pralaya), Higher Manas loses its identity - for that·period. When the Solar Manvantara is resumed the Monad “re-awakens” so to speak, by unrolling the sheath of Higher Manas, for purposes of re-manifestation. Thereafter the pilgrimage of the Monad (once again Atma-Buddhi- Manas) may once more be·followed. To cite The Secret Doctrine (I, 570):

“This trinity” [Atma-Buddhi- Manas] is one and eternal, the latter [higher Manas] being absorbed in the former at the termination of all conditioned and illusive life. The [16] monad then, can be traced through the course of its pilgrimage and its changes of transitory vehicles only from the incipient stage of the manifested Universe. In Pralaya, or the intermediate period between two manvantaras, it loses its name, as it loses it when the real ONE self of man merges into Brahman ...”

(b) There is somewhat of a misconception in regarding the Universal Mind as an aggregate of all minds. It is quite correct that The Secret Doctrine does state: “the ‘Universal Mind’ represents the collectivity of the Dhyan-Chohanic Minds” (I, 579 footnote); but notice that in this case “the Dhyan-Chohanic Minds” is narrowed down to a specific class: the Ah-hi - “the Ah-hi, who, being on the highest plane, reflect the universal mind collectively at the first flutter of Manvantara” (Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, p. 17.). And again: “When the hour strikes, the law comes into action, and the Ah-hi appear on the first rung of the ladder of manifestation.” (op. cit., p. 18.)

There is another difficulty in connection with the concept of the Universal Mind. It arises because of the statement made in one of the Stanzas of Dzyan: “Universal Mind was not, for there were no Ah-hi to contain it.” (Stanza I, sloka 3.) If a person takes the first four words ONLY of the sloka and makes the pronouncement: “This signifies that there was no Universal Mind and that the collectivity of the Universal Mind came into being with the Ah-hi, and the Ah-hi represents the Universal Mind” - this is an erroneous concept.

Here is the concept presented in The Secret Doctrine: Universal Mind always IS, even during Pralayas. When a Manvantara is about to come into being, a concretion of the Universal Mind (so to speak) focuses into a center. This center represents a focalization of an aspect of the Universal Mind, which remains as a fountain source for the coming into being of a system. Then the Ah-hi pertaining to that system come into manifestation and the Universal Mind represents the collectivity of minds for that system. Nevertheless, this represents but one aspect of the Universal Mind and not the totality of the Universal Mind. Citing The Secret Doctrine:

“ during the long night of rest called Pralaya, when all the existences are dissolved, the ‘UNIVERSAL MIND,’ remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought, of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation. The AH-HI ... are the vehicle for the manifestation of the divine or universal thought and will.” (I, 38.)

Thus the Ah-hi portray or are representative of the same aspect as the Universal Mind.

In view of the foregoing answers, and as answer (a) above asserts that the Monadic Essence is equivalent to Atman; it would not be correct to make the statement that the Monadic Essence represents the collectivity of the individual monads, because the individual monads are not representative of the same phase or aspect of the Monadic Essence, inasmuch as they represent a developmental status. Moreover, the individual monads are situated on, and therefore represent, different stages on the evolutionary Ladder of Life; although in their essence they originated in the same Source.