The main conclusion from my research on the TS-seal is that the TS-seal as used by the TS Pasadena (the Dutch section) is pretty much the same one as the TS seal used in 1875 on the first publication of the TS in New York. (Preamble and Bylaws of the Theosophical Society as published on October 30th, 1875; found in Jinarajadasa's Golden Book of the Theosophical Society) Around the same time Blavatsky also had a personal seal, which can be seen on the back of each volume of her Collected Writings.
The main question at present is which came first: Blavatsky's seal or the TS-seal. Ryan in his book(s) Blavatsky and the theosophical movement, claims Blavasky's seal was the inspiration of the TS-seal. This has not been substantiated as far as I know. Even if it can be proved that Blavatsky's seal was already in existence before October 1875, that doesn't mean that one inspired the other. It is as likely that both were inspired by Freemasonry symbolism. There is a beautiful picture of a six-pointed star in an ourobos, for which the source has not yet been found. Eliphas Levi also used a variation of that theme in one of his books (1856) That's one aspect: the origin of the seal.
The other aspect is the evolution of it. As mentioned the TS-Pasadena has at present a seal that is almost identical to the early one. Many of its publications have a temple-like icon instead of the seal. The TS-Adyar has at present an 'aum' in Devanagari at the top of the seal, as do many ULT-publications. This aum first appeared in the Theosophist. In fact: first there was an aum and in 1886 the TS-seal appeared below it on the first page of The Theosophist. Outside the Theosophist the only early place I could find this combination was an early French translation of the Key to Theosophy (1895). In the 1920's the ULT starts with that (in other words: it has had a seal with aum from the start). The Messenger (TS-Adyar USA publication) has an aum starting 1925. Those are the exceptions, most TS-Adyar publications don't have an aum before world war 2. That is: excepting The Theosophist of course.
That is all I researched: mostly from English and Dutch publications. I did not really look at publications after world war 2, but I think a reasonable hypothesis is that the aum was consistently put on top of the seal in order to counter Nazi associations with the swastika. It would be interesting to look at a broader collection of books, especially in other languages than Dutch and English, like Hindi, Spanish, Portuguese, other Indian languages Sri Lanka, more French etc. Maybe a different picture would emerge...
A beautiful anthology has come our way which expresses the heart and voice of Compassion, "viewed through the prism of Theosophy". The threads of thought upon altruism, virtue, sacrifice and truth which run throughout, make this text splendidly unique. A number of quotations are woven together from Theosophical sources, Plato, the Gnostics, Eastern and Western literary classics, which require considerable pondering. Thoughts about the Logos are culled from diverse origins, such as the Koran, T.Subba Row, Cicero, Poimandres and The Secret Doctrine. An instance of astute parallels is H.P.B.'s long quote comparing the Hindu Yogi who isolates himself in an impenetrable forest with a Christian hermit in the desert. It is followed by Emerson's quote from his essay, "Self Reliance":It is easy in the world to live after the world's opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.Elsewhere Plotinus' ideas on emotions are compared with the Koran's "sweet and salty seas." Quotes upon charity are chosen from a dozen various sources such as Kant, Thomas Hobbes, Shakespeare, Seneca, John Bunyan and The Key to Theosophy. It is the way they are woven together that strikes the observant reader. Generally, these quotations are synopsized with bold type captions to the left margin, while the main text is a clear type face legible even to elderly readers. For instance passages from the Bhagavad Gita, are compared to similar verses in Narada's Bhakti-Sutras in two separate columns. Likewise passages (less convincingly but provocatively) are paralleled from Light on the Path and The Voice of the Silence.
Compassion: The truth at the heart of our universe, compiled and edited by Dr. C.A. Bartzokas, MD (Wales, U.K., Philaletheians, 2005; 356pp.)
Is selfishness, which is the root of greed and brutality, the fault of the individual alone who suffers from it? Have we never, for example, seen the character of a child grow self-centred and' egotistical because of the indifferences and laziness of its parents who shirk their responsibility of discipline and guidance? To what extent, then, has racial indifference and laziness contributed to the development of unsocial persons? Perhaps far greater than is apparent on the surface. Carlyle wrote: "The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest." and H.P. Blavatsky commenting on this in the Key to Theosophy said "The profession of a truth is not yet the enactment of it: and the more beautiful and grand it sounds, the more loudly virtue or duty is talked about instead of being acted upon, the more forcibly it will always remind one of the Dead Sea fruit. Cant is the most loathsome of all vices."
Action based upon clear-sighted, constructive thinking which does not shirk the facts and does not lose the ideal of human progress is required of Theosophists. "Progress can be attained, and only attained by the development of the nobler qualities. Now true evolution teaches us that by altering the surroundings of the organism we can alter and improve the organism; and in the strictest sense this is true with regard to man. Every Theosophist, therefore, is bound to do his utmost to help on by all means in his power every wise and well considered social effort which has for its object the amelioration of the condition of the poor." Key to Theosophy, page, 198.
War is the most potent cause of poverty and the inevitability of war under our present social and economic system is a problem to which Theosophists cannot remain indifferent.
I have been puzzled for a long time with the common assertion that it takes self-love in order for there to be the possibility of loving others. Psychologists have recently started to question this assertion as well, finding that the worst egotists often love themselves a lot. The reason why in many cases it seems true that self-love is necessary for there to be love for others is that there has to be love, for there to be love for anybody. A person who doesn't love even themselves, cannot love another. So in that case perhaps learning to love and forgive oneself is indeed a step towards healing and loving others. Someone with the type of problems a difficult childhood brings, needs to take the time and energy to heal their emotional wounds. This is a fact of psychology. But it is perhaps as true that in many cases life starts feeling more meaningful when a person helps others, not themselves. In a case like that love for others can help heal a broken heart.
A lady I met recently had quite insightful things to say, when she wasn't talking about herself. Unfortunately though she talked about herself quite a lot.When people say that it takes love for self, in order to love others, I do wonder whether they are not just making up excuses. Instead of putting in the effort of trying to overcome those aspects of themselves which hinder their love of others, they will just strengthen those aspects of themselves which are turned merely towards themselves.
There is a magnetic reason for my doubts as well: how can it be that two things so opposite each other in magnetic direction are really supporting each other? How can energy directed at self, cause empathy for others? The one exception is self-knowledge: self knowledge in even the smallest degree will help understand and therefore love others. Energy directed at that is therefore never wasted, but the appeal to self-love also includes the common advice to 'stand up for yourself'. For the selfless it may be the realisation that others need what they need that helps them ask for what's their due - but for most of us that is merely an excuse, if we even think of it. There is self-expression and there is selfishness. The two are not identical, but often self-expression is selfish none the less. I'm not advocating against self-expression - it has its place. But I don't think the advice 'stand up for yourself' is theosophically sound. Following such advice will strengthen self-will and self-righteousness. It will also not help in gaining self-control.
The question of seeming unselfishness hasn't been covered yet. I'll let my readers think of examples and perhaps they want to contribute some thoughts?
The young noble, Roger of Albi, experimenting along the Path, came disconsolate to Leon du Nord, who in truth knew much more about these things.
“I find,” he said, “that in increasing numbers my friends, hearing that I follow wisdom, come to me with their troubles. Husbands have grievances against wives, wives against husbands, children against parents, parents against children, and neighbor against neighbor. I had never suspected such secret turmoil. To aid, I have laid out endless time, money, and effort, understanding that the follower of the Wisdom must have ever a heart for the troubles of mankind without regard to his own. Yet now it seems that I have become known as a false friend, a fair talker but non-doer, a simultaneous taker of opposed sides, even a slanderer - surely I am not of that nature?”
“Not at all,” said Leon. “Your troubles are of another origin.”
“Why is this grievous thing?”
“Your heart is warm and of ready sympathy; you trust in the honesty of men as in your own. The tale told, you take in the shape presented, and always one side is of necessity heard first. Thus you mind is overbalanced in favor of this first. Then - either the prior judgment remains to taint what follows: or, finding that things were not as presented, wrath at the deceit rises within you and turns your face in the opposite direction. Thus, in seeming, you favor first one side, then the other. Moreover, the simple listening to a grudge with sympathetic mien convinces the plaintiff that you are with him wholly. Doing thus with both, you who strive to be equal-minded and fair to all, do often appear as a hypocrite to all. Men do not seek you as a judge, but as an ally. Had they the sense to seek a judge, they would seldom have need of one.”
“Why is it that often I find the grievance to be one of simple misunderstanding, or perhaps of equal faults unrecognized in ignorance, so that naught needs but understanding; but when I bring this consideration to the aggrieved one, showing the innocence of the other, he who ought to be glad there is no real cause of quarrel, forthwith quarrels with me?”
“Because, even as men seek advice for the purpose of being told to do that which they are already resolved to do, they come to you in their strife, not for settlement of the strife, but for reassurance of uprightness in the vengeful course already entered upon. For such reasons as you relate, our courts find the judgment seat best filled with hard men unfavorably disposed to all, withal of forbidding mien, so that one daring complaint must needs feel well armored in righteousness.
“Verily this is a brutal business for one who seeks only good to mankind... I have still another puzzle. Often in seeking the basis of justice in these things, I go back and back, and farther yet to find the beginning, some initial point of grievance by which fault may be laid upon the one initially guilty. Never have I found such a beginning. I have traced the killing of a man to the ancient theft of an egg; a family feud to a careless bucket of slop-water a hundred years ago; a war to an arm broken on the wrestling-mat. But always is there something behind; one approaches a cause, but never reaches an origin. How is this?”
“My friend, look over the whole scene of quarreling entities in this age, from pets snarling on a hearth-rug, through children bickering over their toys, unto the multitudinous slaughter of men that pours its red stream down the centuries; unroll the scroll of past lives even unto the Land of Lyonesse, long lost beneath the Western wave. Never will you reach this finality of justice. Ever the causes must and will be obscure; obscure enough by nature, because of the immemorial history of causation; obscured on purpose because each stage of a quarrel brings its new manure of lies to fertilize fresh strife for the ages.”
“And,” said Roger, reddening,”upon occasion it has happened that noble demoiselles, frequenting my company for aid in smoother going with their swains, have hinted that they would gladly substitute me for the swain. This has not simplified the task.”
“It never has,” murmured Leon. Reminiscently.
“Being thus a fool,” continued Roger, “why do these people rely upon me to their confusion?”
“Because there is a Light in you, born and growing. Men feel its warmth and see its glow. But even as in the world each thinks the sun to shine for himself alone, so think they that you live for them alone. Not yet yourself comprehending the nature of that Light, how shall these contentious ones know better?”
Roger thought long.
“This, then, I think, is a cause of my trouble, as well as my impulsive trust. But how, then, is the thing ever to be resolved, the hearts of men to find peace?”
“Full knowledge of Law only can accomplish this. Once a man knows that justice absolute rules despite any act of his, he looks not into the past, save to instruct others; neither does he seek the crusadings of this world. Nor does he resent anything that befalls. Thus is his stream of life let run free and without hindrance, quickly clearing itself of mire.”
“But often his blood runs with the stream also.”
“Such a price must sometimes be paid for the past. But even a man’s blood is on the day; his fate, for evermore.”
“This is a stern teaching. Of course I know it well - in principle. But I find that I cannot help these beings by teaching principle. They beseech me then ‘But what shall I do?’ And if the prescribed doing is one of sacrifice, it is insisted that another precede therein.”
“Like all those young in the Path, you have yet to learn that there are those - countless many - who cannot in any wise be helped. Their purging must run its bitter course, while wise men stand and wait - and prepare themselves.”
“That is a hard business for a soft heart.”
“It becomes still harder if a soft head is joined thereto.”
Again Roger pondered.
“How may one discern those to be helped?”
“When a man comes to you for help in atoning for a wrong done; when one seeks self-purification or pure wisdom; if one desires only to fit himself to be the better able to teach others - then may somewhat be done, and help given without misgiving.”
“And you, my friend, observing my errors, and knowing me as I am without vanity and eager for correction and instruction? Why wait until I come in trouble?”
Leon smiled gently.
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