Theosophy

ANITA ATKINS – SYLVIA CRANSTON

Caren M. Elin (Carey Williams) – USA

In Honor of the Life and Work of Anita Atkins: A Selfless Servant of The Theosophical Movement

December 12, 1915 – June 20, 2000

Theosophy TRIBUTE 2 TO ANITA ATKINS
Sylvia Cranston and the cover of one of her books

To the world, she was known as Sylvia Cranston and to her Theosophical friends and community worldwide she was our most humble Anita Atkins. Born on December 12, 1915, Anita spent her

early years living off the Grand Concourse in the Bronx, New York. Her parents both attended meetings at The United Lodge of Theosophists in New York City, ever since Anita was a young teenager. Anita's introduction into the philosophy of Theosophy came from her father's reports of the meetings he attended.

Read more: ANITA ATKINS – SYLVIA CRANSTON

Why can’t we all get along?

Tim Boyd – USA

Theosophy Tim Boyd 2
Tim Boyd (middle) in Naarden the Netherlands and a delegation from Belgium, from left to right: Cristian Vandekerkhove, Helmut Vandersmissen, Lieve Opgenhaffen and Sabine van Osta

Recently I have found myself wondering. One of those “Why?” questions. The text of the question would be something like, “Why do we keep repeating these same mistakes?”, or “when will we ever learn?”, or in the famous words of the late Rodney King, “Why can't we all get along?”. The catalyst for this line of thinking is not some recent event, or some despondency over the state of the world. It is just one of those persistent questions that reemerges from time to time. Pick a day, any day, look around you and see if it isn't a question worth asking. Whether it is the world news, the office place, or the home, if we really look at it we see that there is work we need to do.

Read more: Why can’t we all get along?

Dora van Gelder Kunz – A Tribute

We remember Dora van Gelder Kunz, April 28, 1904 – August 25, 1999

Theosophy DG 0 B

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we’ve honored Theosophists such as Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson, Shirley Nicholson and Paul Zwollo. In this issue we will remember another truly remarkable Theosophist: Dora van Gelder Kunz. We should live most consciously in the present, but it is vital and often very inspirational to look backwards once in a while, in order to determine in which direction our future could develop, because if we know where we are from, we know where we are, and when we know where we are, we know where we’ll be going. I never had the pleasure of meeting Dora Kunz in person, heard a lot about her though, in particular from my wife Terezinha and other Brazilian Theosophists who met up with her when she toured in Brazil in the early 1990’s.

Read more: Dora van Gelder Kunz – A Tribute

On Healing – A Sensitive's Impressions

Dora van Gelder – USA

Healing, often called spiritual healing, has been practiced for thousands of years in many cultures throughout the world. Spiritual healing is difficult to define, but it can be described as healing – sometimes spontaneous and sometimes by stage – where no medication of any kind has been used. It would appear that in these cases a person (or healer) or a group of people can be the medium through which this restoration of wholeness takes place in a sick person.

The techniques employed vary greatly with each individual or group. The basic explanations for the healings are not necessarily the same, as everyone seems to react from his own background and is, of course, influenced by the culture into which he has been born. But whatever the method and whatever the ex- planation-whether the healer feels the Divine Power is using him, or that the direction comes from discarnate beings, or whether he describes the situation in some other way-the vehicle of healing is still a human being who reaches out to help others.

Read more: On Healing – A Sensitive's Impressions

Communication

Dora van Gelder Kunz – USA

[Note from the editor: this, historically interesting piece, was written way back in 1960, but in its core still valid.]

Theosophy is a magnificent philosophy. It explains the why and how of the universe around us, and also shows us a way of life. As members of the Society, we may realize this, but despite our convictions we have somehow lost the ability to reach others, even though many appear to be searching seriously for what we have to offer as a basic philosophy of life. This, I think, is proved by the fact that membership in the United States is not gaining. It is time therefore that we should take stock of ourselves, evaluate our procedures and try to discover the causes for our failure in reaching an even wider public.

One of the basic causes of the present situation is in large part our failure to communicate. The field of communications is a whole new science, concerned both with the technique and the content of the communication and the extent to which meaning is conveyed from one person to another through any of the media of communication. The causes for failure in communicating clearly or in understanding what is being communicated might have significance for our work in The Theo- sophical Society now and in the future. The exploration of these causes may provide some new techniques for conveying the theosophical philosophy in a fully meaningful manner.

Read more: Communication

Fairies

Dora van Gelder – USA (part 1 and part 2)

Part 1

To most people fairies are only a beautiful dream. When they think of them at all it is with a wistful looking back to their childhood years when they did believe in such dreams.

But fairies are real and do live in this same world of ours. The word “fairy” denotes practically every invisible creature, but I like to use it only for those beings who live in our four great elements, and who have not as yet attained individualization. Most of these beings become angels after they have reached that point in their development. The great difference between the angelic and human kingdoms is that we evolve through suffering, whereas the angels and fairies evolve through happiness; but, their evolution is '’much slower than ours.

We can divide the fairies roughly into four great classes: those who live in the earth, sea, air and fire. They all have their specific work to do, each in his own element. The elements are not only inhabited by the fairies, but by the angels, who are in charge of the work in which the fairies take part.

Read more: Fairies

Ideals of Youth

Dora van Gelder Kunz – USA

One of the remarkable changes which the War [note from the editor: the author refers here to the First World War; 1914-1918] has brought about is the awakening of Youth. All over the world the young people are becoming vigorously active in affairs of importance. It is most interesting to read how many organisations have actually been formed and to learn how great a number of young people-have joined them. The dominant note in these movements is peace. It is their aim to try to establish peace in the world by breaking down the barriers of national prejudice – in other words, the realization of a brotherhood of mankind. Out of the experience of the War, Youth has gained the inevitable conviction that a new way of life must be found – a way of life in harmony with the realities of today. This is characteristic of the Youth of today, a desire to do away with the old methods as far as possible, and to try to reconstruct our world on a new basis. It is trying to put the test of modern realities' to our inherited conventions.

Read more: Ideals of Youth

Human Regeneration – part twelve

Radha Burnier – India

[Recognizing regeneration as the kernel of all Theosophical work, the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden, the Netherlands, jointly with the Federation of Theosophical Societies in Europe, organized two seminars in July 1990, with a number of office bearers, workers and members of the Society from different countries as participants. Proceedings of the seminar were published as a book under the title Human Regeneration: Lectures and Discussion (Amsterdam: Uitgeverij der Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland, 1990). This chapter (discussions) is here slightly revised.]

Theosophy Human Regeneration 2
A shining Radha Burnier (middle) at the opening of the centennial exhibition of the Dutch Section in Amsterdam, in 1997. On the left and rather young your editor, and on the right the former General Secretary of the Dutch section, Ali Ritsema

Discussion – continued

EA: I think regeneration is an ongoing thing. It is not only a new birth. Re-generation is constantly going on.

WV: Regeneration cannot be put into words although it is spoken of in all religions. Real regeneration, real transcendence, or birth to something perfectly new, may become clearer to the Christians among us if we follow the important events in the life of Christ. Then we see what a moment of supreme experience we have to go through before we can talk of regeneration

There is a satori-experience in Zen Buddhism related as follows: “Before I got satori, a tree was a tree, a river was a river and a house was a house. Now, a tree is a tree, a river is a river and a house is a house. And yet, everything is new.” Regeneration points to an experience with a real spiritual meaning, which is difficult to understand and explain in words. This experience has to be lived, which implies total change from the old level to a new level of being, of consciousness. In any case it implies much suffering.

Read more: Human Regeneration – part twelve

The seven Jewels of Wisdom – Karma the second Jewel

By the editors of Lucifer – the Netherlands

[This is a reprint from Lucifer – the Messenger of Light, an original publication of I.S.I.S. Foundation, i.e. International Study-centre for Independent Search for truth. The editor is grateful for the permission given to make this important paper available for all readers of Theosophy Forward.]

Theosophy 7 Jewels 2 tralen-zwart-wit karma

Karma, the law of cause and effect, is usually associated with the doctrine of reincarnation. This makes sense because karma, the second Jewel of Wisdom, opens our eyes to the logic of ‘getting another chance’ to set things right. Coupled with the doctrine of reincarnation, the boundaries of having to do it all in one lifetime are removed. The effect always follows the cause: sometimes not even a second passes before we see the consequences of an action and sometimes an incredibly long period passes, sometimes as long as several lives.

The law of karma is technically the law of recovering harmony. All actions influence Nature, and

Nature responds in kind. The chain of cause and consequence in human life may be further explored as the concatenation of thoughts and actions leading to consequences which lead to effects with similar characteristics. Because we think and act life after life, we build on our character continuously. An ancient and very useful way to look at this is: sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a character.

Read more: The seven Jewels of Wisdom – Karma the second Jewel

A Union of Those Who Love in the Service of All That Suffers

Nancy Secrest

Theosophy Nancy Secrest 2
Compassion – There is no ‘other’ in this world; we are all one

I was talking with Joy Mills a few years ago, and she said that the focus of our existence as human beings is self-realization – learning who we are, who we really are. That is what we are supposed to be doing here. This, she said, is the central point of The Mahatma Letters.

As we progress along the path of self-realization, we eventually awaken, or become aware of, our buddhic nature. With this awakening or awareness, compassion based on a sense of responsibility for all beings becomes a driving force in our lives, and we act as a bodhisattva acts, for the good of all. ‘In Theosophy the term “bodhisattva” is used to denote an individual who has reached enlightenment and may pass beyond the “wheel of re-birth”, but elects to reincarnate for the good of all.’ (Theosophical Encyclopedia, p. 110, TPH, the Philippines, 2006). In other words, a bodhisattva sacrifices his or her reward of transition into nirvana to help other sentient beings until all reach enlightenment.

Read more: A Union of Those Who Love in the Service of All That Suffers

An Undying Message

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

THEOSOPHIA

A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XV + XVI

Double Issue

No. 4 (78) - Winter 1958-59 + Vol. XVI, No. 1 (79) Spring 1959

Theosophy BdZ 2 Theosophia 15 04
[Original Cover photo of this issue]

Every year, on May 8th, students of Theosophy commemorate the passing of H.P. Blavatsky from the scenes of this outer world. Every year the date comes around, but at times it seems to have a greater impact, an added significance and a deeper meaning.

What counts is not the personality of H. P. Blavatsky, however startling and spectacular it may have been at times. All outer forms of manifestation have their day for a while and then vanish away. They stand as symbols of invisible realities, as witnesses of things unseen, as focal points for the interplay of inner forces, and no more. What actually counts is the message delivered, the work accomplished, the spiritual and intellectual heritage left behind, the impact of the thought upon other minds, the vortex of energy set in motion, and the flame kindled upon the enduring altar of Truth. These do not pass away when the vehicle of personality is left untenanted, and the familiar form is reduced to ashes. And as the years go by, dropping one by one into the ocean of oblivion, the message alone remains echoing from every nook and corner through the winding corridors of time.

Read more: An Undying Message

In the Light of Theosophy

[This article appeared in the July 2016 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this ink: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html ]

Theosophy In the Light of Theosophy 2

It seems the whole world is waging war on unintelligent people. In earlier days intelligence or unintelligence of the person was not as important as it is today. Instead, emphasis was laid on factors like integrity, good work ethic, and the ability to get along with others. A college degree – especially in the Western world – was not necessary even as late as the 1960s. Today, both in India and in the West, we find that a college degree is a prerequisite for most jobs. According to jobs web site, Monster.com, “smartness” takes precedence over factors like “hard working” or “ambitious,” mentioned in job descriptions.

David Freeman at The Atlantic writes, “Those who consider themselves bright, openly mock others for being less so. Even in this age of rampant concern over micro-aggressions and victimization, we maintain open season on the non-smart. People who would swerve off a cliff rather than use a pejorative for race, religion, physical appearance, or disability are all too happy to drop the s-bomb: Indeed, degrading others for being ‘stupid’ has become nearly automatic in all forms of disagreement.” The Harvard Business School professor argued that smart people can make the worst employees because they are not used to dealing with failure and criticism.

Read more: In the Light of Theosophy

The Four Golden Links

H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy The Four Golden Links 2
A young Helena

ENQUIRER. How, then, should Theosophical principles be applied so that social co-operation may be promoted and true efforts for social amelioration be carried on?

THEOSOPHIST. Let me brief1y remind you what these principles are-universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Re-incarnation. These are the four links of the golden chain which should bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood.

Read more: The Four Golden Links

The Public Work of the Theosophical Society (Part two)

Pablo Sender – USA

Theosophy Pablo Sender 2
Nature at Adyar

In an article by Cristian Conen, published in The Theosophist in December 2014, he began to examine the work of the Theosophical Society (TS) based on ideas expressed by the late International President, Radha Burnier. Continuing this inquiry, particularly in connection with work in the field of spiritual education, we may ask: what kind of public programmes should TS offer in order to help the spiritual growth of humanity?

To evaluate what programmes the Theosophical Society should promote so that our work for humanity remains relevant, we could ask the following question: If the TS were to disappear, what would be missing? Would the Buddhist, Hindu, or any other religion suffer a loss? Would the field of science and spirituality be affected? The same question may be asked about other traditions and fields, and the answer will probably be that none of these areas would notice the lack.

So, what would suffer if the TS were to go away? The first and most obvious answer is – the Theosophical teachings. If our organisation did not spread Theosophy, who would? Would the followers of any religion teach Theosophy? Would those in the field of Gestalt psychology or the Mindfulness Movement? Who else would? To be sure, the books could still be available on the internet, but without an organisation promoting these teachings and helping people to understand them, they would soon fall into oblivion. Co-founder of the TS, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, said that the Society was “formed to assist in showing to men that such a thing as Theosophy exists, and to help them to ascend towards it by studying and assimilating its eternal verities.”2

Read more: The Public Work of the Theosophical Society (Part two)

Keepers and Sharers of the Ageless Wisdom

Victor Peñaranda – the Philippines

Theosophy Keepers 2 and Sharers

Theosophy embodies both ancient and modern expressions of the Ageless Wisdom and it has been entrusted to Theosophists as a heritage for preservation and dissemination. This body of knowledge can be archived in virtual reality and human memory; it can be accessed for interpretation; and it could serve as an agenda of action. By participating in this function, Theosophists have become “Keepers of the Ageless Wisdom” in whatever social context or in whatever political conditions they may be.

A potent strategy in preserving this Wisdom is to offer it to a wider audience so the sacred teachings, which have remained hidden from public attention for a long time, are enriched by contemporary experience and become relevant to the lives of entire communities as modern Theosophy. By going public there is greater chance of reaching people who are determined Seekers eager in unveiling mysteries and with creating meaning in life.

Read more: Keepers and Sharers of the Ageless Wisdom

Got Wisdom?

Tim Boyd – USA

Theosophy Tim Boyd 2 - cut-1
The author, Photo © Richard Dvořák

Recently while visiting one of our Theosophical groups one of the members asked me a question. Obviously it was someone who was not in the habit of asking the easy ones. The question was, “What is wisdom?” As sometimes happens, when called upon to speak to a question which is unanswerable an odd thought dropped into my mind. It drew me back over thirty years.

In May of 1980 the world’s media had descended on the state of Washington. For almost two months the eyes of the world had been turning to watch the unfolding events at Mount Saint Helens. In March geologists had detected seismic activity around the volcano. For over one hundred years it had lain dormant. They had also been monitoring a rapid swelling on the mountain's north side, as molten magma from deep beneath the earth’s surface pressed its way upward. Among the scientific community there was a certainty that Mt. St. Helens was on the verge of erupting. All of the media attention, along with word of mouth had turned the area into a tourist Mecca. Curiosity seekers hired planes and helicopters to fly over the volcano. Before the National Guard was called in to seal off the area, people were driving their families to hike up the mountainside and to picnic at its base. A nervous expectancy enveloped the entire scene.

Read more: Got Wisdom?

Paul Zwollo – A Tribute

We remember Paul Zwollo, 16 September, 1930 – August 28, 2007

Jan Nicolaas Kind – Brazil

Theosophy PZ 0 B Tribute
An “early” photo taken at St. Michael’s House in Naarden the Netherlands, from the left to the right: Rohit Mehta, Mr. and Mrs. Tijssen, Shridevi Mehta, Ineke Vrolijk, Minouc Heijbroek holding her daughter Nienke and Paul Zwollo with an impressive beard

In previous issues of Theosophy Forward we’ve honored Theosophists such as Dr. Richard Brooks, Ianthe Hoskins, Einar Adalsteinsson and Shirley Nicholson. In this current issue we will remember another remarkable Theosophist and artist: Paul Zwollo from the Netherlands. As stated in earlier issues of this magazine, and although we should live most consciously in the present, it is vital to look backwards once in a while, in order to determine in which direction our future could develop.

Read more: Paul Zwollo – A Tribute

Ethics – Bridging Freedom and Responsibility

Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands

Responsibility can be defined as the state of being responsible or accountable; that for which one is answerable, for example, a duty or trust. It also means the ability to meet obligations or to act without superior authority or guidance. Moreover, it is the capacity to distinguish between right and wrong – having ethical discrimination. And of course, in the first place, it is accepting full res­ponsibility for one's own life and all that it entails.

Applying the above to our daily circumstances, it is the feeling of being responsible for the well-being of our fellowmen, on a voluntary basis and from a state of complete freedom. It goes without saying that the choice to act in such a way arises from insight and discrimination developed from the many experiences we have had in this life and former incarnations. According to Theosophy, our present understanding is the result of all these experiences that have been stored during former lives in the Causal Body, which, together with the Monad or Atma-Buddhi, forms the Higher Self. It is that part of our sevenfold constitution that is born again and again in a sequence of incarnations, every time adding the spiritual insight gained in the former earth life.

The Third Proposition of The Secret Doctrine speaks of ”The obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul, a spark of the Universal Oversoul, through the Cycle of Incarnation, or Necessity, in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic Law, during the whole term'. So the Law of Cyclicity is one of the major factors in making possible our growth in responsibility and spiritual maturity. A comment of Madame Blavatsky on this Third Proposition says that 'the pivotal doctrine of the Esoteric Philosophy admits no privileges or special gifts in man, save those won by his own Ego through personal effort and merit throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations.”

Read more: Ethics – Bridging Freedom and Responsibility

Together differently

Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands

Together differently was a winged word of George Arundale. He went so far as to say that every Theosophist had to develop certain qualities so as to become an expert in some specific field. Not in order to become proud of them but to contribute in one's own and best possible way to the uplift of the whole world. Differentiation is inherent in the order of life. In Theosophical literature we read about the great differentiations that took place long ago and the subsequent gradual advent of the material world as we experience today. The countless differences in forms, colors, living creatures, etc. give life its charm and fascination.

Variety is not only the main characteristic of life but a “must”, a sine qua non, to prevent inbreeding and offer maximum possibilities for further development. Evolution needs this enormous variety in order not to get stuck and select those forms best suited to experiment with. The Divine Plan may have been laid down in outline, and it would look that the details are subject to experiment if not trial and error.

We are different from each other, absolutely unique, but not separate. Madame Blavatsky is a good example of how a great occultist stands apart from the ordinary man and at the same time works for the good of ordinary humanity at large. The one does not exclude the other. The example of the lives of the great ones, the Adepts, has proved that as one advances on the spiritual path toward the Divine in oneself which is man's true appointed end, the individual characteristics still do not get wiped out. On the contrary, they develop completely. This is not only certified by the Masters of Wisdom in their letters to A.P. Sinnett and others. Reading these letters, by the way, one is impressed by their distinctive handwriting style. Even the layout of the letters is different for each. A good graphologist would be able to give a fair description of the characters of the Masters by analyzing their handwriting. When man becomes what he really is, he is creative, original, even without any conscious attempt.

Read more: Together differently

Inner Journey to Regeneration

TITLE:

Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands

What do we mean by Regeneration? Regeneration of the personality? Or our thinking and our emotions, so as to be no longer subject to the influences of the world? Such a total reversal of our attention may never happen, until we have purified our physical, emotional and mental bodies. There is no mutation and emancipation, no transformation and regeneration, without proper prep­aration. In this sense every serious person is preparing himself for regeneration, simply by doing his work in daily life and fulfilling his responsibilities to the best of his ability. There is no other way. However, side by side we should learn to see beyond these seemingly simple duties and trivialities and look for the reality. In proportion to our earnestness, regeneration is slowed down or quickened.

One sometimes wonders can there be a day in our lives when we are not regenerating ourselves, be it ever so slightly? Don't we learn every day from our deeds and contacts with others? A day without learning anything is a lost day. Time is fleeting. Life is short.

Only by paying full attention to what we do, see and think will we be led to realize our possibilities.

Read more: Inner Journey to Regeneration

Sacrificing the Self

(Symposium Talk, Convention, Adyar, 28 December 2003)

Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands

The word “altruism” is derived from the Latin “alter”, meaning “other”, and in general means recognition of the care we should take for the interests of others; to let one's course of action in word, thought and deed, be determined by the interests of others. Altruism is therefore a synonym for unselfishness. It denotes a certain inclination, a tendency to self-forgetfulness, and a sacrificing of oneself for the good of mankind.

It is evident that altruism, if practiced by us, determines the kind of society we live in, and that its archetype is parental love. In Theosophical literature we come across many synonyms and equivalents for the word “altruism.”

Is not Universal Brotherhood, as mentioned in the First Object of the Theosophical Society, an aspect of altruism? Both are facets of the Oneness of Life. The latter I like to equate with the Diamond Truth, which has numerous facets, all of which we have to pay attention to, in order to come to an all-round development. On a photograph of one of the first International Conventions here at Adyar, in the 1880s, we see a group of delegates seated under a large banner with the words 'The Theosophical Society and Universal Brotherhood'. So from the very start of our Theosophical Society, the concept of Universal Brotherhood was emphasized and regarded as the essence of the work our Society had to carry out.

Read more: Sacrificing the Self

Who Am I?

Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands

Over the entrance to the Temple of Delphi in ancient Greece, was written: “Man Know Thyself.” Inside, were inscribed the words, “And by knowing thyself, thou shalt know the world.” Knowing oneself comes first. Knowing the world is secondary. Is not today's trend just the contrary? Education and science are mainly directed at knowing the outside world down to the minutest detail.

Large sums of money are spent on it, and nations, groups and individuals vie with each other. An old fairy tale verse rings true: “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, who is the fairest, the richest and cleverest of us all?” Thus, competition is set as the key to progress. And progress means only bigger cars, more luxuries, and more holidays a year, etc.

True, we cannot ignore the world and turn inside thereby hoping to realize ourselves, while remaining indifferent to mankind's suffering. Our reincarnation into this world is a fact. We cannot ignore our responsibility.

Read more: Who Am I?

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