Whoso has not properly understood the Four Excellent Truths," says the Samyutta Nikaya, "he goes from one teacher to another and looks searchingly into his face thinking: 'Does this one really know something, see something? It is as if a feather or a flock of cotton, light, at the mercy of the wind, blown about a plain, were carried now here, now there, now by this wind, now by that, by reason of its very lightness. But whoso has truly understood the Four Excellent Truths, he no longer goes from one teacher to another and searchingly looks into his face to see if this one may really know something, see something. It is as if a brazen calumny, or a post of a gate, stood there, deeply founded, well dug into the ground, without tottering or shaking. If now from this or that quarter, wind and weather come mightily storming on, it cannot tremble, shake and totter, and why not? Because of the depths of the foundation, because the column is well dug in.
True sustenance is in service, and through it a man or woman reaches the eternal Brahman. But those who do not seek to serve are without a home in this world.
Truly said Coleridge that “good works may exist without saving (?) principles, therefore cannot contain in themselves the principles of salvation; but saving principles never did, never can exist without good works.” Theosophists admit the definition, and disagree with the Christians only as to the nature of these “saving principles.” The Church (or churches) maintain that the only saving principle is belief in Jesus, or the carnalized Christ of the soul-killing dogma; theosophy, undogmatic and unsectarian, answers, it is not so. The only saving principle dwells in man himself, and has never dwelt outside of his immortal divine self; i.e., it is the true Christos, as it is the true Buddha, the divine inward light which proceeds from the eternal unmanifesting unknown ALL. And this light can only be made known by its works—faith in it having to remain ever blind in all, save in the man himself who feels that light within his soul.
Theosophy is not a creed; it is the grace of God in one's life; the power of God in one's work; the joy of God in one's rest; the wisdom of God in one's thought; the love of God in one's heart; the beauty of God in one's dealings with others.
You are responsible for the influence that you permit others to have over you.
Since our journal [H.P.Blavatsky's journal Lucifer] is entirely unsectarian, since it is neither theistic nor atheistic, Pagan nor Christian, orthodox nor heterodox, therefore, its editors discover eternal verities in the most opposite religious systems and modes of thought. Thus Lucifer fails to give full satisfaction to either infidel or Christian.
He who fondly believes that he has got the great ocean in his family water-jug is naturally intolerant of his neighbour, who also is pleased to imagine that he has poured the broad expanse of the sea of truth into his own particular pitcher. But anyone who, like the [real](#) Theosophist, knows how infinite is that ocean of eternal wisdom, to be fathomed by no one man, class, or party, and realizes how little the largest vessel made by man contains in comparison to what lies dormant and still unperceived in its dark, bottomless depths, cannot help but be tolerant. (*)
Etc. If Blavatsky was or tried to be unsectarian with respect to different religions, so does the present editor try to be unsectarian at least with respect to different groups of theosophists. New activity on her website does show her wider interests.
Some of you may have been familiar with the Gurdjieff Internet Guide. Unfortunately that site, though still in existence, has lost much of its material. Also, Reijo Elsner the owner is busy with other things and isn't planning to spend much time refurnishing and adding to his site. Your editor asked permission to salvage what I could from the internetarchives, and that permission was received from Reijo Elsner. The result is that the former site on Sufism on Katinka Hesselink Net has been turned into Sufism & Fourth Way. It features Sufi and Fourth Way stories, poems and jokes, as well as interviews which cover the many tangents followers of Gurdjieff have embarked upon.
Sent: Wednesday, July 06, 2005 7:53 AM
Richard Rose, spiritual teacher, philosopher, husband, father, friend, died this morning at ten minutes 'till 6:00. Funeral arrangements will be available on TAT Foundation.org later today.
From After the Absolute...
It was hard for those of us who know and love him to watch as he slipped from this world, even though in many ways he has never really been a part of it anyway--in it, but not of it, as the saying goes. But in the end the body betrays us all, and it must inevitably find a way to die. One way is no better or worse than another, I suppose. Still, it is difficult to know how to understand this particular way for Mister Rose, a man who once said that the difference between him and most people was that, "They live to live; I live to think."
What does it mean when an Enlightened man slowly loses his mind? He never spoke of this, and perhaps there is nothing to be said. The death of the body and its manner of leaving have nothing to do with one’s true nature. Mister Rose would probably have said that he died an ordinary death, as he must, like any other man in this madhouse. The only difference, he might have said, is that he knew exactly where he was going afterwards, that this is the great gift of his Enlightenment experience. In a short, haunting poem he wrote many years ago he seemed even to foresee the particular manner of his passing. Reading it now, I am strangely comforted. It is called, "I Will Take Leave of You."
I will take leave of you
Not by distinct farewell
As one entering vagueness
For words, symbols of confusion
Would only increase confusion
But silence, seeming to be vagueness,
Shall be my cadence
You will understand.
London was a busy town in the weekend of July 2nd and 3rd.
Live-aid and gay-parade and the news was full of the G8-conference in
Edinburgh. There was also a Theosophical History Conference on. A few
days later the first of the bombs exploded in the subway.
Kym Farnell told the interesting story (or summary) of the
occult life of Bulwer Lytton. He is well known among theosophists for
his occult story 'Zanoni'. She started out with the question whether
there had been such an occult life at all. The rest of her story in
summary is: yes there was such an occult life. He knew everybody and
was present at many a gathering. His writings show an in depth
knowledge of astrology, for instance. Mrs. Farnell looked at all the
occult subjects he might have been involved in and in each case found
out that he was in fact involved in it.
Then the Mead Symposium. As I had not known anything about Mead before, I was quite interested in his life as well. The summary in the program is apt here: "G.R.S. Mead (1863-1933) was a private secretary to Madame Blavatsky, and later editor of Lucifer (which he renamed Theosophical Review). He left the Theosophical Society in 1909 in protest against the Leadbeater case, and founded the Quest Society. His many books on Gnosticism and allied subjects remain valuable today." Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke went into the influence of Mead on Jung, whereas his wife Clare gave a summary of his life. She will be publishing a new book on Mead of which the talk was a summary. Robert Gilbert ended the Mead-symposium by comparing Mead with his college in the Quest society A.E. Waite. Though they had different backgrounds and preferences the central core of their teachings was the same.
After lunch Patrick Deveney went into a controversial issue:
can we learn from the occult enemies of the Theosophical Society. His
main thesis was that originally the occult teachings of the T.S. for
the inner crowd (for instance Olcott) had the aim of long life. The
article on the Elixir of Life
was a late exponent of this teaching. Deveney went as far as to say
that this aim was completely turned around, but that it was central in
the early TS. One of his arguments was that the TS would have never
created the stir it did if it had only offered the study of theoretical
teachings. He quoted Blavatsky in a newspaper article and posited that
certainly Olcott felt the change was too big to understand. The later
teaching is that the physical body isn't worth much and even that the
struggle for life is a major cause of our present society's problems.
Then your present editor came on with a paper on the
seal. For those who read the program, I wish to state that I am no
longer president of the Groningen lodge of the TS, having moved out of
Groningen over a year ago. I am still officially a member of that lodge
and manage its website.
Jack the Ripper comes up occasionally in
Mabel Collins believed she lived with him and R.J. Lees was an
'influential healer and medium' whose work around the Jack the Ripper
case is still part of the Ripper legend. Stephen Butt summarized his
life with a well presented powerpoint presentation.
The last paper of the first day was a bit fringe
with respect to
theosophy. Christine Garwood told the true story of Alfred Wallace who
made a living giving lectures defending the flat-earth theory in the
late 19th century. The main relation to theosophical history is, I
think, that it shows the climate of the time in relation to religion
and science. A very interesting paper.
The second day had a lighter tone to it. The program
around because of technical difficulties, so Patrick Deveney read the
paper Michael Gomes had submitted. The paper had a slightly surreal
feel to it, especially when Deveney read about his own accomplishments
in theosophical history and when he read out Michael Gomes'
accomplishments. The paper summarized the terrain covered in
theosophical history quite well and it was therefore quite useful. It
would be nice to have it in print as a reference.
George Young did a paper on Theosophical Images in
Russian Poetry. This involved translated poems read out loud. The main
thesis seemed to be that the recurring image of the archetypal woman
was a theosophical influence. It would have been a bit more interesting
I think, if it had been explained why the archetypal woman was seen as
a theosophical reference.
Then Kim Farnell introduced her new biography of
reviewed elsewhere in this issue of Lucifer7. She was followed by Jean
Overton Fuller who presented her view on the Besant/Leadbeater
presentation of theosophy. In summary: though they were foolish at
times and the Back-to-Blavatsky movement clearly had its uses, Besant
and Leadbeater did do unique work and can't be totally written off.
The closing lecture was by Mike Hall who talked
music, synchronicity and the ancient mystery schools. Though it was an
interesting talk, I don't think it was suitable for the conference.
There was no attempt made at checking facts, for instance. Mr. Hall
didn't seem to notice that Mozart was among the first generation of
Freemasons in Britain. If he had wanted to defend the masonic claim
that there is a link from the Egyptian mysteries to present-day masonic
rituals, he should at least have acknowledged the gap in the evidence
or provided new evidence. As it was the lecture seemed more appropriate
to a lodge meeting or a meeting for those interested in healing. His
real expertise seems to be in healing through music and physical
All in all, it was an interesting conference with a
very good atmosphere.
There is a tendency in theosophical circles to have
an ideal of
'impersonality'. This ideal means, in my understanding, that it isn't
individual people that are important, but the work. The main issue is
that of pride, I guess. There is also the issue of catering to possible
pride in others. In negative issues it is the other way around perhaps
- not wanting to draw attention to the precise person/people/group who
have a discussed imperfection. Alright, I understand all that. On the
other hand it is sometimes carried to extremes. Some examples follow -
some personalized, some not.
In the Dutch TS (Adyar) there has been discussion of
whether or not
there should be obituaries in the TS-magazine (Theosofia). In the end
it was decided there should be such. But some influential people wanted
these obituaries to be small - and even when recently Henk J.
Spierenburg died, the resulting obituary was minimal because of this
ideal of impersonality. Personally I feel that honor should go to
those who deserve it. Or as H.P. Blavatsky put it 'Ingratitude
is a crime in Occultism' (Blavatsky Collected Writings,
Volume 12, p. 493).
As internationally oriented theosophists and readers
newsletter are aware: there has been a volume of letters by H.P.
Blavatsky published recently. John Algeo and his wife Adele were
the editors. A controversy has raged, mainly in the pages of Fohat, on
whether some of these letters should have been included or not. The
latest issue of Fohat (summer 2005) even carried a call for money for
the publication of the same letters, but excluding the controversial
ones. Personally I found this last effort a waste of energy and I hope
it doesn't come to fruition - there are more important projects to be
completed. The relation with impersonality is this: In the July issue
of The Theosophist, 2005, John Algeo wrote an interesting article on
how harmony comes from mixing different opinions. He included the
aforementioned controversy as an example, without referring by name to
the magazine Fohat! The article reads like it was written with the
express object of answering the objections as aired in Fohat, without
alerting poor 'normal' theosophists to the existence of that
How far should impersonality be carried?
There is such a thing as being intoxicated in the course of an unwise pursuit of what we erroneously imagine is spirituality...... The placid surface of the sea of spirit is the only mirror in which can be caught undisturbed the reflections of spiritual things. When a student starts upon the path and begins to see spots of light flash out now and then, or balls of golden fire roll past him, it does not mean that he is beginning to see the real Self - pure spirit ..... These things, and still more curious things, will occur when you have passed a little distance on the way, but they are only the mere outposts of a new land which is itself wholly material, and only one remove from the plane of gross physical consciousness.
The liability to be carried off and intoxicated by these phenomena is to be guarded against. We should watch, note and discriminate in all these cases; place them down for future reference, to be related to some law, or for comparison with other circumstances of a like sort. The power that Nature has of deluding us is endless, and if we stop at these matters she will let us go no further ... the person who revolves selfishly around himself as a center is in greater danger of delusion than any one else, for he has not the assistance that comes from being united in thought with all other sincere seekers ... We must first dispel the inner darkness before trying to see into the darkness without; we must know ourselves before knowing things extraneous to ourselves.
This is not the road that seems easiest to students. Most of them find it far pleasanter and as they think faster, work, to look on all these outside allurements, and to cultivate all psychic senses, to the exclusion of real spiritual work.
p. 391: Influence is perpetually radiated upon us by all objects of Nature, even by the very earth upon which we tread. Each type of rock or soil has its own special variety, and the differences between them are very great, so that their effect is by no means to be neglected. In the production of this effect three factors bear their part - the life of the rock itself, the kind of elemental essence appropriate to its astral counterpart, and the kind of nature-spirits which it attracts ....This can be seen as an indication that Charles Danten was right in his estimation that pets become kind of obsessed with their owners, because their is no normal target for their affection available.
p. 393: A man who has really made friends with an animal is often much helped and strengthened by the affection lavished upon him. Being more advanced, a man is naturally capable of greater love than an animal is; but the animal's affection is usually more concentrated, and he is far more likely to throw the whole of his energy into it than a man is.
p. 394: It has been said that a man is known by the company he keeps. It is also to a very large extent true that he is made by it, for those with whom he constantly associates are all the while unconsciously influencing him and bringing him by degrees more and more into harmony with such vibrations as they radiate. ...If this is true, why should the company of pets be a good idea? They are evolutionarily behind people and will thus only pull us down. In other words why, with all the trouble one animal (our own bodily system with its animal urges) gives us, should we want to take care of another animal?
This fact of the enormous influence of close association with a more advanced personality is well understood in the East, where it is recognized that the most important and effective part of the training of a disciple is that he shall live constantly in the presence of his teacher and bathe in his aura.
p. 394-95: the ceaseless though unnoticed pressure exercised upon us by the opinions and feelings of our associates leads us frequently to absorb without knowing it many of their prejudices. Therefore it is distinctly undesirable that a man should remain always among one set of people and hear only one set of views. It is eminently necessary that he should know something of other sets, for only in that way can he learn to see good in all; only by thoroughly understanding both sides of any case can he form an opinion that has any right to be called a real judgment. ...
p. 395: The extent to which our human surroundings influence us is only realized when we change them for a while; and the most effective method of doing this is to travel in a foreign country. But true travel is not to rush from one gigantic caravanserai to another, consorting all the time with one's own countrymen and grumbling at every custom which differs from ours. It is rather to live for a time quietly in some foreign land, trying to really get to know its people and to understand them; to study a custom and see why it has arisen, and what good there is in it, instead, of condemning it offhand because it is not our own. The man who does this will soon come to feel the characteristic influences of the various races [we would say societies - K.H.] - to comprehend such fundamental diversities as those between the English and the Irish, the Indian and the American, the Breton and the Sicilian, and yet to realize that they are to be looked upon not as one better than another, but as the different colors that go to make up a rainbow, the different movements that are all necessary as parts of the great oratorio of life....
It is only after carefully considering and pondering over this matter for many years, and making a prolonged and careful study of everything H.P.B. wrote relating thereto, that I have come to the following absolutely clear and definite conclusion: While on the one hand, "belief in the ideal of the Masters" was declared by H.P.B. (letter of 1890) to be essential for the success of the T.S. [Theosophical Society], on the other, I can find no warrant in anything she wrote, or said - in either E.S. [Esoteric Section of the TS] or T.S.- for any assumption, after her death, that even the most advanced of her pupils was authorized or fitted to succeed her as the Agent and mouthpiece of the Masters. In other words, it is one thing to believe in Their existence and accept Their accredited and duly initiated Agent, H.P.B. - through whom that belief was gained - but it is quite another to assume that a Judge [W.Q. Judge], an Annie Besant, or anyone else for that matter, was fitted either by training or by the possession of H.P.B.'s unique qualities, moral, psychic and physical, to take her place.
This assumption was, however, tacitly made by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, supported by us - the E.S. Council - immediately after H.P.B.'s unexpected death. Mrs. Besant was then on her way back from a lecture tour in America, Mr. Judge was at once cabled for; and on their arrival in London a full meeting of the E.S.T. [E.S.] Council was held, May 27th 1891. No directions for the carrying on of the School have been found among H.P.B.'s papers, the council, after due deliberation, decided and recorded that "from henceforth with Annie Besant and William Q. Judge rest the full charge and management of the School." These two, out of H.P.B.'s pupils, were selected by us in virtue of two appointments made by H.P.B. during her life-time: the one for Mr. Judge, made in 1888 - when the school was founded - being, a very important office ; the other, a minor one - made on 1st April 1891 - appointed Mrs. Besant "Chief Secretary of the Inner Group of the Esoteric Section and Recorder of the Teachings." It is clear that, as these "Teachings" were given by H.P.B., Mrs. Besant's appointment as "Recorder" automatically ceased, on the Teacher's death. Both these appointments obviously could refer to the holders of them only during H.P.B.'s life-time; and the grave error they made - the initial one - lay in their speaking of themselves as H.P.B.'s "agents and representatives after her departure," in an "Address" issued by them, bearing the date 27th May 1891. In this they stated that the charges in the constitution of the "School" having been "made by the joint Councils of the E.S.T. [European and American]," they considered it their "duty" to issue this Address, which they both signed as "Outer Heads." Thus they definitely assumed H.P.B.'s office.
Neither I, nor any other member of the combined E.S. Councils realized at the time, not only that no-one could possibly succeed H.P.B. as the Outer Head of the E.S.T., but also that her death, totally unexpected - nine years before "the last hour of the term" - meant the withdrawal of the Masters also, because the Society They had founded through her had failed, as such... . The assumption, by Mrs. Besant and Mr. Judge, of the office of Outer Head in succession to H.P.B. was, therefore, the beginning of all the subsequent trouble. This error was one made practically, and in the first instance, by Mr. Judge, for he took up the position, from the time he arrived in London, that he could communicated directly with the Masters; and all of us - including Mrs. Besant - so accepted him - owing to his credentials as a chela of so many years standing ..., and his high personal character.
Kim Farnell has finally released her biography of Mabel Collins. She earlier wrote a biography of Walter Old, a theosophist-astrologer who held Blavatsky's hand as she died and who was instrumental in the Judge Case. This review will not go into Mabel's life much, as a summary by Kim Farnell has already been published on Katinka Hesselink. Net. This new book was presented to her fellow theosophical historians at the Theosophical History Conference, on July 3rd 2005. Mrs. Farnell knows how to tell a story. She knows how to uncover facts seemingly of little relevance, that end up painting a clearer picture than would have been painted without them. Not only Mabel herself, but also the Victorian culture she lived in and the buildings she rented are all mentioned and explained. The book ends with the author finding her gravestone. The footnotes are meticulous and informative on many of the side characters. Gossip is reported with each side of the story heard.
Mabel emerges as a person at once unsympathetic and
majority of her writings were devoted to fashion and love novels, but
theosophy and animal rights took up a lot of her time. Her mind seems
to have been split between
worthy causes and superficial aspects of life. Reading this book and
then reading Blossom and the Fruit may yield
insights into occult psychology that either book read alone may not
A few curious issues before I close. Farnell reports that Light on the Path, a theosophical classic, was originally written in Greek letters. Given that Mabel knew Greek it may well have been written in Greek originally. Unfortunately I don't think the manuscript survives.
Second the suggestion that Blavatsky may have been a
lesbian. This has drawn violent protests when aired in Fohat, but in
the book it
is no more than the suggestion of a possibility. An editorial in Fohat
might well have called it an innuendo, rightly so, this time. I don't
see how Blavatsky could
have hidden a lesbian relationship with all her constant companions
when she was in London. Whether her feelings for
Besant were beyond the ordinary is unclear. As Farnell says, her
feelings towards Mabel were mostly negative. All and all I don't see
it matters. Mabel didn't live up to the ascetic E.S. ideals and her
behavior after being ousted from that organization is certainly enough
to show that Blavatsky had reason to evict her. The inner precedes the
outer and in an esoteric school the inner is therefore very important.
Lesbians can't really
get Blavatsky as their bannerbearer,
as nothing is proven and as there is absolutely no evidence that the
relationship was consummated. As long as the friendships she had with
women weren't consummated, it would not have broken Blavatsky's vows
either, as far as I can tell. This does bring out the curious question
how theosophists feel about homosexual relationships - and the answer
can't really be found in the classical theosophical literature as far
as I'm aware. As a born and bread Dutch-woman I personally feel that as
heterosexual relationships are homosexual ones a hindrance on the path
- the ultimate ideal is celibacy in thought and deed. Blavatsky may
have had bi-sexual tendencies - many women do. But acting upon those is
another matter entirely. She was also, despite
her many colleague in the end, lonely. That in itself may explain why
Besant, whose good heart few have doubted, was addressed as 'beloved'.
In short - all we know about H.P. Blavatsky can be explained quite well
without resorting to the hypothesis of her being a closet lesbian. The
same goes for Mabel, as far as I'm concerned.
A third and related issue is a section on how
authors relate to the books they write. This is
so interesting that I'll be dealing with that more fully in a
future issue of Lucifer7.
Once upon a time, a small band of consecrated men set out on a pilgrimage, seeking to do what good they could for their fellowmen. They blazed a trail through field and forest, over mountain and valley. They removed obstacles and broke down barriers, to make the way smooth and safe for those who were to follow. Finally their progress was halted by a chasm, deep and wide, with a torrential stream thundering below. A different people dwelt on the far side - a people of strange and hostile bearing. A bridge was needed to carry the road over the barrier and to link the lands on the two sides in friendly cooperation and understanding. The pilgrims undertook to bridge the chasm, uniting their skill and their strength for this task.
The span they built was a great bridge of timber. The timbers were sound and square and true, and the span was sturdy and strong. But before long a fiery spark fell on the span and the entire bridge was consumed by the flames. Naught but smoldering ashes remained.
Recovering from this set-back, the pilgrims then built a great bridge of stone. The masonry was sound and truly laid, and the arching span was massive and monumental. But before long an earthquake heaved the ground and the bridge crumbled into ruins. Naught remained but shapeless masses of rubble.
Still undaunted, the pilgrims made a third attempt. This time they built a great bridge of steel. The steel was strong and powerful and resilient, and the towering span was fashioned in beauty and in strength. But one day a terrifying atomic projectile fell from the sky and, in an instant, the great arching structure was dissolved into vapor. No trace of the mighty span remained.
The pilgrims were sick and sad of heart at this frustration of their efforts. They had given of their best and had applied their ultimate of knowledge and skill and art to serve their fellowmen, but all had come to naught. What had they overlooked? What priceless ingredient was lacking? How could the chasm be spanned? How could the barrier between man and man be bridged?
As the bridge builders pondered these questions in their inmost hearts, the darkness parted, the clouds rolled away, and a radiant vision appeared. Spanning across the heavens, a glorious rainbow was revealed, resplendent in its glowing hues. And as the men gazed at this divine symbol, a Voice spoke to their hearts, saying, "Build a bridge not made by hands - a span not made of wood or stone or steel. Seek in your hearts for the elements that are priceless and fashion these into a radiant span of the spirit. If you want to bridge the chasm that separates man from man, build the span that truce endures: Build a Bridge of Human Kindness!"
When they heard this message from above and within, the hearts of the pilgrims were kindled, and they dedicated their remaining years to the inspired task that had been revealed to them. Patiently they labored, overcoming misunderstanding and prejudice, suspicion and doubt, selfishness and hostility. And patiently they wrought, seeking the priceless elements in their hearts and fashioning them into a great bridge that spanned the chasm. Of love and charity, of thoughtfulness and consideration, of understanding and brotherhood, they build the span eternal - the Bridge of Human Kindness.
And in time the great bridge was finished, linking man to man in human brotherhood. The floods came, the storms raged, the lightning flashed, the earth trembled, but the bridge of the spirit stood staunch and unshaken. Against time and the elements, against all the forces of destruction, the span stood triumphant, gaining resistance in each test and increasing in strength with the years. For such are the magic and the power of Human Kindness - the prayer of mankind and the hope of the world to eternity.
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