Lucifer7, March 2005


Short Quotes
The Price of Ambition, Anonymous
Doubt and Self-confidence, Katinka Hesselink
Asking for a Sign, Stephanie Yeh
The Unity of Life
An Arabian Tale

Short Quotes 

Alfred Whitney Griswold

Books won't stay banned. They won't burn. Ideas won't go to jail. In the long run of history, the censor and the inquisitor have always lost. The only sure weapon against bad ideas is better ideas.

Bertrand Russell

It has been said that man is a rational animal. All my life I have been searching for evidence which could support this.

(the following were copied from Theosophical Notes, september 1951)

The Analytic Approach - Dan Bennett, Saturday Evening Post.

    A child is anyone young enough to be amazed that tearing up one card ruins the whole deck.

Truth Unwitting - Shannon Fife, Saturday Evening Post.

    The seven major planets now doubtless look upon the earth as the eight-ball.

Mute Inglorious Napoleon - Amazing Stories. 

    "Burning in him even more hotly, was his indignation at not being listened to, and submitted to, by the fools and dolts he met every day of his life.  He had the brains, the energy, the ambition, to mold empires;  but no one would let him." 


Every once in a while a new computer-gadget gets my attention. It was RSS a few months ago and as I write this it is Stumble Upon. My readers must forgive me for the amount of links suddenly heaped upon them below - as I share links I've stumbled upon. This issue is perhaps more a blog than an e-zine. How does Stumble Upon work? You install some small piece of software into your favourite browser (that would usually be Internet Explorer, though for me it's Firefox). You choose the subjects you're interested in, just to give Stumble Upon a place to start. Then look into your favourites and find sites you really like. Go to those sites and give each the thumbs up through the toolbar you've just installed. Then find your first stumble by clicking 'Stumble!'. Give the site that gets loaded a thumbs up if you like it and a thumbs down if you don't, and try again. Just ignore sites that you don't like enough to read now, but might be interested in later. The more sites you rate with a thumbs up or down, the better Stumble Upon will be at sending interesting sites your way. This really puts the browsing back into being online. Of course: if you don't feel a need to turn up unexpectedly interesting web sites, or don't have the money to be online a lot - don't install this.



Found through stubleupon, a really interesting way to browse the internet

Found online (other sources)

The Price of Ambition

Anonymous, Theosophical Notes, p. 1,2 February, 1951

Shakespeare (surely by the signs a "sleeping Adept," and perhaps not so asleep as some may think) spoke of reputation as the "bubble" sought by the soldier at the canon's mouth.

Indeed it does seem that fame and good repute are among the most alluring of men's objectives.  That this should be the case, shows, in the light of Ancient Wisdom, that men ever shelter themselves in houses of straw built on blowing sands.  According to the ancients, the three grant pitfalls are Pride, Lust, and Avarice.  The evidence from daily life is to the effect that these are set in the right order.  It must then be that that vice which motivates ambition most powerfully must also bear the dustiest fruits.  And so it seems.  The fruits do not bear close examination.  Men adulate a General, a President, a Dictator.  But how much of the time and heart of each does such an one really occupy?  A moment's attention to a news paragraph, a hand-clap before a flicker in a news-reel, a few minutes now and then on the radio.  Our time is full of work, eating, sleeping, amusement, and the concerns of wife and child.  To us, how much light really goes out when a great man dies?  While he lives, is it the real man who has our regard?  We see in him the reflector, the protector, or the giver of desires desired or securities sought;  or an ideal within us outwardly projected. The real man is a vaguely human shape upon which our own mirrored face is hung, so far as our perceptions go.

Of all the prophets of mankind, Mahatma Gandhi possibly came nearest to being revered for what he actually was.  And it is significant that he, of all political figures least sought fame or repute for himself.  Yet, even in India, how much was he worshiped for what he was, how much for what it was hoped he would bring?  Perhaps the sincere tribute of Winston Churchill, opposed in every aspect of interest and character, was based on a keener insight than the tears of many an Indian village.  Many men often by hard experience, come to see through this fraud of public reputation.  They come to realize that all the billion moments of passing thought on the part of multitudes, cannot add up to the support of constant loving regard on the part of a few.  Such men find all they need in the hearts of a handful of friends, and are more than content to let the world go by.  And this is the best of understanding and fruition that man may expect this side of the occult veil.  But even the dearest and sweetest of untested loves can be a snare and pitfall, a maya whose loss plunges into desolation of depth proportional to its former solace and support.  Even these affections, constant over many years, may sometimes be built, not upon what we are, but upon what someone thinks we are.  Or they may represent communities of interest which may be complete now, but tomorrow, as one may go forward or fall back, may be no more.

Rarely indeed do those who love us see us so truly as we are, that no clattering tongues, no false scandalous evidence however circumstantial, no authority of church or state, can come between.  This is the great barrier, the prelude to Kurukshetra field, and the seed of Arjuna's despondency, that has to be met.  As we progress through the skandhas of the past, there may arise between our friends and ourselves the veils of every falsehood and illusion of the past, of this life or others, that we have promulgated or to which we have succumbed.   So they may come to see us as many things in turn, but seldom for what we are.  They may see us, flatteringly, undiscriminatingly, as more or better than we are.  And then will come some bruising revelation, true or false, indicating that we are, after all, merely men and women.  By reaction, we will then seem much less than we really are.  They will feel fooled and betrayed, and will blame us for the "deceit."

It is pride that must go, along the Path.  All of it.  The trials to pride are rainy and complex.  We may be thought of as more than we deserve,    then arises the temptation to pose accordingly, and retribution is sure.  More constructively, the temptation to become what we are thought to be.  Perhaps we succeed somewhat;  and in such a case like as not, those whose regard we sought to keep, have by then been caught in some countercurrent of adverse affinities, and nothing we nor anyone can say or do, can convince them that we are even worthy of respect.  To become indifferent to opinion;  yet to continue to work as those do who labor for recognition, is to have scaled a great barrier.

Doubt and Self-confidence

Katinka Hesselink

In spiritual psychology the passive and the active are often hard to balance. Should we retreat from the world or work in it? Should we actively seek to help our fellowmen or passively let karma take its course? Should we seek inner transformation through self-doubt and self-examination or through self-confidence and listening to our inner voice? The last of these questions is the one this article attempts to address. Years ago, when I was still relatively new to theosophy, I wrote an article on vulnerability (1). In it, I discuss one half of this issue: the fact that only through facing up to our faults, our pains and our mistakes, can we grow. The other half is that it takes self-confidence to act right, to listen to that inner, silent voice, to discover truth. Both sides of this coin are needed. It takes the confidence to be able to doubt oneself to move beyond how one thinks the world is, to facing the world as it truly is. Doubt is the necessary tool to be able to let go of shackles like dogma's and false views of self. Doubt is the necessary ingredient in any voyage of exploration, whether internal or external. The mind and emotions are tricksters. They fool us into believing all kinds of delusions. Delusions about the world, and delusions about ourselves. Once the step outside the world is taken, once the shackles of conventional thought and conventional morality are let go, the only thing left to trust is ourselves. This is a perilous journey, 'beset with perils of every kind' (2). It takes inner confidence as well as confident doubt to be able to go that journey. The side of doubt is expressed quite well in the following two quotes:

The Buddha said in his famous lecture to the Kalama's:

4. "It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another's seeming ability; nor upon the consideration, 'The monk is our teacher.' Kalamas, when you yourselves know: 'These things are bad; these things are blameable; these things are censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,' abandon them.
And Krishnamurti says in an early dialogue that I'm sure he would not want me to quote:

Questioner: By the sanction of the scriptures and the concurrence of many teachers, doubt has been regarded throughout the ages as a fetter to be destroyed before truth can dawn upon the soul. You, on the contrary, seem to look upon doubt in quite a different light. You have even called it a precious ointment. Which of these contradictory views is the right one?

Krishnamurti: Let us leave the scriptures out of this discussion; for when you begin to quote scriptures in support of your opinions, be sure the Devil can also find texts in scripture to support quite the opposite view! In the Upanishads, in the Vedas, I am sure there can be found quite the opposite of what you say the scriptures teach: I am sure there can be found texts saying that one should doubt. So let us not quote scripture at each other; that is like hurling bricks at each other's heads. [Collected Works Volume 1, p. 154]

The other side of this issue, that doubt has only limited application, was also expressed by the Buddha. Doubt or uncertainty is one of the ten fetters. (3) These are negative traits to be overcome. A positive way of expressing this is perhaps done by St. Paul in the famous passage from his first letter to Corinth:

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Corinth 13:13...

It takes faith in oneself to move beyond limitations and grow. It takes faith to take on projects that may seem to big to take on. Faith is the gospel of the new age, where positive thinking is thought to be able to overcome anything. That does seem too simplistic to me. Self-confidence can easily become blindness to personal faults, pride etc. A balance needs to be found between these two poles. Without doubt change can't come. Without faith in life, in nature, in the existence of truth - how could anyone move beyond the limitations of today to create something new tomorrow?

Some of the difficulties on the path of occultism or self-knowledge are hinted at in the Mahatma-quote that follows.

How can you know the real from the unreal, the true from the false? Only by self-development. How get that? By first carefully guarding yourself against the causes of self-deception. And this you can do by spending a certain fixed hour or hours each day all alone in self-contemplation, writing, reading, the purification of your motives, the study and correction of your faults, the planning of your work in the external life. These hours should be sacredly reserved for this purpose, and no one, not even your most intimate friend or friends, should be with you then. Little by little your sight will clear, you will find the mists pass away, your interior faculties strengthen, your attraction towards us gain force, and certainty replace doubts. But beware of seeking or leaning too much upon direct authority. Our ways are not your ways. We rarely show any outward signs by which to be recognized or sensed. (4)
Self-deception is an aspect of the path that should not be underestimated. Occultism leads one on paths that no training can prepare for. Inner purification through right thought, speech and action are the only reasonably effective ways of avoiding deception in the long run, because they help build up good karma. In the words of Subba Row:
Happy are those whose astral sense is not opened and who do not see all the terrible things that are about us. By a holy life there is a kind of aura developed which protects a man from them. All elementals and Dugpas are afraid of the Protean power. Its very presence seems to strike terror in them. (5)
Knowing how difficult the path is, it is easy to understand that fear becomes a factor. In The Voice of the Silence Blavatsky warns against this as follows:
To perish doomed is he, who out of fear of Mara refrains from helping man, lest he should act for Self. The pilgrim who would cool his weary limbs in running waters, yet dares not plunge for terror of the stream, risks to succumb from heat. Inaction based on selfish fear can bear but evil fruit.
In more normal English this means that when we avoid helping people because we are afraid our motive isn't unselfish enough, we risk losing our spiritual compass. So self-doubt should not grow so strong that we avoid right action. Again, in the same booklet:

Beware of this, O candidate! Beware of fear that spreadeth, like the black and soundless wings of midnight bat, between the moonlight of thy Soul and thy great goal that loometh in the distance far away.

Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays all action. If lacking in the Shla virtue (6), - the pilgrim trips, and Karmic pebbles bruise his feet along the rocky path.

Doubt and self-confidence seem opposite forces in our daily lives, but I feel that ultimately they compliment each other. Both are necessary for safe traveling on the path of self-discovery. But self-confidence is tricky. There is but one road to the Path; at its very end alone the "Voice of the Silence" can be heard. (7) Before that end comes we have to make due with more or less trustworthy, more or less illusory thoughts and intuitions to guide us. No wonder that Blavatsky goes on to say:

The ladder by which the candidate ascends is formed of rungs of suffering and pain; these can be silenced only by the voice of virtue. Woe, then, to thee, Disciple, if there is one single vice thou hast not left behind. For then the ladder will give way and overthrow thee; its foot rests in the deep mire of thy sins and failings, and ere thou canst attempt to cross this wide abyss of matter thou hast to lave thy feet in Waters of Renunciation. Beware lest thou should'st set a foot still soiled upon the ladder's lowest rung. Woe unto him who dares pollute one rung with miry feet. The foul and viscous mud will dry, become tenacious, then glue his feet unto the spot, and like a bird caught in the wily fowler's lime, he will be stayed from further progress. His vices will take shape and drag him down. His sins will raise their voices like as the jackal's laugh and sob after the sun goes down; his thoughts become an army, and bear him off a captive slave.
70.    Kill thy desires, Lanoo, make thy vices impotent, ere the first step is taken on the solemn journey.
71.    Strangle thy sins, and make them dumb for ever, before thou dost lift one foot to mount the ladder.
72.    Silence thy thoughts and fix thy whole attention on thy Master whom yet thou dost not see, but whom thou feelest.
73.    Merge into one sense thy senses, if thou would'st be secure against the foe. 'Tis by that sense alone which lies concealed within the hollow of thy brain, that the steep path which leadeth to thy Master may be disclosed before thy Soul's dim eyes. (8)
How can we be self-confident knowing that our very sins are out to delude us, and our past sins will manifest in the form of karmic temptations?

Lest this article ends on too bleak a note the following may be appropriate:
Indulge not in apprehensions of what evil might happen if things should not go as your worldly wisdom thinks they ought; doubt not, for this complexion of doubt unnerves and pushes back one’s progress. To have cheerful confidence and hope is quite another thing from giving way to the fool’s blind optimism: the wise man never fights misfortune in advance. (9)


  1. The Road of Sensitivity, Katinka Hesselink 1997
  2. Not by Blavatsky, but present in the Blavatsky Collected Writings XIII, p. 219 Full text online
  3. Anguttara Nikaya X.13
  4. Letters from the Masters of Wisdom, first series, p. 74, letter 31
  5. Esoteric Writings, Subba Row, p. 544; T. Subba Row Collected Writings, p. 430
  6. Shila, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action. [A further discussion on the paramitas of which Shila is one]
  7. Voice of the Silence I, verse 69
  8. Voice of the Silence I, verse 69-73
  9. Mahatma Letter No. 47 (ML-45) Rec. February 1882

Asking for a Sign

Stephanie Yeh, co-founder of

Do you have something you really want but aren't sure you're going to get it? Is doubt starting to creep into your  process of manifestation? If so, you might need to ask the Universe for a sign.

The great thing about working with the Universe is that it's flexible. The Universe will give you manifestations just  about any way you want it. Some people like to manifest with a lot of struggle. Some people like to manifest after lots of hard physical labor. And a rare few enjoy manifesting with lots of ease and flow.

If you've been working hard at your manifestation but haven't seen many results, ask the Universe to show you a sign that what you desire is coming to you. How? Simple. Just ask.

Say to the Universe, "Please show me a positive sign today that I can easily understand that shows me my manifestation is coming to you." It's as simple as that.

How will your sign show up? Usually it's something that really pleases you and really means something to you. For instance, one person asked for a sign then went out hiking. He hiked a 10 mile round trip. On the return trip, he spotted a cluster of oyster mushrooms growing on a tree at the trailhead that he had missed when he set out. It was an instant sign. He loved oyster mushrooms and considered them a rare and special treat!

Whenever you find yourself struggling with creating something in your life and you start getting impatient, just ask for a sign.

The Universe will not only deliver a sign, but deliver a pleasurable experience into your life at the same time. It's one of the most enjoyable ways to develop faith in your ability to create in your life. Live it up!

The Unity of Life

Notes from an Orpheus Lodge Discussion

Canadian Theosophist, Vol. 16, #4 (1935)

The function of Theosophy is to provide a true sense of direction for human life.  The student of Theosophy therefore must realize the extreme need for becoming clear regarding this doctrine of Unity for it is the only unshakeable basis for wise human living.

Expressed in the life of the individual it has two aspects - the positive or stern side and the negative or tender sympathetic side.  Until an individual fully grasps both phases of the Law of Unity he will not be able to communicate the spirit of the teaching to another.

True self-abnegation is of itself exactly half of what is required.  Alone, it makes a man a sort of saint but not by any means a Master of Life;  the power of self-assertion is equally necessary.  This is a hard thing for Western minds, nurtured in a Christian atmosphere, to realize.  Meekness, humbleness, pityfulness, and self-abasement are regarded as the spiritual virtues.  They are, but so are their opposites, and impersonality demands the balanced ability to assert positively and to endure unresistingly, to be diamond hard as well as to be tenderly sympathetic.

Individuals are not rare who have developed one aspect of this dual power, but when we find a man who is equally at home in both phases, we shall have discovered someone who has conquered the instinctive nature, and in whom the love of self can be completely set aside at will.  Nothing less than this is Spiritual power, is Selflessness.  Some of us find it only too easy to be over tolerant of the faults of others, minimizing mistakes and weaknesses and, "Looking always for the best in people".  And we often take credit for this not realizing that we are giving way to an instinct of self-protection by seeking to disarm possible criticism of ourselves.  Others, just as instinctively, bolster up their sense of superiority by being hyper-critical at all times, making a point of telling people what they think of them.

Everyone in his early life unconsciously builds up the attitude, through which he or she most easily faces life and maintains his sense of self-importance - the deepest, most far-reaching of all human instincts, often stronger even than the desire for life itself.  This attitude he wears as a cloak, behind which he hides and protects himself, and without consideration and almost without thought it reacts instinctively in all life's circumstances, and the individual does and says what it dictates unless he checks this instinctive reaction and considers and acts as his intelligence directs.  In all such uncontrolled instinctive actions whether the instinct be good or bad, fine or ignoble, we are not really living at all;  Nature is living in us.

The Unity of Life can never be more than an intellectual idea, and Brotherhood nothing more than a sentimental ideal, until we become Self-possessed, until we incarnate our Real Self into this centre of instinctive life we think of as ourself, and control and rule it.

Selflessness is the power of the spiritually enlightened mind to hold up, control and direct Nature's energies within us.  No matter what our type, or temperament may be, the fundamental practical problem of all students is to bring the individual's own life under the rule of intelligence.  If we neglect this it will not much matter what we do.

An Arabian Tale

Two friends were travelling in the desert and at certain point of the journey they had a discussion and one slapped the other in the face. The one that was slapped did not react, he just wrote down on the sand:
Today is a great day my best friend slapped my face.
They went on their journey until they reach an oasis and they decided to swim. At this moment the one that was slapped on the face started drowning but his friend saved him.

When he recovered himself he took a knife and started writing down on a stone:
Today is a great day my friend saved my life.
The one that saved his life and slapped him asked curiously:
Why after I have slapped you, you wrote down on the sand and now you do the same thing but on a stone?
Smiling he answered:
When a great friend hurt us, we must write down where the winds of forgiveness are going to erase that memory.
On the other side, when something good happens, we must engrave it on the stone of our memory and heart, where no wind will ever carry it away.
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