Theosophy

Boris de Zirkoff’s Talk on Inner Awareness

 

Theosophy BdZ 2

Boris de Zirkoff

[Edited by Hector Tate]

Those of us who were fortunate to have had the experience of knowing Boris as a friend and a teacher, will forever remember him affectionately for his friendship and legacy in making H.P.B.’s writings accessible to us. Most of us who had contact with Boris, and those students who knew him only through the Collected Writings, have only a vague awareness of the magnitude of Boris de Zirkoff’s life-long commitment. However, with the passage of time, dear fellow-students, we can take solace in the fact that the influence of his effort, caring and dedication will touch the yet unborn generations of truth-seekers.

Having known Boris for almost a third of a century as a gentle and modest soul, I can surmise he would vigorously disclaim such an accolade. He would say that the credit for his work belongs to the torch-bearers and helping hands that turned in his direction ... Boris with his subtle sense of humor would have appreciated a “roast” instead of a eulogy. We will accord him his say through excerpts of a lecture he delivered to a study-group of students some years ago. This lecture, you might say, was the summing-up of the theme underlying many study group sessions that had occurred during a period of over thirty years. Let us recreate this Saturday night lecture of yesteryear in our minds. Picture if you will that you are sitting in someone’s living room with some 25 other students and Boris is waiting to speak in his usual calm and measured fashion:

Read more: Boris de Zirkoff’s Talk on Inner Awareness

Music in our Lives

By a Student

Theosophy M 2

INTRODUCTION

The unvoiced conviction that the man who had spent a lifetime in the world of music has in some fashion approached closer to absolute harmony through the mystery of death. If there is any kinship at all between this life and the domains of eternity, surely it is music that most nearly expresses that obscure bond. Of all the arts, music most baffles description in words or phrased thoughts. Music reaches most profoundly into the depths of the human heart and rises most securely above the boundaries encompassed by the human mind. It is the most mystical of all man's efforts to express the hidden things. It is difficult to believe that the end of life can also mark an end to any man's attainments in an art so little defined by physical things and so ineffably linked with eternity.

Those who love music, whatever their philosophy of life and death, can hardly escape the conviction of man's immortality ... when they think upon the call of death to a man who has given his life to music ... Surely the imperfect harmonies of life will vibrate into perfection in that wide mystery that lies beyond life.

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Read more: Music in our Lives

Virtue in Action

Dara Eklund – USA

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Dara Eklund, beautifully dressed, giving a talk during a meeting of International Theosophy Conferences at Olcott in Wheaton (2012) 

Any action, the thought which ignites it and the motive which fires the thought, are bound up with the Actor. True virtue lies in transforming the inner nature and that nature is the causative factor. If a man wishes to establish true character, it is the inner nature which he must rejuvenate first. The virtues of harmlessness and contentment, for instance, are engendered spontaneously by the man of few desires. The GITA states (in chapter five):

The Lord of the world creates neither the faculty of acting, nor actions, nor the connection between action and its fruits; but nature prevaileth in these. The Lord receives no man's deeds, be they sinful or full of merit.

Read more: Virtue in Action

In the Light of Theosophy

 

Theosophy ITLO 2 419 you are what you eat

[This article appeared in the December 2019 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html]

You are what you eat.

Whatever we eat directly reflects in our being. That is why the eighteenth-century French lawyer, Jean Savarin said: “Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.” Keeping in mind the effect of food on mind, body and soul, Pythagoras recommended a healthy vegetarian diet. He seems to suggest that by consuming meat, a person absorbs the animal inside, which then becomes an obstacle to reach the peak of consciousness. The religions in India have favored a vegetarian diet, mainly based on respect for all forms of life. Moreover, vegetarian food is light whereas non-vegetarian food is heavy. However, that does not mean that the non-vegetarians cannot meditate, it is only that they will be required to put in extra effort as compared to a vegetarian. For them it is like climbing a mountain carrying a heavy weight.

Read more: In the Light of Theosophy

At the Feet of the Master

Tim Boyd – India, USA

Theosophy TB 2 419 Students Tim

Tim Boyd poses with seventh- level students at the Olcott Memorial High School 

Over time little books like the one by J. Krishnamurti (Alcyone), At the Feet of the Master (AFM), and by H. P. Blavatsky (HPB), The Voice of the Silence, find us returning to them again and again. One of the beauties of these short texts is their richness and that although small in size they seem to be inexhaustible in their potential to convey a new sense of meaning. They give us a multilayered approach to the spiritual life.

In Tibetan Buddhism one of the foundational texts is called The Graded Path to Enlightenment, also known as the Lamrim teachings. It is quoted by HPB in The Secret Doctrine and elsewhere. The basis for the Lamrim is that there is a progressive and ever-deepening “path” to wisdom, a graded path. At its beginning we enter it with a minimally developed level of understanding and unfoldment. But as we work with it that unfoldment deepens and broadens. In the words of the Bible: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I thought as a child, I understood as a child, but when I became a man [or a woman] I put away childish things.” With the extension of awareness our understanding has a way of altering.

Read more: At the Feet of the Master

Living without Fear

Barbara Hebert – USA

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Barbara during the last held TheosoFEST on the "Olcott grounds" in September 

Dealing with fear is, like most other aspects of living this physical incarnation, part of a process. Learning to live without fear doesn’t happen overnight; rather, there are steps that we take to facilitate the process. Spiritual concepts can help us learn to live without fear as well.

Before we talk about living without fear, we need to address a few questions first. What is fear? What do we fear? How does fear impact us? These questions help us understand what is happening and what we want to change. Change requires awareness, and awareness requires self-introspection and self-observation. It is at that point that we can begin to talk about specific steps that may be helpful in learning to live without fear. Finally, we can discuss spiritual concepts or guidelines that will help us in this process of learning to live without fear.

Read more: Living without Fear

To a Statue of H. P. B. Sometime to be Carved Out of a Mountain

 

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The wind sings round your shoulders all night long;

Your skirts are ancient forest; dragon trees,

Writhed with antiquity, o 'ershade your knees

Above the cliffs; around your forehead throng

Your old confederates in your wars with wrong, --

Capella, Betelgeuze, the Pleiades,

Arcturus and Antares, and with these

Knowledge, and peace, and the olden spirit of song.

And still your gaze is fixed beyond the wane

Of time, beyond these crumbling states and years;

Read more: To a Statue of H. P. B. Sometime to be Carved Out of a Mountain

Human Regeneration - part twenty-four

Radha Burnier – India

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Radha gving a talk at Olcott in Wheaton in 2003

[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.]

Sometimes T.S. members with their own views, who do not follow the prevalent line, are regarded as not theosophical, What are the criteria in this? Can personal views, however i irritating they may be, harm the T.S.? Or can they even help to keep the T.S. alert and alive, free of dogmatism? 

EA: The T.S. is a very special institution, a strong institution. The President can close down a lodge or a section, if it does not work. It is a strong building, but has no dogma. Politicians use ideals to hold together their organization, but it is difficult to be a good theosophist if we do not have clear guidelines. We must be very alert about our aims, so that we do not become dogmatic.

Read more: Human Regeneration - part twenty-four

Is There a Call?

Boris de Zirkoff – USA

[Note from the editor: this article was first published in the spring of 1957]

THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XIII

No. 4 (70) - Spring 1957

Theosophy BdZ 2 318

[Original over photo: Picturesque Scene on the Coast of Brazil.]

A great many students of Theosophy, especially members of various Theosophical Organizations, are eagerly expecting the appearance in the world of a direct Messenger from the Brotherhood of Adepts sometime around 1975.

Their belief is based upon various pronouncements by the Founders of the modern Theosophical Movement. Such pronouncements are usually quoted out of their actual context, robbing them of one or another aspect of their true meaning. A certain statement regarding a fact in nature, or the possibility of a condition, coupled to a strong sentimental wish that it would occur, add up in the long run to a fairly strongly established dogmatic belief, that can easily become a set article of faith, particularly in matters religious.

Read more: Is There a Call?

Doing Theosophy

John Algeo – USA

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John at his very best: passionately speaking in front of students, and a (white) blackboard behind him

The term "Theosophy" is generally defined in terms of ideas. Thus Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary defines it that way, both generally and specifically:

1 : teaching about God and the world based on mystical insight

2 often capitalized: the teachings of a modern movement originating in the United States in 1875 and following chiefly Buddhist and Brahmanic theories especially of pantheistic evolution and reincarnation

So does the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary:

Any of various systems of belief which maintain that a knowledge of God may be achieved by spiritual ecstasy, direct intuition, or special individual revelations; spec. (a) such a system proposed by Jacob Boehme (1575-1624); (b) a modern system following some Hindu and Buddhist teachings, seeking universal brotherhood, and denying a personal god.

Such, however, was not the view of Madam Blavatsky, who famously wrote (in The Key to Theosophy , p. 20): "Theosophist is, who Theosophy does." A Theosophist is not someone who holds any particular ideas, but rather is someone who "does" Theosophy.

Read more: Doing Theosophy

October 2019 - In the Light of Theosophy

Theosophy ITLO 2 319

"Daaji” Kamlesh D. Patel.

[This article appeared in the July 2019 issue of The Theosophical Movement. For more articles published in this excellent magazine follow this link: http://www.ultindia.org/previous_issues.html]

How to make relationships last? For the youngsters of our times, “relationships and career” are the two most important things in life as they are seen to bring security, contentment and purpose in life. Yet, many are seen struggling to maintain healthy relationship with their partners. We live in the world where we throw away things easily. “If there are problems, end it; if there is hardship, look for someone better. We are becoming a culture of quitters,” writes “Daaji” Kamlesh D. Patel. We need to learn to value longevity and commitment, and in order to sustain that outlook we need emotional intelligence and maturity in relationships. Since our lives are guided by feelings and aspirations which stem from the heart, we can begin by learning to listen to the heart. “Heartfulness” meditation helps to fine-tune the heart with the mind. Heartfulness practices allow us to master our emotional responses in daily life, endow us with basic life skills and enable us to deal with problems such as loneliness, inability to find real purpose in life, inability to concentrate, stress, money issues, and so on.

Read more: October 2019 - In the Light of Theosophy

The Well of Insight

Theosophy Vidya 2 319

The magazine Vidya , https://theosophysb.org/vidya-subscriptions/ edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its Winter 2019 issue]

Going within to find the inner Self is plunging into the depths of what might seem like a dark place. But if one goes deep enough, one finds the soothing and refreshing waters of insight and wisdom. In The Voice of the Silence it says, "Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul's gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown." That contemplation is like forming a bridge, a connection to a vast field of the unknown that can gradually become known.

Read more: The Well of Insight

Two Kinds of Wisdom

H.P. Blavatsky

Theosophy HPB 2 319

St. James teaches two kinds of wisdom; a teaching with which we fully concur. He draws a strong line of separation between the divine or noétic "Sophia"—the Wisdom from above—and the terrestrial, psychic, and devilish wisdom (iii, 15). For the true Theosophist there is no wisdom save the former. Would that such an one could declare with Paul, that he speaks that wisdom exclusively only among them "that are perfect," i.e., those initiated into its mysteries, or familiar, at least, with the A B C of the sacred sciences. But, however great was his mistake, however premature his attempt to sow the seeds of the true and eternal gnosis on unprepared soil, his motives were yet good and his intention unselfish, and therefore has he been stoned. For had he only attempted to preach some particular fiction of his own, or done it for gain, who would have ever singled him out or tried to crush him, amid the hundreds of other false sects, daily "collections" and crazy "societies"? But his case was different. However cautiously, still he spoke "not the wisdom of this world" but truth or the "hidden wisdom" . . . which none of the Princes of this World know (I Corinth. ii.) least of all the archons of our modern science.

Read more: Two Kinds of Wisdom

Sowing Fresh Spiritual Seeds

Einar Adalsteinsson – Iceland

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The author

I got THE CELESTINE PROPHESY in its first months and I liked it so much that I started a five-week introductory course into its ways of Self Culture or Spiritual Path at the TS in Iceland. There were in all three courses, before I got back to my old track [of Mind Culture Courses], but I still include one evening (two hours) going into the main points.

Of course there is nothing new under the sun, concerning the perennial wisdom, but we need ever new approaches to it, not because of the wisdom, but because of our nature of mental stagnation in the forms -- any forms.

It is therefore of paramount importance that we can speak the 'truth' in a fresh way at all times. So if you find the book to be of help, then use it as a platform into further study -- you will find it repeated and corroborated in myriads of ways in the scriptures, but it is the "gut feeling" that matters. To feel it working within, and spreading from there to the outer life, is what make it worthwhile. And the book is good for that.

Read more: Sowing Fresh Spiritual Seeds

The Difficult Truth

Tim Boyd – India, USA

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Tim Boyd, a warm, dynamic and open-minded International President of the Theosophical Society, Adyar ... always building bridges. 

Photo: © Richard Dvořák 

There are two phrases, one a prayer, and the other a statement with which members of the Theosophical Society (TS) are familiar. The prayer is known as the Pavamâna Mantra: “From the unreal lead me to the Real. From darkness lead me to Light. From death lead me to Immortality.” For those TS members who were not raised in India, often the first time this prayer was encountered was on the page after the dedication of the little book, At the Feet of the Master by J. Krishnamurti. It is a prayer that predates Jesus the Christ and the Buddha, being 2,600 to 3,000 years old.

The second phrase is the motto of the TS itself: satyân nâsti paro dharma. Variously translated it says: “There is no dharma (or doctrine) higher than sat, (Truth).” There is no law, no study, no sacrifice, no religion, no ritual, nothing that is higher than sat — Reality. The preferred translation adopted for the TS is: “There is no religion higher than Truth.” The focus has always been to point ourselves in the direction of Truth, and to try to understand whatever our capacity permits.

Read more: The Difficult Truth

What do Theosophists Do?

Barbra Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH 2 319:

Barbara in “full swing" at Olcott 

A new member recently asked “What do Theosophists do? She continued to discuss the lack of dogma and the freedom of thought aspects of the Theosophical Society as being confusing. For instance, she asked if Theosophy accepted extreme views from various religious traditions, such as condemning certain groups of people. It had never occurred to me that the lack of dogma or the encouragement of open-minded inquiry might lead to this type of confusion.

We are aware that all members of the Theosophical Society are in sympathy with the Three Objects of the Society. This agreement is the one thing to which all Theosophists adhere. The Theosophical Society does incorporate a body of teaching, of course, but members are encouraged to do their own exploration both within and outside of these teachings.

Read more: What do Theosophists Do?

Why do we serve?

Tim Boyd – India, USA

Theosophy TB 2

Conventional Darwinian thinking emphasizes the survival of the fittest. From such a selfish, or evolutionary sense, service could be seen as a questionable activity. What is the advantage of serving, of being the one who bestows an advantage to another? Yet, it seems that we are hardwired with an inescapable urge to be compassionate. We cannot help it. Otherwise, why would it be that so much of our attention and effort is put into helping or aiding the very weakest among us? This is what we do instinctively, naturally.

As we age and become weak and infirm, or as we become sick, the evolutionary advantage would seem to be to look out for yourself and move on, but that is not what we do. Our energies, our attention, are inevitably focused on the weakest among us.

In Buddhist terms, the word used is “compassion”. It has become a buzz word in the world today, and it should be. In Buddhism there is a very specific definition of compassion. They would say that it is “the desire to alleviate the suffering of others”. So when we are behaving in compassionate ways we are working to-ward alleviating the suffering of others

H. P. Blavatsky’s The Voice of the Silence presents another way to look at compassion. In that short book we find the enigmatic word: “Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of laws”. This is a very broad statement which seems to be clear and unambiguous, but what does it mean?

What is the compassion that rises to this level, superseding every other law we are aware of – gravity, thermodynamics, karma? Clearly this is not limited to a behavior in which we are attempting to alleviate suffering. Conscious compassionate activity, which we name “service”, is a subset of this great compassion.

Read more: Why do we serve?

The Stages of Spiritual Development

Barbara Hebert – USA

Theosophy BH 2

In order to help us understand ourselves as human beings, a number of theories regarding growth and development have been formulated. Many of these are called stage theories because they discuss the development of individuals as they pass through various stages. Some of the better-known stage theories include Jean Piaget’s stages of cognitive development; Erik Erikson’s stages of psychosocial development; and Lawrence Kohlberg’s stages of moral development. These theorists imply that the stages are linear – passed through once and left behind forever – but this is not necessarily accurate. Individuals may vacillate between stages, given different circumstances in life. Some may skip a stage altogether.

Read more: The Stages of Spiritual Development

Co-Workers with Buddha

Nicholas C. Weeks – USA

Theosophy NW 2

There is an old saying which reveals a good motive for living nobly: “When one receives a drop of kindness, one should repay it with a bubbling spring.” H.P. Blavatsky's Guru mentioned the “debt of gratitude” as being “sacred.” Feeling grateful is nice, but is not really adequate. Especially since we are all a Unity and of One Life. We must not block circulation of the harmonious forces of compassion, sympathy and friendliness. “Ingratitude is a crime in Occultism.” (1)

Duty is that which is due to Humanity,... especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves. This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and moral bankrupts in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty. (2)

Read more: Co-Workers with Buddha

Commitment and Detachment

 

Theosophy VIDYA 2 Comm

[The magazine Vidya http://www.theosophysb.org/site/publications.html , edited by associates of the United Lodge of Theosophists in Santa Barbara, USA, published the following article in its Summer 2018 issue; here is a slightly revised version.]

Commitment tethers one to a line of action, a person, an object or a value. Through commitment come depth, skill and understanding. It is through continued contact over a long period of time that real love and understanding develop in a relationship. It is only through return to the studio again and again that skill at the canvas or the piano flourish. Commitment is the way we get past surfaces and gain access to the depths. But before those depths are gained, commitment may feel an irksome confinement, a difficult subjugation of the wandering mind and heart to a rather small parcel of real estate. We may feel, as in the lyrics of a 1970s rock song, “That sweet devotion is not for me, just give me motion and set me free.”

Read more: Commitment and Detachment

Towards a Unified Mankind

 Boris de Zirkoff – USA

THEOSOPHIA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume VIII
No. 2 (44) - July-August 1951

Theosophy BdZ 2

[Original cover Photo: H.P. Blavatsky in her forties. (From Incidents in the Life of Madame Blavatsky, by A. P. Sinnett. 2nd ed., London: Theos. Pub. Society, 1913.)]

Face to face with the appalling conflict of ideas which rages on the historical stage of the twentieth century, the student of the Ancient Wisdom is in duty bound to refrain from taking sides and to try to appraise the existing situation in the light of ageless principles of thought.

This is no easy task. It is one indeed in which every student will find himself faltering at every turn of the road, and mistaking shadows for realities. He will be drawn by powerful magnetic attractions and impelled to become attached to one side or the other, and to espouse causes which, in their very nature, have no permanency at all. He will be called upon to transcend his personal predilections, and to penetrate behind the outward veil of the seeming, into causal factors which are ignored by the casual observer with no philosophy of life.

The student will have to keep in mind the fact that none of the participants of the world-wide conflict of ideas is wholly right or wholly wrong. Their individual and respective causes and objectives have elements of both truth and falsehood, and their vehement and often violent actions are due, not to inherent evil, but to a lack of mutual understanding and absence of wisdom. It would indeed be an easy solution were it possible to limit all the evil-doing and all the blame to one or another party, and to eliminate this party from the world of men. But the complexity of human nature and the inextricable karmic web of past and present action necessitates that human problems be worked out on the basis of understanding, sympathy and self-forgetfulness - lessons hard for the aggressive, self-centered and conceited type of men to learn.

Read more: Towards a Unified Mankind

Cyclic Progress

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

Theosophy HPB 2

Thus, as expressed in the Stanza, the Watchers descended on Earth and reigned over men – “who are themselves.” The reigning kings had finished their cycle on Earth and other worlds, in the preceding Rounds. In the future manvantaras they will have risen to higher systems than our planetary world; and it is the Elect of our Humanity, the Pioneers on the hard and difficult path of Progress, who will take the places of their predecessors. The next great Manvantara will witness the men of our own life-cycle becoming the instructors and guides of a mankind whose Monads may now yet be imprisoned – semi-conscious – in the most intellectual of the animal kingdom, while their lower principles will be animating, perhaps, the highest specimens of the Vegetable world.

Read more: Cyclic Progress

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