A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XXXVI
No. 1 (159) - Summer 1979

[Cover photo: Total Solar Eclipse, February 26, 1979. Photographed in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, where totality lasted for almost three minutes. Courtesy David Sovereign, President, Los Angeles Astronomical Society, Sweeping from the Coat of Washington State, through Montana, and into northeastern Canada, this total eclipse was the last one to be seen in America until the year 2017.]


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: $3.00 a year (four issues), single copy 75 cents. Send all subscriptions, renewals and correspondence to: 634 South Gramercy Place, #301, Los Angeles, California 90005. 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.



"If the Hindus possessed in 1491 a knowledge of the heavenly motions sufficiently accurate to enable them to calculate backwards for 4,592 years, it follows that they could only have obtained that knowledge from very ancient observations. To grant them such knowledge, while refusing them the observations from which it is derived, is to suppose an impossibility; it would be equivalent to assuming that at the outset of their career they had already reaped the harvest of time and experience ... time itself was their teacher; they knew the motions of the heavenly bodies during these periods, because they had seen them; and the duration of the Hindu people on earth is the cause of the fidelity of its records and the accuracy of its calculations." - H.P.B., The Secret Doctrine, II, 660-61, discussing Hindu astronomy, including eclipses and the Kali-Yuga.


"... often and perhaps usually the magnetic phenomena which accompany an eclipse of the Sun extend far beyond the path of the shadow. An eclipse of the Moon is also a very important event, especially for those parts of the Earth which are just opposite the Moon at the time . . . Remember that eclipses of both kinds, whether of Sun or Moon, produce enormous psycho-magnetic movements on the Earth, rushing of entities to the Earth or to the Moon ..." - G. de Purucker, Dialogues, Vol. II, p. 328. [3]




The Founding of "The Theosophist"

In the Spring and early Summer of 1879, H.P.B. and Col. Henry S. Olcott travelled in various parts of India, meeting a number of interesting people and establishing connections for the future expansion of the work. The urgent need of a Journal became more and more apparent, as correspondence was constantly increasing and individual replies crowded other important activities into the background. From Col. Olcott's original Diaries in the Adyar Archives, and from the pages of his Old Diary Leaves which are based on them, we gather the following facts concerning a future Journal:

July 4, 1879 - Consultation held on that day which decided the Founders to issue a magazine.

July 6 - Prospectus for the magazine to be called The Theosophist is written, and its proofs corrected on the 9th.

July 15 - Master M. visits the Founders and "a most important private interview" follows. Although it does not state so, it may have had something to do with the founding of the Journal.

July 31 - Edward Wimbridge, English architect from New York, designs the cover of The Theosophist.

August 22 - H.P.B. and Col. Olcott revise articles for the forthcoming Journal.

September 2 - Wimbridge begins engraving cover design for The Theosophist. In her Scrapbook, Vol. X, p. 9, H.P.B. pasted a proof of the cover for the forthcoming Theosophist, and wrote under it as follows: "First proof of the cover - printed in relief because we could find in India neither a wood-block to cut it on, nor an engraver to cut it properly nor a lithographer to print it in colours from the stone. Wimbridge had to invent a new process to etch it on the zinc."

September 11 - Workmen fitting up an Office for the Journal in the new Compound.

September 20 - The first form (or signature) of 8 pages of The Theosophist is run off.

September 28 - Col. Olcott goes to printer at 5:30 a.m. to make certain changes ordered by the "revered Old Gentleman" late the night before. This is most likely the Adept-Brother known as "Narayan" about whom we know very little.

September 30 - In the evening of that day, the first 400 copies of The Theosophist, a 32-page, royal 4to, are received.

October 1 - First issue of The Theosophist officially out: "All hands busy pasting and directing wrappers," writes Col. Olcott.

October 3 - Letter received by Col. Olcott from Master Serapis, in which occurs the following passage: "1. Assert your rights to the paper - it was [4] established for you, none but you two have a right over it as directed by - [Master Serapis' symbol] ... 3. Whenever convenient explain that the paper is neither yours nor H.P.B.'s but belongs to and is under the control of certain persons no one knows anything about except your two selves ... (Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom, 2nd Series, Letter No. 29.)

October 30 - By that date they had 381 registered subscribers to the new Journal and decided to print 750 copies for second issue.

From Col. Olcott's Old Diary Leaves, Second Series, we gather that on December 2nd, H.P.B., accompanied by Col. Olcott, Damodar and Babula, left by train for Allahabad, to visit the Sinnetts. It was on December 26th that the Sinnetts were taken into membership in the T.S. After a brief trip to Benares, the party returned to Bombay, on New Year's Day of 1880.

* * *

From the careful study of the documents and letters of that era, and the general attitude of the Founders towards the fast growing work of The Society, it would appear that they considered the forthcoming publication of The Theosophist as the appearance of a great light on the Theosophical scene, a light intended to illumine many a subject and to bring into prominence many facts so far disregarded or ignored. Col. Olcott's Oct. 1st entry in his Diary is: "Sit Lux: Fiat Lux!"

On the other side of the globe, thousands of miles away from the Founders, a close friend of the Founders and a Fellow of The Theosophical Society, Thomas Alva Edison was working trying to produce the first practical incandescent electric light. On the evening of October 19, 1879, only a few days after the appearance of The Theosophist, in the small Edison laboratory at Menlo Park the stage was set for one of the most significant moments in modern history. Edison and a group of his associates were seated around a crude experimental lamp. The lamp was connected to an electric circuit and current was switched on. Instantly it responded, glowing with a soft light. All eyes were fixed on the slender horseshoe of light, half expecting it to vanish, but hour after hour it continued to glow until the night was spent. On the second afternoon, October 21st - the filament burned out, more than forty hours after it had first received current. The men leaped up with cries of jubilation, but Edison was quiet in his hour of greatest triumph. "That's fine," he said, "I think we've got it. If it can burn forty hours, I can make it last a hundred."

It would be unrealistic to believe that the two lights briefly described above - the one in Bombay and the other in Menlo Park - had no intimate connection with each other, one of the remarkable historical interrelations in the background of which one can intuitively feel the guiding influence of far greater minds than our own. [5]


[This outstanding article from the pen of H. P. Blavatsky was originally published in the first issue of The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 1, October, 1879, pp. 2-5.]

This question has been so often asked, and misconception so widely prevails, that the editors of a journal devoted to an exposition of the world's Theosophy would be remiss were its first number issued without coming to a full understanding with their readers. But our heading involves two further queries: What is the Theosophical Society; and what are the Theosophists? To each an answer will be given.

According to lexicographers, the term theosophia is composed of two Greek words - theos, "god," and sophos, "wise." So far, correct. But the explanations that follow are far from giving a clear idea of Theosophy. Webster defines it most originally as "a supposed intercourse with God and superior spirits, and consequent attainment of superhuman knowledge, by physical processes, as by the theurgic operations of some ancient Platonists, or by the chemical processes of the German fire-philosophers."

This, to say the least, is a poor and flippant explanation. To attribute such ideas to men like Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Jamblichus, Porphyry, Proclus - shows either intentional misrepresentation, or Mr. Webster's ignorance of the philosophy and motives of the greatest geniuses of the later Alexandrian School. To impute to those whom their contemporaries as well as posterity styled "theodidaktoi," god-taught - a purpose to develop their psychological, spiritual perceptions by "physical processes," is to describe them as materialists. As to the concluding fling at the fire-philosophers, it rebounds from them to fall home among our most eminent modern men of science; those, in whose mouths the Rev. James Martineau places the following boast: "matter is all we want; give us atoms alone, and we will explain the universe."

Vaughan offers a far better, more philosophical definition. "A Theosophist," he says - "is one who gives you a theory of God or the works of God, which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis." In this view every great thinker and philosopher, especially every founder of a new religion, school of philosophy, or sect, is necessarily a Theosophist. Hence, Theosophy and Theosophists have existed ever since the first glimmering of nascent thought made man seek instinctively for the means of expressing his own independent opinions.

There were Theosophists before the Christian era, notwithstanding that the Christian writers ascribe the development of the Eclectic theosophical system to the early part of the third century of their Era. Diogenes Laertius traces Theosophy to an epoch antedating the dynasty of the Ptolemies; and names as its founder an Egyptian Hierophant called Pot-Amun, the name being Coptic and signifying a priest consecrated to Amun, the god of Wisdom. But history shows it revived by Ammonius Saccas, the founder of the Neo-Platonic School. [6]

He and his disciples called themselves "Philalethians" - lovers of the truth; while others termed them the "Analogists," on account of their method of interpreting all sacred legends, symbolical myths and mysteries, by a rule of analogy or correspondence, so that events which had occurred in the external world were regarded as expressing operations and experiences of the human soul. It was the aim and purpose of Ammonius to reconcile all sects, peoples and nations under one common faith - a belief in one Supreme Eternal, Unknown, and Unnamed Power, governing the Universe by immutable and eternal laws. His object was to prove a primitive system of Theosophy, which at the beginning was essentially alike in all countries; to induce all men to lay aside their strifes and quarrels, and unite in purpose and thought as the children of one common mother; to purify the ancient religions, by degrees corrupted and obscured, from all dross of human element, by uniting and expounding them upon pure philosophical principles. Hence, the Buddhistic, Vedantic and Magian, or Zoroastrian, systems were taught in the Eclectic Theosophical School along with all the philosophies of Greece. Hence also, the preeminently Buddhistic and Indian feature among the ancient Theosophists and Alexandria, of due reverence for parents and aged persons; a fraternal affection for the whole human race; and a compassionate feeling for even the dumb animals. While seeking to establish a system of moral discipline which enforced upon people the duty to live according to the laws of their respective countries; to exalt their minds by the research and contemplation of the one Absolute Truth; his chief object in order, as he believed, to achieve all others, was to extract from the various religious teachings, as from a many-chorded instrument, one full and harmonious melody, which would find response in every truth-loving heart.

Theosophy is, then, the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization. This "Wisdom" all the old writings show us as an emanation of the divine Principle; and the clear comprehension of it is typified in such names as the Indian Buddh, the Babylonian Nebo, the Thoth of Memphis, the Hermes of Greece; in the appellations, also, of some goddesses - Metis, Neitha, Athena, the Gnostic Sophia, and finally the Vedas, from the word "to know." Under this designation, all the ancient philosophers of the East and West, the Hierophants of old Egypt, the Rishis of Aryavart, the Theodidaktoi of Greece, included all knowledge of things occult and essentially divine. The Mercavah of the Hebrew Rabbis, the secular and popular series, were thus designated as only the vehicle, the outward shell which contained the higher esoteric knowledge. The Magi of Zoroaster received instruction and were initiated in the caves and secret lodges of Bactria; the Egyptian and Grecian hierophants had their apporrheta, or secret discourses, during which the Mysta became an Epopta - a Seer.

The central idea of the Eclectic Theosophy was that of a single Supreme Essence, Unknown and Unknowable - for - "How could one know the knower?" as enquires Brihadaranyaka Upanishad. Their system was characterized by [7] three distinct features: the theory of the above-named Essence; the doctrine of the human soul - an emanation from the latter, hence of the same nature; and its theurgy. It is this last science which has led the Neo-Platonists to be so misrepresented in our era of materialistic science. Theurgy being essentially the art of applying the divine powers of man to the subordination of the blind forces of nature, its votaries were first termed magicians - a corruption of the word "Magh," signifying a wise, or learned man, and - derided. Skeptics of a century ago would have been as wide of the mark if they had laughed at the idea of a phonograph or telegraph. The ridiculed and the "infidels" of one generation generally become the wise men and saints of the next.

As regards the Divine essence and the nature of the soul and spirit, modern Theosophy believes now as ancient Theosophy did. The popular Diu of the Aryan nations was identical with the Iao of the Chaldeans, and even with the Jupiter of the less learned and philosophical among the Romans; and it was just as identical with the Jahve of the Samaritans, the Tiu or "Tiusco" of the Northmen, the Duw of the Britains, and the Zeus of the Thracians. As to the Absolute Essence, the One and all - whether we accept the Greek Pythagorean, the Chaldean Kabalistic, or the Aryan philosophy in regard to it, it will lead to one and the same result. The Primeval Monad of the Pythagorean system, which retires into darkness and is itself Darkness (for human intellect) was made the basis of all things; and we can find the idea in all its integrity in the philosophical systems of Leibnitz and Spinoza. Therefore, whether a Theosophist agrees with the Kabala which, speaking of En-Soph propounds the query: "Who, then, can comprehend It since It is formless, and Non-existent?" - or, remembering that magnificent hymn from the Rig-Veda (Hymn 129th, Book 10th.) - enquires:

"Who knows from whence this great creation sprang?
Whether his will created or was mute.
He knows it - or perchance even He knows not;"

Or, again, accepts the Vedantic conception of Brahma, who in the Upanishads is represented as "without life, without mind, pure," unconscious, for - Brahma is "Absolute Consciousness"; or, even finally, siding with the Svabhavikas of Nepaul, maintains that nothing exists but "Svabahvat" (substance or nature) which exists by itself without any creator; any one of the above conceptions can lead but to pure and absolute Theosophy - that Theosophy which prompted such men as Hegel, Fichte and Spinoza to take up the labors of the old Grecian philosophers and speculate upon the One Substance - the Deity, the Divine All proceeding from the Divine Wisdom - incomprehensible, unknown and unnamed - by any ancient or modern religious philosophy, with the exception of Christianity and Mohammedanism. Every Theosophist, then, holding to a theory of the Deity "which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis," may accept any of the above definitions or belong to any of these religions, and yet remain strictly within the boundaries of [8] Theosophy. For the latter is belief in the Deity as the ALL, the source of all existence, the infinite that cannot be either comprehended or known, the universe alone revealing It, or, as some prefer it, Him, thus giving a sex to that, to anthropomorphize which is blasphemy. True, Theosophy shrinks from brutal materialization; it prefers believing that, from eternity retired within itself, the Spirit of the Deity neither wills nor creates; but that, from the infinite effulgency everywhere going forth from the Great Centre, that which produces all visible and invisible things, is but a Ray containing in itself the generative and conceptive power, which, in its turn, produces that which the Greeks called Macrocosm, the Kabalists Tikkun or Adam Kadmon - the archetypal man, and the Aryans Purusha, the manifested Brahm, or the Divine Male. Theosophy believes also in the Anastasis or continued existence, and in transmigration (evolution) or a series of changes in the soul* (* In a series of articles entitled "The World's Great Theosophists," we intend showing that from Pythagoras, who got his wisdom in India, down to our best known modern philosophers and theosophists - David Hume, and Shelley, the English poet - the Spiritists of France included - many believed and yet believe in metempsychosis or reincarnation of the soul; however unelaborated the system of the Spiritists may fairly be regarded. [Such a series of articles was never written by H.P.B., although some of the material in The Theosophical Glossary, published posthumously in 1892, has similarity to the general aim H.P.B. may have had in view. - Compiler.]) which can be defended and explained on strict philosophical principles; and only by making a distinction between Paramatma (transcendental, supreme soul) and Jivatma (animal, or conscious soul) of the Vedantins.

To fully define Theosophy, we must consider it under all its aspects. The interior world has not been hidden from all by impenetrable darkness. By that higher intuition acquired by Theosophia - or God-knowledge, which carried the mind from the world of form into that of formless spirit, man has been sometimes enabled in every age and every country to perceive things in the interior or invisible world. Hence, the "Samadhi," or Dyan Yog Samadhi, of the Hindu ascetics; the "Daimonion-photi," or spiritual illumination of the Neo-Platonists; the "sidereal confabulation of soul," of the Rosicrucians or Fire-philosophers; and, even the ecstatic trance of mystics and of the modern mesmerists and spiritualists, are identical in nature, though various as to manifestation. The search after man's diviner "self," so often and so erroneously interpreted as individual communion with a personal God, was the object of every mystic, and belief in its possibility seems to have been coeval with the genesis of humanity, each people giving it another name. Thus Plato and Plotinus call "Noetic work" that which the Yogin and the Shrotriya term Vidya. "By reflection, self-knowledge and intellectual discipline, the soul can be raised to the vision of eternal truth, goodness, and beauty - that is, to the Vision of God - this is the epopteia," said the Greeks. "To unite one's soul to the Universal Soul," says Porphyry, "requires but a perfectly pure mind. Through [9] self-contemplation, perfect chastity, and purity of body, we may approach nearer to It, and receive, in that state, true knowledge and wonderful insight." And Swami Dayanand Saraswati, who has read neither Porphyry nor other Greek authors, but who is a thorough Vedic scholar, says in his Veda-Bhashya (upasna prakara ank. 9) - "To obtain Diksha (highest initiation) and Yog, one has to practise according to the rules ... The soul in human body can perform the greatest wonders by knowing the Universal Spirit (or God) and acquainting itself with the properties and qualities (occult) of all the things in the universe. A human being (a Dikshita or initiate) can thus acquire a power of seeing and hearing at great distances." Finally, Alfred R. Wallace, F.R.S., a spiritualist and yet a confessedly great naturalist, says, with brave candour: "It is 'spirit' that alone feels, and perceives, and thinks - that acquires knowledge, and reasons and aspires ... there not unfrequently occur individuals so constituted that the spirit can perceive independently of the corporeal organs of sense, or can perhaps, wholly or partially, quit the body for a time and return to it again ... the spirit ... communicates with spirit easier than with matter." We can now see how, after thousands of years have intervened between the age of Gymnosophists* (* The reality of the Yoga-power was affirmed by many Greek and Roman writers, who call the Yogins Indian Gymnosophists; by Strabo, Lucan, Plutarch, Cicero (Tuscul. Disp.), Pliny (Nat. Hist., VII, ii, 22.), etc.) and our own highly civilized era, notwithstanding, or, perhaps, just because of such an enlightenment which pours its radiant light upon the psychological as well as upon the physical realms of nature, over twenty millions of people today believe, under a different form, in those same spiritual powers that were believed in by the Yogins and the Pythagoreans, nearly 3,000 years ago. Thus, while the Aryan mystic claimed for himself the power of solving all the problems of life and death, when he had once obtained the power of acting independently of his body, through the Atman - "self," or "soul"; and the old Greeks went in search of Atmu - the Hidden one, or the God-Soul of man, with the symbolical mirror of the Thesmophorian mysteries; - so the spiritualists of today believe in the faculty of the spirits, or the souls of the disembodied persons, to communicate visibly and tangibly with those they loved on earth. And all these, Aryan Yogins, Greek philosophers, and modern spiritualists, affirm that possibility on the ground that the embodied soul and its never embodied spirit - the real self, are not separated from either the Universal Soul or other spirits by space, but merely by the differentiation of their qualities; as in the boundless expanse of the universe there can be no limitation. And that when this difference is once removed - according to the Greeks and Aryans by abstract contemplation, producing the temporary liberation of the imprisoned Soul; and according to spiritualists, through mediumship - such an union between embodied and disembodied spirits becomes possible. Thus was it that Patanjali's Yogins and, following in their steps, Plotinus, Porphyry and other Neo-Platonists, maintained that in their [10] hours of ecstasy, they had been united to, or rather become as one with God, several times during the course of their lives. This idea, erroneous as it may seem in its application to the Universal Spirit, was, and is, claimed by too many great philosophers to be put aside as entirely chimerical. In the case of the Theodidaktoi, the only controvertible point, the dark spot on this philosophy of extreme mysticism, was its claim to include that which is simply ecstatic illumination, under the head of sensuous perception. In the case of the Yogins, who maintained their ability to see Iswara "face to face," this claim was successfully overthrown by the stern logic of Kapila. As to the similar assumption made for their Greek followers, for a long array of Christian ecstatics, and, finally, for the last two claimants to "God-seeing" within these last hundred years - Jacob Boehme and Swedenborg - this pretension would and should have been philosophically and logically questioned, if a few of our great men of science who are spiritualists had had more interest in the philosophy than in the mere phenomenalism of spiritualism.

The Alexandrian Theosophists were divided into neophytes, initiates, and masters, or hierophants; and their rules were copied from the ancient Mysteries of Orpheus, who, according to Herodotus, brought them from India. Ammonius obligated his disciples by oath not to divulge his higher doctrines, except to those who were proved thoroughly worthy and initiated, and who had learned to regard the gods, the angels, and the demons of other peoples, according to the esoteric hyponia, or under-meaning. "The gods exist, but they are not what the hoi polloi, the uneducated multitude, suppose them to be," says Epicurus. "He is not an atheist who denies the existence of the gods whom the multitude worship, but he is such who fastens on these gods the opinions of the multitude." In his turn, Aristotle declares that of the "Divine Essence pervading the whole world of nature, what are styled the gods are simply the first principles." * (* [Vide Diogenes Laertinus, Lives, X, 123, where the Greek word asebes means impious, irreverent, ungodly, rather than "atheist"; and Aristotle, Metaphysics, Bk. XII, viii, p. 1074b. - Compiler.])

Plotinus, the pupil of the "God-taught" Ammonius, tells us that the secret gnosis or the knowledge of Theosophy, has three degrees - opinion, science, and illumination. "The means or instrument of the first is sense, or perception; of the second, dialectics; of the third, intuition. To the last, reason is subordinate; it is absolute knowledge, founded on the identification of the mind with the object known." Theosophy is the exact science of psychology, so to say; it stands in relation to natural, uncultivated mediumship, as the knowledge of a Tyndall stands to that of a school-boy in physics. It develops in man a direct beholding; that which Schelling denominates "a realization of the identity of subject and object in the individual"; so that under the influence and knowledge of hyponia man thinks divine thoughts, views all things as they really [11] are, and, finally, "becomes recipient of the Soul of the World," to use one of the finest expressions of Emerson. "I, the imperfect, adore my own perfect" - he says in his superb Essay on the Oversoul. Besides this psychological, or soul-state, Theosophy cultivated every branch of sciences and arts. It was thoroughly familiar with what is now commonly known as mesmerism. Practical theurgy or "ceremonial magic," so often resorted to in their exorcisms by the Roman Catholic clergy - was discarded by the theosophists. It is but Jamblichus alone who, transcending the other Eclectics, added to Theosophy the doctrine of Theurgy. When ignorant of the true meaning of the esoteric divine symbols of nature, man is apt to miscalculate the powers of his soul, and, instead of communing spiritually and mentally with the higher, celestial beings, the good spirits (the gods of the theurgists of the Platonic school), he will unconsciously call forth the evil, dark powers which lurk around humanity - the undying, grim creations of human crimes and vices - and thus fall from theurgia (white magic) into goetia (or black magic, sorcery). Yet, neither white, nor black magic are what popular superstition understands by the terms. The possibility of "raising spirits" according to the key of Solomon, is the height of superstition and ignorance. Purity of deed and thought can alone raise us to an intercourse "with the gods" and attain for us the goal we desire. Alchemy, believed by so many to have been a spiritual philosophy as well as physical science, belonged to the teachings of the theosophical school.

It is a noticeable fact that neither Zoroaster, Buddha, Orpheus, Pythagoras, Confucius, Socrates, nor Ammonius Saccas, committed anything to writing. The reason for it is obvious. Theosophy is a double-edged weapon and unfit for the ignorant or the selfish. Like every ancient philosophy it has its votaries among the moderns; but, until late in our own days, its disciples were few in numbers, and of the most various sects and opinions. "Entirely speculative, and founding no school, they have still exercised a silent influence upon philosophy; and no doubt, when the time arrives, many ideas thus silently propounded may yet give new directions to human thought" - remarks Mr. Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie IX ... himself a mystic and a Theosophist, in his large and valuable work, The Royal Masonic Cycloepaedia (articles Theosophical Society of New York and Theosophy, p. 731).* (* The Royal Masonic Cycloepaedia of History, Rites, Symbolism, and Biography. Edited by Kenneth R. H. Mackenzie IX (Cryptonymous), Hon. Member of the Canongate Kilwinning Lodge, No. 2, Scotland. New York, J. W. Bouton, 706 Broadway, 1877.) Since the days of the fire-philosophers, they had never formed themselves into societies, for, tracked like wild beasts by the Christian clergy, to be known as a Theosophist often amounted, hardly a century ago, to a death-warrant. The statistics show that, during a period of 150 years, no less than 90,000 men and women were burned in Europe for alleged witchcraft. In Great Britain only, from A.D. 1640 to 1660, but twenty years, 3,000 persons were put to death for compact with the [12] "Devil." It was but late in the present century - in 1875 - that some progressed mystics and spiritualists, unsatisfied with the theories and explanations of Spiritualism, started by its votaries, and finding that they were far from covering the whole ground of the wide range of phenomena, formed at New York, America, an association which is now widely known as the Theosophical Society. And now, having explained what is Theosophy, we will, in a separate article, explain what is the nature of our Society, which is also called the "Universal Brotherhood of Humanity."


Dara Rittenhouse

Theosophists are sometimes accused of forever quoting their teachings. Is this due to a stabilizing modesty which fathoms the perennial freshness of inspiration, but remains true to a "Thus Have I Heard? There is no claim to originality according to the latter. Men only rediscovers the basic truths of Nature. Or is it due to a weakness in rethinking the great wisdom, so that it can tumble out spontaneously when less acquainted students ask about it?

Recently, several Theosophical books were compared. The prefaces often stated that if long quotations were used it was because the original sources set out the material more clearly and "couldn't be improved upon." The Chinese artists said that about Nature in doing landscape painting and we have scores of painters over China's grand dynasties simply restating mountains, rocks, trees and streams in ways we never tire of. Why then do we find people tiring of intellectual studies which are riddled with quotations, but by writers who truly admire the beauty of our teachings?

It may be that they are good teachers but poor writers. A good teacher has eye to eye contact, allows himself to be interrupted by questions, pauses to give illustrations, and varies his approach. A writer must instead be able to visualize the puzzled student in front of him, see him in the setting of his age, with all its distractions.

A recent study by Geoffrey Farthing, called Exploring The Great Beyond, warns the student in the introduction that there is no way to avoid hard study when it comes to Theosophy. H.P.B. herself claimed no originality, saying only that she has offered a nosegay of "culled flowers," a phrase which she unabashedly quoted from Montaigne. She no more apologized to those literary critics who accused her of inventing the whole of the S.D. than those who accused her of plagiarism.

How we do long though for a few vital present-day pens with the spice of language H.P.B. sprinkled the teachings with. Perhaps those students who live our philosophy convey in the aura of every printed word a bit of that [13] vitality whether they quote themselves or others. The key may be impersonality, a sense of humor to juggle the personal self out of the way, to let the spirit soar!

Remembering the Quaker hymn, "Tis a gift to be simple, a gift to be free," we could allow simplicity to provide more spacing between quotations. We might dare now and then to restate that "age old wisdom" in new ways. As we are evolving beings, surely our speech may be evolving too. If writers could learn to visualize more colorful words when speaking and speakers could more sincerely research their lectures, we might improve the quality of both. A bit of persiflage wouldn't harm either, just to add that lilting touch the Irish give to linguistics.

Applying the teaching takes priority of all methods to keep it lively. For if Theosophy were applied widely we should need fewer lectures and writers, but the fragrance of our deeds would permeate society. Meanwhile we are asked many questions by people we meet at work, in the streets or at our meetings. To these we owe some time each day to reflection upon a teaching which is said to be so vast that it "gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child."


Vonda Urban

There is a general misconception in the minds of many who think that impersonality means being indifferent. Actually, however, they represent opposite poles of awareness; so the very first point in clarifying the confusion that exists between these two words is to know precisely what they mean. The dictionary defines impersonal as: "not personal - specifically without connection or reference to any particular person; as, an impersonal attitude"; while indifference means: "having no interest or feeling; unconcerned." Impersonality as distinguished from indifference, then, is a matter of concern - a matter of impartial concern for others in contrast to self -concern - it's as simple as that! The tendency to confuse these terms as synonymous relates very directly with self-interest, which is where, for the most part, our human nature is presently anchored, and above which we emerge only as we break through the barriers of selfishness, transcending egotism as our focus moves away from I-me-mine and reaches outward with genuine concern and selfless love for ALL. Universality is part of our Spiritual Self shining through our personality with tolerance, consideration, impartiality, justice and compassion applied equally to everyone. Our Spiritual nature grows as we exercise it through selfless service to our fellow man; for how can we possibly even understand what impersonal love means, much less experience [14] it, so long as we remain unconcerned about the "world out there" - that shadowy, grey specter called "They" menacing the peripheral blur of our sight blinded with egotistical myopia. How can we possibly intuit the oneness of life while we live in the "Great Heresy Of Separateness?" How can we possibly grow Spiritually unless we become the living reality of Universal Brotherhood?

A cursory look at just a few of the attitudes representing the average of mass-consciousness is voiced in popular slogans that articulate the standards of human conduct with such well known phrases as: "don't get involved"; "the name of the game is to win"; "every man has his price"; "God helps those who help themselves"; pointing out the common denominator of separateness on a one-to-one basis that is compounded to a national scale through the patriotism of separateness that believes: "my country, right or wrong"; and "God is on our side.''

But there are many who stand apart from the crowd and are not caught up in the emotional hysteria of the masses, whether euphoric or ugly. "They" are the citizens of the world living quietly throughout the globe in all walks of life, and are recognizable, if we trouble to look, by their selfless and impersonal concern for others. "They" may, or may not be students of the Ancient Wisdom; but they have touched the Spiritual portion of themselves and have found the wisdom of the heart. Whatever their work or profession, "they" help their fellow man whereever and however they can, nor do they put a price on it, for serving humanity is a priceless privilege.

Each one of us has our individual level of concern that reaches outward somewhere between total self-concern and total self-abnegation. However much or little we may perceive the Universal Oneness, we can realize it more by constantly reaching toward it. W. Q. Judge shows how to expand our awareness in the following excerpt from his Letters That Have Helped Me (Letter No. IV).

"... I was reading a book and looking around within myself to see how I could enlarge my idea of brotherhood. Practice in benevolence will not give it its full growth. I had to find some means of reaching further, and struck on this, which is as old as old age.

"I am not separate from anything, "I am that which is." That is, I am Brahma, and Brahma is everything. But being in an illusionary world, I am surrounded by certain appearances that seem to make me separate. So, I will proceed to mentally state and accept that I am all these illusions. I am my friends, - and then I went to them in general and in particular, I am my enemies; then I felt them all. I am the poor and the wicked; I am the ignorant. Those moments of intellectual gloom are the moments when I am influenced by those ignorant ones who are myself. All this in my nation. But there are many nations, and to those I go in mind; I feet and I am them all, with that they hold of superstition or of wisdom or evil. All, all is myself. Unwisely, I was then about to stop, but the whole is Brahma, so I went to the Devas and Asuras; the elemental [15] world, that too is myself. After pursuing this course a while, I found it easier to return to a contemplation of all men as myself. It is a good method and ought to be pursued, for it is a step toward getting into contemplation of the All."

Impersonality is the key to Universality as detachment from the personal self is the key to impersonality; but responsibility is the factor behind detachment; for it is the sense of moral obligation that we feel to help and live for others, that lifts us out of selfish concern which can see only "what I want " and will do "what is right and best for all." The greater amount of responsibility we shoulder, the more do we win the struggle between duty and desire, watching the illusion of separateness dissolve away as we grow in selflessness; and even though our Spiritual perception may only be awakening to self-sacrifice - extended but to those we hold within the narrow circle of mine that shuts out "they" - even so, we have touched the radience that lights a larger vision of compassion, transcending the bounds of separation in the oneness of Brotherhood where each one feels responsible to All. What better way can we strive toward this noble goal than by reaching out to all mankind with heartfelt simplicity, sincerity and integrity?


[In the above-mentiotied article, published in The Theosophist, Vol. I, No. 4, January, 1880, p. 106, the author, who signs himself "H.H.D. - B. A.," traces "the birth and growth of the idea among the Aryans of India, as viewed from Rig-Vedic poetry, etc., and a further Transition to Science, as observed historically." H.P.B. comments on the article as follows:]

We have not been willing to interrupt the rhythmic flow of our correspondents language with any commentaries of our own, but must add a word of supplement. The outward phase of the idea of nature-worship he succinctly and eloquently traced. But he, in common with most modern scholars, completely ignores one chief factor. We allude to the experience, once so common among men, now so comparatively rare, of a world of real beings, whose abode is in the four elements, beings with probable though as yet ill-defined powers, and a perceptible existence. We are sorry for those who will pity us for making this admission; but fact is fact, science or no science. The realization of this inner world of the Elementals dates back to the beginning of our race, and has been embalmed in the verse of poets and preserved in the religious and historical records of the world. Granted that the perception of phenomena developed nature-worship, yet, unless our materialistic friends admit that the range of these phenomena included experiences with the spirits of the elements [16] and the higher and noble realities of Psychology, it would trouble them to account for the universality of belief in the various races of the Unseen Universe. Why should but one of the elements, namely, earth, be so densely populated, and fire, water, air, etc., be deemed empty voids, uninhabited by their own beings - the "viewless races," as the great Bulwer-Lytton called them? Is this partially of nature a logical hypothesis of science? Who that observes the marvellous adaptations of the organs of sense and the natures of beings to their environment, dares say that these elementals do not exist, until he is well assured that the perceptive faculties of our bodies are capable of apprehending all the secret things of this and the other worlds? Why may not the spirits of the kingdoms of earth, air, fire and water be non-existent to us - and we to them - only because neither has the organs to see or feel the other? Another aspect of this subject was treated in our December issue.


Katherine Tingley Speaks

In this little volume, just off the Press, Katherine Tingley speaks for herself. We learn of the motives that inspired her. We sense that her message is universal, overlapping barriers so often created by the dogmas in religions or the speculative limits of philosophies. Hers is an appeal to the wisdom of the heart.

Following are the chapter titles:

I. Nature the Mighty Mother.
II. Recollections.
III. Peace and the Fallacy of War.
IV. To the Student: Keynotes on the Path - I
V. To the Student: Keynotes on the Path - 2
VI. Why I am a Theosophist.
VII. Basic Principles of True Education.
VIII. Foreshadowings.
IX. Invocation.
Appendices: Theosophy and Some of the Vital Problems of the Day. Letters from Egypt. Chronology.

Order from Point Loma Publications. Inc., P.O. Box 6507, San Diego, CA 92106.
Softbound, 168 pages, $5.75.