A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXI
No. 3 (101) - Winter 1964-1965

[Cover photo: In the Austrian Alps. (Photo by Toni Mittermayr.)]


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.



“There is no more fatal fallacy than that the truth will prevail by its own force, that it has only to be seen to be embraced. In fact the desire for the actual truth exists in very few minds, and the capacity to discern it in fewer still. When men say that they are seeking the truth, they mean that they are looking for evidence to support some prejudice or prepossession. Their beliefs are moulded to their wishes. They see all, and more than all, that seems to tell for that which they desire; they are blind as bats to whatever tells against them. The scientists are no more exempt from this common failing than are others.” - E. W. Cox, The Spiritualist, Nov. 10, 1876.


When things get wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you are trudging seems all up hill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit,
Rest, if you must, but don’t you quit.
Success is failure turned inside out;
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt.
And you can never tell how close you are,
It may be near when it seems afar;
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit;
It's when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit.
- Author unknown. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

As we observe the Theosophical scene over a rather wide horizon, and in many lands, the one fact that stands out, definitely and clearly, is the wide-spread ignorance of the basic teachings of Theosophy on the part of many students.

It is especially regrettable when it occurs in the case of Officials within Theosophical organizations, or lecturers sponsored by them and appearing on public platforms.

How did it ever come about, and what caused it?

The basic teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy have been accessible to everybody for upward of seventy years, if we limit ourselves for the present to the earliest works. The monumental works of H. P. Blavatsky, and the lesser literary output of Col. Olcott, T. Subba Row, Damodar, W. Q. Judge and others are almost three generations old; and the Letters to Sinnett written by the Masters, though not published earlier than 1923, have been issued in three editions …

The trouble is that this original installment of the ancient teachings, as far as our present era is concerned, voiced in the language of, and penned by the earliest exponents of Theosophy, men and women in direct touch with the Teachers, has been largely set aside, by later students; disregarded, ignored, misunderstood, and relegated to some dusty shelf - all this to the advantage of various presentations and descriptions based on psychic visioning, clairvoyant investigation, and wishful thinking.

No one needs to be upset about this candid statement of a fact which can not be successfully denied any longer. An emotioina1 reaction, of antagonism proves nothing else except the unwillingness or the inability on the part of the listener or reader to face facts, or, if he can, to disprove them in a reasonable manner.

Some there are today in the ranks of Theosophical Officials in various lands who are quite busy trying to find minor faults and errors in the works of H. P. Blavatsky and other early pillars of the Movement, and to discredit, if possible, the nature of their writings, while at the same time accepting without question the pronouncements of various “seers” whose literary productions have flooded the Theosophical bookshelves for years.

What these wiseacres should ask themselves instead, is whether they are reasonably acquainted with the purport, nature, hearing, and substance of the teachings, precepts, and doctrines enunciated by the Founders and their immediate disciples and co-workers, and whether they can explain these teachings, at least in their general outline, to those who are seeking for a nobler philosophy of life.

If they are honest with themselves (which is quite a rare quality in most humans!) and have no vested interests to defend and safeguard, they will have to acknowledge in the majority of cases that the original teachings of the Movement are either quite unknown to them, or maybe exist in their minds in a sort of misty background of thought, difficult to formulate in ordinary words.

The reason for this state of affairs is very simple: it is because these [4] original teachings have been overlaid with an incoherent mass of psychic impressions and imaginings which have been allowed to play the role of a most attractive facade behind which there was no substantial building at all.

It should be clearly understood that what is said above is no appeal to “go back to Blavatsky”; not at all. In this respect, Blavatsky is not enough. We must bring into focus the entire picture of the early Theosophical scene, and familiarize ourselves with all it contains. Everyone of the early workers, Founders and disciples alike, made fundamental and irreplaceable contributions to the Theosophical “climate” of the day, and it is only when we become alive and alert to those basic key-notes that we can ever hope to embody within ourselves and our work the fiery enthusiasm of the early Movement, and be worthy channels for the dissemination of its enduring truths.

Unless this takes place, and does so on a world-wide scale, the Movement is apt to “drift off on to some sand-bank of thought or another, and there remain a stranded carcass to moulder and die,” as warned by H. P. H. herself.

There are those within the frame-work of the Theosophical Organizations who are trying to make others believe that H. P. Blavatsky and the other early workers were good enough for their own day, but that now we have gone forward, don’t you see, and need something else, something new, something more modern. How very wise!

It is our considered judgment that the truths of the Sermon on the Mount and of other passages in the Gospels are as true today as they were two thousand years ago; that the sayings and discourses of Gautama the Buddha are as deep and vital today as they were earlier yet; that the Upanishads, the Vedas, the Tao-te-Ching, and the sayings of innumerable ancient writers and sages, are as applicable today as they were of yore; and so it is somewhat surprising that the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and others, suffused with the spiritual glow of their immediate and direct contact with the Teachers, could have so suddenly fizzled out, as to their meaning and worth!

Instead of wasting one’s time in looking for faults and errors in the work of intellectual and spiritual giants of the early days, let some of our present-day pigmies extract some of the shining jewels of thought from these early writings and try to understand their real meaning and nature! They may find them to be as much alive today as before, as applicable today as when they were penned, and replete with added and deeper meaning against the background of our present spiritual emptiness and intellectual boredom.

At the opening of a New Year, standing on the threshold of a new yearly cycle, we challenge all Theosophist, young and old, wherever they may be, to go back to the origins of our Movement, and find that in so doing they are moving forward; to re-assert their dedication to the Principles of that Movement, and to tap within themselves hidden springs of enthusiasm and inspiration for the work that lies ahead. [5]


L. Gordon Plummer

[Excerpts from an unpublished MS entitled Theosophy in a Modern World.]
(Concluded from the Fall, 1964, issue.)

We are approaching the time when we can study more explicitly the adventures of the human spirit after the death of the physical body. A little more groundwork, however, must be laid in order to approach the matter sensibly and logically. Whatever our ideas might be as to the origin of life on the earth, and also its future development, we are face to face with a choice that we must make. A man might spend a lifetime studying the marvelous ways of Nature, and the more he studies the more the wonder grows. Now, here is the choice: Either life is a freak of nature, brought about by some as yet unexplained arrangement of molecules, in which case, while it happened here on Earth it is unlikely that it could have happened elsewhere, and we must live in a limitless desert of stars, galaxies, systems of galaxies, utterly devoid of life; or else this marvelous plan of life, as we see it, is part of a cosmic pattern, utterly beyond our powers to define, but manifesting in any or all parts of the universe, wherever conditions permit. In this case there would be intelligent beings on at least millions of worlds within our own galaxy, and the number transcends all ability to estimate when we consider that the total universe is composed of uncountable numbers of galaxies.

Now, if we choose the first alternative there is no point in discussing the mystery of death. There would be no mystery at all. Death would simply be a dead end in the road, a complete cessation forever of the human consciousness. There would be nothing more to say. However, if we choose the picture of the universality of life, death begins to take on meaning; for while change is inevitable, creation in the sense of making something out of nothing cannot happen. The only sense in which we can accept the word is as an appearance “out of the Invisible into the visible.” The opposite would be a return to the invisible and intangible. So that which exists can never have non-existence; it can only appear and disappear as it passes through that aspect of Nature to which our senses respond. Modern techniques in detecting and using energies that are far beyond the range of our human senses should make this idea acceptable, for they point to some of the most fundamental operations of Nature. Just as it is possible to make instruments that can detect and use the subtler forms of energy, so it is possible to·develop faculties within the human constitution that enable one to cognize far more·than appears on the surface of life. The same principle applies.

One or two very important questions will arise. If Earth-life is a temporary experience of the human spirit, is there a difference between the condition of the spirit before birth and after death? One might answer that indirectly by asking: which comes first, the sleep at night, or the sleep in the early morning just before awakening and herein lies a hint as to what will [6] shortly follow. Just as our lives are filled with a succession of days and nights, and we say that we awaken and that we sleep, so our lives, in the largest sense of the word, are made up of a succession of “Earth-time” experiences, and we say that we are born and that we die. This is the teaching known as reincarnation which has been touched on before and which will be explained more fully as we go along.

Such teachings as we are able to grasp concerning the after-death state of a human being must be dependent upon a knowledge of what a human being really is and what the needs of the “soul” may be. For death must be Nature’s answer to those needs, just as eating is Nature’s answer to the human need we call hunger, or as sleep is Nature’s answer to the human need that we call fatigue.

In order to form any satisfactory picture of death we must reach out still farther and inquire: Are the needs of the human “soul” any different basically from the needs of intelligent beings (which we must assume are evolving entities also) anywhere at all in the universe? In this case, when we die are we passing through basically the same experience that living, growing entities anywhere must pass through? If this is to be answered affirmatively, are the after-death experiences basically the same, or will they be adapted to the needs of the entities, since they must represent many grades of evolution?

Without any direct means of testing our answers, we find that serious and deep-thinking brings us to some interesting conclusions which will probably be shared by the majority of open and receptive minds. Let us set down some of the conclusions and see if together they can build a picture of the processes of death that will be consistent with logical and imaginative thinking.

1. These conclusions will relate to all learning, growing entities wherever they may be, allowing for specific differences brought about by the differing needs of the many classes of entities that must form Nature as a whole.

2. A basic law of life is change. While the many states or conditions through which any entity must pass are necessarily temporary, one condition must pass logically to the next.

3. Although the conditions through which an entity must pass are temporary and therefore finite, there is no such thing as a finite entity, The essence of every living being is Infinity itself.

4. An entity cannot, therefore, have been created, nor can it ever be “un-created” or destroyed. However, it may appear and disappear as it passes through a condition in which it builds for itself a body made of the same materials as our own.

5. This appearance is known as incarnation, and when it is repeated a number of times it is known as reincarnation.

6. The body it will build far itself will provide the best available means for expressing its faculties and powers. Thus the body will indicate the degree of evolution that the entity will have achieved at the time.

7. These faculties and powers are [7] the entity in question, so far as it is capable of manifesting itself.

8. Just as the body and personality of the entity while incarnated are determined by the evolutionary standing of the entity itself, it follows that whatever form it may take while excarnated will be appropriate, and its experience in those other environments will be determined by the evolutionary standing of the being itself.

9. The more highly developed an entity is, the wider is the scope of its experiences, whether incarnated or excarnated.

10. Just as in life a man can have experiences that belong to the human stage of evolution, so in death a man can have experiences that are appropriate to his relatively high place in nature.

11. Whatever happens to man or to any other entity is in keeping with the universal principle of continuance of life.

12. The continuance of life may take many forms according to the needs of the many classes of beings in nature.

13. An important aspect of natural law is that all incarnated entities require nourishment. Just as the plants manufacture food for themselves and for the animals and humans, they, along with many of the “lower” forms of animal life, propagate in large numbers. Seeds, eggs, and the young of plants, insects, fish, for example, serve as food, and these appear by the billions every year.

14. The production of young is one operation of the law of the continuance of life. This is Palingenesis, wherein a portion of the life of the parent is continued on into the offspring. All living creatures obey the laws of Nature, and palingenesis applies to all, but in those instances cited this is the dominant operation of the law of the continuance of life. It satisfies their needs as well as the demands made upon them by Nature. They have not developed the need for reincarnation; therefore they do not reincarnate.

15. The need for reincarnation, another operation of the law of the continuance of life, becomes manifest in the “higher” forms of animal life, wherein palingenesis, though evident, is no longer the dominant operation. The “higher” forms of animal life are just feeling the need for reincarnation, and the process is taking over, but their after-death experiences are vague and not easily defined. There is probably little or no lapse of time between incarnations as they do not have, developed within their natures, the stuff of which of which after-death experiences are made.

16. Man, who occupies a very intermediate position on the scale of evolution, has entered that phase of life wherein reincarnation is a definite need, and his spiritual nature has developed to the point that it can provide the stuff of which the after-death experiences are fashioned.

17. Man occupies a significant position in nature. While all of the energies of the “lower” entities are focused upon this world, Man is half in and half out of it. He is concerned with it in his daily existence, but more and more he is developing faculties and powers within himself that demand more than this physical world can [8] supply. He seeks to fulfill his needs in other environments. That is why he has experiences in the after-death state. However, it takes many embodiments in order to satisfy his needs that can be filled here and here alone.

18. Reincarnation as we know it is, therefore, temporary, and will only apply as long as man needs it. Wherever entities need it, it will apply.

19. It follows that there must be entities in Nature for whom reincarnation no longer applies. We do not see them for the simple reason that they do not incarnate. They must, however, follow the law of continuance of life, operating in such manners as will fill their needs.

20. An aspect of the continuance of life which probably applies to some of these beings at least is Metensomatosis, wherein those highly evolved entities assume form after form, in a manner analogous to reincarnation; but these forms are not physical bodies, though they will be composed of the materials provided by the environments to which these beings are native.

21. Considering the adventures of the human being after death, once the physical body has been cast aside, there will be a period lasting for many hundreds of years, during which there is need for experience, though more subtle vehicles will be required in order to provide these experiences on more subtle environments or planes of consciousness.

22. Man on earth may be considered to be composed of Spirit, Soul and Body. The Spirit clothes itself in Soul. The soul clothes itself in Body. In death the body is first cast off. The Soul is the means the Spirit takes in order to make contact with this environment, and this contact is necessary before the body can be built.

23. As the Spirit is to move on to new environments it no longer needs this contact, and there follows a “second death,” in which the best elements within the Soul are absorbed, since nothing that is good is lost, and the freed Spirit moves on.

24. As the Spirit enters new environments it must make contact with them, even though there are no more physical bodies to be built until its peregrinations lead it back to Earth.

25. Just as the contact in this environment was made through the Soul, so all contacts with the different environments in which the Spirit finds itself will be through a process of Ensouling. Thus, a Soul is seen to be a kind of vehicle, more subtle than a body, but a vehicle nevertheless.

26. This process of ensouling after ensouling is known as Metempsychosis, one more aspect of the operation of the law of the continuance of life.

27. These environments may be found anywhere within the limits of our Solar System because; just as we can get passports to many countries on our Earth, so the Spirit has passports, so to say, for many worlds within our Solar System.

28. It is not desirable at this lime to try to be specific in these matters, but every student is urged to do his own thinking, and if he diligently pursues his studies his awakening intuitions may bring him some startling revelations. [9]


Montague A. Machell

An almost undiscovered ailment in many aspiring natures is what might be diagnosed as “Mortal Cramps,” resulting from lack of spiritual exercise.

Few of us, despite our original and basic immortality, have really cultivated the practice of walking abroad amid the spacious meadows of Eternity. So steeped are we in the conviction that the Eternal represents some terrifying, unsettled hinterland, that only a negligible minority dare to venture beyond the noisy, hard-paved, traffic-infested highways of Time, in quest of the serenity and sweetness of the Plane of Eternal Values. As a result, in all too many of us, arthritis of the psyche, resulting from over-crowding, wellnigh forbids our negotiating more than the smallest distances beyond the encompassing Here and Now. “City-bred,” prisoners, we share the ills and inadequacies of a generally unwholesome and debilitating environment. There are few of us who might not benefit, should we “suffer a sea change.”

To those who have been privileged to contact a philosophy of life wherein the words “Life Everlasting” are not a high falutin’ figure of speech, there occur, from time to time, exciting “suspicions” of other climes and fairer prospects. The may take the form of a clean, perfume-laden breeze, as from some Celestial Isles. They may touch even the drab commonplaces of an uninspired existence with a heart-lifting hope, a hint of some unfamiliar ecstasy within one’s reach - not the false ecstasy of purely personal passion, but a transfiguring glimpse of beauty exceeding any personal mood or whim. To the fearlessly enlightened seeker, they are not the false prophets of make believe, but accredited harbingers of Reality. In them the ideal dream of man takes form - a dream born of his unsubordinated awareness of a Self that is innately TIMELESS. For, truth to tell, “Immortality in Time” is not a contradiction in terms, but rather a recognition of that Far Country to which the Immortal Spirit of man is native; to which nativity, life on earth must he attuned.

What we have to accept and make our own is the realization that the soul of man is incarnated in Time with the responsibility of transcending Time. But so long as man accepts this physical body with its attributes and environment as the sum total of Reality - so long as he confines his constitutionals to the scenes and thoroughfares of Time, and reads DEAD END at the point where this earth life ceases, just so long will he be a victim of arthritis of the psyche. As for “getting around” in a sphere productive of spiritual health and vigor, he will simply remain non compos!

Taking all these considerations into account, one naturally experiences a desire to “get away from it all” and “sign out” from society. But this is neither practical nor advisable. We have to remind ourselves that being incarnated in physical vehicles in a Time-governed world does not constitute an oversight on the part of Spiritual Law. This is just part of a Universal Pattern. That is not to say, of course, that it is the only Pattern. There are innumerable Patterns and Worlds we have outgrown (we hope!) and innumerable Patterns and Worlds [10] we have yet to grow up to. Our gigantic egotism notwithstanding, we are not the last word in human possibilities, nor is this world the supreme achievement of the Spiritual Architect, according to the most ancient and most profound truths available to our greatest minds. This is just one phase, one step, in an infinitely sublime Program of Spiritual Unfoldment involving aeons of time, multitudes of worlds and uncounted Rounds and Races.

But, for this Program of Growth to proceed at all, the first requirement is that this rather elementary, though sublimely self-assured, humanity inhabiting our earth shall be permanently stung and pestered with an awareness of the pitifully inadequate idea it harbors of its own Spiritual destiny. To GROW, in Spiritual Awareness, must become the divine virus - the most deeply-rooted obsession of man on earth. For a reasonably realized time schedule of progress (though, of course, Time is really immaterial) this humanity of ours must approach a reconciliation with personal Immortality now - not after an undertaker is called in! We are, were and ever will be Immortal Beings. In terms of mere spiritual gentility, we are required to behave accordingly!

This means, first of all awakening to the fact that a fabulous bank account (after taxes!), country club memberships, social status and imposing contacts in Washington, are not a measure of a man’s spiritual maturity; and Spiritual Maturity, on the slide rule of Immortality, is the only reality a man can lay claim to. Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Living in Time, touched with the divine virus of Immortality, one is led to perceive that every thought and every act has eternal significance, that it can color and contour countless incarnations to come, and touch the spiritual destinies of thousands of other lives. We are required to abandon the railroad of Time. Again and again we are challenged to walk abroad in the Elysian Fields of Spiritual Awareness; to sense immortal significance and deathless beauty in the smallest offering of the Self; to discover that living need never be commonplace or inconsequential.

The touch of the Spiritual Self on all our undertakings lifts earth toward Heaven. In its sanctity, we partake of Life as of a holy sacrament.


“… ability to alter rapidly the position of pieces of matter in space is surely one of the most curious altars upon which the human race has ever laid offering, yet to it the present generation makes unremitting sacrifices, as it moves heaven and earth to save five minutes, without having the faintest idea what to do with them when it has saved them. - C. E. M. Joad [11]


Laura Gaunt

In remembering that we operate on seven planes of consciousness we Theosophists tend to aspire toward the higher triad and to denigrate the lower quaternary. Living lives centered in many cases on the lower Manasic plane or even the Kamic, we deliberately try to attain higher states of consciousness by means of meditation or yogic practices. Frequently we expend considerable energy in the process. This is good discipline and such mental and emotional push-ups have tonic effect upon the whole system: the mind operates more effectively and the emotions are under control. On the other hand, these same practices if carried out from selfish motives in order to gain “powers,” may lead to all kinds of psychic manifestations which are undesirable. But let us suppose that, as Theosophists, we honestly aspire toward the highest for, its own sake, and carry out our mental and emotional push-ups correctly, yet we fail to reach our goal. Why?

Could it be that any attempt at union with the higher self, which starts upon our plane of consciousness and intentionally excludes other “lower” ones, is doomed to failure, since the fundamental law of the universe is that everything is pulsating with the same divine life?

Cast your mind back to the most spiritual moment you have ever experienced and I’ll wager that it came at an instant when your physical senses had been completely harmonized by one incomparable rose breathing forth perfume from the velvety harmony of its petals, or by the music of a Beethoven played by a virtuoso, or by the presence of a loved one smiling happily, or by the mystery of the morning stars singing together. In every case your physical, etheric and emotional vehicles had united their efforts and had succeeded in conveying to you a true picture of the reality of the universe, as a matter of fact of the higher reality.

It is this kind of perception which we have come to earth to develop. We could travel in our “astral bodies” long ago. The new thing is to see the truth about beauty while in and of our bodies. The material envelope gives a stability, a safety to this kind of vision, this looking through-instead of out of the body. This completely harmonized equilibrium, a total functioning of the human entity, allows the divine energy to flow through all the seven planes freely and without any danger of mental or emotional imbalance.

It is worth remembering in this connection that if the habits and aspirations are pure, the divine can more safely and much more easily influence the human entity upon the material plane, than it ever can upon that of Buddhi-Atman, for the simple reason that human consciousness is already fully aware of events and influences upon the human plane.

Nature works from the perfect to the imperfect, from the evolved to the evolving. When one form has become completely developed then something new is created out of the old. Man at his most material has reached the point for developing something new. On the analogy of natural processes, his material vehicle should be expected to provide out of its own nature the means [12] for this new growth, without having to he suppressed or destroyed prematurely. Theosophists should discriminate between just discipline of, and willful cruelty to, their animal natures even when the latter is accompanied by temporarily gratifying visions and experiences. We cannot vault from Manas to Atman but must ascend the ladder of seven steps, if we wish to qualify for the proudest title in the universe - “perfected man.”

The dangers inherent in this ladder are all too evident in the sensuality which rages about us. How can we consciously determine that the pleasure we derive from the perfect rose or the loving friend is not mere physical indulgence? Quite simply by asking ourselves if we could pluck the rose or harm the friend. If our recognition of their beauty and worth has not been so strong that we would die ourselves rather than harm them, then it is mere sensual satisfaction that we derive from them. If we are seeing through our bodies correctly, we will receive such a strong impression of the rose’s inherent loveliness, its complexity, its divine nature, that to pick it from its stalk would be murder and a violation of the divine order.

In many cases what we need to do is to look more closely at the products of nature about us, rather than less often. If we do this consistently we will learn something of the relationship existing between ugliness and beauty and of the difference between man and his works, and we will put ourselves en rapport with the music of the highest, which not only forms a considerable part of our world, but constitutes its effective motivation. Even ugliness is feeding the fame of beauty unaware, while beauty itself possesses the harmonizing power to speak through the physical-etheric-emotional complex to its source, the divine, and so to inform the whole man of his source, which is the same.



The Editor of Theosophia wishes to express his very sincere thanks to all those who have sent him their greetings and wishes around the Christmas Season. Needless to say, they are warmly reciprocated. Here’s hoping that the New Year will be spiritually significant to all our readers and friends, and that their many problems may become easier in the light of the ageless teachings of Theosophy. We have the rare opportunity of being able to study teachings which, if consistently applied to our lives, can completely regenerate us and open for us endless vistas of service. [13]


His Connection with the Early Theosophical Movement

[This year marks the Centenary of the birth of the great Ceylonese Buddhist Reformer and Mystic, the Anagarika Dharmapala. a towering figure in the spiritual resurgence of Asia. As his direct contact with the Founders of The Theosophical Society is not well known, we publish herewith some excerpts from an article “On the Eightfold Path” which Dharmapala contributed to the magazine Asia of New York, in September, 1927, and which deals with this subject. - Ed. Theosophia.]

When I was ten years old, I attended a great debate in a temple pavilion sixteen miles from Colombo (Ceylon), where the Christians on one side and Gunananda on the other argued out the truths of their respective religions ... thousands came from the most distant parts of the island to hear this famous debate. Mohotiwatta Gunananda supplied the oratory; and the Venerable Sumangala furnished him with the scholarly material and references. The debate lasted three entire days.

Dr. J. M. Peebles, an American Spiritualist, who was visiting Colombo at the time, obtained an English report of the controversy between the Buddhists and Christians and, upon his return to the United States, showed it to Colonel Henry S. Olcott and Madame H. P. Blavatsky, who had organized the Theosophical Society in New York in 1875. Deeply impressed, they wrote to Qunananda and Sumangala that, in the interest of universal brotherhood, they had just founded a society inspired by Oriental philosophies and that they would come to Ceylon to help the Buddhists. The letters from Colonel Olcott and Madame Blavatsky were translated into Sinhalese and widely distributed. My heart warmed toward these two strangers, so far away and yet so sympathetic, and I made up my mind that, when they came to Ceylon, I would join them.

They did come to Colombo a few years later, when I was sixteen. The Buddhists entertained them royally. I remember going up to greet them. The moment I touched their hands, I felt overjoyed. The desire for universal brotherhood, for all the things they wanted for humanity, struck a responsive chord in me. I began to read their magazine. I was at this time still attending school. I was self-contained and independent and preferred solitude, flowers and beautiful scenery to the games and pastimes of the average schoolboy. And, as I walked in the gardens overgrown with fragrant plants or along the shore shaded by teak and coco-palms, I pondered on the conversations I had had with the two Theosophists.

My Buddhist training had early taught me to regard the world with its phantom pleasures as a transitory dwelling-place filled with every kind of disappointment and suffering. I was confirmed in this belief when I was seventeen. My baby sister, not yet two, bubbled over with health and playfulness. Suddenly, she became ill, and the next day she die. As a result my dear mother sank for a while into deep despondency. When I saw her quietly [14] weeping over the loss of our precious baby. I looked at life with feelings of pity. I, a boy of seventeen, decided that I would never be the cause of sorrow to a woman, and I made up my mind not to entangle myself in the net of worldly desires. I would endeavor from then on to devote my life to the welfare of others. Exactly how I was to carry out my resolve, I was not certain, but I felt that somehow the way would be found in the writings of Madame Blavatsky ...

In December, 1884, Madame Blavatsky and Colonel Olcott again visited Colombo on their way to Madras . I went to my father and told him I wanted to go to Madras and work with them. At first he consented. But, on the day set for my departure, he announced solemnly that he had had a bad dream and could not allow me to go. The high priest, the other priests I had known from childhood, my grandparents, all opposed me. Though I did not know what to do, my heart was determined on the journey, which I felt would lead to a new life for me. Madame Blavatsky faced the priests and my united family. She was a wonderful woman, with energy and willpower that pushed aside all obstacles. She said: “That buy will die if you do not let him go. I will take him with me anyway.”

So the family was won over. My mother blessed me and sent me off with the parting words, “Go and work for humanity.” My father said, “Go, then, and aspire to be Bodhisattva,” and he gave me money to help me in my work.

In Colombo I had already joined the Theosophical Society. I worked six years for the Society. Madame Blavatsky was a profound student of occult science as well as a strong Buddhist, and in my youth many elderly persons testified to the remarkable things that she had done. At one time she had told, me that, since I was physically and mentally pure, I could come in contact with the Himalayan adepts. So in my nineteenth year I had decided to spend a lifetime in the study of occult science. But in Madras Madame Blavatsky op posed my plan. “It will be much wiser for you to dedicate your life to the service of humanity.” she said. “And, first of all, learn Pali, the sacred language of the Buddha.”

At that time the Pali writings, which contain the most authoritative account of the Buddha and his doctrines, were little known in comparison with the Sanskrit Buddhist sources. The oldest Pali literature was written on palm leaves in the Sinhalese alphabet. In 1884, when Madame Blavatsky urged me to study this literature, it was not printed but was accessible only in the original palm-leaf writings. Thanks to her advice, I devoted my spare time in Colombo to the study of those beautiful old manuscripts, so difficult to decipher, and thus became familiar with the Buddhist canonical scriptures. Since then the excellent pioneer work of the Pali Text Society of London and of the late Henry Clarke Warren of Harvard University has made Pali literature accessible in translation to English readers ...[15]

On May 31, 1891, I started the Maha Bodhi Society, to rescue the holy Buddhist places and to revive Buddhism in India, which for seven hundred years had forgotten its greatest teacher. In 1892 I started the journal of the society, The Maha-Bodhi, which is still in existence and well known among the Buddhists of Great Britain and the United States.

A copy of the first issue of this journal was sent to Dr. John Henry Barrows, chairman of the World’s Parliament of Religions at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition in 1893. In his letter of acknowledgement he invited me to serve on the advisory council of the congress and asked me if I could send a Buddhist delegate. I sent him a list of names, and a lively correspondence began. The most distinguished Buddhists of Ceylon, whom I had suggested, were all elderly men. They had seldom heard of Chicago , and one by one they refused, in view of advanced years, to travel. Finally in despair, Dr. Barrows wrote to me, “You come yourself as delegate to the congress.” I was only twenty-seven at the time, and I did not consider myself qualified to take the place of such a venerable Bhikkhu as should have represented our Sinhalese Buddhists. But I could not disappoint the amiable Dr. Barrows; so I went, in the white robes of a Buddhist student, to the white city that the people of Chicago had built near Lake Michigan to commemorate the discovery of America by Columbus four hundred years before ...

When I was in Boston in December, 1903, I visited William James’s class at Harvard University. I tried unobtrusively to reach the back of the lecture-hall to hear the great teacher of psychology, but it is difficult for a man in a yellow robe to be inconspicuous in America. Professor James saw me and motioned for me to come to the front of the hall. He said: “Take my chair, and I shall sit with my students. You are better equipped to lecture on psychology than I am.” After I had outlined to his advanced class some elements of Buddhist doctrine, he turned to his students and said, “This is the psychology everybody will be studying twenty-five years from now.”

… By reason of its fundamental doctrine that each person must master himself and work out his own salvation, the Buddhist faith is amazingly tolerant. Buddhism has never persecuted any other religion; all other religions have persecuted Buddhism. The teachers of all other religions say dogmatically, “Believe because I say you should believe,” but the Buddha taught that one could arrive at the truth only through freedom of investigation. Buddhism is, above all, the religion of analysis. It is a democratic religion in that it has spiritualized the minds of the masses. In the Buddhist world the priest is not expected either to think for the people or to tell them what they must believe. So, when I put on the yellow robe after my return to Buddha-Gaya, it was merely that I might serve humanity more consistently. [16]



Our warm congratulations go out to Roberto Hack, General Secretary of the Theosophical Society in Italy, and all those associated with him, on the occasion of the publication of the first edition of W. Q. Judge’s The Ocean of Theosophy in Italian translation. It has recently been published by the “Sirio” Publishing House in Trieste, under the title of L’oeano della Teosofia. Breve esposizione della filosofia esoterica. The translation from the original English is by our friend Rosemary Antinori Vosse, residing with her husband in South Africa. The book is well printed on good paper, and attractively bound. There is a portrait of Mr. Judge as frontispiece, and an able Preface from the eloquent pen of Roberto Fantechi, one of the most active workers in our Movement in Italy. (Priced at 1,000 lires, approx. $2.00.)

Word has come that this book is having a good reception, and that some of the Lodges intend taking it up as a text-book for group-study. An excellent development all around! Judge’s “Ocean” still remains a little classic in its simple yet adequate presentation of the basic Theosophical teachings.



Some Startling Facts in the Light of the Esoteric philosophy. While published a number of years ago, this booklet contains teachings concerning the inner structure of man and the nature of his consciousness which are of permanent value to the student. Important statements by H. P. Blavatsky, W. Q. Judge, and Dr. G. de Purucker. - Price: $1.00.

By our good friend and fellow-student, Dr. Robert W. Bonnell. Written in simple language, it contains practical suggestions concerning a sane and wholesome way of life. - Price: $1.00. Available from Theosophia, 551 South Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, Calif. 90005.