33 The mind is wavering and restless, difficult to guard and restrain: let the wise man straighten his mind as a maker of arrows makes his arrows straight.
... You can solidify your character by attending to small things. By attacking small faults, and on every small occasion, one by one. This will arouse the inner attitude of attention and caution. The small faults and small occasions being conquered, the character grows strong. Feelings and desires are not wholly of the body. If the mind is deliberately taken off such subjects, and placed on other and better ones, then the whole body will follow the mind and grow tractable. This struggle must be kept up, and after awhile it will be easier. Old age only makes this difference - the machine of body is less strong; for in old age the thoughts are the same if we let them grow without pruning.
As spiritual beings we possess free will; as human beings we do not.
To reach Nirvana one must reach Self-Knowledge, and Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child.
Anniversaries are such troublesome things. Birthdays are a good reason to celebrate, but bothersome to me personally none the less. Similarly the fact that on November 17th 2005 the Theosophical Society (TS-Adyar) had existed for 130 years means little to me. Still, an e-zine like this one can't really ignore this fact either. An active ULT-theosophist recently sent many people a summary of what Blavatsky said about the TS on a similar occasion. Brotherhood first, is what it amounts to. The latest issue (November 2005) of The Theosophist takes a similar approach, while also commemorating previous presidents of the TS (Adyar). Only two articles in that number are not about the past, but the present. I want to highlight Radha Burnier's watchtower article. She points to the dangers to humanity that flow from the growing development of weapons. She feels that 'public awareness must be created against the use of science for immoral purposes by unscrupulous politicians, aided by a large number of scientists and technicians.' I've recently read the autobiography of Annie Besant and am struck by her strong antenna for the important issues of her day. On my list of such important issues I would list a renewed attempt on the part of many governments to take the terrorist activities that take place as an excuse to disassemble the court systems and get rid of human rights. From the above it seems Radha Burnier sees science as a problem, especially in relation to the creation of weapons.
I found a few links on these issues:
It appears that Radha Burnier is right in her assessment that the issue of the dangers of technological development isn't enough in the public eye. I could not find a comprehensive website on the issue. The basic question is on the relationship between ethics and the search for knowledge. The classic scientific approach is: science is neutral. Not the scientist, but those that misuse new knowledge are responsible for that misuse. The classic esoteric approach is: you are responsible for what the world does with the knowledge you spread. This latter approach leads to the conclusion that scientists ought to be selected on their character, instead of only selecting them based on their research skills. This is reportedly the policy in the schools of initiation: only those whose character had been tested to be without fault could go on to the higher levels - and obtain knowledge beyond that available to everybody. Our modern schools test only mental skills like memory, insight, logic, the ability to pass tests and the ability to write an essay. When religious or philosophical education is given, it is often not seen as essential, and certainly not as the basis of everything else.
Another issue related to this is the spread of knowledge amongst small groups, not regulated by governments. However threatening the fact is that both Pakistan and India have an atomic bomb. More threatening is it that small terrorist groups have the routes to knowledge to develop biological weapons. The new book out by Karen Armstrong points to the only solution that she can see to those threats - in theosophical terminology: brotherhood regardless of religious background and human regeneration. The book is called 'The Great Transformation' and is out first in The Netherlands in translation as 'De grote transformatie'. It will be out in English in March 2006. Here is an excerpt that speaks for itself:
In our global world, we can no longer afford a parochial or exclusive vision. We must learn to live and behave as though people in remote parts of the globe were as important as ourselves. The sages of the Axial Age did not create their compassionate ethic in idyllic circumstances. Each tradition developed in societies like our own that were torn apart by violence and warfare as never before; indeed, the first catalyst of religious change was usually a visceral rejection of the aggression that the sages witnessed all around them. . . .
All the great traditions that were created at this time are in agreement about the supreme importance of charity and benevolence, and this tells us something important about our humanity. (http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780739325339)
The practical investigation of the occult and psychic side of nature is one of the most difficult things imaginable. It requires the development of senses and faculties not generally active in man. But before even these senses are developed, a certain philosophical balance - a complete self-reliance, must be attained. Until the soul is able to lean entirely on itself, on the god within - to draw its food, not from the opinions of friends or the fulfillment of the desires of the flesh, but from the spirit with which it is linked, it would be hazardous indeed to have intercourse with the denizens of the hidden spheres, many of whom are inimical to man. Everyone is surrounded in the wise provision of nature, with an akasic wall that preserves the soul from conscious association with the astral world until it is sufficiently grown in power to be able to dominate and overcome the inhabitants of that world. To rush willfully into the occult spheres before that power is developed, to gain ability to associate with the elementals without first having entirely purified the nature, is to become what is technically termed a medium, - one who has permitted himself to become the agent of the transmission of occult forces, but who is entirely powerless to control them. In its final consequences such a condition is one of the most terrible imaginable. The power to control these forces is drawn only from the Higher Self. Reliance on that, a total renunciation of self, and utter fearlessness of life, are the only talismans that can guard the soul from danger when it attempts to fathom the mysteries of other worlds.
[Annie Besant quotes a few of the things she learnt from Charles Bradlaugh. As I think these are wise sayings, I repeat them here. The whole autobiography is an interesting read as it gives a view into the heart of an age (the 19th century) and a brave woman (Annie Besant)]
You should never say you have an opinion on a subject until you have tried to study the strongest things said against the view to which you are inclined.
You must not think you know a subject until you are acquainted with all that the best minds have said about it.
No steady work can be done in public unless the worker study at home far more than he talks outside.
Be your own harshest judge, listen to your own speech and criticise it; read abuse of yourself and see what grains of truth are in it.
Do not waste time by reading opinions that are mere echoes of your own; read opinions you disagree with, and you will catch aspects of truth you do not readily see.
Notes of an Orpheus Lodge meeting on The Basis of Ethics: - The Ethics of the past were based upon theological assumptions. When these assumptions became discredited in the light of modern scientific knowledge the sanctions for our ethical system disappeared. Nothing could show more clearly than this the folly of basing an ethical system upon things which time may change. We should not be contented with any basis which is not as unchangeable and universal as Nature's laws.
Rhythm was suggested as such a basis for Ethics. We
in previous discussions how Rhythm, Periodicity, Harmony, involving
continual adjustment, is the essential law of Nature - Karma.
some of the rhythms, the balance and proportion, and the lack of these
be found in ourselves. Everybody knows the penalty for
spirits. The periodical swing from exaltation to depression
marked in the fiery, intense, artistic type, but it can be observed in
Apply this to other less obvious and spectacular states. For
take any quality however good, and too much of it becomes a bad
"You can have too much of a good thing", as the saying is.
courage, truthfulness, etc., can all lead to folly if uncontrolled by
discrimination. What is it which blinds us to the perception
the harmonious in human
behaviour? It is lack of balance. Take the not
of individual whose attitude is: - "I don't matter; anything
enough for me". His attitude is out of balance.
There is a
for everyone; the thing is to know it, and to live in
make oneself a doormat for people is not good for them or for
This is a form of inverted Egoism. It is Egoism, obsession
which in the last analysis is the root cause of all unbalance, lack of
proportion, and inharmonious living. So, we say -
dispassionately, selflessly, all meaning the same thing, the ability to
things unclouded by the hypnosis of self; here is the
of clear vision. A man who has given way to resentment toward
can hardly avoid blackening that other's motives in his own mind and
his own. The unbalanced resentment clouds and distorts his
The pairs of opposites, hope and fear, love and hate, etc., are the raw
of our conscious states, and whenever one pole of these dual forces
the consciousness Rhythm is lost. Balance, proportion,
is, only possible when the discriminating intelligence exercises
over these forces. Excessive amiability equally with
the vision, uncontrolled altruism equally with egoism, - detachment
can give rise to harmonious living. If the energies we
harmonious they are caught up and reinforced in the greater rhythms of
Universe; if discordant, they are shattered by these same
with consequent suffering at the centre from which they came.
(*) The title was given to this article by the
editor of Lucifer7.
"The ever unknowable and incognizable Karana alone, the Causeless Cause of all causes, should have its shrine and altar on the holy and ever untrodden ground of our heart - invisible, intangible, unmentioned, save through `the still small voice' of our spiritual consciousness. Those who worship before it, ought to do so in silence and the sanctified solitude of their own Souls; mak-ing their spirit the sole mediator between them and the Universal Spirit, their good actions the only priests, and their sinful intentions the only visible and objective sacrificial victims to the Presence." S.D. I, 301.
The above quotation is an ever-timely reminder of the inner significance of outer rites and ceremonies. It is especially timely at this season of the year when in all Christian communities the emphasis is laid almost entirely upon a supposedly outer event. The Gospels, according to Matthew and Luke, tell of the birth of a boy to a virgin Jewess, some 1948 years ago, and this story is accepted as being literally true by all orthodox Christian Churches. This event is regarded as the beginning of the Christian religion, despite the teaching of Augustine who spoke of `this religion which was in the world from the beginning and is now called Christian'; its physical actuality is insisted upon regardless of the teachings of those mystics in the Church who have considered it to be a symbol only and who have set forth the inner significance of the story. Origen, one of the early Church Fathers, taught that there were at least three interpretations to be given to the events related in the Gospels; first, they could be accepted in their their literal sense - this he pointed out, was the vulgar interpretation, acceptable only to the ignorant masses; second, they could be regarded as symbolic and be interpreted according to the psychical content, and third, they could be viewed as symbols of an inner spiritual experience - and, Origen added, this latter view was the one acceptable to the wise.
The story of the virgin-born son who becomes the God, is a universal one. Each story has its own setting, its own local color, its own names for the characters. The essential point of such stories, considered symbolically, is that the `Christ-Child' by whatever name it is called, is born of the purified soul of man and its overshadowing divinity, `the father-in-heaven'. It is not an outer event; it is an inner experience.
In the stories the various characters represent inner qualities; Joseph the carpenter, the reputed father of the child, symbolizes Mind, the fashioning, shaping, conserving, protective quality. Mind acts as the companion of the soul and is the protector and guide of the mystic child during its childhood. It is Mind that protects the child from the adversary, Herod or Herat as the name is given in the earlier Egyptian story, and who there is known as the `slayer of the youngling in the egg'. Herod symbolizes the familiar principle within us which is ever ready to nullify and destroy the young, growing, creative, unifying power which will be ultimately its dethroner. It is Mind which guides the child to Egypt, the place of learning; but after that period is passed, Mind fades into the background. The inner Christ is now becoming surer of its powers and more certain of its destiny. The subsequent trails are symbols of initiatory experiences which take place within the individual - Calvary, `the place of the skull', is the scene of the mystical `crucifixion' - and which experiences test and confirm the standing of the individual and enable him to enter into new and unexplored realms of his own consciousness.
The Christ stories are reminders to mankind that there is a divine power within every man and woman which can be brought into full manifestation. The process by which this is accomplished has analogies to physical conception, birth, growth and maturity; from its first faint and subtle manifestations the divine power grows in splendor and power until finally the candidate `standeth like a white pillar to the west, upon whose face the rising Sun of thought eternal poureth forth its first most glorious rays . . . He holdeth life and death in his strong hand'; until in the full consciousness of his matured powers he can say "I and my Father are one.">
The mystical Christmas is timeless; it can happen today or any day; it occurs whenever any man or woman of any race or land first awakens to an awareness of his or her indissoluble link with the one divine life of universe and like a child newborn, starts out on the ancient Path of Return.
I have not read Nietzsche or Ibsen, nor any other philosopher, and have not needed to do it, and have not desired to do it; I have gone to the fountainhead for information - that is to say, to the human race. Every man is in his own person the whole human race, with not a detail lacking; I have studied the human race with diligence and strong interest all these years in my own person; in myself I find in big or little proportion every quality and every defect that is findable in the mass of the race. I knew I should not find in any philosophy a single thought which had not passed through my own head, nor a single thought which had not passed through the heads of millions and millions of men before I was born; I knew I should not find a single original thought in any philosophy, and I knew I could not furnish one to the world myself, if I had five centuries to invent it in. Nietzsche published his book, and was at once pronounced crazy by the world - by a world which included tens of thousands of bright, sane men who believed exactly as Nietzsche believed, but concealed the fact, and scoffed at Nietzsche. What a coward every man is! And how surely he will find it out if he will just let other people alone and sit down and examine himself. The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in the procession but carrying a banner.
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