Theosophical Promotion and Theosophical Work, Katinka Hesselink (about the General Council discussion, which has continued online)
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with an evil thought, pain follows him, as the wheel follows the foot of the ox that draws the carriage.A man's thoughts direct his words and actions; but they are themselves neither words nor actions. When a man speaks or acts, when he transfers his thoughts into speech or action, or into both, then the cause has brought the proper effect, and something is accomplished. Mere thinking does not do it. Speaking is incipient action, as silence is incipient inaction.
"All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts. If a man speaks or acts with a pure thought, happiness follows him, like a shadow that never leaves him."
St. Paul cannot too often be defended against the reproach cast upon him fifty years ago by Dr. Goldwin Smith, touching the argument about the seed sown in the ground that it must die before the new life can appear. The Church would rather let St. Paul suffer in literary reputation as the author of I Corinthians than sacrifice their dogma. St. Paul was too well versed in rhetoric to go before the clever scholars of Corinth with a false metaphor and he did not do so. Goldwin Smith did not bring his knowledge of Greek to bear upon the passage, but accepted the interpretation of the Church that the corpse, already dead, was the seed sown in the earth that would spring to life again. The Church has made a graveyard discourse of this chapter, which St. Paul could not possibly have intended as verse 50 makes evident. As a graveyard exhortation to those who blindly believe in the resurrection of the physical body, could a more bitter mockery be conceived than the closing verses: "O grave where is thy victory, O death where is thy sting?"
What a difference when the chapter is read as St. Paul intended it to be: a paean of jubilant life and birth, of life more abundantly, of birth and rebirth on the physical earth, of birth in the psychic world, of birth in the noetic or spiritual world. All this is concealed from the English-speaking reader by mistranslation of important words and the apparent transposition of one or two verses. One Greek word in particular appears to have gained the enmity of the theologians. It is the word psuche, or psyche in English, the butterfly, applied by the Greeks to the human soul, which flits and flutters from flower to flower of the desires of life, so that a man changes from hour to hour, from day to day and from year to year, so that he is never the same at one period of life that he was at another. Jesus and Paul both use the word to represent the human soul or personality, but the translators do their utmost to conceal or camouflage this fact, because "saving the soul" is the great mission of the evangelical preacher, though Jesus taught that he who would seek to save his soul would lose it, the changeable personality having to be abandoned so that the stable spiritual Self, the ever present Christ principle, available to every man, may become the basic reality of his existence. The translators make Jesus say that "he who would seek to save his life shall lose it," which is nonsense. (See Luke ix. 24, and kindred passages for the substitution of life for soul.) A similar deception as found in the writings of St. Paul. Verse 44 of this 15 chapter of I Corinthians may be studied as the basis of Goldwin Smith's charge of false metaphor. The Authorized Version reads: "It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body." The word "Natural" should be "psychic," and is so rendered in the margin of the Revised Versions of 1881-1886. "Natural" conveys to people generally the meaning of common or ordinary, so that the corpse is understood to be meant as what is "sown" in the burial of a dead body. This is an entire misconception of Paul's teaching. Burial in a grave of a dead body was not in his mind at all. What he speaks of is the psychic body, sown at birth in a physical body, to be raised in its reincarnation or resurrection, the conditions mentioned duly applying to the psychic body which the experiences of the disciple must change it into a more glorious spiritual body or if he fails try again in another incarnation. These conditions obviously do not apply to a body of flesh and blood as verse 50 makes plain. It, that is, the psychic body, is sown in corruption: it is raised in incorruption: it is sown in dishonor (how can this apply to the mortal bodies of our beloved ones?): it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness: it is raised in power: it is sown a psychic body: it is raised a spiritual body. There is a psychic body and there is a spiritual body. It depends wholly on the disciple himself of what kind of flesh his next body shall consist of if he reincarnates, whether he shall have a terrestrial or a celestial body; whether he shall share the glory of the sun or that of the moon or a star. If he is able to transcend the psychic world he will become a quickening spirit, for the "second man is the Lord from heaven."
It is clear enough from all this that Paul used no false metaphor. The psychic seed, which is the personality must die, as Jesus taught: "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whosoever will save his soul (psuche, personality) will lose it; but whosoever will lose his soul for my sake, the same shall save it." (Luke ix. 23, 24).
"I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called. With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering, forbearing one another in love; endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace . . . till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God; unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ." (Ephesians iv. 1, 2, 3, 13) .
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