Lucifer7, September 2006


Contents

Short Quotes
Divine Consciousness or Animal Soul?, W.Q. Judge
Krishnamurti on Blavatsky and Theosophy
Theosophical Society in America (Adyar): mission statement, Katinka Hesselink
Theosophy in America (or rather: the USA), '120th Summer National Gathering 2006'
The Trouble Tree 


Short Quotes

N. Sri Ram, Thoughts For Aspirants, Second Series

True knowledge is from the heart as well as the mind. It is not a mere mental perception of the forms of things or a knowledge of their material nature; it must include the soul of things, the divine ideas that they enshrine.

Mr. D.S. Sarma, M.A., The Gita and Spiritual Life

"Religion is a comfortable pursuit only so far as it means the observance of rituals, the solemn reading of sacred books, the singing of hymns and the undisturbed possession of one's property.  But when a man passes beyond these tasteful outer courts and tries to enter the inner court of the temple where the mystic way begins, he is struck down at the very entrance.  The first touch of true religion results invariably in an inward Sanyasa.  For the things that the man has prized most till then become suddenly like the dust on the roadside.  The guides that have served him till then, and the companions that have cheered him all along by their presence, linger behind, fail and fade away.  The light that lighted him so far has its well marked boundary here.  It is of no use beyond.  For as the Upanishad says:  `The sun does not shine there, nor the moon, nor the stars, nor these lightnings, much less this fire.  He shines, and everything shines after Him.  By this light all this is illumined'."

H.P. Blavatsky, Letters, p. 154

Will-Power ... goes far when well applied by those "who know how and when."

1 John 2:29

"Every one that doeth righteousness is born of him."

Malcolm Gibson 1983

Everything is dependent on the small things: relaxation - you can always relax more; acceptance, oneself and others - can always try; house-cleaning - will always be just as difficult, but at least you have done it before. It is important to do all these little things every day.


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Divine Consciousness or Animal Soul?

W.Q. Judge, The Theosophical Forum, March, 1894

    Question: - How can we discern whether it is the divine conscience animating us and directing us in a certain direction, or the animal soul seeking release from seemingly unfavorable environments:

    Answer: - The divine conscience acts in all struggles for betterment, but clouded more or less in each by reason of education and habit of thought;  hence it varies in brightness.  It is not possible to make a hard-and-fast fixed rule for finding out what is the animating motive.  If we are trying to get into a better state, it is for us to decide if that be simply and wholly selfish.  All actions are surrounded by desire as the rust is round the polished metal or the smoke round the fire, but we must try.  So if we fix for ourselves the rule that we will try to do the best we can for others, we will generally be led right.  If we rely on the higher self and aspire to be guided by it, we will be led to the right even if the road goes through pain, for sorrow and pain are necessary for purification of the soul.  But if we wish to run away from an environment because we do not like it and without trying to live in it while not of it, we are not altering ourselves but simply altering the circumstances, and may not always gain anything.  


Krishnamurti on Blavatsky and Theosophy

Collected Works Volume 1; March 31, 1934

Questioner: What is your attitude to the early teachings of Theosophy, the Blavatsky type? Do you consider we have deteriorated or advanced?

KRISHNAMURTI: I am afraid I do not know, because I do not know what Madame Blavatsky's teachings are. Why should I? Why should you know of someone else's teachings? You know, there is only one truth, and therefore there is only one way, which is not distant from the truth; there is only one method to that truth, because the means are not distinct from the end.

Now you who have studied Madame Blavatsky's and the latest Theosophy, or whatever it is, why do you want to be students of books instead of students of life? Why do you set up leaders and ask whose teachings are better? Don't you see? Please, I am not being harsh, or anything of that kind. Don't you see? You are Christians; find out what is true and false in Christianity—and you will then find out what is true. Find out what is true and false in your environment with all its oppressions and cruelties, and then you will find out what is true. Why do you want philosophies? Because life is an ugly thing, and you hope to run away from it through philosophy. Life is so empty, dull, stupid, ignominious, and you want something to bring romanticism into your world, some hope, some lingering, haunting feeling; whereas, if you really faced the world as it is, and tackled it, you would find it something much more, infinitely greater than any philosophy, greater than any book in the world, greater than any teaching or greater than any teacher.

We have really lost all sense of feeling, feeling for the oppressed, and feeling for the oppressor. You only feel when you are oppressed. So gradually we have intellectually explained away all our feelings, our sensitiveness, our delicate perceptions, until we are absolutely shallow; and to fill that shallowness, to enrich ourselves, we study books.


Theosophical Society in America (Adyar): mission statement

Katinka Hesselink 2006

The Theosophical Society has had three objects for more than a century. They are:

  1. To form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color.
  2. To encourage the study of Comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science.
  3. To investigate unexplained laws of Nature and the powers latent in man. (Source)

Of these three objects the first has been considered the most important, at least since the time H.P. Blavatsky and H.S. Olcott arrived in India in 1879. Strangely enough the 'mission-statement' of the Theosophical Society in Wheaton (Adyar) rephrases the above, but leaves brotherhood out. It is as follows:

To encourage open-minded enquiry into world religions, philosophy, science, and the arts in order to understand the wisdom of the ages, respect the unity of all life, and help people explore spiritual self-transformation.

A mission statement is merely another word for aim or object. So one would expect the three objects of the Theosophical Society to agree precisely with the mission-statement. One would also expect the wording of the mission-statement to be more modern. In that vein it would have been a nice challenge if the board of directors of the US-section of the TS had found a new sex-neutral way of saying that people should treat each other well. What else does a 'nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity (etc)' mean? But to leave it all out is really going too far for me, and for several of the people I met in Wheaton this summer. This mission-statement sounds selfish to me. Great: I find an organisation where people will help me with my self-transformation en where my open enquiry into religions, spirituality and science will be supported. Wonderful. And there is no suggestion that I personally need to do anything at all. I don't need to practice loving kindness. I don't need to find tolerance in my heart for those I've learned to despise or ignore. I will perhaps learn to respect the unity of all life in abstract, but there is no need for me to do anything practical at all... 

I'm obviously being cynical. In actual fact the attempt to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color is work. It means a constant attempt to overcome my conditioning. It means reaching out to people. It means practicing kindness. It means learning to deal with people I may not like. I find it very disappointing that the TS in America has edited this very important attempt out of its 'mission statement' and hope they will change things soon.


Theosophy in America (or rather: the USA), '120th Summer National Gathering 2006'

Katinka Hesselink

Each summer the American Section of the Theosophical Society (TS) has a gathering that is both business meeting and summer school. Non-members of the TS are not explicitly invited, but in practice nothing is done to discourage them from coming either. The atmosphere of the gathering was both very familiar to me, as strange and new. Familiar, as it was as comfortable talking to these overseas theosophists, as it has always been talking to theosophists here in the Netherlands. Strange as well, as inevitably things are done differently, when there is a different host-country. 

The opening was a lot former than I'm used to seeing it. 'evening dress optional' says it all, I think. For those who have not been to Olcott for this: evening dress means suits and ties and dresses and in the case of theosophists: saris and Indian dresses in general. First Betty Bland, the national president of the TS in the USA, welcomed us. Then there were prayers from 'all the world's religions', though this is obviously practically impossible there were a lot. The atmosphere of that ceremony was more informal than I saw it in India. It looked like people could just come up and give whatever prayer they wanted. Among the many prayers more than one Christian denomination was represented, as well as Islam, the gayatri mantra and a humanist prayer. The opening ended with greetings from all over the world. I gave greetings from the Netherlands and the International Theosophical Centre at Naarden also in the Netherlands.

The business meeting consisted of reports from the various departments. I was surprised to see the work that went into making it literally entertaining. The Quest Bookshop even got a (fake) sťance on the way in which Annie Besant appeared. This is certainly different from how I'm used to seeing it, but I enjoyed myself anyhow.

The theme of the school was 'Theosophy in action'. Radha Burnier, international president, gave most of the lectures. Room had been made for Diana Chapotin's coverage of the Order of Service, John Algeo and Joy Mills. After the main lecture, each morning, there were group discussion that were - as usual - very interesting. In the afternoon there were usually lectures, workshops and meditation classes. To be honest I wasn't impressed with what I saw of the meditation classes. Theosophists don't have a reputation of being very good at meditation and this didn't help any in my book. The morning meditation even reminded me of group hypnosis. A bad sign that confirmed this impression was that several people told me that they had a tendency to fall asleep during the morning-meditation. 

The lectures were very good. Radha Burnier's opening lecture was about finding balance. She meant finding a balance between the development of buddhi (roughly intuition), thought, emotion and action. If there is insight, don't act on it immediately. Let it germinate, it will express itself naturally in action or words at some point. Spiritual aspiration as well needs to be in harmony. Too much of it leads to ambition, too much tension or waste of energy. Mental balance includes overcoming the duality of thought. This means that likes and dislikes will disappear and we will neither accept nor reject what IS. 

Diana Chapotin, in her lecture about the Theosophical Order of Service (TOS), stressed that theosophists are active in social service in various ways. One of the main ways is individual action. She meant that theosophists all over the world are active in social work through organisations that have nothing to do with theosophy. The second way in which theosophists are active practically in the world is through the activities of local theosophical lodges and sections. The TOS complements all that with very specific projects in area's like education, animal welfare, vegetarianism and help in case of natural disasters like recently Katrina. On an organisational level TOS-groups are led by theosophists, but the volunteers don't have to be members. Though any kind of social work can be taken on, it is necessary that central theosophical values behind the work are communicated regularly to keep the work theosophical. Diana explained that the work of the TOS has grown dramatically recently under her leadership. She can't cope on her own anymore and a reorganisation is necessary.

Joy Mills gave a public lecture on the vitality of living truth. She stressed the difference between living wisdom and book wisdom. Theosophists always risk not going beyond book wisdom. If we really see the truth, our heart and our whole being will change. That's the power of living truth. In order for that to happen, we need to actually practice truth as we know it (not as we want it to be) in our daily lives. Every experience that broadens our sensitivity, mirrors living truth for us. In modern thought the interconnectedness of everything is becoming quite clear. H.P. Blavatsky actually went one step further: she saw everything as one living being, One Life. The theory of Gaia shows this on the level of the earth, but for Blavatsky it's true of the whole universe. Breath is used as an image of that Oneness.

Radha's second lecture dealt with a very central theme: growing in wisdom. In this lecture she repeated a theme that threads through her Watchtower pieces in The Theosophist as well: Humanity grows in knowledge, but not in wisdom. The knowledge that has been developed over the past two centuries leads to destruction because there is no knowledge on what is right in the long run. It is relatively easy to develop knowledge. It is very hard to find out what right action is. We don't realise enough that in hurting someone else, we hurt ourselves. Wisdom leads to a peaceful, sensitive world. Knowledge leads to pride and this can only be challenged by becoming aware of the limitations of knowledge. Otherwise knowledge leads to a feeling of separateness. On the other hand it is necessary to learn to think independently and become aware to what extent we are all influenced by others. An example she gave is that the simple life is no longer seen as ideal. Everybody wants to live as is portrayed on television. In all her lectures this week Radha reminded us that our personal problems need to come second. Growth in wisdom means growth in altruism and that means forgetting self. Our personal problems and our joys are both temporary. We make them bigger than they are. Why is suffering such a large problem? The TS was founded to fight prejudice. Prejudice hinders an insight into real problems and can only be dissolved by a feeling of connectedness with all human beings. Our altruism needs to become universal. The Buddha said: it's better to give a little lovingly, than to give a lot without love. 

It was very impressive to hear the report of theosophists living near the area where Katrina hit. There were slides as accompanying there very personal report. The most important insight I got from that was that storms are normal for the people in this region. Normally people do not leave in case of a storm. Despite that fact, and this has not been stressed enough, this was the most successful evacuation in history. Around 90-95% of the people in the New Orleans region were evacuated. We were told that criminals always stay behind so they can loot. This is part of the pattern. Because this storm did so much more damage than most other storms, everything got bigger than usual. 

John Algeo spoke about the most holy mission of theosophy. He started by saying that Blavatsky in her final five years on earth, had left a legacy of five: 

  1. The Secret Doctrine
  2. The Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society
  3. The Key to Theosophy
  4. The Voice of the Silence
  5. Her three letters to the American Conventions of the TS

These three letters were the backbone to Johns two lectures. They give direction to Theosophical work in the world. Blavatsky's last years were tough, but John stressed that out of disaster, blessings often come. Disasters mix things up. Tibetan Buddhism would never have spread to the West as it has, if China hadn't invaded Tibet. In her 1891 letter, Blavatsky mainly spoke of living theosophy, not the teachings. In her first letter she stressed the aim of the Theosophical Society to unite people of all nations and altruism. Organisations are important, but they can't created holiness, health or wholeness. We have to become fully human, that is what the word master signifies: to master ourselves. There can only be harmony in organisations, if opposites are balanced, not through wiping out differences. In his second lecture he returned to the theme of unifying people of all nations. He also pointed out that every wise administration knows that things can't be forced. No rule can open the heart-mind of people. No group is safe from fundamentalism. Theosophists too run this risk, though in real theosophy there can be no dogmas, because it is based on real insight and rational thinking. Real theosophy reflects divine reason, the reason of Buddhi. John closed with Blavatsky's words in the last letter to the American Conventions: to be theosophists, live theosophy. 

In her next lecture Radha talked about growing in Love. Love is our true being, that aspect of ourselves which is one with every other. Love is beyond words, it's part of Universal Life. It is necessary to feel affection for kids and animals. Continually looking for security, that wish masks a desire for Love. Our world is dark, there is little friendship, little Love. How do we remove the barriers that separate us from our essential nature: Love? To this practical question, Radha's answer is to be more sensitive. We have to feel as others feel, without identifying with their pain. You can't help others by going along with their pain, but you have to know what it is. Right action requires going beyond social custom and convention and being really sensitive. This sensitivity doesn't hinder our happiness. Our real nature isn't just Love, it's also Bliss. But we need to become conscious of other people. Unkind thoughts hurt others, and ultimately ourselves. They are like a hungry wolf that eats up our best tendencies. Annie Besant said that if we can't see God in others, we must be the worst possible atheists. The problem with gossip is that it is superficial. We have to learn to look under the surface, without judgment of any kind. The habit to criticize strengthens the ego. Be a missionary of Love and generosity. Be prepared to give of yourself. Don't just do what is necessary, but actively contribute to the welfare of people in conversation. Every tendency of personality has to disappear. That way of looking teaches us to overcome pettiness. The first step is the last step, because the direction in which we move is of primary importance. 

Radha's final lecture was called 'purification through action'. Real wisdom is in seeing action in non-action and non-action in action. The central question she asked: what is right action? Each of us has to decide that for ourselves. Keep in mind that our energy impacts the world, not just our actions. Everything is interconnected. That's why abstaining from action isn't the same thing as freedom from action. When actions create problems, it's not right action. Right action is necessary, but we have to avoid identifying with it. In everything you do, ask yourself if there is egoism involved. The tricky part is that even that thought is in a way selfish. We need an inner balance that is independent of success or failure. Success and failure are part of the ups and downs of life, but we don't have to inwardly get involved in that. The risk of accomplishment is that one starts thinking: I can do this. That feeling can get in the way of right action. The problem with selfish action is that even if the short-term result seems good, it's never permanent. Radha closed with one of Krishnamurti's insights: actions that are a product of the past, don't work. Action only works if it's the consequence of right insight. This lecture was very insightful, but I missed one aspect that the title does suggest: that sometimes insight follows unselfish action. Right action can help clean the personality. One has to start somewhere. 

The final session was a question and answer round with Radha Burnier, Joy Mills and John Algeo. The questions had come in through the internet and from the discussion groups. What follows is a selection. Can Muslims become members of the Theosophical Society? Yes, we have Muslim members in Indonesia, India and Pakistan. Radha stressed that Muslim women aren't forced to stay at home in all countries. In many countries they are free. Why do people ignore the Middle Path? The middle path is hard, said Radha, people prefer it easy. It's hard to overcome the tendency to overdo things. A question was asked about loving yourself. Joy Mills answered that it is important to look at yourself objectively. Observe yourself, it is unnecessary to become emotional or judgmental about yourself. Loving yourself means accepting what is, and resolving to change. Radha asks what it means to love yourself. Can you love your shadow? Reality IS, it doesn't need to be loved. 

As this summary shows, the lectures were very interesting and deep. I really enjoyed myself and met some very good people.


The Trouble Tree 

I hired a carpenter to help me restore an old farmhouse.  He finished a rough first day on the job: a flat tire made him lose an hour of work, his electric drill quit, and his ancient one ton truck refused to start. While I drove him home, he sat in stony silence.

On arriving, he invited me in to meet his family. As we walked toward the front door, he paused briefly at a small tree and touched the tips of the branches with both hands.

When opening the door, he underwent an amazing transformation.  His tanned face was wreathed in smiles and he hugged his two small children and gave his wife a kiss.

Afterward he walked me to the car. We passed the tree and my curiosity got the better of me. I asked him about what I had seen him do earlier.

"Oh, that's my trouble tree," he replied. "I know I can't help having troubles on the job, but one thing's for sure, those troubles don't belong in the house with my wife and the kids. So I just hang them up on the tree every night when I come home and ask God to take care of them.  Then, in the morning, I pick them up again."

"Funny thing is," he smiled, "when I come out in the morning to pick 'em up, there aren't nearly as many as I remember hanging up the night before."

[One of those stories that gets sent around the world by e-mail, to be sent on again, with thanks to Jim Rodak]

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