Theosophy

Where is Theosophy?

Dan Noga – Norway


Norwegian Fjord

In Theosophical circles, whether in group discussions, in literature, or on the internet, the question comes up again and again: What is Theosophy? There are endless different ways of answering the question, which is as it should be for something, which by its very nature, is immense, tending to blur more lines and erode more boundaries than it creates. After all, theos sophia synthesizes, integrates and harmonizes all of the various fields of inquiry that humanity embarks upon. We should have a hard time pinning it down succinctly, because once something is pinned down, it can't move; it becomes static and loses its essential vibrance. We should struggle to define it neatly—and no matter how many times we may reach the conclusion that this task is ultimately an impossible one, nonetheless, we should keep trying it, because the very attempt to do so forces us to expand our own horizons. The more we learn about Theosophy, the more there is to learn, and this only means that we learn more about ourselves and the universe every day. The exercise of defining Theosophy is an effective practice both mentally and spiritually, so long as we resist the urge to declare it complete. It seems that the Perennial Wisdom is forever accompanied by this "Perennial Question," which is fitting since Theosophy responds to so many of our vexing questions.

Read more: Where is Theosophy?

The Seven Portals

H. P. Blavatsky


H.P. Blavatsky

[From The Voice of the Silence, fragment 3 “The Seven Portals”]

216.    For, O disciple! Before thou wert made fit to meet thy Teacher face to face, thy Master light to light, what wert thou told?
217.    Before thou canst approach the foremost gate thou hast to learn to part the body from thy mind, to dissipate the shadow, and to live in the eternal. For this, thou hast to live and breathe in all, as all that thou perceivest breathes in thee; to feel thyself abiding in all things, all things in Self.
218.    Thou shalt not let thy senses make a playground of thy mind.
219.    Thou shalt not separate thy being from Being, and the rest, but merge the ocean in the drop, the drop within the ocean.
220.    So shalt thou be in full accord with all that lives; bear love to men as though they were thy brother-pupils, disciples of one Teacher, the sons of one sweet mother.
221.    Of teachers there are many; the MASTER-SOUL is one,8 Alaya, the Universal Soul. Live in that MASTER as ITS ray in thee. Live in thy fellows as they live in IT.
222.    Before thou standest on the threshold of the Path; before thou crossest the foremost gate, thou hast to merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to Self impersonal, and thus destroy the "path" between the two —  antahkarana.9
223.    Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask thee at thy first, at thy initial step:
224.    "Hast thou complied with all the rules, O thou of lofty hopes?"
225.    "Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? For as the sacred river's roaring voice whereby all Nature-sounds are echoed back,10 so must the heart of him 'who in the stream would enter,' thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes."
226.    Disciples may be likened to the strings of the soul-echoing vina; mankind, unto its sounding board; the hand that sweeps it to the tuneful breath of the great WORLD-SOUL. The string that fails to answer ’neath the Master's touch in dulcet harmony with all the others, breaks —  and is cast away. So the collective minds of lanoo-shravakas. They have to be attuned to the Upadhyaya's mind — one with the Over-Soul — or break away.
227.    Thus do the "Brothers of the Shadow" — the murderers of their souls, the dread Dad-Dugpa clan.11
228.    Hast thou attuned thy being to humanity's great pain, O candidate for light?

Read more: The Seven Portals

Theosophy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and God

Sally and James Colbert -- USA   

NOTE: This is the first in a series of articles intended to help Theosophical students or their families deal with some of the major traumas visiting so many of us.  Included will be alcoholism, marijuana addiction, Alzheimer’s, mental illness, suicide, abortion, physical disability, and effects of psychic practices. Some of the common treatment options are  seen as at odds with Theosophical ideas and teachings. It has been asked how Theosophy can offer direction for encountering these circumstances. The series of articles will give direct focus to these areas while drawing from the teachings and placing them in a modern context for practical use. The writers have been contacted by Theosophists over a number of years regarding these concerns related to their connection to the teachings and their background in clinical psychology.

Aside from the suspected psychic, emotional and astral effects with alcohol addiction, the assault on the body would seem enough to stay clear of the liquor store. “Long-term use of alcohol in excessive quantities is capable of damaging nearly every organ and system in the body” www.en.wikipedia.org.

Within this article, Theosophical references will be found along with comments on accepted treatment approaches. One of these is Alcoholics Anonymous which has been seen, by some, to be in direct conflict with Theosophical principles. The approach is being used world over as well as  for other “addictions”, e.g., NA or Narcotics Anonymous, Over Eaters Anonymous, Gamblers Anonymous, etc. all developed from the AA base.  “By some estimates, as many as one in ten Americans, including two-thirds of those ever treated for alcoholism, have attended at least one A.A. meeting.” (How Alcoholics Anonymous Works, Michael Craig Miller, M.D. – Harvard Medical School).

Read more: Theosophy, Alcoholics Anonymous, and God

The Voice of the Silence 3 (Verses 33-50)

John Algeo – USA

The next four verses (33-36) of The Voice of the Silence continue to develop the theme of the three Halls, but introduce new metaphors for them: darkness, deceptive light, true light, and the stormy sea of life: “[33] That which is uncreate abides in thee, disciple, as it abides in that Hall [of Wisdom]. If thou wouldst reach it and blend the two [the create and uncreate], thou must divest thyself of thy dark garments of illusion. Stifle the voice of flesh, allow no image of the senses to get between its light and thine that thus the twain may blend in one. And having learnt thine own ajnana, 21 flee from the Hall of Learning. This Hall is dangerous in its perfidious beauty, is needed but for thy probation. Beware, lanoo, lest dazzled by illusive radiance thy soul should linger and be caught in its deceptive light. [34] This light shines from the jewel of the great ensnarer (Mara). 22 The senses it bewitches, blinds the mind, and leaves the unwary an abandoned wreck. [35] The moth attracted to the dazzling flame of thy night-lamp is doomed to perish in the viscid oil. The unwary soul that fails to grapple with the mocking demon of illusion will return to earth the slave of Mara. [36] Behold the hosts of souls. Watch how they hover o’er the stormy sea of human life, and how, exhausted, bleeding, broken-winged, they drop one after other on the swelling waves. Tossed by the fierce winds, chased by the gale, they drift into the eddies and disappear within the first great vortex.”

Note 21:Ajnana is ignorance or non-wisdom, the opposite of ‘knowledge’ or jnana.” Jnana, from the root jna (cognate with English know), denotes “irrefutable intuition,” a knowledge based on direct experience and thus beyond question for the one who experiences it. The Hall of Learning offers the possibility of passing from ignorance to wisdom. But it also has all the dangers associated with learning. As the eighteenth-century poet Alexander Pope wrote, “A little learning is a dangerous thing.” The most important thing to learn in the middle hall is that we are ignorant of who we are. An awareness of our own ignorance is the beginning of wisdom. We cannot learn until we realize that we do not know.

Read more: The Voice of the Silence 3 (Verses 33-50)

William Quan Judge and The Theosophical Society – part two


Dara Eklund – USA

[Based on a talk given by Dara Eklund at Krotona Institute of Theosophy in April 2010.]

Julia Keightley (Irish Theosophist, IV: 115) wrote of that early period: “It was a position in which the young lawyer seemed quite overweighted, but he did all that he could . . . [as] a neophyte, one of a band who have taken the vow of interior poverty, and whose unseen and unrecorded work is regarded as being of far more importance than exterior, visible work.


Julia Keightley

The main current of such lives runs underground. Already H. P. Blavatsky had written and said that he had been a part of herself and of the Great Lodge ‘for æons past,’ . . . and that he was one of those tried Egos who have reincarnated several times immediately after death; assisted to do so, and without devachanic rest, in order to continue his Lodge work. It is a matter of record that, when the seven years’ probation of this life were over, the Master best known in connection with the T.S. sent to Mr. Judge, through H.P.B., His photograph, inscribed upon the back ‘to my colleague,’ with a cryptogram and signature; and, a little later, a letter of thanks and advice, delivered to Mr. Judge in Paris by H.P.B. A message sent to him through H.P.B. in writing from the Lodge at about this time ends by saying: ‘Those who do all that they can and the best they know how do enough for us’.” Judge wished to do more, despairing in his first letter to Julia of the heavy karma man has accumulated. He wrote: “That deep sigh pierces through my heart. How can the load be lifted? Am I to stand for myself, while the few strong hands of Blessed Masters and Their friends hold back the awful cloud? Such a vow I registered ages ago to help them, and I must. Would to great Karma I could do more!” Letters That  Have Helped Me, letter 1: ULT ed., 1946, p. 2; http://theosophytrust.org/Online_Books/Letters_V1.2.pdf, p. 7).

Read more: William Quan Judge and The Theosophical Society – part two

Schizophrenia and the Search for the Soul - A Theosophical Perspective

Sally and James Colbert – USA 

BACKGROUND OF THE AUTHORS

It might be asked as to the qualifications of the authors to write the article. One of the authors, a clinical psychologist, brought forth two schizophrenic daughters through a former marriage. One is still living and the other died from breast cancer. The other author’s mother was diagnosed with schizophrenia and she died a number of years ago – most probably due to suicide. Together we have participated in multiple forms of family support, had care giver support, explored a wide range of psychiatrists and other treatment options, provided the day-to-day care, went through multiple psychiatric hospital experiences with family members – both voluntary and involuntary, and experienced the treatment in both private and public facilities. In addition, one of the authors provided professional treatment for schizophrenic patients in hospital settings as well as in private practice. All family members have Theosophical backgrounds. Both daughters with schizophrenic diagnoses thought of themselves as Theosophists. We feel it is important to relate this background as it is important to know of this disease from the standpoint of the patient, family member, and the professional. And, to find in the Theosophical teachings concepts that may help in understanding.

WHAT IS SCHIZOPHRENIA?

Schizophrenia is a brain disease (E. Fuller Torrey, M.D.). Schizophrenia is due to genetic transmission (National Institute of Mental Health). Schizophrenia is due to nutritional deficiency (Orthomolecular psychiatry). Schizophrenia is due to early childhood trauma (Clancy D. McKenzie, M.D.). Schizophrenia comes from a psych spiritual crisis (C.G. Jung, M.D.).

Read more: Schizophrenia and the Search for the Soul - A Theosophical Perspective

Our Work

Rafael Arévalo, Teotle Lodge, San Salvador – El Salvador

El Salvador, a small country in Central America, was at first affiliated Theosophically with Cuba. In those days, an Irish citizen named Patrick Brannon came to El Salvador; he had been hired by the company constructing the first railroad for the western part of the country. After the railroad enterprise concluded, Brannon stayed and married Carmen Vega, a Salvadorian who became the mother of Carmen Brannon, a poet and Theosophist with the pen name Claudia Lars.

In December 1878, Brannon went to New York because he wanted to consult HPB about a supernatural experience he had had. After first visiting some relatives who lived in NY, on December 16th he attempted to meet Madame Blavatsky, but was unable to do so because, unfortunately for him, she and H. S. Olcott were preparing to depart on December 17th for London, en route to India.

Read more: Our Work

Truth: The Limitless Horizon – part two

John Algeo – USA

[This article is a revision of two earlier publications: “Truth: The Limitless Horizon,” American Theosophist 72.11 (December 1984): 413-25; and “Theosophical Truth Is a Many-Splendoured Thing,” Theosophist 127.5 (February 2006): 167-74.]

HOW THEOSOPHICAL TRUTHS RELATE TO ABSOLUTE TRUTH

Yet, if it is the case that Theosophical truths can free us from the illusions of ordinary assumptions, how do we know that our Theosophical truths are True? Is it possible that they too—although far better than our ordinary assumptions about life—are only partial and distorted? The Mahachohan has said that the teaching the Masters proclaim is “the only true one” and that “Theos-Sophia, Divine Wisdom, . . . is a synonym of truth.” But is the Theos-Sophia of the Mahachohan the same as the Theosophy we understand and proclaim? Is it possible that our understanding of the Divine Wisdom may not be quite the same as that of the Mahachohan, not quite on the same level as his?

Truth is like light. The cosmos is pervaded by electromagnetic radiation. Our eyes can perceive only a tiny portion of the full spectrum of the radiation, and we call that tiny portion “light.” The cosmos is full of an enormous range of electromagnetic radiation that we cannot see—a practically limitless display of energies, of which we are completely in the dark. And even the tiny portion of the electromagnetic spectrum that we can see, we do not see directly. Light is invisible until it is reflected by some object.

Read more: Truth: The Limitless Horizon – part two

The Heart Doctrine - How to escape from Plato’s Cave – part two

Erwin Bomas – The Netherlands


The Escape

Transmitter and receiver - The Heart Doctrine

We can compare our faculty of thinking to both a transmitter and a receiver. Actually our thinking functions as a transmitter and at the same time as a receiver. And just like a receiver can be tuned to certain wavelengths, likewise our thinking can be tuned. According to the wavelengths we have tuned into before and are tuning into now, we lock ourselves to a set of frequencies. And depending on how we have understood received thoughts we will likewise transmit them.

The more conscious we become of the possibility we have to tune our thinking, the more capable we become in selecting frequencies to tune into and receive. And the better we are tuned, the better we can receive and transmit thoughts harmoniously and the less philosophical distortion (noise) we will produce in our transmission. [2]

Read more: The Heart Doctrine - How to escape from Plato’s Cave – part two

Let the Christ-Child Live

G. de Purucker – USA

Theosophists look upon Christmas in two ways: first, as the record of a sublime fact in occult history and life, that every son of man some day in his own spiritual history will repeat if he climb successfully. And the other way, that there is an unborn Christ in the soul of every one of us, the Christos, the Prince of Peace, the Prince of Love. As the cycling days bring the Christmas season around and the Christian world celebrates the supposed birth of the physical body of its Chief, its Savior, we may take the words of the avatara, the Christ, in their higher sense: that we humans are the "sons of god," of the divine, and that the spirit of love and consciousness of the most high dwelleth in the sanctuary of every man's heart - which means that there is a Christ-child in my heart, in your heart. Certain Orientals call it the Celestial Buddha in our hearts, but the idea is the same.

Read more: Let the Christ-Child Live

The Voice of the Silence 2 (Verses 6-32)

John Algeo – USA

Verses 6 to 12 of The Voice of the Silence concern the experience we have when we begin to control our minds: “[6] For: When to himself his form appears unreal, as do on waking all the forms he sees in dreams; [7] When he has ceased to hear the many, he may discern the ONE―the inner sound which kills the outer. [8] Then only, not till then, shall he forsake the region of asat, the false, to come unto the realm of Sat, the true. [9] Before the soul can see, the harmony within must be attained, and fleshly eyes be rendered blind to all illusion. [10] Before the soul can hear, the image (man) has to become as deaf to roarings as to whispers, to cries of bellowing elephants as to the silvery buzzing of the golden firefly. [11] Before the soul can comprehend and may remember, she must unto the Silent Speaker be united, just as the form to which the clay is modeled is first united with the potter’s mind. [12] For then the soul will hear, and will remember.”

One of the first experiences we have is distinguishing between the real and the unreal (in Sanskrit sat and asat). This is what At the Feet of the Master calls the first qualification: discrimination—distinguishing between, as that book says, the real and the unreal, the right and the wrong, the important and the unimportant, the useful and the useless, the true and the false, and the selfish and the unselfish. Sat, usually translated as “real” or “true,” is actually the present participle of the Sanskrit verb for “to be.” It thus means literally “being.” The real is what is, what has actual being. Asat, the “unreal,” is that same word with the negative or privative prefix a- meaning “not” or “without.” (We have that prefix in its Greek form in words like atypical “not typical” or asexual “without sexual characteristics.”) So the real is what has being; and the unreal is what has no being.

Read more: The Voice of the Silence 2 (Verses 6-32)

The Heart Doctrine - How to escape from Plato’s Cave – part one

Erwin Bomas – The Netherlands

Preceding his presentation on Friday August 12, 2011 in Julian-California, lecturer Erwin Bomas, a project manager for the Kennisnet Foundation and member of the Theosophical Society,  Point Loma – The Hague, stated the following:

In this lecture we will apply the conference theme “The Heart of Wisdom, A Concurrence of Science and Spirituality...from the Theosophical Perspective” to education. What is a Theosophical education? How to present Theosophy this day and age? How to reach the Western minds, still very much attuned to pure scientific and mostly materialistic thinking?

Theosophy, as the synthesis of Science, Philosophy and Religion, throws new light on Modern Science. In Theosophy we find the Doctrine of the Heart, revealing the “spirit”, stimulating the highest of our aspects. It presents the entrance to the world of noumena.

Read more: The Heart Doctrine - How to escape from Plato’s Cave – part one

The Seven Portals

H. P. Blavatsky

[The opening verses of Fragment 3 of The Voice of the Silence.]

196. “Upadhyaya,1 the choice is made, I thirst for Wisdom. Now hast thou rent the veil before the Secret Path and taught the greater Yana2. Thy servant here is ready for thy guidance.”

197. ’Tis well, Shravaka.3 Prepare thyself, for thou wilt have to travel on alone. The Teacher can but point the way. The Path is one for all, the means to reach the goal must vary with the pilgrims.

198. Which wilt thou choose, O thou of dauntless heart? The samtan4 of Eye Doctrine, fourfold Dhyana, or thread thy way through Paramitas5, six in number, noble gates of virtue leading to Bodhi and to Prajna, seventh step of Wisdom?

199. The rugged Path of fourfold Dhyana winds on uphill. Thrice great is he who climbs the lofty top.

Read more: The Seven Portals

William Quan Judge and the Theosophical Society – part one

Dara Eklund – USA

[Based on a talk given by Dara Eklund at Krotona Institute of Theosophy in April 2010.]

Annie Besant wrote the following in the October, 1922 [p. 351], issue of the Theosophist: “William Quan Judge [was] a much loved friend and pupil of H.P.B.’s, and the channel of life to the American Branch of the T.S. A highly evolved man, with a profound realization of the deeper truths of life, he built up the Society in America from small and discouraging beginnings. No difficulties daunted him, and no apparent failures quenched his fiery devotion. . . . He was beside H.P.B. through those early days, saw the exercise of her wonderful powers, and shared in the founding of the Theosophical Society. And throughout the remainder of her life on earth, the friendship remained unbroken, and during the later years she regarded him as her one hope in America, declaring that, if the American members rejected him, she would break off all relations with them, and know them no more. . . .His real work, the spread of Theosophy in America, was splendidly performed, and his memory remains a lasting inspiration. . . . William Quan Judge must ever have his place among Theosophical Worthies.”


William Quan Judge


William Quan Judge, son of Frederick H. Judge and Alice Mary Quan, was born in Dublin, Ireland, on April 13, 1851. His mother died in giving birth to a seventh child. At the age of thirteen, Judge emigrated with his bereaved father and family to New York City, arriving via the City of Limerick steamship on July 14, 1864. Very little is known of William’s early years prior to coming to America. At age seven he survived a major illness, ordinarily fatal, which changed him entirely. Boris de Zirkoff’s biography states that the doctor pronounced him dead. Under her pen name Jasper Niemand, Julia Keightley wrote: “During convalescence the boy evinced aptitude and knowledge which he had never before displayed, exciting wonder as to when and how he had learned these things, these rudiments of art and of literature . . . and from his recovery in his eighth year we find him interested in religion, magic, Rosicrucianism, and deeply absorbed in the Book of Revelations of the Christian Bible, trying to settle its meaning. He also devoured the contents of all the books he could lay hold of relating to mesmerism, character-reading, phrenology and so on, while no one knew when he had so much as acquired the art of reading at all. The emigration to America . . . broadened his thought and experience as the era of definite work and training came on” (Irish Theosophist 4.5 [February 15, 1896]: 91). Julia Keightley also relates an incident of the boy’s will power, in spite of his frail health, when some playmates jeered at Judge because he could not swim across a stream to an island. He determined to walk across the river’s bed; when out of his depth, periodically rising for breath, he was finally drawn out half-conscious by his astonished playfellows.

Read more: William Quan Judge and the Theosophical Society – part one

Truth: The Limitless Horizon – part one

John Algeo – USA

[This article is a revision of two earlier publications: “Truth: The Limitless Horizon,” American Theosophist 72.11 (December 1984): 413-25; and “Theosophical Truth Is a Many-Splendoured Thing,” Theosophist 127.5 (February 2006): 167-74.]


Horizon

The motto of the Theosophical Society should be well known to all its members. It is “There is no religion higher than Truth,” from the Sanskrit "Satyan nasti paro dharmah." The word “dharma” in that motto has as one of its several meanings “religion.” But the word “dharma” is what linguists call “polysemous,” that is, “having many meanings.” Semantically speaking, “dharma” is a complex, if not limitless, thing.

According to John Grimes’s Concise Dictionary of Indian Philosophy, “dharma” literally means “what holds together.” So, in a sense, the Theosophical motto might be paraphrased as saying that the things which hold us together—including our ideas about what is real and important—are not more important than Truth. Truth in Sanskrit is “satya,” meaning “that which is.” And it is not possible for anything to be higher or more important than what is. If “dharma” is a semantically complex word, Truth is an even more complex reality.

A recent book, Just Trust Me: Finding the Truth in a World of Spin, by G. Randy Kasten (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 2011) distinguishes various kinds of truth: relative, probable, potential, consensus, temporary, contextual, and implied. Without going into that much detail, we might recognize just three kinds: factual (based on documentary evidence), personal (based on an individual’s belief system), and absolute (which is the ultimate reality of the cosmos, or of things as they are, and which is only approximated by human understanding).

Read more: Truth: The Limitless Horizon – part one

God Incarnate – part two

Nicholas Weeks – USA

[This article is based on a talk given in April 2010 at the Krotona Institute in Ojai, California by the author.  References to Echoes of the Orient are from the revised version, 2009-2010.]   

The second chapter begins to teach philosophy, but in such a way that Arjuna is led on gradually step by step to the end of the dialogue; and yet the very first instructions from Krishna are so couched that the end and purpose of the scheme are seen at the beginning.

Although philosophy seems dry to most people, and especially to minds in the Western world who are surrounded by the rush of their new and quite undeveloped civilization, yet it must be taught and understood. It has become the fashion to some extent to [reject] careful study or practice and go in for the rapid methods inaugurated in America. In many places emotional goodness is declared to exceed in value the calmness that results from a broad philosophical foundation, and in others astral wonder seeking, or great strength of mind whether discriminative or not, is given the first rank. Strength without knowledge, and sympathetic tears without the ability to be calm -- in fine, faith without works -- will not save us. And this is one of the lessons of the second chapter.

The greatest of the ancients inculcated by both symbols and books the absolute necessity for the acquirement of philosophical knowledge, inasmuch as strength or special faculties are useless without it... So, whether our strength is that of sympathy or of astral vision, we will be confounded if philosophical knowledge be absent.

But, so as not to be misunderstood, I must answer the question that will be asked, 'Do you then condemn sympathy and love, and preach a cold philosophy only?' By no means. Sympathy and emotion are as much parts of the great whole as knowledge, but inquiring students wish to know all that lies in the path. The office of sympathy, charity, and all other forms of goodness, so far as the effect on us is concerned, is to entitle us to [be helped]. By this exercise we inevitably attract to us those souls who have the knowledge and are ready to help us to acquire it also. But while we ignore philosophy and do not try to attain to right discrimination, we must pass through many lives, many weary treadmills of life, until at last little by little we have been forced, without our will, into the possession of the proper seeds of mental action from which the crop of right discrimination may be gathered.”


Krishna

Arjuna asks Krishna:

As I am affected by compassion and yet fear doing wrong, my mind is bewildered. Tell me truly what may be best for me to do! I am thy disciple, wherefore instruct me in my duty...

Krishna, now the guru -- or spiritual teacher -- of Arjuna, makes a reply [in verses 11-25] which is not excelled anywhere in the poem; pointing out the permanence and eternal nature of the soul, the progress it has to make through reincarnation to perfection, the error of imagining that we really do anything ourselves, and showing how all duties must be performed by him who desires to reach salvation...

Read more: God Incarnate – part two

The Voice of the Silence 1 (Verses 1-5)

John Algeo – USA

[This series is revised from a National Lodge Study Course published by the Theosophical Society in America in 1997.]

The Voice of the Silence is one of many spiritual guidebooks, works intended to provide signposts for living and especially for inner development. Such works tend to be relatively short and aphoristic or poetical, examples from around the world being the Analects of Confucius, the Tao Te Ching of Lao-tzu, the Dhammapada of Buddhism, the Bhagavad Gita of Hinduism, the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, the Sermon on the Mount of Jesus, the Imitation of Christ of Thomas a Kempis, and the Interior Castle of Teresa of Avila.


Silence

In the Theosophical tradition, three such well-known works are Light on the Path by Mabel Collins, At the Feet of the Master by J. Krishnamurti, and The Voice of the Silence by H. P. Blavatsky. The Voice was one of the last two books HPB wrote (the other being The Key to Theosophy) and so is part of her final legacy to us. As the essence of her views on the Theosophical life, it has a special value. All such guidebooks, and especially The Voice, can be approached in a variety of ways, no single way being uniquely right. Readers should use this book in a way that is pertinent to their particular interests and background. Those interested in its historical background can read the very rich and informative introductory essay “How The Voice of the Silence Was Written” by Boris de Zirkoff in the Quest Book centennial edition (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1992).

Read more: The Voice of the Silence 1 (Verses 1-5)

God Incarnate – part one

Nicholas Weeks – USA

[This article is based on a talk given in April 2010 at the Krotona Institute in Ojai, California by the author.  References to Echoes of the Orient are from the revised version, 2009-2010.]   

The second idea is, that man is a being who may be raised up to perfection, to the stature of the Godhead, because he himself is God incarnate. This noble doctrine was in the mind of Jesus, no doubt, when he said that we must be perfect even as is the father in heaven. [Mt 5:48] This is the idea of human perfectibility. It will destroy the awful theory of inherent original sin which has held and ground down the western Christian nations for centuries.”

Whether our True Nature is called Tathagatagarbha, the One, Parabrahm, Ain Soph, God or simply That; the path of perfection leads to it.

Read more: God Incarnate – part one

Soul-Centred Astrology

Gary Kidgell – Scotland

Throughout the ages various keys have been bequeathed as a means of assisting one in treading the spiritual path. Referred to as ‘keys to the mysteries’ they include Alchemy, Numerology, Esoteric Anatomy, the Kabbalah and Esoteric Psychology.

The subject of Esoteric or ‘Soul-Centred’ Astrology has been fashioned as a key to the mysteries for the 21st century. Following on from the pioneering work of Carl Jung and his concept of archetypes and their representation in the human psyche as symbols, Esoteric Astrology provides a key to enable the Higher Self (or Soul, in generic terms) to offer guidance and direction to the personality for the latter to ascertain and implement the Soul’s purpose.

The modern concept of esoteric or soul-centred astrology was first presented to the public by Alice Bailey in her book Esoteric Astrology. Her abstruse work introduced the concept of ‘esoteric rulers’, or planetary rulerships of the signs of the zodiac that differed from their orthodox counterparts and which were applied to those who embark upon the path of spiritual transformation. The contemporary esotericist, Dr Douglas Baker has developed this form of astrology so that it is capable of uniting the individual with the Soul or Higher Self thereby assisting towards the expression of its purpose. This is achieved by means of an astrological ‘language of symbols’ which offers a key which unlocks the door to the unconscious, the realm of archetypes and causation.

Read more: Soul-Centred Astrology

Master K.H. on Occultism.

[From Mahatma Letter 20 (chronological sequence, ed. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., pp. 72-3) or Letter 49 (earlier editions), received at Umballa while A. P. Sinnett was on his way to Simla, August 5, 1881.

The Occult Science is not one in which secrets can be communicated of a sudden, by a written or even verbal communication. If so, all the “Brothers” would have to do, would be to publish a Hand-book of the art which might be taught in schools as grammar is. It is the common mistake of people that we willingly wrap ourselves and our powers in mystery — that we wish to keep our knowledge to ourselves, and of our own will refuse — “wantonly and deliberately” to communicate it. The truth is that till the neophyte attains to the condition necessary for that degree of Illumination to which, and for which, he is entitled and fitted, most if not all of the Secrets are incommunicable. The receptivity must be equal to the desire to instruct. The illumination must come from within. Till then no hocus pocus of incantations, or mummery of appliances, no metaphysical lectures or discussions, no self-imposed penance can give it. All these are but means to an end, and all we can do is to direct the use of such means as have been empirically found by the experience of ages to conduce to the required object. And this was and has been no secret for thousands of years. Fasting, meditation, chastity of thought, word, and deed; silence for certain periods of time to enable nature herself to speak to him who comes to her for information; government of the animal passions and impulses; utter unselfishness of intention, the use of certain incense and fumigations for physiological purposes, have been published as the means since the days of Plato and Iamblichus in the West and since the far earlier times of our Indian Rishis. How these must be complied with to suit each individual temperament is of course a matter for his own experiment and the watchful care of his tutor or Guru. Such is in fact part of his course of discipline, and his Guru or initiator can but assist him with his experience and will power but can do no more until the last and Supreme initiation. I am also of opinion that few candidates imagine the degree of inconvenience — nay suffering and harm to himself — the said initiator submits to for the sake of his pupil. The peculiar physical, moral, and intellectual conditions of neophytes and Adepts alike vary much, as anyone will easily understand; thus, in each case, the instructor has to adapt his conditions to those of the pupil, and the strain is terrible, for to achieve success we have to bring ourselves into a full rapport with the subject under training. And as the greater the powers of the Adept the less he is in sympathy with the natures of the profane who often come to him saturated with the emanations of the outside world, those animal emanations of the selfish, brutal, crowd that we so dread — the longer he was separated from that world and the purer he has himself become, the more difficult the self-imposed task. Then — knowledge can only be communicated gradually; and some of the highest secrets — if actually formulated even in your well prepared ear — might sound to you as insane gibberish, notwithstanding all the sincerity of your present assurance that “absolute trust defies misunderstanding.” This is the real cause of our reticence. This is why people so often complain with a plausible show of reason that no new knowledge is communicated to them, though they have toiled for it for two, three or more years. Let those who really desire to learn abandon all and come to us, instead of asking or expecting us to go to them. But how is this to be done in your world, and atmosphere?

A Warning Addressed to All Esotericists

H. P. Blavatsky


H. P. Blavatsky

[The opening paragraphs of “Esoteric School, Instruction No. 1, 1890,” in Collected Writings 12:515.]

There is a strange law in Occultism which has been ascertained and proven by thousands of years of experience; nor has it failed to demonstrate itself, almost in every case, during the fifteen years that the T. S. has been in existence. As soon as anyone pledges himself as a “Probationer,” certain occult effects ensue. Of these the first is the throwing outward of everything latent in the nature of the man: his faults, habits, qualities, or subdued desires, whether good, bad, or indifferent.

Read more: A Warning Addressed to All Esotericists

The Voice of the Silence: Bringing the Heart Doctrine to the West

Nancy Reigle – USA

[Reprinted here from Blavatsky’s Secret Books: Twenty Years of Research (San Diego, CA: Wizards Bookshelf, 1999), pp. 139-48, with formal modifications for Theosophy Forward house style.]

Among the many works that Madame Blavatsky brought before the public, The Voice of the Silence was unique in its appeal to the heart and spirit of humanity. Throughout, it repeatedly demands the greatest compassion that one is capable of towards one’s fellow human beings.

According to Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence comes from ‘‘The Book of the Golden Precepts,” which “forms part of the same series as that from which the ‘Stanzas’ of the Book of Dzyan were taken, on which the Secret Doctrine is based.”1 She says that the Book of the Golden Precepts “contains about ninety dis¬tinct little treatises,” thirty-nine of which she had memorized.2  Three of these she translated into English for us in The Voice of the Silence, which we know as the ‘‘Three Fragments.” One can surmise that she studied these treatises under the tutelage of her Adept teachers during her stay in Little Tibet and Tibet proper, which she refers to in her writings.3

Read more: The Voice of the Silence: Bringing the Heart Doctrine to the West

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