Shun praise, O Devotee. Praise leads to self-delusion. Thy body is not Self, thy SELF is in itself without a body, and either praise or blame affects it not.
Self-gratulation, O Disciple, is like unto a lofty tower, up which a haughty fool has climbed. Thereon he sits in prideful solitude and unperceived by any but himself.
"I know we should be brethren and lovers,
"I know I should be happy with them."
In the previous issue of Lucifer7 I stated that '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.' I forgot to mention that she was evicted from the T.S. not just the E.S. For a summary of what happened see the summary of Mabel's biography on Katinka Hesselink Net.
Elsewhere in this issue of Lucifer7 Daniel Caldwell gives his two cents on how we should (not) represent theosophy. The present article is more directed at the practical work each of us can do, whether we call ourselves theosophists or not. For me theosophy is anything that leads to wisdom or even further on 'enlightenment'. For me the path is paramount, details on rounds and races, chakras and elementals, however interesting aren't central. For this reason Krishnamurti, H.P. Blavatsky, Buddha and Krishna (The Bhagavad Gita) and Patanjali (Yoga Suttras) are all of them the kind of literature I might advise to those new to the spiritual path. For those for whom that literature is too hard, I am more likely to say: 'take it slow' then 'alright here is an easier book'. The path isn't easy and one should distrust any book that makes it look easy. Of course other very relevant advice is: join a group, whether it be a theosophical lodge, a Krishnamurti study group or a Buddhist meditation group. At first it isn't even very important whether a group is only involved in its own direction or open to people from different walks in life. If it isn't open, stay for a year, perhaps two, to learn what they've got to teach you and then move on. If it is open (like most Theosophical Society Adyar - lodges are) stay, learn and contribute by living up to the three objects (especially the first two). I give them summarized:
If it is your lot to also study the unknown laws of
nature or the
hidden powers in man (clairvoyance and stuff), I wish you luck and
don't forget the first two. A lodge may still be the best place to help
keep you grounded, but more often than not there will not be many
people with enough experience to help practically.
The latest issue of Theosophical History (July 2005) has the interesting information that D.T. Suzuki and his wife Beatrice Lane were both active members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) from the 1920's on. The article is written by Adele Algeo and contains letters written by mrs. Suzuki on her theosophical work in Japan. When in 1937 Jinarajadasa visited Tokyo, Dr. Suzuki translated his lectures into Japanese. Mrs. Algeo also reminds her readers that William James, famous for his 'Varieties of Religious Experiences' was a member of the Theosophical Society (Adyar).
'Keeping the link unbroken': theosophical studies
presented to Ted
G. Davy on his Seventy-fifth birthday (published 2004) features a lot
of interesting articles. I want to draw your attention to the article
on Anagarika Dharmapala whose place in theosophical history is usually
ignored by students of Buddhism in the West. In short: Blavatsky told
him to study Pali and he remained a member of the Theosophical Society
until 1905(p. 94) and reportedly ''could still find solace quoting
the words of the Mahatmas" a year before he died in 1933. On his
growing distance from Col. Olcott the article says amongst other things
[p. 94, leaving out footnotes]:
The rupture between Olcott and Dharmapala was just one of the casualties resulting from the tensions that the Theosophical Society was experiencing in the 1890's. When Dharmapala returned from the Parliament [of the World's religions in 1893] he was told by Olcott that William Q. Judge, the Vice-President of the Society, would be impeached for disseminating letters from the Masters. He had met Judge in America and had been favorably impressed. Where Dharmapala in the past would have followed Olcott's lead, he had become exposed to other views about the President and the Theosophical Society on his recent trip around the world, among them Swami Vivekananda's, how had applied to Olcott for financial assistance to get to the Parliament in America and had been rebuffed and spoke critically about the Society.
Elementaries are not all bad, but,... they are not good. They are shells... they have much automatic and seemingly intelligent action left if they are those of strongly material people who died attached to the things of life. If of people of an opposite character, they are not so strong. hen there is a class which are really not dead, such as suicides, and sudden deaths, and highly wicked people. They are powerful. Elementals enter into all of them, and thus get a fictitious personality and intelligence wholly the property of the shell. They galvanize the shell into action, and by its means can see and hear as if beings themselves, like us. The shells are, in this case, just like a sleep-walking human body. They will through habit exhibit the advancement they got while in the flesh.......
Student: When a clairvoyant ... tells me that "he sees a strong band of spirits about me," ... what does he really see? Sage: Shells, I think, and thoughts, and old astral pictures. If, for instance, you once saw that eminent person and conceived great respect or fear for him, so that his image was graven in your astral sphere in deeper lines than other images, it would be seen for your whole life by seers, who, if untrained, - as they all are here - could not tell whether it was an image or reality; and then each sight of it is a revivification of the image.
Besides, not all would see the same thing. Fall down ... and hurt your body, and that will bring up all similar events and old forgotten things before any seer's eye.
The whole astral world is a mass of illusion; people see into it, and then through the novelty of the thing and the exclusiveness of the power, they are bewildered into thinking they actually see true things, whereas they have only removed one thin crust of dirt.
(*) first printed by William Q. Judge in The Path, May 1888; Boris de Zirkoff who compiled the H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, assumed these to have been written by H.P. Blavatsky.
Kim Farnell, in her recent biography of Mabel Collins (#) , goes into the question to what extent can the author be judged by his or her writings. This is a very relevant question in relation to the afore mentioned biography, because Farnell uses quotes from Collins' books to illustrate her personality. Though there are obvious limits to this, I do think to some extent the personality of the author can be judged from the books they produce. In Mabel Collins' case her writings deal with roughly four topics: fashion and beauty tips, romance, animal rights (called vivisection in those days) and spirituality/occultism/theosophy. This represents her interests fairly well, I'd say after reading the biography. Of course it would usually be going too far to assume that an author isn't even interested in the subjects they write about. Some cases of authors writing about subjects they had not thought about before do exist. In this century a famous example is 'A Course in Miracles'. Still even in such a case, where an occult explanation of what happened seems the most logical, it is obvious that while writing the author is fascinated by what is written. Also, in that case, it changed her life. I mention this as a related case, because Mabel Collins in her theosophical classics, was writing in a trance state. Those books are so beyond the worldly quality of her fashion-comments that it even seems unlikely that they came from the same pen. Indeed, Blavatsky claimed that they were given to Mabel Collins by a Mahatma. Even if that's true, and I'd say that some other consciousness than Mabel's personality was indeed involved in writing Light on the Path, there still has to be a reason for that other consciousness to choose this particular writer. Mabel Collins was a medium, so that would have helped, but I also think her higher aspirations must have been pure enough to act as a link. These higher aspirations later surfaced in her work for animal rights.
Farnell, p. 122-123.
Mabel was an extremely prolific writer. She published at least forty six books in her lifetime, wrote a number of articles, some of which were to later form the basis of her books and was also a fashion correspondent for The World, writing a regular column. ...
Current literary theory considers that meanings are created by influences beyond the control of the reader or writer. In other words, our interpretation of any written work is created by our knowledge and experience separate to the work. Obviously that needn't be a bad thing, the more angles we can take in studying such works, the more understanding we are likely to gain. These theories assume that literature is constructed by environmental influences and that neither readers nor authors can transcend these influences. Unfortunately these theories do not explain exceptional texts which emerge and are especially inapplicable to spiritual works. Does that mean that such works transcend normal literary theory? Do authors really know their own intentions? Doesn't the meaning of a text change over time? How can we be sure that the meaning we find in a text is the same one that the author intended? The constant attempts of theosophists to prove that Blavatsky led a chaste life shows that they believe that her writings did not transcend their knowledge. What was known of Mabel's lifestyle was equally damning to reception of her future works. (#)
What is said here isn't entirely true. One reason theosophists
believe Blavatsky led a chaste life, is that there
was a doctor's certificate on the subject which makes it clear that
heterosexual intercourse would have been cause for illness in her case.
(*) I'm leaving out Farnell
's comments on Mabel Collins' sensual life. She concludes the subject
of the relationship between author's and their work with (p. 124):
One of the long running arguments about some of Mabel's books is whether or not they were written by her, perhaps in an exceptional state of mind or being, or whether they were inspired by one or more of the Masters. Some consider this question to be irrelevant nit picking as whoever the true author is makes no difference to the value of the work. Others place a higher value on her work if it is seen as written by one of the Masters with Mabel acting as their conduit. It is almost impossible for us at this distance in time to have a certain view of this question. Anyone's answer to this question must be at least partially based on their belief or otherwise in the Masters and the way that they work. I will not, therefore, attempt to do more with this issue than apprise the reader of the fact that it is there. (#)
(*) The doctor's certificate has been frequently quoted. It's
in Col. H.S. Olcott's Old Diary Leaves, volume 3,
p. 330-332 (Adyar 1972 ) as well as in Mary K. Neff's 'Personal
Memories of H.P.Blavatsky', New York, Dutton, 1937 [reprinted
by Quest 1967] and in Walter A. Carrither's 'The Truth about
Madame Blavatsky' (undated, probably 1947), p. 10-12. In
Blavatsky's words (Neff, p. 188) 'I could have never had
connection with any man without inflammation,
because I am lacking something and the place is filled up with some
On a certain evening, she put on her night-dress, went to bed, and received a mixed company of ladies and gentlemen. This was after the fashion of royal and noble dames of pre-revolutionary days in Europe. Her palpable sexlessness of feeling carried all this off without challenge. No woman visitor would ever see in her a possible rival, no man imagine that she could be cajoled by him into committing indiscretions. (Old Diary Leaves, volume 1, pp. 460-61, Adyar 1974 ) [emphasis mine]
contemporaries didn't even come up with the suspicion that she was a
lesbian, so that charge was never denied. This very lack of imagination
evidence against the hypothesis that she was a lesbian. Going back to
the question of the relationship between an author and their work: as
far as I'm aware HPB's writings don't
even go into the question whether or not homosexual relations are good
spiritual practice. I guess it was assumed it would fall under the
heading of general chastity (which she advised).
(#) Source for the quotes: Mystical Vampire: The life and works of Mabel Collins; by Kim Farnell, Mandrake, Oxford, 2005
No member is asked either to believe or to spread Theosophical teachings. Every member is left absolutely free to study exactly as he chooses; he may accept or reject any Theosophical teaching; he remains in his own religion - Hindu, Parsi, Buddhist, Hebrew, Christian, Muhammadan; and his religion, if he holds to it strongly, will color all his ideas. If he accepts Theosophical teachings, a strong believer in any special form of religion will present them in his own form, and is absolutely free to do so. But he must not insist on his own form of them being accepted by others.
The Society has no dogmas, and therefore no heretics. It does
shut any man out because he does not believe the Theosophical
teachings. A man may deny every one of them, save that of Human
claim his place and his right within its ranks. Theosophists realize
that just because the intellect can only do its
best work in its own atmosphere of freedom, truth can best be seen when
conditions are laid down as to the right of investigation, as to the
research. To them Truth is so supreme a
thing, that they do not desire to bind any man with conditions as to
how, or where, or why he shall seek it. The future of
the Society depends on the fact that it should include a vast variety
opinions on all questions on which differences of opinion exist; it is
not desirable that there should be within it only one school of
and it is the duty of every member to guard this liberty for himself
From the time of our founding, the United Church of Christ has struggled to articulate its identity. The names of predecessor denominations identify important elements: Evangelical suggests a piety shaped by personal encounter with the Gospel. Congregational reminds us of the centrality of the local church for discipleship and mission. Reformed teaches us that church and society are subject to sin and must therefore be reshaped by the prophetic word. Christian connects us to those who cherish the simplicity of a commitment to Jesus who invites all to the Table.
Since 1957 other phrases have helped us articulate our distinctive vocation: We are a "united and uniting" church seeking renewal through the vision of Christ's prayer "that they may all be one that the world might believe." We are a "just peace" church committed to overcoming violence and oppression. We are a "multi-racial, multi-cultural church" yearning for the day when our congregations more fully reflect the vision of Pentecost. We are an "open and affirming" church where no one's baptismal identity can be denied because of his or her sexual identity. We are an "accessible" church cherishing the gifts of all regardless of physical or mental abilities. More recently we have been thinking about what it means to call ourselves "the church of the still speaking God," a church that believes God has yet more light and truth to break forth from the Word.
Each of these phrases captures an important dimension of our life together. But Paul also tells that our core identity transcends human categories. In Christ we are all children of God through faith, heirs according to God's promise. In the end identity is about belonging, and it is to Christ that we belong before any party or agenda. As we celebrate the birthday of the United Church of Christ this week, we give thanks for those distinctive gifts that mark our unique contribution to the Christian witness in the world. But even more, we give thanks that through this church we have received our inheritance with all others who are one in Jesus Christ.
"If I thought for one moment that 'Lucifer' will 'rub out' Path I would never consent to be its editor. Now listen to me my good old friend: Once that the Masters have proclaimed your 'Path' the best the most theosophical of all theosophical publications - surely it is not to allow it to be rubbed out!! I know what I am saying & doing, my 'commanding genius' not withstanding. To prove this - (which will be proven to you by the first number of Lucifer when you see its polemical contents) I will write every month regularly for "Path" occult, transcendental & theosophical articles. I give you my word of honour of HPB. I will force people to subscribe for Path & this will never hurt 'Lucifer.' One is the fighting, combative Manas - the other (Path) is pure Buddhi.(*) Can't both be united in an offensive & defensive alliance in one rupa or Sthula Sarira - theosophy? Lucifer will be Theosophy militant - 'Path' the shining light, the Star of Peace. If your intuition does not whisper to you - it is so: then that intuition must be wool-gathering. No Sir; the 'Path' is too well, too theosophically edited for me to interfere. I am not born for meek & conciliating literature!" Quoted from:Notice some of the key phrases in HPB's letter:
". . . What you need in America is a Weekly if not a fighting daily. Path is a 'lamb-Job' an ever meek Jeremiah, as is our Revue Theosophique in Paris. You hardly dare to say booh in it, for fear it should look like polemics. If, profiting by the occasion, you should address every Theosophist & Esotericist and have Buck & a few others to help you - and representing them the truth, namely that Theosophy cannot triumph so long as every paper pitches into it and none will print an answer, collect money enough to publish a weekly, a theosophical pucka fighting paper 'the Champion' or the 'Wrangler', or some such thing & set Fullerton as nominal editor & you the real Boss, then we could get on. Now Mrs. Candler. . . will start up a subscription for a Weekly for you & is sure to head it with a good sum. Your Path is a most excellent theosophical paper, but useless for militant purposes."Notice again in this letter HPB's emphasis:
"...Contrast alone can enable us to appreciate things at their right value; and unless a judge compares notes and hears both sides he can hardly come to a correct decision."Although there is always dangers in generalizing, I would suggest that in the 20th century the great majority of magazines published by Theosophical groups have followed THE PATH model of "meek & conciliating literature" avoiding at all cost any thing that looked like polemics. To many Theosophical students nowadays anything remotely suggesting "polemics" or "militant" or "fighting" is viewed as almost ANTI-Theosophical. Serious students of Blavatsky's writings might profit from pondering on the implications of HPB's own words quoted above.