Lucifer7, September 2003
New on Katinkahesselink.net
The Astral Tramp, A biography of Sepharial (review)
Buddhism, quote from Hans Wolfgang Schuman
a Ken Wilber Quote
Ceremonies, Katinka Hesselink
Joke, Jiddu Krishnamurti
Short Quote The possible truths, hazily perceived
in the world of abstraction, like those inferred from observation and
the world of matter, are forced upon the profane multitudes, too busy
to think for themselves, under the form of Divine revelation and
authority. But the same question stands open from the days of Socrates
and Pilate down to our own age of wholesale negation: is there such
a thing as absolute truth in the hands of any one party or man? Reason
answers, "there cannot be." There is no room for absolute truth upon
any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is
himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we
can of them.
H.P. Blavatsky, Lucifer, February,
1888. See for full article: http://www.blavatsky.net/blavatsky/arts/WhatIsTruth.htm
This newsletter is conducted on the lines of the three objects of the
Theosophical Society (Adyar) - especially the second. These three
- To form a nucleus of the
Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed,
sex, caste or colour.
- To encourage the study of
comparative religion, philosophy and science.
investigate unexplained laws of nature and powers latent in
For a magazine it is
difficult to practice the first object - though I will try to keep
criticism as impersonal as possible, rather criticizing principles than
persons. And where persons
are criticized - to give them or their adherents the opportunity
of responding. In many cases I will present various sides of an issue.
The comparative study of religion, philosophy and
science will take up the main part of this newsletter. This will be
done by publishing extracts from various religious, spiritual and
philosophical sources as well as by publishing articles which actively
religions, philosophies and science (or aspects of each). The third
object is interpreted by me mainly as an encouragement to investigate
the hidden powers of love, wisdom and intelligence in ourselves. The
discovery of these will automatically, in my opinion, lead
automatically to a firmer understanding of nature and the relationship
and the universe.
Contributions along these lines
When there are letters from readers,
these will get their own section in this newsletter. The editor retains
the right to shorten these as she sees fit. Katinka
In English P.
Krishna on Krishnamurti and the Theosophical Society (and more
Questions and Answers)
P. Krishna Questions and Answers
The Five Precepts (from Buddhism) - Pancha Sila or Pansil, a modern
interpretation, by Katinka Hesselink
In Dutch De Maha Mangala Soetta - over 38 goede
Neem afstand van datgene wat niet van u is, bhikkhoes ...
Stromingen in het Occultisme, Sastry
De grottempels in het dal van de Boyne en hun bouwers, door E. O.
Astral Tramp, A biography of Sepharial (review)
Katinka Hesselink Kim Farnell has written a book that pulls
one of the early theosophists and co-workers of H.P. Blavatsky out of
the shadows. The name Sepharial will hardly ring a bell with many
theosophists. This was the name
he used in astrological circles, where the use of a pseudonym was
accepted practice. In theosophical circles Sepharial was known as
Walter Old (which was his birth name).
review mostly centers on his involvement with theosophy and the
Theosophical Society. He started corresponding with H.P. Blavatsky in
1887, joined the Blavatsky Lodge and the
Inner Group and became a frequent speaker at lodge meetings in London
and Birmingham. It was Blavatsky who gave him the nickname of Astral
Tramp, from which the title of the book stems. His list of activities
in theosophical circles goes on and on. He was Editor of the Vahan,
general secretary of the British Section, leading a study group in
Chapel etc. When H.P. Blavatsky died, he was the one holding her hand.
After her death he did not waver in his devotion to theosophy. He
new lodges, attended meetings where he could and lectured in each of
them, aside from continuing many of the activities I mentioned before
So why is his name not better known in
theosophical circles? The answer is pretty simple. Walter Old was
involved in the Judge Case, the row which eventually led to the
splitting of the Theosophical Movement into various organizations. It
was in fact the material Walter Old brought with him on his trip to
Adyar that convinced Colonel Elicit that W.Q. Judge was not sending
through messages from the Masters, but was only pretending to do so.
For all those interested in this argument, this book gives the side of
the person who brought it out into the open. In theosophical circles
the side of Judge has generally been taken as the true one, probably to
a large extent because he has been defended by his followers a lot more
vehemently than Olcott and Annie Besant have been.
After reading this book, it seems to me that Olcott and Annie Besant
were in a very tight fix. On the one hand they (and Walter Old) had
vowed not to slander anybody who was a member of the Esoteric Section.
This made Judge in effect unapproachable. Weirdly enough this aspect of
the situation has hardly been stressed, though it was probably
the reason Walter Old was expelled from the Esoteric Section. On the
other hand, Judge was in a position of leadership, both in the
Theosophical Society in the USA, as well as in the Esoteric Section.
Judge were co-heads of this organization. If such a position of
is misused, other leaders are usually thought to have the
responsibility of doing something about it. So they did. In the end
Judge got off on
a technicality. What would have happened next, if Walter Old hadn't
intervened, is something history doesn't say. Walter, clearly unhappy
about the result, made the documents public, that had convinced Colonel
Olcott, by sending them to a newspaper. Walter Old became very
unpopular and eventually
resigned from the Theosophical Society.
this he continued to be an active astrologer and had quite an
interesting life, reading about which will help one understand esoteric
history in the first half of the twentieth century a lot better.
The Astral Tramp, a biography of Sepharial, by Kim Farnell,
Published by Acella Publications, 1998. ISBN 1-898503-88-5
The book is available by ordering it from the author:
Hans Wolfgang Schuman, Buddhism, an
outline of its teachings and schools, p. 52-54 Our present
existence is the result of deeds performed by ourselves in previous
existences. The body is an 'old deed'(S 12, 37, 3 II p. 65 - ), and
to suffer means to endure kammic [karmic] effects, that is to lie on
the bed one has made. Our future forms of existence are determined by
our actions of today; we are now laying the foundations of our future
'fate'. Kamma [karma] in the view of Hinayana is a
neutral law that admits no exception or interference, but of which, by
acting accordingly, man can avail himself in order to obtain the
rebirth wished for. No need to mention that even the happiest rebirth
is not yet liberation.
It would be quite wrong to interpret
the doctrine of kamma along deterministic lines. Only the quality, that
is the social surrounding, the physical appearance and the mental
abilities of a person are fixed by the deeds of his previous
existences, but in no way his actions.
Without cognising free will as a philosophical problem, Gotama takes
it for granted that the innate character of each being leaves him the
freedom to decide about the actions which determine his future.
Wholesome deeds help man to achieve better rebirth and thus bring him
nearer to salvation; they do not, however, lead straight to liberation,
to riddance of all rebirth. Deeds are something finite and cannot bear
fruit beyond the finite. Even the best obtainable form of existence
still lies within the cycle of rebirths. Nevertheless, Gotama does not
disapprove of action in general:
action ... as well as non-action ... I teach the non-performance of bad
deeds with body ... speech and thought, of the many bad, unwholesome
things ... I teach the performance of good deeds with body ... speech
and thought, of the many wholesome things. But if wholesome actions entangle
man as much in samsara as unwholesome deeds, how
should one act? Is it advisable, is it at all possible, to abstain from
(A 2,4,3 I p. 62
The Buddha's answer is a psychological one. It is
not the action in itself, he explains, which determines the kammic
future, but its
motive, the mental attitude preceding it: Not the execution of the
but the action-intention (sankhara or cetana) shapes
future existence. Supposing somebody is prevented from executing an
intended action by outer circumstances: The bare action-intention
suffices to produce the corresponding kammic effect. Only those deeds
are free from kammic results which the seeker for liberation performs
without greed, hatred and delusion.
deed, monks, has been performed without greed, without hatred and free
from delusion ... after greed, hatred (and) delusion were done away
with - this deed is annihilated, cut off at the root,
made similar to a rooted-out palm tree, prevented from becoming (i.e.
kammic ripening), in future not subject to the law of becoming. This is the
Buddhist way to liberation: to act but without greed for success, free
from the wish to harm anybody and with reason. If
there were no possibility of performing good deeds without becoming
by kamma, the enchainment of man with samsara would
be indissoluble, and he would have no chance of ever escaping from
(A 3,33,2 I p. 135 - )
The fact that the rebirth-existence is
determined more by the mental attitude of the doer than by the actual
deed furthermore entails that the same deed may yield different effects
with different persons. An action which influences an ethically
unstable person for a long time in a negative way may in the case of an
ethically sound person be confined to minimal effects. A lump of salt
in a cup makes its contents undrinkable, the same amount of salt in the
river Ganges leaves the water as it was. (A 3, 99 I p. 249 ff. - )
Footnotes  Samyuttanikaya, PTS edition
 Anguttaranikaya, PTS edition
Ken Wilber, Sex, Ecology, Spirituality, p. 206 In the
meantime, it seems to be the case that the vast majority of the world's
population does not now need ways to get beyond
rationality, but ways to get up to it. The great mass of the world's
social holons [that is: social units like states, peer groups,
groups, family etc.-KH] are still caught in magic and warring
tribalisms based on blood and ethnic lineage, or in mythological
remnants of Marxism as a mythic-rational "world religion"; Christian
and Muslim fundamentalists who would "convert" (coerce) the world;
mythic-religious missionaries with a global and proselytizing fury;
a type of national-economic imperialism bordering on a mythology of the
leading developed countries; and - strangest of all - a dissolution of
some of the great modern mythic-imperialist States into their tribal
subholons, bathed in blood and kinship lineage and tribal warfare on a
vicious scale: the retribalization of large portions of the world.
Katinka Hesselink There is a belief current in the
Theosophical Society (Adyar) that ceremonies may do a lot of good. This
has its historical roots in the time of C.W. Leadbeater and Annie
Besant, when many such initiatives were started or reactivated. Well
known examples are co-freemasonry,
the Liberal Catholic Church and Round Table. There are many more, most
of them cloaked in silence. There is also in the Theosophical Society
Adyar the belief that H.P. Blavatsky would not have condoned these
rituals, that she in fact spoke out against them. Well, it isn't as
simple as that. H.P. Blavatsky spent much of her time defending the
reality of things occult, such as ghosts, pagan rituals when performed
by a sorceror, etc. She defended their reality. She also spoke against
selfish use of such powers. One example of this is what she said on
A ceremony to furnish the shell
“with an armor” against terrestrial attraction need not be repeated “a
number of years” to become efficacious, could it but be performed by a
person versed in the knowledge of
the Magi of old. One such ceremony on the night of death would suffice.
But where is the Mobed or priest capable of performing it now? It
requires a true occultist—and these are not found at every street
corner. Hence it becomes useless to add ruin to the living, since the
What she did speak against were dead-letter ceremonies
or in other words, ceremonies where the real occult happenings did
not occur. For instance in her famous article "The Roots of Ritualism
in Church and Masonry" she says:
(Collected Writings, Volume 5, p. 104; The
Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 11(47), August, 1883, p. 286.)
Mysteries had become so universal that persons of all ranks and
conditions, in every country, men, women, and children, all
were initiated! Initiation had become as necessary in his day as
baptism has since become with the Christians; and, as the latter is
now, so the former had become then — i.e., meaningless, and a purely
dead-letter ceremony of mere form. Still later, the fanatics of the
new religion laid their heavy hand on the Mysteries.
So I guess, to find out whether the ceremonies performed by many
members of the Theosophical Society are meaningless and dead-letter
ceremonies - we have to find out two things.
I feel that it is up to those performing these ceremonies to judge that
for themselves. I only want to add that if they don't know for
themselves that these ceremonies work, they are not living
up to these words of caution, given to Annie Besant in 1900:
is the motive for performing these ceremonies?
something really occult happening, or is it merely a fancy gathering
with people in nice clothes doing strange things?
T.S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed. Says a Tibetan
proverb ‘credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy’. Because if one doesn't know for oneself that
works, it is credulity to believe that it does. The letter ends with:
The T.S. was meant to be the corner-stone of the
future religions of humanity. To accomplish this object those who lead
aside their weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any
particular creed and show themselves to be true Theosophists both in
inner thoughts and outward observance.
This of course implies that though the leaders have the responsibility
to leave behind the forms and ceremonies they are used
to, each individual member is free to stay in whatever religious format
he/she chooses. Still, it seems to me that individual members also
need to ask themselves: do I know this is true? Do I know this works?
footnote Both quotes are from: http://www.katinkahesselink.net/lastkh.htm
"It's like the husband whose pregnant wife is about to give
When they arrive at the hospital, the man asks her,
are you sure you want to go through with this?"
(meant to show that choice isn't always relevant)
P. 19, The Kitchen Chronicles: 1001 Lunches with J. Krishnamurti.
More of these at: http://www.katinkahesselink.net/kr/jokes.html
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