Sunday, October 31, 2010

Epitome of Theosophical Teachings

Epitome of Theosophical Teachings

by William Q. Judge

(General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society)
Being an extension of a Tract issued by New York Theosophists,
entitled, “An Epitome of Theosophy”.
Written for the T.P.S. JUNE 20, 1888
reprinted from “Theosophical Siftings” Volume - 1 -

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

THEOSOPHY, the Wisdom-Religion, has existed from immemorial time. It offers us a theory of nature and of life which is founded upon knowledge acquired by the Sages of the past, more especially those of the East; and its higher students claim that this knowledge is not imagined or inferred, but that it is a knowledge of facts seen and known by those who are willing to comply with the conditions requisite for seeing and knowing.

Theosophy, meaning knowledge of or about God, [Not in the sense of a personal anthropomorphic God, but in that of divine “godly” wisdom.] and the term “God” being universally accepted as including the whole of both the known and the unknown, it follows that “Theosophy” must imply wisdom respecting the absolute; and, since the absolute is without beginning and eternal, this wisdom must have existed always. Hence Theosophy is sometimes called the Wisdom-Religion, because from immemorial time it has had knowledge of all the laws governing the spiritual, the moral, and the material.

The theory of nature and of life which it offers is not one that was at first speculatively laid down and then proved by adjusting facts or conclusions to fit it; but is an explanation of existence, cosmic and individual, derived from knowledge reached by those who have acquired the power to see behind the curtain that hides the operations of nature from the ordinary mind. Such Beings are called Sages, using the term in its highest sense. Of late they have been called Mahatmas and Adepts. In ancient times they were known as the Rishees and Maharishis, the last being a word that means Great Rishees.

It is not claimed that these exalted beings, or Sages, have existed only in the East. They are known to have lived in all parts of the globe, in obedience to the cyclic laws referred to below. But as far as concerns the present development of the human race on this planet, they now are to be found in the East, although the fact may be that some of them had, in remote times, retreated from even the American shores.

There being of necessity various grades among the students of this wisdom-religion, it stands to reason that those belonging to the lower degrees are able to give out only so much of the knowledge as is the appanage of the grade they have reached, and depend, to some extent, for further information upon students who are higher yet. It is these higher students for whom the claim is asserted that their knowledge is not mere inference, but that it concerns realities seen and known by them. While some of them are connected with the Theosophical Society, they are yet above it. The power to see and absolutely know such laws is surrounded by natural inherent regulations which must be complied with as conditions precedent; and it is, therefore, not possible to respond to the demand of the worldly man for an immediate statement of this wisdom, insomuch as he could not comprehend it until those conditions are fulfilled. As this knowledge deals with laws and states of matter, and of consciousness undreamed of by the “practical” western world, it can only be grasped, piece by piece, as the student pushes forward the demolition of his preconceived notions, that are due either to inadequate or to erroneous theories. It is claimed by these higher students that, in the Occident especially, a false method of reasoning has for many centuries prevailed, resulting in a universal habit of mind which causes men to look upon many effects as causes, and to regard that which is real as the unreal, putting meanwhile the unreal in the place of the real. As a minor example, the phenomena of mesmerism and clairvoyance, have, until lately, been denied by western science, yet there have always been numerous persons who know for themselves, by incontrovertible introspective evidence, the truth of these phenomena, and, in some instances, understand their cause and rationales.

The following are some of the fundamental propositions of Theosophy:—

The spirit in man is the only real and permanent part of his being; the rest of his nature being variously compounded. And since decay is incident to all composite things, everything in man but his spirit is impermanent.

Further, the universe being one thing and not diverse, and everything within it being connected with the whole and with every other thing therein, of which upon the upper plane (below referred to) there is a perfect knowledge, no act or thought occurs without each portion of the great whole perceiving and noting it. Hence all are inseparably bound together by the tie of Brotherhood.

This first fundamental proposition of Theosophy postulates that the universe is not an aggregation of diverse unities but that it is one whole. This whole is what is denominated “Deity” by Western Philosophers, and “Para-Brahm” by the Hindu Vedantins. It may be called the Unmanifested, containing within itself the potency of every form of manifestation, together with the laws governing those manifestations. Further, it is taught that there is no creation of worlds in the theological sense; but that their appearance is due strictly to evolution. When the time comes for the Unmanifested to manifest as an objective Universe, which it does periodically, it emanates a Power or “The First Cause”, so called because it itself is the rootless root of that Cause, and called in the East the “Causeless Cause”. The first Cause, we may call Brahmâ, or Ormazd, or Osiris, or by any name we please. The projection into time of the influence or so-called “breath of Brahmâ” causes all the worlds and the beings upon them to gradually appear. They remain in manifestation just as long as that influence continues to proceed forth in evolution. After long aeons the outbreathing, evolutionary influence slackens, and the universe begins to go into obscuration, or pralaya, until, the “breath” being fully indrawn, no objects remain, because nothing is but Brahma. Care must be taken by the student to make a distinction between Brahma (the impersonal Parabrahma) and Brahmâ the manifested Logos. A discussion of the means used by this power in acting would be out of place in this Epitome, but of those means Theosophy also treats.

This breathing-forth is known as a Manvantara, or the Manifestation of the world between two Manus (from Manu, and Antara “between”) and the completion of the inspiration brings with it Pralaya, or destruction. It is from these truths that the erroneous doctrines of “creation” and the “last judgment” have sprung. Such Manvantaras and Pralayas have eternally occurred, and will continue to take place periodically, and for ever.

For the purpose of a manvantara two so-called eternal principles are postulated, that is, Purusha and Prakriti (or spirit and matter), because both are ever present and conjoined in each manifestation. Those terms are used here because no equivalent for them exists in English. Purusha is called “spirit“, and Prakriti “matter”, but this Purusha is not the unmanifested, nor is Prakriti matter as known to science; the Aryan Sages therefore declare that there is a higher spirit still, called Purushottama. The reason for this is that at the night of Brahma, or the so-called indrawing of his breath, both Purusha and Prakriti are absorbed in the Unmanifested; a conception which is the same as the idea underlying the Biblical expression — “remaining in the bosom of the Father”.

This brings us to the doctrine of Universal Evolution as expounded by the Sages of the Wisdom Religion.

The Spirit, or Purusha, they say, proceeds from Brahma through the various forms of matter evolved at the same time, beginning in the world of the spiritual from the highest and in the material world from the lowest form. This lowest form is one unknown as yet to modern science. Thus therefore the mineral, vegetable, and animal forms each imprison a spark of the Divine, a portion of the indivisible Purusha. These sparks struggle to “return to the Father”, or in other words, to secure self-consciousness, and at last come into the highest form, on Earth, that of man, where alone self-consciousness is possible to them. The period, calculated in human time, during which this evolution goes on embraces millions of ages. Each spark of divinity has therefore millions of ages in which to accomplish its mission — that of obtaining complete self-consciousness while in the form of man. But by this is not meant that the mere act of coming into human forms of itself confers self-consciousness upon this divine spark. That great work may be accomplished during the Manvantara in which a Divine spark reaches the human form, or it may not; all depends upon the individual's own will and efforts. Each particular spirit thus goes through the Manwantara, or enters into manifestation, for its own enrichment and for that of the Whole. Mahatmas and Rishees are thus gradually evolved during a Manwantara, and become, after its expiration, planetary spirits, who guide the evolutions of other future planets. The planetary spirits of our globe are those who in previous Manwantaras — or days of Brahma — made the efforts, and became in the course of that long period Mahatmas.

Each Manwantara is for the same end and purpose, so that the Mahatmas who have now attained those heights, or those who may become such in the succeeding years of the present Manwantara, will probably be the planetary spirits of the next Manwantara for this or other planets. This system is thus seen to be based upon the identity of Spiritual Being, and, under the name of “Universal Brotherhood“, constitutes the basic idea of the Theosophical Society, whose object is the realization of that Brotherhood among men.

The Sages say that this Purusha is the basis of all manifested objects. Without it nothing could exist or cohere. It interpenetrates everything everywhere. It is the reality of which, or upon which, those things called real by us are mere images. As Purusha reaches to and embraces all beings, they are all connected together; and in or on the plane where that Purusha is, there is a perfect consciousness of every act, thought, object, and circumstance, whether supposed to occur there, or on this plane, or on any other. For below the spirit and above the intellect is a plane of consciousness in which experiences are noted, commonly called man's “spiritual nature”; this is frequently said to be as susceptible of culture as his body or his intellect.

This upper plane is the real register of all sensations and experiences, although there are other registering planes. It is sometimes called “the subconscious mind”. Theosophy, however, holds that it is a misuse of terms to say that the spiritual nature can be cultivated. The real object to be kept in view is to so open up or make porous the lower nature that the spiritual nature may shine through it and become the guide and ruler. It is only “cultivated” in the sense of having a vehicle prepared for its use, into which it may descend. In other words, it is held that the real man, who is the higher self — being the spark of the Divine before alluded to — overshadows the visible being, which has the possibility of becoming united to that spark. Thus it is said that the higher Spirit is not in the man, but above him.

It is always peaceful, unconcerned, blissful, and full of absolute knowledge. It continually partakes of the Divine state, being continually that state itself, “conjoined with the Gods, it feeds upon Ambrosia”. The object of a student is to let the light of that spirit shine through the lower coverings.

This “spiritual culture” is only attainable as the grosser interests, passions, and demands of the flesh are subordinated to the interests, aspirations, and needs of the higher nature; and this is a matter of both system and established law.

This spirit can only become the ruler when the firm intellectual acknowledgment or admission is first made that IT alone is. And, as stated above, it being not only the person concerned but also the whole, all selfishness must be eliminated from the lower nature before its divine state can be reached. So long as the smallest personal or selfish desire — even for spiritual attainment for our own sake — remains, so long is the end desired put off. Hence the above term “demands of the flesh” really covers also demands that are not of the flesh, and its proper rendering would be “desires of the personal nature, including those of the individual soul”.

When systematically trained in accordance with the aforesaid system and law, men attain to clear insight into the immaterial, spiritual world, and their interior faculties apprehend truth as immediately and readily as physical faculties grasp the things of sense, or mental faculties those of reason. Or, in the words used by some of them, “They are able to look directly upon ideas”; and hence their testimony to such truth is as trustworthy as is that of scientists or philosophers to truth in their respective fields.

In the course of this spiritual training such men acquire perception of, and control over, various forces in Nature unknown to other men, and thus are able to perform works usually called “miraculous”, though really but the result of larger knowledge of natural law. What these powers are may be found in Patanjali's “Yoga Philosophy”.

Their testimony as to super-sensuous truth, verified by their possession of such powers, challenges candid examination from every religious mind.

Turning now to the system expounded by these sages we find, in the first place, an account of cosmogony, the past and future of this earth and other planets, the evolution of life through elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal and human forms, as they are called.

These “passive life elementals” are unknown to modern science, though sometimes approached by it as a subtle material agent in the production of life, whereas they are a form of life itself.

Each Kalpa, or grand period, is divided into four ages or Yugas, each lasting many thousands of years, and each one being marked by a predominant characteristic. These are the Satya-yug (or age of truth), the Tretya-yug, the Dvapara-yug, and our present Kali-yug (or age of darkness), which began five thousands of years back. The word “darkness” here refers to spiritual and not material darkness. In this age, however, all causes bring about their effects much more rapidly than in any other age, a fact due to the intensified momentum of “evil”, as the course of its cycle is about rounding towards that of a new cycle of truth. Thus a sincere lover of the race can accomplish more in three incarnations during Kali-Yuga, than he could in a much greater number in any other age. The darkness of this age is not absolute, but is greater than that of other ages; its main tendency being towards materiality, while having some mitigation in occasional ethical or scientific advance conducive to the well-being of the race, by the removal of immediate causes of crime or disease.

Our earth is one of a chain of seven planets, it alone being on the visible plane, while the six others are on different planes, and therefore invisible. [The other planets of our solar system belong each to a chain of seven.] And the life-wave passes from the higher to the lower in the chain until it reaches our earth, and then ascends and passes to the three others on the opposite arc, and thus seven times. The evolution of forms is co-incident with this progress, the tide of life bearing with it the mineral and vegetable forms, until each globe in turn is ready to receive the human life wave. Of these globes our earth is the fourth.

Humanity passes from globe to globe in a series of Rounds, first circling about each globe, and reincarnating upon it a fixed number of times. Concerning the human evolution on the concealed planets or globes little is permitted to be said. We have to concern ourselves with our Earth alone. The latter, when the wave of humanity has reached it for the last time (in this, our Fourth Round), began to evolute man, subdividing him into races. Each of these races when it has, through evolution, reached the period known as “the moment of choice” and decided its future destiny as an individual race, begins to disappear. The races are separated, moreover, from each other by catastrophies of nature, such as the subsidence of continents and great natural convulsions. Coincidently with the development of races the development of specialized senses takes place; thus our fifth race has so far developed five senses.

The sages further tell us that the affairs of this world and its people are subject to cyclic laws, and during any one cycle the rate or quality of progress appertaining to a different cycle is not possible. These cyclic laws operate in each age. As the ages grow darker the same laws prevail, only the cycles are shorter; that is, they are the same length in the absolute sense, but go over the given limit in a shorter period of time. These laws impose restrictions on the progress of the race. In a cycle, where all is ascending and descending, the adepts must wait until the time comes before they can aid the race to ascend. They cannot, and must not, interfere with Karmic law. Thus they begin to work actively again in the spiritual sense, when the cycle is known by them to be approaching its turning point.

At the same time these cycles have no hard lines or points of departure or inception, inasmuch as one may be ending or drawing to a close for some time after another has already begun. They thus overlap and shade into one another, as day does into night; and it is only when the one has completely ended and the other has really begun by bringing out its blossoms, that we can say we are in a new cycle. It may be illustrated by comparing two adjacent cycles to two interlaced circles, where the circumference of one touches the centre of the other, so that the moment where one ended and the other began would be at the point where the circumferences intersected each other. Or by imagining a man as representing, in the act of walking, the progress of the cycles; his rate of advancement can only be obtained by taking the distance covered by his paces, the points at the middle of each pace, between the feet, being the beginning of cycles and their ending.

The cyclic progress is assisted, or the deterioration further permitted, in this way; at a time when the cycle is ascending, developed and progressed Beings, known in Sanscrit by the term Gnanis, descend to this earth from other spheres where the cycle is going down, in order that they may also help the spiritual progress of this globe. In like manner they leave this sphere when our cycle approaches darkness. These Gnanis must not, however, be confounded with the Mahatmas and Adepts mentioned above. The right aim of true theosophists should therefore be so to live that their influence may be conducive for the dispelling of darkness to the end that such Gnanis may turn again towards this sphere.

Theosophy also teaches the existence of a universally diffused and highly ethereal medium, which has been called the “Astral Light” and “Akâsa”. It is the repository of all past, present, and future events, and in it are recorded the effects of spiritual causes, and of all acts and thoughts from the direction of either spirit or matter. It may be called the Book of the Recording Angel.

Akâsa, however, is a misnomer when it is confused with Ether or the Astral light of the Kabalists. Akâsa is the noumenon of the phenomenal Ether or Astral light proper, for Akâsa is infinite, impartite, intangible, its only procuction being Sound. [Akâsa in the mysticism of the esoteric philosophy is properly speaking the female “Holy Ghost”; “Sound” or speech being the logos, the manifested verbum of the unmanifested Mother. See Sankhyasara Preface p 33 et seq.]

And this Astral light is material and not spirit. It is, in fact, the lower principle of that cosmic body of which Akâsa is the highest. It has the power of retaining all images. This includes a statement that each thought as well as word and act makes an image there. These images may be said to have two lives, 1st. Their own as an image. 2nd. The impress left by them in the matrix of the astral light. In the upper realm of this light there is no such thing as space or time in the human sense. All future events are the thoughts and acts of men; these are producers in advance of the picture of the event which is to occur. Ordinary men continually, recklessly, and wickedly, are making these events sure to come to pass, but the Sages, Mahatmas, and the Adepts of the good law, make only such pictures as are in accordance with Divine law, because they control the production of their thought. In the Astral light are all the differentiated sounds as well. The elementals are energic centres in it. The shades of departed human beings and animals are also there. Hence, any seer or entranced person can see in it all that anyone had done or said, as well as that which had happened to anyone with whom he is connected. Hence, also, the identity of deceased persons — who are supposed to report specially out of this plane — is not to be concluded from the giving of forgotten or unknown words, facts, or ideas. Out of this plane of matter can be taken the pictures of all who have ever lived, and then reflected on a suitable magneto-electrical surface, so as to seem like the apparition of the deceased, producing all the sensations of weight, hardness, and extension.

Through the means of the Astral Light and the help of Elementals, the various material elements may be drawn down and precipitated from the atmosphere upon either a plane surface or in the form of a solid object; this precipitation may be made permanent, or it may be of such a light cohesive power as to soon fade away. But the help of the elementals can only be obtained by a strong will added to a complete knowledge of the laws which govern the being of the elementals. It is useless to give further details on this point; first, because the untrained student cannot understand; and second, the complete explanation is not permitted, were it even possible in this space.

The world of the elementals is an important factor in our world and in the course of the student. Each thought as it is evolved by a man coalesces instantly with an Elemental, and is then beyond the man's power.

It can easily be seen that this process is going on every instant. Therefore each thought exists as a entity. Its length of life depends on two things: (a) The original force of the person's will and thought; (b) The power of the elemental which coalesced with it, the latter being determined by the class to which the elemental belongs. This is the case with good and bad thoughts alike, and as the will beneath the generality of wicked thoughts is usually powerful, we can see that the result is very important, because the elemental has no conscience and obtains its constitution and direction from the thought it may from time to time carry.

Each human being has his own elementals that partake of his nature and his thoughts. If you fix your thoughts upon a person in anger, or in critical, uncharitable judgment, you attract to yourself a number of those elementals that belong to, generate, and are generated by this particular fault or failing, and they precipitate themselves upon you. Hence, through the injustice of your merely human condemnation, which cannot know the source and causes of the action of another, you at once become a sharer of his fault or failing by your own act, and the spirit expelled returns “with seven devils worse than himself”. This is the origin of the popular saying that “curses, like chickens, come home to roost”, and has its root in the laws governing magnetic affinity.

In the Kali-Yuga we are hypnotized by the effect of the immense body of images in the Astral Light, compounded of all the deeds, thoughts, and so forth of our ancestors, whose lives tended in a material direction. These images influence the inner man — who is conscious of them — by suggestion. In a brighter age the influence of such images would be towards Truth. The effect of the Astral Light, as thus moulded and painted by us, will remain so long as we continue to place those images there, and it thus becomes our judge and our executioner. Every universal law thus contains within itself the means for its own accomplishment and the punishment for its violation, and requires no further authority to postulate it or to carry out its decrees.

The Astral Light by its inherent action both evolves and destroys forms. It is the universal register. Its chief office is that of a vehicle for the operation of the laws of Karma, or the progress of the principle of life, and it is thus in a deep spiritual sense a medium or “mediator” between man and his Deity — his higher spirit.

Theosophy also tells of the origin, history, development, and destiny of mankind.

Upon the subject of Man it teaches:—

1. That each spirit is a manifestation of the One Spirit, and thus a part of all. It passes through a series of experiences in incarnation, and is destined to ultimate reunion with the Divine.

2. That this incarnation is not single but repeated, each individuality becoming re-embodied during numerous existences in successive races and planets of our chain, and accumulating the experiences of each incarnation towards its perfection.

3. That between adjacent incarnations, after grosser elements are first purged away, comes a period of comparative rest and refreshment, called Devachan, the soul being therein prepared for its next advent into material life.

The constitution of man is subdivided in a septenary manner, the main divisions being those of body, soul and spirit. These divisions and their relative development govern his subjective condition after death. The real division cannot be understood, and must for a time remain esoteric, because it requires certain senses not usually developed for its understanding. If the present sevenfold division, as given by Theosophical writers, is adhered to strictly and without any conditional statement, it will give rise to controversy or error. For instance, Spirit is not a seventh principle. It is the synthesis, or the whole, and is equally present in the other six. The present various divisions can only be used as a general working hypothesis, to be developed and corrected as students advance and themselves develop.

The state of spiritual but comparative rest known as Devachan is not an eternal one, and so is not the same as the eternal heaven of Christianity. Nor does “hell” correspond to the state known to theosophical writers as Avitchi.

All such painful states are transitory and purificatory states. When those are passed the individual goes into Devachan.

“Hell” and Avitchi are thus not the same. Avitchi is the same as the “second death”, as it is in fact annihilation that only comes to the “black Magician” or spiritually wicked, as will be seen further on.

The nature of each incarnation depends upon the balance as struck of the merit and demerit of the previous life or lives — upon the way in which the man has lived and thought; and this law is inflexible and wholly just.

“Karma” — a term signifying two things, the law of ethical causation (Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap); and the balance or excess of merit or demerit in any individual, determines also the main experiences of joy and sorrow in each incarnation, so that what we call “luck” is in reality “desert” — desert acquired in past existence.

Karma is not all exhausted in a single life, nor is a person necessarily in this life experiencing the effect of all his previous Karma; for some may be held back by various causes. The principal cause is the failure of the Ego to acquire a body which will furnish the instrument or apparatus in and by which the meditation or thoughts of previous lives can have their effect and be ripened. Hence it is held that there is a mysterious power in the man's thoughts during a life, sure to bring about its results in either an immediately succeeding life or in one many lives distant; that is, in whatever life the Ego obtains a body capable of being the focus, apparatus, or instrument for the ripening of past Karma. There is also a swaying or diverging power in Karma in its effect upon the soul, for a certain course of life — or thought — will influence the soul in that direction for sometimes three lives, before the beneficial, or bad, effect of any other sort of Karma must be felt. Nor does it follow that every minute portion of Karma must be felt in the same detail as when produced, for several sorts of Karma may come to a head together at one point in the life, and, by their combined effect, produce a result which, while, as a whole, accurately representing all the elements in it, still is a different Karma from each single component part. This may be known as the nullification of the postulated effect of the classes of Karma involved.

The process of evolution up to re-union with the Divine is and includes successive elevations from rank to rank of power and usefulness. The most exalted beings still in the flesh are known as Sages, Rishees, Brothers, Masters. Their great function being the preservation at all times, and when cyclic laws permit, the extension, of spiritual knowledge and influence.

When union with the Divine is effected, all the events and experiences of each incarnation are known.

As to the process of spiritual development, Theosophy teaches: —

1. That the essence of the process lies in the securing of supremacy, to the highest, the spiritual, element of man's nature.
2. That this is attained along four lines, among others, —

(a) The entire eradication of selfishness in all forms, and the cultivation of broad, generous sympathy in, and effort for the good of others.

(b) The absolute cultivation of the inner, spiritual man by meditation, by reaching to and communion with the Divine, and by exercise of the kind described by Patanjali, i.e., incessant striving to an ideal end.

(c) The control of fleshly appetites and desires, all lower, material interests being deliberately
subordinated to the behests of the spirits.

(d) The careful performance of every duty belonging to one's station in life, without desire for reward, leaving results for Divine law.

3. That while the above is incumbent on and practicable by all religiously disposed men, a yet higher plane of spiritual attainment is conditioned upon a specific course of training, physical, intellectual, and spiritual, by which the internal faculties are first aroused and then developed.

4. That an extension of this process is reached in Adeptship, Mahatma-ship, or the states of Rishees, Sages, and Dhyan Chohans, which are all exalted stages, attained by laborious self-discipline and hardship, protracted through possibly many incarnations, and with many degrees of initiation and preferment, beyond which are yet other stages ever approaching the Divine.

As to the rationale of spiritual development it asserts: —

1. That the process takes place entirely within the individual himself, the motive, the effort, and the result proceeding from his own inner nature, along the lines of self-evolution.

2. That, however personal and interior, this process is not unaided, being possible, in fact, only through close communion with the supreme source of all strength.

As to the degree of advancement in incarnations it holds:

1. That even a mere intellectual acquaintance with Theosophic truth has great value in fitting the individual for a step upwards in his next earth-life, as it gives an impulse in that direction.

2. That still more is gained by a career of duty, piety, and beneficence.

3. That a still greater advance is attained by the attentive and devoted use of the means to spiritual culture heretofore stated.

4. That every race and individual of it reaches in evolution a period known as “the moment of choice”, when they decide for themselves their future destiny by a deliberate and conscious choice between eternal life and death, and that this right of choice is the peculiar appanage of the free soul. It cannot be exercised until the man has realized the soul within him, and until that soul has attained some measure of self-consciousness in the body. The moment of choice is not a fixed period of time; it is made up of all moments. It cannot come unless all the previous lives have led up to it. For the race as a whole it has not yet come. Any individual can hasten the advent of this period for himself under the previously stated law of the ripening of Karma, Should he then fail to choose right he is not wholly condemned, for the economy of nature provides that he shall again and again have the opportunity of choice when the moment arrives for the whole race. After this period the race, having blossomed, tends towards its dissolution. A few individuals of it will have outstripped its progress and attained Adeptship or Mahatmaship. The main body, who have chosen aright, but who have not attained salvation, pass into the subjective condition, there to await the influx of the human life wave into the next globe, which they are the first souls to people, the deliberate choosers of evil, whose lives are passed in great spiritual wickedness (for evil done for the sheer love of evil per se), sever the connection with the Divine Spirit, or the monad, which for ever abandons the human Ego. Such Egos pass into the misery of the eighth sphere, as far as we understand, there to remain until the separation between what they had thus cultivated and the personal Ishwar or divine spark is complete. But this tenet has never been explained to us by the Masters, who have always refused to answer and to explain it conclusively. At the next Manwantara that Divine Spark will probably begin again the long evolutionary journey, being cast into the stream of life at the source and passing upward again through all the lower forms.

So long as the connection with the Divine Monad is not severed, this annihilation of personality cannot take place. Something of that personality will always remain attached to the immortal Ego. Even after such severance the human being may live on, a man among men — a soul-less being. This disappointment, so to call it, of the Divine Spark by depriving it of its chosen vehicle constitutes the “sin against the Holy Ghost”, which its very nature forbade it to pardon, because it cannot continue an association with principles which have become degraded and vitiated in the absolute sense, so that they no longer respond to cyclic or evolutionary impulses, but, weighted by their own nature, sink to the lowest depths of matter. The connection, once wholly broken, cannot in the nature of Being be resumed. But innumerable opportunities for return offer themselves throughout the dissolving process, which lasts thousands of years.

There is also a fate that comes to even adepts of the Good Law which is somewhat similar to a loss of “heaven” after the enjoyment for incalculable periods of time. When the adept has reached a certain very high point in his evolution he may, by a mere wish, become what the Hindus call, a “Deva” — or lesser god. If he does this, then, although he will enjoy the bliss and power of that state for a vast length of time, he will not at the next Pralaya partake of the conscious life “in the bosom of the Father”, but has to pass down into matter at the next new “creation”, performing certain functions that could not be now made clear, and has to come up again through the elemental world; but this fate is not like that of the Black Magician who falls into Avitchi. And again between the two he can choose the middle state and become a Nirmanakaya — one who gives up the Bliss of Nirvana and remains in conscious existence outside of his body after its death: in order to help Humanity. This is the greatest sacrifice he can do for mankind. By advancement from one degree of interest and comparative attainment to another as above stated, the student hastens the advent of the moment of choice, after which his rate of progress is greatly intensified.

It may be added that Theosophy is the only system of religion and philosophy which gives satisfactory explanation of such problems as these: —

1. The object, use, and inhabitation of other planets than this earth, which planets serve to complete and to prolong the evolutionary course, and to fill the required measure of the universal experience of souls.

2. The geological cataclysms of earth; the frequent absence of intermediate types in its fauna; the occurrence of architectural and other relics of races now lost, and as to which ordinary science has nothing but vain conjecture; the nature of extinct civilizations and the causes of their extinction; the persistence of savagery and the unequal development of existing civilization; the differences, physical and internal, between the various races of men; the line of future development.

3. The contrasts and unisons of the world's faiths, and the common foundation underlying them all.

4. The existence of evil, of suffering; and of sorrow, — a hopeless puzzle to the mere philanthropist or theologian.

5. The inequalities in social condition and privilege; the sharp contrasts between wealth and poverty, intelligence and stupidity, culture and ignorance, virtue and vileness; the appearance of men of genius in families destitute of it, as well as other facts in conflict with the law of heredity; the frequent cases of unfitness of environment around individuals, so sore as to embitter disposition, hamper aspiration, and paralyse endeavour; the violent antithesis between character and condition; the occurrence of accident, misfortune, and untimely death; — all of them problems solvable only by either the conventional theory of Divine caprice or the Theosophic doctrines of Karma and Re-incarnation.

6. The possession by individuals of psychic powers — clairvoyance, clairaudience, etc., as well as the phenomena of psychometry and statuvolism.

7. The true nature of genuine phenomena in spiritualism, and the proper antidote to superstition and to exaggerated expectation.

8. The failure of conventional religions to greatly extend their areas, reform abuses, re-organize society, expand the idea of brotherhood, abate discontent, diminish crime, and elevate humanity; and an apparent inadequacy to realize in individual lives the ideal they professedly uphold.

The above is a sketch of the main features of Theosophy, the Wisdom-Religion. Its details are to be found in the rapidly-growing literature upon the subject.

There are three stages of interest, developed by the study of Theosophy:

1. That of intellectual inquiry, — to be met by works in Public Libraries, etc..

2. That of desire for personal culture, — to be met partly by the books prepared for that specific end, partly by the periodical Magazines expounding Theosophy.

3. That of personal identification with the Theosophical Society, an association formed in 1875 with three aims, — to be the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood; to promote the study of Aryan and other Eastern literatures, religions, and sciences; to investigate unexplained laws of nature and the psychical powers latent in man. Adhesion to the first only is a pre-requisite to membership, the others being optional. The Society represents no particular creed, is entirely unsectarian, and includes professors of all faiths, only exacting from each member that toleration of the beliefs of others which he desires them to exhibit towards his own.

The Religions of Japan (Sadasad Vikaram Na Sahate)

The Religions of Japan
(Sadasad Vikaram Na Sahate)

by Anonymous

From The Theosophist, Oct. 1881
as published by The Theosophical Society, Adyar, Chennai [Madras]. India 600 020
Reprinted from “Theosophical Siftings” Volume 1

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

MUCH interesting and new matter concerning the religious tenets of Japan comes to us from two sources; from a letter written by a Fellow of the Theosophical Society from Miako, and from a paper recently read before a meeting of the Imperial Geographical Society of St. Petersburg by a Russian missionary, a resident of Japan of many years' standing. According to the latter, had we to judge of the intensity of the religious feeling in a nation by the number of its temples and religious monuments, then would the Japanese have to be regarded by the Europeans as the most pious people on the face of the globe. And, seeing that several great and entirely disagreeing religions, each of them divided into many diverging sects, exist openly and freely in the Empire, not only tolerated but strongly protected by the latter, we cannot but regard the Japanese as an exceedingly free-minded, liberal people. There is no hostility between the different forms of religions; and invariably the Sintonite, the Confucian, and the Buddhist profess the same respect for the creed of their neighbours as for their own — at least, outwardly. They differ in modes, but agree in essentials — the difference in their point of view never serving one of them as a pretext to condemn the others. It is unjust, therefore, as some writers do, to lay the blame at the door of the Japanese for the terrible religious persecutions to which the Christians were subjected in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. These persecutions were entirely due to the intrigues of the ever-plotting Jesuits. When, in 1549, Japan was visited by the "Apostle of the Indies", the famous St. Francis Xavier, whose great eloquence led him to convert even three sovereign princes — (who apostatised afterwards) — and nearly 7,000 Japanese, the authorities of the State remained indifferent to the spread of the new doctrine, so long as the public tranquility was not disturbed. When petitioned to prohibit the new faith, the Emperor Nobunangua is said to have inquired of the native kanusi (Sinto priests or spiritual teachers) how many different creeds there were in Japan; and when answered that there were thirty-five, he remarked: "Where thirty-five religions are tolerated we can easily bear with thirty-six. Leave the foreigners in peace." In the days of those persecutions the Protestant Dutch were left unmolested, and the whole wrath of the Government was directed against the Roman Catholics, who began to be suspected of evil doings against the State as early as the last quarter of the sixteenth century, in 1580. Taiko Sama having once asked a Spaniard: "How is it that your king has managed to conquer half of the world ?" it was boastfully but very imprudently answered: " He sends priests to win the people; his troops are sent to join the native Christians, and the conquest is easy'.' This answer was never forgotten, and seven years later the first edict for the banishment of some missionaries was the result. But it was brought on by the fault of the Christians and the incessant instigations of the missionaries, who, instead of taking measures to pacify the Government, defied it, and began to overthrow idols, ruin places of worship, and pull down the Japanese temples. This led to dreadful reprisals, native converts being put to death, with twenty-three European missionaries, their schools and churches destroyed, and Portuguese traders no longer allowed free access to the country. ... '

After stating so much, the lecturer passed to the examination of the three principal religions of Japan. The most important one, according to Father Anatolig, is that embraced by the best educated and highest classes — Confucianism, imported into the country in the middle of the sixth century from China, together with the written language. Buddhism, however, is the most popular creed. It is professed, without any exception, by all the ladies of the highest society, even by those belonging to the Imperial family, as well as by most of the women of the middle and lower classes, while the male population is more inclined towards the religions of Sinto, Confucius, and Lao-Tye. To convert any of the followers of the great Chinese philosophers to Christianity is next to impossible, the most zealous attempts in that direction having hitherto sadly failed. Next to Buddhism and Confucianism stands in importance the doctrine of Sinto, having, like the two others, its origin in China. In 872 A.D., after a difficult struggle with popular Buddhism, it was embraced by the Imperial family and proclaimed as a State religion. This creed, professed by the entire body of officials and Government servants, is based upon the legends of historic personages, now become deified heroes. Strictly speaking, Sintoism is no religion, but rather a system strongly upheld by the State, as it consists in the worship of the Emperors, who are included in the number of heroes, and thus receive divine honours. It is the sincere opinion of Father Anatolig that it is useless for Christianity to wrestle in Japan with Buddhism, Confucianism, and especially Sintoism, as neither the philosophy of the two former, nor the sense of security for the reigning dynasties, involved in, and dependent upon the latter creed, are likely to yield to a system whose first requisite is blind faith. The only means left to the Christian missionary is to establish as many schools as possible, "wherein he could imperceptibly infiltrate the teaching of Christ, thus implanting it among the less intellectually-developed masses of the people".

The method is not new, and is now proven to be the only effectual one in so-called "heathen" countries. It is but the most grossly ignorant and the poorest in non-Christian nations that are generally caught with this bait. But what are we to think of the intrinsic merit of a religion whose divine truths are able to "come home" but "to the least intellectually developed" classes of a nation — a religion, as its representatives themselves confess, which is utterly powerless to impress itself on the more educated and philosophic minds ? . . . Verily, "blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs (i.e., the ignorant, the uneducated, the superstitious, and the simple-minded) is the (Christian) kingdom of Heaven!". Sincerity and openheartedness being the most rare virtues among the padris, we feel really thankful to Father Anatolig for his unequivocal confession, and will now turn to hear what our other informant says of the religions of Japan.

As in all the oldest nations, we find in Japan, as its most ancient religion — Sun-worship. Nor are the Elements forgotten, as those are the abodes of all the "minor gods or spirits" — namely, the Powers or Forces of Nature. The Sun still receives deific honours; and its emblem has fully survived in the Sinto temples, called Maya, [Divine residence. Hence the name of the ecclesiastical metropolis Myako, the abode of the Spiritual Emperor] where no idols or images are to be found, save a bright mirror in the shape of a disc, before which are placed high metallic poles, with long and broad slips of paper attached to them, and mysterious inscriptions on these, traced in the Nai-den style, that peculiar sacerdotal written language used only for religious and mystical subjects. Strange to think, the Japanese practise in reference to Sun-worship that curious ceremony so well known in India under the name of the aswamedha, or sacrifice of the horse. Anciently the horse was considered by every nation an emblem of the primeval and universal manifested being, who, when identified with the Sun, had the horse given him as his attendant.

"The horses of the Sun" are famous, and were deified in all the old religious systems, even in the youngest of the latter — the Mosaic, or Jewish creed. [And he (Josiah) took away the horses that the Kings of Judah had given to the Sun, at the entering of the House of the Lord. (2 Kings, xxiii. II)] Every Sun-God has a horse (always white) associated with him. Sosiosh, born of a virgin, is expected to appear at the end of the days upon a white horse as Redeemer, says the book Bun Dehesh. Vishnu, or the "Kalanki Avatar", is to come upon a white horse; and St. John, in the Revelation (xix., 11, 14), sees the heavens opened and the "Faithful and True", or the coming Christian Messiah, seated on a white horse; and the "armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses". The white horse is the horse of the Sun; and Mithra, the old Medo-Arian Sun-God, reappears everywhere. [ “The Manicheans held that the Sun, who is Mithra, is Christ himself,” says St. Augustine (cap 8) who had belonged to that sect] For the Sun is the fiery source of Spirit-power or Spirit of LIFE, while the chariot typifies the body, and the horse its animating principle. And thus in Japan Ten-Zio-Dai-Zen, "he who darts out his rays" is presented with its emblem, the horse, at its Temple on certain festive days. A number of sacred horses in pictures and horses cut out of paper with sacred inscriptions on them are hung on the walls.

" This Sinto religion", then, is not mere hero-worship, but the Sun and Spirit-worship rather, when viewed in its popular presentation, and something else when considered esoterically. The Sun and the elements are called the Dia-Zin, or "Great Spirits", the inferior ones consisting chiefly of deified heroes, or historical personages canonized for some great deeds. Fatsman, the sixteenth Emperor of Japan, is the God of War, yet the Kanusi or spiritual gurus — the priests attached to the Sinto temples — are, in fact, no priests at all; for they are neither ordained nor have they any special privileges, but are very learned men belong to the highest class of society and respected above all others. When pressed to give an explanation of their religion, they evade the question by answering that it is no religion at all, but simply a system, a philosophy based on the mysterious intercourse between the world of the worshippers and their spiritual chief. That spiritual Emperor, or Dairi, whose title is better known as that of the Mikado, is the embodiment of the idea of an absolute, divinely inspired sovereign, whose office is very similar to that of the Dalai-Lama of Tibet. Contrary to the statement of the Russian missionary, Buddhism is so mixed up with Sinto doctrines that many of the images of Niu Rai, or Amita (the Japanese names of Gautama Buddha) are to be found in Sinto temples, for the Sintonites regard Amita, they say, as the "chief hero", or the spiritual head of the great army of deceased heroes, who were all mystics and whom they are said to worship.

As intimately connected with Buddhism are the doctrines of Lao-Tye, the most mystical and spiritual of all. Their followers are called the Yamabusi, or the " Hermit-Brothers". Says an overwise encyclopaedia: "They pretend to magical art, and live in the recesses of mountains and craggy steeps, whence they come forth to tell fortunes, write charms, and sell amulets. They lead a mysterious life, and admit no one to their secrets except after a tedious and difficult preparation by fasting and a species of severe gymnastic exercise." !!

There are other "Hermit -Brothers" residing nearer to Bombay than Japan, and occasionally visiting Northern, Central, and Southern India; but no more than their colleagues, the Yamabusi, do they "sell" amulets or charms, though they may occasionally bestow such presents upon those whom they find worthy of their attention. Were the proficients of these so-called "magical arts" Christians, they would be called great saints and prophets, their phenomena attributed to divine gift, and they would see themselves forthwith classed among such miracle-mongers as the Saints of the Golden Legend. But they are "heathen", hence — devil-worshippers and impostors. That is why it is as difficult to meet one of such "Hermits" away from his "craggy steeps" as "for a yak to thrust its tail into the hole of a plank adrift on the ocean", to use a Tibetan expression.

But to return to the Mikado. The Spiritual Emperor claims direct descent from Sin Mee, a hero who was the first to establish a regular Government in Japan, in the year 666 B.C., just about the time of the birth of Gautama Buddha in India. He is believed to be an incarnation of some mysterious power, like the never-dying Buddha, which emigrates from one Grand Lama to the other. He is called the "Son of Kanon", the Goddess of Mercy, who is exceedingly honoured in Japan. Her image is found in every house, and she is called "the Mother of God", an appellation which became the pretext with the Christian missionaries, never too bashful before an anachronism, to claim that her worship originated in an idea of the Virgin Mary carried at an early age from the West through China to Japan, whereas she is one of the most ancient deities of Japan, and far older than Christianity. Maya, Buddha's mother, is also called the "Saviour's Mother" by the Buddhists, and Guatama himself is claimed as a Catholic Saint by the authors of the Golden Legend.

The Mikado, though nominally the supreme ruler of the Empire, has, in reality, no political power at all; nor does he claim it, leaving — to the Tykoon, or temporal emperor, the whole burden of the State affairs. "Never do we hear of any religious dispute among the Japanese, much less discover that they bear each other any hate on religious grounds", says Meylan in his Sketches of the Manners and Customs of the Japanese. They esteem it, on the contrary, an act of courtesy to visit from time to time each other's gods and do them reverence. While the Koboe sends an embassy to the Sinto temple at Isye to offer prayers in his name, he assigns at the same time a sum for the erection of temples to Confucius; and the spiritual emperor allows strange gods, imported from Siam or China, to be placed, for the convenience of those who may feel a call to worship them, in the same temples with the Japanese. If it be asked whence this tolerance originates, or by what it is maintained, we reply that worshippers of all persuasions in Japan acknowledge and obey one superior, namely, the Dairi, or Spiritual Emperor. As the representative and lineal descendant of Buddha on earth, he is himself an object of worship, and as such he protects equally all whose object it is to venerate the Deity (?) the mode of their doing so being indifferent to him. After taking exception to the word "deity" and God, which the Japanese use no more in connection with Buddha than the Sinhalese Buddhists, the inference seems very correct, and our Popes, Metropolitans, and Bishops would lose nothing by following the example of the heathen Japanese.

To conclude, our correspondent (the F. T. S. in Japan) has come to the strange conviction that Sintoism and Lamaism are twin sisters, which represent two esoteric systems, and at the same time two spiritualised "heresies" so to say, of that abstruse and for the masses too grandly philosophical and metaphysical system known as "Buddhism" pure and simple; the latter being now represented but by the Nepaulese school of the Svabhavikas, and the Siamese sect of the Buddhist priests of Ceylon.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Occultism Versus the Occult Arts

Occultism Versus the Occult Arts

by H.P. Blavatsky

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

II oft have heard, but ne'er believed till now,
There are, who can by potent magic spells
Bend to their crooked purpose Nature's laws

Milton

In this month's “Correspondence” several letters testify to the strong impression produced on some minds by our last month's article, Practical Occultism. Such letters go far to prove and strengthen two logical conclusions.

(a) There are more well-educated and thoughtful men who believe in the existence of Occultism and Magic (the two differing vastly) than the modern materialist dreams of; and —

(b) that most of the believers (comprising many Theosophists) have no definite idea of the nature of Occultism, and confuse it with the Occult sciences in general, the “Black art” included.

Their representations of the powers it confers upon man, and of the means to be used to acquire them, are as varied as they are fanciful. Some imagine that a master in the art, to show the way, is all that is needed to become a Zanoni. Others, that one has but to cross the Canal of Suez and go to India to bloom forth as a Roger Bacon or even a Count St. Germain. Many take for their ideal, Margrave with his ever-renewing youth, and care little for the soul as the price paid for it. Not a few, mistaking “Witch-of- Endorism”, pure and simple, for Occultism — “through the yawning Earth from Stygian gloom, call up the meagre ghosts to walks of light”, and want, on the strength of this feat, to be regarded as full-blown Adepts. “Ceremonial Magic”, according to the rules mockingly laid down by Eliphas Levi, is another imagined alter ego of the philosophy of the Arhats of old. In short, the prisms through which Occultism appears, to those innocent of the philosophy, are as multicoloured and varied as human fancy can make them.

Will these candidates to Wisdom and Power feel very indignant if told the plain truth? It is not only useful, but it has now become necessary to disabuse most of them, and before it is too late. This truth may be said in a few words: There are not in the West half-a-dozen among the fervent hundreds who call themselves “Occultists” who have even an approximately correct idea of the nature of the science they seek to master. With a few exceptions, they are all on the highway to Sorcery. Let them restore some order in the chaos that reigns in their minds before they protest against this statement. Let them first learn the true relation in which the Occult Sciences stand to Occultism, and the difference between the two, and then feel wrathful if they still think themselves right. Meanwhile, let them learn that Occultism differs from Magic and other secret Sciences as the glorious sun does from a rush-light, as the immutable and immortal Spirit of Man — the reflection of the absolute, causeless and unknowable ALL — differs from the mortal clay — the human body.

In our highly civilised West, where modern languages have been formed, and words coined, in the wake of ideas and thoughts — as happened with every tongue, — the more the latter became materialised in the cold atmosphere of Western selfishness and its incessant chase after the goods of this world, the less was there any need felt for the production of new terms to express that which was tacitly regarded as absolute and exploded “superstition”. Such words could answer only to ideas which a cultured man was scarcely supposed to harbour in his mind.“Magic”, a synonym for jugglery; “Sorcery”, an equivalent for crass ignorance; and “Occultism”, the sorry relic of crack-brained, mediaeval Fire-philosophers, of the Jacob Boehmes and the St. Martins are expressions believed more than amply sufficient to cover the whole field to “thimble-rigging”. They are terms of contempt, and used generally only in reference to the dross and residues of the dark ages and its preceding aeons of paganism. Therefore have we no terms in the English tongue to define and shade the difference between such abnormal powers, or the sciences that lead to the acquisitions of them, with the nicety possible in the Eastern languages — pre-eminently the Sanskrit. What do the words “miracle” and “enchantment” (words identical in meaning after all, as both express the idea of producing wonderful things by breaking the laws of nature(!!) as explained by the accepted authorities) convey to the minds of those who hear, or who pronounce them? A Christian — “breaking of the laws of nature” notwithstanding — while believing firmly in the miracles, because said to have been produced by God through Moses, will either scout the enchantments performed by Pharaoh's magicians, or attribute them to the devil. It is the latter whom our pious enemies connect with Occultism, while their impious foes, the infidels, laugh at Moses, Magicians, and Occultists, and would blush to give one serious thought to such “superstitions”. This, because there is no term in existence to show the difference; no words to express the lights and shadows, and draw the line of demarcation between the sublime and the true, the absurd and the ridiculous. The latter are the theological interpretations which teach the “breaking of the laws of Nature” by man, God, or devil; the former — the scientific “miracles” and enchantments of Moses and the Magicians in accordance with natural laws, both having been learned in all the Wisdom of the Sanctuaries, which were the “Royal Societies” of those days — and in true OCCULTISM. This last word is certainly misleading, translated as it stands, from the compound word Gupta-Vidya, “Secret Knowledge”. But the knowledge of what? Some of the Sanskrit terms may help us.

There are four (out of the many other) names of the various kinds of Esoteric Knowledge or Sciences given, even in the exoteric Puranas. There is

(1) Yajna-Vidya knowledge [The Yajna”,says the Brahmans, “exists from eternity, for it proceeded forth from the Supreme One...in whom it lay dormant from ' no beginning.' It is the key to the TRAIVIDYA, the thrice sacred science contained in the Rig verses, which teaches the Yagus or sacrificial mysteries. 'The Yajna' exists as an invisible thing at all times; it is like the latent power of electricity in an electrifying machine, requiring only the operation of a suitable apparatus in order to be elicited. It is supposed to extend from the Ahavaniya or sacrificial fire to the heavens, forming a bridge or ladder by means of which the sacrificer can communicate with the world of gods and spirits, and even ascend when alive to their abodes”. — Martin Haug's Aitareya Brahmana.“This Yajna is again one of the forms of the Akasa; and the mystic word calling it unto existence and pronounced mentally by the initiated Priest is the Lost Word receiving impulse through WILL POWER”—“Isis Unveiled”, Vol. I, Intr.] of the occult powers awakened in nature by the performance of certain religious ceremonies and rites. (2) Mahavidya, the “great knowledge”, the magic of the Kabalists and of the Tantrika worship, often Sorcery of the worst description. (3) Guhya-Vidya, knowledge of the mystic powers residing in Sound (Ether), hence in the Mantras (chanted prayers or incantations), and depending on the rhythm and melody used; in other words, a magical performance based on knowledge of the Forces of Nature and their correlation; and (4) ATMA-VIDYA, a term which is translated simply “Knowledge of the Soul”, true Wisdom by the Orientalists, but which means far more.

This is the only kind of Occultism that any Theosophist who admires “Light on the Path”, and who would be wise and unselfish, ought to strive after. All the rest is some branch of the “Occult Sciences”, i.e., arts based on the knowledge of the ultimate essence of all things in the Kingdoms of Nature — such as minerals, plants and animals — hence of things pertaining to the realm of material nature, however invisible that essence may be, and howsoever much it has hitherto eluded the grasp of Science. Alchemy, Astrology, Occult Physiology, Chiromancy, exist in Nature, and the exact Sciences — perhaps so called, because they are found in this age of paradoxical philosophies the reverse — have already discovered not a few of the secret of the above arts. But clairvoyance, symbolised in India as the “Eye of Siva”, called in Japan, “Infinite Vision”, is not Hypnotism, the illegitimate son of Mesmerism, and is not to be acquired by such arts. All the others may be mastered and results obtained, whether good, bad, or indifferent; but Atma-Vidya sets small value on them. It includes them all and may even use them occasionally, but it does so after purifying them of their dross, for beneficent purposes, and taking care to deprive them of every element of selfish motive. Let us explain: Any man or woman can set himself or herself to study one or all of the above specified “Occult Arts” without any great previous preparation, and even without adopting any too restraining mode of life. One could even dispense with any lofty standard of morality. In the last case, of course, ten to one the student would blossom into a very decent kind of sorcerer, and tumble down headlong into black magic. But what can this matter? The Voodoos and the Dugpas eat, drink, and are merry over hecatombs of victims of their infernal arts. And so do the amiable gentlemen vivisectionists and the diploma-ed “Hypnotisers” of the Faculties of Medicine; the only difference between the two classes being that the Voodoos and Dugpas are conscious, and the Charcot- Richet crew unconscious, Sorcerers. Thus, since both have to reap the fruits of their labours and achievements in the black art, the Western practitioners should not have the punishment and reputation without the profits and enjoyments they may get therefrom. For we say it again, hypnotism and vivisection as practiced in such Schools, are Sorcery pure and simple, minus a knowledge that the Voodoos and Dugpas enjoy, and which no Charcot-Richet can procure for himself in fifty years of hard study and experimental observation, Let, then, those who will dabble in magic, whether they understand its nature or not, but who find the rules imposed upon students too hard, and who, therefore, lay Atma- Vidya or Occultism aside — go without it. Let them become magicians by all means, even though they do become Voodoos and Dugpas for the next ten incarnations.

But the interest of our readers will probably centre on those who are invincibly attracted towards the “Occult”, yet who neither realise the true nature of what they aspire towards, nor have they become passion-proof, far less, truly unselfish.

How about these unfortunates, we shall be asked, who are thus rent in twain by conflicting forces? For it has been said too often to need repetition, and the fact itself is patent to any observer, that when once the desire for Occultism has really awakened in a man's heart, there remains for him no hope of peace, no place of rest and comfort in all the world. He is driven out into the wild and desolate spaces of life by an ever-gnawing unrest he cannot quell. His heart is too full of passion and selfish desire to permit him to pass the Golden Gate; he cannot find rest or peace in ordinary life. Must he then inevitably fall into sorcery and black magic, and through many incarnations heap up for himself a terrible Karma? Is there no other road for him?

Indeed there is, we answer. Let him aspire to no higher than he feels able to accomplish. Let him not take a burden upon himself too heavy for him to carry. Without ever becoming a “Mahatma”, a Buddha or a Great Saint, let him study the philosophy and the “Science of Soul”, and he can become one of the modest benefactors of humanity, without any “superhuman” powers. Siddhis (or the Arhat powers) are only for those who are able to 'lead the life, to comply with the terrible sacrifices required for such a training, and to comply with them to the very letter. Let them know at once and remember always, that true Occultism or Theosophy is the “Great Renunciation of SELF”, unconditionally and absolutely, in thought as in action. It is ALTRUISM, and it throws him who practises it out of calculation of the ranks of the living altogether. “Not for himself, but for the world, he lives”, as soon as he has pledged himself to the work. Much is forgiven during the first years of probation. But no sooner is he “accepted' than his personality must disappear, and he has to become a mere beneficent force in Nature. There are two poles for him after that, two paths, and no midward place of rest. He has either to ascend laboriously, step by step, often through numerous incarnations and no Devachanic break, the golden ladder leading to Mahatmaship (the Arhat or Bodhisattva condition), or — he will let himself slide down the ladder at the first false step, and roll down into Dugpaship...

All this is either unknown or left out of sight altogether. Indeed, one who is able to follow the silent evolution of the preliminary aspirations of the candidates often finds strange ideas quietly taking possession of their minds. There are those whose reasoning powers have been so distorted by foreign influences that they imagine that animal passions can be so sublimated and elevated that their fury, force, and fire can, so to speak, be turned inwards; that they can be stored and shut up in one's breast, until their energy is, not expanded, but turned toward higher and more holy purposes: namely, until their collective and unexpanded strength enables their possessor to enter the true Sanctuary of the Soul and stand therein in the presence of the Master — the HIGHER SELF. For this purpose they will not struggle with their passions nor slay them. They will simply, by a strong effort of will, put down the fierce flames and keep them at bay within their natures, allowing the fire to smoulder under a thin layer of ashes. They submit joyfully to the torture of the Spartan boy who allowed the fox to devour his entrails rather than part with it. Oh, poor blind visionaries!

As well hope that a band of drunken chimney-sweeps, hot and greasy from their work, may be shut up in a Sanctuary hung with pure white linen, and that instead of soiling and turning it by their presence into a heap of dirty shreds, they will become masters in and of the sacred recess, and finally emerge from it as immaculate as that recess. Why not imagine that a dozen of skunks imprisoned in the pure atmosphere of a Dgon-pa (a monastery) can issue out of it impregnated with all the perfumes of the incenses used?... Strange aberration of the human mind. Can it be so? Let us argue.

The “Master” in the Sanctuary of our souls is “the Higher Self”— the divine spirit whose consciousness is based upon and derived solely (at any rate during the mortal life of the man in whom it is captive) from the Mind, which we have agreed to call the Human Soul (the “Spiritual Soul” being the vehicle of the Spirit). In its turn the former (the personal or human soul) is a compound, in its highest form, of spiritual aspirations, volitions, and divine love; and in its lower aspect, of animal desires and terrestrial passions imparted to it by its associations with its vehicle, the seat of all these. It thus stands as a link and a medium between the animal nature of man which its higher reason seeks to subdue, and his divine spiritual nature to which it gravitates, whenever it has the upper hand in its struggle with the inner animal. The latter is the instinctual “animal Soul”, and is the hotbed of those passions which, as just shown, are lulled instead of being killed, and locked up in theirs breasts by some imprudent enthusiasts. Do they still hope to turn thereby the muddy stream of the animal sewer into the crystalline waters of life? And where, on what neutral ground, can they be imprisoned so as not to affect man? The fierce passions of love and lust are still alive, and they are allowed to still remain in the place of their birth — that same animal soul; for both the higher and the lower portions of the “Human Soul” or Mind reject such inmates, though they cannot avoid being tainted with them as neighbours. The “Higher Self” or Spirit is as unable to assimilate such feelings as water to get mixed with oil or unclean liquid tallow. It is thus the mind alone — the sole link and medium between the man of earth and the Higher Self — that is the only sufferer, and which is in incessant danger of being dragged down by those passions that may be reawakened at any moment, and perish in the abyss of matter. And how can it ever attune itself to the divine harmony of the highest Principle, when that harmony is destroyed by the mere presence, within the Sanctuary in preparation, of such animal passions? How can harmony prevail and conquer, when the soul is stained and distracted with the turmoil of passions and the terrestrial desire of the bodily senses, or even of the “Astral Man”?

For this “Astral” — the shadowy “double” (in the animal as in man) is not the companion of the divine Ego but of the earthly body. It is the link between the personal SELF, the lower consciousness of Manas and the Body, and is the vehicle of transitory, not of immortal life. Like the shadow projected by man, it follows his movements and impulses slavishly and mechanically, and leans therefore to matter without ever ascending to Spirit. It is only when the power of the passions is dead altogether, and when they have been crushed and annihilated in the retort of an unflinching will; when not only all the lusts and longings of the flesh are dead, but also the recognition of the personal Self is killed out and the “Astral” has been reduced in consequence to a cipher, that the Union with the “Higher Self” can take place. Then when the “Astral” reflects only the conquered man, the still living but no more the longing, selfish personality, then the brilliant Augoeides, the divine SELF, can vibrate in conscious harmony with both the poles of the human Entity — the man of matter purified, and the ever pure Spiritual Soul — and stand in the presence of MASTER SELF, the Christos of the mystic Gnostic, blended, merged into, and one with IT for ever. [Those who would feel inclined to see three Egos in one man will show themselves unable to perceive the metaphysical meaning. Man is a trinity composed of Body, Soul, and Spirit; but man is nevertheless one, and is surely not his body. It is the latter which is the property, the transitory clothing of the man. The three “Egos” are MAN in his three aspects on the astral, intellectual or psychic, and the Spiritual planes, or states ]

How, then, can it be thought possible for a man to enter the “straight gate” of occultism when his daily and hourly thoughts are bound up with worldly things, desires of possession and power, with lust, ambition, and duties which, however honourable, are still of the earth earthy? Even the love for wife and family — the purest as the most unselfish of human affections — is a barrier to real occultism. For whether we take as an example the holy love of a mother for her child, or that of a husband for his wife, even in these feelings, when analyzed to the very bottom, and thoroughly sifted, there is still selfishness in the first, and an égoisme a deux in the second instance. What mother would not sacrifice without a moment's hesitation hundreds and thousands of lives for that of the child of her heart? and what lover or true husband would not break the happiness of every other man and woman around him to satisfy the desire of one whom he loves? This is but natural, we shall be told. Quite so, in the light of the code of human affections; less so, in that of divine universal love. For, while the heart is full of thoughts for a little group of selves, near and dear to us, how shall the rest of mankind fare in our souls? What percentage of love and care will there remain to bestow on the “great orphan”? And how shall the “still small voice” make itself heard in a soul entirely occupied with its own privileged tenants? What room is there left for the needs of Humanity en bloc to impress themselves upon, or even receive a speedy response? And yet, he who would profit by the wisdom of the universal mind, has to reach it through the whole of Humanity without distinction of race, complexion, religion, or social status. It is altruism, not ego-ism even in its most legal and noble conception, that can lead the unit to merge its little Self in the Universal Selves. It is to these needs and to this work that the true disciple of true Occultism has to devote himself if he would obtain theo-sophy, divine Wisdom and Knowledge.

The aspirant has to choose absolutely between the life of the world and the life of occultism. It is useless and vain to endeavour to unite the two, for no one can serve two masters and satisfy both. No one can serve his body and the higher Soul, and do his family duty and his universal duty, without depriving either one or the other of its rights; for he will either lend his ear to the '“still small voice” and fail to hear the cries of his little ones, or, he will listen but to the wants of the latter and remain deaf to the voice of Humanity. It would be a ceaseless, a maddening struggle for almost any married man, who would pursue true practical Occultism, instead of its theoretical philosophy. For he would find himself ever hesitating between the voice of the impersonal divine love of Humanity, and that of the personal, terrestrial love. And this could only lead him to fail in one or the other, or perhaps in both his duties. Worse than this. For, whoever indulges, after having pledged himself to OCCULTISM, in the gratification of a terrestrial love or lust, must feel an almost immediate result — that of being irresistibly dragged from the impersonal divine state down to the lower plane of matter. Sensual, or even mental, self-gratification involves the immediate loss of the powers of spiritual discernment; the voice of the MASTER can no longer be distinguished from that of one's passions, or even that of a Dugpa; the right from wrong; sound morality from mere casuistry. The Dead Sea fruit assumes the most glorious mystic appearance, only to turn to ashes on the lips, and to gall in the heart, resulting in:

Depth ever deepening,
Darkness darkening still;
Folly for wisdom, guilt for innocence;
Anguish for rapture, And for hope despair.

And once being mistaken and having acted on their mistakes, most men shrink from realizing their error, and thus descend deeper and deeper into the mire. And, although it is the intention that decides primarily whether white or black magic is exercised, yet the results even of involuntary, unconscious sorcery cannot fail to be productive of bad Karma. Enough has been said to show that sorcery is any kind of evil influence exercised upon other persons, who suffer, or make other persons suffer, in consequence. Karma is a heavy stone splashed in the quiet waters of Life; and it must produce ever widening circles or ripples, carried wider and wider, almost ad infinitum. Such causes produced have to call forth effects and these are evidenced in the just laws of Retribution.

Much of this may be avoided if people will only abstain from rushing into practices neither the nature nor importance of which they understand. No one is expected to carry a burden beyond his strength and powers. There are “natural born magicians”; Mystics and Occultists by birth, and by right of direct inheritance from a series of incarnations and aeons of suffering and failures. These are passion-proof, so to say. No fires of earthly origin can fan into a flame any of their senses or desires; no human voice can find response in their souls, except the great cry of Humanity. These only may be certain of success. But they can be met only far and wide, and they pass through the narrow gates of Occultism because they carry no personal luggage of human transitory sentiments along with them. They have got rid of the feeling of the lower personality, paralyzed thereby the “astral” animal, and the golden, but narrow gate is thrown open before them. Not so with those who have to carry yet for several incarnations the burden of sins committed in previous lives, and even in their present existence. For such, unless they proceed with great caution, the golden gate of Wisdom may get transformed into the wide gate and the broad way “that leadeth unto destruction”, and therefore “many be they that enter in thereby”. This is the Gate of the Occult arts, practised for selfish motives and in the absence of the restraining and beneficent t influence of ATMA-VIDYA. We are in the Kali Yuga and its fatal influence is a thousandfold more powerful in the West than it is in the East; hence the easy preys made by the Powers of the Age of Darkness in this cyclic struggle, and the many delusions under which the world is now labouring. One of these is the relative facility with which men fancy they can get at the “Gate” and cross the threshold of Occultism without any great sacrifice. It is the dream of most Theosophists, one inspired by desire for power and personal selfishness, and it is not such feelings that can ever lead them to the coveted goal. For, as well said by one believed to have sacrified himself for Humanity — “narrow is the gate and straightened the way that leadeth unto life eternal”, and therefore “few be they that find it”. So straight indeed, that at the bare mention of some of the preliminary difficulties the affrighted Western candidates turn back and retreat with a shudder....

Let them stop here and attempt no more in their great weakness. For, if while turning their backs on the narrow gate, they are dragged by their desire for the Occult one step in the direction of the broad and more inviting Gates of that golden mystery which glitters in the light of illusion, woe to them! It can lead only to Dugpa-ship, and they will be sure to find themselves very soon landed on that Via Fatale of the Inferno, over whose portal Dante read the words:

Per me si va nella citta dolente
Per me si va nell' eterno dolore
Per me si va tra la perduta gente....

Practical Occultism

Practical Occultism

by H.P. Blavatsky

The Theosophical Publishing Society, England

IMPORTANT TO STUDENTS

There are many people who are looking for practical instruction in Occultism. It becomes necessary, therefore, to state once for all;

(a) The essential difference between theoretical and practical Occultism; or what is generally known as Theosophy on the one hand, and Occult science on the other, and:

(b) The nature of the difficulties involved in the study of the latter.

It is easy to become a Theosophist. Any person of average intellectual capacities, and a leaning toward the metaphysical; of pure, unselfish life, who finds more joy in helping his neighbour than in receiving help himself; one who is every ready to sacrifice his own pleasures for the sake of other people; and who loves Truth, Goodness and Wisdom for their own sake, not for the benefit they may confer — is a Theosophist.

But it is quite another matter to put oneself upon the path which leads to the knowledge of what is good to do, as to the right discrimination of good from evil; a path which also leads a man to that power through which he can do the good he desires, often without even apparently lifting a finger.

Moreover, there is one important fact with which the student should be made acquainted. Namely, the enormous, almost limitless, responsibility assumed by the teacher for the sake of the pupil. From the Gurus of the East who teach openly or secretly, down to the few Kabalists in Western lands who undertake to teach the rudiments of the Sacred Science to their disciples — those Western Hierophants being often themselves ignorant of the danger they incur — one and all of those “Teachers” are subject to the same inviolable law. From the moment they begin really to teach, from the instant they confer any power — whether psychic, mental or physical — on their pupils, they take upon themselves all the sins of that pupil, in connection with the Occult Sciences, whether of omission or commission, until the moment when initiation makes the pupil a Master and responsible in his turn. There is a weird and mystic religious law, greatly reverenced and acted upon in the Greek, half-forgotten in the Roman Catholic, and absolutely extinct in the Protestant Church. It dates from the earliest days of Christianity, and has its basis in the law just stated, of which it was a symbol and an expression. This is the dogma of the absolute sacredness of the relation between the god-parents who stand sponsors for a child [ So holy is the connection thus formed deemed in the Greek Church, that a marriage between god-parents of the same child is regarded as the worst kind of incest, is considered illegal and is dissolved by law; and this absolute prohibition extends even to the children of one of the sponsors as regards those of the other ] These tacitly take upon themselves all the sins of the newly baptized child — (anointed as at the initiation, a mystery truly!) — until the day when the child becomes a responsible unit, knowing good and evil. Thus it is clear why the “Teachers” are so reticent, and why “Chelas” are required to serve a seven years' probation to prove their fitness, and develop the qualities necessary to the security of both Master and pupil.

Occultism is not magic. It is comparatively easy to learn the trick of spells and the methods of using the subtler, but still material, forces of physical nature; the powers of the animal soul in man are soon awakened; the forces which his love, his hate, his passion, can call into operation, are readily developed. But this is Black Magic — Sorcery. For it is the motive, and the motive alone, which makes any exercise of power become black, malignant, or white, beneficent Magic. It is impossible to employ spiritual forces if there is the slightest tinge of selfishness remaining in the operator. For, unless the intention is entirely unalloyed, the spiritual will transform itself into the psychic, act on the astral plane, and dire results may be produced by it. The powers and forces of animal nature can equally be used by the selfish and revengeful, as by the unselfish and the all-forgiving; the powers and forces of spirit lend themselves only to the perfectly pure in heart — and this is DIVINE MAGIC.

What are then the conditions required to become a student of the “Divina Sapientia”? For let it be know that no such instruction can possibly be given unless these certain conditions are complied with, and rigorously carried out during the years of study. This is a sine qua non. No man can swim unless he enters deep water. No bird can fly unless its wings are grown, and it has space before it and courage to trust itself to the air. A man who will wield a two-edged sword, must be a thorough master of the blunt weapon, if he would not injure himself — or what is worse — others, at the first attempt.

To give an approximate idea of the conditions under which alone the study of Divine Wisdom can be pursued with safety, that is, without danger that Divine will give place to Black Magic, a page is given from the “private rules”, with which every instructor in the East is furnished. The few passages which follow are chosen from a great number and explained in brackets.

1— The place selected for receiving instruction must be a spot calculated not to distract the mind, and filled with “influence-evolving” (magnetic) objects. The five sacred colours gathered in a circle must be there among other things. The place must be free from any malignant influences hanging about in the air.

[The place must be set apart, and used for no other purpose. The five “sacred colours” are the prismatic hues arranged in a certain way, as these colours are very magnetic. By “malignant influences” are meant any disturbances through strifes, quarrels, bad feelings, etc., as these are said to impress themselves immediately on the astral light, i.e., in the atmosphere of the place, and to hang “about in the air”. This first condition seems easy enough to accomplish, yet — on further consideration, it is one of the most difficult ones to obtain.]

2— Before the disciple shall be permitted to study “face to face”, he has to acquire preliminary understanding in a select company of other lay upasaka (disciples), the number of whom must be odd.

[“Face to face”, means in this instance a study independent or apart from others, when the disciple gets his instruction face to face either with himself (his higher, Divine Self) or — his guru. It is then only that each receives his due of information, according to the use he has made of his knowledge. This can happen only toward the end of the cycle of instruction.]

3— Before thou (the teacher) shall impart to thy Lanoo (disciple) the good (holy) words of LAMRIN or shall permit him “to make ready” for Dubjed, thou shalt take care that his mind is thoroughly purified and at peace with all, especially with his other Selves. Otherwise the words of Wisdom and of the good Law shall scatter and be picked up by the winds.

[“Lamrin” is a work of practical instructions, by Tson-kha-pa, in two portions, one for ecclesiastical and exoteric purposes, the other for esoteric use. “To make ready” for Dubjed, is to prepare the vessels used for seership, such as mirrors and crystals. The “other selves” refers to the fellow-students. Unless the greatest harmony reigns among the learners, no success is possible. It is the teacher who makes the selections according to the magnetic and electric natures of the students, bringing together and adjusting most carefully the positive and the negative elements.]

4— The upasaka while studying must take care to be united as the fingers on one hand. Thou shalt impress upon their minds that whatever hurts one should hurt the others; and if the rejoicing of one finds no echo in the breasts of the others, then the required conditions are absent, and it is useless to proceed.

[This can hardly happen if the preliminary choice made was consistent with the magnetic requirements. It is known that chelas otherwise promising and fit for the reception of truth, had to wait for years on account of their temper and the impossibility they felt to put themselves in tune with their companions. For —]

5— The co-disciples must be tuned by the guru as the strings of a lute (vina), each different from the others, yet each emitting sounds in harmony with all. Collectively they must form a key-board answering in all its parts to thy lightest touch (the touch of the Master). Thus their minds shall open for the harmonies of Wisdom, to vibrate as knowledge through each and all, resulting in effects pleasing to the presiding gods (tutelary or patron-angels) and useful to the Lanoo. So shall Wisdom be impressed for ever on their hearts and the harmony of the law shall never be broken.

6— Those who desire to acquire the knowledge leading to the Siddhis (occult powers) have to renounce all the vanities of life and of the world (here follows enumeration of the Siddhis).

7— None can feel the difference between himself and his fellow-students, such as “I am the wisest”, “I am more holy and pleasing to the teacher, or in my community, than my brother”, etc., — and remain an upasaka. His thoughts must be predominantly fixed upon his heart, chasing therefrom every hostile thought to any living being. It (the heart) must be full of the feeling of its non-separateness from the rest of beings as from all in Nature; otherwise no success can follow.

8— A Lanoo (disciple) has to dread external living influence alone (magnetic emanations from living creatures). For this reason, while at one with all, in his inner nature, he must take care to separate his outer (external) body from every foreign influence: none must drink out of, or eat in his cup but himself. He must avoid bodily contact (i.e., being touched or touch) with human, as with animal being.

[No pet animals are permitted, and it is forbidden even to touch certain trees and plants. A disciple has to live, so to say, in his own atmosphere in order to individualise it for occult purposes.]

9— The mind must remain blunt to all but the universal truths in nature, lest the “Doctrine of the Heart” should become only the “Doctrine of the Eye” (i.e., empty exoteric ritualism).

10— No animal food of whatever kind, nothing that has life in it, should be taken by the disciple. No wine, no spirits or opium should be used; for these are like the Lhamayin (evil spirits), who fasten upon the unwary, they devour the understanding.

[Wine and Spirits are supposed to contain and preserve the bad magnetism of all the men who helped in their fabrication; the meat of each animal, to preserve the psychic characteristics of its kind.]

11— Meditation, abstinence in all , the observation of moral duties, gentle thoughts, good deeds and kind words, as goodwill to all and entire oblivion of Self, are the most efficacious means of obtaining knowledge and preparing for the reception of higher wisdom.

12— It is only by virtue of a strict observance of the foregoing rules that a Lanoo can hope to acquire in good time the Siddhis of the Arhats, the growth which makes him become gradually One with the UNIVERSAL ALL.

These 12 extracts are taken from among some 73 rules, to enumerate which would be useless as they would be meaningless in Europe. But even these few are enough to show the immensity of the difficulties which beset the path of the would-be “Upasaka”, who has been born and bred in Western lands. [Be it remembered that all “Chelas”, even lay disciples, are called Upasaka until after their first initiation, when they become Lanoo-Upasaka. To that day, even those who belong to Lamaseries and are set apart, are considered as “laymen”].

All Western, and especially English, education is instinct with the principle of emulation and strife; each boy is urged to learn more quickly, to outstrip his companions, and to surpass them in every possible way. What is mis-called “friendly rivalry” is assiduously cultivated, and the same spirit is fostered and strengthened in every detail of life.

With such ideas “educated into” him from his childhood, how can a Western bring himself to feel towards his co-students “as the fingers on one hand”? Those co-students, too, are not of his own election, or chosen by himself from personal sympathy and appreciation. They are chosen by his teacher on far other grounds, and he who would be a student must first be strong enough to kill out in his heart all feelings of dislike and antipathy to others. How many Westerns are ready even to attempt this in earnest?

And then the details of daily life, the command not to touch even the hand of one's nearest and dearest. How contrary to Western notions of affection and good feeling! How cold and hard it seems. Egotistical too, people would say, to abstain from giving pleasure to others for the sake of one's own development. Well, let those who think so defer till another lifetime the attempt to enter the path in real earnest. But let them not glory in their own fancied unselfishness. For, in reality, it is only the seeming appearances which they allow to deceive them, the conventional notions, based on emotionalism and gush, or socalled courtesy, things of the unreal life, not the dictates of Truth.

But even putting aside these difficulties, which may be considered “external”, though their importance is none the less great, how are students in the West to “attune themselves” to harmony as here required of them? So strong has personality grown in Europe and America, that there is no school of artists even whose members do not hate and are not jealous of each other. “Professional” hatred and envy have become proverbial; men seek each to benefit himself at all costs, and even the so-called courtesies of life are but a hollow mask covering these demons of hatred and jealousy.

In the East the spirit of “non-separateness” is inculcated as steadily from childhood up, as in the West the spirit of rivalry. Personal ambition, personal feelings and desires, are not encouraged to grow so rampant there. When the soil is naturally good, it is cultivated in the right way, and the child grows into a man in whom the habit of subordination of one's lower to one's higher Self is strong and powerful. In the West men think that their own likes and dislikes of other men and things are guiding principles for them to act upon, even when they do not make of them the law of their lives and seek to impose them upon others.

Let those who complain that they have learned little in the Theosophical Society lay to heart the words written in an article in the Path for last February:— “The key in each degree is the aspirant himself”. It is not “the fear of God” which is “the beginning of Wisdom”, but the knowledge of SELF which is WISDOM ITSELF.

How grand and true appears, thus, to the student of Occultism who has commenced to realise some of the foregoing truths, the answer given by the Delphic Oracle to all who came seeking after Occult Wisdom — words repeated and enforced again and again by the wise Socrates: — MAN KNOW THYSELF....