Lucifer7, May 2005


Contents

Short Quotes
Editorial
New on Katinka Hesselink Net
Theosophical News
Moslim News: female Imam
Links
History Does Not Wait!, Boris De Zirkoff
The belief statement of the World Pantheist Movement
Book review: A Death Interrupted, by Eli P. Bernzweig, review by  Katinka Hesselink
Peace on Earth

Short Quotes

Buddha, Dhammapada, Translation Juan Mascaro

313 When a man has something to do, let him do it with all his might. A thoughtless pilgrim only raises dust on the road  the dust of dangerous desires.
314 Better to do nothing than to do what is wrong, for wrongdoing brings burning sorrow. Do therefore what is right, for good deeds never bring pain.

Paul Brunton, The Secret Path, Chapter VIII

Once the Grace gets to work upon a man, there is no escape. Quietly, gradually, but perceptibly, it draws him inwards.

The Two Paths, H.P. Blavatsky, The Voice of the Silence

The "Open Way", no sooner hast thou reached its goal, will lead thee to reject the Bodhisattvic body, and make thee enter the thrice glorious state of Dharmakaya ** which is oblivion of the World and men for ever.

The "Secret Way" leads also to Paranirvanic bliss - but at the close of Kalpas without number;  Nirvanas gained and lost from boundless pity and compassion for the world of deluded mortals ....

"Sweet are the fruits of Rest and Liberation for the sake of Self; but sweeter still the fruits of long and bitter duty.  Aye, Renunciation for the sake of others, of suffering fellow men".

He who becomes Pratyeka-Buddha makes his obeisance but to his Self.  The Bodhisattva who has won the battle, who holds the prize within his palm, yet says in his divine compassion:

"For others' sake this great reward I yield" - accomplishes the greater Renunciation.

N. Sri Ram, Thoughts For Aspirants, Second Series

Self-will can be changed to selfless will by an understanding that enters into all aspects of our living.

Light on the Path, Mabel Collins, p. 5

To each temperament there is one road which seems the most desirable. But the way is not found by devotion alone, by religious contemplation alone, by ardent progress, by self-sacrificing labor, by studious observation of life. None alone can take the disciple more than one step onward. All steps are necessary to make up the ladder.


Editorial

This issue is dominated by an abridged article by Boris de Zirkoff, one of the hard workers in theosophical history. His importance was spelled out far more by his works than by his popularity at the time. This isn't the place to list all his accomplishments, but I would be remiss if I didn't remind my readers of the work De Zirkoff did in compiling the Blavatsky Collected Writings, published by the Theosophical Publishing House and Quest Publishing (both T.S. Adyar). The May issue of any theosophical publication isn't complete without mention of White Lotusday. On this day (may 8th 1891) H.P. Blavatsky left this world. In commemoration of that, theosophists all over the world read fragments of three classic theosophical/spiritual books: The Voice of the Silence, by H.P. Blavatsky, The Bhagavad Gita (any translation) and Light of Asia, Edwin Arnolds. The three spiritual traditions represented here are Theosophy, Hinduism and Buddhism. Personally I feel the Light of Asia should be replaced by the Dhammapada. The Light of Asia is a longwinded poem/biography on the Buddha's life. It would be more appropriate to comemorate his teachings. The Dhammapada is a very inspiring collection of buddhist thoughts.


New on Katinka Hesselink Net

I have been learning a lot about styling websites recently and have started up my own website design company: KH Net Webdesign (in Dutch). This company is aimed at the Dutch market, but effects of this move will be visible on the rest of my site as well. There are plans to get (minimal) advertising on my site. Also, The Esoteric Studies Guide has had a complete makeover this month. The differences aren't very big, but I do think the effect is a more stylish look. Since most article pages hadn't been restyled since they were put online a few years ago, the main differences are there. See for instance 'The Theosophical Mahatmas', by H.P. Blavatsky. Many small changes add up to big ones in the end. Coming up are changes to the articles and navigation pages of Modern Theosophy. A preview of how pages will look can be seen in an article I wrote in 2000 on spirituality and action. Pages in Modern Theosophy will get a separate look when printed (on browsers that support css-styles for print). In the meantime some pages may look a bit strange, I apologize in advance.


Theosophical News

Correspondents inform me that Jan Molijn (September 1908 - March 30th of 2005) died recently. I didn't know him and don't know anything about him, but apparently he was a theosophist and translator of theosophical books into Dutch.

There is an Dictionary on Esotericism out, edited by the Dutch professor esotericism Hanegraaff. (Wouter J. Hanegraaff (ed.) Dictionary of Gnosis & Western Esotericism, Brill). This was reported in the renowned Dutch newspaper NRC Handelsblad, where Blavatsky was referred to. The newspaper article reported that the dictionary calls Blavatsky a fraud. Among Dutch theosophists there has been an e-mail correspondence on this and the verdict seems to be that the lemma on Blavatsky takes the SPR report seriously, even though the SPR itself apologized for it. Unfortunately your editor has not read either the original SPR-report, nor the booklet by Harrison which undermines that report, nor the new Dictionary. Since the Harrison report is mentioned in the sources to the lemma, we have to assume that James Santucci (editor of Theosophical History and author of the lemma) simply doesn't believe in its claims.


Moslim News: female Imam

This report comes a bit late, but is too important to ignore. On March 18th Dr Amina Wadud, a professor in Virginia, led the friday night prayer for about hundred of New York Muslims. As no Mosque would host the event, it was done in an Episcopal Cathedral. Responses range from death threats to aplause. The fact that this event was possible and that people showed up to join in, shows that liberal forces in Islam aren't dead yet. Men and women prayed together to worship the same God and in the same way.

Sources


Links (found through stumbleupon)


History Does Not Wait!

Boris De Zirkoff, from Theosophia for Nov.-Dec., 1946.

[This article is too long to publish here in full. It is also partially outdated. I have chosen a few fragments that I think capture the essence. - editor Lucifer7]  
" . . . despite the agony and the sadness that we humans in our blindness feel, there is the wind of the spirit sweeping over the earth, rearranging, remaking, reshaping . . . "  - G. de Purucker.

    The foremost object of the modern Theosophical Movement, as imbodied in the original Theosophical Society of 1875, has ever been the formation of a nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.

    All other objects of the Society are subsidiary and therefore of lesser importance, however noble and valuable they may be.

The Founders of the Society considered its primary object of such paramount importance that the name of the organization remained for a long time "The Theosophical Society, or Universal Brotherhood."

    To appraise, therefore, the degree of success of the Society in the modern world, it is not sufficient to consider, as, is only too often done, the relatively widespread of certain ancient teachings in different parts of the globe;  or to point to a radically changed outlook in modern Science, as being due to a very great extent to the presence of Theosophical concepts in the very "atmosphere" of human thought.

    The question is:  Has the Theosophical Society created a well-integrated living nucleus of a genuine Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, which stands today as a glaring example of what can be done for the future welfare of the human race?

    With all due recognition of the fact that many honest attempts in this direction have been made, and that these have been temporarily successful on a very small scale and in a very imperfect way, it is, however, impossible to say that the Society, in any of its ramifications, has succeeded in the realization of its first and foremost object.

    To be sure, there exist in the Theosophical Societies of today some men and women inwardly dedicated to the supreme Ideal of Human Brotherhood, nay, the Brotherhood or Oneness of All Life. Their dedication is exemplified in action and in words, often in action alone. They are little centres of light, wherein the first object of the Theosophical Movement is a living reality.

    These men and women are very few. Their names are little known, or not known at all.  Their titles and outward achievements are not blazoned forth on the pages of theosophical annals. They are not congregated in centres, communities or settlements. Unbeknown to their own mortal minds, they are the pillars of the genuine Theosophical Movement, and redeem, at least to some extent, the unpalatable record of the Societies' public destinies, as exemplified in the seventy-odd years of Theosophical history. Were these men and women an organized unit, without losing their high qualities of inner achievement, one could perchance talk of a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood, in this, that, or another part of the world. As it is; they are scattered far and wide, and to speak of a nucleus in connection with them would be to use this word in a very loose and general meaning, hardly applicable to the case.

    As far as organized Theosophical effort is concerned, history will have to record its dismal failure to form a nucleus of genuine Brotherhood on universal lines.

    The Theosophical Societies of today are more interested in intellectual subtleties and points of doctrine than in the practical application to daily and mutual life of the noble ethical ideas, which alone can bring us to the actual realization of a living Brotherhood on whatever scale it may be.

    The great majority of men and women connected with any Theosophical organized effort show themselves often to be doctrinairians first and Theosophists after. This is the royal road to the formation of a Church.

    Brotherhood, whether Universal and Cosmic, or of the everyday garden-variety, applied in the common pinpricks of life, may be an idea difficult to define in exact and punctilious words. Yet most people, if they pause to think at all, will know inwardly what it means, and will recognize it outwardly, when they see it in action.

...

A brief and even superficial survey of many a movement in this world would show anyone who is not blind that brotherhood exists as a living reality in many of them;  as a matter of fact it exists in some of them with a far greater power and vitality than it manifests today in the organized Theosophical Societies. It is a solemn thought which is worth pondering over. Today the sands of many a cycle are running out. We are all weighed in the balance.  It is a time of appraisal. Judgments are daily meted out, and sentences are pronounced.

...

Universal Brotherhood, if it means anything at all, means an intense and living realization of the Oneness of  all life, of the indissoluble unity of all evolving creatures, of the unbreakable bonds which bind and unite all things.  That realization, to be of any moment in the affairs of the world, must be more than an intellectual theory.  It must become a way of life, a code of conduct, a method of living. Its power must become felt in the "atmosphere" of the man or woman who lives it, or the community which is based upon, and practices its implications.

    To live a life of Brotherhood does not mean to give up Principles when these are involved in order to "keep the peace;"  it does not mean to pamper to personalities when these assert themselves, as they will from time to time. It means a life based upon Principles, and based so firmly that personalities recede into an insignificant background and are transmuted in the light of the unifying bond.

    Living Brotherhood means strength of character, not weakness. It means conviction, positivity, justice tempered ith mercy, perspective and vision beyond the narrow confines of personal horizons. It means kindness, compassion, sympathy for the souls of men, the ability to understand and to forgive, the strength to stand alone and the ability to work collectively in joyful competition. It means courage in adversity, fearlessness in danger, gentleness in word and action, firmness in conviction, magnanimity to all and at all times, self-abnegation, forgetfulness of wrong to oneself, dauntless defence of those unjustly attacked, abiding and sincere friendship, searching penetration of the mysteries of life with the intuitive powers of an illumined mind.

    Living Brotherhood means all these things and a few others similar to them, just because it means looking for the best spiritual interests of all living things, the living for others instead of for oneself;  and without these qualities and attributes there can be no living for others, for without them one's life and effort are directed to the gratification of one's own personal selfhood, and the forwarding of the limited and narrow interests of "me" alone.

    If the modern Theosophical Movement is to have a future, a future full of promise and harmoniously related to the collective future of the race, in a world of united action for the welfare of all men, it will have to regain its unity, its internal cohesion, its position of spiritual leadership, which it has to a very marked extent lost. It has lost these because of internal dissensions, personal pulls, lack of vision, absence of inspired leadership, especially after the departure from this scene of action of those earlier grand souls which gave it its original impulse, and inspired at a later date fragments of the original Movement.

It is not enough to point out that the Movement, in all its fragmentations and subdivisions, possesses some very wonderful people who are active in this, that or another way.  Every movement in the world possesses such people;  without them no movement could possibly endure.  But they are not strong enough to carry the Movement as a whole, and are not able to redeem to any great extent the narrowness and selfish proclivities of others who are seeking personal powers or position or fame, or are just hanging on, like barnacles, to the organizational framework of the Societies, getting a free ride while the ship of state sails on.

    There are always those who will hasten to remind us that all of this is the Theosophical Society's karma.  Unquestionably this is true. According to the vernacular of this land of ours: "So what?". Is this a reason for students of Theosophy to lie down and wait until this phase of karma passes over? Assuredly not. It is a reason for action, for changes, for concerted endeavor to mitigate the effects of past and present mistaken notions, and of equally mistaken actions. It is an added reason to try and correct that which nothing in all the world will ever correct except the collective effort of the best students and workers the world over.  It is time to eliminate from our midst those influences which drag us down.  It is time to cleanse the Augean Stables of our own making, and to let in the light to the dark nooks and corners of the Movement where encrusted selfishness, contemptible narrowness, entrenched parochialism, and inexcusable sloth and indifference have lodged themselves.  It is high time to eradicate from our midst, in whatever Theosophical Society it may be, that condition of apathy and inertia which the late Dr. Henry T. Edge - one of the most penetrating thinkers in this Movement - called "feather-bed-Theosophy." It is either that or stagnation. It is either that or a new sectarian church-denomination made up of ill-digested doctrines worked over into some sort of "theosophical" creed, as the years go by. It is either that change, that effort, that inner transformation and rejuvenation, or treason to the memory, the work, the sacrifice, the trust of H.P. Blavatsky and those whom she represented here.

    The teeming millions of this world are engaged in a collective effort to transform their life into at least a semblance of universal harmony. They are in search of those basic foundations of thought which, ethical and enduring, would provide a firm basis for a new type of life, a civilization of solidarity and goodwill.  The call for Universal Brotherhood has gone out once again.  It is heard from every pulpit and from every lecture platform.  It is spread through the printed page and the voice of speakers.  It is feebly articulated by the uneducated but well-meaning masses in various lands of the earth.  It is the clarion-call of a New Era, and its echoes are reverberating through every valley and from every mountain-range.  It finds exponents and messengers in every land and every clime, and the surging crowds of the people, whose instincts are rarely wrong, feel the urge, of a new life, hear the keynote of the coming era, and, groping for words and expressions, rise in response to it. They need leaders of thought, channels through which to give imbodiment to their deepest yearnings, men and women who would become the symbols of a greater and grander life for mankind as a whole.

    If the Theosophical Movement were a united body, it might be able to voice in no uncertain terms this collective yearning of the human race. It could placate the enemies of human freedom by the collective example of its living Brotherhood. As it is, the Movement can at best add its own voice to the collective voice of mankind, until its own ranks are cleansed of human selfishness, and its efforts are raised to the plane of universal solidarity.

    There was a time, not so long ago, when the modern Theosophical Movement presented an imperious challenge to the world. Today a world in turmoil, awakening to its inherent potentialities, dimly sensing the presence of compelling Ideals, challenges the Theosophical Movement to regain its spiritual leadership among men.

    It is either that, or failure before the tribunal of History. It is either that, or years of frustration. Either a transformation from within, or a disintegration from without. It is either now or never, for History does not wait!


The belief statement of the World Pantheist Movement (*)

  1. We revere and celebrate the Universe as the totality of being, past, present and future. It is self-organizing, ever-evolving and inexhaustibly diverse. Its overwhelming power, beauty and fundamental mystery compel the deepest human reverence and wonder.
  2. All matter, energy, and life are an interconnected unity of which we are an inseparable part. We rejoice in our existence and seek to participate ever more deeply in this unity through knowledge, celebration, meditation, empathy, love, ethical action and art.
  3. We are an integral part of Nature, which we should cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We should strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and strive to treat all living beings with compassion and respect.
  4. All humans are equal centers of awareness of the Universe and nature, and all deserve a life of equal dignity and mutual respect. To this end we support and work towards freedom, democracy, justice, and non-discrimination, and a world community based on peace, sustainable ways of life, full respect for human rights and an end to poverty.
  5. There is a single kind of substance, energy/matter, which is vibrant and infinitely creative in all its forms. Body and mind are indivisibly united.
  6. We see death as the return to nature of our elements, and the end of our existence as individuals. The forms of "afterlife" available to humans are natural ones, in the natural world. Our actions, our ideas and memories of us live on, according to what we do in our lives. Our genes live on in our families, and our elements are endlessly recycled in nature.
  7. We honor reality, and keep our minds open to the evidence of the senses and of science's unending quest for deeper understanding. These are our best means of coming to know the Universe, and on them we base our aesthetic and religious feelings about reality.
  8. Every individual has direct access through perception, emotion and meditation to ultimate reality, which is the Universe and Nature. There is no need for mediation by priests, gurus or revealed scriptures.
  9. We uphold the separation of religion and state, and the universal human right of freedom of religion. We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.

(*) From their homepage: "The WPM belief statement is not like the creed of Christianity. It is not intended to be recited by rote or read out in meetings nor is subscription to every word of the credo a requirement of joining the World Pantheist Movement or its forums."


Book review: A Death Interrupted, by Eli P. Bernzweig

Katinka Hesselink

It is a rare occurance when a novel comes out which is an attempt at fictionalizing theosophical doctrine. Lucifer7 can hardly not review such a book. Unfortunately though, the book under review has shortcomings on many levels. Blavatsky and Judge also wrote short stories, but the genre has not been popular with either theosophists or non-theosophists. Personally though I have enjoyed such stories a lot (see the links below). The novel under review is quite a page turner. It is hard to stop reading once you start, which is always a good recommendation for a fiction novel. And that is precisely what this book is: a fiction novel. Set in post 9-11 Washington, a journalist reconnects with his recently deceased love, through e-mail. The Mahatma Damodar makes the process possible. The whole thing is made public and all kinds of troubles and tests follow. In this review I focus mainly on all the aspects of this book that I would consider to be theosophically incorrect. On the plus-side I would recommend the book to people unfamiliar with theosophy, who are interested in finding out about how the process of dying works according to classic theosophical teachings. Unfortunately, the one non-theosophist I had this read commented that the whole thing was psychologically unbelievable. The conversations between the main character and his deceased wife, for instance, were almost nonchalant, certainly not taking into account the sorrow of having lost a wife or the shock of dying. Theosophically the following points don't ring true:

All in all this is not a good book. The plot is generally flimsy: psychologically unbelievable. The letters by do Damodar represent theosophy very well. This makes me feel the author lacks a deeper understanding of theosophy. His main storyline as well as many details would have been quite different if it had been otherwise.

Sources


Peace on Earth

There is the story of the a man who sought the answer to peace on earth, and in doing so he traveled the world until he heard of a saint who lived in a cave at the top of mountain. After long struggle and many years, he came to the land and climbed the mountain, where he found the old saint in a cave, sitting by a small fire.

The traveler said, "Please tell me the secret of peace on earth."

The old man answered, "It is simply to contend with no one. To be agreeable to all."

The traveler thought for a moment, and became angry. "That's not the secret of peace on earth!" he exclaimed.

The old man merely shrugged his shoulder and smiled. "Ok, so it isn't."


Previous issues of Lucifer7

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