Theosophical Encyclopedia

James Scudday Perkins, (1899-1991)

Prominent member of the Theosophical Society in America. Raised in southern Louisiana in the U.S., he went to Cincinnati to study engineering at the university there, but a visit to its art museum caused a change in his career plans. Leaving Cincinnati University after his first year, he began a study of art at the Cincinnati Art Academy, later studying at the Art Students’ League in New York City. He then entered the field of commercial art, further preparing himself as an illustrative painter with studies at the Grand Central School of Art in that city.

He returned to Cincinnati to practice commercial art and it was there that he joined The Theosophical Society in 1928, becoming a charter member of the Cincinnati Lodge. In addition to holding a number of local offices, including President of the Ohio Federation of Theosophical Lodges for five years, he was elected to the National Board of the TS in America in 1936. He then served as its Vice President from 1939-1945 and on July 22, 1945, he was elected American Section President, succeeding Sidney A. Cook, who served in that office 1931-1945. When Perkins was succeeded in the office of American Section President by Dr. Henry A. Smith in 1960, he was named International Vice President by then International President N. Sri Ram, an office Perkins held until his death in Ojai, California. He also served as President of the Theosophical community called Taormina, located in Ojai, California, from 1986 until his death.

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Jalal-Ud-Din Rumi

Mohammed ibn Mohammed Moulavi Balkhi (1207-1273). One of the greatest Sufi mystics and Persian poets. He was a professor of theology at Konya in Asia Minor until his meeting with a mysterious spiritual teacher named Shamsuddin Mohammed of Tabriz, when he abandoned his theological career and devoted himself to Sufi mysticism.

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TE 8 necromancy

The evocation of the spirits of the dead. Other terms associated with this subject are necyomantia which refers to interaction with an animated corpse and scyomantia, communication with a shade.

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Bubbles of Space

TE 6 Bubbles of Space

A term used in Theosophical literature to describe how matter is created by “digging holes” into space by Fohat. The Secret Doctrine states that “the great Breath digs through Space seven holes into Laya to cause them to circumgyrate during Manvantara” (SD I:147).

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TE 4 Deluge noahs ark
Ark in the making

A universal legend that is found in many ancient traditions around the world.

In the Judeo-Christian-Islamic tradition, it is the story of Noah, who was told by the Lord to build an ark to save himself and his family when the Lord drowned the whole human race which had become wicked.

In various Hindu sources, such as the Satapatha Brahmana, Mahabharata, and Puranas, it is the story of Vaivasvata building a ship or ark that saved him and the seven Rishis from the flood that swept all living things. His ark rested on the Himalayas.

In Greek mythology, it was the deluge caused by Zeus when he became disgusted with the King of Arcadia, and decided to drown the entire human race. Deucalion was warned by his father, Prometheus, of the coming flood. He built an ark which saved him and his wife, Pyrrha. The ark rested on Parnassus.

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Capital Punishment

TE 2 Capital Punishment

This form of punishment is the application of the death penalty to certain crimes as a result of a legal process. Theosophical writers generally oppose capital punishment on various grounds, the main one being that it involves committing another murder, as well as the fact that the executed criminal, whose natural life has been cut short, becomes an earth-bound entity who can still influence the thoughts and feelings of living people to commit crime. Helena P. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, has made a somewhat sobering comment about capital punishment – “. . . the juryman, in deciding for a verdict of guilty, of necessity, becomes an accessory in a fresh murder.” She also, in the same article (Lucifer, June 1890, p. 335) points out that the juryman or jurywoman decides the issue on a “head” basis and not a “heart” basis, which means that not all the circumstances have been taken into account. Further, by analogy she says that a true physician wishes to cure the cause rather than the disease.

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Free Will


The question of whether human beings have or do not have free will has been a perennial problem in Western philosophy, starting with the Greeks and continuing down to the present time. Early Chinese philosophy did not address the question and it took an Indian approach when Buddhism entered China in the 1st cent. CE. Indian philosophy, however, has considered the question of central importance, most systems arguing that human beings do not exercise real free will until they attain Self-realization. Theosophy has generally adopted the Indian point of view when the issue is discussed at all.

There are two different approaches taken to the problem in the West, usually stated as “freedom from” and “freedom to.” The former usually claims that causal determinism (“Every event has a cause”) implies lack of real free will since one’s actions are always the result of prior causal conditions. If one knew all those prior causal conditions, so the argument goes, one could predict unerringly what a person would do under any specific circumstances. But, as some philosophers have pointed out, if one did not have such causal conditions, one would never be able to do anything at all. From this it follows logically that causality is both necessary for free will and incompatible with it! Obviously something has gone wrong somewhere.

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