A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXV
No. 2 (116) - Fall 1968

[Cover photo: Colonade in the northern section of the Hypostyle Hall, Temple of Amon, Karnak, Egypt.
(From Georges Legrain, Les Temples de Karnak, Paris, 1929.)]


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.




Autumn is more than music, more than dreams,
More than a vision lost and never found;
Autumn is silence where the starlight gleams,
And loneliness, the far and fading sound
Of footsteps flying in a nameless night,
A rush of mighty wings, a call, a cry,
A whisper in the valley, and the light
Of phantom fires that burn across the sky.

Autumn is many things, and something more -
Something remote, eternal, and alone:
A shadow moving on an endless shore,
A breath, an image fugitive and flown.
Autumn is love remembered, legends old,
The song unwritten, and the tale untold.
- George Cardinal LeGros. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

Sixty-seven years after her death, and ninety-three years after the founding of The Theosophical Society, H. P. Blavatsky is still “News.”

The recent world-wide publicity given to her as an individual, and as author of The Secret Doctrine; the war of words which has swept the pages of well-known journals and newspapers in connection with her; and the passions which, very obviously, can be aroused even today when her name and the nature of her work is brought to the attention of certain people - all of these testify to the immense power and significance of her stature as an outstanding figure in the history of the modern world, and are conclusive evidence of the catalytic force of the ancient Wisdom-Teachings she disclosed from the ancient treasure-house of spiritual thought.

It is clearly discernible today that Blavatsky is as much alive - if not more so - in the thought-atmosphere of the world, as she was when Isis Unveiled was published in New York in 1877, and the 1,000 copies of the first impression were sold in ten days, arousing a storm of favorable editorial comments, in virulent conflict with a flood of vituperative abuse and passionate enmity from quarters not unlike those which even today are ready at a moment’s notice to use their armory of weapons, somewhat outdated, to be sure, in the struggle of obscurantism versus Truth.

As we approach the closing part of the century, some of the old enmities may be revived; some of the enemies of progress may attempt to win the day by intimidation and deception; and the spirit of materialism and denial may make repeated efforts to secure a new foothold upon the slippery ground it has been forced to travel of late by men and women who are dedicated to spiritual freedom and the ideals of the dawning Future.

Wherever there is struggle, there is growth. Wherever there is conflict, there is a clash of opposing elements, therefore a process of cleansing and purification. To be challenged by ignorance is to be faced with the glorious opportunity of restating what one knows is true, and to introduce at least a few rays of light into the Cimmerian darkness in which most people seem to live. Marcus Aurelius, the great Emperor-philosopher, thought it was “glorious to be misunderstood,” because it gave us the golden opportunity of explaining the facts and of shedding light, an exercise which sharpens the mind, strengthens the heart, and lifts us to the plane of forceful but kindly action in a positive Cause.

It is now the time for all students of H. P. Blavatsky to become better acquainted with her teachings, to become better informed concerning her life and work, and to provide themselves with all necessary data on the various aspects of her career which have aroused doubts, suspicion and enmity in certain quarters. It is demanded of them all to brush up on neglected fundamentals of the [4] teachings, and to be alert for possible opportunities to keep the record clean and straight, or to correct existing misinformation.

To have an opportunity to do so, and to have it in an ever-increasing manner, is a state of affairs some of us have been waiting for all these years. We may therefore be grateful for the existing circumstances, and utilize them whenever possible to the best advantage of the Cause.

It should be distinctly borne in mind that for H. P. Blavatsky and her works to become widely known throughout the world - the reading world, we might say - there is need for us to have easy access to various news-media; this is difficult to accomplish even with the expenditure of a great deal of money. Therefore, to have this effect achieved free of charge, and without any effort on our part, is a rather curious development, even though the publicity is not as favor able as we might have liked. However, the results are very good on the whole; the name of H. P. Blavatsky has once again resounded all over the world; her books are selling like hot cakes; Theosophy is being discussed pro and con in circles where we thought it to be for ever banned. If any of our enemies had thought to “bury” us for good this time, they used the wrong methods. We are more alive than ever before, and are delighted to know how hard some of our opponents have worked of late on our behalf! As has been said before: “We do not care what is being said about us; just as long as they keep on talking!” If what is said is untrue - it can be corrected in time, often through other channels. If nothing is said at all ... well, that’s another matter, and it might be difficult to bring up the subject! ...

So then, Friends and Enemies alike, keep on talking! ...

When the present-day situation in world-thought is considered, further developments along similar lines are most probable: modern Science supports, both on practical lines and in scientific theorizing, a large number of Theosophical concepts; religions the world over are fast pulling away from the man-made theology of bygone eras; ancient ideas, such as reincarnation and karma, are gradually becoming established in people’s thought; and the idea of Universal Brotherhood is becoming the sine qua non of survival.

Our aims and objectives are really quite reasonable. We would be satisfied with just a few items to be achieved in the next few years: factual and friendly accounts concerning H. P. Blavatsky and her work in the standard Encyclopaedias of the world; a recognition of The Secret Doctrine as one of the most remarkable works of modern times; the introduction of the Esoteric Philosophy as a fit subject of study in some of the leading Universities of the world; and the elimination, final and complete, of all scurrilous material about Blavatsky and Theosophy from responsible news-media and current literature. We are not asking anybody to accept our teachings, to give up their own ideas, or to support our own work. All we demand is justice and fair-play, dignity and impartiality, facts instead of fiction. We will take care of all else. [5]


Bandusia Wakefield

The term reincarnation, as used in Theosophical literature, means the coming again and again of the human soul into successive human bodies of flesh, but never into the body of a lower animal.

In evolution the door always closes behind the eternal pilgrim, and, for this informing and indwelling principle, there is no going back. Its progress is like the flow of the blood through the heart. Valves open for the forward flow of the life current in its cycle, but close against a backward flow. Or it is like that of the chambered nautilus that builds itself new mansions as the old ones grow too small, and never goes back; in fact, cannot, for the old house is outgrown. So when once a centre of self-consciousness has been evolved from the Universal Consciousness, and has incarnated in a fit vehicle for its use, the human body, it can never enter the body of a lower animal or function through its organism.

Reembodiment, or change of form, is a method of progress in the involution and evolution of the whole cosmos, but reembodiment of collective life in forms below the human is succeeded by reincarnation of individual thinking entities when the human stage is reached.

We see evidence of design in all nature, a working towards an end, and in this working a cyclic law obtains, alternate periods of subjective and objective life. We see it clearly in the vegetable kingdom. The tree drops its old garment of leaves, the life principle withdraws to the root and dwells in subjectivity till the period of reawakening, when it comes forth again into trunk and branch and takes on a new body of leaves. Not only the leaves, but branch and stalk of other plants, die, leaving only root or bulb or seed to hold the latent life and ideal plan of the plant. But the life and the plan are there, however unmanifested, and nature never makes a mistake in reembodying the one in accordance with the other. In this kingdom a physical vehicle is not dispensed with during subjective periods, but is reduced to small limits.

Reembodiment is plainly discernible in the insect world, where the same old material is worked over into a new and entirely different body, but always with the intervening subjective states. We have a familiar illustration of this in the caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly. Higher in the scale, transformations in the same body are limited to organs, the informing principle is more developed, and it has no longer a physical body during subjective states save in hibernation, sleep and trance.

As reembodiment, with alternate periods of activity and rest, obtains in [6] the lower kingdoms, analogy would lead us to infer the same for the higher. If it is worthwhile to conserve the informing principle of a plant with its specific character and reembody it, surely the soul of man deserves as much.

The immortality of the human soul demands reembodiment of some kind, somewhere, and the fittest body at present is the human organism, which required so many million years for its building, and the fittest place is earth so long as earth can furnish needed experience. If the life of the soul is without an end it must also be without a beginning, for that which has one end must have two. A beginning with the body implies an end with the body. That the soul is not the product of the body and does not necessarily perish with it is evident from its superiority over the body, a, no stream can rise higher than its source.

The aim we see about us in nature is surely not set aside when we come to man, and since the soul of man incarnates, it must incarnate for a purpose, and that purpose must be development of all the latent potentialities within it through experience by its contact with matter on the physical plane. This development includes the conquest of matter and the training of the animal man till it becomes a fit instrument for the divine, and implies also the helping of other souls in their development. This object we plainly see cannot be accomplished in one earth life, even the longest; and how many quit the body at birth or in early childhood! If these can complete their development under other conditions than those afforded on the physical plane, then were it never necessary to incarnate at all and incarnation is a farce. But incarnation being necessary, reincarnation must be so also. To acquire wisdom there must be opportunity for all experience, and to learn the unsatisfying nature of material life it must be tested in every phase. Many, many lives on earth are necessary for this; and the desire which first brought the soul into physical life will bring it again and again until physical life has nothing more to offer that can draw the soul.

The theory of repeated earth-lives in which a reincarnating ego reaps what it has sown and sows what it will reap is the only one consistent with the idea of justice. The great differences in mental and moral capacities of different individuals, as well as in their circumstances, can be just on no other ground than that each individual has made his own capacities and conditions. What justice is there in creating new souls without any wish, will or action on their part for all newborn bodies, and making these souls with widely different tendencies and capacities, placing some, often weak ones, in the most wretched and vicious surroundings where only strong souls could be virtuous, and others in beautiful, good and happy homes with every incentive to virtue, and then holding all alike responsible for the outcome of their lives? There is no justice in it. Only on the theory that each soul makes for itself its character and conditions is there any justice in the existing state of things. But this theory demands preexistence of the soul and reincarnation.

Neither is there any justice in the theory that some race in the future [7] will reap the grand results of the experience of preceding races, unless that race be composed of the same egos as the preceding or has rendered or will render them like benefits.

The wide divergences in mental and moral characteristics in the same family can be accounted for only on the theory of a persistent ego that incarnates again and again gathering up, assimilating and carrying on the results of all its experiences. Heredity will not account for these differences, for even in the case of twins where not only the ancestry but the prenatal conditions are the same these wide mental and moral divergences may be seen in connection with great physical similarity. Heredity accounts for the physical likeness and is a co-worker with reincarnation by affording the ego a suitable instrument for its purposes, an instrument which the ego has earned by its past.

Reincarnation and not heredity accounts for genius and infant precocity. Often the genius is the only one in his family possessing his striking qualities in any marked degree. He neither inherited them from ancestors nor transmitted them to posterity, but must have acquired them by his own exertions in the past, and still carries them with him. To call these qualities the unearned gift of a Creator is but to ascribe partiality and injustice to that Creator.

Infant precocity shows remembrance of knowledge acquired in the past. This is true not only of a Mozart, who composed a most difficult concerto at the age of four years, but of less noted persons who at a very early age were able to read without having been taught in the present life.

Some persons comprehend and accept with great readiness Theosophical teachings on first presentation, because these are not new to their egos, while others of equal intellect comprehend and accept with difficulty or not at all. We readily accept those new ideas which are only an extension of our previous ideas.

Great spiritual lights, such as Jesus and Buddha, are no products of heredity with the added acquirements of one life only; but the suffering through which those souls were perfected and made one with the divine spirit was the suffering of many lives.

Reincarnation best accounts for the decay of highly-civilized races and nations and the rise of new ones. The egos that brought on the high civilization of the old race quit it for the new, and then less and less advanced egos incarnate in the old, thus bringing on its decay. By the law of progress through heredity the race ought to go on to greater things instead of going back. Through reincarnation there is real and continued progress. The going-back is only apparent, for all the egos go forward, and only the race made use of as an instrument by successively less and less advanced egos goes back. The instrument, but not the user, wears out.

Only the theory of reincarnation gives a satisfactory explanation of the extinction of races. All the egos in the present cycle of development, having progressed beyond the need of anything that a certain race can furnish, will no longer incarnate in it, but will seek a more advanced race, so births cease in the old race and it becomes extinct. [8]

The reappearance of certain types of civilization after intervals of 1500 years goes to sustain the doctrine of reincarnation of the same ego after that interval in a subjective state. As an example of this note the reappearance of the conquering, colonizing and empire-loving character of the Romans of the Augustan period in the English of the Elizabethan age. See also at the present time in the currents of mystic, religious and philosophical thought a reappearance of the mystic thought, Gnosticism and Neo-Platonism of the fourth century.

The instinctive feelings of attraction and repulsion felt on first meeting people and without any apparent reason, may be due to old relations existing in former lives and not yet severed on the invisible planes. Indeed they are sometimes hard to account for on any other hypothesis.

Peculiar emotions connected with certain thing, and events point to some unknown former relationship to them.

Dreams often indicate a familiarity with persons and things not known in this life.

Intuitions of former lives enrich the page of the poet. Wordsworth says:

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
The soul that rises with us, our life’s star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar.

The same thought in varying phrase is expressed by many other inspired poets.

There are many people who have distinct remembrance of former lives, and that all do not remember is no proof of previous non-existence; for we do not remember the first years of our infancy nor many of the events of our later life, yet we do not on that account consider ourselves to have been non-existent. The reason so many of us do not remember is because the new brain we use in the present body is not sufficiently sensitive to the fine vibrations of the Higher Ego to be impressed with its knowledge of the past. But when the lower nature has been sufficiently trained and purified, then each personality will be able to receive the knowledge of the past and be strong enough to bear it. But at the present stage of development, it is a blessing to most of us that we are not burdened with a memory of the details of the past, and many would be glad to forget portions of the present life could the lesson be retained without the remembrance of the mistakes that taught them. This is just what we have from our past lives.

The objection to reincarnation is sometimes offered that it is unjust to suffer for an unremembered past, or for the deeds of another personality. Those who make this objection, however, never think of injustice in reaping the happy rewards of an unremembered past, or of the deeds of another personality. They fail also to consider how many causes of suffering sown in this life are forgotten before the suffering comes, yet they do not for that reason think the suffering unjust. Through all lives the ego is the same, and each personality, though a new one, is an aggregation of qualities from the past. So the suffering is just.

Some people object to reincarnation because, as they say, they do not want to come back, they have had enough of the troubles of earth and are tired [9] of earth-life, or they do not wish to lose their individuality or be separated from their friends or fail to recognize them. All these objections are based on the likes and dislikes of the objectors, as if these were sufficient to change facts and laws of nature. These people lose sight of the common fact in their everyday experience that their not liking things does not prevent their being. But granting the potency of likes and dislikes, one may be weary of earth-life under certain conditions and yet be eager to try it under others. In fact, it is a common thing to hear people say, “Oh, if I could only live my life over again with the knowledge I now have, how differently I would act!” This chance they sigh for they will have.

As for losing the individuality, this is a mistake. The individuality, which includes all that is worth saving, is not lost. It is only the undesirable portion of the being that is broken up. The new personality is but a new putting together of old material which has to be worked over till something better is made of it, or till it is so refined and purified that it is worthy to be preserved.

The objection regarding the failure to recognize friends is based on externals. That these friends must continue to have the same outward appearance is entirely unreasonable, as they do not do this even through one short earth-life. Applied to the soul-plane, this objection would preclude all mental and spiritual growth. In regard to the separation of friends, souls that are truly bound together by pure unselfish love are not separated by either birth or death of a body. Attachments hold over from one life to another and bring the same individuals together in successive incarnations.

Another objection put forward against reincarnation is that by presenting the opportunities of future lives it will make people careless regarding the present, that they will follow evil courses, indulging in whatever gratifies the lower nature. This might be so if there were no retribution but every evil thought and deed carries in itself the seed of pain. The law of Karma is inseparably linked to that of reincarnation, and there is no escaping the consequences of one’s acts. This knowledge, instead of making people more inclined to lead evil lives, will have just the opposite effect.

The appearance of vicious children in virtuous families and virtuous children in vicious families is offered as an objection to the theory that the soul is drawn to reincarnate in a family having similar characteristics to his own. Other factors than this, however, enter into the account. The interlinking of past Karma may be such as to bring together in the same family very different characters. Sometimes strong souls that have a mission to help humanity may be born into low conditions from choice, for by such birth they are best enabled to help all. They are too strong and pure to be overpowered by the conditions and so rise above them. But by their lowly birth and passing up through all ranks they are enabled to come into sympathetic touch with all.

Reincarnation accounts for the divergences in families while heredity does not, although it is claimed that they may be accounted for by reversion. Yet the theory of reversion [10] is disproved by the appearance of a single genius in an obscure family; for had any of his like appeared· before in that family it would not have been obscure.

It is claimed that reincarnation sets aside heredity, or that heredity invalidates reincarnation, neither of which is true; for reincarnation works with heredity, the latter affording the suitable physical environment for the returning ego.

Increase of population is put forward as an objection to reincarnation, yet it is not positively known that the population of the earth increases, there being no statistics of population in many parts of it; and even if the population should increase there are so many more egos out of incarnation than in it that the increase could easily be accounted for without affecting the theory of reincarnation.

Reincarnation is believed in by the majority of the human race. It is the belief of Brahmans, Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Sufi Mohammedans and many of the tribes of North and South America , among them the Mayas. It is held by some Jews and Christians and by most of the members of the Theosophical Society of whatever religion. As a theory reincarnation is becoming less strange and unreasonable to the western mind, and it certainly best accounts for known existing facts.

This doctrine is very clearly, taught in the Bhagavad-Gita, which is accepted by both Brahmans and Buddhists, and also in the Upanishads. It belongs to the ancient religious teachings of the Egyptians. The “Song of Resurrection” by Isis is a song of rebirth. It is taught in the Talmud, the Zohar and Kether Malkuth, and in the Old and New Testaments. Micah prophesies the coming again of one whose “going-forth” had been from everlasting (v, 2.).

Jesus asked his disciples “ Whom do men say that I am?” And they answered, “Some say thou art John the Baptist, some Elias, and others Jeremias or one of the prophets” (Matthew, xvi, 13.). So it was thought that any of these might come again. And the same belief on the part of his own chosen disciples is implied by the question, “Who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John, ix, 2.), which implies the possibility of his sinning before birth. And Jesus said nothing against such a belief in either case although he says of himself, “To this end was I born, and for this case came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth” (John, xviii, 37.). On the contrary he declares that “Before Abraham was, I am” (John, viii.), and that John the Baptist was Elias come again (Matthew, xi, 14.). In Revelation (iii, 12.) is the statement, “Him that over-cometh will I make a pillar in the house of my God, and he shall go no more out,” which implies that he had been out before and would go out again unless he overcame. In John (iii, 13.) is the passage, “No man hath ascended up to heaven, but he that came down from heaven,” which teaches preexistence unless heaven has been and is devoid of men. There are numerous other passages supporting the teaching of reincarnation to be found in the Christian Bible.

A general knowledge in the western world of the doctrines of karma and reincarnation would be a very [11] beneficial influence. It would greatly increase the sense of moral responsibility and consequently the moral character of the people. It would change the attitude of the rich and the poor towards each other for the better. The rich would feel themselves accountable for making the best use of their wealth, would know that if they practised injustice and unkindness in their treatment of the poor and had no sympathy for their suffering, that they might expect sometime to be poor themselves and suffer like treatment to learn a needed lesson. So even from a selfish point of view there would be a strong incentive to brotherly action. A thorough assimilation of these doctrines would strike deeper root than this and would really make people less selfish. On the part of the poor these teachings would enable them to see that they themselves were the real makers of their hard lot, that they had earned it by their own past or that they had chosen it for their own soul-growth.

This knowledge would help them to bear with patience what would otherwise be revolted against as great injustice, and it would take away their hate and envy of the rich, while at the same time the rich would he more kind to them, so that a general brotherly feeling would arise. A wholesome teaching is this:

Who toiled a slave may come anew a prince,
For gentle worthiness and merit won;
Who ruled a king may wander earth in rags
For things done and undone.


Montague A. Machell

The majority of us, probably, experience periods of intense annoyance at being constantly “pushed around” by life. Daily there occur in our lives situations and circumstances in which we seem to be compelled to follow courses of action that have not our entire approval, and which, left to our own judgment, we would not follow. Our explanation for following them is apt to be that circumstances (or life) compel us. We blame “Management” for putting us in this position, and compelling us to follow this course; as an employee of the company, we have no choice but to obey “Management.”

If the situation becomes too acute, of course, we can always change jobs. But whatever job we take we shall always find Management directing our course of procedure in accordance with the policy of the company. There must be innumerable individuals in life who, as perpetual misfits, are constantly changing jobs, forever chafing against life - or “Management.”

May it not be that many of us have neglected to inform ourselves as to the “policy” life adheres to, which it requires us to conform with? How many, I wonder, have accepted the fact that life has a definite “policy,” [12] which intentionally influences every living being? Because of his ignorance of, or indifference to, that policy, man finds himself constantly being “pushed around” by life, and will continue to be, so long as he seeks to defy it.

A fairly profound and comprehensive approach is needed to grasp the fact that living always has a larger significance than merely “the way I live” or “the way you live.” It is an approach that reminds one that life has been going on for aeons and aeons of time, that there is an inmost core of spiritual reality in you and me, that is as ancient and as constant as life; and in truth, completely dedicated to life’s “policy” - spiritual growth. This policy is so ancient, so unchanging, so universal, that only the inmost core of us is capable of comprehending and carrying it out, i.e., of identifying himself with MANAGEMENT.

Too many of us prefer to become one of the floating population of “job hunters” who indulge the futile hope of fitting the job policy to his own inclinations. This unfortunate majority is always going to be “pushed around” by Management, so long as they refuse to recognize the magnitude of the policy and its unchanging purpose.

The “job hunter” is, in plain words, the human·personality, deeply intrenched in a policy of self-service, and blindly endeavoring to foster that policy in the face of Management’s more pretentious one. And the policy it flouts is so immutable, so timeless and universal, that no human personality is capable of grasping it. Only that inmost core of enduring Reality in man is able to glimpse its meaning and, ever so gradually, to endow the human personality with respect for it. That man who lends an ear to the Reality in him, glimpses, for a moment at least, Management’s policy. No sooner does he allow that policy to direct his course of action than he ceases to be “pushed around” - he becomes Management.

“Join MANAGEMENT” - an invitation to think and evaluate issues and events from the standpoint of Management. The personal point of view can become a tragically limited one, focused on “me” and “mine.” But, since life is a universal gift, those on the side of life (“Management”) bear the responsibility of thinking universally. “No man is an island,” and the ultimate issues are the issues of all. To be worthy to deal with them is to think, not in terms of a personal life-time, but in terms of cyclic unfoldment over many incarnations. Even history, in that purview, is only incidental since the age-long Karmic patterns of the unfolding spirit are beyond the scope of it, tainted as it is, at best, with a measurable personal bias.

Thinking in terms of “Management” is attaining a perception of one’s identity with all nature, all thought, all destiny. It is awakening to the fact that this moment is laden with sacred consequence because it is divine and - irreclaimable. Destiny is forever shaped in this moment. He with love and concern for all humanity pours into it a heart-felt concern for what his thought and aspiration can contribute to the welfare of all mankind as of this moment.

Events, issues, circumstances, all fall into place in relation to a Karmic [13] Pattern. Those on the side of Management lend to that pattern such understanding and compassion that from these is achieved the means to utilize events as a step upward. Such as these are never “pushed around” by life because they have learned to use it for the good of their fellows. Too acute a sensitivity regarding one’s personal reward or advancement is responsible for too many of life’s bruises. It is possible to be so absorbed in the greater issue as to expose none of our more vulnerable aspects to “bruising.”

Many lives on earth are required to establish in the nature an immutable acceptance of life’s “policy” - an acceptance so spiritually and intellectually clear that one rejects “my way of life” for THE WAY - that sublime Spiritual Pattern that is life itself. GROWING interiorly, which is growing in “life,” is an experience so infinite and immeasurable that one’s thinking and aspiring take in the flower in the meadow, the evening star, the sobbing of the sea, the stillness of twilight. It is Growth in tune with the heart of the universe, timeless, selfless, unfearful and exultant. One’s “job” is inseparable from dawns and twilights, from the anguish of a fellow seeker, from the triumph of a humble initiate. One’s “job” is LIFE, and LIFE IS ALL!


L. Gordon Plummer

Mark Twain once said that a man’s conscience does not stop him from doing something; it only prevents him from enjoying it. We laugh at him because there is something in us that agrees with him. Whether it is a half-truth, the whole truth, or no truth at all, depends upon the individual.

It involves our understanding of the conscience and the problem of good and evil. It is quite true that we are taught many things to be wrong during the impressionable years of childhood, and the results of our early training stay with us. Later events often show that by and large we have come a long way during the past half century in the understanding of human behavior, and we find that certain actions that were once thought to be wrong are now found to be not only harmless, but in some instances, actually beneficial. And yet it is sometimes a struggle to overcome the prickings of conscience. This points up the need to be extremely careful in the education of our children, looking always to the future, and their ultimate growth. At the same time, we must guard against the tendency toward permissiveness, which we can do if we remember that above all things, character building is the most important.

Unfortunately the conscience is now considered by many to be nothing more than a conditioned reflex, and the view that it is the voice of something higher within man is held to be hopelessly naive. This modern idea can do [14] great harm, as I hope to show. In order to do this, I would like to inquire into the nature of good and evil.

These are relative terms, for what is held to be good in one human culture may be considered to be evil in another, and vice versa. Are these, then, realities in themselves, apart from local mores and customs? It is the belief of many that they are.

We see the continual struggle between the constructive and the destructive forces in human life, and only a casual observation is necessary to convince us that the evil path is the easy path, and that to achieve good requires constant effort.

Consider this illustration: One rotten apple will ultimately spoil all the apples in a barrel. But put one good apple in a barrel of rotten ones, and will you find that the goodness of the one apple will spread among the others so that in a few hours you will have a barrel full of fresh sweet apples? Of course not.

Among apples then, evil is expressed in terms of the deterioration of the materials of which the apple is composed, and this spreads, causing the destruction of all the other apples. There is no argument as to which is to be preferred, a sweet apple or a bad one. Seen in this light, good and evil are not relative; they are realities.

There is exactly this aspect of good and evil among humans. Setting aside the matter of customs and mores which are national characteristics, but getting down to the realities of good and evil, we are forced to admit that where we see deterioration of the constructive forces that make a nation strong, this is obviously the road of evil and the ultimate downfall of the nation. And this may be applied on a smaller scale. We have only to look at our schools and colleges wherein a small group of dissidents can cause untold harm. Granted that in some instances there are real grievances that must be corrected, the manner in which many young people attack the problems advertises before the world the ethical deterioration that has gained a foothold in the personal lives of many (too often brought on by drugs), which spreads quickly through a group of like-minded individuals.

No one doubts the power that these sin all groups of disruptors wield. More courage and effort is required of some young people to keep out of trouble than to get into it.

What has just been written about good and evil relates to the matter of the conscience. Just as there is good and evil which we recognize to be relative to another, and the more important aspect which depicts reality, so it is with the conscience. There is that aspect that is related to the relative nature of good and evil, and this is the type of conscience that is easy to believe in.

The real conscience in man is related to the nature of good and evil per se. Just as evil is essentially destructive, so the real conscience is a warning, built in, if you like, that tells us that there is a process of degeneration about to be started in the nature of the individual. This warning is just as natural as is the warning of physical pain, and it should not go unheeded. If we were as careful of our mental and spiritual health as we are of our physical well-being, we would be quick to recognize the warning signal, and we would take steps to remove the [15] causes of the mental, psychological and spiritual pain.

Then, just as physical health gives one a sense of well-being, and this is a pleasurable thing, as it ought to be, so when there is mental, psychological and spiritual health, the conscience reflects to us a feeling of inner well-being. Thus the conscience has two functions; it not only tells us when something is going wrong with our thoughts, our motives and our emotions, but it tells us when all is well. And better than that, it is a far more delicate faculty than the sensation of physical pain or well-being, because, while the latter acts automatically, there is consciousness working in and through the conscience, and it can accomplish far more than the nervous system can. It can and should take the role of a mentor, giving us advice as to the best course to follow in a difficult situation.

The experience is not uncommon wherein a person might have a difficult letter to write, in which it becomes necessary for him to state his case clearly, and after writing the letter, having a nagging feeling that somehow it will not do. So he does not mail it. He sleeps on it, as the saying goes, and in the morning, just because the desire is there to write a letter that will express his viewpoint without giving unnecessary hurt to the recipient, he sees where he can make important changes in a word here and a phrase there, which puts the whole matter in the right light.

As I see it, the conscience has been at work while he slept. It had been aroused to action by the wish to carry the matter through in the best possible manner. So here is a case wherein the conscience has served a useful purpose, and we should seek opportunities to strengthen this faculty.

Whenever we feel a “hunch,” we should examine it carefully. We should not brush it aside as something unimportant, but we should think it over and act on it if it seems to be good. This is an important exercise in developing the conscience, as it is meant to be developed that it might serve us. And in the course of time, its importance grows, so that instead of being a nameless thing, it assumes definiteness, and we eventually recognize that it is the voice of the inner guide. It has awaited the time when it could assert itself. And we all find ultimately that it is up to us to bring it into prominence in our lives. The rewards are great.


“The Theosophical ‘missionaries’ aim also at a social revolution. But it is a wholly ethical revolution. It will come about when the disinherited masses understand that happiness is in their own hands, that wealth brings nothing but worries, that he is happy who works for others, for those others work for him, and when the rich realize that their felicity depends upon that of their brothers - whatever their race or religion - then only will the world see the dawn of happiness.” - H. P. Blavatsky,Collected Writings, Vol. VIII, pp. 86-87. [16]


VOLUME THREE - 1881-1882

Just as had been the case with the original edition of Volumes I and II, recently republished, the stock of the first edition of Volume III, published in 1935, was destroyed in the London “blitz.” It is now reissued in a revised, enlarged, and greatly improved form.
Volume III contains, among other writings, several essays on Magnetism in its relation to the inner structure of man; a thought-provoking essay on the mysterious Count de Saint-Germain; a scholarly dissertation on Lamas and Druses and their Occult Hierarchies, which H.P.B. knew from personal experience; several articles on the inter-relation of numbers and geometrical patterns; comments on Death and Satan, to which some illuminating notes by Master K.H. are appended; important explanations on intricate esoteric subjects attached to a learned essay by T. Subba Row; suggestive thoughts in regard to sleep, dreams and visions; a profound study of Zoroaster and his teachings in the light of the Esoteric Philosophy; and some plain talk, in H.P.B.’s inimitable style, on violence, political crimes and assassinations, in connection with the martyr-death of Emperor Alexander II of Russia. All in all, the Volume is a mine of occult information, rich in lofty thoughts, pithy aphorisms and sparks of occasional wit, when sundry patties get rapped on the knuckles.
The Volume is enriched with a Chronological Survey and a copious Appendix, containing biographical sketches of a number of people.

621 pages; rare portraits; fully indexed; cloth bound.
PRICE: $7.00.

Vol. I (1874-78) 570 pages.
Vol. II (1879-80) 635 pages.
Vol. III (1881-82) 584 pages.
Vol. IV (1882-83) Ready 1969.
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

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