We suggest as a most interesting experiment, that every interested recipient of this publication who has heard something derogatory about any other Theosophists, attempt to run down the origin of the rumor, or, among others, going directly to the victim thereof as well as any responsible for originating or propagating it. Maybe some surprising reasons for the slow progress of the Movement, and the curious difficulty that Theosophists seem to have in getting together, would be discovered. We have ourselves engaged in such enterprises with very illuminating results.
Knowledge of the outer world has to be balanced by knowledge of self. When one delves deep into oneself, he will begin to sense there the basic identity of life and the unity of all humanity.
The first step on this path, and equally the last, is humility.
Nature gives up her innermost secrets and imparts true wisdom only to him who seeks truth for its own sake, and who craves for knowledge in order to confer benefits on others, not on his own unimportant personality.
The article in the previous issue of Lucifer7 on
karma and the Jewish people has been responded too a lot. Questions
asked and comments made have forced me to elaborate my position below.
I just came back from the Theosophical History Conference in London,
where I gave a talk on the Theosophical Seal. This will be published
online at some point, but only after Theosophical History magazine has
either published it or declined from publishing it. I will report on
this conference in a future issue of Lucifer7 as I'm currently packing
for Naarden where John Algeo will give a week long seminar on reincarnation,
the untrue fact.
The previous article I wrote on this subject was mostly a
overview. I looked at historical and sociological causes such as can be
found in the more serious historical literature on the subject of
Judaism and history. I hardly mentioned karmic causes, because these
seemed beyond my ken. Unfortunately, where I wrote about historic
Judaism in relation to karma, some of my readers assumed that I thought
Jews always reincarnated in Jews. Personally I don't think this is the
case. There is a cultural thread running through all of Judaism,
consisting of for instance reverence for the Old Testament, Rabbinic
learning, certain rituals relating to daily life and food concerns and
so on. This is a cultural thread that has set apart Jews from non-Jews
throughout roughly the past 2000 years. This hardly mattered when the
Roman empire was a loud mixture of so called 'heathen' groups. The Jews
were different because they were allowed to not worship the spirit of
the emperor, but otherwise they were merely one more ethnic group in a
culturally varied society. Christianity changed all that and created a
more homogeneous society where everybody was a Christian. The only ones
who were allowed to stay non-converted were the Jews. They were a
reminder of the historic background of Jesus and his old faith had to
Once again: looking at the situation in very broad
doesn't come into it yet. Each individual monad (= that which
reincarnates) had its own karma, as we all do. As I understand it,
people get reincarnated into certain circumstances because they are
either 'what they deserve', a good place to learn the next lesson or a
good place to start serving humanity. Once again: this is a
simplification. Judaism offered a chance at religious education for
men, without too much status and without having to give up family-life
(in general, court-Jews were the exception). This would seem to me to
be a relatively interesting place to reincarnate. Given the special
place of Jews in society, a stigma evolved - described in the previous
issue of Lucifer7. Karmically this would mean that those reincarnating
into Judaism, probably in some way deserved or needed to experience
such a stigma and in any case learn to live with it. Doing something
about the stigma has only become an option in the mid-19th and 20th
centuries. This situation was similar too the situation of those
without caste in India - though their plight was and is even harder, I
think. There are all sorts of ways of having a difficult life, being a
Jew in times of persecution is merely one of them.
As always: karma has many threads. There is the
thread of those who
are born into a difficult situation, and in some ways deserve it. Then
there are those who contribute to a bad situation. There are also those
who help mitigate a bad situation. And let's not forget those who stay
neutral. Mixtures of these possibilities are doubtlessly possible.
Personally - having a choice between being victim and prosecutor - I'd
rather be the victim. A victim has no blood on their hands (in this
lifetime anyhow) and merely needs to practice how to morally survive
such on ordeal. I'm not saying that is easy, but history does have
various inspiring examples of people who pulled it off. The Dutch Etty
Hillesum was one of them - I do advise reading her diaries. She was a
bit older than Anne Frank.
In some theosophical circles the issue of Jews in
the Second World
War gets related to the illusive concept of 'group-karma'. Personally I
don't quite know what that means. There may be some truth to the idea
that people with similar karmic tendencies get reincarnated together.
This may partly explain cultural differences, though culture also has
its own mechanisms for creating continuity. For instance: the Jewish
people as a whole have a cultural unity (though one that is now very
fragmented), still this doesn't mean that individual monads have been
reincarnating as Jews over the past centuries. As one correspondent
noted: according to H.P. Blavatsky the average period between
reincarnations is 1500 years. This is way too much to be a cause for
cultural continuity and karmic connections between Jews now and three
hundred years ago. It may be comparable to the human body: there is
continuity between Katinka Hesselink now and the same body/person 30
years ago. She looks different (I was in diapers then), each cell is
different and the present Katinka has hardly any memories of that time.
Still, none of us doubt that the baby in the baby-pictures was 'me'
(whatever that means). Judaism of 1500 years ago is continued into
Judaism now in much the same way.
That's as far as my insight into karma goes. Let me
just stress that
I don't think once a Jew, always a Jew, into possibly infinite
reincarnations. I hope I've also explained my understanding of karma as
related to this case reasonably well.
"Yes, names (and words) are either BENEFICENT or MALEFICENT; they are, in a certain sense, either venomous or health-giving, according to the hidden influences attached by Supreme Wisdom to their elements, that is to say, to the LETTERS which compose them, and the NUMBERS correlative to these letters."
This is strictly true as an esoteric teaching accepted by all the Eastern School of Occultism. In the Sanskrit, as also in the Hebrew and all other alphabets, every letter has its occult meaning and its rationale; it is a cause and an effect of a preceding cause and a combination of these very often produces the most magical effect. The vowels, especially, contain the most occult and formidable potencies. The Mantras (esoterically, magical rather than religious) are chanted by the Brahmins and so are the Vedas and other scriptures.
The spontaneous outpouring of love is the most marked of the Divine attributes, the love that gives everything, that asks for nothing.
Pure love brought the Universe into being, pure love maintains it, pure love draws it upwards towards perfection, towards bliss.
And whenever man pours love on all who need it, making no
difference, seeking no return, pure spontaneous joy in the outpouring,
there that man is developing the bliss-aspect of Deity within him, and
is preparing that body of beauty and joy ineffable into which the
thinker will rise, casting away the limits of separateness to find
himself Himself, and yet one with all that lives.
It is beautiful to impede an unjust man; but if this is not possible, it is beautiful not to act in conjunction with him.
Sin should be abstained from, not through fear, but, for the sake of the becoming.
Many who have not learnt to argue rationally, still live according to reason.
Vehement desires about any one thing render the soul blind with respect to other things.
The equal is beautiful in everything, but excess and defect to me do not appear to be so.
It is the property of a divine intellect to be always intently thinking about the beautiful.
Without the performance of obligatory actions, no one can attain the stage of non-desire (naishkarmya), in which the Yogin rejoices. It is absolute stupidity to expect anyone to reach this end by neglecting his obligations. No one discards a boat if he has to cross the river. If one must appease hunger, he must have his food cooked either by himself or by others. So long as there is no freedom from desire, there is action, but when contentment arises all desires spontaneously disappear. Those who aim at final liberation should not turn from their duties. It is not possible for one to perform actions or to abandon them at will. To talk of relinquishing actions is to talk nonsense, because however much one may wish, one cannot abandon them. So long as there are natural conditions (prakriti), actions are being done, because all actions are subject to the three qualities (gunas) and are being done involuntarily. Mere wish to abandon obligatory actions is not going to alter the tendencies of the senses.
If you said you would do nothing, will your ears cease to hear or the eyes fail to see, will the nose lose its function, will breathing be stopped, or will the mind become free from all ideas? Will hunger and thirst disappear? Will the cycle of sleep and waking stop? Will feet refuse to move and above all, will you be free from the chain of life and death? If all this cannot stop, then what is it that you would have abandoned? It is futile to believe that one can take up or throw away actions. A man sitting in a carriage moves because he is in the carriage, though he may be himself motionless. A dry and insentient leaf moves in the sky because it is wafted up by the wind. Even a disinterested person performs actions by the force of nature and by the tendencies of the organs of action. So long as one is linked with nature (prakriti), his abandonment of actions is impossible. To talk otherwise is to show futile obstinacy....
I shall tell you the characteristics of a man who has gone beyond all desires. He is steadfast in heart and absorbed in Brahman and outwardly pursues the normal worldly activities of life. He does not direct his senses towards anything; he is not afraid of the objects of senses and he does not omit to perform any obligatory action as a duty. He does not obstruct the senses while doing actions; yet he is not controlled by the tides of these senses. He is not obsessed by desires. Nor is he tainted by the blackness of delusion, just as the lotus in water does not get wet.
A Sage living in this world appears like everybody else, just as the orb of the sun reflected in water appears like the sun, even though no sun is there in reality. Because he appears like one of the common crowd, you must not assess his spiritual worth accordingly. Recognize him to be free (mukta) who shows these characteristics and who has put himself beyond the snares of desire. Such a Yogin is worthy of universal respect. I ask you to set him up as your model. Control your mind; be firm in your heart; then let the senses freely perform their actions.
I repeat that it is not possible in life to remain free from actions and, therefore, actions have to be performed. Those that are prohibited by the Shastras must be eschewed. Do everything which is opportune and proper, but without motive for any of the results. There is a special characteristic of such action; being free from desires, it leads a man to liberation. Whosoever performs with care his own duties arising in his own condition of life certainly reaches liberation by his action.
To perform one's duties properly is in itself the highest offering. Those who pursue this path are not touched by sin. It is only when one's duties are neglected and one is inclined to do erroneous acts that one is caught in the cycle of life and death. The performance of one's duty is in itself the highest sacrifice (yajna) and the man who is devoted to such sacrifice is free from all bonds. The world is tied up by actions. He who allows himself to be drawn into this snare of delusion (maya) is bound to fail to give daily offerings.
There is one thing I learned when I was a boy, and I learned it well, and it has been one of my best friends ever since. It is that I can learn from everything, and that if I allow a single day to pass without increasing my store of wisdom, without enlarging and enriching my inner life, by however small an increment, that day is a lost day in my life. Too many of us are asleep; we sleep and dream. We dream dreams, and all too often these dreams are evil dreams, for they are the upsurgings of the lower, personal, easily self-satisfied ego of ours. But others of us dream visions of incomparable beauty - and I mean not merely physical beauty, but beauty of any kind: spiritual beauty, intellectual beauty, ay, even beauty of wondrous nature around us. And every such new envisioning of a marvel awakens us by just so much. Oh, how we sleep, and are forgetful of what we are and of the richness around us which is ours for the taking, ours if we will take it! For there is naught that stands in the way of taking except oneself. There are none so blind as they who refuse to see; none so deaf as they who refuse to hear; and, on the other hand, none so wise as they who meet every new experience in life's wondrous adventure with the feeling: there is an angel behind this for me. I must discover him; learn what that angelic messenger is trying to tell me. Every experience is such.
Your & the ETS articles are too narrowly focused regarding the question posed in your title. As you can see, in the Subject line [title above], I have left the underscored part blank, for reasons that I hope will become clear.
Firstly, those theosophists who think Judaism is primarily or exclusively to blame for anthropomorphism, separatism, & black magic in religion or society in general, are mistaken. HPB makes clear in many places that during very ancient Atlantean, fourth root-race times, was when those problems began. This was so long ago that no modern ethnic or religious group has any direct lineage traceable back.
Secondly, my understanding of karma & its effects is that no group can suffer such horrors as the Chinese suffered under Mao; the Soviet peoples under Stalin; the Armenians under Ataturk or the Jews under Hitler - because they were Chinese, Russians, Armenians or Jews.
If one uses HPB's guideline of a minimum of 1500 years between incarnations and these modern ethnic groups can only be traced back with some surety, perhaps 6000 years; that would mean only 3 or 4 rebirths were possible. Not enough time to be so evil as to warrant these 20th century results, I think. Also, it would assume that each one of these 3 or 4 rebirths were in the same exact ethnic group - again an unwarranted assumption. In addition, if an ethnic group had, through its group karmic activities set such bad effects in motion, that would mean that all or nearly all of the group would be wiped out. That did not happen in any case.
It seems more rational & truthful to think that, for hundreds or thousands of lifetimes, either as powerful individual kings, queens or leaders; or as eager & dedicated followers of such vicious leaders - these present-day "victims" were then the "perpetrators" of genocides. Does that mean that karma requires human Stalins, Maos or Hitlers to deliver the horrible effects? No; those persons and their eager & dedicated followers have just extended their genocidal karmic continuum into the future. Violent acts of nature and epidemics would be the standard way of handling such bad karmic effects. The Black Death was no respecter of persons; any & all died. It is only the utter selfishness of a Hitler, Mao or Stalin that drew mental lines around those who should & should not be tortured and murdered. They created the impure & the pure groups, not the Law of Karma.
The Law of Karma harmonizes, over vast periods of time, the selfless acts of body, speech & mind with the selfish acts of body, speech & mind. The specific type of body, the language spoken or the religion practiced are not relevant.
Fare Thee Well,
A correspondent who wishes to remain anonymous wrote the following:
It is my understanding that the strictly religious Jewish rabbis hold that the holocaust was a Divine response to the mass abandonment within European Jewry of the observance of Judaism. To this there were two distinct branches, the straightforward assimilationists and the roundabout assimilationists, that is, the nationalists (Zionists).
It is, as modern religious science teaches, the very observance of ritual that marks Jews off as a separate people, far more than their doctrine. Therefor the position of the rabbi's described above would be exactly opposite to the position as given in Fohat. I would like to add that the strict rabbis feel that holding ritual as it's been done for centuries is the main purpose of being a Jew. It is an accepted opinion that these rituals help the universe be sustained. Therefore, they would of course stress that any major catastrophe would be caused by that large group of people born Jews who aren't observant.
Seung Sahn would say, "When you eat, just eat. When you read the newspaper, just read the newspaper. Don't do anything other than you are doing."
One day a student saw him reading the newspaper while he was eating. The student asked if this did not contradict his teaching. Seung Sahn said, "When you eat and read the newspaper, just eat and read the newspaper."
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