A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXIV
No. 3 (113) - Winter 1967-1968

[Cover photo: A Room of Quiet - The United Nations Meditation Room.
(See page 4 for the meaning of the symbolism and the purpose of this Room in Dag Hammarskjold's own words.)]


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.



“Life is not cruel; there is no injustice in it. In the light of Reincarnation, the sufferings we considered unjust lose the sting of their supposed injustice and become easy to endure. We come to look on them as blessings, because means of liberation and our chief incentives to growth. Experience and pain are our teachers. We are reminded constantly by the difficulties we have to overcome of the majestic mercy of the Law.

“Life exists only for service: we live in order that we may serve. Hold to that idea in your hour of trouble, and you will accept your difficulties graciously, as a gift graciously given: you will not think of them as pangs and burdens to be endured, but as beautiful fires to purify and set free.

“Not that one should be humble in the ordinary sense. We should hold our heads high; there is altogether too much of the other thing. We are quite too submissive to our own weaknesses. If you have strived with your whole soul and with a trust impossible to break; and still the thought is forced upon you that your position has not changed nor your stumbling-block been removed; if you find yourself compelled to say, Though I have lifted myself up toward my ideals, and approached the Divine within me daily, I am not set free; - take courage yet again; it is the time to do so. The thing you have struggled against in vain may become a blessing; it may be the very saving power in your life - holding you back in the place where alone you could learn the lesson you most need to learn.” - Katherine Tingley, The Gods Await, pp.182-85.[3]


Boris de Zirkoff

In the midst of the mighty struggle that is taking place in the outer world between right and wrong, between the call of a noble duty to mankind and the lure of selfishness and greed, perennial ideals of the spiritual life stand out in ever greater glory when projected against the sombre clouds of hatred, callous cruelty and violence.

Let us not mistake the symptoms so abundantly seen on all sides. The tremendous inrush of dynamic spiritual and intellectual forces from their ever-living source is lashing the opposing powers of materialism into a desperate last-ditch stand, all along the line of human thought and endeavor. The rising tide of spiritual thought uproots human superstitions, stirs the stagnant pools of indifference, and brings to light the hidden things of darkness.

We face today, not a world of confusion and chaos, in which everything is falling apart, as some believe, but a world in reconstruction, in which a global adjustment is taking place, as the human framework, social and individual, is attempting to broaden its structure so as to become a fit vehicle for a greater consciousness, a deeper insight, and a more encompassing vision.

As students of the ageless Esoteric Philosophy, Guardians on the battlements of the Spirit, it is our bounden duty to strengthen every effort directed towards the liberation of human thought the world over from slavery to the lower senses; to think and feel and act constructively and from the deepest depths of ourselves, at a time when the future of the human race is in the balance, and millions of men and women are longing for precisely that spiritual solution to their problems which is offered by Theosophy.

Evil is but the absence of good, and its presence stands out in contrast to whatever is good on the stage setting of the world. It is the darkness made manifest whenever light is thrown to illumine the scene. Evil must be fought with courage and daring, but the best way to fight it is by exemplifying the good, and by throwing light into the things of darkness. Then we have the powers of light to back our efforts, and the solar forces as our allies.

In the compassionate spirit of the Great One, who are born at the Winter Solstice from the ever-immaculate depths of their own Inner Selfhood, let us rededicate our lives to the noble Service of all that lives, to the supreme Cause of Light and Truth, and the reverence for things felt but yet unseen!

The stark realities of a world in turmoil cannot affect our noblest dream. It is a living thing, pulsating, beating with its own heart-beat, brooding over the imperfections of men and their present confusion. Out of that dream were born all the noble reforms of centuries gone by; all the selfless deeds of valor; all the visions of the future and the solace of the current day. Out of that ageless dream of human perfectibility came the mighty thoughts which have shaped new civilizations and raised men and women to new heights of achievements. It is more vivid today than ever before - for that dream, though intangible and seemingly distant, endures from age to age and can never die! ... [4]


Dag Hammarskjold
Late Secretary-General, United Nations.

We all have within us a center of stillness surrounded by silence.

This house, dedicated to work and debate in the service of peace, should have one room dedicated to silence in the outward sense and stillness in the inner sense.

It has been the aim to create in this small room a place where the doors may be open to the infinite lands of thought and prayer.

People of many faiths will meet here, and for that reason none of the symbols to which we are accustomed in our meditation could be used.

However, there are simple things which speak to us all with the same language. We have sought for such things and we believe that we have found them in the shaft of light striking the shimmering surface of solid rock.

So, in the middle of the room we see a symbol of how, daily, the light of the skies gives life to the earth on which we stand, a symbol to many of us of how the light of the spirit gives life to matter.

But the stone in the middle of the room has more to tell us. We may see it as an altar, empty not because there is no God, not because it is an altar to an unknown god, but because it is dedicated to the God whom man worships under many names and in many forms.

The stone in the middle of the room reminds us also of the firm and permanent in a world of movement and change. The block of iron ore has the weight and solidity of the everlasting. It is a reminder of that cornerstone of endurance and faith on which all human endeavour must be based.

The material of the stone leads our thoughts to the necessity for choice between destruction and construction, between war and peace. Of iron man has forged his swords, of iron he has also made his ploughshares. Of iron he has constructed tanks, but of iron he has likewise built homes for man. The block of iron ore is part of the wealth we have inherited on this earth of ours. How are we to use it?

The shaft of light strikes the stone in a room of utter simplicity. There are no other symbols, there is nothing to distract our attention or to break in on the stillness within ourselves. When our eyes travel from these symbols to the front wall, they meet a simple pattern opening up the room to the harmony, freedom and balance of space.

There is an ancient saying that the sense of a vessel is not in its shell but in the void. So it is with this room. It is for those who come here to fill the void with what they find in their center of stillness. [5]


H. P. Blavatsky

[Originally published in The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 10, July, 1883, pp. 239-240.]

Ten years ago, Professor William Denton, an Anglo-American geologist and a man of marked intellectual capacity, issued in collaboration with his equally gifted wife, a work in three volumes, bearing the title which heads the present article. It is a record of extensive researches into the origin of things visible, or the world noumenal. No laboratory instruments or processes were employed in this research; there was neither furnace, nor crucible, nor flask, nor chemical, nor lens availed of, and yet this book contains facts with respect to the hidden half of nature which equal, if they do not outvie, in interest and suggestive importance any discovery in the science of objective phenomena reported to any learned association. The researches of the Dentons have done especially much good to students of Aryan science, for they link in with, and give the key to, the previously puzzling mysticism of the Atharva-Veda and subsequent works on occult science. The agency employed was Psychometry, and Psychometry (soul-measuring) is a Greek word to express the faculty - natural, but ordinarily latent in us - by which the inner self cognizes the things of the spiritual (or, if you please, dynamic) world of causes. This faculty was strong in Mrs. Denton, her son, and members of Professor Denton’s own family, and the two former especially developed their psychometrical powers to a marvellous degree. If any object - a letter, bit of clothing, fragment of stone or other material from a building, or of a geological specimen, etc., were given them to clasp in their hands or hold against the middle of their foreheads - an inch above the line of the eyebrows - they would at once came into sympathy with the Akasa, or soul, of the person or thing with whom or which the object had been in relation, and describe the same. Step by step, these researches proved the truth of the old Aryan dogma that the Akasa (Ether) is the cradle and grave of objective nature; and that it holds imperishably the records of everything that ever existed, every phenomenon that ever occurred in the outer world. The hypothesis of physical science was thus endorsed and enlarged, and a bridge of one span flung across the “unfathomable chasm” seen by the great Tyndall to lie between the visible and invisible worlds. Professor Denton was not the modern discoverer of Psychometry; that honour is due to Professor J. R. Buchanan, M.D., an American anthropologist of eminence and a fellow of our Society. It is one of the great merits of this science that its researches may be carried on without risk to the “patient,” and without throwing him or her into the state of mesmeric unconsciousness. “At first,” says Professor Denton in his book,* (* The Soul of Things; or Psychometric Researches and Discoveries. By William and Elizabeth Denton. 3rd rev. ed., Baston, 1866; later ed. in 1873 and 1881-84. Three volumes. ) [6] “... the sensitive, or psychometer, is generally a merely passive spectator, like one who sits and observes a panorama; but in time he becomes able to influence the visions - to pass them along rapidly, or retain them longer for a close examination. Then the psychometer, at times, dwells in that past whose history seems to be contained in the specimen ... At last he becomes released even from the specimen. At will he leaves the room, passes out into the air, looks down upon the city, sees the earth beneath him like a map, or, sailing still higher, beholds the round world rolling into darkness or sunlight beneath him. He drops upon island or continent, watches the wild tribes of Africa , explores the desert interior of Australia , or solve, the problem of the earth’s mysterious poles. He can do more than this: he becomes master of the ages. At his command the past of island and continent come up like ghosts from the infinite night, and he sees what they were and how they were, what forms tenanted them, and marks their first human visitants, seeing the growth of a continent, and its fruitage in humanity, within the boundary of a little hour ... the universe scarcely holds a secret that the freed spirit cannot behold with open eye.”

Professor Denton estimates that the psychometric faculty is possessed by at least one white female in ten, and one man in twenty. Doubtless the percentage would be even greater among Asiatics.

The Psychometer, as we have remarked, does not have to be mesmerized for the exercise of the power. His eyes should be closed, the better to help concentration of thought upon the psychic observations. “Otherwise,” says Professor Denton, “he appears to be in a perfectly normal condition during the time, and can readily notice what takes place in the room; frequently laying down the specimen, joining in the conversation, or drawing objects seen and then going on with the examination. When the specimen is in powder, it is merely necessary to stroke the forehead with as much as will cling to a damp finger; and where heavenly bodies are examined the rays are allowed to shine upon the forehead.”

Thus it will be seen that with a copy of Professor Denton’s book in hand, a committee of a Branch Society has the means of easily pursuing research of the most interesting and profitable kind into a domain where not merely the secrets of Aryan history, but of the history of our planet and all its mutations are recorded imperishably. Says Professor J. W. Draper, one of the ablest scientists and most brilliant writers who have adorned our present age: “A shadow never falls upon a wall without leaving thereupon a permanent trace, a trace which might be made visible by resorting to proper processes ... Upon the walls of our most private apartments, where we think the eye of intrusion is altogether shut out and our retirement can never be profaned, there exist the vestiges of all our acts, silhouettes of whatever [7] we have done.”* (* The History of the Conflict between Religion and Science, pp. 132-33 (New York, 1874).) It is a crushing thought to whoever has committed secret crime, that the picture of his deed and the very echoes of his words may be seen and heard countless years after he has gone the way of all flesh, and left a reputation for “respectability” to his children. To members of our Society the idea should come home with peculiar weight, since they live, act, speak, and even think under the observation of those MASTERS from whom no secrets of nature can be hidden if they choose to explore her arcana. There have been several cases among us of self-reformation due mainly to the conviction of this fact, and if the resources of Psychometry were but suspected generally there would be many more. For it is proved that not only are the images of the Past in “the fadeless picture galleries of the Akasa,” but also the sounds of past voices, even the perfumes of archaic flowers, withered ages ago, and the aromas of fruits that hung on trees when man was but a mumbling savage, and polar ice, a mile thick, covered what are now the fairest countries under the sun. We have been the means of putting more than seventy copies of The Soul of Things into circulation in India and hope to put seven hundred more. And we also hope to be soon able to introduce to the acquaintance of our Indian friends the author himself, who has just completed a highly successful lecturing season in Australia , and will take India on his way home to America ...


Montague A. Machell

Quantitatively evaluated, the human race tends to become a confusing prodigality of integers. “The Masses,” as a whole, in terms of mere human personalities, are so swarmingly numerous, so swarmingly commonplace, that, set down in their midst, any individual may well find his outlines, as an individual, blurred beyond recognition. And the techniques and equipment of today’s living, mass-produced and mass-directed, seem especially designed to encourage this mortal prodigality to rub shoulders with one another, live in one another’s backyards, and, by the indefatigable ingenuity of modern salesmanship, to share, whether one will or no, the inestimable benefit of WEEKEND SALES!

Since the ubiquitous genius of SALESMANSHIP is inspired by a single hope - to reach everyone, to awaken an identical yearning for the product, in response to an identical level of appeal (a “commonplace” level, to put it kindly), it becomes clear that the Gross National Product, in terms of psychological influence, is being force-fed to “The Masses,” regarded quantitatively always. This approach, needless to say, reaches, and is designed to reach, the “Common Man,” who, whatever his splendid and sterling qualities, is, for the most part, devoted [8] to common goals, inspired by common standards.

But universal experience reveals that common standards share a common loyalty to personal and material values. It is the Un-common Man who thinks beyond these values, who aspires to attainments that are never offered in “weekend sales” - an offering that cannot be “bought” at any price. And there are Uncommon men and Uncommon women all over the world who, lifting their gaze high above the market place, yearn for the beauty, the serenity and the freedom of life beyond purely mortal and material values.

It is because of this sublime minority, and the Secret Doctrine of Divine Wisdom toward which they tend and for which they hunger, that a Qualitative evaluation of the human race is mandatory. The truly aspiring individual, without pride and without self-righteousness, will constantly examine his place in the ranks of humanity: is he an “Integer" in this mass calculation, or has he for all time vowed to be a manifestation of that pattern of Divine Wisdom dedicated to outgrowing the fetters of personal and material limitations, to exercise a conscious spiritual influence on the milieu in which he finds himself? For the mass of humanity this is not, today, a “natural” dedication. For it to become the bedrock foundation of a man’s life, he must achieve a point of view that reveals life as a manifestation of the Divine. This Sun, this Moon, these Stars, this far-flung majesty of earth, must be to him the Supreme, finding expression through material disguises.

The stone, the plant, the animal - all these obey the laws of nature, accepting the Karma of stonehood, planthoot, animality. Only Man, in self-conscious majesty, is in a position to contemplate himself, and to choose his spiritual category. This is a choice more far-reaching than the home he will build, the car he will buy, the sale he will succumb to. By this choice he reveals his evaluation of himself as a self-conscious entity on this earth. Is he to remain one more “Integer” subject to the Gross National Product, or dare he choose the Way that, over the years, could invite a Gross National Product in Spiritual Values that would change the destiny of this and all nations? No spiritually perceptive individual is justified in remaining a quantitative Integer (a prisoner with a number)! But to escape this degrading destiny he must cease to think quantitatively.

In that age-long, mysterious ascent from earth to heaven, from categories of things to Planes of Consciousness, the polarity of a man’s thought must be inward, to that focal point of consciousness where God - the Supreme - is enthroned. To know the SELF is - at long last - to know God. To know God, in terms of Absolute Consciousness, is to discover that Qualitative living results in an uninterrupted awareness of one’s identity with ALL (the Supreme - God). On that plane, numbers have only a relative dependability. In a gathering of a thousand people, the views of one man, gifted with clear spiritual perception, are alone important. The partial, inadequate “ideas” of the remaining 999 are actually “expendable,” since they lead not upward, but in a straight line along the customary plane of illusion. [9]

It is for this reason that, if we must evaluate mankind quantitatively, we are required to break those quantities down, not merely into individuals, but to the numerous planes of consciousness upon which each individual operates. This, in turn, calls for a meticulously intelligent acquaintance with the inner nature of man. Such an acquaintance will only be sought by him who has the courage to delve into the Ancient Mystery-Religion - that mystical appreciation of the supreme mystery of man’s nature, which formed the basis of all religion thousands of years before the Christian era. Since that age and its spiritual teachings (still true and still applicable) are today largely dismissed as “superstition,” an intelligent and adequate Quantitative Analysis is not easily come by.

For the fearless individual who, despite all the obstacles, refuses to remain a Quantitative Integer, the search must be guided and fortified by his belief in his direct contact with the Supreme through his own consciously nurtured Spiritual Self. This Consciousness, rooted in his inmost heart of hearts, will, little by little, mute the voices of the multitude. The undertone of life, that Voice of the Silence of which H. P. Blavatsky writes, will guide, direct and encourage his progress towards Absolute Values - Absolute because related to the timeless Lord within himself. And that Voice must be allowed to grow in clarity and power, since the reasoning man in him ever tends to be swayed by the slogans of millions dedicated to quantitative conclusions.

The vital conviction that must be in the possession of the fearless seeker is that, spiritually speaking, he is a Free Soul, not bound by the opinions held and propagated by a majority who find security in acceptance of orthodox views. He who intelligently gives himself up to this ancient Wisdom-Religion and its sphere of impersonal spiritual truth, enters upon a path of discovery of his Greater Self; a path leading into, not away from, the natural universe of which he is a part. The beauty, symmetry and universality of this path of discovery encourages a continued widening of his horizon, repeated revelations of a pertinent participation in unfolding life on every hand. Because they are an expression of the Spiritual Source from which they spring, all life and all living reveal themselves as sacred. Their sanctity (not in some remote heaven), permeating the earth, the air, and all the creatures therein, invites man to discover a Heaven of spiritual fulfillment here on earth. It is imperative that this discovery take place, since without it the noblest aspirations can become tainted with earthly commonplace, losing their power to uplift the pilgrim and urge him forward to still nobler discoveries. Time and materiality are deadly corrosives to the spiritual prospect. In his triumph over these, his becomes a Qualitative evolution wherein Spirit, illuminating and refining flesh, reveals the glowing miracle of one or two who are “Self-realized,” as compared with thousands circulating ineffectually in a prescribed, well-worn pattern of “incidental” accomplishment.

He who is adequately convinced that it is his responsibility to find within himself the magic that can return to the universe, out of his own spiritual [10] awareness, the divine lustre of earth’s First Morning, will cease to be a “victim” of life, that he may be its Champion. Life is too sublime a miracle to be left to the elements of nature. Man, its one self-conscious denizen, is called upon to play a conscious part:

“Help nature and work on with her; and nature will regard thee as one of her creators, and make obeisance.” - The Voice of the Silence.

“Creator” is the word for man to conjure with. By rejecting timeworn, man-made creedal patterns, and asserting his spiritual freedom, it will be given to him to “create” conditions and situations wherein the beauty and harmony of universal law may manifest meaningly to man. To do this, he has to awaken the titanic potency of Spiritual Truth flaming in the hearts of a few, to cleanse and disperse the fears and anguish of the multitude. These Quantitative Integers must be freed and lifted up. The Qualitative Talisman is ... BROTHERHOOD!


Frances Adams Moore

The doctrine of Karma is one of the most complex and perhaps least understood of all the doctrines of the Universal Wisdom Tradition. It would seem to underlie the entire cosmic and individual world process.

It has been defined in many ways. Manly Palmer Hall has said that Karma “is nothing more nor less than the pressure of a mistake demanding the solution of itself. Don’t refinance old debts,” he warns. Dane Rudhyar calls it “the pressure of unfinished business.”

It is the basis of the passage in the Christian Bible (Exodus, xxxix, 7) in which it is written that the “Lord God will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations”; the basis also of that old folk saying: “It is a wise child who knows his own father.”

“As a man soweth so shall he also reap” was St. Paul ’s way of expressing this ancient Law of Consequences, or Cause and Effect. In homely Americanese, “One’s chickens come home to roost.”

Dr. de Purucker refers to it as a “name given to the operation of the processes of the Universal Harmony seeking readjustment, moral or otherwise.” (Wind of the Spirit, p. 106.)

G. H. Mees relates Karma to the “Grace of God” and suggests that one way in which it works is through a sudden unleashing of Karma. “Direct grace is like the action of a government which unexpectedly releases frozen assets, while indirect grace is like a creditor suddenly appearing to claim a big debt. However difficult it may be to settle the claim, ultimately such action will lead to liberation.” (G. H. Mees, Revelation in the Wilderness, The Book of Battles, p. 56.)

In a certain sense Karma is the Providence of the Christian; the Kismet of the Moslem; the three Spinners of the Web of Destiny of the Greeks: Atropos, the future, that which cannot be changed or set aside; Clotho, the [11] present, the Spinner; and Lachesis, the Past, or that which happens to us out of the past. In Germanic and Norse tradition these three were the Three Norns, or Weird Sisters, the term “weird” originally meaning “fate.”

This Law of Compensation has been called variously: The Law of Retribution, Nemesis, Fate, Necessity, Decree of Heaven, Will of God, Cause and Effect.

The Greeks used the term “Moira.” Moira itself was Destiny, the finished shape of one’s fate, the line drawn around it, the task allotted by the gods. But Moira as the Goddess of Fate was Karma, and the Greeks taught that consenting to that fate - the acceptance of Karmic responsibility - was the factor which brought liberation.

If I understand them correctly, the Confucians used the term “ ming” in a similar way. They taught that every man had a “ ming,” a destiny, an Appointment of Heaven. The term included a sense of responsibility, or duty, or mission, as well as a kind of inevitability, and a man would not be released from Life until this had been accomplished.

We speak of the Law of Karma, but it is not a “law” in the sense of an ordinance or commandment given by an outside Being or Intelligence. It is called a decree, but the only decree of Karma is absolute harmony in the world of matter as in the world of Spirit - “Thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”

Karma cannot be said to act, for it is action itself - “The Spiritual dynamic effect of causes produced and forces awakened into activity by our own actions,” as H.P.B. phrased it. (The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 369.)

The individual himself is his Karma.

No one, then, can escape his karmic destiny. For what we call our Karma, pleasant or unpleasant, is actually the result of many personalities, lives or characters coming to us out of the past formed by what we have thought, felt or done in the past. The Karmic aggregate of each life is recollected or gathered anew for each successive life, for man is his own child, the offspring of all his former actions.

Everything that surrounds the individual, including the entire universe, is part of his Karma and he is a part of the Karma of everything around him. Human Karma is born with man himself. Man is its creator and generator. Each act produces the results that belong to it. The totality of any individual is brought about by his own thinking, feeling and willing. His Present is the result of prior thinking, feeling and willing, just as he is in the present thinking, feeling and willing his Future destiny and experience into being.

Through the exchange of Life-Atoms we are continually modifying the Karma of everyone around us, sometimes quite drastically, as they are modifying and changing ours, whether we will it or not. Due to the impact of our human will and intelligence upon our own Life-Atoms we become responsible for them and for the psychical, astral and physical effect they may have on others with whom Life-Atoms are exchanged. Because of this ceaseless exchange of Life-Atoms among all human beings, some day our own Life-Atoms - tiny portions of our former selves - will come back to us, and, as G. de P. has written: “Not once in a hundred million years do [12] we like our former selves, or welcome their return to us.”

In whatever form Karma comes to us, pleasant or unpleasant, it is always a blessing, for Karma is the cause of the urge for growth in self-knowledge and wisdom. We welcome good Karma and dread bad, but good Karma, so called, can form as strong a source of bondage as bad Karma.

We know from experience or observation when the individual’s life becomes too pleasant and easy, when the troubles of life - poverty, sickness, bereavement - leave him alone for a time, he tends to fall asleep spiritually. Good luck has a deadening effect and it is for this reason that some traditions recommend that we renounce not only evil, but also merit.

We can see, then, that Karma is that unseen, unknown, immutable law, activity or habit which adjusts wisely, intelligently and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing each cause back to its own original producer.


Boris de Zirkoff

Sometime in the Spring of 1892, the Theosophical Publishing Society in London issued a work entitled The Theosophical Glossary under the name of H. P. Blavatsky, bearing also the imprint of The Path Office in New York, and The Theosophist at Adyar, Madras, India.

In the February, 1892, issue of The Path (Vol. VI, p. 358.) it is stated that this work will be on sale in six weeks; and in the April issue of the same year (Vol. VII, p. 28.) it is briefly reviewed and described as being edited by G. R. S. Mead.

This was, of course, about a year after H.P.B.’s death in May, 1891.

However, the text of this work must have been almost ready long before that time, as The Path of December, 1890 (Vol. V, p. 25.) under date of November 5, 1890 - about a year and a half prior to the actual publication of this work, and months before H.P.B.’s passing - speaks of it as being completed and ready to go to the printer in a few days. It also says that it is to be issued “with the Archaic Symbolism,” whatever this may have meant.

The work was also briefly reviewed by Col. Olcott in The Theosophist, Vol. XIII, April, 1892, pp. 444-45.

The Preface, signed by Mead, is dated January, 1892, ten months after H.P.B.’s passing.

This work contains 389 pages and embodies 2,767 distinct terms with their appropriate definitions, alphabetically arranged.

The Preface informs us that this work is “almost entirely posthumous” and that H.P.B. “only saw the first thirty pages in proof.” This statement seems to make it easy to deduce that the work did not go to the printer “in a few days” after November 5, 1890, as surely H.P.B. would have seen a good deal more than 32 pages in proof, had the printer been setting up the MS. for the next six months, prior to her passing. From this it [13] would follow that the MS. did not go to the printer until considerably later, possibly in early 1891. What took place during this period of time, and during the balance of 1891, as far as the MS. is concerned, we cannot determine, except in regard to one point, namely, that a certain number of terms with their definitions were excerpted from the MS. and inserted as a Special Glossary into the second edition of The Key to Theosophy published still during H.P.B.’s lifetime, at the end of 1890.

As far as Mead is concerned, he lets us know, in his Preface to this work, that H.P.B. desired to express her indebtedness “as far as the tabulation of facts is concerned,” to four works, namely, the Sanskrit-Chinese Dictionary of Eitel, the Hindu Classical Dictionary of Dowson, Wilson’s Vishnu-Purana, and the Royal Masonic Cyclopaedia of Kenneth R. H. MacKenzie. He also points out the definitions signed W.W.W. are by W. W. Westcott.

From such a statement it would appear that The Theosophical Glossary is a work mainly by H. P. Blavatsky, with a certain number of quotations from a fairly small number of works. This impression has become pretty well established in the Theosophical Movement, and several editions of this work have been published by various Theosophical Organizations.

The facts, however, differ considerably.

A careful analysis of the definitions and of the probable sources from which they were borrowed, has disclosed that out of the 2,767 definitions, a minimum of 2,212 have been taken from the works of a large number of scholars, either verbatim or with very minor alterations, and with no acknowledgment whatsoever; in a few cases a line or two has been added, giving an occult interpretation probably by H.P.B. herself; such instances are very few.

Among the works which were most freely used are the following:

a) Those already mentioned above.
b) Bonwick’s Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought.
c) George Smith’s Chaldean Account of Genesis.
d) Five Years of Theosophy: Glossary of Terms.
e) Anson’s Asgard and the Gods.
f) Myer’s Qabbalah.
g) R. Spence Hardy’s Eastern Monachism.
h) Emil Schlagintweit’s Buddhism in Tibet.

There are 124 terms signed by W. Wynn Westcott; 217 terms identical, or practically so, with the corresponding terms in the Glossary of the 2nd edition of The Key to Theosophy; about 25-30 terms from The Secret Doctrine; and about 70 terms from Isis Unveiled.

When it is considered that for the interpretation and elucidation of facts and terms pertaining to the Kabbalah and other ancient Hebrew matters, the help of W. Wynn Westcott was secured, it is hard to understand why Sanskrit terms were not submitted to competent scholars in India, several such being staunch Fellows of the T. S. at the time. This certainly would have avoided erroneous spellings and most curious errors in definitions.

It is to be regretted that such errors have been allowed to stand all through [14] the years, giving rise to unfriendly criticism and scorn on the part of people versed in these subjects. It seems difficult to understand why, for instance, Adhyatma-vidra, meaning the “science or knowledge of Atman,” would have been defined as “the esoteric luminary.” Curiously enough, it i, defined precisely that way by Eitel in his work, and so we are blessed with the errors of honest but inadequate scholars of a previous century. Amitabha is a Sanskrit term meaning “boundless splendour” or “infinite glory” - if any real translation can ever be arrived at; therefore it is not a “Chinese perversion of the Sanskrit Amrita Buddha.” Aindriya literally means “pertaining to the senses,” and not “ Indrani, the wife of Indra.” Apana is one of the pranas, and hardly “a practice of Yoga.” Arasa Maram is not Sanskrit but Tamil, as its final m indicates (in addition to its meaning); it is the common name for the Pipal tree.

Imagine “Bagavadam” (Bhagavata) described as “a Tamil Scripture on Astronomy and other matters,” while it is one of the most celebrated of the eighteen Mahapuranas treating of Vishnu, Krishna, the Creation, and the histories of various sovereigns. Dhyan-Chohans, if literally translated, means “Lords of Meditation,” and not “Lords of Light.” The term Me- lha refers to a Tibetan fire-god; it is neither Sanskrit, nor has it anything to do with Salamanders which are elementals. And when it comes to Midgard from the Scandinavian mythology, this term refers to the Earth, the home of men between heaven and hell; the Midgard snake was killed by Thor. It is Nidhogg, and not Midgard, that gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the Ash Tree of Life.

The definitions of the Days and Nights of Brahma are entirely wrong. A Day of Brahma is equivalent in length to 1,000 Mahayugas. This is a period of 4,320,000,000 years (Cf. Bhagavad-Gita, VIII, sloka 17). An Age of Brahma represents the period of life of Brahma, which is stated in the Mahabharata to be a period of 100 of Brahma’s Years. This is equivalent to 311,040,000,000,000 years, which consists of fifteen figures.

A partial survey of the first four letters of the Glossary has revealed no less than 40 mistranslations out of about 300 terms, a very high percentage indeed.

The above instances should suffice for our purpose.

A closer examination of the text than that already completed will, no doubt, merely increase the list of errors, and it is doubtful whether it would be of any real value.

We are faced here with a perfectly honest but woefully inadequate attempt on the part of various early scholars to grasp the subtle meaning of Oriental and other ancient terms, and to render their phonetic or actual form in English letters. Since those days, scholarship in the field of Egyptology, Orientalism, Classical research, and the like has advanced very considerably, and the early definitions have become quite inadequate; they have been superseded by a vaster knowledge and far greater accuracy, even though, from the standpoint of occult study, even the scholarship of today is yet far behind and often quite materialistic.

To publish the Theosophical Glossary [15] as it now stands simply means to perpetuate willingly and deliberately hundreds of errors; it also means to ascribe them, at least partially so, to H.P.B., imagining that the definitions are hers, as no source of reference is given; while in reality, when adequate explanation and analysis of the text is made, nothing could be more erroneous than to imagine that H.P.B. was herself responsible for the majority of the definitions in the book. It is therefore entirely unjust and unfair to her to do so.

To correct the hundreds of wrong definitions would be a task of uncertain value, because, no matter how well done, it would still contain errors, some, perhaps, unsuspected by the Editor. To substitute for the definitions of early scholars those of present and better ones, would be a drastic alteration of the entire work. To eliminate all definitions which are by other people besides H.P.B. and, maybe, W. Wynn Westcott, would be possible but probably unwise, as hundreds of terms used by students today would receive no definition at all. To correct as much as can be corrected, to insert all the missing references and quotation marks, and then to fill in editorially missing definitions, to make the work more adequate and complete - would mean practically re-writing it. Its size would then be increased very considerably.

There remains the possibility of excerpting from it everything that is obviously H.P.B.’s, which is quite easy to do, because of her style and because of the reference to occult matters which none of the other scholars knew anything about. It might be feasible to add such material from H.P.B.’s pen to the Glossary in The Key to Theosophy, with complete explanation of the reasons for so doing, and of the background of this entire subject.

When the nature of the material in The Theosophical Glossary is considered without bias or preconceived ideas, and the facts outlined above are kept clearly in mind, it is difficult to believe that the publication of this work in 1892 was done in good faith. Its continued publication today is a disservice to the Cause, and most certainly an utterly unwarranted reflection upon the memory of H.P.B., whose name is made to appear in bold letters upon the title page of a work full of misinformation, and with the production of which she had very little to do. It is high time that these facts be stated without ambiguity for the information of serious students.


“For a road gets character from the people who pass over it, gathering grace or deviltry from the shoes of their feet or the hoofs of their horses. And this is well known to wise men, for the roads that have been frequented by footpads and robbers inspire fear, although you might not know their history; while the paths leading to shrines and sacred places have acquired a soothing quality that is like balm to the soul of those that walk over them.” - The Treasure of Vanished Men, by James Francis Dwyer. [16]


VOLUME TWO 1879-1880

This Volume was originally published in 1933 by Rider & Co. As a large portion of its stock was destroyed in the London “blitz,” it became a collector’s item. Through the years, many students and libraries have expressed their desire to secure a copy of it - as well as copies of Volumes I (now available), III and IV, which suffered the same fate.
Volume II contains, among other writings, H.P.B.’s forthright articles in American newspapers of 1879, just prior to her departure for India; her epoch-making pronouncements on Theosophy and the Theosophists in the opening pages of her first Theosophical Journal, The Theosophist, launched at Bombay in October, 1879; her fascinating and informative essay on the prehistoric civilizations of Central and South America, entitled “A Land of Mystery,” giving valuable hints on the lost treasures of the Incas; important essays on cycles and the occult significance of numbers; invaluable comments on Yoga practices and phenomena, on Mesmerism and Hypnotism, on adeptship and the inner constitution of man; and two of her gripping stories, full of wonder and suspense.
There is also a copious Appendix, prepared by the Compiler, with biographical sketches of individuals in touch with the Founders in the early days of the Movement, and people from whom H.P.B. quotes or to whom she refers.

635 pages; rare portraits, copious index; cloth bound.
PRICE: $7.00.

Other volumes of H.P.B.’s Collected Writings now available, $7.00 each:
Vol. I (1874-78) 570 pages
Vol. V (1883) 416 pages
Vol. VI (1883-85) 481 pages
Vol. VII (1886-87) 433 pages
Vol. VIII (1887) 507 pages
Vol. IX (1888) 487 pages
Vol. X (1888-89) 461 pages
Large octavos; illustrated; cloth bound; indexed.

Order from: “THEOSOPHIA”, 551 So. Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles, California 90005, U.S.A.
(California residents please add 5% sales tax.)