A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume IV
No. 3 (21) - September-October 1947

[Cover photo: California Acacia in Bloom.]


Published every Two Months. Sponsored by an International Group of Theosophists
To disseminate the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom.
To uphold and promote the Original Principles of the modern Theosophical Movement, as set forth by H. P. Blavatsky and her Teachers.
To challenge bigotry and superstition in every form.
To foster mutual understanding and co-operation among all students of Theosophy, irrespective of their affiliation.
EDITOR: Boris de Zirkoff.
CONTRIBUTING EDITORS: Irene Ponsonby, Dr. Sven Eek, J. Emory Clapp, William L. Biersach, Arthur L. Joquel.
ADVISORY BOARD: Col. J.M. Prentice, Jan H. Venema, Hendrik Oosterink, James L. Harris, Richard H. Cutting, T. Marriott.
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None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editors are responsible for unsigned articles only.



The mission of the Theosophical Society is to bring all mankind of every race and colour, of every religion, and both men and women, into one Universal Brotherhood. Because all men have the Divine Nature within them, though some are white, brown, yellow or black, and are of the male or female sex; though some are highly intellectual and cultured, and others are simple-minded and in lowly occupations; all are equal. Mankind is like a family with elder brothers and younger. But just as in a family there is inequality between a son of twenty and a baby of one, so here is also inequality; yet all mankind form one Brotherhood. But today men are divided by race, religion, sex, culture, and in worldly goods. The mission of the Theosophical Society is to build bridges from one nation to another, from one culture to another, till the present rivalries and animosities disappear, and all men realize that they are brothers. As brothers there call be no war among the nations; every national problem as between the white races and the dark races, as between employers and workers, as between men's rights and women's rights, call be solved in a new manner, if when each rival group meets another rival group both realize that they are brothers. When men sit face to face across a table and do not argue with hostility as worker and master, or as Finns or English or Indians or Russians or Germans, but as brothers, a new standpoint is possible between the two, and all the difficult problems that have arisen among them can be adjusted with better understanding and less friction.
On the basis of Brotherhood all our problems can be brought to a just solution. - C. Jinarajadasa, in a Broadcast delivered in Finland, June, 1947. [3]


Arthur Louis Joquel, II

Long before the time of the final destruction of the last island of Atlantis, ten thousand years prior to the beginning of our present era, Egypt had become the repository of knowledge for the eastern hemisphere. When the Atlanteans departed from the ways of wisdom, then the doom of the island continent advanced swiftly. And the guardians of the accumulated lore of this once mighty nation departed silently from the legendary city of the Golden Gates on the east coast of Poseidonis, and transferred their precious documents, filled with the accumulated knowledge of a race, across what was then the Sahara Sea to the territory of Egypt.

Plato, in the Timaeus, related how Solon traveled to the Egyptian city of Sais in search of wisdom, about the year 600 B.C. There the priests told him that the constitution of their city was drawn up more than eight thousand years before their own time, and that they had preserved in their temples a complete record of all the important happenings in every region of which they were informed, from the time of the city's founding.

Thus, not only was the salvaged lore of Atlantis preserved in Egypt, but the history and enlightenment of many other countries as well. It is in fact difficult to determine how long the implements of learning had been accumulating in Egypt. The pre-dynastic kings had encouraged and assisted in many ways this compilation of knowledge, while the Pharaohs had been patrons of every branch of learning from the earliest periods.

For thousands of years, the guardians of the wisdom of the ages steadfastly preserved their records and documents. Through all the vicissitudes that beset a nation in its historical course, the light of knowledge was kept burning along the Nile.

It was in 332 B.C. that Alexander of Macedonia, having peacefully conquered Egypt, founded the city of Alexandria. After his death in 323 B.C., that division of Alexander's empire which included Egypt, fell to the share of Ptolemy (d. 283 B.C.), who had long been a companion, bodyguard, and one of the generals of the would-be world conqueror.

Ptolemy established a government which the Egyptians found extremely lenient and sympathetic. He patronized the Egyptian religion, followed the existing customs, and encouraged manufacture and commerce. Spengler calls Alexandria the first example of the Classical world-city.

The ideas of the Greek philosopher Aristotle regarding the systematic organization of knowledge bore fruit in Ptolemy's Alexandria. There was established the national Museum of Antiqtuties, which from its name was dedicated to the muses, the nine goddesses presiding over science, art, and poetry.

A branch of the Museum was the Brucheion, the larger of the two public libraries in Alexandria, in the founding of which Ptolemy I, surnamed Soter, was encouraged by the great scholar Demetrius of Phalerum (345-283 B.C.). Here, in a magnificent rotunda-like gallery, were between five and seven hundred thousand manuscripts - on parchment, vellum, clay tablets, papyrus, stone slabs, cloth, wood, wax, terra cotta, inscribed on imperishable metal plates, and graven by now unknown arts on the surface of precious stones - gathered from every source known to the savants of that time.

Here, in one building, were collected together a majority of the rare and curious manuscripts which had been accumulating in Egypt for thousands of years. This was the fruition of the work of the high-priests and teachers, who [4] for centuries had devoted themselves to gathering, classifying and preserving the wisdom of a hemisphere, while the philosophers had spent their lives in the study and interpretation of the arcane lore which was available to them.

Among the multitude of documents brought to Alexandria might have been portions of the great collection which formed the "city of books" founded in Irak by Sargon, only undecipherable fragments of which we possess today. The Library of Memphis, which was formed during the Seventh Dynasty, possessed a vast number of manuscripts, of which only one unimportant fragment is known at present. This aggregation probably contributed its store of priceless treasures to the Alexandrian collection.

That the Greeks were represented in this storehouse of knowledge cannot be doubted. While only a small number of works have come down to us - a bare handful of philosophers; almost solitary tragedians, dramatists, and comic writers; and distinctly second-rate historians - the Greek lists name three hundred and fifty poets, six hundred historians, and philosophers past counting.

Greek scholars, coming to Alexandria, must have brought with them the works of their outstanding countrymen to add to the other knowledge accumulated there. Callimachus, librarian of the Brucheion under Ptolemy II (Philadelphus), purchased and brought back to Alexandria the library of Aristotle. The city of Athens sent autograph editions of its dramatists to Alexandria during the reign of Ptolemy III (Euergetes), and the copies were never returned.

India and Tibet contributed invaluable material to the collection, as did China, Persia and Arabia. Moses of Pharene remarks that the libraries possessed the scientific and historical works of the Hindus, Persians and Chaldeans, some in the original and others translated into Greek. These might have included the astrological records of the Chaldeans and Babylonians, whose observations of the stars cover an almost incredible period of time, according to Cicero and Diodorus Siculus.

It does not require a stretch of the imagination to believe that the Celtic Druids exchanged knowledge with Alexandria from their great library at Alesia, which thrived for a thousand years before Cesar ordered its destruction. And if, as Le Plongeon speculates, a Mayan princess at one time crossed the Atlantic Ocean and settled in Egypt, it is quite possible that records of the Americas were preserved in Egypt.

The foreign representatives of the Ptolemies were instructed to watch for new works for the library, and special book collectors were sent to all countries. In addition, Ptolemy III enacted a law that any traveler who brought a previously unknown work to Egypt had to have a copy of it made for the library.

The other public collection was housed in the Serapeum, so called from the patron deity of the Ptolemies, Serapis, whose statue was located in the building. The manuscripts preserved here were almost entirely devoted to the more obscure forms of knowledge, and greater care was therefore taken of them. Each of the almost forty-three thousand manuscripts housed in the Serapeum was kept in an individual fireproof container, shaped like a bucket with a sealed lid.

Private libraries were numerous, being the property of researchers in various specialized fields of learning. And in addition, the priesthood possessed secret collections, written in the hieratic glyphs - or sacred writing - which only they could understand.

The total number of literary treasures in the Brucheion, the Serapeum, and the private collections - each item written by hand, and in many cases the only copy in existence - has been estimated to exceed one million documents.

The first catastrophe to strike the [5] libraries occurred in 51 B.C. or 47 B.C. - historians differ as to the exact date. It was during the struggle for the throne of Egypt between Cleopatra and tier brother, Dionysius Ptolemy. Julius Cesar, the Roman lover of Cleopatra, being unable properly to protect his ships which were at anchor in the harbor, issued instructions for the destruction of the fleet by fire. Shortly after the carrying out of this order a brisk wind arose, the flames escaped from the ships to the shore, and great havoc was wrought in the section of Alexandria where Cesar was entrenched.

The Brucheion was undergoing repair at this time, and a large number of the most valuable manuscripts, particularly those of which no duplicates existed, had been removed and stored in the houses of the principal librarians. And, in the several hours that elapsed between the firing of the fleet and the spread of the conflagration in the city, the librarians, assisted by several hundred slaves and attendants of the Museum, were successful in removing many of the more precious documents from the doomed building.

After the fire had subsided, Cleopatra visited the ruins of the Museum. There she beheld a veritable mountain of burned and charred manuscripts - the greater part of the seven hundred thousand documents which the Brucheion had housed at that time. Confronted with this scene of devastation, the like of which had never before been seen, the Queen of the Sun cursed her ancestors for not having made provisions to protect the library from such a calamity.

Partially to atone for the disaster, Marc Anthony presented Cleopatra with a new library of two hundred thousand pieces, and assisted greatly in the restoration of the Brucheion. The collection which was housed therein was largely composed of manuscripts taken by the Romans from the library which Attalus III had founded at Pergamos, together with several other valuable groups of documents, seized from conquered peoples.

After the disastrous fire of Cleopatra's time, the guardians of the archives had realized the danger of future occurrences of this sort. There are widespread traditions, current to this day among Eastern monks and rabbis, in monasteries and desert retreats, of the disposition which was made of the manuscripts salvaged from the Brucheion, and from the other destructions of both libraries.

While the impression was allowed to circulate that the most valuable documents had perished along with all the others, in reality they were transported to immense subterranean galleries near Ishmonia, now known as the "petrified city." Here, protected from the destroying hands of bigots, tyrants and warriors, the priceless records were stored to await the coming of a time when the wisdom contained therein could be safely restored to the world at large.

In the great vaults beneath the Sahara desert were secreted the vital works of history, philosophy, science, art, music, religion, and literature known to the ancient world. The histories which hundreds of generations of savants had compiled, dating beyond the time of Atlantis, and chronicling the whole history of the human race in every land since that era, were carefully laid away.

In the literary fragments of that time which have come down to us there are mentioned many sciences and arts which are now considered to he lost, because present-day technicians are incapable of restoring or duplicating them. Among these are the mysterious ever-burning lamps; malleable glass; everlasting pigments; the science by which the Egyptians were able to melt precious stones and cast them like so much glass; and the transmutation of metals, just now being rediscovered by modern physicists armed with the atomic theory of matter.

The secret symbolism of the Seven Wonders of the ancient world was also concealed; so was the true interpretation of the Shamir, the mysterious [6] jewel with which King Solomon trued the stones for his temple. Astronomical lore and maps of the heavens constructed over an enormous period of time were secreted from the hands of vandals.

Storage batteries and the use of electricity in communication were known to the ancients. Examples of the former have been discovered that are reputed to be more than five thousand years old. Evidence exists that one of the Cleopatras sent messages by a mysterious wire to cities along the Upper Nile. And greater than these was the terrible vril - the vital-electricity, the cosmic moving force, known to the eastern schools as fohat - the abuse of which brought on the destruction of Atlantis. Thousands of documents, containing the keys to knowledge far in advance of any since discovered, were placed where no misuse could be made of them, and where they would be safe until the time arrived for the wisdom contained therein to be released to a world which would use it wisely.

Comprehensive measures were also adopted for the protection of the works remaining in the libraries, in times of emergency. Thus, when Aurelian entered Alexandria and destroyed both the Serapeum and Brucheion, about 273 A.D., not a single volume of importance was lost, and the buildings were reconstructed soon afterwards.

Between this time and the middle of the fourth century A.D., a serious menace to the safety of the collections gradually arose in Alexandria. This was the Christian church, the militant and fanatical outgrowth of the Gnostic Christian religion, which had its greatest strength, if not its actual origin, in Alexandria instead of Jerusalem.

Bent on establishing the uniqueness of its religion and the divine origin thereof, the rising church used every means possible to destroy the evidence of the pagan Sources of Christian rituals, symbols and doctrines. In 389 A.D. the edict of Theodosius was issued, in response to which a mob of fanatic Christians of Alexandria, led by Archbishop Theophilus, stormed the Serapeum and completely razed the building. The colossal statue of Serapis, which had graced the library since the time of Ptolemy I, was demolished by the mob. This alone must have been a gigantic task, for one report says that a soldier's axe was shattered amid a shower of sparks when it struck the image.

After this act of faith by the Christian fanatics, no effort was made to rebuild the Serapeum, the activities of the seekers of knowledge being thereafter centered in the Brucheion. And when in 641 A.D. this last vestige of the great collections was utterly wiped out by the Arab General Amru, a zealot who declared that the literary treasures of the ages were as naught compared with the wisdom of the Koran, there was little but an empty shell left to feel his torch. Alexandria and the Mediterranean world were left in complete intellectual darkness.


"... But how can one tell the true from the false teachers?" Certain questions call be asked: Is the teaching directed towards personal gain, or towards service? If it proclaims the development of powers that will make the student a sort of psychic superman beware! If, on the other hand, the instruction leads away from self to the service of humanity; if it urges right-doing for the sake of Right, not for rewards here or hereafter, then the teacher and teaching are likely to be more reliable. ...

To battle with our habits of laziness, our selfish desires, our moods of depression, our pride, our temper, our hurt feelings; to acquire perfect focus on the smallest tasks; to discipline our wandering thoughts - these are not glamorous achievements. But they are the only solid foundations upon which our sculptured Temple can rise. ...

If your study makes you endlessly compassionate of the faults of others and stern towards your own; if it makes you calm in danger, indifferent to luxury, patient under hardships, and cheerful in times of pain or monotony - above all if you can truly call all men "Brother," then trust that teaching! It is of the wisdom. - Thea Hehr, in The American Theosophist, July, 1947, p. 159. [7]


Boris de Zirkoff

With due respect to the "deductive and analytical" methods of modern science, it should nevertheless be stated that modern chemistry is to a very great extent the direct descendant of medieval alchemy, whose insight into the mysteries of nature is being daily confirmed by official science.

The theoretical ideas of the Greek alchemists passed through the schools of Alexandria and the Syrians, in the time of the early Caliphs, and were carried by the Arabs and Moors into Spain. The numerous works of their philosophers were translated into Hebrew, into the languages of Castile and Provence, and into the Latin; this body of doctrines became the foundation-ground on which the alchemists of the twelfth, thirteenth, and up to the seventeenth century based their later speculations. Contrary to what is believed, chemistry, which at that time was exclusively alchemy, did not originate with the Arabs, who derived their knowledge partly from the Hellenic culture and wisdom, partly from the temples of Egypt.

The most ancient Latin treatise on the technical traditions of alchemy, Compositiones ad Tingenda, a manuscript of the time of Charlemagne (end of the viii th century), also the Mappae CIavicula, a manuscript of the xth, as well as the Liber Diversarum Artium and the De Secretis (by various authors), show undoubted continuity between the knowledge of the Greco-Egyptian period and that of the subsequent centuries, down to the thirteenth. This indicates a direct inheritance from the ancient temples of by-gone civilizations ind the sanctuaries of antiquity.

It is only owing to the peculiarly materialistic trend of thought during the so-called "age of discoveries," from the end of the previous century to the present time, that some men of learning have been able to vilify the profound truths uttered by the nobler alchemists, and have felt a repugnance to everything that concerned their knowledge. Nevertheless, if we take the art of alchemy as a whole, and consider it with impartiality and the reverence due to every sincere manifestation of human intellect and reasoning, in whatever domain it may be, we shall arrive at the conclusion that the foundation of alchemy was and is purely scientific, soundly philosophical, and highly logical and convincing for every mind which can pierce through the veil of surrounding superstitions.

Paracelsus (1493-1541) defined alchemy as a science which seeks to convert one species of metal into another. This was but one aspect of alchemy, the other ones being more or less secret. Denys Zachary said that alchemy was a part of natural philosophy which taught the mode of perfecting the metals. Hermetic chemistry was, according to its adepts, the art of working along with nature for the perfection of everything base and imperfect.

It was claimed by the alchemists of every epoch, from the times of Geber and the Arabian scholars, down to the age of Van Helmont, that they possessed the secret of making artificial gold, and of transmuting every base metal into a "higher" one in the category of metallic substances. One of the leading problems that occupied their attention was the preparation of a compound named elixir magistirium, or philosopher's stone, which possessed the property of transmuting the baser metals into gold and silver. This was the magnum opus of alchemy. Truly, it was the "great work," as it implied and presupposed all the doctrines which lay at the foundation of the alchemical philosophy of life. It was a logical deduction of the Unity of Matter, of the theory of the Three Principles, and of the Four Elements, not to mention other and more profound tenets of a wisdom which came from a long forgotten antiquity.

The transmutation of metals in [8] general is not anything that could be considered as a new "scientific discovery," due to the sagacity of modern scientists. It is very old indeed. In fact it is a trivial and commonplace thing, when considered apart from the grand philosophical body of doctrines which animated the minds of the alchemists. The important thing about modern investigations along this line is not the artificial making of gold or silver, or of any other element of the Periodic Table, but the proof they give of the truth of ancient philosophies and of many so-called "superstitions." Modern Science will have to recognize sooner or later the debt it owes to ancient thinkers, and their profound insight into the mysteries of Nature.

Anyone who has visited the Church of St. Andreas at Cologne, must remember the relics and the shrine of Albertus Magnus (1193-1280), the great scholar of the xiii th century. Although he is considered by many moderns as one of the medieval "quacks," yet we assert that Albertus taught what modern science but now begins to lisp. He said that metals are composed of philosophical sulphur and mercury; and instead of being a distinct and elementary body, each metal was produced by mixtures of the fundamental constituents in different proportions, and by variations in the purity of the component parts.

Now it would seem as though the analogy with the state of contemporary research was not too far-fetched, after all. It should be distinctly remembered that what science calls protons, electrons, neutrons, positrons, etc., are not tangible, sense-perceptible, "physical" units, but rather mathematical and mental concepts, convenient for the explanation of fully perceptible outward phenomena. Advanced speculation, contemporaneous with the release of intratomic energies, conceives the existence of what has been called nuclear fluid, out of which all substance is ultimately made. The various "units" above mentioned are somehow or other derivative from this nuclear fluid. It appears, therefore, that the despised "quacks" had anticipated the theories of xxth century scholars by more than six hundred years.

It is asserted on very good evidence that Raymond Lully (1235-1315) did transmute metals into gold. He was employed by Edward I of England to make gold for minting, and had a laboratory for that purpose at Westminster. Men like Vincent de Beauvais (d. 1264), Roger Bacon (1240-1294), Arnoldus de Villanova (d. 1311), and others, were all credited with making artificial gold. They claimed knowledge of the ultimate constitution of matter. What would be the progress of science today if it could adopt in fullness the wisdom of the alchemists, at least of those among them who were sincere and "scientific?"

In speaking of alchemists and their doctrines, one should always keep in mind the forced symbology of their expressions, their books and treatises. Alas, what would be the terms and symbols that our contemporary "lights" would employ in this century, if they had to conceal their bold teachings from fear of the torture-chamber and the stake haunting their minds at every step?

It would of course be absurd to take the literal meaning of such words as mercury, sulphur and salt, and try to prove, as some people have attempted, that, according to our present views of matter as a whole, and of these three substances in particular, the above-mentioned bodies are not capable of generating gold by any process known to us (with the exception of nuclear disintegration). The alchemical terms are symbolical throughout, and unless the student acquires the key to their hidden meaning, he will not be able to understand the actual rationale of the process indicated by alchemists.

It is interesting to note, however, that besides being a symbolical expression, mercury of the alchemists was in many cases actually the metal that was used by a number of them for the [9] purpose of gold-making. This feat was accomplished by a large number of students of the art of alchemy, for which there exists abundant testimony, and acknowledgments on the part of honest, trusted, and trustworthy writers and thinkers. The fourteenth century teems with accounts on that subject.

What shall we say about all these men who actually claimed to have transmuted metals? Flamellus, Joannes de Rupescissa, Adolph Mentha, Eleazar, Antonius d'Abbatier, Guido de Montanor: shall we relegate them all to the archives of "superstitious mystics" under the category of "quacks?" And what shall we do with those of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries - Edward Kelly, Cardanus of Pavia, Battista Porta, Thomas Vaughan (Eugenius Philatethes), and all the others? Their memory lives. Does the fame of "quacks" and "liars" last as long? It hardly does! Otherwise we would have gathered some experience from bygone times, to guard us against the charlatans of today.

Modern science has not yet reached the profound occult knowledge of matter per se possessed by some of the greatest of medieval alchemists. But it has reached the point where the Unity of Matter becomes a scientific truth. This unity was the fundamental teaching of alchemy, ancient and medieval. It was expressed in the Smaragdine Tablet attributed to Hermes Trismegistus, and goes back to remote ages. We have but to go to the British Museum and cast a glance at a certain sarcophagus in one of its halls, to see what is termed the Chrysopoeia of Cleopatra (not the queen). It is inscribed on the side of the coffin: "One is All ... the serpent is one who has the poison. ... One is All, and by it all, and to it all; and if one does not contain all, all is nought ..."

Represented on the sarcophagus are alchemical symbols and ancient symbols common to all nations and creeds. A serpent biting its tail occupies the lower corner of the picture. Its alchemical signs and allegorical representations show the origin of the subsequent drawings, and prove the assertions that alchemy is as old as tradition itself. The alchemists held that matter is one, but can take a variety of forms, and under these various forms can be combined and recombined ad infinitum. There is one universal substance, prima materia, identical with the chaos of the ancients. "Nothing in the world dies, but all things pass and change," said Hermes.

In the Edda, Ymir, the giant, is slain by the sons of Bur; from the wound flow mighty streams of blood, which drown the whole race of giants; Bergelmir alone is saved, with his wife, and they take refuge in a bark. Thus he is able to continue the famous race of giants in the world. From the remains of Ymir the world was created. His blood formed the ocean and the rivers, and his eyebrows helped to form the future abode of man - Midgard. It is the earth of the Edda. It is round as a ring, and floats in the midst of Ether, the Celestial Ocean, the Waters of the Infinite.

Anyone who has studied the symbology of the ancient religions, and who has delved into the cosmogonical teachings with which they teem, will see that the above-mentioned imagery of the old Scandinavians reveals the archaic teaching of a primitive matter, in its chaotic or pre-formative state - Ymir, the giant. The "sons of God" intrusted with the creation of man are symbolized by Bur, or rather his progeny. But the point we wish to bring out especially is Yormungand, the Midgard - or Earth-Serpent, which, according to the Edda, encircles the earth. It is an emanation from Ymir and the "sons of God," and is identical with the astral light of the Kabalists, an approach to which could be discerned in the ether of former scientific thinkers, and in the nuclear fluid of the present ones.

We desire, however, not to be misunderstood on this point. In speaking of the prima materia of the alchemists of old, we have tried to convey the idea [10] of an analogy which exists today with certain scientific conceptions. Nevertheless one should not confuse the ideas of ether or the hypothetic nuclear fluid, or the like, with the idea of Akasa, or even with the Astral Light of the hermetists. The analogy of conception does not imply their identity. The One Universal Substance to the recognition of which modern science unconsciously tends every day more and more, following the steps of the ancients, is the Prakriti of the Hindu esotericists. Akasa is Prakriti in one of its highest states. The Astral Light is only the seventh plane of primordial Matter or Substance, counting downward. It is contiguous to physical substance. It is the gigantic Yormungand of the Edda, the serpent lying in the deeps of the encircling ocean with its tail in its mouth. As to what has been known under the term of ether by science, and regarding which new theories are current today under the term of nuclear fluid, it might be sufficient to state the following in brief.

If Akasa is connected with the spiritual faculties and activities of our being, and if the Astral Light is connected with the lower mind and its psychic activities on the astral plane, the scientific "prima materia," under whatever name it may be spoken of or hinted at, being connected only with specifically material agencies such as light, heat, sound, electricity and magnetism, is still nearer to the physical plane of manifestation than is the Astral Light. It is rather one of the seven sub-divisions of the Astral Light, in the same way as the latter is but one of the seven (and the lowest) planes of Akasa.

The important thing in present-day Science is the trend of thought towards the recognition of some ultimate substance, substratum of all manifested matter. In reviewing modern scientific thought, one is led to the conclusion that something of the old alchemical spirit is present in our world today. Who knows if some one or more of the old alchemists and philosophers have not come back, perchance, to this earth of ours, in order to show once more to men the real path to the ultimate understanding of Nature's secrets? The processes of reimbodiment and the workings of the karmic law have strange surprises in store for men!

Let us remember, however, that the transmutation of metals and the fabrication of gold was not the main purpose of the alchemists. It was the lower side, the material aspect of tile great mystery of Nature. Along with it there was a Spiritual Alchemy, the Alchemy of the Soul in Man. We mean the transmutation of its "baser metals" - the animal nature - into spiritual gold and silver and diamond; into the Higher Self, man's inner Ego, and its reabsorption into the Universal or World-Soul. The alkahest or universal solvent on that higher plane was the all-pervading Divine Spirit, in which "we live and move and have our being." Besides being a physical science, a formula to solve the riddle of material Nature, alchemy was and still is a spiritual philosophy.

The philosopher's stone, capable of transmuting metals, is, as the saying ran, "in every man and in every place, and at all seasons, and is called the end of all philosophers"; it is the Higher Nature in man which transforms all base and lower instincts into the bright gold of purity and truth by means of that triple process of "fermentation,, calcination, and transmutation," which stand for personal experience, suffering, and the ultimate knowledge of the Great Reality.

The Elixir of Life is the beverage of the Spirit. It steals in the silence into the soul of man. It quietly fills his mind, coming from the upper regions of the Inner Light. Like a ray of Divine Compassion, it illumines "the darkest corners of the earth" and warms the icy plains of indifference producing spiritual death. He who has grasped the inner meaning of the Riddle, and has transmitted in himself the animal nature into the Real Man, will know the ultimate goal of existence, and even in the midst of darkness, on the foaming crests of a stormy sea, will behold the Truth as it really is - Aletheia the Breath of the Great Unknown. [11]


L. Gordon Plummer

When a hushed audience listens to a Tschaikowsky Concerto, the recognition of the greatness of music in its power to unify the consciousness of man can give us a fruitful topic of discussion. What is this mysterious power that can still the minds of hundreds of people so that of one accord they sit in silent reverence? "One touch of nature makes the whole world kin" as the poet said, and a little thought should convince us that music as we know it is a benevolent touch of nature, which has given to man a language without words, a language that all can understand in its simplicity, and which can indeed stir our highest intuitions. When we listen to the still grander harmonies of Nature, we touch the very source from which true music arises; for it is from this source that the Hidden Harmonies are transmitted and transformed in the human mind - sometimes with the help of higher faculties - into the melodies and harmonies as written down by the great composers.

It would naturally detract from the power of a language which has no words, were we to attempt to transliterate its message into phrases of human speech. Many ideas transcend the use of words, yet they may be conveyed to us by other means, and Nature speaks to us with clarity of the unity of all life. She can awaken in us intuitions of the real nature of man and the universe.

That man should in some way be connected spiritually as well as physically with the universe about him has been a concept hinted at by poets, philosophers and pioneers in thought as long as thinking man has been on this earth. More credence should therefore be given to the idea than would be given to it were it but recently suggested by the scientific researches of modern times, for an idea that lives through the ages must be essentially true. The mysteries concerning the nature of man are very great, and although the fundamental teachings as found in the Ancient Wisdom are simple in themselves, the various ramifications of the relationship of man to Nature lead one finally to realms of thought and feeling that are far beyond the scope of written or spoken words. The elementary teachings are nothing if they do not point to deeper teachings, for the sincere student must be led step by step toward a greater understanding, and the ultimate result of study is growth. In time, teachings that have hitherto been expressed in words may become real experiences to the student. He is then in a position to know at first-hand what is implied in the phrase: "Man and Nature are one."

We discover indications all about us of the unity of life, and whereas to the cynic these convey no conviction, to the mystically minded, they are pointers, so to speak, and they have a language of their own. Mere poetic fancy is not fanciful to the sensitive ear that catches the hidden harmonies of life. Anyone can hear the sounds of nature if he will listen to them. Some can actually understand the language; to others, the message is felt rather than heard. To listen to the sounds of nature and to interpret them in terms of Cosmic Life is indeed an experience quite different from that of listening to written music, for while composed melodies, great as some of them may be, are essentially an appeal to the emotional rather than the spiritual faculties of man, the natural sounds of the earth tend to call forth little-used faculties of reception and to stir the inner man more deeply because they speak a language understood by the Higher Self alone. [12]

Helmholtz was one of the first to demonstrate that the vibrations of the notes of the musical (diatonic) scale stand in a fixed relationship to one another regardless of the key in which the scale may be played. The ratios of the vibrations of the seven notes, expressed in the lowest possible whole numbers is set out as follows:

Do 24, Re 27, Mi 30, Fa 32, Sol 36, La 40, Si 45.

Using these values as a good working basis, we may set them up as in the diagram. The notes are placed around the circumference of a circle representing the Microcosm or man in terms of his seven "principles," letting the first four notes of the scale stand for his lower quaternary and the last three notes for his higher triad. These are separated by the horizontal line.

La - 40
Sol - 36 Si - 45
Fa - 32 Do - 24
Mi - 30 Re - 27
La - 40
Higher Triad
Sol - 36 Si - 45
355 ... equals pi
Fa - 32 Do -24 113
Lower Quaternary
Mi - 30 Re - 27

Above this circle is another with the notes spaced similarly about the circumference, this circle representing the Macrocosm, or the Universe. The diagram is constructed in this fashion in order to suggest to the mind of the reader the fundamental fact of the likeness of man to the universe, in the sense that he has potentially within his being all the energies, manifested and unmanifested, to be found in Nature. This is a theme that can be elaborated ad infinitum, for it is the very [13] foundation on which is built the philosophy of the Ancient Wisdom.

Confining our study to one aspect of this theme, we call attention to the fact that the diagram is really separated into two parts by the horizontal line, thus indicating that the higher portions of man are really of the substance of Divine Nature itself. This does not exclude the lower quaternary of man from its own place in nature, but it does give to the Higher Triad the unique position of being on a par with at least some of the Divine Beings which designed the framework of the universe.

In the article entitled "The Cosmic Clock" that appeared in the last issue of this magazine, particular stress was laid on the difference between the "architects" of the universe and the "builders," in which it was explained that these represent two distinct (though merging) lines of evolution. In one sense, this diagram may serve to amplify this teaching, for all that lies above the line represents the luminous or energic activity of the universe, whereas that which lies below the line would belong to the "shadowy" corporeal side.

And so we may come to see that within man himself there are two evolutionary streams working side by side, merging their activities, each depending on the other for the maintenance of the complete organism, and therefore functioning side by side on all planes of his being. It must be so, because man is a little universe, indeed already a great universe to the infinitesimal lives of which he is composed.

Now the sum of the ratio numbers of the ten notes appearing above the line is 355, and the sum of the numbers of the four notes below the line is 113. The horizontal line suggests division, and we find that the quotient is equal to 3.1415929. ... the value of pi correct to the seventh decimal place. This of course suggests that the four notes may correspond to a diameter of a circle of which the ten notes above the line would form the circumference.

While it is not feasible at this time to make a diagram for what will follow, anyone interested in the subject may make it for himself with a pair of compasses and a straightedge. Describe a circle, and with the dividers, set off ten equal arcs around the circumference, and the resulting figure will be a true projection of an Icosahedron surrounding a Dodecahedron. These are two of the five regular polyhedra, the Icosahedron being a regular solid bounded by 20 equilateral triangular faces, and having 12 vertices and 30 lines; and the Dodecahedron being bounded by 12 regular pentagonal faces, having 20 vertices, and also 30 lines.

The other three regular polyhedra are the Tetrahedron, bounded by 4 equilateral triangular faces, with 4 vertices and 4 lines, the Octahedron, bounded by 8 equilateral triangular faces, with 6 vertices, and 12 lines, and lastly the Hexahedron or Cube, bounded by 6 square faces, having 8 vertices, and also 12 lines.

All five of the polyhedra are enumerated because by a process too lengthy to describe here, they may be built into a Complex figure, and certain remarkable properties of these solids may then be studied, and will be discovered to have a profound philosophical significance. In short, they represent man's place in the universe, the Icosahedron signifying Space, conditioned to become the innumerable planes and sub-planes of life, the Dodecahedron representing the Solar System. And as the other figures are built within the Dodecahedron itself, they show philosophically, and one might say geometrically as well, how man is built out of the very fabric of the Solar Essence.

It is particularly interesting, going back to the placing of the ten notes on the circumference of the circle, that they all become points of the Icosahedron. The four notes below the line were said to be found on the diameter, but as that diameter was not specified to be in any given position, it could occupy any position between the [14] horizontal and the vertical that we like, and better yet, it could be thought of as swinging, like a compass needle. This would represent a mystical fact that we are ever seeking our inner "north pole", that portion of our Higher Self with which we find ourselves to be in harmony. It is significant, in the projected figure of the Icosahedron surrounding the Dodecahedron, that it is precisely at the moment when the diameter is in line with any two opposite points of the Icosahedron, that it (the diameter) will coincide with four points on the enclosed Dodecahedron.

It is next to impossible to present an adequate picture of all this without the means of showing the geometrical figures to the reader, but we hope that some of the importance of the relations of the musical scale to Cosmic Geometry will be understood, and that therefore one more clue may be presented which will help to convince the student of the reality of the teachings. It is impossible to put too much emphasis on the basic principle that man and nature are one. Human life is in the nature of a deceptive illusion which shuts out the greater realities, much as in the evening the lamp

-light reflected on your window-pane shuts off the view outside. When day comes, the light outdoors is stronger than your lamp, and soon the electric light is incapable of throwing a reflection on your window. Then all is clear outdoors. Perhaps there is an analogy here that we may apply to music. Written music is like the lamp-light, which, beautiful as it may be, can produce reflections that will blot out the hidden harmonies. When these harmonies grow strong, and when the ear is tuned to them, they come flooding into the human consciousness with their sublime message of Cosmic Compassion which is life eternal.


Annie Besant

The following excerpts are taken from an address given at the Parliament of Religions, Chicago, 1893. They are published here both for their intrinsic worth and as a tribute to one of the prominent workers in the modern Theosophical Movement, whose centenary falls in October, 1947. - Editors.

... Great is philosophy which moulds the minds of men, great is science which gives light of knowledge to the world; but greater than all is religion which teaches man his duty, which inspires man with strength to accomplish it; greatest of all is that knowledge of the human soul which makes daily service the path of progress and finds in the lowest work the steps that lead to the highest achievement. ...

... The service of man implies what was called by the Buddha right livelihood, that is, right fashion of gaining ordinary life, honest way of gaining the means of ordinary existence. Not a livelihood based on the compelled service of others, not a livelihood which takes everything and gives nothing back, not a livelihood which stretches out its hands to grasp and closes its

fists when gift is asked instead of gain. Right livelihood implies honesty of living, and honesty implies that you give as much as you take, that you render back more than you receive, that you measure your work by your power of service, not by your power of compulsion. That the stronger your brain the greater your duty to help, that the higher your position the more imperative the cry to bend that position to the service of human need. Right livelihood is based on justice. Right livelihood is made beautiful by love, and if there is to be a reckoning between the giving and the taking, then let the scale of giving weigh the heavier, and give to man far more thin you take from him. ... But not only on the physical, the lowest plane, is the service of man to be sought. We rise to the mental plane, [15] and there too must man be served far more efficaciously thin he can be served on the physical plane. ... Every one of you in your daily thinking, every one of you has thoughts that you pour out to the world. You are making the possibilities of the morrow, you are making or marring the potencies of today. Even as you think, the thought burning in your brain becomes a living force for good or for evil in the mental atmosphere just as far as the vitality and the strength that are in it may be able to carry it on in its work of this world of mind. There is no woman, however weak, there is no man however obscure, who has not in the soul within him one of the creative forces of the world. As he thinks, thoughts from him go out to mould the thoughts and lives of other men. ... Your thought-power makes you creative Gods in the world, and it is thus that the future is builded, it is thus that the race climbs upward to the divine.

Not alone in the physical nor alone in the mental sphere is this constant service of man to be sought; but of the service of the spiritual sphere, no words of platform oratory can fitly describe its nature or its sacredness. That is the work that is done in silence, without sound of spoken word, of clatter of human endeavor. That work lies above us and around us, and we must have learned the perfection of the service in the lower ere we dare aspire to climb where the spiritual work is done. What, then, is the outcome of such suggestion, what the effect in life of such philosophy applied to the life of each as it is made or met in the world today. Surely it is that we should think nobly. Surely it is that our ideals should be lofty. Surely it is that in our daily life we should ever strike the highest keynote that at our noblest we have struck. According to the ideal the will is lifted. In the old phrase, the man becomes that which he worships. Let us see, then, that our ideals be lofty. Let its see that what we worship shall have in it the power that shall transform us into the image of the perfect man; that shall transmute us into the perfect gold of which humanity shall finally consist. If you would help in this evolution, if you would bear your share in that great labor, then let your ideal be truth; truth in every thought and act of life. Think true, otherwise you will act falsely. Let nothing of duplicity, nothing of insincerity nothing of falsehood soil the inner sanctuary of your life for if that be pure your actions will be spotless, and the radiance of eternal truth shall make your lives strong and noble. Not only be true, but also be pure, for out of purity comes the vision of the divine, and only the pure in heart, as said the Christ, shall see God. That is true. ...

And then add to these ideals of truth and of purity one that is lacking in our modern life, the ideal of reverence for what is noble, of adoration for that which is higher than one's self. Modern life is becoming petty because we are not strong enough to reverence. Modern life is becoming base, sordid, and vulgar because men fear that they will sink if they bow their heads to that which is greater than they are themselves. I tell you that worship of that which is higher than yourself raises you, it does not degrade you. That the feeling of reverence is a feeling that lifts you up, it does not take you down. We have talked so much about rights that we have forgotten that which is greater than man's right with himself. It is the power of seeing what is nobler than he has dreamed of, and bowing in the very dust before it till it permeates his life and makes him like itself. Only those who are weak are afraid to obey; only those who are feeble are afraid of humility. Democrats we are in our modern phrase, and with the world of today as we have it democracy in the external world is the best fashion of carrying on the outer life. But if it were possible that as in the days of old in Egypt and India the very gods themselves wandered the earth as men, and taught the people the higher truth, trained the people in the higher life, conveyed to the people the higher knowledge, would we claim that we [16] were their equals, and that we should be degraded by sitting at their feet to learn? And if you could weave into your modern life that feeling of reverence for that which is purest, noblest, grandest; for wisdom, for strength, for purity, till the passion of your reverence should bring the qualities into your own life - Oh, then your future as a nation would be secure. Then your future as a people would be glorious, and you men and women of America, creators of the future, will you not rise to the divine possibilities which every one of you has hidden in his own heart? Why go only to the lower when the stars are above you? Why go only to the dust when the sun sends down his beams that on those beams you may rise to his very heart? Yours is the future, for you are making it today. and as you build the temple of your nation, as you hope that in the days to come it shall rise nobly amongst the people of the earth and stand as pioneer of true life, of true greatness, lay you the foundations strong today. No building can stand whose foundations are rotten, no nation can endure whose foundations are not divine. You have the power. Yours is the choice, and as you exercise it the America of centuries to come will bless you for your living or will condemn you for your failure; for you are the creators of the world, and as you wilt so it shalt be.


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