A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXII
No. 2 (104) - Fall 1965

[Cover photo: Bust of Damodar K. Mavalankar unveiled in Headquarters Hall at Adyar, December 24, 1956.
(See page 16 of the present issue.)]


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.



“But there is a citizenship to come that will be a mark of honor recognized by all the people of all the nations; a citizenship not limited by pride in the traditions and achievements of one nation, not circumscribed by allegiance to just one country, but a citizenship known and honored for its forsaking of all these lesser interests and subordinating them all to citizenship of the world.

“Some day, and please God, some day soon, a World Council will be formed; not a council of nations, nor of national representatives, but a council of world citizens without national allegiances. The nations of the world will select their most honored citizens, their greatest national figures and, upon acceptance of appointment, they will forswear allegiance to their countries and their sovereigns and become citizens of the world. As world citizens, above party, race and nation, they will take their seats upon the World Council and the interest of the world, nothing less, will henceforth concern them. No national interest will sway their judgment, no patriotic pride will warp their view. Great men and women, most honored in all the world, they will serve the world alone. Every country will welcome them as citizens greater than their own; in every country they will be free, recognized for their sacrifice of a lesser citizenship in the service of the world.

“To few will such honor be accorded. Few at first will be great enough to relinquish the traditions and interests of national citizenship, but having the confidence of the nations, these few will show the world the way to peace and to prosperity for all peoples.” - Sidney A. Cook, late Vice-President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar). [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

The immediate future of organized Theosophy in our present-day world depends upon the degree to which its students and workers adhere to the original principles of the Movement and the authentic teachings which it was organized to promulgate.

Owing to certain psychological and emotional patterns which have become habitual to humanity over a long period of time, and which repeat themselves in a variety of movements, the original teachings of a new spiritual effort become distorted in time by the infiltration of numerous side-issues, usually of a psychic type, which eventually push into the background the authentic message of the Founder, to the advantage of new-fangled opinions.

The Theosophical Movement of the present age is no exception. It could hardly be expected that the long-established pattern would not affect it, as the Movement is composed of ordinary men and women who, while urged by spiritual aspiration and a desire to know, are nevertheless individuals who are children of their own race, inheritors of its peculiarities and shortcomings, and who have not surmounted the habitual patterns of thought and emotion which the race, as a whole, is subject to. If they had done so, the Movement would be a tremendous power in the world, a radiant center of spirituality, and a fortress of moral strength.

To expect anything of the kind from our co-workers arid friends is impossible and contrary to reason. We cannot alter human behavior or human reactions by means of organized objects, goals, or bye-laws, nor can we expect in others internal changes which we ourselves have not experienced yet in the fullest sense of the term. We can only hope for improvements, and point out, whenever required, what are the dangers on the road and the pitfalls to be encountered.

And the greatest of these is psychism under all and every form. The term needs to be defined, lest misunderstanding occurs. It should be understood in this connection as meaning the undue and uncontrolled, as well as unrestricted, development of extra-sensory perceptions devoid of sound and basic spiritual knowledge, backed by strong Ethics and directed exclusively to some impersonal and unselfish end. Such perceptions, usually of a psychic nature, easily degenerate into mediumship, however attractive it may be made to appear, and however little it may be identified as such in the beginning. Psychism is not the scientifically controlled study of, and research into, the realm of psychic manifestations and of the hidden and latent powers of man - which is one of the objects of the Theosophical Society. The difference between the two is subtle and can be understood only by careful thought and without an emotional reaction to the ideas expressed. Few people want to do it; hence they are thoroughly confused, and either fall into psychism or laugh at you because, they say, you are deliberately brushing aside one of the main objects of the Theosophical Society. It simply goes [4] to show to what extent reasoned thinking is at times clouded in people by wishful thinking.

Subject as we ourselves are at times to “wishful thinking” and “unfounded hopes,” we would like to see in the organized Theosophical Movement a world-wide effort made by responsible students and workers to weed the field of their published literature, to inspect with the greatest possible care the value and worth of innumerable books published by the Organizations, to determine in an impersonal way their influence upon the reader, and to banish from sale and from usage such as promote various patterns of psychism or encourage in the student tendencies to visions, mediumship, physiological yoga, love of phenomena and emotional slavery to ceremonialism under any form.

We would also like to see the organized Movement publish a number of books and pamphlets made up of the writings of some of the early Pioneers whose works have been out of print for more than two generations, and whose pen produced in those days some of the truly spiritual jewels of the original effort. Some of the finest thoughts of our Movement are buried in oblivion, forgotten in old publications and journals, unknown to the present generation and even unsuspected. We could have dozens of magnificent works on hand, available to all, if this could be done, and we could then set aside and forget a mass of other writings which have made people laugh at the alleged Theosophical credulity and have turned away from the organized Movement many highly intelligent people to whom the crudity of ill-digested psychism was repugnant in the extreme.

Unless some drastic and healthy change occurs along these lines, the organized Theosophical Movement of the age will sink to the level of other bygone movements and efforts, which, starting on sound bases, found themselves sooner or later meandering through all sorts of swampy grounds, or tangled up in impenetrable psychic jungles from which there was no escape. To achieve this healthy change much serious soul-searching will be required on the part of many. Some cherished, but erroneous, ideas will have to be given up. Some new concepts, considered by some to be unorthodox, will have to be accepted for consideration. A new spirit of inquiry will have to be aroused. A blighted enthusiasm of youthful vigor will have to be reborn in some places, and a whole-hearted trust in the original Ideals of the Movement will have to be enthroned anew wherever symptoms of old age and frustration had invaded the premises of our spiritual abode.

The Theosophical Movement is a Movement of spiritual Youth, a universal urge for betterment, a world-wide current of regeneration, a vital force of growth. Thus it is akin to the Sun in its power, and leagued with the Stars in the immensity of space. [5]


A Theosophist’s Proudest Title
Montague A. Machell

“Immanent Justice, in its fullest sense ,·is nothing else but the equilibrium of the Universe, which the quivering scales express but do not visibly achieve.” - The Middle Way.

Too many of us are prone to identify the term “Karma” with Punishment. But if “the equilibrium of the Universe” - a Universe dedicated to spiritual Fulfillment - is an ultimate objective, the effect of that objective on the individual must be education, rather than punishment. Our most important touchstone for the penetration of this statement is, at the moment, the Law of Cycles.

If we can accustom ourselves to enormous periods of time in which spiritual unfoldment pursues a wave-like pattern - up and down, with each peak slightly higher, and each valley slightly less abysmal than the last - then we have a reasonably sane approach to life’s ultimate mysteries. KARMA, in terms of seed sown, whose fruit must be harvested, reminds us that it is the part of wisdom to achieve a degree of skill in utilizing the present seed-time as a means to wiser growth and wiser sowing. Especially since each one of us, to some extent, at least, is confronted with a vast amount of fruit we are required to harvest. It cannot be sold or done away with. It has to be used. But, to the extent that these profound Theosophical truths of right living have been absorbed, while intelligently dealing with past Karma, we shall be sowing sweeter, healthier seed for future lives.

Turning our attention now to Karma in relation to the Law of Cycles, as applied to the race, the Ancient Wisdom-Religion reminds us that, as a race, we have descended to the nadir of a major cycle, sinking to Kali-Yuga, the Age of Iron. This represents the full-flowering of selfishness and materialism - the super- abundant·harvest of unwise sowing in past lives. We are confronted with its fruit. It is ours because we sowed the seed. It cannot be ignored, denied, or wished away. It must be used!

The one ray of sunlight in this dark picture is this: the curve of this cycle, having reached its lowest point; can go nowhere but up! The enlightened Theosophist, recognizing this fact, takes courage from the fact that every thought, aspiration or purpose of his that is selflessly creative, has the gathering momentum of a rising cycle to increase its potential.

The fruit of past sowing is here to be wisely utilised. It cannot be discounted or dismissed. Cause and Effect must correspond absolutely. In the case of most of us, the mystery of sowing nothing but good seed is·still unfathomed; though many, if not most of us are moved with a deep desire to sow wisely and beneficently. In this, as in lesser dilemmas, agonizing over conditions we are powerless immediately to change, is utterly futile. But to accept complete responsibility for the harvest to come, is to take advantage of the up-trend of the [6] cycle; complete absorption in identifying oneself with that trend leaves one little time or opportunity to fret about conditions as they exist today.

H. P. Blavatsky declares the Ancient Wisdom-Religion to be the assembled truths concerning man and his universe inscribed in the world’s most ancient scriptures, far antedating “organized” religion, whether of east or west, by Initiates of an age incalculably remote. That Age she identifies as an era of sublime spiritual enlightenment, when there roamed the earth a humanity newly descended from purely spiritual entities, now imprisoned in physical bodies. Those teachings accentuating Cyclic Law, postulate a descending cyclic arc from pure spirit to the prevailing materialism characterising this era of Kali-Yuga. The same doctrine of cyclic descent (subject to lesser intermediate cycles), postulates an ascending cycle returning to the spiritual summit from which these entities descended. These cyclic arcs involve an eternally conflicting dichotomy of Spirit and Matter, every man being empowered to ally himself with the one or the other.

Since the Ancient Wisdom-Religion declares this dichotomy to be inescapable by any spiritual entity in a material universe, it becomes clear that “Progress” in its deepest sense, must mean allying oneself with this rising cycle of spiritual awareness. This means the acceptance of Cyclic Law and its application to one’s own personal life. All other “good works” will grow out of it. Such acceptance marks the disciple as “growth-oriented” and entitles him to the name of ‘Karmic Agent.”

What actually determines a man’s place in the arena of life today is his positive identification with the rising cycle or his willingness to mope in the shadows of materialistic frustration - whether to work with spiritual law or against it.

To be sure, greed, selfishness, strife, cruelty and ruthlessness are all-powerful on every hand. The latest refinements and expertise in human destruction are receiving priority everywhere. Revolution and war are the fashion of the times. But, why not? Hasn’t each one of us, for ages and generations been sowing the seed of these evils? What fruit can we expect from such seed? Are not many of us even in this hour, in our thinking and willing, nurturing such seed – “Agents of Human Stupidity,” fostering the fruits of stupidity, instead of instruments of redemption in a Rising Cycle of man’s destiny? In this Hour of Choice, however small, indirect and seemingly futile our choice may appear, it is the first step we can take - a step that changes us from an obstacle against which the rising tide must battle, to a conscious source of power sweeping onward with the tide.

One of the hardest of all lessons we have to learn is “Non-attachment to results.” The lesson of not insisting on seeing the fruits of our sowing and having it acknowledged here and now. We have to realize that in the long slow process of human unfoldment, any seed we sow will require ages and generations to fructify. We shall not be here in these bodies. But in that birth that brings us back to this earth in another incarnation, [7] whatever fairer prospects or nobler attainments we witness about us, we shall have helped to bring to fruition. No effort is wasted. “Duty is that which is due to humanity.” To the degree that we glimpse the sublime ultimate destiny of the race, to that degree the realization of the pattern must become our religion, with no quid pro quo! “To live to benefit mankind is the first step.” Because “Brotherhood is a fact in nature,” because each and all of us have our roots in a single Divine Source, we share a single destiny - Spiritual Realization as one human race; Being one, we cannot achieve our highest destiny as separate personalities. We are borne up on a single tide of Fulfillment, each rising by his own efforts, yet always as part of a Whole.

The self-acknowledged “Karmic Agent” is he who has surrendered to the sublime Pattern of Fulfillment; he has cast himself on tile Karmic Tide - that irresistible tide of ultimate Enlightenment that is at this very moment beginning its upward curve towards its new spiritual apogee. This is no fanatic’s fantastic dream. It is the fulfillment of Eternal Law - a mode of manifestation of THE ABSOLUTE.


L. Gordon Plummer

[Excerpts from an unpublished MS, entitled Theosophy in a Modern World.]

“For Mind is like a mirror - it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentle breezes of Soul Wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions.” - H. P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence.

I have a small mirror in my hand. I lay it face down on the ground, and there is no depth of reflection. Little light, if any; can reach the polished surface. I take the mirror up and look at the image of myself. The reflection in the mirror is somewhat deeper. The science of optics tells us that the depth of reflection equals the distance of the mirror from the object. Now I turn the mirror so that it reflects the people around me. The depth of reflection has grown, but it can be greater. I turn the little glass so that it reflects the trees, the hills and the lake. How much deeper is the reflection now! Now, I take it out into the night, and turning it upward it reflects within the few square inches of glass all the majesty and beauty of the heavens. Need I point out the lesson? When the mind is turned to things of the earth alone, how shallow are its reflections, and how little light is received. Turn the mind in questioning toward ourselves, and at once we are confronted with the great mystery that is Man. But still we are shallow in our thinking if that is limited to a consideration of oneself alone. Turn the mirror of the mind so that it inquires into the mystery of human life around us, and at once it broadens its scope of reflection. One may develop deeper understanding born of sympathy for one’s fellow men. [8] As the understanding grows there may come an awareness of the Divinity that is at the heart of each man. Then turn the mirror of our minds so that it takes in all life. How profound are the thoughts that are in the minds of those Great Ones who have encompassed the mysteries of Nature! And lastly, turn the mind upwards, in contemplation of the Infinite, and there is no limit to the reaches of thought that the awakened mind may experience.

We may follow these “reflections” with a story.

There is a valley fringed all about with high mountains. The sun has not yet risen so the valley is still in the semi-darkness of twilight. But One who was eager for the sunlight has scaled a high mountain, and he can see beyond the valley into the region of the rising sun. He carries a mirror with him, and he catches a ray of the sun that already he can see, and he sends it down into the valley.

A few of those in the valley have caught this ray in their own mirrors, and spread the light to others. They say:

“The Sun will surely rise. Has not our Brother caught its light and sent it down to us, like a promise of great things to come?”

Others argued the matter this way and that, not believing, but while they argued, the sun rose anyway, for who can hold back the dawn?

* * *

I will now try to tell you something about the relationship between Teacher and pupil. This touches on a matter that is dear to the heart of every Theosophical student, because it is the hope that all shall be worthy some day to enter into this holy relationship. Very, very few in the West understand the first thing about it. It is a serious thing that cannot be entered into lightly, and that will convey something of the great responsibility that is undertaken by the teacher as well as by the pupil.

The makeup of the western mind is not conducive to the state of discipleship. Go into your average school and watch the relationship between the teacher and his pupils. Recognizing that there are exceptional teachers, and giving them full credit for the magnificent work they are doing, how many have grasped the first principles of right education? How many of them stop and think of the etymological meaning of the word? E-ducation, from the Latin, e, out, ducere, to lead, or, more precisely, the act of leading outward what is within the pupil himself. This refers to the faculties of intelligent and constructive thought that are native to the pupil. Obviously there is much that the pupil must be given, largely the fruits of the lives of pioneers that lived before him. But all of this is a challenge, when rightly presented, whereby the pupil develops within himself what is already latent, the faculties and powers that will one day enable him to contribute in his own turn to the wealth of knowledge that is now available.

The same is true in principle of the occult relationship that exists between Teacher and Pupil. This relationship means nothing if it does not quicken the growth of the pupil and lead him to develop vastly greater powers that are already latent within himself. The Teacher can teach by virtue of having experienced the growth of these same [9] faculties when he was a pupil. Else, how is he qualified?

Now, in the early days of the Theosophical Society great emphasis was laid upon the relationship between Teacher and Pupil, and this relationship was called Chela-ship, the pupil being called a Chela. It is a Sanskrit word, another form being Chetaka or servant. Through no fault of the Teachers themselves; there was an aura of fantasy built around the whole idea, and many who knew nothing at all of the problems confronting them, dashed madly into the pursuit of Chelaship, and were grievously disappointed when their supplications were refused.

Please believe me, there is little glamour to be found in Chelaship. It involves hard work and stern discipline all the way, and if any doubt this, study the life of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, who was undoubtedly the outstanding Chela in modern times. Few could go through the trials that she experienced, and few could have given the message to the world that she brought.

What then is the incentive to Chelaship? I believe that it arises from deep within the nature of the aspirant. It arises from the fact that within each human heart is a hunger for more light. This hunger may not be entirely pure, but it is there nevertheless. With this hunger, there·is also an awareness, deeply hidden, that there are those who are in possession of the light that is sought. Therefore there is an appeal. No appeal if made unselfishly can be ignored, but on the other hand no one can be allowed to rush into something so serious without full preparation, and this includes an understanding of the perils involved. These perils are psychological and emotional, rather than physical, although there may be physical reactions too.

When one has a true aspiration toward Chelaship, untainted with selfishness, he is watched. He may be quite unaware of the fact, but it is nevertheless true. He may be much closer too it than, he thinks. He may be at the very brink, and not suspect it at all. The awareness itself must come very gradually, and must be the outgrowth of previous experience. Is it possible that a student may know? There is one hint that has been given. He may not know directly, but he may surmise, because as he approaches the portal, he will be given things to do. Work will become apparent to him; and his fitness will be judged by the manner in which he performs that work. That is the first step.

Actually, the matter of outward knowledge of the state of chelaship is not the most important thing. Chelaship is a matter of the inner consciousness. It is the inner man which experiences chelaship, and it is a thing that grows upon him in the silence of his hours of meditation and service.

And where does the Teacher stand? There can be no doubt that he is keenly aware of his responsibilities. This is far from a one-sided relationship. The Teacher is aware that his influence is far-reaching. The growth of the pupil must go on through life-times of work, and an idea sown now in the mind of the pupil may be a seed that will come too fruition lives hence. Therefore these seeds are sown with care.

Here then, is the final thought. Actually the Teacher as described is secondary in importance. The most [10] important thing is the fact that within the pupil there is the latent teacher. The work of the Guru, as he is called in the East, is to bring that pupil to an awareness of his own inner teacher. When the pupil can stand before his inner Guide in an attitude of learning, he has discovered for himself an age·old truth: The fountain of knowledge is within. The real Teacher is within the heart of the student, and the highest work that an outward Teacher can perform is to bring the pupil to a knowledge of his own inner Self. Then the pupil becomes a teacher in his own turn. Thus is the work carried on.


Damodar K. Mavalankar

[This illuminating article, written by Damodar in February, 1885; shortly before he left for Tibet , is taken from the recently published work: Damodar and the Pioneers of The Theosophical Movement, by Sven Eek, See page 16 of this issue for full data about this work. - Editor, Theosophia.]

The important question: What is Real Knowledge ?, should be answered. Many people confound physical seeing with knowledge. They do not think deeply enough to discover that one may see a thing and not know it, while he may know a thing and yet not see it.

True perception is true knowledge. Perception is the capacity of the soul; it is the sight of the higher intelligence whose vision never errs. And that can be best exercised in true serenity of mind, as Mahatma K.H. observes: “it is upon the serene and placid surface of the unruffled mind that visions gathered from the invisible, find a representation in the visible world.” In short - as the Hindu allegory has it - “It is in the dead of night that Krishna is born.”

In Occultism, Krishna represents the Christ Principle; the Atma of the Vedantins, or the seventh principle; the Logos of the Christians - the Divine Spirit, who is the manifested Son of the unmanifested Father. In the dead of night, that is, when there is complete physical and mental rest, when there is perfect quiet and peace of mind. It is only then that the individuality of man - his higher nature - becomes a fit vehicle for the manifestation of The Word. This is what is meant in the Bible where it says that we must try to obtain “redemption through Christ.” The Divine Principle in man is indivisible; the human soul is universal. He who would live and enjoy eternal life must live in and unite the human soul with the Divine Principle. Therefore, a sense of personal isolation brings on death and annihilation, while genuine unselfish philanthropy places the individual in touch with the Divine Spirit, and thus gives him eternal life. The Divine Spirit is all-pervading, and those who put themselves en rapport with the Divine Spirit are necessarily en rapport with all other entities who are also en rapport with it. Hence, the Mahatmas, who are conscious of the Logos, are in constant magnetic [11] relation to those who succeed in extricating themselves from the lower animal nature; and, by evolving the higher manas (the mind, the fifth principle of the occultist), to unite it permanently with buddhi and atma, the sixth and the seventh principles mentioned in the occult doctrine. It is by this means that the Mahatmas must first be known. What is a Mahatma? Is it his physical body? No! The physical must perish, sooner or later. But the Mahatma lives in his higher individuality and, to know him truly, he must be known through that individuality in which he is centered. The body is merely a fulcrum of the lever through which physical results have to be produced. But, for him, the body is like a house. He inhabits it so long as it serves his purpose.

Knowledge increases in proportion to its use. That is to say, the more we teach, the more we learn. In the same manner, the more that an organ is exercised, the greater is its functional activity increased; provided, of course, that too much is not expected of it at once. So also is the will strengthened, the more it is exercised; and the more one meets with temptation - which can only be possible if he lives with his companions - the greater opportunities has he of exercising, and thereby strengthening the will. In this process, there does come a time when the constitution of one is changed as to incapacitate him for work on the physical plane. He must then work upon it, through·higher planes into which he must retire. But until that time arrives he must be with humanity, and unselfishly work for their real progress and advancement. This alone can bring true happiness.


W. Emmett Small

Conquering the Self -

... Yes, I believe in the forgetting of the lower nature, or, shall we say, treating it a little cavalierly. Maybe it is better to say, treat it as a child. You can’t ignore a child (in fact it takes a lot of attention), but your reactions to a child are different from those to an adult. You don’t get quite so emotionally involved; and from your pinnacle of adulthood you are able to look down it little condescendingly, or at least understandingly. That is not quite the right word, but you have the feeling that you’ve been through it yourself to some degree, and that the child must do the same - in his own way - and that you’d better not get too het up about it: it will all work out in time; yet you want to help, to lead, to guide - if you can. So with your lesser selves, what we rather crudely call our lower nature. These parts of us are our children; yet they have a line of evolution all their own, and by hook or crook they are going to advance on the long pilgrimage. We can help and guide and lead, but to what extent should we identify ourselves with what in a sense is less than our today-selves? As the wisest teachers suggest, we should seek to forget the lower.

It comes down, in the long run, to taking oneself in hand and advancing on the Path. When one [12] consciously tries to do this, as you know from experience, you have whistled at the mountain peaks, and avalanches begin to fall. But even if you should fail, such failure should not be considered as failure. You have dared and you have been temporarily knocked out of the fight for a while, but you will recover and will have, as back-memory to help you in a future life, the stored knowledge of the past which will give you added strength and wisdom. The subtle distinction between the Pratyeka path and the path of the Buddha of Compassion in this regard is all-important. I feel in my bones we set in motion those currents which have already decided this for us. I don’t want to sound fatalistic in this sense; but I have a hunch (I could be wrong) that ages ago we chose as unselfconscious gods, and that we are now working out the effects of that choice (by making new choices, of course). Possibly G. de P. would say this is wrong, and that, at ANY moment you can choose the unselfish spiritual path rather than the personal spiritual path. As dear old Charlie Ryan used to say, “It’s a difficult point”! In other words, I think MOTIVE is all (just as Shakespeare said that Ripeness is all). We can stumble and make mistakes and get hurt, and feel neglected, and unhappy, and even hurt others unmeaningly, but if our motive is pure and we are ready to sacrifice everything to sustaining and strengthening and preserving that motive, we shall inevitably find ourselves treading the Right Path. For Right Motive will bring growing wisdom, and wisdom brings light, and light reveals ever increasing distances along the Path.

So you see I agree with you when you say that your work has stirred up in you more and more of the cauldron of your Self, so that in the bubbling and boiling process you will no doubt become piercingly aware of the contents of the cauldron. Here is where the Taliesin in you, the all-knowing Bard who is you, will be able eventually to extract the three drops of Wisdom which will give him the vision and the strength and the wisdom to carryon well. I often think that true wisdom, or, perhaps better, true reverence, is placing a being where he belongs on the Ladder of Life. And on that Ladder of Life our several selves have different places, so it is a part of wisdom to be able to place, quite impersonally, and with due respect and reverence, those parts of us that are less evolved, more child-like, on the lower rungs of the cosmic scale where they belong, and rightly place the higher parts of ourselves where they too are native.

This you know, but, like a chat together, I am merely expressing what I would were you sitting with me, and half such conversation is, in truth, saving what the other fellow already knows but yet likes to hear perhaps, and in hearing may sometimes get another slant or view on things, or, more important, realize more fully that he understands something of your own problem and what you have recognized as the great challenge in life.

I always laugh when I remember Dr. Edge* (* Henry Travers Edge, a personal pupil of H. P. Blavatsky.) saying something to this effect: “When I joined the T.S. I [13] thought I’d never become a Mahatma; now I’m afraid I will!” This is shot full with humor and philosophy. Certainly I feel with you, that if we knew the whole truth of this business of conquering the self, we would give up: it would seem an impossible task. But, then, all worthwhile tasks seem impossible in the after-light which reveals something of what they really are and which, if we had known at first, would have completely deterred us from tackling the job. I don’t imagine we’d even get born at all if we knew what was awaiting us - yet here we are!

Though Steep and Thorny …

I sat outside in the fresh Spring sunshine and read your letter. The first thought I had was of Bach music - calm, strong, sure, clear; an uncomplicated melody - the sutratman, so to say; beyond or within all fuges and variations - the enduring Self that is our self. And the first act I did was to squat down on the lawn and pull up some grasses or weeds (nothing ‘wrong’ or ‘unnatural’ about, them; only out of place, not belonging to that lawn). They came up easily, because the soil had been dampened. Something in me hates to uproot even a grass. I love to see the growing shoots, especially in Spring-time, yet when they are out of place they do harm. It is irreverent, as I suggested in my last letter, to accept them as occupying a place not fitting to their svabhava and evolution. War must be declared. They must be thrown out. Sometimes the war is violent, filled with tragic experiences; sometimes, as this morning, it is a simple maneuver. But, the result in the end must be the same - a greater perfection in order, beauty, a more profound expression of wisdom. I had better not pursue the analogy or confusion will step in, but the idea behind is simple enough. What shall we identify ourself with - the calm music of Bach, or the excited Bolero of Ravel? In either case we are the Warrior. We choose our own weapons. We use our individual skills. Sometimes the weed is uprooted easily. Sometimes the battle rages bloodily. I think after serious illness, such as you have suffered, the elements of our Army (our composite nature), which usually work together as a more or less confused unit, tend to stand out in their singularness, and reveal quite distinctly their evolutionary differences. The sensitive nature is almost overcome with the necessity for - not only a declaration of War, but the need of Victory, immediate Victory. The result is a painful Facing of the Self, an ability (perhaps only temporary, but which marks the life thereafter) to see oneself, one’s Human Self, as it is, unadorned, un-flattered, without rouge or makeup, but also with the clear chiseled lines appreciated, not marring them with false images, nor yet flattering them with mayavic dreams. It is a time to call upon the calm but strong music of the Bach within, yet rally to the cry of the ever aspiring Warrior. It is the time for action; but, perhaps, for the simple action, though immediate, of squatting on the lawn and uprooting a weed where the soil makes it ready for facile uprooting, rather than a tackling, of the entire lawn (which at one fell swoop is [14] impossible anyway). It is a time to realize that the Immediate is part of the whole, but to realize that to be overwhelmed by the yet unrolled Future is un-wisdom and almost folly; yet to be sustained by knowledge that wise immediate action is growth now, working in consonance with the Great Law. If such Right Attitude is sustained, the Right Motive held, and action in near and immediate ways continued as the Future unrolls and becomes the Present, the Path becomes clearer, the inner conviction of an undying source of guidance and inspiration become surer.

You, of Bardic power, will feel far more keenly these things, and pain and ecstasy will be experienced in more telling degree. But first of all, how wonderful to know at last a little of what it’s all about - a plan, a pattern, a cosmic score, so to say, for the Architect, Musician, Poet - that is you. And, second, and flowing from it, to know, as Edge writes and which you quote, that with advancement the oscillation between pain and pleasure will bring us to that point, where we arrive at the position of “independence and poise” which is free from such disturbance. We have identified ourselves with the music of Bach. Indeed, as H.P.B. says so glowingly, “There is a path, steep and thorny, but yet a path, and it leads to the Heart of the Universe ...”

No, I don’t think you are a “fool” to have lived 55 years before you fully realized what you do. G. de P. once told a student that he was so near to breaking through to the real thing (these are not his actual words, but merely the idea), that it only needed the slightest push and the only barrier blocking the great step forward would be pierced, and a new life would open up. And that goes for us all, I feel sure. But I would not lament, nor would I grieve that that particular moment of final push may not have come so far. It will come - and then we shall be ready. It may not be in this life - or it may be. The Time, the Place, and the Loved One must coincide. In the meanwhile how fraught with beauty and promise is each passing moment, as we watch the rolling seasons, as we lift our eyes at night to the stars, as we see the sun set and rise and know there is a path; and as life progresses we even learn to bless the fact that that path is steep and thorny. We know it must be, and that therein lies the challenge and the sweetness and the ineffable glory.

Yes, I can to some degree appreciate what you have been going through when you speak of being conscious of being at the same time two separate and distinct focal points of energy, two beings, yet one. I think this feeling comes predominantly when one has gone through a siege of pledge fever. It is a terribly disrupting process. It sears and burns the soul; but afterwards one has a deepened vision. So be of good cheer. Trial and even discouragement are inevitable. Suffer we must; but I like Dr. Ross’* (*Lydia Ross, M. D., a member of the Point Loma Theosophical Society until her death at the age of 100.) conclusion in the article you sent me, that we may as well suffer “to a conscious purpose.” Well said. [15]

Source of Religions …

All great religions at their emergence are a glorious core of ideas based on truth. It is the reason for their birth. But to catch the first pure impulse of truth that is their essence, one must retreat to their beginnings. The nearer to their beginning, the less veiled the truth; with passing decades and centuries the truth fades. But these religions, vary as they do in religious and philosophic content and in revealed teaching, have issued from a still more primal source, a mother-school. This Source - whatever the name given it - is Theosophy, the esoteric wisdom, the esoteric philosophy (descriptive words belittle it, yet must be used). Theosophy is thus a closer source to truth, nearer to root· substance and the ideative plane, more specific and clear in its revealed teaching, less diluted, less veiled than any existent religion.

And What of Truth?

Yon refer to a recent article in a Theosophical magazine where it contends that the first thing to realize is that “however much truth there is in any exposition of the Ancient Wisdom, none of them contains the whole and entire truth.” I disagree. While of course the general statement is true, I believe the first thing is to grasp the glowing fact that the basic teachings as given through H.P.B. and the Masters present a design of the universe, of what life is all about, to put it simply, of the origin, present reason for existence, and destiny of man and all things, the part they play now on the great stage of life and the part they are destined to play. These teachings give a general picture which can be relied on. Details ad infinitum can be added later; but the general picture need not be changed. This is of tremendous importance. It is of course obvious in any outpouring of teaching or truth that it (even H.P.B.’s exposition) “does not contain the whole and entire truth.” It is humanly impossible for anyone to do so in the first instance, and also humanly impossible for any human to embrace the whole universe in his consciousness: a part cannot be greater than the whole, though the whole in potentia is in the part.

The other idea emphasized in the article that “the only complete truth is that which we find and experience for ourselves” is misleading. True, that is the way to find truth for ourselves, to build it into our very nature, to become a part of it, to make it real. But Truth per se exists whether we recognize it or not. And it is that TRUTH - or a small but essential portion of it - that H.P.B. depicts in her writings.


He is no true friend who always eagerly suspects a breach, and is on the watch for faults, but he is a true friend with whom you dwell as a child at the breast of his mother; from such a friend none can aver divide you. - From a Buddhist Scripture. [16]


Compiled and Annotated by SVEN EEK

Large Octavo; xvi, 720 pages; illustrated and with copious Index. Bound in cloth.
Unique historical volume, fully documented - now available to students interested in the origins of the Theosophical Movement in our age.

Damodar K. Mavalankar was an outstanding Chela of the early days. In this Volume we read some fascinating articles from his pen. We marvel at his rapid psychic development and his experiences under the guidance of his Teacher. We learn of his efforts·to become a perfect instrument of the Masters, of his self-sacrifices; his mistakes and his victories. Of the many disciples on probation at the time, we know of only one - Damodar - who did not fail.
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