How to Study Theosophy – 5

Kenneth Small – USA

From the Esoteric Teachings of G. de Purucker – Altruistic Motivation, Compassion and Humor on the Path of Awakening

Theosophy KEN 2 gdpdesk

The following extracts are from the talks and lectures given at the Lomaland Theosophical community by G. de Purucker[i], (PHOTO ABOVE) where he gives some guidance on the innate principle within humanity of altruistic motivation and the Bodhisattva path of compassion. Additionally, he links altruism with ethics and universality, beyond mere opportunistic materialism and finally the essential nature of humor within the very nature of the Divine with the need to maintain an openness of our spirit and mind to its softening and opening influence.  - KS


Two or more atoms uniting make a molecule; two or more molecules a larger production; and it is the countless multitudes of such unions which produce the universe. Any single entity essaying to follow the ignoble path of isolated self-interest sets its or his puny will against the force which keeps the stars in their courses, gives health to our bodies, brings about civilizations, and produces all the wonders that are around us.

There is a point of teaching in this connection which it is important to introduce into the world today, and that is hope. You know the old Greek story about a certain very curious and inquisitive person who opened a box and all the evils in the world fled out, and there remained therein only hope. I think this contains a great deal of truth which has a practical bearing on life's problems. As long as a man has hope he does not despair. Weak or strong, it matters not; if he has hope, something to look forward to, if his inner spirit, the spiritual being within him, teaches him something of hope, he not only will never despair, but he will become a builder, a constructor, a worker with the universe, because he will move forwards. And this is altruism.

We are all children of the universe, of its physical side and of its spiritual and divine side. This being so, there is in every human breast an undying font not only of inspiration, but likewise of growth, of hope, of wisdom, and of love. So that the world today, although apparently in a parlous condition, in a desperate state, still contains in it men and women enough to carry the evolutionary wave of progress over its present turmoil and strife; for the majority of mankind are essentially right in their instincts, especially the higher instincts.

Therefore, I do not see anything horribly hopeless about the world's condition today. I believe not only that there is ground for hope, but that the undying spark of spirituality, of wisdom, and love of altruism, always living in the human heart, will carry the human race not only out of its present series of impasses, of difficulties, but into brighter days, which will be brighter because wiser and gentler. It is not the crises, when things crash or seem to crash; it is not the horrific noise of the thunder or the crash of its bolt, which govern the great functions of life, human and cosmic; but those slow, to us, always quiet, unending silent processes which build: build when we wake, build when we sleep, build all the time; and even in the human race carry it through folly after folly after folly into the future.

I believe not only that there is ground for hope, but that the undying spark of spirituality, of wisdom, and love of altruism, always living in the human heart, will carry the human race not only out of its present series of impasses, of difficulties, but into brighter days, which will be brighter because wiser and gentler.[iii]

There is the ground of our hope; and it seems to me that all good men and true should rally to the defense of these primal, simple verities which every human heart, adult or child, can understand. I believe it is about time that men and women began to look on the bright side of things, to see hope around us, to forget themselves and their petty worries, and to live in the Infinite and in the Eternal. It is easy, infinitely easier than making ourselves continuously sick with frets and worries. Within each one of us there is something divine to which we can cling, and which will carry us through.           

Don't talk to me about altruism being something foreign or exotic, unusual, impractical, and therefore impracticable; for it is the only thing which perpetually lives, the only thing which endures for aye. When any single element or part in a human body begins to run on its own, we have disease. When any single element or part in any structural combine which helps to compose the world around us begins to run on its own, i.e., what we call self-interest, there we see degeneration and decay.          

Deduction and question: which of the twain should we follow — the pathway of the cosmic intelligence bringing us health inner and outer, peace inner and outer, strength internal and external, and union inner and outer? Or the teaching of a tawdry and isolated self-interest which seeks its own to the prejudice of all?
Is it not high time that we gave the world a few of the simple inner teachings of the god-wisdom of the ancients? Will you show me one more sublime, more appealing to human intellect and to the dictates of human conscience, than that of altruism, which puts us in intimate union with the throbbing of the cosmic heart, and which idea, if we can pass it over into the minds of men, will more than justify all the work that the great masters of wisdom have been doing for mankind since time immemorial? Ethics above all!

Making Mistakes[iv]

I do not believe it is ever wrong to make an honest mistake. Infinitely better for a man to have his motive right, to wish to do right, to render justice, to do grandly, and to make a mistake because he cannot see fully just the right way to take, than it is for a man who is all atremble lest he make a mistake; and because of his lack of inner strength, immediately proceeds blindly to make mistakes. That man will never easily rise. Better to make a mistake and learn by it and to bear the consequences manfully and be more of a man afterwards.

Improve your faculties by exercising them. Do not be afraid of making honest mistakes. Only let your motive be right, and then your mistakes won't injure others and you will soon correct them. You will be stronger, grow more keenly. Let your heart be filled with compassion for the mistakes of others, and the wish to do right, and you will never go far wrong. And each repetitive instance of exercising your inner power of judgment will be more sure, more certain, clearer. The light will be brighter. …”

Avalokitesvara — The Divine Presence[v]

Avalokitesvara means, paraphrased somewhat, “the Lord who is beheld everywhere,” the cosmic light, the cosmic spirit, in which we live and move and have our being, whose very essence, whose very light, thrills and burns in every human soul, the spark within every human being.  It is the immanence or the constant presence of divinity around us, in everything, seen down here in all its works, pre-eminently for humans in man, the most evolved vehicle of this divine presence…

Amitabha, the Boundless Light, corresponds to the Father in the Christian Trinity, the Cosmic Father or Abstract Spirit, the Pythagorean monad of monads, the source — in silence to us, and darkness to us — of all the monads emanating from it, streaming from it, born from it through the second logos, Alaya, the Spirit, which in original Christian teaching was feminine, the productive and generative power in nature, in spiritual matters as well as material, the mother of all, the fosterer of all, the preserver of all.  And Avalokitesvara corresponds to the original third Person of the Christian Trinity, the Son, the cosmic or Third Logos.  In Brahmanism the triad runs: Parabrahman or Brahman, Pradhana or Mulaprakriti, Mahat. When manifesting in individual monads such as a human being, the trinity is Amitabha, Atman; Alaya or Mahakasa, Buddhi; Avalokitesvara, Manas; for Manas is a direct ray from the cosmic Alaya, and our Atman, a direct ray from the Paramatman, the cosmic Atman, or Brahman or Parabrahman, or the Father.

[Italics were added by the editor for clarity.]

Thus we have Father, Spirit or Holy Ghost, and Son — the original Christian trinity which the Latin Church finally succeeded in turning around into Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, making the Son or Logos precede the Mother from which it is born! …

So Avalokitesvara is the divine presence around us everywhere, which every sensitive human soul can feel continuously, day and night, even when we are in dreamland or when imbodied on Earth.  And that same divine presence is in the human breast, because the human breast, even the human body, is a microcosmical representation on this plane of the Universe. 

No wonder the ancients had their Holy of Holies in every temple — originally a beautiful metaphor and a suggestive one when understood by those who came to the temple to worship the divine in purity of heart and with utmost reverence — wherein as in the universe, the divine presence dwells.  It was a symbol; so that when one approached the Holy of Holies, shoes were cast from the feet, the garments were wiped, the heart was raised, the mind was elevated; for the worshipers in their reverent raising of their own spirits upwards entered into the Presence, even the Presence Divine…

Would that every man and woman realized that in every human breast is such a Holy of Holies; for when the man, through his own self-discipline and cultivation of the highest within him by forgetting himself in service to all others, thus sinking the unit into the all, thus becoming even then relatively divine, becomes so overpowerfully strong that nothing less than It will ever satisfy, then he yearns upward, he opens the portals of his holier being, and the light streams in and fills the Holy of Holies within his breast.  Then the man is transfigured, he is a Christ, he is a Bodhisattva, for the time being…

So true is this psychology that to it is due, to it alone I believe, all the success of early Christianity, that it taught the very ancient doctrine which had become almost forgotten in the so-called pagan world, and it was this: that a man lived who had been infilled with divinity, and that he came amongst us and taught and showed the way and loved us all so greatly that he laid down his life and all that was in him so that others seeing might follow on the path — the typical Bodhisattva, the typical Christ.  I think that one thing alone captured for Christianity those who joined the Christian Church.

But how very old is this doctrine of beauty and inspiration!…

Why Not Laugh at Your self?[vi]

Many people talk about the heroism of self-conquest — something with which we all agree; but I sometimes wonder if our ideas of heroic battling with ourselves are not just a wee bit hysteriac, even foolish! I do not mean the heroism part of it, but this lower self of us, poor little thing! It plays havoc with us all the time, simply because we identify ourselves with it and always try to fight it and make it as big as we are. Is it heroic to fight a ghost of our own making?

How about wise old Lao-tse? If you want to conquer your lower self, make it ashamed of itself, make it look ridiculous. Laugh at it; laugh at yourself. So long as you pay attention to something, you dignify it and put it on your own level; and then when you attempt to fight it you are actually fighting another part of yourself which really could be enormously useful.

This lower self when kept in order is a good little beastie. It helps us. Our duty is simply to keep it in order.

I have heard it said: kill out the lower self. Well, suppose we could do that? We should then be most unfortunate beings; in fact, we should not be here. This lower self when kept in order is a good little beastie. It helps us. Our duty is simply to keep it in order…

Learn the greater heroism. Laugh at the thing which bothers you!
The role a sense of humor plays in life, which means in human thought and feeling and consequent conduct, and the role that humor plays in spiritual things is all too often overlooked. We may define a sense of humor as seeing the harmonious relations between apparently incongruous things, the congruities as among incongruities, arousing a sense of the funny in us.

The ability to see humor in what happens to ourselves is a spiritual attribute. After all, humor is at the very root of the universe; and I think that one of the greatest tragedies of individual existence has been the lack of the ability to see the funny side of things when troubles come. When disasters befall you, just try to see the funny side, and you not only save yourself in all likelihood a lot of trouble, but likewise you get a great kick out of it.

I remember the great kick I got out of a discussion between myself and my dear old father when I was a boy. My father had read an article in a theological magazine by some eminent Christian clergyman who pleaded for the existence of a sense of humor "in Almighty God." I said this was simply grand; because although our sense of humor is human, small because we are small, yet is it possible for a part, a human being, to have something which the almighty whole, which the divine, lacks? So of course if divinity has a sense of humor, I said, it is a sense of divine humor, but it is humor all the same.

There is a great deal of sound science and philosophy in the old Hindu idea that Brahman brought forth the universe in play, in fun. The words are different from those of the Christian clergyman, but the idea is the same. In other words, the bringing forth of all things was not a tragedy; there was beauty in it, there was harmony in it; there was humor in it; and those who are in this universe can see the humor in it if they will.

Look at the religious wars and squabbles that never would have occurred if people had had a sense of humor. If people nowadays would see the funny side of things, then they would begin to live together, to love together, to laugh together, and to take counsel together instead of distrusting each other.


[i] 1874-1942

[ii] G. de Purucker. Wind of the Spirit Covina, Ca. 1943, edited by Helen Savage (Todd), W. Emmett Small

[iii] From a talk near the opening of World War II.

[iv] G. de Purucker. Wind of the Spirit Covina, Ca. 1943, edited by Helen Savage (Todd), W. Emmett Small p.

[v]  G. d ePurucker. Studies in Occult Philosophy, Covina, Ca. 1945, edited by Helen Savage (Todd), W. Emmett Small, p. 309 Ref: Mahatma Letter LIX  pp. 343-345

[vi]  G. de Purucker. Wind of the Spirit Covina, Ca. 1943, edited by Helen Savage (Todd) W. Emmett Small p.

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