Lucifer7, February 2004


Contents

Short Quotes
Editorial
New On Katinka Hesselink Net
There is Enlightenment, and then there's Enlightenment (4)
Dialogue on Living and Dying, Jiddu Krishnamurti
Bardo Thodol , the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Victor Endersby
The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, Sogyal Rinpoche (short quote)
The Final Visitor, George Cardinal LeGros
Review - The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, volume 1, 1861-1879, editor
News on the Religious Front, editor
Joke, Ken Wilber

Short Quotes

Whatever treasures of meritorious deeds there may be fundamental (for the kammic [=karmic] future), altogether they are worth not even one sixteenth of loving-kindness (which is) emancipation of thought. Loving-kindness transcends them; it shines and glows and radiates ...

...

If with a well-disposed mind somebody shows loving-kindness towards one single being, he obtains happiness. He who with compassionate mind (shows loving-kindness) towards all beings, this noble person creates (for himself)abundant merit.

(Itiv 27 pp. 19+21, quoted in Hans Wolfgang Schumann, Buddhism, an Outline of its Teachings and Schools p. 76)
(See also the Metta Sutra)

Buddha, Dhammapada, Translation Juan Mascaro

129 All beings tremble before danger, all fear death. When a man considers this, he does not kill or cause to kill.
131 He who for the sake of happiness hurths others who also want happiness, shall not hereafter find happiness.

Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself, Chapter X

Because it is immensely easier to find reasons for our feelings than feelings for our reasons and because the search for personal satisfaction is immensely more attractive than the search for impersonal intellectual truths, mysticism has always received more adherents than metaphysics.


Editorial

Two themes this month: enlightenment and death. With thanks to Jake Jaqua for the Richard Rose quote. The editorial notes in that article are his. He is also responsible for giving me access to Victor Endersby's work and that of George Cardinal LeGros. The work Jake Jaqua has done will have a considerable impact on Lucifer7 for years to come. In most cases I won't be able to acknowledge this.

The invitation to contribute material to this e-zine still stands, by the way. Readers that want to contribute may want to write about their thoughts on why religious rituals are useful, or not.


New On Katinka Hesselink Net

Search option. With the help of google you can search my website for any subject.

Dutch/ Nederlands

Nieuw E-zine: Hermes7. Houdt je op de hoogte van veranderingen op het Nederlandstalige deel van Katinka Hesselink Net

There is Enlightenment, and then there's Enlightenment (4)

Letter No. 123, Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett

what better cause for reward, what better discipline, than the daily and hourly performance of duty? Believe me my “pupil,” the man or woman who is placed by Karma in the midst of small plain duties and sacrifices and loving-kindness, will through these faithfully fulfilled rise to the larger measure of Duty, Sacrifice and Charity to all Humanity — what better path towards the enlightenment you are striving after than the daily conquest of Self, the perseverance in spite of want of visible psychic progress, the bearing of ill-fortune with that serene fortitude which turns it to spiritual advantage — since good and evil are not to be measured by events on the lower or physical plane. — Be not discouraged that your practice falls below your aspirations, yet be not content with admitting this, since you clearly recognise that your tendency is too often towards mental and moral indolence, rather inclining to drift with the currents of life, than to steer a direct course of your own. Your spiritual progress is far greater than you know or can realize, and you do well to believe that such development is in itself more important than its realization by your physical plane consciousness.

Why should one meditate and what is meditation? J. Krishnamurti, p. 87,88 The Light in Oneself

Why should one meditate and what is meditation? You know, if you looked out of your window in the morning and saw the extraordinary beauty of the morning light, distant mountains, and the light on the water, and if you observed without the word, without saying to yourself, "how beautiful that is," if you observed completely and were totally attentive in that observation, your mind must have been completely quiet. Otherwise you cannot observe, otherwise you cannot listen. So meditation is the quality of mind that is completely attentive and silent. It is only then that you can see the flower, the beauty of it, the color of it, the shape of it, and it is only then that the distance between you and the flower ceases. Not that you identify yourself with the flower, but the time element that exists between you and that, the distance, disappears. And you can only observe very clearly when there is nonverbal, nonpersonal but attentive observation in which there is no center as the "me." That is meditation.

Spiritual Experiences*, Richard Rose

....never get the idea that a spiritual experience of this sort is pleasant or blissful. Now that doesn't mean that all spiritual experiences are not blissful. People often think that all spiritual experiences are the same - this isn't true.

Ramana Maharshi was a teacher who Paul Brunton supposedly discovered in India some years ago. And his book The Spiritual Teachings of Ramana Maharshi [Title?? - ed.] was the first one that I saw that describes the differences in what are called spiritual exaltations.

He describes the differences between what we call cosmic consciousness (Kevala Nirvikalpa Samadhi) and enlightenment (Sahaja Nirvikalpa Samadhi.)** He describes them very accurately in plain and simple terms.

He said that Kevala Samadhi is a situation in which the mind is like a bucket attached to the end of a rope and lying in the bottom of a well. The mind is dropped down in meditation but at any time it can pull itself back out. It is no great travail to go down into the bottom of the well, rest awhile, and it's no great travail to come back up. This is the cosmic consciousness experience.

Now there are other "exaltations," and this is where the confusion comes in - the confusion is in Zen as well. Every word that describes spiritual experience is not synonymous with the others that describe spiritual experiences. We have words like nirvana, moksha, samadhi, and satori, which are not all the same, if you go by the descriptions of the experience in the different accounts.

Satori is an experience anterior to, prior to cosmic consciousness, not beyond it or superior to it. Because it is described as a relative experience. Cosmic consciousness is a relative experience - enlightenment is an absolute experience.

There is a book Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Bucke which gives several accounts: Christ, St. Paul, Buddha, St. John of the Cross, Pascal, Mohammed. They all have a common denominator in that the person experienced ecstasy, witnessed colour, light, beauty, and found peace within his heart. This is a relative experience.

The enlightenment experience is the experience of nothingness and everythingness, - and it is said this way because neither of them is the experience. It is paradoxical or untrue to call it just nothingness, because it's not oblivion. But it is the knowledge, or rather the being or entry into nothingness and every-thingness. And that is the total experience.

Now we go back and we hear a person talking about salvation. He says, "I have reached the paramount experience. I'm saved," And I realized a long time ago that the person describing this experience did not have the same thing as cosmic consciousness.

Or you pick up a book on Zen and you read about satori, which is the "wow" experience. A fellow says, "I went to such-and-such ashram, I stayed there so many months or years, and one day - Wow, I knew it! And I had a beer with the head master and we went away laughing together - we got it!" This is not enlightenment, because if this man had enlightenment they would have carried him out on a stretcher - it's that drastic. You don't die and then laugh and say "Wow." Death is more final than that.

Footnotes

* Reprinted from The Direct-Mind Experience, p. 84-86, TAT Book Service, 1986, Marshall, Benwood, West Virginia 26031
** I believe this latter experience is identical with the fourth initiation as described in Theosophical literature, or self-consciousness of the human monad.-Ed.

Dialogue on living and dying

Jiddu Krishnamurti to himself, His last journal, p. 22-33

[questioner] I would like to have a dialogue with you, if I may, about what is the meaning of it all - this whole business of living and dying. Is it all utterly meaningless, vague, without any depth, without any significance whatsoever? Millions have died and millions will be born and continue and die. I am one of those. I always ask myself: what is the meaning of living and dying? The earth is beautiful, I have travelled a great deal, talked to many people who are supposed to be wise and learned, but they too die.

...

[J.K.] Doubt is a precious thing. It cleanses, purifies the mind. The very questioning, the very fact that the seed of doubt is in one, helps to clarify our investigation. Not only doubting what all the others have said, including the whole concept of regeneration, and the Christian belief and dogma of resurrection, but also the Asiatic world's acceptance that there is continuity. In doubting, questioning all that, there is a certain freedom which is necessary for our enquiry. If one can put all that aside, actually, not merely verbally but negate all that deep within oneself, then one has no illusion. And it is necessary to be totally free from any kind of illusion - the illusions that are imposed upon us and the illusions that we create for ourselves. All illusions are the things taht we play with, and if one is serious then they have no place whatsoever, nor does faith come into all this.

So having set aside all that, not for the moment but seeing the falseness of all that, the mind is not caught in the falsehood that man has invented about death, about god, about all the rituals that thought has created. There must be freedom of opinion and judgement, for then only can one deliberateley, actually, hesitantly explore into the meaning of daily living and dying - existence and the end of existence. If one is prepared for this, or if one is willing, or even better if one is actually, deeply concerned to find out the truth of the matter (living and dying is a very complex problem, an issue that requires a very careful examination) where should we begin? With life or with death? With living or with the ending of that which we call living?
...

[Q] on the death of my wife and children, I began this enquiry. As happens to all human beings, it was a shock, a pain - the loss of the three, the memories associated with them. And when the shock of it was over I began to enquire, to read, to ask, to travel in different parts of the world, talking the matter over with some of the socalled spiritual leaders, the gurus. I read a great deal but I was never satisfied. So I think we ought to begin, if I may suggest, with the actual living - the daily building up of my cultivated, circumscribed mind. And I am that. You see, my life has been that. My life is nothing exceptional. Probably I would be considered upper middle class, and for a time it was pleasurable, exciting, and at other times dull, weary, and monotonous. But the death of my wife and children somehow pulled me out of that. I haven't become morbid but I want to know the truth of it all, if there is such a thing as truth about living and dying.

[JK] How is the psyche, the ego, the self, the I, the person, put together? How has this thing come into being, from which arises the concept of the individual, the "me", separate from all others? How is this momentum set going - this momentum, this sense of the I, the self? We will use the word "self" to include the person, the name, the form, the characteristics, the ego. How is this self born? Does the self come into being with certain characteristics transmitted from the parents? Is the self merely a series of reactions? Is the self merely the continuity of centuries of tradition? Is the self put together by circumstances, through accidents, happenings? Is the self the result of evolution - evolution being the gradual process of time, emphasizing, giving importance to the self? Or, as some maintain, especially the religious world, does the outward shell of the self really contain within itself the soul and the ancient concept of the Hindus, of the Buddhists? Does the self come into being through the society which man has created, which gives strength to the formula that you are separate from the rest of humanity? All these have certain truths in them, certain facts, and all these contain the self. And the self has been given tremendous importance in this world. The expression of the self in the democratic world is called freedom, and in the totalitarian world, that freedom is suppressed, denied and punished. So would you say that instinct begins in the child with the urge to possess? This also exists in the animals, so perhaps we have derived from the animals this instinct to possess. Where there is any kind of possession there must be the beginning of the self. And from this instinct, this reaction, the self gradually increases in strength, in vitality, and becomes well-established.
...

[Q] I see what you are driving at. I have an intuitive comprehension, cognizance, that as long as I think that I am an individual, my thinking is separate from the thinking of others - my anxiety, my sorrow is separate from the rest of humanity. I have a feeling - please correct me - that I have reduced a vast complex living of the rest of mankind to a very small, petty little affair. Are you saying in effect that I am not an individual at all? My thinking is not mine? And my brain is not mine, separate from others? Is this what you are hinting at? Is this what you are maintaining? Is this your conclusion?

[J.K.] If one may point out, the word "conclusion" isn't justified. To conclude means to shut down, to end ... Such an assertion limits, brings narrowness into our enquiry. But the fact, the observable rational fact, is that your thinking and the thinking of another are similar. ... You may think my sorrow is entirely different from another's, that my loneliness, my desperation, are wholly opposite to another's. Our tradition is that, our conditioning is that, we are educated to that - I am an Arab, you are a Jew, and so on. And from this division there arises not only individuality but the communal racial difference. The individual identifying himself with a community, with a nation, with a race, with a religion invariably brings conflict between human beings.

... [the conversation was ended here - then the man came back a few days later, having understood the above. Coming back to the subject of death and dying, the following was said.]

[J.K.] This is utterly important to understand. It is so: the self is put together by thought. Thought is not, as we have said, yours or mind; thinking is not individual thinking. Thinking is shared by all human beings. And when one has really deeply seen the significance of this, then I think we can understand the nature of what it means to die.

As a boy you must have followed a small stream gurgling along a narrow little valey, the waters running faster and faster, and having thrown something, such as a piece of stick, into the stream and followed it, down a slope, over a little mound, through a little crevasse - followed it untill it went over the waterfall and disappeared. This disappearance is our life.

What does death mean? What is the very word, the threatening feeling about it? We never seem to accept it.

[I have added [Q] for Questioner and [J.K.] for Jiddu Krishnamurti. This does not occur in the text of the journal. I have also deleted part of the text. This is signified by three dots: ... - KH]


Bardo Thodol, the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Victor Endersby

[This is a quote from a review, published in the Canadian Theosophist, Nov-Dec, 1958, Jan-Feb, 1959. The relevance for our newsletter is the comparison of the practice of Tibetan Lama's at somebody's deathbead and what the Theosophical Mahatmas had to say on this subject. The two are very different, leading to the conclusion on the part of Endersby that the former practice black magic. I deleted the one sentence here that refers to the book under review, which isn't relevant to the rest of the quote. See also a quote from Sogyal Rinpoche added below for further contrast.]

Let us compare: in this ritual, as death approaches, the dying man is attended by a priest who talks to him constantly, from then until three days after death ... giving him directions, instructions, descriptions of the various beings, gods, apparitions, he is meeting in the astral world on his journey. These apparitions seem to have a stereotyped symbolism in Tibet, which is explained to the beneficiary - or victim, who is not left for one moment during the death transition without this dogma pounding into his ears.

Now hear the authentic teaching of the real Mahatmas:

"We create ourselves our Devachan as our avitchi while yet on earth and mostly during the latter days and even moments of our intellectual, sentient lives. That feeling which is the strongest in us at that supreme hour; when, as in a dream, the events of a long life, to their minutest detail, are marshalled in the greatest order in a few seconds of our vision - that feeling will become the fashioner of our bliss or woe, the life principle of our future existence . . . " and "The dying brain dislodges memory with a strong supreme impulse . . . the man may often appear dead . . . yet from the last pulsation . . . the brain thinks and the Ego lives over in those few brief seconds his whole life again.  Speak in whispers, ye who assist at a death bed and find yourselves in the solemn presence of Death. Especially have you to keep quiet just after Death has laid her clammy hand upon the body. Speak in whispers, I say, lest you disturb the quiet ripple of thought, and hinder the busy work of the Past casting its reflections upon the veil of the future." - Mahatma Letters.

Thus - the practice of the Bardo Thodol is a device for aborting the whole fruition of a lifetime, confusing the after-death states hopelessly, and throwing the victim into some strange and abnormal limbo from which he will be reborn more tightly than ever in the throes of the dogmas of red lamaism.  It is of course his karma, a part of which is signified by finding himself in the hands of a Red Hat priest to start with at death.  Heaven help us if that notion is ever introduced here in a practical way! Yet it has an appeal to the weak, the fearful of death, who are presented with an "infallible" guidance through the ordeal of death as in life.


The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

Sogyal Rinpoche, p. 269

This has led to a custom in Tibet of making sure that the body is not touched or disturbed for three days after death. It is especially important in the case of a practitioner, who may have merged with the Ground Luminosity and be resting in that state of the nature of mind. I remember in Tibet how everyone took great care to maintain a silent and peaceful atmosphere around the body, particularly in the case of a great master or practitioner, to avoid causing the slightest disturbance.


The Final Visitor

Messiah #74, April-May, 1988, George Cardinal LeGros

We are visited by may things as the years go by, and the final visitor is Death. Turn where we may, we cannot escape him. Into life's happiest hours his gray shadow falls, reminding us of his inevitable coming. All men must bow before him and yield up their treasures - the emperor his scepter and throne, the fool his cap and bells. In a world of vivid Life, Death is King.

We have a choice: we can let die now the insatiable thirsts and appetites of our personalities - starve the false hungers out of them until they are translucent, clean-washed, emptied of all poisonous debris, and thus fit to serve the gods that we essentially are. We can do it, or let death do it for us - perhaps thousands of deaths repeated through the ages.

Why does death hold such terror for man? Bercause he still idenitifies himself with that part of his nature which death must strike down. To fear death is to be submerged in the animal self that was born to die, and should die because it represents nothing worthy of immortality. Transcend the beast and you will not fear death. You will stand free on the plateau of Eternity.

Learn to love the Divine Self in the one YOU love, and help him or her to love the Divine Self in you. Then death's cold shadow will never fall between you because you will live, now and hereafter, in the world of the Undying. There is no separation in the Eternal. We are One Life, One Radiance, One Glory! You are I, I am You, and we are the ONE forever!


Review - The Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, volume 1, 1861-1879

Katinka Hesselink

H.P. Blavatsky is well known inside and outside theosophical circles for her classic 'The Secret Doctrine'. It is still, after more than a century, a bestseller. Less well known and well read are her many articles - collected by Boris de Zirkoff in the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings (C.W.). For years there have been rumors among theosophical students that a collection of her letters was in the works. The history of this volume is long and already contested, which is why this review mentions it to the extent that it does. Boris de Zirkoff had already started a collection of letters by H.P. Blavatsky. These letters form a large percentage of the letters as published in this volume. He also translated many letters from the Russian, this is usually the translation that is used here. After de Zirkoff's death, John Cooper became heir to his collection and found more letters. The preface of this volume puts it like this:
His expansion of the known corpus of Blavatsky Letters was his most significant contribution to the project...
After John Cooper's death, it became clear that, for several reasons, his work on the letters could not be used directly. One of those reasons was the discovery that the texts of many of the letters - both those de Zirkoff had collected but not fully edited and those Cooper had added to the known corpus - were not accurate. Consequently, when the Theosophical Society in America [of the Adyar-Theosophical Society -editor Lucifer7] resumed the task of preparing the letters for publication and appointed John Algeo as its new editor, assisted by the Editorial Committee for the Letters of H.P. Blavatsky, all of the texts had to be regathered to assure their accuracy and fidelity to the best original sources. That task was performed personally by John and Adele Algeo for most of the letters. [Letters, p. XV]

I've added this historical information because in theos-talk, an online e-mailgroup, even before the book was out, a threat was made by the lawyer of the heirs of John Coooper at John and Adele if the volume would be too much edited or resemble too closely the work of John Cooper. In the preface of the book this threat is kindly not mentioned. Still, I think it is one of the reasons why John Cooper's work could not be used directly. According to their lawyer the heirs wanted to be informed of all changes John Algeo made to the manuscript John Cooper had left. They were afraid that the Algeos would live up the reputation of the TS-adyar (*) of deleting that which wasn't pleasant to HPB's reputation or the reputation of the TS. 

As I've now seen the volume talked about and read the reasons the Algeos give of their actions, I feel that the Coopers need not worry. Every letter is accompanied by a careful explanation on how the text of the letter was found, what the source was, who translated what etc. etc. The scholarship apparent in this volume is tremendous. John Algeo lives up to the fullest extent to his reputation as a scholar and a writer. There are historical essays in this volume that explain many if not most of the historical background of the situations Blavatsky got into. The series (three more volumes are in progress) attempts to be a complete series. And it certainly doesn't look like anything has been deleted.

This volume is like meeting Blavatsky for the first time. The biographies of Blavatsky that were current (till now) described HPB from the outside. They had to, because most her letters weren't available. This is the first volume that shows us Blavatsky as she presented herself to her correspondents, at the beginning of her theosophical carrreer. We meet Blavatsky as a fiery person, full of humor and devotion to her cause. We read along with her despairs, at having to loose her leg, for instance (though in the end she didn't loose it), her joys and worries. She comes across as honest, kind, misunderstood, serious and sometimes playful.

If meeting HPB wasn't enough reason to read this volume - her explanations on mediumship are more fresh here than in her articles. Perhaps it isn't surprising, as most of her articles at that time were written on the defence. Her letters were written mostly to people who sympathised with her. It is hard to know where to stop in praise of this book. The index is fabulous, and is also an extensive glossary. The lettering is beautiful, the cover is great and the notes are as thorough as anybody could wish. 

All in all the book gives the appearance of being the best mix between what a scholar needs in a book and what the general reader needs in a book. The scholar needs as many details as possible. The general reader needs a bit of historical background written in a style that is fluent and easily comprehensible. Both standards have been met in this book, I'd say. It isn't often that this can be said of a book. In short: if you're interested in theosophy, blavatsky or theosophical history: this book is a must-read.

(*) It is common knowledge among serious students of theosophy that in various modern reprints of books after the death of their author, changes have been made by the publisher [this can be said of every theosophical publishing company by the way - excepting perhaps Point Loma Publications - but in this note I refer only to changes as made by the publishing houses connected to the Theosophical Society with headquarters in Adyar, India]. This started with A Modern Panarion, a selection of articles by H.P. Blavatsky, edited by Annie Besant and G.R.S. Mead. It has continued up to the present time with for instance the volume 'A Study in Consciousness', by Annie Besant. Those who would accuse the TS-Adyar that this is a trend, and therefore her publications in general can't be trusted to be literal, forget one thing. As far as I'm aware, each and every one of these books has a comment in the preface explaining what changes have been made. Most of them have a similar (though obviously shorter) text on the cover of the book. Whether these descriptions of the changes that have been made are always accurate is another issue. But in each case the publishers have reported that changes had been made. The book under review here gives every sign one can think of that the editors have tried to be as literal as possible with the text as H.P. Blavatsky wrote it. Major differences with other versions of letters as published elsewhere are included in the notes. Variant or wrong spelling on H.P. Blavatsky's part is left standing - and often discussed in the notes as well. There are probably mistakes left, even in this book. But no book is without mistakes. 

News on the Religious Front

Katinka Hesselink

There has been a chair in Metaphysics in light of Theosophy in the Netherlands (university Leiden) since 1958. The first professor on this chair was Dr. J.J. Poortman, author of 'Vehicles of Consciousness' a four volume classic. Professors that came after him were less prominent internationally, though each in their own way prominent in the Dutch theosophical scene. They were Dr. J.H. Dubbink and recently Dr. W.H. van Vledder. Dr. W.H. van Vledder retired a few years ago. The foundation Proklos, which is responsible for this chair, has found a new candidate. His name is Prof. dr J.L.F. Gerding and he has made name for himself in the field of parapsychology. He has written a book 'Het voertuig van de ziel' (the vehicle of the soul) with dr. H. van Dongen which includes chapters on NDE, alternative health, the Absolute, theosophy and extrasensorial observation. His first lectures will have the subject 'Synchronicity and Transcendence'.

As seems almost inevitable there has been a response to the article in the Dutch magazine of the Leiden University 'Mare'. The article in Mare focussed mainly on the parapsychological aspect of Gerding's research. In response there was a letter which denied the very existence of parapsychological phenomena.

Bijzonder Hoogleraar Metafysica in de geest van de Theosofie

A related university course that got a lot of press in the Theosophical History Conference in London last summer is the new 'Centre in Western Esotericism at the University of Wales Lampeter'. A full MA in Western Esotericism supported by four course tutors and other university staff will admit students in September 2004. Dr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke has attained a Research Fellowship in Western Esotericism at the University of Wales Lampeter in 2002. Dr. Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke did the opening and closing lectures of the Theosophical History Conference. He also introduced his MA course to the public.

Centre in Western Esotericism at the University of Wales Lampeter


Joke

Ken Wilber, One Taste, saturday, june 14

"My problems start when the smarter bears and the dumber visitors intersect." Yosemite Park official Steve Thompson
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