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The Theosophical Forum January 1942

A NEW STUDY OF MAN (1) Charles J. Ryan


This remarkable work is another sign of the gradual progress of modern thought toward a
more idealistic and, in a sense, a more spiritual view of the universe than the scientifically
materialistic one of the nineteenth century. The author, Sir Charles Sherrington, O. M, etc, is
a distinguished scientist, said to be the foremost British physiologist, and his handling of the
subject reveals the possession of that rare combination, the sensitive vision of the poet and
the technical knowledge of a trained expert.
Though the study of physiology has led many of its votaries toward materialism and
skepticism Sir Charles is no crude materialist and in many respects he takes the
Theosophical point of view. He insists on the underlying unity of the Cosmos, and denies that
the mind is a "secretion of the brain" or that it is made of electric particles or even connected
with the relativist quantum of action. It cannot be "energy" because it does not obey the laws
of energy. We feel that his liberal outlook suggests that if he studied the Esoteric philosophy
he would find the clues to many of his problems.
As a starting point Sir Charles takes a notable sixteenth-century treatise entitled De Abditis
Rerum Causis (On the Hidden Causes of Things) by Dr Jean Fernel, physician to King Henri
II of France. Dr Fernel had a powerful and critical mind and although his thinking was
dominated by the religious atmosphere of his age he was a keen reasoner. His book appeared
in 1598, when faith in the unseen was strong, and he naturally believed that "living things
have souls, dead ones none." This complete dualism is not the modern view in which the
notion of a definite separation between the animate and the inanimate scarcely exists, and
much of the author's argument is devoted to the rebuttal of a crude dualism in nature. Here
Sir Charles is in agreement with the Ancient Wisdom, though Theosophy carries the
argument farther. H. P. Blavatsky writes:
. . . chemical science may well say that there is no difference between the
matter which composes the ox and that which forms man. But the Occult
doctrine is far more explicit. It says: Not only the chemical compounds are
the same, but the same infinitesimal invisible lives compose the atoms of the
bodies of the mountain and the daisy, of man and the ant, of the elephant, and
of the tree which shelters him from the sun. Each particle whether you call
it organic or inorganic is a life. . . . The Secret Doctrine, I, 261
Sir Charles Sherrington's study contains many fascinatingly interesting though decidedly
disquieting delineations of the marvelous workings of Nature in her incessant efforts to
produce living creatures in overwhelming profusion. As he says, it is not easy to understand
how a Benevolent and All-Powerful Designer can have "created" or even tolerated the
ingenious and seemingly guided processes of reproduction and sustenance which produce
horrifying tragedies on an enormous scale, especially those in which men and the higher
animals are slowly and painfully destroyed by inferior creatures. For instance, in India alone
about 1,200,000 human beings die of malaria annually, infected by the microscopic
plasmodium malariae, and many more suffer intensely from the disease. The author holds the
reader spellbound by his vivid description of the almost unbelievably complex and
painstaking methods by which this venemous speck and many other equally lowly pests
destroy the higher forms of life wholesale. In these cases, he says:

Life's prize is given to the aggressive and inferior life, destructive of other lives at the
expense of suffering in them, and, sad as it may seem to us, suffering in proportion as they
are lives high in life's scale.
Of course, numerous examples exist in which the same marvelous ingenuity and apparent
"design" are employed for benevolent and constructive purposes, but on the other hand the
examples of destructive "devilish ingenuity" such as those he describes are "an almost
countless many."
Theosophists should know these things, for to many intelligent people they stand as
irresistible arguments for the materialistic denial of all spiritual possibilities in the universe.
Sir Charles, however, while fully appreciating the difficulties of the case, has not let his
judgment be overwhelmed by the superficial appearance of an utterly ruthless Nature, "red in
tooth and claw"; and of course a knowledge of the fundamental principles of Theosophy
eliminates the necessity of resorting to the hopelessness of pessimism or the sophistries of
materialism.
In Eastern philosophy the cosmos is an Ever-Becoming, an eternal process of approach which
can be well illustrated by the mathematical "paradox," the asymptote, which always
approaches but never arrives, and yet which is not a juggle or trick of numbers or lines. May
we not believe that a certain measure of suffering is absolutely necessary, under present
conditions, for progress? Are not pain and pleasure merely a "pair of opposites," contrasting
poles or aspects of an infinitely higher sensation? Are they not temporary measures for the
training of the Ego?
Returning to the antagonism discussed by the author between the medieval belief in a world
"devised by a loving Father from every nook and corner," and the modern "unhalting and
blood-stained conflict systematically permeating the field of Nature," perhaps Man is far
more responsible than "blind Nature" for the plagues which pursue him so relentlessly?
According to the Ancient Teaching:
Eastern wisdom teaches that spirit [the Monad] has to pass through the ordeal
of incarnation and life, and be baptised with matter before it can reach
experience and knowledge. After which only it receives the baptism of soul, or
self-consciousness, and may return to its original condition of a god, plus
experience, ending with omniscience. (2)
But the outer Man "whose intelligence makes him the one free agent in Nature" (H. P.
Blavatsky) has been impelled by selfishness, passion, and false ambitions to pit his personal
will against the Cosmic harmonies, and in relation to man-made or man-attracted plagues, Sir
Charles perhaps unwittingly provides us with a very significant argument. It seems that the
malaria parasite, which according to his statement affects nearly one-third of the Earth's
human population is apparently no older than the human race to which it is so closely
attached. He writes:
Evolution has adapted it [the parasite] complexly, delicately and effectively to
kill other lives. Since it requires man for its slaughter it would seem an
evolution of recent date. Its hideous cycle has overcome with "ingenuity" great
obstacles to perpetuate itself.

But as Dr de Purucker has so often pointed out, not only the evil fortunes of man and the
cosmos, but progress through experience are actuated by the conflict of wills among the
constituent Monads, and that when the disturbing causes are worn out, as it were, the cycles
of time will restore all things to harmony, or at least to the utmost harmony possible in this
period of the Ever-Becoming. Sir Charles Sherrington envisions something like this when he
writes:
Our world we recognize today as a world in making and ourselves as a part of
it likewise in the course of making. Our present is not only not static, its very
motion is a motion which will tomorrow not repeat today. Our planetary islet
is unfinished even as those island universes which the astronomer tells us are
at various stages of becoming. . . .Living things are all the time busy becoming
something other than what they are. And this, our mind with the rest. It is
being made along with the planet's making. We do not know that it will ever
be finished p. 169
While the author feels compelled to be at least temporarily satisfied with the chemical and
physical explanation of life, he clearly realizes that the problem of mind is still an
impenetrable mystery to science, and that the connection between mind and brain is
unknown. This reviewer at least is impressed with the idea that the author cannot escape the
haunting suggestion that the most primitive forms of life, brainless and seemingly nerveless
seek their food as if they had a modicum of mind, including deliberate choice, and the
capacity to learn. This, of course, is fatal to materialism as H P Blavatsky shows in her
invaluable "Psychic and Noetic Action" in Studies in Occultism III, which readers of Sir
Charles Sherrington's Man on his Nature would find very enlightening on many of the
problems he brings up.
Sir Charles Sherrington pays great attention to the apparent disconnection between mind and
body, and decides that mind and energy are not convertible terms, and the brain is only "an
organ of liaison [a connecting link] between energy and mind, but not a converter of energy
into mind or vice versa" (p. 318). That is, Man is a temporary association of mind with a
matter-brain which is a form of energy. This coupling is as mysterious as "matter" itself, now
regarded in physics as a unity of seeming incompatibles substantial particles and
immaterial waves a paradox which, as the author says "is accepted as an assumption and
left unaccounted for," yet mind has an independent power of controlling our conduct. If
modern scientists studied the Esoteric Teachings they would find that the links which unite
mind and body were discovered ages ago in the so-called astral or etheric intermediary body;
but if their own methods are preferred we commend Dr Gustaf Stromberg's scientific
treatment of this crucial problem in his The Soul of the Universe. Among other points he
shows that "chemistry" does not explain how memory can be carried through an everchanging succession of brain cells without some "immaterial" (non-physical) and permanent
structure to preserve it.
Sir Charles Sherrington concludes that "Mind, as we know it, is never any other than
embodied mind," meaning, presumably, embodied in physical matter, and he seems to
penetrate no farther into the higher states of consciousness than the mind, we hear no clear
intimation of spirit. But his definition of mind is impressive:
Invisible, intangible, it is a thing not even in outline, it is not a "thing." It
remains without sensual confirmation and remains without it for ever. Stripped

to nakedness there remains to it but itself. What then does that amount to? All
that counts in life. Desire, zest, truth, love, knowledge, "values," and seeking
metaphor to eke out expression, hell s depth and heaven's utmost height.
This could not have been written by a materialist at heart and when Sir Charles says that
growth, the main characteristic of life, can be explained by "chemistry" we have his word that
he is not identifying Mind with chemical reactions or any other form of energy. We believe,
however, that no scientist would pretend to know what chemical activity is in its ultimate
reaches. More than fifty years ago, when chemistry was very limited, H. P. Blavatsky wrote:
Chemistry and physiology are the two great magicians of the future who are
destined to open the eyes of mankind to the great physical truths. The
Secret Doctrine, I, 261
But she looked forward to a very different chemistry and physics from the mechanistic one of
the nineteenth century which was largely based on the old "hard billiard ball" theories of the
atom. And in physiology and biology she was looking to a future when a truly philosophic
and spiritual science will abandon the naive concept that man with his innate and godlike
powers is nothing but a physical organism, here today and gone tomorrow, "a monkey
shaved."
We have enjoyed Sir Charles's optimistic anticipations of the future of humanity, but they are
limited by the usual negations of what is wrongly called the "supernatural." He shows no
awareness of the existence of supersensuous planes of Nature where conscious beings exist,
higher as well as lower than ourselves. The elementary facts about these subtil conditions of
being etheric, as Sir Oliver Lodge called them are ignored even by those scientists who
claim to believe in a future life and yet make no effort to discover where it will be spent.
Even a limited knowledge of the existence of an inner world changes our mental center of
gravity and our outlook upon the future of humanity. We agree with Sir Charles that a crude
"anthropomorphic" outlook on Nature and a belief in a pseudo-"magical" interpretation
should be rejected, and that Nature is a Harmony, a Whole, and free from the element of
"lurid drama" to which he objects. If by "magic" he means a defiance of natural law by a man
or by a Personal Deity, who perform "miracles," again we agree, and more, we assert that this
is the Theosophical teaching. We need not confuse such pseudo-magic and superstition with
true magic or even with the marvelous, both of which are strictly governed by natural law.
But who knows the limits of natural law? And when science discovers that certain teachings
of Theosophy, at present regarded as heretical, are perfectly "natural" even if "occult" in
some cases, it will simply have to widen its doors, as has already been accomplished in
certain directions.
The Ancient Wisdom teaches that
. . . the daring explorer, who would probe the inmost secrets of Nature, must
transcend the narrow limitations of sense . . . he must develop faculties which
are absolutely dormant save in a few rare and exceptional cases. . . . The
Secret Doctrine, I, 477-8
Sir Charles may not be prepared to accept such a possibility, but we can afford to wait till
time proves its truth, notwithstanding his confidence that "To-day knowledge views the
natural scene wide-eyed"!

The author discards the popular idea of survival because it implies a "supernatural or
magical" break-up of the body-mind combination at death which he calls a crude and
infantile relic of Dualism. We certainly agree that mind or rather spirit needs a bodily
"vehicle" to contact the matter in which it is imbodied, but this principle applies to other
kinds of substance than gross physical matter. When the energy-body perishes the
consciousness of the Real Man falls back upon its more subtil bodies or vehicles for contact
with the "ethereal" conditions in which it then functions, magic or no magic!
The author analyses the increasing domination of man's higher nature in a very encouraging
manner, though, of course, from the "regular" standpoint of the evolutionists. Early
competitive and predatory strife was gradually modified by co-operation, and as mankind
unfolded the qualities of pity, compassion and self-sacrifice the predatory form of living
became more and more a curse. As "human life has among its privileges that of pre-eminence
in pain" this sensitiveness brought increasing altruism and "a decenter-ing of the self and an
admitting of certain "otherness" to interest on a par with the self's own"; in plain language an
unselfish consciousness of universal brotherhood. Sir Charles adds the beautiful thought:
A great gift some might say divine comes to the "self when, perceiving
certain suffering external to itself it so reacts to it that that suffering becomes
its own, and is shared even as a "feeling." That gift is a gift, it would seem,
uniquely human. It allots to human life a place unique among lives.
Well, we may ask, is the holder of this "divine gift" to perish for ever like the beasts of the
field? Has "Nature" taken infinite pains to produce such a unique being merely to fling it
away like a crushed flower? He quotes the verse:
"None can usurp this height," returned the Shade, "
But those to whom the miseries of the world
Are miseries, and will not let them rest."
"Will not let them rest"! Surely this is the fundamental teaching of the Buddha, the Great
Renunciation of self for others" sake, the highest ideal of Theosophy!
FOOTNOTES:
1. Man on his Nature, by Sir Charles Sherrington (The Gifford Lectures, 1937-8) New York
The Macmillan Co, and Cambridge University Press, England, 413 pp., $3.75 (return to text)
2. From "The Origin of Evil" by H. P. Blavatsky, Lucifer, October, 1887. Reprinted in
Theosophical University pamphlet Good and Evil. (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum March 1941

ASTRONOMY IN THE MIDDLE AGES C. J. Ryan


When we read of the curriculum of the European Universities during the Middle Ages we are
inclined to think that certain classical studies, literature and languages, music, and
mathematics, were almost the only subjects taught that had reasonable foundations. The
natural sciences are generally supposed to have been in their infancy (as of course they were)
when not purely fanciful, arbitrary, and grotesquely erroneous. But now and then side-light is
thrown into some obscure corner and the existence of correct knowledge discovered among
much that is doubtful or wrong.
A most interesting instance exists in an Irish Treatise on Astronomy now in the Library of the
Royal Irish Academy, and which was translated into English by Mr. J. J. O'Farrelly in 1893.
It was written about the year 1400, certainly not later, and is derived from the works of
Messahalah, an Arabian Jew who lived between a. d. 754 and 833. Twelve of the thirty-nine
chapters are not contained in the Latin versions of Messahalah's treatises from which the
Gaelic translation was derived; their origin is unknown, but they probably came from other
Arabian sources, or they may have been in part the results of the observations and studies of
the Irish writer himself.
The treatise is based upon the Ptolemaic theory of the Solar System. It is remarkable that
Ptolemy did not accept the Pythagorean System, which placed the sun as the central body
instead of the earth, for the teachings of Pythagoras had been widely diffused in the time of
Ptolemy. The result of his refusal to work on the correct system of the great Initiate,
Pythagoras, was that the students of astronomy were misled and held back from the
knowledge of the true relationship of the sun and the earth for many centuries, and much
bitterness was aroused.
The Irish MS. carefully explains the globular shape of the earth, and gives its true,
approximate diameter, 8000 miles; the real causes of the phases of the moon, its eclipses, and
the eclipses of the sun, are stated; the reason why the sun rises earlier if you travel eastward
and later if you go westward is properly explained; the writer points out that the moon, like
the planets, has no light of its own but reflects that of the sun. He also touches upon physical
geography and geology. He gives, though with some hesitation, the true explanation of the
rising of the Nile. His remarks about the wearing down of the mountains by the action of
rivers, and upon the origin of fossil shells agree remarkably with the principles of modern
geology. Yet, hundreds of years afterwards, geology had to fight for its life against the
entrenched strongholds of learned ignorance and prejudice which went so far as to say that
the fossils were artfully placed in the rocks by the Devil in order to try the faith of the pious
in the literal accuracy of the Genesis account of creation in six days.
But the most curious thing in the whole treatise is a statement which shows the possession of
information upon a subject of which it is generally believed that nothing was or could be
known before the invention of the astronomical telescope by Galileo in 1609 two hundred
years later! This is that when the planets Venus and Mercury "are twelve degrees proceeding
westward of the sun they are horned like the new moon."
One of the strongest arguments against the true theory (Pythagorean or Copernican) of the
solar system was that Venus failed to show the crescent or horned phase like the moon as it

should do. As the phases of Venus cannot be detected without optical aid, and as the critics
possessed nothing of the kind, they had some show of reason in not accepting the truth; but
when Galileo turned his "optic tube" upon the Planet of Love it was immediately seen that it
did pass through exactly the phases of crescent, half-moon, and full-moon, that ought to be
seen.
How then comes it that the unknown Irish writer was able two hundred years before Galileo,
to write quite confidently of the crescent phase of Venus, and also of Mercury, a much more
difficult object to distinguish? Perhaps the answer to this will be forthcoming when it is
explained how it was that the ancient Assyrians represented Bel, the Assyrian Jupiter, with
four star-tipped wings, and the god corresponding to Saturn standing within a ring, as
Proctor, the famous English astronomer, pointed out in Our Place Among Infinities, unless
they knew by telescopic observation that Jupiter had four large moons and that Saturn was
surrounded by a wonderful ring!
This is another instance of the debt owing to that remarkable Arabian civilization and culture
which flourished so brilliantly in Spain and the nearer Orient, at a time when the intellect of
Europe proper had not yet awakened. How dark those rightly termed Dark Ages were when
the Arabian Jew Messahalah wrote in the ninth century, can only be appreciated by those who
have given the time and energy necessary to understand it. When this fifteenth century Irish
writer composed his treatise, the mind of Europe had already begun to stir; the priceless
treasures of Greek knowledge had been lately brought to Europe and had quickened the
sluggish and stupefied thought to unwonted activity, while the dullest could see the parallels
in the Greek writers with the philosophy and science of the Jewish-Arabian culture. Just as
the Greek intellect had expressed itself in science, philosophy, and mathematics, in
Pythagoras, Plato, Eratosthenes, and Euclid, who themselves were to a large degree indebted
to Asia, so the Saracens who studied and absorbed these writers, stamped their own
productions with their own native genius, and in turn handed on to the European the Grecian
thought, based as it was on Asiatic (Babylonian, Syrian, Egyptian) achievements. What a
curious and interesting reflexion it is, that the theoretic and philosophical systems of the
Egyptian Babylonian priest-scientists should have wandered from their native soils to Ionia,
Peninsular Greece, and Magna Graecia; then to return to their native continent, and after
greatly aiding to mold and soften the manners of the Men of the Desert, to be carried to
Spain, and from Spain to meet again in the European Universities the other branch of the
same stream of Asiatic learning flowing from Constantinople. Truly, so far as European
history is concerned, no more fascinating page exists than this period of renaissance. And,
sad to say, no period has been treated so meagerly by historians.

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum July 1939

ATLANTIS ROMANCE OR REALITY? C. J. Ryan


It seems that popular interest in the possibility of discovering lands once inhabited by
civilized man but now lying beneath the deep seas, has not diminished. Even the scientific
journals mention it now and then, though without much enthusiasm. A writer in Science News
Letter recently queried whether "Telegraph Ridge," the undersea mountain range in the
middle of the Atlantic, could be remains of the lost Atlantis of Plato or merely the submerged
backbone of an acknowledged geological continent 300,000,000 years old. He left the
problem unsolved.
Mr. James Bramwell's Lost Atlantis (1) is the latest book on this thorny subject and he has
made a praiseworthy effort to approach it without prejudice. Up to the time of writing, he is
not a believer, though he cannot help being fascinated by the romance of the glittering vision
which rises when the word Atlantis is mentioned. He feels that the significance of the legend
for us lies in its appeal as "a classic example of spiritual adventure, an imaginative
interpretation of facts in the light of some higher reality, the nature of which depends on
subjective experience." It is "an escape from the dust and rattle of machine-governed
existence" for those who have lost faith in so-called progress. "It may, however, be of great
importance if its actuality is ever established," which he greatly doubts. After examining a
quantity of geological and other scientific evidence he concludes that our present knowledge
is not sufficient to settle the question. He finds very little in favor of the Atlantean hypothesis
as presented by the average exponent in modern books and popular magazines, but the
teachings of H. P. Blavatsky's Theosophy is not discussed.
Although he cannot be called a supporter of Atlantis, in the small compass of 288 pages he
has condensed a mass of information and argument of great importance for those who would
know exactly how the problem appears to the skeptical historian and the scientist. These facts
and controversial points should be familiar to Theosophical students who wish to write or
speak on Atlantis and to be prepared to meet critical and informed inquirers.
The Introduction describes the efforts to establish Societies for Atlantean research, and their
difficulties. The various more or less cranky books and theories that have been offered in
recent years are considered, and also the references to Atlantis by Plato, Homer, Diodorus,
Theopompus and other classical writers, and the suggested Cretan associations.
Then comes a long discussion on the scientific search for Atlantis, in which are critically
analysed the arguments and evidences offered by Mr. Lewis Spence whom the author
recognises as the most responsible and able pleader for Atlantis of our day; as we have
always maintained, while not admitting all his points. Mr. Bramwell then touches on the
Celtic legends of St. Brendan's Isle, etc.; and Lyonesse; and some of the geological evidence
for comparatively recent submersions of land under the North Atlantic. The latter point
deserves special attention from students who seek something tangible in favor of a
"scientific" Atlantis. Mr. Bramwell admits that it is so important that further discoveries may
compel a complete reconsideration of the whole subject.
Modern exploration has shown that extensive areas of land lying under comparatively
shallow water extend for a great distance from the shores of the Atlantic (and elsewhere). The
abysmal depths are much further out. The probability that these slightly submerged regions

were once above the waters has been made almost a certainty by the discovery of numerous
wide valleys and immense gorges or canyons, thousands of feet deep spreading out from the
shores. The submarine extension of the Hudson River has been measured 130 miles southeast of Sandy Hook. Submarine activities, such as currents, earth-movements, etc., fail to
explain them. It is widely held by geologists that they were eroded by ordinary rivers when
the continental "shelves" were dryland. How long ago was this? Quite recently, late Tertiary
fossils were dredged up from the cliffs of the Georges Bank Canyons showing that the
Tertiary continental shelf had been cut through by rivers since the Tertiary period, and
therefore great tracts of the Atlantic area were dry land in the Quaternary. Geological dates
are very vague and subject to modification, but Mr. Bramwell suggests the moderate date of
500,000 years ago in this connexion. Anyway, it would be well within the human period,
even if that figure were doubled or more.
Whether this tremendous change of level was brought about by the sinking of the continental
shelves in many parts of the world or by a tremendous lowering and then raising of the sea
itself, amounting possibly to 8,000 feet, is the scientific problem awaiting solution. The chief
objection to such a world-wide uprising of the sea is that it would be a catastrophe of
incredible magnitude! But would it not explain the world-wide traditions of Deluges and
destruction of whole civilizations?
The interest in Atlantis is shown by the fact that the bibliography of publications up to 1926
includes 1700 items. But few are in English, a reason given by Mr. Bramwell for writing his
comprehensive volume, which indeed needs no excuse. Ignatius Donnelly's popular book on
Atlantis, a pioneer which attracted much attention to the subject nearly sixty years ago,
though rather out-of-date and no longer an authority, is given adequate attention, but as Mr.
Lewis Spence's scholarly contribution to the literature in favor of Atlantis demands serious
consideration, more than thirty pages are devoted to it. In regard to other writers, whose zeal
has exceeded their discretion, to put it mildly, Mr. Bramwell's analysis is devastating though
not discourteous, though in regard to one outstanding example of pure folly he rightly
remarks that such productions widely read by the uninformed have caused thoughtful
critics to express "the notion that everybody who is interested in the subject must be tainted
with lunacy or charlatanism."
One unhappy case is that of a relative of the celebrated Schliemann, discoverer of Troy, who
published a sensational story in1912 of alleged Atlantean discoveries at Troy, by Schliemann
held secret under oath! Being associated with an honored name it attracted scientific
attention, but it turned out to be merely the fabric of a dream which one authority calls "an
essay in mystification." Mr. Lewis Spence effectually disposed of it, and Mr. Bramwell says
it is a "curious gem of Atlantean aberration." We mention this because an ill-informed writer
in an otherwise well-edited Theosophical magazine recently quoted it as strong confirmation
of Atlantis. "Save me from my friends!"
The last chapters of Lost Atlantis treat of Atlantis in occult and other literature and poetry,
including the writings of Cosmas Indicopleustes, sixth century Byzantine geographer, Jean
Bailly, French astronomer, William Blake, John Masefield and others; an interesting study.
Mr. Bramwell describes eight of the main hypotheses of recent years offered in solution of
the Atlantean problem. Atlantis has been located in America, in three different parts of
Africa, the Indian Ocean (where sunken lands have actually been found), submerged territory

between Ireland and Brittany, "Tartessos" or Tarshish in Spain, and an island in the Atlantic.
He reasonably singles out the latter for fullest consideration.
In deference to prevailing views about the comparatively recent development of man from
barbarism, and to Plato's date of the final destruction of his Atlantis, nearly all the theories
assume that the great continent in the Atlantic flourished only a comparatively few thousand
years ago. But if we place the great Atlantis (or a fancied "Mu" in the Pacific) more recently
than hundreds of thousands, nay perhaps millions, of years ago, we run into insurmountable
practical difficulties, and it is largely for this reason that the critics make light of Atlantis. For
instance, if, as many proponents of Atlantis assume, the great continent acted as a land bridge
between the Old and the New Worlds within five, ten or twenty thousand years, or even
rather more, no explanation covers the well-known objections that the cultivated plants and
domestic animals (excepting the dog, which probably came from Asia via Bering Strait) are
entirely different on the two sides of the ocean, that the wheel was unknown in America, etc.
If, however, the breaking of the land bridge finally took place, as H. P. Blavatsky indicates,
almost a million years ago, it is easily seen that these difficulties are not insurmountable.
Though certain islands remained above water, apparently in remote places, after the general
submergence, they also perished a very long time ago.
Great areas of land did not plunge into the ocean in a few years or even a few millenniums,
nor did a new continent immediately pop up in another ocean to replace it, as some seem to
imagine from a literal reading of semi-allegorical stories like Noah's Deluge and others.
Theosophy agrees with geology that the major progressive changes are gradual, although
minor cataclysms no doubt occur at critical times. There is good reason to believe that the
great land-masses of the world have kept their places for many millions of years, yet
enormous changes have undoubtedly taken place which would justify the traditions of
submerged territories. The earth is not uniformly dense, and according to the new theories
developed by Dr. Joly and improved by other geologists the great continental areas are
actually "floating," as it were, on denser material. By the cumulative action of radio-activity
the underlying mass becomes at times hotter and lighter by expansion, and the upper strata
sink until the balance is restored. After very long periods of time the basic material cools
again and the balance is again restored by the rising of the upper and lighter parts. The
process is repeated at long intervals producing alternating cyclic changes in the geographical
contours. Other factors, volcanic, seismic, and perhaps axial would still further modify the
areas of land and water, until the map of the earth would no longer be recognisable.
The author rightly says that for Theosophists and Occult Students in general the former
existence of a very ancient race of men, culturally advanced in certain localities such as
"Atlantis" (a very wide-embracing term), is essential to the understanding of the major cycles
of human incarnation. When science lifts the veil of mysterious Nature a little higher and has
become dissatisfied with mechanistic interpretations of life, the reason for an "Atlantean"
stage will become plain. The terrestrial evolution of form and intelligence is only the external
sign of the activity and involution of spirit and step after step, each a little different from the
last, has to be taken to fulfil the needed cyclic experiences of the soul. Objection is made that
a truly civilized humanity living at a time when Darwinians believe only apes or ape-men
existed does not agree with Plato's picturesque story of his relatively modern Atlantis of
about 9500 b. c. Quite so, but H. P. Blavatsky tells us the reason why Plato put the case in
that disguise. The true story of the ancient civilization was part of the Mystery Teachings and
Plato being an Initiate could not reveal the whole truth. By skilfully combining fact and
fiction and by deliberately confusing the Atlantis of Tertiary or post-Tertiary age with a small

island (Poseidonis) known to the Egyptians which sank about the date mentioned by Plato he
was able to give all that was permitted at that time.
We notice a short quotation from H. P. Blavatsky in this book but the author shows no
evidence of having studied her illuminating remarks about lost continents, and unfortunately
spends many pages criticizing writings, claimed to be derived from "astral clairvoyance," by
Scott-Elliott and other pseudo-theosophical authors, most of which are fantastic and, as Mr.
Bramwell says, "could have been concocted without any recourse to psychic powers, by
commonsense induction, flagrant disregard of historical data and a fertile imagination
stimulated by fairly wide reading." (2)
In contrast to the flamboyant misconstructions of some of these enthusiasts the sober and
restrained treatment of the subject by H. P. Blavatsky is conspicuous. The broad outline is
described, but in regard to detail little is given except hints and suggestive quotations from
archaic records which serve to point the way for future research.
From the nature of the case it is not easy to find tangible evidence, though oceanographic
research has lately become a promising field, owing to the new instrumental methods in use.
How little evidence of our civilization will remain after a million years even if no great
geological changes take place! Until lately we knew nothing of Troy, Crete, Pompeii, Mayan
and Pre-Incan America, the archaic civilization of the cities on the Indus river, and others; yet
these are, comparatively speaking, but of yesterday.
Tradition, in the shape of world-wide myths and allegories, is the most likely method by
which knowledge of a Lost World would survive. When properly interpreted these indicate a
specific Atlantean culture which takes its place in the magnificent scheme of human
evolution with its major and minor cycles of rise and fall, but always advancing on the whole.
The story of Noah's Deluge is the most familiar tradition of a world-wide destruction
following wrong living, but it is only one of many similar flood stories from Mediterranean
lands, the Near East, India, China, America, Ireland and other places. H. P. Blavatsky pays
special attention to these ancient legends and gives many reasons in demonstration of the
remarkable way the folk-memory has preserved the knowledge of Atlantis in so many distant
localities. Mr. Bramwell remarks that Theosophists and other occult students "care nothing
for scientific discussions" but trust entirely to astral investigation and evidence. We beg to
differ, and can refer him to his own quotation from H. P. Blavatsky where she says that
certain thoughtful students "have their secret records in which are preserved the fruits of the
long line of recluses whose successors they are." (p. 193) Those records are preserved in
temple crypts and subterranean libraries and are tangible enough. It is claimed that the "long
line" reaches back to Atlantean times. H. P. Blavatsky says that if the Alexandrian Library
had not been dispersed we should have ample documentary evidence for the Atlantean
tradition.
The contradictory nature of the astral reports published by various alleged clairvoyants
some of which Mr. Bramwell reprints and discredits about Atlantis does not inspire
confidence. The case is different in regard to the true Adepts who were behind H. P.
Blavatsky. Having been trained by severe self-discipline under the direction of qualified
Teachers they can penetrate to high spiritual planes where mistakes in vision are impossible,
yet they are careful to preserve the tangible records brought down from past ages.

We believe that the author of this interesting volume would find it profitable to study the
illuminating teachings of The Secret Doctrine on human evolution and the Atlantean Cycle
with the same fairmindedness that he shows in the analysis of the material discussed in his
book. He might find, that "the Lost Atlantis may yet be recovered from the depths of the
ocean which engulfed it."
FOOTNOTES:
1. Lost Atlantis, by James Bramwell, published by Cobden Sanderson, London.288 pp., 7/6.
(return to text)
2. Information indicating the dubious foundation of certain widely circulated "clairvoyant
researches" into Atlantis may be found in Professor Ernest Wood's Is This Theosophy?
wherein a supporter of the Atlantean theory gives reasons for distrusting their authenticity.
(return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum February 1946

THE BORDERLAND OF THE OCCULT Charles J. Ryan


If correctly reported, some curious things have recently happened in the world not war
news which are worth notice. While, as already mentioned, certain advanced thinkers are
greatly widening the outlook on natural laws even to a close approach to Theosophical
fundamental principles, the majority of scientists are still very hesitant to study natural
phenomena which do not apparently lead to practical results as they regard them, but which
are destined to be found exceedingly practical when properly understood. A small movement
"toward the left," the occult, has been made lately in regard to the tremendous mystery of
Time. This was touched on in THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM for April, 1945. Other
phenomena, however, of importance in the revelation of the inner workings of Nature are still
ignored. Ancient scholars, in India, Greece or elsewhere, made no hard and fast distinction
between science, philosophy and religion, or even between what we regard as separate
sciences. They looked upon life more as a whole and these things as merely aspects of the
whole, and today a few daring scientific writers are trying to revive this point of view. It may
be a very "practical" one, and one that would help in solving many of our problems such for
instance as war and juvenile delinquency!
It would certainly be a great help to educationalists and reformers if they would learn about
the potency of the "Astral Light" to reflect back the worst as well as the better deeds and
thoughts of men, though of course unknowingly to the majority of human beings. The Astral
Light is that "plane" of Nature which, as William Q. Judge says in The Ocean of Theosophy
"contains, retains and reflects pictures of each and everything that happened to anyone, and
also every thought; it permeates the globe and the atmosphere around it; the transmission of
vibration through it is practically instantaneous. .. ." It resembles the sensitive photographic
plate which receives and retains images, and like the films which contain the potency that
under proper conditions appears as a picture on the screen it occasionally flashes into
physical visibility the images imprinted upon its substance, and sometimes, by a shifting of
time values perhaps (?) presents the image of a coming event. H. P. Blavatsky said that the
partition between the physical and astral planes is exceedingly thin and the wonder is that so
few persons are consciously able to penetrate it. This is fortunate for us in our present stage
of development, for as Mr. Judge says:
As an enormous screen or reflector the astral light hangs over the earth and
becomes a powerful universal hypnotizer of human beings. The pictures of all
acts good and bad done by our ancestors as by ourselves being ever present to
our inner selves, we constantly are impressed by them by way of suggestion
and go then and do likewise. Echoes of the Orient
For this reason a clear understanding of the properties of the Astral Light should be a matter
of common knowledge and careful study by all who are working for the elevation of the race.
Its presentation to the ignorant western world in this critical transition age is one of the
outstanding benefits brought by the Theosophical Movement. Of course western science may
have to discover it by its own methods, as has happened in so many cases of the re-discovery
of ancient wisdom before they were accepted, but when it is accepted the knowledge will be
found to be an infinitely greater boon to real progress than that of the interatomic forces.

One of the flashes of revelation from inner planes which Nature occasionally provides,
perhaps to test our advance in intuition, has lately been reported from England. According to
the published reports, at least two thousand persons in the city of Ipswich and surrounding
villages declared a few months ago that they saw a mysterious apparition in the late afternoon
sky. It took the form of Christ on the Cross, even to such details as the nails. Military and
naval officers were among the witnesses and many persons insisted upon making legal
affidavits of what they saw. The vicar of the ancient church of St. Nicholas, the Rev. H. G.
Green, made a careful investigation of the accounts, traveling considerable distances to
examine people who had seen the phenomenon. As could be expected, the usual
"explanation" of autosuggestion was offered, and one learned expert said, "the power of
suggestion is terrific. If a person thinks he is going to see a vision, he will see it." Another
said it was probably produced by particles of ice in the upper regions, but he does not explain
how the ice shaped itself into a perfectly definite form whose details were observed by
thousands of supposedly intelligent people; and the two theories are hardly compatible.
If such phenomena were hitherto unknown some farfetched explanation, such as suggestion
from a single individual spreading instantly among thousands of people spread over many
square miles might appear plausible to simple reasoners, absurd as it sounds; but many such
cases are on record though not all so well attested. Constantine's alleged vision of the Cross
in the sky which helped to change history may have been a pious fraud, but to deny or to
attempt to explain on normal lines the many other unexplained apparitions reported from the
sky in ancient and modern times requires considerable hardihood. It is easy to call them
"mirages" and let it stand at that. Certainly ordinary mirages such as the textbooks on light
and optics describe are explained by well known laws of reflexion and refraction. They may
always be expected when the conditions are favorable and can even be artificially reproduced
in miniature. But such types as the Ipswich Cross do not follow the rules.
Putting aside the comparatively few well authenticated cases where the weird sky pictures
showed events such as battles or funerals that took place after the vision, many cases of the
Ipswich type are recorded which cannot be attributed to the ordinary laws of refraction by the
wildest stretch of imagination. Fraud and practical joking is also ruled out by the conditions.
Here are a few examples from our files.
Everyone has heard of Vanderdecken, the Flying Dutchman, whose spectral ship has long
been said to haunt the seas near South Africa, and generally to bring ill-luck to the ship that
encounters it. The evidence in one case is unusually responsible, being contributed by
Royalty and officially published not long after the event. When King George V, father of the
present King of England, was a midshipman on board a warship with his brother they kept a
Diary which was published in 1886 under the title The Cruise of H. M. S. Bacchante,
describing their voyage round the world. When the ship was near the Cape the following
incident occurred as reported in the book:
July 11 (1881) At 4 a. m. the Flying Dutchman crossed our bows. A strange
red light as of a phantom ship all aglow, in the midst of which light the masts,
spars and sails of a brig 200 yards distant stood out in strong relief as she came
up on the port bow. The look-out man on the forecastle reported her close on
the port bow, where also the officer of the watch from the bridge clearly saw
her, as did also the quarter-deck midshipman, who was sent forward at once to
the forecastle; but on arriving there no vestige nor any sign whatever of any
material ship was to be seen either near or right away to the horizon, the night

being clear and the sea calm. Thirteen persons altogether saw her. . . . The
Tourmaline and Cleopatra, who were sailing on our starboard bow, flashed to
ask whether we had seen the strange red light. At 10.44 a.m. the ordinary
seaman who had this morning reported the Flying Dutchman fell from the
foretopmast cross-trees and was smashed to atoms.
Then follows an account of the admiral having been "stricken down."
Other "phantom ships" which could not have been of the nature of the familiar mirages of
vessels often seen in the Arctic regions have been seen in British seas, the New England
coast, the St. Lawrence river and other places. Here is a well evidenced instance which
aroused great interest and much discussion in the press. Shortly before the destructive
eruption of 1886 of Mount Tarawera and the wonderful colored terraces of New Zealand a
Maori war canoe was seen on the adjoining lake which seems to have been a very definite
astral image conveying a warning to the Maoris of trouble. The Dunedin Evening Star of June
17, 1886, contains a long account of the phenomenon, saying in part:
While skirting the southern shore those in the tourists" canoe distinctly saw a
Maori war canoe gliding along nearly parallel to and apparently racing them.
The Maoris in the tourists" canoe hailed those in the war canoe, but received
no answer. . . . They said there was no war canoe in the district, and therefore
this must be a phantom, indicative of evil. When the natives and the tourists
returned to Wairoa they made inquiries of the oldest natives, all of whom
declared that such a canoe as had been described had never been seen by them.
Mr. McRae, who has been seventeen years in Te Wairoa, also said that he
never knew a war canoe upon the waters of the Lake country. The day was
beautifully clear.
Troops of soldiers have frequently been seen when there were none in the vicinity. A striking
case is given by General Lord Roberts, the famous English Commander-in-Chief, in his
Forty-one Years in India. During the Indian Mutiny in 1858 he and a friend with whom he
was riding saw what appeared to be a body of hostile cavalry charging them. The illusion was
perfect, and he writes:
We thought our last hour had come . . . when lo! as suddenly as they had
appeared, the horsemen vanished as though the ground had opened and
swallowed them; there was nothing to be seen but the plain, where a second
before there had been a crowd of mounted men.

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COPERNICUS, FOUNDER OF MODERN ASTRONOMY Charles J.


Ryan
This authoritative and fascinating account of the life and work of the famous Polish
astronomer, Mikolaj Kopernik, generally known by the Latinized form of his name,
Copernicus, has twenty-five well selected illustrations and an explanatory Foreword by Sir
Arthur Eddington. (1) The translation is very good.
Born at Torun, Copernicus studied at the university of Cracow, the capital of Poland, which
was then a great State. His interests covered many branches of learning and the arts, but
astronomy was his favorite subject. He was a successful medical practitioner, and his
knowledge of financial matters was so deep that he was appointed expert adviser to the Polish
legislature when a great currency reform was instituted. He traveled and studied in Italy; and
when he returned to Poland he played a leading part in political affairs as Canon of the
cathedral of Warmia. He was a great defender of liberty against the rapacity of the famous (or
infamous) Teutonic Knights, who were finally suppressed in Germany by Napoleon. The last
forty years of his life were devoted to the shaping and testing of his revolutionary
cosmogony. Personally, his life was stainless; he did all the good he could, and served his
country with self-sacrificing devotion. His work in astronomy is a perfect example of the
modern "scientific method," a very unusual thing in the Middle Ages; for he never accepted
authority without question but gathered all the evidence possible before coming to a
conclusion.
The "merest schoolboy" is supposed to know that Copernicus destroyed the doctrine that the
earth is the center of the system of sun and planets, by demonstrating that the sun is the true
center, and that all the planets, including the earth, revolve around it. This fundamental
change of view enabled him to explain many hitherto obscure phenomena, such as the true
cause of the seasons, and to determine the inclination of the earth's axis almost exactly, an
extremely difficult problem.
But the effect of his work reached much farther than the domain of physical astronomy. It
gradually undermined the popular belief that as the earth was the center of the universe
everything must have been designed for man, its most intelligent inhabitant. Man's immense
importance was demonstrated by the tremendous fact that the Second Person of the Trinity
was sent down from heaven for his benefit! But under the logic of Copernicus the
conventional explanations of natural phenomena arising from the belief in a personal,
anthropomorphic God were seriously shaken, though he probably did not realize what a
tremendous storm his great work On the Revolutions of the Celestial Orbs would arouse. His
famous successors, Galileo, Kepler, and Newton, were, like himself, all devout men the
two latter were strongly inclined toward the mystical interpretation of the universe yet it
was chiefly because of the work of these four outstanding geniuses that for several centuries
materialistic views have so largely prevailed in science.
It may be, however, that the mechanistic trend has been useful in clearing away many absurd
superstitions in beliefs and methods in preparation for the coming synthesis of science,
religion, and philosophy, the ideal of Theosophy, which will include a harmonious working
between logical reasoning and spiritual intuition. But there is much to say for the anxiety of
the learned university professors whose equanimity was disturbed by the Copernican Theory

and the later discoveries of Galileo. Not only were their views on the physical structure and
laws of the universe based mostly on erroneous teachings of Aristotle being
undermined, but the very principle of the transcendental or spiritual interpretation of Nature
was in danger. How could the new mechanistic physical teachings supported by mathematics,
the exact science, be accepted without losing faith in the Divine Government of the universe?
Hitherto undisputed teachings of the Church such as that of Joshua stopping the sun in
midheaven, taken literally, were no less essential parts of Christian teaching than the Sermon
on the Mount. During the Middle Ages the Ancient Wisdom-Teaching which sees the
Cosmos as a whole whose parts were intimately interrelated with Divinity, or which was
neither more nor less than an expression of the Divine, was never quite lost although
obscured by dogmatic theology. Man, the Microcosm or little world, was an image of the
Macrocosm, the great universe, "God." His bodily organs were presided over by the
corresponding stars, and so even the most incomplete relic of the ancient astrological
knowledge was credited in spite of the errors of the exponents.
That man and the universe are fundamentally one and that the physical body of man and the
visible universe are only temporary appearances of the Real Man and the Real Universe is the
basic principle of the Ancient Wisdom, Theosophy, "the Oriental Tradition," as some have
called it. In so far as the new scientific learning with its triumphs in the physical world flung
aside the good as well as the foolish aspects of medievalism, it became culturally limited. To
its credit it broke down the superstitious belief in authority and corrected the habit of finespun speculation without first ascertaining the actual existence of the matter being discussed!
However, man cannot live on husks forever, and we may safely feel that the later misuse of
the scientific discoveries of the great pioneers of modern astronomy has only been a
temporary hindrance to a higher interpretation of Nature when we observe the recent change
in the outlook of some of our most brilliant exponents of astronomy. Sir Arthur Eddington
claims that consciousness is the foundation of the universe and not, as so long believed, a byproduct; Sir James Jeans writes:
Today there is a wide measure of agreement, which on the physical side
approaches almost to unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading
towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great
thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental
intruder into the realm of matter: we are beginning to suspect that we ought
rather to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter. . .
In regard to the recent discoveries in astronomy of Cosmic Rhythms, periods of manifestation
and quiescence on the largest as well as the smallest scale, and the revelation in physics that
matter is only a maya, an aspect of "radiation," whatever that may be, and so forth, an
editorial writer in The New York Times recently remarked that "Western Science is being
converted to the teachings of the Himalayan Sages" (!) and it is no longer a wild and
unscientific proceeding to believe that the universe is made of life abundant, life in
innumerable degrees of consciousness. So perhaps if Copernicus could look down from the
astronomers" heaven he would rejoice to see that the Ancient Tradition, shorn of its weak
points and crudities, is returning to the West.
FOOTNOTE:

1. Nicholas Copernicus, 1473-1543. By Dr. Jozef Rudnicki. The Copernicus Quadricentenary


Celebration Committee, London. 53 pages. 10s. (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum November 1949

COPTIC GNOSTIC MSS. Charles J. Ryan


Theosophical students are well aware of H. P. Blavatsky's frequent references to the
unexpected discoveries of ancient archeological or literary remains which seem to be
"accidentally" made just at the appropriate time to solve unexplained problems. One of these,
and a most important one for Theosophy, is just attracting wide attention. We refer to the
discovery by peasants at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1946 of 850 pages of Coptic Gnostic
manuscript on papyrus sheets. The Egyptian Government bought a portion soon after they
came to light for $240,000, and now it is acquiring the rest. Translation by distinguished
scholars is being made, and with the text, will be published as soon as possible at Louvain,
Belgium, sometimes called a "Phoenix of learning" from the brilliant work of resurrection of
ancient documents it has done.
According to H. P. B., the Gnostic teachings precede by some hundreds of years the Christian
Gospels, and are directly derived from Babylonia and India. She says:
A Brahmin needs only to read Pistis Sophia to recognize his forefathers"
property, even to the phraseology and similes used. . . . Pistis Sophia is an
extremely important document, a genuine Evangel of the Gnostics. . . . It is
genuine and ought to be as canonical as any other gospel.
The Secret Doctrine, II, 566
G. R. S. Mead's translation and comments were originally published in H. P. B.'s Lucifer.
H. P. B. shows that when the Essenes (a Gnostic sect) disappeared in the beginning of the
second century b.c. their place was filled by the Christian Gnostics who introduced
Platonism, etc., into Christianity, adapting many of the teachings of the ancient Theosophy to
the framework of the growing Christian faith and even taking over the names of sacred
personages employed by the early Christians. (See Isis Unveiled II, 325, and the valuable
quotations from Renan on pages 334-5). On page 12, Vol. I, H. P. B. shows that the Gnostics
held firmly to the doctrine of metempsychosis or transmigration "in its esoteric sense," so
widely accepted at that time, and adds that the Gnostics are "unhesitatingly proclaimed by
history as a body of the most refined, learned, and enlightened men." In The Secret Doctrine,
II, 389, she explains how certain early Christian sects were denounced as heretical through
complete misunderstanding of the secret meaning of their particular teachings. After
explaining some of these, she adds:
As a direct consequence, the tenets of the Gnostic sects also become clear.
Each of these sects was founded by an Initiate, while their tenets were based
on the correct knowledge of the symbolism of every nation.
It is most regrettable that very little remains of the pure teachings of Gnosticism. As H. P. B.
says, every effort was made after the days of Constantine, when the Church became
entangled with the State, to destroy every vestige of Gnosticism. How the Pistis Sophia
escaped is a wonder, but though a very important contribution to our knowledge of
Gnosticism it is only a fragment of the teachings. Scholars have had to depend mostly on
scraps of information derived from its prejudiced critics. For this reason the publication of a
genuine Coptic Gnostic text of the magnitude of the newly discovered MS. will be a great

event not only to scholars of Christian Theology but to students of Theosophy, who will now
have the rare opportunity of studying one of the ancient presentations of the Esoteric Wisdom
as given out by its own followers and not garbled or mutilated by its enemies.
A well-informed contributor to The Manchester Guardian, England, who reports the
forthcoming publication, makes some remarks of great significance to Theosophical students
as they show that modern scholars are considering Gnosticism from almost, if not quite, the
position taken by H. P. B., though of course without her understanding of the real importance
of it as a part of the ancient world-wide "Wisdom Religion." When she wrote on the subject
her views must have been highly unpalatable to the orthodox theologians. But times are
changing.
The contributor to the Guardian writes:
The study of the vast mass of new documents from Nag Hammadi (most of
which have so far only been read cursorily by one man, M. Doresse) will cast
light on the question whether Gnosticism is a later product of religious thought
than Christianity or whether it may not be older and have adopted the names
of Christ and the Christian saints when these gained prestige. There is some
reason to think that the same revelations were attributed successively to
Zoroaster, Seth, and Christ. . . . The first impression of the new manuscript
seems to suggest that the non-Christian element in Gnosticism is of very great
importance.
We might ask the writer why "the non-Christian element" should be so important unless it
contains revelations of the true origin of the comparatively modern presentation of the
Ancient Wisdom, called Christianity, as well as matter that will tear away the obscurities that
have been placed in the canonical Gospels to protect the deeper interpretation of their content
from being profaned by the unprepared, "blinds," as H. P. B. calls them.
The writer touches on another problem of interest to all students of the religions of the Near
East when he refers to Manicheism, "the synthetic religion which competed so long
successfully with Christianity and spread as far as China. How far did Mani take over a
synthesis already made by the Gnostics and merely give it the impetus of his personality and
his gift for organizing a Church?"
H. P. B. in Isis speaks of Manicheism as a Gnostic sect, which regarded Buddha, Jesus and
Mani as essentially one.
It will easily be seen how important in our studies of the various forms under which the
Ancient Wisdom Religion has been presented, this new and unexpected discovery of original
documents is likely to prove in view of H. P. B.'s teachings in regard to Gnosticism.

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The Theosophical Forum July 1937

THE RISING TIDE OF THEOSOPHY C. J. Ryan


DO MIND AND MEMORY SURVIVE THE BRAIN?
Two recent pronouncements in different fields of scientific research, when placed in
juxtaposition are so interesting and significant from their bearing upon Theosophical
principles that we are impelled to attract our readers" attention to them in the hope that they
will be useful when presenting Theosophy to intelligent inquirers who are dissatisfied with
materialistic concepts of the Universe and Man and yet who see no "scientific" relief from
their difficulties. The doubting Thomases who ask for "just one fact" before they venture to
take the first step out of their intellectual cage may be set to think on new lines by the study
of Theosophical ideas when sponsored by recognised scientists. H. P. Blavatsky said that
Theosophy came "to break the molds of mind," the hard shell of dogmatic prejudice and
ignorance, and that her The Secret Doctrine should be used as "a means of exercising and
developing the mind never touched by other studies," and not only as a storehouse of
information.
The first point referred to is a statement about the more subtil aspect of the Universe and the
persistence of human consciousness after bodily death, by Dr. Gustaf Stromberg, a
distinguished astronomer at Mount Wilson Observatory, Pasadena, who is also a philosopher
a not unusual combination among students of the heavens. We quote from his The
Material and the Immaterial Universe, a Leaflet issued in March by the Astronomical Society
of the Pacific. After a rather technical consideration of the new atomic theory, indeterminacy,
space-time structure, etc., in support of the concept that there is "an actual distinction
between the material and the immaterial world" without which many phenomena in living
organisms are "entirely inexplicable," Dr. Stromberg continues:
Let us think of a living cell with its chromosomes and genes, which carry the
hereditary characters of the animals and plants. . . . What is it that determines
their structure? . . . Organisms die and disintegrate; the cells and the
chromosomes also die and disintegrate. It seems that at death some kind of an
organizing entity has left the matter, which then forms simpler compounds in
accordance with its own intrinsic nature.
We are built of matter; but there is also something which gives us not only the
structure of living organisms, but also consciousness and memory. The latter
belongs to the immaterial rather than to the material universe. There are
several reasons for believing that certain fundamental immaterial elements in
plants and animals can exist without being associated with matter. Some of
these elements are extremely stable, and appear to retain their properties after
the death of the individual.
On such a basis we can obtain a physical picture of the entities which in plants
and animals carry inherited characters. Some of these entities are so stable that
the corresponding characters appear to have remained practically unchanged
during millions of years of organic development. It may also be possible to
assign a space-time aspect to mental phenomena in general. In that case we
should be able to picture a physical structure of memory and assign reasons

for its permanence, in spite of the continuous renewal of the atoms in a living
brain structure. We may also obtain a reasonable scientific basis for the
immortality of the soul and the indestructibility of the individual memory.
We cannot observe the radio waves that determine the motions of the electrons in our radio
antennae and tubes, yet the waves are the controlling influences, and the "material" electrons
are only the means by which our physical sense organs become activated and recognise the
invisible and "immaterial" actuality. We are deceived by appearances and give our attention
only to the elements in the universe that carry energy in observable form. Dr. Stromberg
claims with reason that every atom as well as the entire Universe has an immaterial as well as
a material structure. This "immaterial fine structure " or "etheric force-substance," as it were,
unites the electrons, neutrons, and positrons which today are believed to compose the atoms
and gives the combination its peculiar properties. By analogy with the immaterial but real
radio waves and the "material" electrons in the instruments we may interpret the interaction
of the immaterial mind and memory with the brain cells. The subject is too technical for
detailed presentation here, but enough is indicated to show that science is well on its way to
the demonstration of the existence and great significance of at least the invisible plane nearest
the physical. This outlook contrasts strongly with the intensive concentration of Western
thinkers upon the constantly changing physical universe, till lately regarded as the only
worth-while subject for study. We are now being told that not only are the few strongly radioactive elements transforming, but even the most stable ones are doing the same, though far
more slowly. The age-long evolutionary transformation of the constituent substances of the
earth was known and taught by the Eastern occultists ages before radium was discovered in
the West.
Dr. Stromberg has dealt with the "fine structure" of the immaterial universe in more complete
studies than this little leaflet, and we understand that he is preparing a book in which his
original theories will be fully explained.
H. P. Blavatsky said: "The whole issue of the quarrel between the profane and the esoteric
sciences depends upon a belief in, and demonstration of an astral body within the physical,
the former independent of the latter." She would certainly have rejoiced to see how near to
the Theosophical definition of the astral mold, the warp and woof of nature behind the visible
pattern, so to speak, we are carried by Dr. Stromberg's extension of the scientific concept of
the immaterial "fine structure" of the universe with its potential energy. H. P. Blavatsky's
"quarrel" seems in sight of being ended, at least for him.
Dr. Stromberg is doing valuable work in trying to demonstrate to scientists that the survival
of the mind and memory of man, the "soul," shall we say, may after all be "scientific," but he
will meet, and in fact he already has met, strong opposition from some biologists, though
perhaps not from all. It is interesting to see that Dr. Julian S. Huxley, President of the
Zoology Section of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at its last
meeting approved of a subject which is at least on the borderland between the immaterial and
the material worlds, saying, "I refer to telepathy and other extra-sensory activities of mind,
which the work of Rhine, Salter and others is forcing into scientific recognition." A very few
years ago such a remark would not have passed without the strongest protest from biologists
and psychologists, even if such a heretical remark could have been made at any scientific
meeting.

We are tempted to refer to the number of illustrations in biology which suggest a "fine
structure" carrying intelligence memory, and perhaps prevision (!) but one must
suffice. Sir Oliver Lodge says:
Burken records an experiment of a tail bud of one newt embryo being grafted
into the body of another and developing into a new limb. How was this
organization so completely changed as to produce a limb instead of a tail?
Physical and chemical explanations leave us entirely in the lurch, and we must
have recourse to the conception of a "biological field," an influence not in the
living matter itself but in the space, presumably the ether, around it.
What is this "biological field," invisible, intangible, and yet intensely potent, if not a
manifestation of the astral, immaterial structure, called by Lodge, the ether? Perhaps we
might modify his last words to "presumably the ether, around and within it," the inner "field"
being responsive to a conscious director or "organizer."
In another Leaflet by Dr. Stromberg, A History of the Milky Way, we find a passage which
shows his deeply intuitive view of the tremendous problem of the Universe:
But let us not be conceited and think that we know anything about the "Riddle
of the Universe." I am convinced that the physical evolution of the Universe,
which can, at least in principle, be followed with our eyes, is only a faint echo
of the music broadcasted as an accompaniment to a cosmic drama, in which an
evolution of a very profound nature is taking place. This deeper aspect of the
evolution, the magnificence of which we cannot grasp, belongs to a field
beyond that studied and described in natural science. It is closely related to the
ultimate meaning and purpose of the existence of matter, life and
consciousness. [Italics ours.]
It is indeed the study of consciousness which is especially needed. Theosophy makes this
paramount "Man, know Thyself" is the key. As H. P. Blavatsky said: "It is not "The fear
of God" which is "the beginning of Wisdom" but the knowledge of SELF which is WISDOM
ITSELF." Man, being the microcosm of the Macrocosm, has the power to find within himself
the complete reflexion of what is without or, more properly perhaps, to find that the
Within and the Without are One. There is a Path leading to that wisdom, and Theosophy
shows us how to take the first steps which ultimately lead to the Heart of the Universe. But
those steps imply more than merely intellectual research.
The second point to which we draw attention is presented by Professor Ernest Hunter Wright,
of Columbia University, in Harper's Monthly for February, in an article on "The Nature of
Telepathy." While it does not ostensibly deal with the "fine structure" of Dr. Stromberg's
argument, it provides evidence that there are other means within us of finding more about the
world (and perhaps other worlds) than those which are confined to the physical senses, and
strongly suggests the existence of Dr. Stromberg's "immaterial elements which can exist
without being associated with matter"!
Dr. Wright has studied Professor J. B. Rhine's elaborate experiments in telepathy and
clairvoyance which have done more to convince skeptical scientists of the existence of those
supernormal powers in man than any previous attempts, and makes clear the important fact
that they are really extra-sensory: "They do not seem to constitute a sixth sense, or a seventh,

at all like the five we already know. Rather they appear as something of another order. The
five known senses all have their special organs, but there would seem to be no organ proper
to the powers we are now discussing." The senses localize their powers in the eyes, ears, etc.,
but those who possess telepathic or clairvoyant power have no impression that they are
employing any sense-organ. Those powers are not associated with a sixth or seventh bodily
sense, and that is why they have been called by Dr. Rhine "extra-sensory" powers.
Again, they do not obey one of the most familiar laws of nature, i. e., the weakening of every
known form of radiation as it recedes from its originating center, according to the law of
squares. Light, heat, sound, etc., all diminish in intensity with distance, but telepathy and
clairvoyance reach the goal, however distant, without the slightest loss of power. In fact, Dr.
Rhine has found that telepathic perception is often improved when the experimenters
lengthen the distance between them. A thousand questions arise from the paradoxical results
of serious investigators into telepathy and clairvoyance, and from the standpoint of physics
they have so far proved unanswerable. Scientists are speculating on new kinds of Time which
may be needed to explain difficulties in ordinary physical research! Perhaps these
speculations will throw a little light on the paradoxes of telepathy and lead to deeper
mysteries still more incomprehensible to the uninitiated investigator.
Telepathy and clairvoyance, though new to science, are not so to students of occultism, and
they may very well be co-ordinated with the "fine structure," immaterial and non-physical,
which is the vehicle or perhaps the substance of the mind. This opens a tremendously wide
vista to the imagination, and it is not unlikely that the future development of science may be
on these lines. Scientists are bound by their unwritten rules to try to discover new laws of
nature in their own way, by experiment, observation, and deduction, but there is a limit to this
method, and that limit seems to be approaching more nearly than was expected as science
becomes more and more metaphysical. We do not need less science, as some pessimists
claim, but more. But the future scientist will discover that his methods must be changed as he
sees more sublime objectives than the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity, however
honorable. He will then have to become a Spiritual Scientist, an Adept. We have already
some glimpses of the higher methods in the sudden intuitive flashes of Knowledge,
"hunches," which have given the clues to many great scientific discoveries.

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The Theosophical Forum August 1940

DR. GUSTAF STROMBERG AND THE INVISIBLE STRUCTURE OF THE


LIVING UNIVERSE C. J. Ryan
In THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM of May, 1939, a review-article was printed of the Swedish
edition of Dr. Gustaf Stromberg's Universums Sjal, a brilliant study of the rational nature of
the Cosmos, the relationship between mind and matter, and the meaning and nature of human
life and death. This book has now appeared in English under the title The Soul of the
Universe (1) with a few additional passages of much significance, and it is with great
pleasure that we take the opportunity of making some further remarks in appreciation of a
purely scientific work which in so many respects supports the fundamental principles of
Theosophy.
Dr. Stromberg, born in Gothenburg, Sweden, has been a member of the Staff at Mount
Wilson Observatory since 1916, and is distinguished for his investigations in regard to the
movements and luminosities of the stars and the structure of the universe, but his interests
have included other scientific fields. As Dr. Walter S. Adams, Director of Mount Wilson
Observatory, writes in the Preface:
In days of extreme specialization in science the appearance of a wellconsidered book which brings together many of the facts and conceptions of
different branches of physical and biological science and discusses them from
a unified and philosophical point is exceedingly welcome. Very often the
specialist immersed in his own field of research has a very limited outlook and
but little interest in the broader aspects of science or in its applications to
human life and behavior.
How often has the complaint stated in the last sentence been put forward in Theosophical
literature! To be able to meet criticism intelligently and to present Theosophy to scienceminded persons, students should have a general even if only a modest knowledge of the main
lines on which science is moving we may add, moving on the whole in the direction of the
Ancient Wisdom. Dr. Stromberg, in his support of his argument, presents an array of facts of
recent science which in themselves make his book highly interesting and instructive apart
from the main thesis, though of course it is the latter which is the distinctive feature of the
book. Here we find the mature thought of a scientist fully informed in the latest trends of
modern research, who, by applying the principles of Relativity and the Quantum Theory to
the field of biology and the relationship between mind and matter, has discovered, in his own
words, "that the individual memory is probably indestructible and that the essence of all
living elements is probably immortal. The study leads to the inevitable conclusion that there
exists a World Soul or God."
Dr. Stromberg started on his adventure in search of the Soul of the Universe in high spirits, as
he says, and his studies led him through familiar things such as trains and pendulums,
vitamins and radio, plants and animals, up to the brain and the mind, and finally to the
sublimities of Cosmic Space which he finds to be a Fulness, a Plenum, and not a Blank, but
the Origin and inner World of Life. He found our familiar world of what we call space and
time, the training-school of souls, to be different from the more real "world" of life and
consciousness. There are elements, both material and what we must call "immaterial" for
want of a better word, which connect these "worlds" and provide a rational foundation for the

existence of the soul and its survival after "death." Finally he found that the power of the
human will is great but that there is also a Cosmic Will and that man has developed an organ
that is sensitive to the voice of a Cosmic Conscience, and that there are inspired men who
have intuitively come in contact with the World Soul.
Dr. Stromberg begins by clarifying our ideas about Space, showing that it is not just "an
empty place to put things in" as we may have thought, but that it has an objective reality,
properties, and definite rules for its activities. The illustrations he gives of this are very
striking. Time and clocks come next and we are painlessly introduced to Space-Time which,
he says, "seems to quiver with something which is akin to Life and Consciousness." This, of
course, is in perfect harmony with the Theosophical teaching that no single point in the
Universe is devoid of life and consciousness of some kind. We then learn something about
Matter, a very mysterious substance, which leads to Gravitational and Electrical Fields and
the nature of the atom, about which Dr. Stromberg has much to tell of special interest.
Then comes the most important factor in the argument, the so-called "immaterial wavestructure" in the Cosmos, the nature of which the most advanced physicists are now
beginning to study. That is one moiety of the duality in physical nature, an invisible but an
indispensable side, the "wave-aspect," the other being the "particle-aspect." The latter is
controlled and organized by the immaterial waves. Dr. Stromberg says:
. . . we shall regard the two aspects as belonging to two different "worlds,"
which we designate by the terms material and immaterial. An electron will be
regarded as belonging to the material world; electrical fields, radio waves and
pilot waves will be regarded as belonging to the immaterial world. . . . An
atom consists of particles, neutrons, positrons, electrons (perhaps also photons
and neutrinos), which are cemented together into a unit by an immaterial
wave-structure with certain space and time properties.
To illustrate the guidance or control by the "immaterial structure" and its "pilot" waves the
author calls upon the development of the living cell, a most elaborate process and an
unexplained "miracle" to Biology. He shows that material, physical, or even electric forces
fail to explain these mysterious processes, but that "a living immaterial structure or wave
system" can do so. Biologists have vaguely called the power which inspires the visible
marshaling of the particles of the developing cell, an "organizing field," but Dr. Stromberg
adopts the term genie, a word which, he says, "suggests a relation with genes" but "also
suggests a wisdom far beyond our comprehension." He speaks of many grades or hierarchies
of genies, and the Supreme "Genie" may be called the Soul of the World or of the Cosmos,
the Wellspring of all sensations, ideas, thoughts, and aspirations. The immaterial wavestructure of space greatly helps to solve the problem of memory, and therefore of survival
after death. The matter in our brains is constantly being replaced, yet memories are
accumulated and preserved during a long lifetime. Even long-forgotten events may suddenly
flash into vivid consciousness when some inner contact is made. How could this be unless an
immaterial living structure existed, in which memory inheres independent of the physical
atoms? Furthermore, why should not this immaterial structure be carried on without
impairment after death, regardless of the dissolution of the physical structure? Dr. Stromberg
devotes many pages to the logical working out of these points, and feels satisfied that we
have here a well-supported position from which the existence of the soul is scientifically
demonstrable.

The extraordinary process of development of the embryo, the transformation of the caterpillar
into the butterfly incomprehensible from the purely mechanistic standpoint the virus
problem, etc., provide him with reasons for his immaterial "genies," or "gene-spirits,"
governing entities of a unitary character which cannot be annihilated. The reader will find
this part of the argument intensely interesting but limitation of space will not allow us to
follow it here.
In regard to what we commonly call the soul, a developing "genie," to adopt Dr. Stromberg's
quaint though expressive term, his researches indicate that "A soul is indestructible and
immortal. As an individual it has a beginning, but seemingly no end"; and he cites some
strong evidence in favor of reincarnation. Possibly the words just quoted "as an individual it
has a beginning" may allow for previous incarnations of the same soul-genie (Theosophists
would say "monad," with Leibniz) which would not be the same individual (personality, we
should say)? But we cannot see how anything (like a soul) that is immortal, i. e., transcending
mortal or temporal conditions, can have a beginning. Its "vehicles" or manifestations
incarnations can and must have beginnings and endings according to periodic law so
widely manifested throughout nature. Dr. Stromberg certainly seems to agree that a genuine
reincarnation takes place in cell division through the action of the "living immaterial wave
system" which forms the link between the succession of cells. He quotes, with evident
approval, the strange case of Shanti Devi in India in 1936 where that girl gave very strong
evidence of possessing the memory of her last (and very recent) incarnation.
Denying that the human soul has developed from an animal soul, Dr. Stromberg claims that
"the capacity of abstract thinking probably requires a soul of a higher type," but he offers a
hypothesis, shocking indeed to materialists, that "potential human souls with all their
capabilities of development may well have been transmitted to the germ plasm of some
anthropoid ape living at a certain time on the earth." This is practically the opinion of
Wallace, Darwin's contemporary and friendly rival, who saw the insuperable difficulties in
tracing the human soul to animals and decided that a more advanced spirit must have
descended and illuminated the anthropoid, making it into Man. With the ape removed from
the picture and replaced by an unevolved human, this is almost the ancient teaching of the
descent of the Manasaputras, the "sons of God," or spiritual mind-principle, into nascent
humanity in the Third Great Race, one of the leading doctrines of Theosophy.
The latter part of the book is devoted to problems of the mind and the soul, for Dr.
Stromberg, like Theosophy, makes a distinction between them. In regard to the mind, he
writes, "the memory of an individual is written in indelible script in space and time, it has
become an eternal part of a Cosmos in development." Can it be revived or brought into
visibility in some way from the invisible wave-structure of space in which it is enmeshed?
This leads to an argument which uses certain psychic phenomena such as telepathy and
apparitions in evidence. Dr. Stromberg suggests that in the former case intense mental
agitation activates the "genes for telepathic transmission," and, as would be expected, no
limitation in space-time seems to exist. Apparitions often correspond to the mental activities
of someone who has died, and are usually connected with definite places where some tragic
event has occurred. At times they can be activated into conscious form, and, like ordinary
memories, they often diminish in intensity and frequency of activation with the passage of
time. All this strongly suggests properties in the Astral Light or the Akasa, well known by
occultists, ancient and modern.

Dr. Stromberg illustrates the activation of memories by the notable case of Messrs. BrookFarrar and G. A. Smith who recently took moving pictures of a temple in the jungles of
Ceylon. The whole party saw a Tamil girl dancing on the steps and they immediately
focussed their cameras on the picturesque scene which was clearly visible in the finders.
After the pictures were taken the girl was no longer to be seen, and the villagers would give
no information about her. On developing the films nothing appeared but the temple; the
dancing girl had not registered on the films!
The author regards the soul as no mere combination of mental qualities, but as a nondivisible, rational entity, like the Cosmos. It gives unity to the mental complex; it is not a set
of memories but the possessor of a particular group of memories. It perceives, feels, wills,
thinks, and remembers. It has contact points which interact with certain nerve centers in the
brain, but in itself it is essentially unitary.
"The potential souls come originally from the World Soul," and Dr. Stromberg thinks that
individuals with quite new faculties may appear on earth as the result of new "genies and
genes" entering and modifying their constitution. If these were transmitted through the action
of the germ plasm a new race would be produced. Furthermore, intense desire and great
mental exertion might not only call down these powers, but open channels to a realm beyond
time and space. "In our own mind lies the creative power that can open the gates to this
unfathomable domain in Cosmos." Surely this is what the great Seers and Sages of the Ages
have succeeded in doing, and they have left the simple and beautiful instructions for us to
follow which are the only means of attainment, but which the selfish world scorns as "my
grandmother's sermon."
In this brief and very incomplete outline of an inspiring record of intensive research and
original thinking based on strictly scientific data we have had regretfully to omit many
important points. In nearly every main principle Dr. Stromberg's conclusions are in line with
the Ancient Wisdom, now called Theosophy, and in none do we find serious differences. It is
intensely interesting to see how some of the more intuitive modern thinkers are presenting
ideas which they have obtained by the aid of research with modern instruments of precision
but which were known to the Seers and Sages of civilizations now lost in the mists of
antiquity. Great scientists are even now talking of Cosmic Mind and Cosmic Love, revoicing
the teachings of the ancients as if they themselves were coming back to teach them under
modern conditions. Students of Theosophy do not forget that H. P. Blavatsky said that it was
only in the nineteenth century that its teachings would be rejected a priori:
For in the twentieth century of our era scholars will begin to recognise that the
Secret Doctrine has neither been invented nor exaggerated, but, on the
contrary, simply outlined. . . . The Secret Doctrine, I, p. xxxviii
It is only in the XXth century that portions, if not the whole, of the present
work will be vindicated. The Secret Doctrine, II, 442
Dr. Stromberg dedicates this volume to Professor John Elof Boodin, Professor of Philosophy
at the University of California, Los Angeles, the distinguished scholar whose highly
Theosophical ideas are quoted at length by Dr. G. de Purucker in his The Esoteric Tradition.
FOOTNOTE:

1. The Soul of the Universe. By Gustaf Stromberg. David McKay Co., Philadelphia. 244 pp.
$2.00. (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum March 1944

EARLY AMERICA AND HINDU CULTURE Charles J. Ryan


Many students of Theosophy have desired more information about the connection between
ancient India and ancient America than is given by H. P. Blavatsky in the few references she
makes to the subject. We are glad to find that a learned Hindu scholar, Mr. Chaman Lal, has
at last taken it up and presented a mass of evidence in his deeply interesting volume of 247
pages entitled Hindu America, published by the New Book Co., Hornby Road, Bombay, in
1940. We are indebted to Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz for drawing our attention to this valuable
corroboration of H. P. Blavatsky's claim of an intimate connection between America and
India some thousands of years before either the Norse or the Columbian rediscovery of the
New World.
Mr. Chaman Lal's evidence for the similarity of the ancient Hindu and the native American
religions and cultures, as well as for the historicity of the traditions in both the Old and the
New Worlds wherein the voyages and connecting links between them are recorded under
more or less allegorical forms or even in plain language, is strong and well-selected, though
we regret the inclusion of a citation from Churchward among those from serious and
recognised scholars.
Most Western writers have ignored the possibility of pre-Columbian travel between India and
America by civilized expeditions by either the western or the eastern sea route or by both, but
have concentrated attention on the possible emigration of early savage tribes from northern
Asia across the Bering Straits perhaps more than 30,000 years ago. H. P. Blavatsky, however,
and the ancient traditions mentioned, indicate that highly civilized persons came over to
America from India at a later date, some even as recently as 5,000 years ago.
Mr. Chaman Lal's evidence includes the sculptural and pictorial representations in America
of the Indian elephant with their unmistakably Hindu artistic "feeling." These elephants do
not resemble the prehistoric American types. The American god Tlaloc was elephant-headed,
as was the Hindu Ganesha, a derivative of Indra, and both were rain-gods. The author gives a
large number of quotations from various sources illustrating the close resemblance between
American and Indian cultures and ideas, such as religious traditions and myths, cosmical
concepts, the knowledge of the four Yugas and of the races preceding the present Fifth Race,
identical social systems and customs, and yoga meditation methods. He discusses the use of
the zero in mathematics among the Mayas, unknown elsewhere in the ancient world except in
India; the symbols common to India and America such as the cross, the swastika, the thunderbird (the latter being stylized at Ocosingo in Mexico so as to be practically identical with the
Egyptian Winged Globe) and the traces of food-plants being transported across the Pacific,
etc. He mentions the recent discovery of stone wheels at Tiahuan-aco in Bolivia, but does not
refer to the unexpected revelation that America knew the principle of the true arch. These
examples of Old World culture in ancient America were unknown till quite recently.
Mr. Chaman Lal pays considerable attention to the curious identity between certain Indian
and American games, but he does not mention the fact that when the Spaniards arrived in
Arizona they found the Pima Indians playing a game which required a pattern exactly
duplicating the elaborate plan of the Labyrinth of ancient Crete as shown on the Cretan coins!
This pattern is so uniquely specialized that it seems impossible for it to have been
independently invented in places so remote as Crete and our Southwestern States; but Mr.

Chaman Lal traces a powerful Hindu influence in Greece and the Mediterranean and quotes
significant evidence about the extensive maritime trade carried on by India with foreign
countries.
Many pages are devoted to the Snake or Dragon (Naga) Cult of Hinduism and its close
resemblance to the widespread Snake Cult of ancient America, which is still extant in places,
even in the United States. Students of Theosophy know the importance that is attached to the
snake as a symbol of Wisdom and of the Initiate, which is found in every ancient religion,
even in Christianity, for Jesus uses the word when sending forth his twelve trained apostles:
"Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves." Moses healed the people by
setting up the Brazen Serpent under direction from his God. How different the story of the
European penetration into and domination of America might have been if the pure teachings
of Jesus had been followed by the professed Christians!
The Theosophical student feels that Mr. Chaman Lal is right in his insistance upon the
importance of the similarity between the ancient Hindu and American religious philosophies,
and in doing so he is supporting a fundamental teaching of The Secret Doctrine, i. e., the
former existence of a universal "Wisdom-Religion," Theo-sophy as we now call it, widely
diffused over the earth, the origin and fountain of the partial presentations of the One Truth
which have arisen as specialized religions, and which have mostly become more or less
degenerated or superstitious. This, however, is no obstacle to the probability that the Hindu
"colonists" to America brought many new ideas and methods which were engrafted into the
prevailing forms of belief.
In explaining that many of the difficulties in tracing the religious practices of ancient
America arise from the almost complete destruction of records by fanatical bigots, Mr.
Chaman Lal speaks plainly of the horrifying cruelties perpetrated on the American tribes by
the so-called "Christians," but he firmly believes that "the culture of the Indian will revive
again and will redeem America. There are already clear signs to that effect. The most
advanced and scientifically brought up Americans are already . . . looking for a philosophy
that will "save their souls." " In this he would sympathize with Dr. Gregory Mason,
Americanist, who in his recent South of Yesterday asks if we, modern Americans of all types,
shall not carry on the American tradition that has come down from antiquity and build a real
civilization in all respects suitable to Western conditions, and in which we shall no longer
depend upon European culture.
The following quotations from H. P. Blavatsky will suffice to prove that Mr. Chaman Lal's
main principle is well-founded. Speaking of the Chaldean, Assyrian and Indian "Nargals" or
chiefs of the Magi, and the Hindu "Nagas" or "Wise Men," she writes:
Such similarity cannot be attributed to coincidence. A new world is
discovered, and we find that, for our forefathers of the Fourth Race, it was
already an old one. That Arjuna, Krishna's companion and chela, is said to
have descended into Patala, the "antipodes," and therein married Ulupi, a
Naga (or Nagini rather), the daughter of a king of the Nagas, Kauravya.
The Secret Doctrine, II, 213-4 (Also see footnotes 406, 407)
In H. P. Blavatsky's Theosophical Glossary we read:

ULUPI (Sk.) A daughter of Kauravya, King of the Nagas in Patala (the nether
world, or more correctly, the Antipodes, America). Exoterically, she was the
daughter of a king or chief of an aboriginal tribe of the Nagas, or Nagals
(ancient adepts) in pre-historic America Mexico most likely, or Uruguay.
She was married to Arjuna, the disciple of Krishna, whom every tradition, oral
and written, shows travelling five thousand years ago to Patala (the
Antipodes). The Puranic tale is based on a historical fact. Moreover, Ulupi, as
a name, has a Mexican ring in it, like "Atlan," "Aclo," etc.
And again in The Secret Doctrine:
Exoterically, the Nagas are semi-divine beings. . . . Yet there was a race of
Nagas, said to be a thousand in number only, born or rather sprung from
Kadra, Kasyapa's wife, for the purpose of peopling Patala, which is
undeniably America. ... II, 132.
There is no doubt that America is that "far distant land into which pious men
and heavy storms had transferred the sacred doctrine" . . . the Secret Doctrine
of the land which was the cradle of physical man, and of the Fifth Race, had
found its way into the so-called New World ages and ages before the "Sacred
Doctrine" of Buddhism. Op. cit., 424, footnote.

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The Theosophical Forum December 1941

EVOLUTION AND MODERN RESEARCH C. J. Ryan


While it is true that many distinguished biologists such as Dr. Frederic Wood Jones and the
late Dr. H. Fairfield Osborn, etc., have abandoned the old belief that man is derived from any
living or fossil anthropoid ape it is important to remember that scientists still believe that
man is only a more advanced animal. Having repudiated the Biblical story of the creation of
Adam, and ignoring (at present) the Theosophical solution of the problem, scientists see no
other explanation. The only real difference between the modern and the older theories of
human evolution is that it is now generally believed that the human stock separated from a
primitive animal type (probably the Tarsioids) before the anthropoids appeared. So far as the
order of precedence goes, this is the teaching of Theosophy and it was announced by H. P.
Blavatsky long before the biologists thought of it. But Theosophy, of course, traces the
human stock from a very different origin a spiritual rather than a brute ancestry.
We all believe in Evolution, Theosophists and Scientists alike, and probably the majority of
orthodox church people. Evolution is growth and development, and the only alternative is
"special creation," which means that the world is static, that elephants and cats, birds and
butterflies, oaks and cactuses, etc., ad infinitum, were each and all made at "the beginning"
about as they are today. There is, however, considerable disagreement between the
Theosophical and the Scientific Schools of thought in regard to what actually evolves, and
what is the method by which evolution proceeds; in short what evolution really means.
Theosophy presents a generous and comprehensive picture of progressive evolution founded
upon the principle of universal consciousness ever advancing toward higher expression in
form, all growth being governed by orderly processes under law, but not by a hard, ugly
fatalism. Mind, not necessarily of a human order, is the leading factor in any true evolution;
otherwise it is pure fortuity and blind meaningless action.
Unfortunately biologists are doubtful about mind in nature, and in confining their attention,
with few exceptions, to structure and function, they try to trace the transformation of one
species into another to chemical and mechanical processes which leave out Mind or spiritual
factors of any kind. Darwin's main energies were devoted to attempts to establish mechanistic
"natural selection" as the leading principle in evolution, which means, of course, that if
among minute variations spontaneously arising within a species one appeared which might be
of advantage in the competitive "struggle for existence" its possessor would prosper at the
expense of less favored individuals. If this advantageous variation were passed on by heredity
the descendants would increase and multiply and if other improvements appeared new types
would be formed. Darwinists sometimes illustrate this by the allegory of the Long Neck. In
times of scarcity when the browsing animals had eaten all the leaves on the lower branches of
the trees the one that had fortuitously developed a slightly longer neck would reach the higher
branches and thrive while the rest were starving!
When Darwin brought forward his theory everyone knew that breeders were producing faster
race horses and carrier pigeons, etc., by the artificial selection of the most promising parents,
and so when he used the term "selection" it was easily understood. But the vital difference
between his "natural" selection and that of the breeders was not so plain to the crowd. In the
latter the matter of parents was carefully supervised, all interferences were prevented which
might vitiate the purity of the new strain and the individual scions which happened to display
the rudiments of the desired characters were protected from harm. If all this was neglected the

new strain disappeared and reverted to the original type, as the artificially developed fancy
pigeons went back to the plain "Blue Rocks" when allowed to interbreed at will. But
according to Darwin's natural selection there was no supervising intelligence to take all this
care, nothing but blind forces of nature without foresight or interest in the result. Irrespective
of the fact that "natural selection" does not attempt to explain the cause of his so-called
fortuitous variations (the modern discovery of the combinations of the chromosomes in the
germ cells only removes the fortuity one step backwards) it has been found so full of
difficulties that it can no longer be regarded as the dominant feature in evolution, though, as
H. P. Blavatsky frequently pointed out it has a subordinate part to play. Dr. Robert Broom, f.
r. s., the distinguished biologist and anthropologist, sums up his argument for spiritual
intelligence behind evolution from the primitive "jelly-speck" to the highest terrestrial life in
a trenchant phrase: "The end seems to me to differ too greatly from the beginning to have
been the result of chance." The Coming of Man.
The twentieth century has revealed many new facts about the processes of life, and modern
research into the mysteries of the cell and its complex activities has greatly diminished the
belief in the all-sufficiency of Darwin's leading contribution to the subject of evolution,
"natural selection." In this and other aspects of the appearance of new species in progressive
order a certain number of leading scientists besides Dr. Broom are nearing Theosophical
principles.
In opposition to current mechanistic hypotheses of the process of the appearance of new
species, the great American biologist, Dr. H. Fairfield Osborn, worked out a new method of
regarding it the process, not the cause which is important because it approaches closely
to the Theosophical teaching that evolution means the unfolding or unrolling into
manifestation of what is already in embryo. In bringing forward his hypothesis, which he
calls Aristo-genesis, or the process of "absolutely inevitable and predetermined evolution,
always tending toward improvement," he shows the inadequacy of the great historic attempts
to explain the modes and causes of evolution which were founded on such concepts as, (a)
spontaneous variations arising fortuitously (Darwin, etc.), (b) inheritance of acquired
characters (Lamarck), (c) environment (Buffon, St. Hilaire).
Dr. Osborn of course accepted the fact (recognised by H. P. Blavatsky) that the "survival of
the fittest" and "the direct effect of environment" had some influence on biological evolution,
but he insists that "the real underlying causes of evolution are entirely unknown . . ., and may
prove to be unknowable," and "Pure Darwinism never sought to explain the origin of new
characters. In fact, Darwin invariably used the word "chance" but open-mindedly declared
that "chance" was a word that might simply express the ignorance of his time as to principles
which might subsequently be discovered," and while modern observations undreamt of by
Darwin have, according to Dr. Osborn, brought new facts to light they have in no way
diminished the fact that the cause of variation is still totally unexplained by and unknown to
scientists. Accepting this fully, he shows good reason for believing that the cause, whatever it
may be, is connected with the germ plasm. He finds that the unfolding of the potentialities
locked up in this mysterious "cause" are released in orderly response to the challenge of
environment. They are not survivals from innumerable accidental mutations which happened
to persist because they fitted into the environment. In the great families of mammalia, for
instance, the earliest representatives possess the potentialities of the variations which
gradually appear and finally segregate their descendants into genera or species. Dr. Osborn
made intensive studies of the mammalia to establish this "Creative Aristogenesis," especially
in the Proboscideans or elephant family throughout its 14,000,000 years of existence, and

found, "absolutely concrete and irrefutable evidence of the actual modes of the origin of new
characters in species, genera, and higher divisions." It is as he writes, "fatal to Darwin's
working hypothesis of adaptation of survival of variations in any degree subject to chance."
In the teaching of Theosophy, however, the cause of the appearance of the great mammalian
types (the larger "root-types" of The Secret Doctrine) is the existence and influence of
prototypes on inner planes of life, which become physicalized, as it were, and activate the
original germ plasms. After this, the physical forms differentiate within certain limits (as in
the teeth, etc., of the Proboscideans) by the ordinary secondary, physical causes such as
climate, isolation, sex, diet, etc. Underlying all this, however, as H. P. Blavatsky writes in
The Secret Doctrine, II, 649,
is a sub-conscious intelligence pervading matter, ultimately traceable to a
REFLECTION of the Divine and Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom.
This is what has sometimes been called "the mystical dweller within the germ cell" activating
the nucleolus.
The quotations from Dr. Osborn are taken from his articles in Science for December 2, 1932,
and February 24, 1933, which are worth careful study.
Dr. Richard B. Goldschmidt, now professor of Zoology at the University of California, one of
the world's leading biologists, has also broken with the pure Darwinian tradition and has
unwittingly moved toward one of the most important teachings of the Ancient Wisdom about
the appearance of new forms of life. Darwin required innumerable fortuitous variations and
aeons of time for the laborious process of working out a new species by "natural selection,"
but Dr. Goldschmidt discards this principle and offers an impressive array of evidence in
favor of rapid mutation in the embryo by which new species would emerge quickly,
geologically speaking. In some cases two or more drastic changes would occur at the same
time, in others the speed of inter-embryonic development of one or more normal characters
would be reduced or increased allowing others to get ahead and dominate, etc. As he points
out, such mutations, rare as they may be, might be fraught with tremendous results. They
would satisfactorily explain the mechanism of the appearance of the air-breathing
Amphibians from certain fishes. To produce such a revolutionary change by the extremely
slow process of natural selection working on an occasional "accidental" variation would be,
as Dr. Goldschmidt says, incredible, because no intermediate steps are possible and more
than one mutation had to take place simultaneously to adapt the fish to terrestrial conditions.
But the mechanism of the transformations (if correctly interpreted by Dr. Goldschmidt) is far
from explaining the deeper cause of the simultaneous and other mutations which produce
such (literally) epoch-making consequences, for we must remember that the Amphibians led
the way to the Reptiles and the Mammals! Was all this the result of a rare and accidental
combination of chromosomes in the embryonic cells of some fish? One of Dr. Goldschmidt's
critics, while admiring the austere simplicity of his interpretation of the evidence evidently
fears that it is dangerous because it may lead to a teleological explanation, and so he calls it
"the simplicity of a belief in miracles"! But why should the teleological explanation be so
terrible? Theosophists do not think it is at all subversive to reason.
According to the Ancient Wisdom such fundamental changes are not produced by fortuitous
happenings, but have a lawful place in the great scheme, and are traceable to Divine or

Cosmic Intelligences as mentioned above. Physical matter is only a small part of the real
universe. According to Theosophy the "astral" or ideal forms or "germs" of the new orders of
life, were "projected" from inner planes of being into the terrestrial world when the
conditions were suitable. These subtil elements forced the mutations in the embryo which
provided the mechanism by which the more advanced type was able to incarnate, apparently
"out of the blue." H. P. Blavatsky explains that when this is done innumerable minor
modifications follow by the so-called "natural" ways familiar to biologists. She writes:
Those purely secondary causes of differentiation, grouped under the head of
sexual selection, natural selection, climate, isolation, etc., etc., mislead the
Western Evolutionist and offer no real explanation whatever of the "whence"
of the "ancestral types" which served as the starting point for physical
development. The truth is that the differentiating "causes" known to modern
science only come into operation after the physicalization of the primeval
animal root-types out of the astral. The Secret Doctrine, II, 648-9
Dr. Goldschmidt's hypothesis should be valuable as an open door for biologists to find their
way to the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom on the real meaning of "Evolution." An article
by him, setting forth the main points of his argument in technical terms will be found in
Science for December 15, 1933.

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum September 1942

EXPERIMENT IN TELEPATHY Charles J. Ryan


At last we are given a detailed and fully documented account of an experiment in telepathy of
the highest evidential value and of a unique character, whose publication in book form has
been eagerly awaited. (1) The standing and reputation of the persons concerned and the
unusual nature of the case prohibit any suggestion of exaggeration or collusion, and
"accidental" coincidence cannot possibly be strained to cover the mass of documented facts
presented.
Sir Hubert Wilkins is the well known aviator and Arctic and Antarctic explorer who has
taken part in ten Polar expeditions, commanding six of them; he holds the Military Cross of
the British Empire and has been honored by leading scientific societies throughout the world.
Mr. Harold M. Sherman is a successful author and scenario writer, now living at Hollywood.
Both have long been interested in the possibilities of telepathy as a human faculty which
might be developed in qualified persons and employed for human welfare.
Sir Hubert volunteered to conduct the perilous search by airplane during the winter of 1937-8
for the Russian aviators who were lost in their attempt to fly from Moscow to the United
States across the Arctic Ocean. The story of his adventurous flights makes thrilling reading,
but the main object of his portion of the book is to relate with scientific precision his efforts
during the six months spent in the Arctic to report his doings by thought-transference to Mr.
Sherman in New York. Mr. Sherman describes his experiences at the receiving end of the
thought line, and the result is truly remarkable. A regular hour was set, three times a week,
for Mr. Sherman to receive the communications, and it was religiously adhered to by him in
spite of almost overwhelming difficulties, including severe sickness at times. Communication
with Sir Hubert was kept up by mail when possible, but Mr. Sherman very rarely knew by
that method in what part of the immense Arctic territory Sir Hubert might be exploring,
though he was usually able to follow his movements day by day through the telepathic
communications.
Thoughts Through Space is divided into three parts, the first being by Sir Hubert Wilkins,
introducing the subject and presenting his side of the telepathic experiment to prove the
possibility of regular communication between two persons at great distances. His descriptions
of the preparations in Alaska for the search and of the flights themselves are so detailed that
the reader can see for himself that Mr. Sherman could not normally have guessed the minute
technical details which he saw at times telepathically, still less the exact times when various
events took place; he has never been to the Arctic and is not technically familiar with
airplanes.
The second part of the book contains Mr. Sherman's story as receiver of the communications,
and his profound analysis of telepathy in general and of his own experiences. The third part is
a complete record in parallel columns of the messages and thoughts as sent by Sir Hubert and
as received by Mr. Sherman.
Immediately upon receipt of a telepathic impression, Mr. Sherman mailed a record to Mr.
Samuel Emery of the City Club of New York, and another to Dr. Gardner Murphy,
psychologist of Columbia University, who filed them for future comparison with Sir Hubert's
notes and recollections, each with its postmark.

Sir Hubert had arranged to communicate by radio with the New York Times, but as Mr.
Reginald Iversen, chief operator for that paper, writes, from October 1937 to March 1938 the
intended schedule was almost completely disrupted by magnetic and sun-spot disturbances,
and "Mr. Sherman had actually more accurate telepathic knowledge of what was happening
to Wilkins in his search for the Russian fliers than I was able to gain in my ineffective
attempts to keep in touch by short-wave radio." Only 13 successful radio contacts with the
Arctic were made and Mr. Sherman did not hear of these until he had received and recorded
his telepathic communications which always came first. We can leave it to the readers to
study the detailed record with the assurance that they will agree that telepathy is the only
sensible way to explain the facts.
Mr. Sherman's comments are worth careful reading. At first he had healthy doubts about
success, but being determined to put the matter to the most complete test he wrote down all
the impressions, mental or pictorial, that he received, quite improbable as some of them
seemed. This was fortunate, for otherwise much valuable evidence would have been lost.
When the first receptions were found by Sir Hubert to be accurate in the main, Mr. Sherman
was puzzled by finding that he had not only received communications consciously directed to
him from the Arctic but also information about other events that had happened to Sir Hubert
during the day, and even the intensive thoughts " about plans which only Sir Hubert knew.
Writing to Mr. Sherman about this Sir Hubert says: ". . . You evidently have picked up quite
a lot of thought forms. Strong thoughts emitted during the day, and some of which I would, if
I had had time, have tried to pass on to you at night. . . . for I believe that the thought form
does not necessarily fade with its first "spread," but keeps revolving in our atmosphere so
that a sensitive mind may pick up the form some hours or even years after it has been
emitted."
This is precisely the explanation that H. P. Blavatsky gives of certain communications
received or images seen (but not all) apparently coming from the spirits of the departed, but
which are really "hangovers" from strong thoughts or wishes thrown out before death. In
connexion with the undirected thoughts received by Mr. Sherman he found that those with a
strong emotional content were more likely to carry than cold-blooded numbers or symbols
such as Dr. Rhine used in his experiments at Duke University, in which the preponderance of
successes over failures was small, though sufficient to eliminate chance coincidence. Once
when Sir Hubert Wilkins was flying under great tension Mr. Sherman actually saw an
immense "lead" in the ice field which the aviator was carefully studying because it was quite
unexpected. At the moment when a house was burning at Point Barrow he received a vivid
impression of the event, and on another occasion when Sir Hubert was having trouble with
one of the propellers he recorded that there was a difference between the pitch of the new
propeller and that of the other though they ought to be the same. Sir Hubert remarks: "He saw
the propeller in his mind's eye, and he might have recorded that fact alone which in itself
would have been remarkable but he could not have seen the difference in the pitch of the
propeller, because it was so slight that it could not have been noticed by the keenest eyesight.
The difference in the pitch of the propellers could not be proved except by a delicate
instrument or by a comparison of the fine markings on each, which were concealed beneath
the hub. So to have known of my concern and discussion with the engineers about the pitch
of the propellers, Sherman must have responded to the stimuli of either my thought or of our
expressed words."

And Mr. Sherman was in New York while his friend was anxiously considering how to
synchronize the motors of his two propellers at Atvalik, Alaska!
Still more paradoxical was the fact that on some occasions, again under conditions of anxiety
or strain with Sir Hubert, Mr. Sherman had a "preview" or prevision of an accident which
was hanging over but had not yet been precipitated. On January 27th, 1938 he recorded an
impression that a bad accident had happened to the crankcase of the plane. Sir Hubert
reported later that on February 6th he had serious trouble with the crankcase, "main bearing
of one engine ground to powder that day." On March 7th and 8th Mr. Sherman saw an
accident to the tail of the plane when landing on a sharp ridge of hard snow, the detail being
exactly what was to occur several thousand miles away three days later on March 11! Such
incidents as these aroused many speculations about Time and the nature of human
consciousness, and he asks if we can learn to contact marvelous realms of intelligence of
which our normal consciousness is ignorant. Theosophy would certainly answer, yes, but as
Mr. Sherman himself says only "after we learn how to delve into the almost frightening and
certainly awe-inspiring depths of our own selves." He believes, truly, that this knowledge of
man's inner self "will do more eventually to bring about the centuries-old dream of universal
brotherhood than any other intelligent force." His telepathic experiences convinced him that
man possesses at least two forms of consciousness which he calls the "conscious" and the
"subconscious" and that to obtain the best results the recipient must liberate the
"subconscious" (which conveys the information to the "conscious mind') from extraneous
impressions from the conscious mind. He must above all be free from hates, prejudices, fears
and worries; and this applies to far higher matters than mere telepathic messages from
another person. He speaks of "reinforcements" of strength and self-control arising from "the
creative power within" when the destructive emotions have been overcome. He feels
convinced that we are constantly creating our own future by the nature and character of our
thought, projecting the inner self ahead of the conscious outer self, and attracting experiences
which have lain in wait in response to our strong desires, ambitions or fears, and which
transform themselves from a future possibility to a present fact. We might take this as a
distinct reference to the law of karman under which we build the conditions of our future
incarnations. On page 208 he speaks of the mind creating "in some mysterious way, the
conditions and events with which the physical self is to become associated on this earthly
plane, in future moments of time."
The addition of the strenuous work of controlling the restless mind to receive the
communications a technique he devised for himself to the constant strain of an
extremely active life with many anxieties, undermined Mr. Sherman's health so seriously that
his life was threatened, and he warns all who do not possess a well-balanced nervous system
against extensive experimentation in telepathy. He also mentions a peculiar and rather
startling affection of his breathing during one of his reception periods which may serve as a
corroboration of the warnings given to unprepared dabblers in the occult. All genuine Occult
Teachers agree that ignorant interference with the subtil currents of prana in the body by
means of breath control is very dangerous and is not countenanced in the higher yoga, or
spiritual discipline. In regard to the facility with which telepathic communication is
conducted between an adept and his chelas we must not forget that the latter have to pass
through a severe training under a spiritual Teacher to become worthy of such an attainment.
But it is a different matter to study the cases of spontaneous telepathy which occur both in
sleeping and waking, usually in regard to deaths or accidents. Thousands of records are
available and nearly everyone has had a personal experience or knows some one who has. We

can very profitably employ this weapon for breaking down the barriers which mechanistic
science has raised against anything savoring of the occult. Telepathy is free from many of the
objections brought against other forms of psychic research and a book like Thoughts Through
Space is admirably qualified to attract the attention of critical minds. Researchers in the
better-known fields of psychic phenomena such as clairvoyance, materialization and alleged
communication with spirits, have been sickened by a mass of charlatanry and vulgar fraud
that obscures the small nucleus of truth, but telepathy is by its very nature difficult to imitate
and offers no financial reward to impostors. Judging by the animated controversy aroused by
Dr. Rhine's academic experiments in telepathy at Duke University it may be that a sufficient
number of scientists will insist before long that the official philosophers, psychologists, and
physiologists in the universities take up its study as a duty, for they can hardly deny that an
excellent prima facie case has been made out for it. Here is the open door into a field of study
that may the Theosophist would say, will revolutionize the whole science of man, by
proving the existence of uncharted human powers, astonishing in themselves and still more
important because of the boundless prospect of spiritual evolution which they suggest. Dr.
Rhine lately warned his scientific colleagues that telepathy must be faced as a fact in nature
even though the (accepted scientific) heavens fall. His experiments (and of course thousands
of observations by other persons) show that it obeys laws which are utterly unfamiliar and
apparently impossible from our standpoint: perhaps we might say they border on the
"spiritual" to use an ambiguous term in default of a better. For instance, ordinary radiation
like that of light from a source, spreads out and weakens in intensity as its distance increases
according to the well known law of inverse squares. But Dr. Rhine's laboratory experiments
and the experiences of thousands of persons who have had telepathic communication by
vision, or verbally, from friends about the time of death, show that the telepathic impressions
are just as clear and strong at a thousand miles as they are at ten feet! Mr. Sherman saw many
of the Alaskan events as vividly as though he were physically present, though only in flashes
as a rule. In radio we use an amplifier to render the message audible, but it is not necessary in
telepathy.
All this, of course, suggests that telepathy is on the borderland of subtil planes or states of
being which we may properly call "occult," or inaccessible to normal sense perception; not
"supernatural," which is a word without meaning. The occult has been accepted by the
commonsense of the majority of mankind for thousands of years, but in modern times the
scientists, believed by so many to be the arbiters of knowledge, have contemptuously ignored
or condemned it without adequate study. On physical lines they gladly follow the smallest
hint of new knowledge within their self-drawn boundary, and with incredible labor and
marvelous devotion make world-shaking discoveries, but there they insist upon halting,
oblivious of the fact that just beyond that borderline far more significant worlds are waiting
to be conquered. Perhaps they feel a vague, indefinable dread that to win onward in that great
quest they must "delve into the almost [?] frightening and certainly awe-inspiring depths of
our own selves" as Mr. Sherman admirably expresses one of the profoundest teachings of the
ancient God-Wisdom, Theosophy.
However that may be, this book, a dignified and sober presentation of a tentative approach
toward things unseen but enduring, is well qualified to render first aid in serious cases of
crude materialism.
FOOTNOTE:

1. Thoughts Through Space. By Sir Hubert Wilkins and Harold M. Sherman. Creative Age
Press, New York. pp. 421. $4.50. (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum July 1942

INDIAN YOGA AND THE MODERN WORLD Charles J. Ryan


In one of Dr. Paul Brunton's earlier works, A Search in Secret India, he says that although
Yoga "is one of the most valuable inheritances India has received from her ancient sages," if
it is "to remain the hobby of a few hermits the modern world will have no use for it and the
last traces of the sacred science will disappear." The West will ignore it and the new India
will abandon it. Readers of that widely read study of Indian yogis will remember that the
author was profoundly impressed at first by the mental peace shown by the Maharishi of
Arunchala, "a saintly yogi who had perfected himself in indifference to worldly attractions
and in the control of the restless mind." But after further experience he has concluded that the
effort to attain such a goal was not a justifiable one if it led to nothing of practical benefit to
humanity at large.
Dr. Brunton's latest book, The Hidden Teaching Beyond Yoga, is the result of long experience
in theoretical observation of Indian yoga and in its actual practice, and his previous works
must be regarded as descriptions or expressions of the stages through which he has traveled
in reaching a higher altitude. Its title conveys the realization that humanity can reach a far
more all-round development than the limited outlook offered by the yogis. It is surely the
most important contribution the author has yet made to occult literature and to the cause of
social welfare, and we are glad that a further development will follow in a second volume. It
is both critical and constructive in showing that certain mental disciplines of Indian yoga
might be extremely useful when the terrible conditions now prevailing have passed and men
of good-will are called upon to redeem the world from the nightmare of materialistic thought
and action we have brought upon ourselves. For any artificial culture of psychic powers,
sometimes mistaken for yoga, a terrible menace in this hotbed of passion and emotion, Dr.
Brunton has of course no sympathy, and his presentation of yoga has no element which could
appeal to the curiosity-seeker or the psychic researcher. He broadly defines yoga as "a
Sanskrit word which appertains to various techniques of self-discipline involving mental
concentration and leading to mystic experiences or intuitions," but he emphasizes the warning
that though these experiences may help to thin the veil between the ordinary consciousness
and its profounder reaches they are certain to mislead unless strictly controlled and checked
by the discriminating analysis of a mind trained by the methods of certain great Sages of old,
and by practical experience and service in the world of men. The visions of "yogis," whether
in the Orient or among the Christian saints, or among certain Western seers or "sensitives" or
even those of so-called "primitive" races, are rarely balanced by logical thinking, with the
result that so many differences of opinion prevail about their correct interpretation. The
Mahatman K. H. strongly emphasizes this in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, p. 276.
The need for the scientific and philosophical teaching of the Sages which we call "technical"
Theosophy is apparent.
The author's final conclusion, after years of personal experience of yoga-states and wide
acquaintance with genuine yogis, is that while there is much to say for a disciplined yoga
training, freed from emotionalism, curiosity hunting, superstition, and "the miraculous," its
real usefulness lies in its practical methods of mind concentration, the control of the
restlessness of the mind which is our greatest hindrance in hearing the Inner Voice. He does
not disguise the danger of yoga becoming a mere personal gratification and a turning into
ashes in the mouth, "a shriveling complacency accompanied by an open disdain for life's
practical fulfilment in disinterested service of others." He repeats the old teaching that the

withdrawal from the pleasures of the senses to the more subtil enjoyments of self-centered
isolation is no self-abnegation at all. He quotes the well-known and cultured yogi, Sri
Aurobindo: "Trance is a way of escape the body is made quiet, the physical mind is in a
state of torpor. . . [but] . . . The disadvantage is that trance becomes indispensable and that the
problem of waking consciousness is not solved; it remains imperfect."
Speaking from the logic of critical reflexion and somewhat painful experience, he writes:
I became acutely aware that mysticism was not enough by itself to transform
or even discipline human character or to exalt its ethical standards towards a
satisfactory ideal. It was unable to link itself thoroughly to life in the external
world! . . . Even the emotional exaltations of mystical ecstacy wonderfully
satisfying though they be were fleeting both in experience and effect and
have proved insufficient to ennoble men permanently. The disdain for
practical action and the disinclination to accept personal responsibility which
marked the character of real mystics prevented them from testing the truth of
their knowledge as well as the worth of their attainments and left them
suspended in mid-air, as it were. Without the healthy opposition of active
participation in the world's affairs, they had no means of knowing whether
they were living in a realm of sterilized self-hallucination or not . . . The true
sage could be no anemic dreamer but would incessantly transform the seeds of
his wisdom into visible and tangible plants of acts well done. p. 25
The latter, of course, is the essential teaching of the true "Raja Yogis," the Masters of
Wisdom, and Compassion, who established the Theosophical Movement and its humble
instrument, the Theosophical Society, to bring "Truth, Light and Liberation" to a world in
sore need of them.
We have always admired the Zen system of Buddhism, and it is gratifying to find that Dr.
Brunton accepts the Japanese Zen as a sensible and beneficial system free from the objections
that apply to much of the Indian yoga. In Zen the students are given active duties as well as
discipline in meditation, and after a period of training they are returned in most cases to the
outside world, equipped with the power of sustained concentration and a desirable balance of
the inner and the outer faculties that make them successful and respected citizens. A few
adopt the monastic life but all made spiritual contacts by which their lives are permanently
enriched.
What, then, is the balancing philosophy which is needed if Eastern Yoga training in
concentration of mind, etc., is to be any use in the daily life of the world? "Disenchanted," as
the author says, "by long experience of certain ashrams and ascetics," and no longer
"confusing yogis with sages as most of us do," he was led, largely by the help and
example of a truly great and spiritual philosopher-ruler, the late Maharaja of Mysore, to such
ancient teachings as the Mandukya Upanishad, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Ashtavakra Samhita,
Sankaracharya's writings, etc., which contain what he calls "The Hidden Teachings Beyond
Yoga," the teaching of "the yoga of philosophic discernment" . . . "philosophic disciplines
using the intense concentration generated by yoga practice but directed toward freeing the
mind of its innate ignorance and habitual error": in short to develop the fullest powers of
insight. He says he is not writing for cloistered pedants of academic metaphysics but for the
intelligent "man in the street" who is taking thought for the meaning of life; and therefore he

has avoided technical language as far as possible, without sacrificing accuracy or depth an
example many writers on philosophy would do well to follow.
The great Hindu scriptures mentioned as of such transcendent importance by Dr. Brunton are
not unfamiliar to Theosophists. The Bhagavad-Gita., for instance, has been the subject of
almost universal and intensive study since the early days of the Theosophical Society. The
teaching that is "Beyond Yoga," but for which yoga concentration of mind is no doubt a good
preparation, is not a new revelation, as Dr. Brunton says, for it is enshrined in the works
mentioned, but unfortunately its meaning has not been properly understood by Western
scholars and still less by the general reader unless enlightened by the teachings of Theosophy.
If we understand Dr. Brunton correctly, the Theosophical discipline and outlook is practically
the same as his "yoga of philosophical discernment" adapted to the comprehension of the
Western mind. We are, however, looking forward with interest to the second volume of this
study, where more complete interpretation is promised.
After a careful consideration of the modern developments in science, education, transport
facilities, inventions, etc., which have transformed our social conditions and mental outlook,
and especially the widespread increase, under the baleful influence of materialism, of the
despairing feeling that there is no purpose in human life, the author declares that this is the
time when the ancient "Aryan" knowledge must be brought to the West "to help the better
cultured classes act more wisely that something nobler may emerge . . . toward a finer human
world." This is true indeed, but it is not exactly new, for the Theosophical Movement was
started in 1875 to promote human welfare on "Aryan" lines of thought, spiritual, intellectual
and practical. At that time only a minute coterie of scholars in the West knew anything about
these principles, and few regarded them as anything more than an abstruse field of linguistic
and ethnological research. The Theosophical activities called popular attention to the Wisdom
of the East, and in the few years that have elapsed since H. P. Blavatsky brought her message
it has produced far-reaching results by giving hope and encouragement to an immense
number of discouraged people as well as by powerfully affecting the religious, scientific, and
social ideas of our age. The Theosophical Movement was established by Hindu Sages, not
"hibernating hermits," but philanthropists of the highest compassion and wisdom, whose aims
and ideals are universal in scope and application. These Masters of Life "have made the ageold cause of all mankind their own" and are not "ascetically indifferent" to the social welfare
and evolution of the world in its common everyday experiences and tribulations. According
to Dr. Brunton, this can hardly be said of many of the self-centered and self-sufficient Hindu
yogis, pure-minded and mystically inclined though they may be, and untainted by the selfish
desire to be reverenced for their possession of strange powers.
In the last chapter, "The Philosophic Life," the author discusses the woes of the world and its
crying need for a true and dynamic philosophy of life, one which would be recognised and
accepted by men of action and leadership. But, as he writes, the ground for such a worldphilosophy must be prepared by a voluntary clearance on the part of the organized religions
of their labyrinth of traditional rubbish and a complete reorganization of their methods. The
Unity of the Universe must be recognised, and this implies the divinity of man because he is
an integral part of it some would say of God, but the author prefers a term he has
suggested, the Overself. He insists that the laws of Cause and Effect, Perfect Justice
Karman and Reincarnation must be understood and lived up to. Fully to accept the law of
Karman you reap what you sow, and nothing else is of the utmost importance for it is a
natural and inescapable fact from which we shall suffer and suffer until we recognise it.
Every day we are shaping our future conditions and history by our thoughts and deeds

fortunate if they are good, unhappy if they are selfish. The only way to change one's life for
the better is to take the bull by the horns and change one's way of thinking, as he says. All
this is good sound Theosophy, though Dr. Brunton does not use the word even though its
antecedents in classical thought are excellent and expressive of his views. We notice that he
avoids any reference to or consideration of the seven (or four) kosas or "principles" of man's
complex nature as given in Oriental philosophy, which have been found so illuminating by
Theosophists in their study of the subtilities of human psychology and universal
consciousness.
Dr. Brunton strikes a profound Theosophical keynote of action when he says that the key to
happiness is forgetting oneself. He sums up his ethical position in the words: "It is the duty of
the strong to assist the weak, of the advanced to help the backward, of the saintly to guide the
sinful, of the wealthy to enlighten the ignorant. And because ignorance is the root of all other
troubles, therefore the Buddha pointed out that, "explaining and spreading the truth is above
all charities." " This, of course, is the "practical charity" which is the Theosophical ideal, the
most effective way to bring about a permanent condition of universal brotherhood. The
reason why the Theosophical Society as a philanthropic organization is more concerned in
spreading the light of Theosophy in this Dark Age than in extending material assistance is
that the latter can only be a temporary alleviation or "appeasement," to use a popular
expression, so long as human ignorance and selfishness remain unchanged. Members of
Theosophical societies, as individuals, may and do help in any charitable work they prefer,
for as H. P. Blavatsky says in The Voice of the Silence, "Inaction in a deed of mercy is action
in a deadly sin."
Dr. Brunton calls for a remedy for "the malady of human suffering," and he clearly indicates
that the remedy lies in the active participation of men of "goodwill" and wisdom in the work
of redemption. For instance, he writes:
The sages who have gone looked within self in the quest of abiding reality
rather than fitful experience, of final truth rather than emotional satisfaction . .
. hence they alone found the genuine goal. And because they did not flee as
did mystics from the vexing problem of the world, they solved that too at the
same startling moment that the self was understood. . . . Thenceforth they
made the age-old cause of all mankind their own.
This is excellent so far as it goes, and knowledge of the Self, even in part, is essential for a
true Teacher. We must remember, however, that such an understanding is not gained by
merely intellectual processes, nor can the search be entered upon without a higher inspiration
if it is to succeed. According to the teaching and example of the Great Ones, the Buddhas and
the Christs, the first and most important qualification for discipleship in "the age-old cause of
all mankind" is to "love thy neighbor as thyself," or, in Buddhism, to obey the highest of its
rules of conduct or Paramitas, "Dana, the key of charity and love immortal," and as H. P.
Blavatsky gives it in The Voice of the Silence, "To live to benefit mankind is the first step,"
and "Compassion speaks and saith: "Can there be bliss when all that lives must suffer? Shalt
thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" "
We hope that in his forthcoming volume Dr. Brunton will emphasize this fundamental
teaching of all the Saviors of humanity without which the candidate for even the highest
psycho-intellectual states of consciousness is always in danger of being led into unproductive
bypaths toward what is called the pratyeka condition. Dr. Brunton has certainly deserved

gratitude and has done excellent service in this volume by courageously presenting the
matured judgment of an expert in Hindu Yoga at the risk of inevitable misunderstanding, as
he tells us. By his frankly critical but constructive and not unfriendly analysis he has cleared
up many obscurities and helped greatly in exposing the false and fantastic notions about yoga
so prevalent in the west.
Amid the wreckage of outworn forms of thought the world is blindly reaching for a nobler
philosophy of life. If it would realize the admirable principles so skilfully and earnestly put
forward here, which are practically those of Theosophy, and put them into practice, we
should indeed begin to see the "Promised Land"!

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LIGHT ON HUMAN EVOLUTION Charles J. Ryan


Not long after the Theosophical Society was established in India the Masters told Mr. Sinnett
that they wanted an institution that "would arrest the attention of the highest minds." One of
the obstacles to more rapid progress has been the teaching of the mechanistic, soulless form
of human evolution which prevails so widely among the authorities who guide the minds and
direct the studies of the rising generation in many educational institutions, at least in the area
of Western culture. This has, of course, been the result of scientific research which broke
down the literal accuracy of the Bible story of the creation of man about 6000 years ago.
Scientists and theologians entirely failed to recognize the Oriental method of stating great
truths in fanciful allegorical form; but, as a matter of fact, the story of Genesis enshrines the
true story of man's evolution in a poetical disguise which becomes perfectly clear when the
key to its interpretation brought in The Secret Doctrine is applied.
The destruction of the superstitious literal interpretation of the medieval ages was a good
thing, and also the establishment of the broad principle of evolution even in a very limited
shape. But Darwinism or Neo-Darwinism no matter which lost touch with any
suggestion of spiritual or intelligent Guidance in evolution, and in spite of increasing
tendency in other scientific departments toward less mechanistic views, "the still, small
voice" of Theosophy with its magnificent exposition of Cosmic and human evolution finds it
difficult to attract the attention of the "highest minds" who control our universities and
colleges. But the unexpected discoveries in Africa and Eastern Asia have begun to tell, and
we believe it is no exaggeration to say that the work of devoted Theosophists for the last
seventy years or so has permeated the mental atmosphere of the world with "spirituallyscientific" concepts whose effects are now becoming apparent. Anyway an increasing
number of experts are beginning to doubt whether the accepted arguments for the apeancestry of Man are valid. Among these are such eminent anthropologists as Dr. Robert
Broom, Professor Frederic Wood-Jones and others. Dr. Broom is not the only anthropologist
who has deplored the mysterious disappearance or deliberate neglect of certain fossil
evidence which throws doubt on current popular theories. According to Dr. G. W. H.
Schepers, writing against the theory that Man is an offshoot of the Anthropoid Ape, "Those
who believe differently have either spoilt their reputations or have wisely remained silent on
the subject"!
Within the last twenty years or so the scientific world has been profoundly stirred by
remarkable discoveries in South Africa of very ancient remains of the so-called Ape-Man,
Anthropoid Apes of a more highly advanced type than anything yet known. Intensive
research is continuing to bring to light many facts of interest to Theosophical students who
are sufficiently acquainted with the technique of anthropological studies to appreciate the
importance of certain new discoveries in support of H. P. Blavatsky's arguments in The
Secret Doctrine against the theory that man is the direct descendant of some ancient variety
of the Anthropoid Ape with all its materialistic implications.
In regard to this South African development the Theosophical University Library at Covina
has just received a valuable and welcome addition, The South African Fossil Ape-Men, the
Australopithecus, published by the Transvaal Museum, Pretoria, and presented by Dr. Robert
Broom, F. R. S. "in memory of a happy day spent at Point Loma in 1937," as he writes. The
main portion of this highly technical and fully illustrated study of the very humanlike "Ape-

Men" bones found in the Transvaal is written by Dr. Broom who has devoted many years of
intensive research and study to South African Paleontology, especially in relation to Early
Man and the Anthropoids. He has developed profoundly spiritual concepts of human
evolution which are fundamentally in harmony with those of the Ancient Wisdom though in
some matters the latter represents a wider and more Cosmic picture of man's upward journey
to the gods.
The second part of the book is written by another highly-qualified scientist, Dr. G. W. H.
Schepers, who presents a detailed analysis of the brain casts of the South African Ape-Men,
and some striking criticisms of the popular theory, derived from Darwin, that modern
humanity was directly descended from some kind of Anthropoid Ape.
The skeletal remains of three types of Ape-Men found at Taungs, Sterkfontein and Kromdraai
are particularly interesting because they are by far the nearest to man of any Anthropoid yet
found, and at first it was rumored that the desired "missing link," Man's immediate ancestor,
had been discovered, but this was soon found to be erroneous. However, as Dr. Broom points
out, the structure of the brains of these Ape-Men resembles that of Man far more closely than
of those of the other Anthropoid Apes, though of course they are much less in volume than
those of the smallest human brain. In some cases the teeth important factors in the study of
relationships are identical with human teeth. For many reasons the South African ApeMen are generally and quite reasonably accepted to be a collateral line of Anthropoids which
ran for a while side by side with Man, distant cousins as one might say "poor relations,"
who died out without leaving any modern representatives. None of the specimens yet found
are as old as the most ancient human races. Science has found the true ancestor of man a very
elusive personage! How can this be? Where is he hiding?
According to The Secret Doctrine, many intermediate forms between intelligent Man (Homo
sapiens) and the anthropoid apes flourished in very distant ages but none were predecessors.
They were offshoots from the human stock and were produced by a complex process of
miscegenation which is outlined in that Book of Revelation and which is fully discussed in
Theosophical literature, but which cannot be described here. Field-Marshal J. C. Smuts, who
contributes the Introduction to Dr. Broom's detailed analysis, believes that "we are at any rate
coming nearer to the solution of the age-old question of our human origin." According to the
Ancient Wisdom, however, certain factors which must be understood before this can be done
have not yet been discovered or even suspected by science. To solve the mystery it will have
to brush aside the prejudice against the occult in Nature and learn that the spirit of man can
function in other bodies than the physical.
Marshal Smuts says, "Races, like individuals, disappear by the way, but the great march of
life goes on steadily, endlessly, to goals beyond our ken, perhaps beyond our present human
type." We might add that human life in almost incredibly remote ages has marched through
types that would seem very strange to our present understanding, as indicated in The Secret
Doctrine and mentioned in the most ancient writings and traditions. Among the most
important of these transformations, that of the astral to the physical, (still unknown to biology
though evidence is available) the reader should consult Volume II, pages 652-3, 689, 737,
etc.
About twelve years ago Dr. Broom published his profoundly significant The Coming of Man,
strictly scientific factually and yet not above the comprehension of the layman, in which he
presented his rather unorthodox belief that Natural Selection or any other mechanistic theory

of Evolution does not satisfy our sense of fitness, and that intelligent spiritual forces are the
active agencies in the production of the marvelous variety we see around us. Worse still, he
declared that "Man has been the end foreseen from the beginning," a purely Theosophical
concept. Since then he has seen no reason to modify his views and in fact the march of
discovery has reinforced them. In an article printed in The Outspan, a leading South African
journal, for April 5, entitled "The Religion of a Scientist," he gives carefully thought-out
reasons for believing as Theosophy teaches, that "some great Power had planned ihe creation
of countless human Egos on earth; but that much of the working out of the Plan was the work
of subsidiary powers who were neither all-wise nor all-mighty." This would explain the
evolution of tetanus germs and tape-worms and poisonous snakes, etc., which has proved
such a stumbling-block to theologians and even philosophers! To the materialist he says: "It
is awkward to be a materialist and then find that matter is not a very real substance and that
mind has probably more claim to reality than has matter."
Returning to The South African Fossil Ape-Man, we find in Dr. Schepers" section a
remarkable chapter on "Theory and Speculation" in Darwinism, in which he reaches
conclusions that have been familiar to students of Theosophy ever since The Secret Doctrine
was written, though not to biologists. He shows that facts discovered since Darwin's time
throw new light on the evolution of Man and Ape and upset the popular belief that Man is
descended from the Anthropoid Apes or even from the Primates, extinct or living. He
delineates a hypothesis of man's ancestry that places the line of descent that ultimately
became human as entirely free from the Anthropoids or any other Primates. The apelike
characteristics of the Anthropoids were permanently differentiated a very long time ago. Man
is of a simpler and less differentiated type and yet is supposed by the orthodox school to be
descended from some kind of Anthropoid, which is a reversal of the order of Nature. The rule
is that after biological forms have reached a limit of differentiation they die out or remain
static; they do not reverse the order and return to a lesser degree of physical complexity.
Assuming that man descends from an Anthropoid, and to explain the discoveries of remains
of quite modern type of Man in what appear to be extremely early geological periods,
anthropologists, according to Dr. Schepers, "seek all manner of unlikely explanations for
such an "impossibility," even going so far as to discredit usually reliable witnesses."
How many times has this been pointed out with astonishment in this journal and other
Theosophical literature!
Dr. Schepers believes that the famous Pithecanthropus of Java and the other so-called DawnMen very "low-brows" are not Primitives but Degenerates (a Theosophical teaching)
and he even ventures to declare that not only is the origin of Man unknown but also that of
the Anthropoid Apes, and that the primeval mammalian ancestor of both lines of descent may
be looked for in the older Tertiary Age. Most geologists estimate the beginning of the
Tertiary to be about 40 to 60 million years ago.
Dr. Schepers" remarks about embryology might almost be taken from The Secret Doctrine.
He shows that the prenatal stages passed through by Man do not recapitulate the phases of
evolution from the Anthropoids down to Homo sapiens as called for by the Darwinian theory.
For instance, at no time in the process does the human hand or foot resemble those of the
apes. He discusses many other facts which have been used to perpetuate the Darwinian apeancestry of Man and shows that they have quite another interpretation when considered
without prejudice and free from the pressure of the popular scientific creed and the authority
of great names. Advanced students of Theosophy who know the difficulty in swimming

against the stream of materialistic science (especially strong in biology and evolution) will
find this magnificently outspoken analysis of the situation a great help when meeting the
objections of the younger generation who have been trained in the colleges to accept the
materialistic view of man's nature and origin.
As to Dr. Schepers" position in relation to the possibility of evolution having meaning or
purpose we do not wish to be misunderstood. He does not discuss this problem or the
existence of a reincarnating spirit in Man but he seemingly accepts the general scientific
belief that Man is a purely "natural" evolution from the lower animal kingdom. For the
spiritual interpretation of human evolution, however, we must turn to Dr. Broom. But
anyway, we should be grateful to Dr. Schepers, for he has taken a long step in agreement with
the Theosophical explanation of the appearance of the Anthropoids, and he gives a
tremendous age for the early ancestors of Man, even though we may not agree that they were
primitive mammals of the Eocene or Oligocene period.

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QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS


THE FOUR WINDS
I have had in mind asking if you would in the THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM
give some elucidation of the reference made on pages 122-24 of The Secret
Doctrine, Vol. I, to the four cardinal points and the influences exerted by the
rulers; also the four kinds of winds having evil and beneficent influence upon
the health of mankind and every living thing. Recently I purchased Studies in
Occult Philosophy by Dr. de Purucker, and apparently in the article on "The
Four Beasts of the Christian Apocalypse" reference is made to the same thing.
I would appreciate having information regarding the evil and beneficent
influences of these "winds." M. E. S.
Very little information has been given in regard to the nature of the four kinds of "winds," no
doubt because of the danger attached to its possible misuse. It will be noticed in the pages of
The Secret Doctrine quoted in the question that the north and the west winds were formerly
considered evil, while the east wind is good. Indra fights with Ahi-Vritra, the terrible hot
wind similar to the Simoon of Africa and Arabia. Yet in Egypt Tum is the spirit of the
north wind and the west, and is a very high creative deity, the equivalent of the Tibetan
Fohat. Perhaps the Egyptians were tempted to associate Tum with the north wind because it
was beneficial to the shipping on the Nile as it counteracted the strong current of the river
which flowed northward! The Greeks dreaded the north wind, and the minor god who
personified it, Boreas, was worshipped by the Athenians only because he had destroyed
hundreds of the ships of Xerxes during the Persian war!
The four "Maharajahs" and the four Cardinal points are represented in Oriental philosophy by
the four Royal Stars, Regulus, Aldebaran, Fomalhaut and Antares, which are approximately
six hours away from each other and therefore roughly indicate the four quarters of the
heavenly vault. They correspond mystically, in the above order, with the Guardian Angels of
the Gnostic Ophites and others, with Michael, Uriel, Raphael and Gabriel respectively. The
Qabbalah also has a similar arrangement of the great Powers, Winds, or Breaths, the
Guardian Angels of the Four Corners of the earth. These mystical Fours "stand behind the
Thought and the Word from which all "This," the Universe, sprang into being." A fiery Wind
followed the Directing Thought of the Creative Forces.
The American Indians, ancient and modern, attached the greatest importance to the four
divisions of space, each with its own color and qualities and with its appropriate wind. The
Four planes of Being and the Four successive Races of Men are all related to the same
principles as found everywhere, relics of the Ancient Wisdom.
All this symbolism implies the great esoteric teaching that the universe is embodied
consciousness and that there is no "dead matter." Behind the seemingly mechanical
movements of the winds there are more or less intelligent forces which if understood would
throw a strong illumination on many obscure phenomena of the atmosphere. When Jesus
"rebuked" the stormy winds on the Sea of Galilee, he showed his knowledge of and control of
these intelligent forces. There is a definite connection between the powers behind the
"Winds" and the Breath in man. Jesus was hinting at this when he spoke of the wind blowing

where it listeth and connected it up with "every one that is born of the Spirit" initiates,
(John ch. 3, verses 5 to 12) a marvelous passage of slightly veiled esoteric or Qabbalistic
teaching.
In Isis Unveiled and elsewhere, H. P. B. refers to the power of the human breath which is a
"reflection" of Cosmic energies, and shows how it has been misused by sorcerers. We have
always been warned against the danger of ignorantly arousing the unknown forces that can be
released by certain processes of breathing.
In the Proem to The Secret Doctrine and on pages 53-56, Vol. I, a magnificent description is
given of the Great Breath, eternal and ceaseless, the divine basis of all creation. Every other
form of rhythmic motion is derived from the One and this of course stands behind "the Winds
of the Spirit" symbolized by the "Four Maharajahs" and the like, all of which have their own
peculiar individual qualities. For instance, on page 612, Vol. II of The Secret Doctrine, H. P.
B. speaks of the Pravaha wind, which is, like Tum in Egypt, clearly connected with Fohat in
his aspect as a mystic and occult force that gives the impulse to and regulates the courses of
the stars and planets, one of the problems in astronomy not yet completely solved.
When H. P. Blavatsky wrote The Secret Doctrine the very suggestion of intelligent forces
would have been utterly scouted by the scientists, to whom "blind, unintelligent forces and
dead inert matter" was the answer to the problem of existence. How greatly their outlook is
changing is shown by many recent developments. For instance Sir Richard C. Tute in his
valuable work After Materialism What? shows how far philosophic science has
approached spiritual interpretations and is "disengaging itself from material prepossessions."
Based on strictly scientific evidence, this book is a magnificent tribute to the reality of the
occult teaching brought to the West by H. P. Blavatsky. A few ideas taken from a letter to
The Scientific Monthly for October, 1946, written by Sir R. Tute will illustrate the new
attitude in regard to the universality of life and consciousness throughout the visible and
invisible Cosmos, which is the background for the concept of Intelligent Forces, symbolized
under the guise of the Four "Maharajahs" and the Four "Winds" each with its own qualities.
Speaking of the Monads, which according to the Ancient Wisdom are the ultimate living
spiritual consciousnesses, "the very elements of which the universe is made," as he says, he
continues: "The modern scientist recognizes that physical reality is produced by
superphysical agencies, which must be so designated because they can never be observed. . . .
The Monads are simple, percipient, self-acting beings . . . spiritual beings whose very nature
is to act."
And from the same point of view Sir Richard remarks that the mechanists who still cling to
specious mechanistic explanations such as Natural Selection and Survival of the Fittest "are
flouting the well-established, if recent, findings of the physicists that the universe as known
to them shows no signs of mechanism." He mentions "for the reassurance of proposed readers
of his book that it has been wholeheartedly approved by scientists of the standing of Jeans
and Stromberg and that it aroused the interest of Einstein."
In spite of all the ignorant and prejudiced attempts to destroy the Theosophical Movement, it
would seem that its principles are no longer regarded by leading minds in science as farfetched or superstitious. Charles J. Ryan

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SCIENTIFIC AND OTHER NOTES Charles J. Ryan


Intelligences Guide the Universe
ore and more closely is scientific research dealing with the problems of mind and its direct
relation with matter and life. Duke University is becoming noteworthy on this line. Recent
experiments with the very primitive single-celled pond-animal called paramecium are
unmistakably in favor of the remarkable fact that the human mind can strongly affect the
behavior of that tiny brainless and structureless bit of jelly, which normally, however, can use
its own will and power of choice. The Duke bulletin reports that in 927 out of 1495
experiments, Dr. Richmond was able to make a paramecium move in any desired direction by
will power alone and without any physical contact or influence, which would be expected by
chance only once in billions of such attempts! In each case he spent fifteen seconds in willing
the direction that the paramecium should move. The importance of this to us is that it comes
from a recognized scientific source, but other examples of the power of a trained will could
be drawn upon. Snake charming is one, not the commonplace tricks of the Hindu or Egyptian
jugglers who exhibit their trained and fangless reptiles before the gaping tourist, but the
strictly practical activities of the few real experts whose lives are devoted to the discovery
and destruction of poisonous snakes that hide in obscure holes and cracks and have to be
lured into the open by the will power of the snake charmer. The amazing feats in this line of
the celebrated Egyptian Sheik Moussa are fully described in A Search in Secret Egypt by Dr.
Paul Brunton, who had exceptional opportunities of studying the subject. He insists that there
can be no shadow of doubt that Moussa (and others) could not only discover dangerous
snakes hidden in inaccessible places but possessed complete control over them and could
handle them with perfect impunity.
The paramecium experiment is of significance in support of one of the teachings of
Theosophy, according to which living beings are largely aided in their evolution and
protected by superior beings known as "angels" or "archangels," etc., in Christian literature,
and in India as "Dhyani Chohans," and in lesser order "Devas," etc. They are widely known
elsewhere by other names, such as demi-gods, Fravarshi, Principalities, Powers, Messengers,
etc.
H. P. B. says they are Guiding Intelligences, the Creative Powers or higher Causes that
generate "Elementals" or semi-intelligent Nature Forces as active agents on lower planes.
They were formerly men but are now at a stage far surpassing human consciousness and only
our modern materialism prevents our belief in the existence of such minor but very potent
"gods," all descending in hierarchies of different stages or grades. Ill-informed critics may
say that such beings are purely imaginary or they would be visible, but this is a very poor
argument, for many recognized physical agencies are invisible and can only be detected by
the effects they produce. The Secret Doctrine makes it clear how necessary such active
intermediaries are in carrying on the work of "Mother Nature." The queer and generally
invisible entities, "nature spirits," so called, that produce sounds or other effects in haunted
houses, the Irish and other fairies, and the like, are among the lowest orders of such
hierarchies, nearest the physical plane, and are demonstrable to any one who approaches the
subject with an open mind. To a certain degree, such phenomena demonstrate the existence of
mind and will-control over matter by semi-intelligent entities which in other lines is now
being demonstrated by the Duke experiments with the paramecium, etc.

In a measure this brings up the problem of instinct, a most convenient but unexplained word
to use for one of the greatest mysteries in nature. Yet when once the reality of conscious or
semi-conscious Deva-control and general protection over evolving forms of life is realized to
be a fundamental and indispensable part of the hierarchical working of the Divine Plan of the
Universe, light is thrown upon all such problems.
Mud or Mason Wasps
Take the mud wasps for example, not at all a high form of animal life. By his studies of their
habits the great French naturalist Fabre, "threw a monkey wrench" into the ingenious but
purely mechanistic interpretations of Darwin's valuable discovery of Natural Selection so
useful when kept in its place as a minor factor, and not strained to explain the causes of
evolutionary variations. Fabre showed that the improbabilities demanded by Natural
Selection alone to explain the establishment of these complex habits were so enormously
large as to make them unthinkable. Recently further discoveries have been made by Dr. G. D.
Schafer of Stanford about the mud wasps" domestic affairs still more damaging to the
mechanistic theories, but all in favor of some kind of intelligent, or spiritual, if you prefer the
word, guidance and protection.
For the preservation of one species of mud wasp by carefully protecting the single egg from
marauders, eleven different processes have to be performed by the mother wasp, each of
which, if she was a human being, we should say showed reasoning, choice, good judgment,
skill and training. Yet the wasp has had no teaching; its mother died before it was hatched!
But it knows exactly what to do, and, as Fabre remarks, "There is no apprenticeship in this
trade. Every action must be complete and perfect or the egg dies." And some of them are
highly technical and would require special knowledge on the part of a man!
These remarks were aroused by Dr. Schafer's new discovery that in addition to the known
marvels of the mason or mud wasp, the little cell in which the young wasp grows to maturity
is furnished with a first class sanitary arrangement by which all effete matter, instead of
poisoning the air by its effluvia, is carefully disposed of until the hibernation period when the
young wasp is fully closed in, and there is no reason for precautions! How could this
mechanism in the cell be evolved by the slow process of "blind Natural Selection"?
The mud wasp affords only one example of direction acted upon from a superior mind, but
thousands of others exist. In view of such evidence are we not justified in accepting the
world-wide teaching of the ancient world that some kind of Higher Intelligences exist and
help to keep the wheels of Nature moving? Do not forget that this belief was held by the
greatest philosophers and wisest men throughout the ages until the tide of skepticism and
spiritual darkness swept over the earth, especially the West.
Evolution Not a Haphazard Process
Today scientists are discovering facts and putting forth bold hypotheses that can be shown to
be perfectly harmonious with the point we are considering. Dr. R. Goldschmidt of the
University of California, one of the leading biologists of the world, has concluded from three
years' research that heterochromatin, one of the principal substances found in the genes, those
minute agents of heredity found in the germ cells, can suddenly produce marked changes in
the evolutionary development of higher animals. But why, is another matter. Dr. Goldschmidt
is famous for his anti-Darwinian theory that evolution is not a slow process, moving along by

a very gradual accumulation of accidental changes which finally result in a new species but
takes place with almost explosive suddenness by a new combination of the genes, the
elements of heredity. Such a theory obviously leaves plenty of room for the Guiding
Intelligence to call upon the physical means (such as heterochromatin) to come into play at
any period found suitable for a new step in terrestrial evolution. We have previously drawn
our readers' attention to the attitude of Dr. Goldschmidt in this most significant matter, for it
is one of the definite proofs of the truth of H. P. B.'s statement in the Introduction to The
Secret Doctrine that the 20th Century would see a strong and increasing approach by scholars
to the Ancient Wisdom in spite of all the apparent dominance of materialism. And we are
only half way through yet!
Recent demonstrations of the power of the human will mentioned above make the "accidental
coincidence" theory still more unlikely; particularly so in relation to the problem of weather
control by collective or mass wishful thinking. Can prayers or intense desire for rain or fine
weather be answered without interfering capriciously or "miraculously" with the orderly
processes of nature?
Less than ten years ago Mr. E. L. Hawke, Secretary of the British Royal Meteorological
Society published many examples which support this. During Queen Victoria's reign the
expression "Queen's Weather" became proverbial, because with hardly an exception her
numerous outdoor ceremonials were graced by brilliant sunshine, not too frequent in
England. Her death was followed by specially violent and widespread storms. Swedenborg, a
scientist as well as a mystical theologian, is cited as having first suggested the idea of mass
thought affecting the weather, but it is said to be mentioned in the Vedas. According to The
Mahatma Letters (p. 161) rain, wind and storms are produced by affections of the earth's
magnetism. The Secret Doctrine speaks of "the mythical Dragon, the actual Adept," who "has
the power of influencing the weather" (II, 280, ftn. 555), and several significant references
are made in Volume II on page 615, etc., to the Maruts or storm gods who are connected with
human emotions.

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum March 1945

SOME NOTES ON "THE SECRET DOCTRINE" Charles J. Ryan


ESPECIALLY IN REGARD TO THE SO-CALLED "THIRD VOLUME"
The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky's masterpiece, was begun in India in 1879 but owing to
her pre-occupation with the activities connected with the establishing of Theosophy in that
country, the editing and writing for her magazine The Theosophist, and her immense
correspondence, little was done for several years. The Secret Doctrine was intended to be an
enlarged and improved rendering of Isis Unveiled which, according to the Master K. H.,
writing in 1882, "really ought to be re-written for the sake of the family honour," and in
which everything is "hardly sketched nothing completed or fully revealed." (The Mahatma
Letters to A. P. Sinnett, 130, 131.) About 1884 she took up the task of re-writing Isis and a
full page notice appeared in The Theosophist for February of that year with a proposed title
page running as follows:
The Secret Doctrine, a new version of Isis Unveiled with a new arrangement of the matter,
large and important additions, and copious notes and commentaries, by H. P. Blavatsky,
Corresponding Secretary of the Theosophical Society, assisted by T. Subba Row Garu,
Councillor of the Theosophical Society."
Subba Row, however, gave little assistance and withdrew from the undertaking long before
the book was published.
H. P. Blavatsky wrote a few chapters in India a more or less preliminary Draft but they
were not included in the final publication in 1888. Many years after her death they were
printed in The Theosophist for 1931-2-3. During her visit to Europe in 1884, William Q.
Judge, her old friend and trusted disciple, spent some weeks with her in Paris and at the
chateau of the Count d'Adhemar, at Enghien, and was able to give help in the preparation of
The Secret Doctrine which she said was of the greatest use to her. In Lucifer, July, 1891, Mr.
Judge eloquently describes his experiences with H. P. Blavatsky during his stay at Enghien,
and says:
It was with a feeling of some regret that we left this delightful place where
such quiet reigned and where H. P. B. was able to work amid the beauty and
the stillness of nature. It cannot be blotted from the memory, because there our
friend and teacher was untroubled by the presence of curiosity seekers, and
thus was free to present to us who believed in her a side of her many-sided
nature which pleased, instructed and elevated us all.
It was very different, however, when she returned to India where the distressing condition of
Theosophical affairs made any progress impossible. It was not until she settled in Wurzburg,
Germany, that she could concentrate on The Secret Doctrine. The Countess Wachtmeister
lived with her and gave her the most devoted care, attempting to shield her from intrusion,
but this was not always possible and the work was several times delayed. Reminiscences of
H. P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine by the Countess, an enthralling narrative by a
constant observer who was at her side for months at a time, describes the remarkable way the
book was written and the active part the Masters took in providing the information contained.
Many "phenomena" occurred in the most matter-of-fact way, as a part of the regular method

of communication between the Master and his chela and not in the slightest degree for the
edification of the inquisitive or the skeptical who were not present!
The Countess Wachtmeister was greatly impressed by the enormous number of quotations
from books including many very rare ones that H. P. B. introduced into her
manuscripts of The Secret Doctrine. The number of books she could carry in her travels was
very limited. How did she get the quotations? The Countess writes:
Her manuscripts were full to overflowing with references, quotations,
allusions, from a mass of rare and recondite works on subjects of the most
varied kind. Now she needed verification of a passage from some book only to
be found in the Vatican, and again from some document of which only the
British Museum possessed a copy. Yet it was only verifications she needed.
The matter she had.
In regard to the verification of one of these Vatican quotations, the Countess had to obtain the
services of a friend who, in a roundabout way succeeded in having the original document
examined. H. P. B.'s version was correct except in two words which in the original were so
blurred as to be almost illegible. Furthermore, the Countess writes, in discussing the images
which H. P. B. copied from the records in the Astral Light:
Such visions often present the image of the original reversed, as it might be
seen in a looking-glass, and though words can, with a little practice, be read
easily . . . it is much more difficult to avoid mistakes in figures. . . .
G. R. S. Mead relates many striking instances of H. P. B.'s employment of astral vision for
similar purposes during the time he spent at her side as secretary; and Bertram Keightley
independently corroborates the same in his account of the preparation of The Secret Doctrine
in London after H. P. B. had left Wurzburg. He writes:
Quotations with full references, from books which were never in the house
quotations verified after hours of search, sometimes at the British Museum for
a rare book of such I saw and verified not a few.
He also, to his great inconvenience, found that "the numerical references were often reversed,
e.g., p. 321 for 123, illustrating the reversal of objects when seen in the astral light."
During her long stay in Wurzburg H. P. B. was closely confined to her apartment owing to ill
health and had no opportunity of visiting libraries, the Countess having to do all her errands.
She was very poor at this time of crisis when some of the most violent attacks on her
reputation were being made, but, knowing how much she had to do and how little time was
left to her to write, she absolutely refused to accept a large salary to write for the Russian
journals. The Countess Wachtmeister suggested that she devote a part of the day to the
Russian work, but she answered:
No a thousand times no! To write such a work as The Secret Doctrine I
must have all my thoughts turned in the direction of that current. It is difficult
enough even now, hampered as I am with this sick and worn-out body, to get
all I want, how much more difficult, then, if I am to be continually changing
the currents into other directions.

H. P. B. told the Countess Wachtmeister that the four volumes of The Secret Doctrine "would
give out to the world as much of the esoteric doctrine as was possible at the present stage of
human evolution," but that "it will not be until the next century when men will begin to
understand and discuss the book intelligently." Although the "next century" is not yet half
through, the effect of H. P. Blavatsky's work is already becoming plainly evident in modern
thought.
During the Wurzburg period H. P. B. corresponded with W. Q-Judge about the progress of
The Secret Doctrine. In one letter, dated March 24, 1886, she writes:
I wish only you could spare two or three months and come to me at Ostende
where I am emigrating again. . . . I want you badly for the arrangement of
Secret Doctrine. Such facts, such facts, Judge, as Masters are giving out will
rejoice your old heart. Oh, how I do want you. The thing is becoming
enormous, a wealth of facts. . . .
Unfortunately, he was unable to leave America at that time.
In 1887 she moved to London, where two well-qualified and utterly devoted Theosophists,
Dr. Archibald Keightley and Bertram Keightley, gave invaluable help in the preparation and
publication of her greatest work, a tremendous task. They also provided much, perhaps most,
of the financial backing necessary. Without their indefatigable energy and self-sacrifice the
world would possibly have had to wait a long time for The Secret Doctrine.
The first edition appeared in 1888 in two volumes, the publishers being The Theosophical
Publishing Company, Limited, London; William Q. Judge, New York; and the Manager of
The Theosophist, Madras. It was printed by Allen, Scott and Co., London.
The sales were so large that a second printing was soon called for. This has been strangely
called the Second Edition, but it was only a reprint of the original with the words "Second
Edition" stamped on it. In 1893 George R. S. Mead, well known as a classical scholar and a
former secretary of H. P. B., and Mrs. Annie Besant edited and brought out a really new
edition in two volumes. It was called the "Third and Revised Edition" though strictly
speaking it was the second edition. The original text was considerably revised by the editors,
and much criticism was aroused in certain quarters by many changes considered unnecessary
and in some cases unjustifiable. However this may be, this edition cannot be called a
verbatim or entirely faithful reproduction of the original as written and published by H. P.
Blavatsky. In defence of the numerous alterations in the 1893 edition it has been said that H.
P. B. was so anxious for accuracy that she corrected and added to the paged proofs of the
original edition to the last minute even though it cost hundreds of pounds. These changes
were, however, made by the author herself and were authoritative. It is quite a different
matter when the author is dead. This widely circulated Third Edition was published by The
Theosophical Publishing Society, London; The Path Office, New York; and The Theosophist
Office, Adyar, and printed by the H. P. B. Press, London.
In 1895, a large and comprehensive Index to the "Third Edition" was published as a separate
volume. As the paging had been changed from that of the original a key was included for the
convenience of those who had the original edition. The publishers were The Theosophical
Publishing Society, London; The Path Office, New York; The Theosophical Publishing
Society, Benares; and The Theosophist Office, Adyar.

Until 1909 no other editions of Volumes I and II of The Secret Doctrine were produced, but
in that year a new edition was published by the Aryan Theosophical Press, Point Loma,
California (since then moved to Covina, California, and known as the Theosophical
University Press) under the direction of Katherine Tingley. This is virtually a reprint of the
original 1888 edition with a scholarly transliteration of Sanskrit words according to an
accepted standard, some corrections of faulty Greek and Latin and of obvious typographical
errors, and the occasional substitution of square brackets in place of parentheses for
clearness. No changes were made in H. P. Blavatsky's language and no passages were
eliminated. This is the standard edition still being published by the Theosophical University
Press, Covina.
As the demand for H. P. Blavatsky's works increased, yet another edition of The Secret
Doctrine appeared. This was in 1925 when The Theosophy Company of Los Angeles
published a photographic facsimile of the two authentic volumes, bound in one volume. This
excellent edition provided opportunity for the study of H. P. Blavatsky's masterpiece in
exactly the way she left it, without change or correction, even though in this way many
typographical errors are perpetuated.
As the demand continued to increase, new editions and new printings have been printed from
time to time, but there is no reason to enumerate them here, and The Secret Doctrine has been
translated into many foreign languages.
THE ENIGMA OF THE "THIRD VOLUME"
We must now consider the puzzling problem of the so-called "Third Volume" about which so
much controversy has raged. Subtitled "Occultism," it was published in 1907 by The
Theosophical Book Concern, Chicago; The Theosophical Publishing Society, London; and
The Theosophical Publishing Society, Benares. It was compiled and edited by Mrs. Besant
alone, from writings left by H. P. Blavatsky.
Is this "Third Volume" of The Secret Doctrine, properly so-called? Is it the one to which H.
P. Blavatsky referred when she said that a third and most of a fourth volume were written, or
is it merely a compilation of more or less incomplete articles left by her, some of which she
intended drastically to alter or re-write at some future time, presumably as part of the third or
fourth volumes? After considerable research in the records at the Theosophical Headquarters
at Covina, the following interesting information has been found which shows the conflicting
nature of the evidence.
That, according to H. P. Blavatsky herself, a third volume and at least part of a fourth were
written is supported by her own plain statements. In her letter to the American Convention of
1888 she writes:
Now with regard to the Secret Doctrine, the publication of which some of you
urged so kindly upon me, and in such cordial terms a while ago, the MSS. of
the first three volumes is now ready for the press; and its publication is only
delayed by the difficulty which is experienced in finding the necessary funds.
On examining the original edition of The Secret Doctrine we find many corroborations of the
definite statement just quoted.

(1)In the Preface of Volume I we read:


A large quantity of material has already been prepared, dealing with the
history of occultism as contained in the lives of the great Adepts of the Aryan
Race, and showing the bearing of occult philosophy upon the conduct of life,
as it is and as it ought to be. Should the present volumes meet with a favorable
reception, no effort will be spared to carry out the scheme of the work in its
entirety. The third volume is entirely ready; the fourth almost so.
(2)Volume I, xl: "Such a point. . . . cannot be offered in these two volumes. But if the reader
has patience. . . . then he will find all this in Volume III of this work."
(3)Volume II, 437: "In Volume III of this work (the said Volume and the IVth being almost
ready) a brief history of all the great adepts. . . . will be given. . . . Volume IV will be almost
entirely devoted to Occult teachings."
(4)Volume II, 797, closing paragraph of the book:
These two volumes only constitute the work of a pioneer so that these two
volumes should form for the student a fitting prelude for Volumes III and IV it
entirely depends upon the reception with which Volumes I and II will meet at
the hands of Theosophists and Mystics, whether these last two volumes will
ever be published, though they are almost completed
(5)Volume II, 106:
There is no space to describe the fires . . . though we may attempt to do so if
the third and fourth volumes of this work are ever published.
Observe that she says "if the third and fourth volumes are ever published," not "ever written."
So, in addition to H. P. B.'s explicit statement to the American Convention of 1888, before
the publication of the book, we have five equally clear statements given in The Secret
Doctrine itself.
Before testimony confirming H. P Blavatsky's statements about the actual existence of the
third and part of the fourth volumes is offered, it is necessary to mention certain omissions
and changes that Mrs Besant and G. R. S. Mead made in their 1893 edition of The Secret
Doctrine in the passages just quoted.
(1) The sentence after the word "entirety" deleted.
(2) The words "Volume III of this work" deleted, and replaced by "a future volume of the
present work."
(3) The entire paragraph deleted.
(4) The words "Volumes III and IV" deleted and replaced by "other works," and the last
words "though they are almost completed" deleted.
(5) The words "third and fourth volumes" deleted and replaced by "the rest."

So it appears that the information given by H. P. Blavatsky in the original edition and several
times repeated, regarding the third and fourth volumes was carefully removed in the 1893
edition. What can the reason have been?
Now for a few corroborations of H. P. B.'s statements that the third volume was ready and the
fourth in preparation.
Dr Archibald Keightley, one of H. P. Blavatsky's closest friends, writes in a letter to The New
York Times and quoted in The Theosophist, July 1889, describing her activities in London:
The third volume of The Secret Doctrine is in MS ready to be given to the
printers. The fourth volume, which is to be largely hints on the subject of
practical Occultism, has been outlined but not yet written . . . the actual work
of writing will not be commenced until we are about ready to bring it forth.
It turned out, however, that although the third volume was written it had to be put aside for a
while, for Claude Falls Wright, Mr. W. Q. Judge's secretary, writes in The Path, February
1891, that
H. P. B. has within the last week or two begun to get together the MSS (long
ago written) for the Third Volume of the Secret Doctrine: it will, however take
a good twelve months to prepare for publication.
Presumably when H. P. B looked over the manuscript she saw an opportunity for making
changes and improvements such as she had made in the first two volumes up to the last
moment.
In The O. E. Library Critic, April, 1927, the editor publishes the statement that the Angarika
Dharmapala, the eminent Buddhist leader, friend and pupil of H P. B., said that G. R. S.
Mead told him that the missing volumes of The Secret Doctrine had been written but had
unaccountably disappeared. Mead was closely associated with H. P. Blavatsky for some time
before her death, but had no connection with the publication of the first two volumes of The
Secret Doctrine.
In regard to the existence of the MS of a third volume "ready for the printers," as Dr
Keightley writes to the New York Times, evidence is at hand that no such considerable mass
of material has ever been found, nor was such seen by the Keightleys, who had the greatest
opportunity of knowing the facts of the case: a fourth volume is still more difficult to explain.
For instance, we learn from Bertram Keightley that he and Dr Keightley went through the
entire MS. of The Secret Doctrine and devised a plan for its arrangement in which H. P. B.
fully concurred. The book was to be published in four volumes (1) The Evolution of Cosmos
(2) The Evolution of Man (3) Lives of Great Occultists (4) Practical Occultism. The plan was
never fully carried out for lack of material, we are told. Bertram Keightley writes in The
Theosophist of September, 1931, in regard to the two completed volumes:
After this was done, there still remained a certain amount of matter over
mostly unfinished fragments or "Appendices" or bits about symbolism, which
could find no suitable place in the selected matter or more frequently
were not in a condition or state for publication. Of course we asked H. P. B.
about this matter as it was she herself not Arch, or myself who had set it

aside for the time being. She put this left over matter in one of the drawers of
her desk and said that "someday" she would make a Third Volume out of it.
But this she never did, and after H. P. B.'s death, Mrs. Besant and Mr. Mead
published all that could possibly be printed without complete and extensive
revision and re-writing as part of Volume III in the revised edition.
We find no evidence here of a Third Volume, "ready for the printers."
The evidence of Mrs. Besant and Mr. Mead must also be examined. In the Preface to Volume
III as published six years after H. P. Blavatsky's death, Mrs. Besant writes:
The task of preparing this volume for the press has been a most difficult and
anxious one and it is necessary to state clearly what has been done. The papers
given to me by H. P. B. were quite unarranged and had no obvious order. I
have therefore taken each paper as a separate section, and have arranged them
as sequentially as possible. . . . This volume completes the papers left by H. P.
B. with the exception of a few scattered articles that still remain and that will
be published in her own magazine Lucifer.
In the same Preface Mrs. Besant writes that the Buddha series (on pages 376 to 385) "were
given into my hands to publish as part of the Secret Doctrine." In view of the above
statements by Mrs. Besant that the papers generally were given to her by H. P. B., and that
the Buddha pages were given into her hands, the following information is difficult to explain
and only adds to the mystery of the original papers left by H. P. B.
A Mr. W. Mulliss of the Hamilton Spectator, Ontario, Canada, interviewed Mrs. Besant on
October 6, 1926 at Los Angeles, California, on behalf of his own and several other
newspapers. From the report in the O. E. Library Critic of June 1938 we quote:
Mr. Mulliss. Your critics have insisted that somebody or other has deliberately
suppressed the Third and Fourth Volumes of The Secret Doctrine to which H.
P. B. makes reference in the First Volume of The Secret Doctrine. What have
you to say to this? Do you regard the Third Volume of your edition of The
Secret Doctrine entitled "Occultism" as containing any of the matter intended
for the Third and Fourth Volumes?
Mrs. Besant. I was appointed H. P. B.'s literary executor, and the matter from
which I compiled the Third Volume of "Occultism" in The Secret Doctrine
published under my direction was compiled from a mass of miscellaneous
writings found in her desk after her death. These I took under my own charge.
Mr. M. Did Mead help you in the compilation of these articles?
Mrs. B. No. The papers came absolutely under my own hand and Mead had
nothing to do with them.
Mr. M. Well what about the material for the Third and Fourth Volumes?
Mrs. B. I never saw them and do not know what became of them.

Obviously, from the above, Mrs. Besant, at the moment at least, did not claim her
compilation called "Vol. Ill" to be the one mentioned by H. P. B.
When we turn to G. R. S. Mead's testimony we find it still more confusing. He writes in
Lucifer, July 1897:
It is somewhat a novel form of experience for the present writer who has
edited in one form or another almost all that H. P. B. has written in English,
with the exception of Isis Unveiled to find himself turning over the leaves of
The Secret Doctrine as one of the general public for with the exception of pp.
433-594 he has seen no word of it before. But other work has prevented his
sharing in the labor of editing the MS., and the burden has fallen on the
shoulders of Mrs. Besant.
The pages he mentions are the private Instructions given by H. P. B. to her pledged students.
He continues:
The editor was bound to publish these [various writings] but we entirely share
her private opinion, that it would have been better to have printed them as
special articles in LUCIFER than to have included them as part of The Secret
Doctrine.
However this may be, the reader will hardly be edified when he compares the above
paragraphs by Mead with his considered statement made after he left the Theosophical
Society and seemingly felt free to express opinions which are, to put it mildly, rather startling
when coming from a man who held a high character for sincerity when he was still working
harmoniously with W. Q. Judge. He writes in The Occult Review for May 1927, as quoted in
The O. E. Critic, June 1927:
Next, I come to Vol. III. With this I refused to have anything to do whatever. I
judged the disjecta or rejecta membra from the manuscript or type-script of
Vols. I and II not up to standard, and that it would in no way improve the
work. They could, I thought, be printed preferably as fugitive articles in
Lucifer but they could not possibly be made into a consistent whole. Mrs.
Besant, who put a far higher value on everything H. P. B. had written than I
did, persisted in her view and by herself edited the matter for publication, but
even when every scrap that remained had been utilized, it made a very thin
volume. I therefore persuaded her to add the so-called Instruction of what is
known as the "Esoteric Section" or Eastern School; which had hitherto been
secret documents. My argument was that the "occult teachings" as they were
deemed by the faithful, were now in the hands of hundreds, scattered all over
the world, some of whom were by no means trustworthy, and that it was
highly probable that we should some day find them printed publicly by some
unscrupulous individual or privately circulated illegitimately. Fortunately,
Mrs. Besant agreed, and they were included in Vol. Ill, save certain matter
dealing with sex questions. A load of anxiety was lifted off my mind. I thought
that the making of these "Instructions" accessible to the general public might
possibly put an end to this unhealthy inner secret school. But this hope, alas,
was not to be fulfilled.

The reader will observe that in the quotations just given Mrs. Besant writes in the Preface to
her Volume III that the writings of which it is composed were given to her by H. P. B., and
from this we are led to conclude that they were intended for the third volume. But in the
interview with Mr. Mulliss Mrs. Besant says that this volume was compiled from
miscellaneous writings found in H. P. B.'s desk after her death and that she (Mrs. Besant)
never saw the material for the third and fourth volumes and did not know what became of
them!
Mead is still more confusing. He writes that he declined to have anything to do with the third
volume after judging the miscellaneous writings and finding them not up to standard, yet in
his original statement in 1897 he plainly says he had never seen a word of the third volume
until it was in print except the strictly private part that he had "persuaded" Mrs. Besant to
publish to all the world out of H. P. B.'s Instructions to her most trusted students!
Perhaps it is no wonder that the Masters of Wisdom refrain from giving out the real secrets of
occultism, which, in the hands of the unfit and unworthy, however fair-seeming and
intellectual, would produce disastrous effects.
As if some puckish sprite desired to make the puzzle of the third volume more difficult,
others who claimed to be well informed offered different answers. For instance, Basil Crump,
in The O. E. Library Critic for September, 1939, claims that though part of the MSS. of the
third and perhaps the fourth volumes of The Secret Doctrine were destroyed by H. P.
Blavatsky herself shortly before her death because it did not satisfy her, most of it was saved
and taken to India where it is held in safekeeping until the time comes for its release.
In The Canadian Theosophist, April, 1939, Thomas Green, a Theosophist, is quoted as
saying that he was employed by the H. P. B. Press in London to set up the type for the third
and part of the fourth volumes of The Secret Doctrine, and that H. P. B. had the forms broken
up just before they were about to be printed. James M. Pryse who was one time in charge of
the press, denies that this was possible, but Mr. Pryse was not working there until eight
months before H. P. Blavatsky's death. Almost incredible as the statements of Mr. Crump and
Mr. Green appear they are given some plausibility by a remark in The Secret Doctrine,
Volume II, 798, where H. P. B. writes:
Until the rubbish of the ages is cleared away from the minds of the
Theosophists to whom these pages are dedicated, it is impossible that the more
practical teaching contained in the Third Volume should be understood.
Consequently, it entirely depends upon the reception which Volumes I and II
will meet at the hands of Theosophists and Mystics, whether the last two
volumes will ever be published, though they are almost completed.
Is it impossible, then, that when she had completed the first two volumes she decided or was
instructed by her Master to publish no more, and therefore had the MSS. of the third volume
removed and the type broken up? In November 1889 she wrote to Judge N. D. Khandalavala
in India that the rest of her life would be devoted to her trusted pupils, to the teaching of those
whose confidence she retained and who were sincerely working for Theosophy. She added:
By leaving it [India] I have been able to write The Secret Doctrine, Key to
Theosophy, Voice of the Silence, and to prepare two more volumes of The

Secret Doctrine which I could never have done in the turbulent atmosphere of
India.
Notice the words "two more volumes."
The theory that connects the disappearance of the true third volume with the orthodox
Brahmans cannot be omitted. We know, from the storm aroused in those circles by the socalled "Prayag Letter" (See The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, page 461), and by the
opposition shown by the learned Subba Row who finally refused to help in the production of
The Secret Doctrine, that any further revelation of the deeper meanings of the Hindu
Scriptures would have been extremely unpopular with the Brahmans. H. P. Blavatsky writes
in The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, page 95:
"Such as Subba Row uncompromising initiated Brahmans will never reveal even that
which they are permitted to. . . ." She then writes that Subba Row warned her that
you have been guilty of the most terrible of crimes. You have given out secrets
of Occultism the most sacred and the most hidden. Rather that you should
be sacrificed than that which was never meant for European minds.
Subba Row was a chela of H. P. B.'s Master, but for all that he was a thorough-paced
Brahman, and it cut him to the quick to see some of the teachings so closely guarded within
the exclusive portals of the Brahman caste being given to the profane, the mlechchhas.
Though he died in 1890 there must have been many left who knew of H. P. B.'s work and
who would have been glad to suppress the two last volumes of The Secret Doctrine in view
of the possibility of what they might contain, especially the fourth which was to treat of
occultism, as we know.
In conclusion, there can be no doubt that H. P. B. intended to write a third volume of her
great work and probably a fourth, and that some reason exists to believe that the third and
some preparation for the fourth was actually written though nothing was published of all this.
The opening paragraphs or even the whole "Introduction" of Mrs. Besant's "Third Volume"
may have been intended or even used for the real third volume. The closing words of the first
paragraph are significant:
Outside the Theosophical circle, therefore, the present volume is certain to
receive at the hands of the general public a still colder welcome than its
predecessors have met with.
Although the so-called "Third Volume" contains brief references to some of
the topics mentioned by H. P. B. as the main features of Volumes III and IV, it
does not fulfill this promise. It has no resemblance to the important and
profoundly instructive work which she obviously intended to produce. It is
merely a compilation touched up by Mrs. Besant as she thought best.
Although the so-called third volume cannot be accepted as the authentic "Third Volume of
The Secret Doctrine" that H. P. B. had in mind, and although most of the best "miscellaneous
writings" were published in Lucifer, it is not just to call the volume "spurious" as some over
hasty critics have done. It contains much information and valuable teaching which is

obviously authentic H. P. B. material, though it displays haste and incompleteness in many


places.
Regardless of the problem of putting Mrs. Besant's "Third Volume" in its proper place among
H. P. B.'s works, it is more than probable that the "miscellaneous writings" are by no means
published just as H. P. B. left them. This conclusion is reached by an examination of the great
number of alterations Mrs. Besant and Mead made in their 1893 edition of The Secret
Doctrine which anyone can verify by a comparison with the original. Though most of these
thousands of changes are of small importance, some are quite significant.
Strong evidence for changes, additions and omissions in the so-called Third Volume is
provided by Mrs. Alice L. Cleather in The Canadian Theosophist, December 1937. Mrs.
Cleather was one of H. P. Blavatsky's Inner Group of pledged students and she possessed a
copy of the original report of the oral teachings received directly from H. P. B. These oral
teachings form part of the private Instructions published in the "Third Volume" between
pages 433 and 594, which Mead cynically said that he "persuaded" Annie Besant to insert in
order to fill it out, and incidentally, as he hoped, to break up her Esoteric School. These
Instructions had been entrusted to the recipients under the seal of strict secrecy perhaps
with the object of testing their worthiness!
Mrs. Cleather published a facsimile of page 559 in The Canadian Theosophist mentioned
above, on which she marked the large number of alterations made on that single page. They
consist of changes in arrangement, construction of sentences, capitalizing, the use of
synonyms in place of original words, and above all of omissions and additions. One addition
is significant as it seems to reflect psycho-occult teaching that Mrs. Besant is believed to have
received from Brahmans after she threw off the restraining influence of William Q. Judge.
This addition reads: "The head should not be covered in meditation. It is covered in
Samadhi." Hardly one line on this page is left without some alteration.
On summing up all the information to hand on the subject of the so-called "Volume III" it is
not easy to find any valid justification for calling this collection of miscellaneous writings by
H. P. Blavatsky an integral part of The Secret Doctrine as conceived by H. P. B. and the
Masters, although as said it contains most valuable and obviously authentic H. P. B. material.
We are, however, in no position accurately to judge how seriously the matter has been
revised and altered, or whether H. P. Blavatsky would have permitted much of it to be
published without a great number of alterations and additions which she alone was qualified
to make.

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum October 1946

THE LURE OF PERSONALITY Charles J. Ryan


The Bhagavad-Gita warns the aspirant for true wisdom to beware of "attachment to objects
of sense," and St. Paul says "the love of money is the root of all evil." In both cases it is not
the "objects" or the "money" themselves that are denounced, but the concentration on more or
less selfish and personal desires and satisfactions which obsess the mind, in spite of the fact
that it leads to nothing but a succession of pains and so-called pleasures. The attachment to
objects of sense is a hardening quality and one of the most formidable obstacles to spiritual
progress. If we want the Light to shine we must clean the lantern and trim the wick.
There is a more subtle meaning to "attachment" than appears at first sight. It is perilous to the
health of the soul not only when applied to gross matters such as greed for power, riches or
praise. Everyone knows that danger to some degree; it is elementary. But attachment is also
to be avoided in regard to much that we are apt to pride ourselves on, such as the personal
gratification aroused in us by doing good works. It is a subtle form taken by "the snake of
self" mentioned in Light on the Path, and which though not altogether ignoble, must be killed
and not only scotched. In a world like this, so selfish and slow to learn, acts of beneficence if
based on pure desire to help our fellow men are of untold value to giver and receiver, and will
be blessed, but if alloyed with the personal element of "I am doing this" even self-sacrificing
labor for others loses some of its virtue. Let us see what a high authority says about this:
Many years ago, in 1896, when Katherine Tingley was in India, she was directed to visit "the
Holy Man of Benares," Swami Bhaskaranda Saraswati, a chela of the Master M. and a highly
honored spiritual and intellectual Teacher, then more than 100 years old. He was full of
energy and kindliness and his intelligence was undimmed by the passing of the years. The
meeting of these two Leaders, both inspired by the same ideals, was a remarkable event,
which she described in detail to some of her students on her return to America. The Swami's
teaching was largely directed toward the development of that positive quality of
impersonality so necessary for spiritual progress. D. Gopal Mukerji, one of his followers,
describes the Swami's methods of training his chelas, one of which is worth careful thought
in regard to the subject we are considering.
During one of his visits to Benares, Mukerji noticed that a hospital had been erected on the
grounds of the asram, and on being asked about it the Swami said it was "the punishment for
doing good!" The Swami had a strong vein of humor, but this quaint remark had a deep
meaning. He told Mukerji that although it was a good work and a necessary one he had to be
careful to keep his personality from being too deeply entangled in its administration.
Noticing that the Swami's disciples were working with great enthusiasm in the healing work,
Mukerji remarked that they might be in far greater danger of becoming immersed in good
works to the exclusion of higher duties. The Swami replied:
"Yes, like those two young ladies there, other people come to me to serve God. Well, youth
suffers from the delusion that it can "do good," but I have remedied that somewhat. I let them
take care of the sick as long as their outlook on God remains vivid and untarnished, but the
moment any of my disciples shows signs of being caught in the routine of good works like
a scavenger's cart that follows a routine of removing dirt every morning I send that soul
off to our retreat in the Himalayas, there to meditate and purify his soul. When he regains his

God-outlook to the fullest, if he wishes, I let him return to the hospital. Beware, beware, good
can choke up the soul as much as evil."
He said much more to the same effect, pointing out that by living a noble and sanctified life
without straining to "save" the personality by doing good, "the routine" as he calls it, all the
good you wish to do will come about of itself. This, of course, when properly understood is
the inner meaning of the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10, where Jesus reproved Martha
for being "cumbered" by her concentration on the personal "routine" of hospitality, while
Mary, more intuitive, flung it aside "to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear his word."

The Theosophical Forum


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THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY AND THE THEOSOPHICAL


RECORDS: by Charles J. Ryan
HE interesting problem of the origin of Egyptian culture is
still unsolved by archaeologists, though many new facts
have been recently discovered which seem to be leading to
something definite. Nestor L'H6te said sixty years ago:
The further one penetrates into antiquity towards the origins of
Egyptian art, the more perfect are the products of that art, as though the genius
of the people, inversely to that of others, was formed suddenly. . . . Egyptian
art we only know in its decadence.

M. Jean Capart, the eminent Belgian Egyptologist, Keeper of the


Egyptian Antiquities at the Royal Museum, Brussels, supports that
opinion, saying, in his recent work on Primitive Art in Egypt, that
M. L'H6teYs conclusion was and remains legitimate.
Since L7H6te's time fine works of art and astonishing beauty have
been found in tombs of the Third Dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs,
about whom nothing - or next to nothing - was known until lately;
even the Fourth Dynasty, the so-called Pyramid Builders, being historically very obscure, no agreement as to their date having been
come to yet. I t is fairly decided that they lived more than four o r
five thousands years B. c. R,faspero, speaking of some paintings of
the extremely ancient Third Dynasty, says :
The Egyptians were animal painters of the highest power, and they never
gave better proof of it than in this picture. No modern painter could have
seized with more spirit and humor the heavy gait of the goose, the curves of
its neck, the pretentious carriage of its head, and the markings of its plumage.

The human figure was also represented with great artistic skill
at the same early period. Even then the characteristic full-faced eye in
the profile face was a firmly established convention. W e do not
know the reasons for this, but it cannot have been accidental.
According to Dr. Petrie, the great Egyptian explorer, the commencement of the Egyptian civilization that we call classical, the
Egypt of the Pharaohs with its hieroglyphs, its established style of
art, its complicated religion and philosophy, dates back to not less
than B. c. 5000. This would be the time of the First Dynasty. Think
what that means! A stretch of splendid civilization before the beginning of the Christian era about five times as long as the period
that has elapsed since the time of King Alfred to this day, a period
which has included alnlost or quite all that we look upon as worthy

16

THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY

of consideration in our history! And yet back of Dr. Petrie's First


Dynastic age we now find ourselves face to face with a prehistoric
Egyptian civilization or civilizations of absolutely unknown age, possibly of a hundred thousand years duration. The one that immediately
preceded the Dynastic or Pharaonic is supposed to be of Libyan
origin.
The possibility at least of a civilization of a hundred thousand
years' duration should offer little difficulty even to the most critical,
now that we have found a well-formed skull and skeleton near London differing very little from the modern type of Englishman, and
estimated to be at least 170,000years old. Long ago H. P. Blavatsky
said in T h e Secret Doctrine and elsewhere that some form of Egyptian civilization had existed for an immensely longer period than the
archaeologists imagine, and Katherine Tingley has reasserted this
most emphatically, saying that Egyptian civilization will be proved
to be even older than the (historic) Indian.
Archaeologists have always felt a great and peculiar difficulty in
comprehending the sudden appearance of the high culture of the first
Dynastic periods. I t is in~possibleto believe that Egypt's greatness
arose full-fledged, without long preparation, and yet where are the
evidences of development? M. Jean Capart, the Belgian authority
referred to above, has devoted great attention to this problem, and
his conclusions are of interest to the student of Theosophy. H e
considers it exceedingly probable that gradual invasions or colonizations of a highly cultured race broke into the simpler Egyptian civilization from the South or South-east. These people, coming from the
" Land of the Gods," Punt, which is commonly supposed to be Somaliland, he thinks came originally from some Asiatic country, bringing
with them their arts and sciences and religion. As they blended with
the Libyan inhabitants of Egypt, who possessed their own distinctive
civilization, they established their already formed culture, and the
combination produced what we call the Dynastic or classic Egyptian
civilization. This would explain the origin of the classic Egyptian
forms on reasonable grounds, and furthermore would make it clear
why the Egyptians had so many things in common with the Hindils
in rnatters of religion, such as the respect paid to the Cow as a symbol
of Divine Power.
H. P. Blavatsky, in Isis Ujtveilcd, quotes the following from the
ancient Hindii historian, I<ulli~ka-Bhatta:

THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY AND THE THEOSOPHICAL


RECORDS: by Charles J. Ryan
HE interesting problem of the origin of Egyptian culture is
still unsolved by archaeologists, though many new facts
have been recently discovered which seem to be leading to
something definite. Nestor L'H6te said sixty years ago:
The further one penetrates into antiquity towards the origins of
Egyptian art, the more perfect are the products of that art, as though the genius
of the people, inversely to that of others, was formed suddenly. . . . Egyptian
art we only know in its decadence.

M. Jean Capart, the eminent Belgian Egyptologist, Keeper of the


Egyptian Antiquities at the Royal Museum, Brussels, supports that
opinion, saying, in his recent work on Primitive Art in Egypt, that
M. L'H6teYs conclusion was and remains legitimate.
Since L7H6te's time fine works of art and astonishing beauty have
been found in tombs of the Third Dynasty of Egyptian Pharaohs,
about whom nothing - or next to nothing - was known until lately;
even the Fourth Dynasty, the so-called Pyramid Builders, being historically very obscure, no agreement as to their date having been
come to yet. I t is fairly decided that they lived more than four o r
five thousands years B. c. R,faspero, speaking of some paintings of
the extremely ancient Third Dynasty, says :
The Egyptians were animal painters of the highest power, and they never
gave better proof of it than in this picture. No modern painter could have
seized with more spirit and humor the heavy gait of the goose, the curves of
its neck, the pretentious carriage of its head, and the markings of its plumage.

The human figure was also represented with great artistic skill
at the same early period. Even then the characteristic full-faced eye in
the profile face was a firmly established convention. W e do not
know the reasons for this, but it cannot have been accidental.
According to Dr. Petrie, the great Egyptian explorer, the commencement of the Egyptian civilization that we call classical, the
Egypt of the Pharaohs with its hieroglyphs, its established style of
art, its complicated religion and philosophy, dates back to not less
than B. c. 5000. This would be the time of the First Dynasty. Think
what that means! A stretch of splendid civilization before the beginning of the Christian era about five times as long as the period
that has elapsed since the time of King Alfred to this day, a period
which has included alnlost or quite all that we look upon as worthy

16

THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY

of consideration in our history! And yet back of Dr. Petrie's First


Dynastic age we now find ourselves face to face with a prehistoric
Egyptian civilization or civilizations of absolutely unknown age, possibly of a hundred thousand years duration. The one that immediately
preceded the Dynastic or Pharaonic is supposed to be of Libyan
origin.
The possibility at least of a civilization of a hundred thousand
years' duration should offer little difficulty even to the most critical,
now that we have found a well-formed skull and skeleton near London differing very little from the modern type of Englishman, and
estimated to be at least 170,000years old. Long ago H. P. Blavatsky
said in T h e Secret Doctrine and elsewhere that some form of Egyptian civilization had existed for an immensely longer period than the
archaeologists imagine, and Katherine Tingley has reasserted this
most emphatically, saying that Egyptian civilization will be proved
to be even older than the (historic) Indian.
Archaeologists have always felt a great and peculiar difficulty in
comprehending the sudden appearance of the high culture of the first
Dynastic periods. I t is in~possibleto believe that Egypt's greatness
arose full-fledged, without long preparation, and yet where are the
evidences of development? M. Jean Capart, the Belgian authority
referred to above, has devoted great attention to this problem, and
his conclusions are of interest to the student of Theosophy. H e
considers it exceedingly probable that gradual invasions or colonizations of a highly cultured race broke into the simpler Egyptian civilization from the South or South-east. These people, coming from the
" Land of the Gods," Punt, which is commonly supposed to be Somaliland, he thinks came originally from some Asiatic country, bringing
with them their arts and sciences and religion. As they blended with
the Libyan inhabitants of Egypt, who possessed their own distinctive
civilization, they established their already formed culture, and the
combination produced what we call the Dynastic or classic Egyptian
civilization. This would explain the origin of the classic Egyptian
forms on reasonable grounds, and furthermore would make it clear
why the Egyptians had so many things in common with the Hindils
in rnatters of religion, such as the respect paid to the Cow as a symbol
of Divine Power.
H. P. Blavatsky, in Isis Ujtveilcd, quotes the following from the
ancient Hindii historian, I<ulli~ka-Bhatta:

THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY

19

Under the reign of ViSv2-mitra, first king of the Dynasty of Sorna-Vanga,


in consequence of a battle which lasted five days, hlanu-LTina, heir of the ancient
kings, being abandoned by the Brihmans, emigrated with all his companions,
passing through Arya, and the countries of Barria, till he came to the shores of
Masra. (Vol. I, p. 627)

She adds :
Arya is Eran (Persia) ; Earria ig Arabia, and Slasra was the name of Cairo,
which to this day is cailcd Musr, Rlusr, and llisro. ( I D i d . )

Mitsraim was the Hebrew name for the land of Cham, Egypt.
Dr. E. A. 137. B ~ ~ d g the
e , learned Keeper of the Egyptian and
Assyrian antiquities ill the British Rluseuin, says he believes that
a series of carvings on the walls of the Temple of Edfi3,
represent the invaders in prehistoric times, who made their way into Egypt,
from a country in the East, by way of the Red Sea. . . . I n later times the
indigenous priesthoods merged the legendary history of the deified king of the
" Blacksmiths " in that of IIorus, the got1 of heaven in the earliest times, and in
that of R i which belonged to a later period.

'I'he mythical story of Horus conquering Nubia and Egypt, with


which Dr. Budge thinks the true story of incursion was blended,
contains the significant assertions that tlie warriors of Horus, the
" P,lacksmiths," were armed with weapons of metal, and chains, and
were expert builders.
According to the Theosophical records the Great Pyramid was
built long before the fifth tnillennium u. c. There are many mysteries
connected with that most stupendous work of man which have not
yet been suspected by the Egq-ptologists, not the least of which is the
problenl of its date and its builder; but, so far as they go, the stories
of Horus' invasion and M. Capart's lunlinous suggestions as to the
origin of the Dynastic Egyptian civilization, are not inconsistent with
the account of Kulliika-Ehatta ; and in the light of the new discoveries
of one or n ~ o r eprehistoric civilizatioiis in the Xile Valley, it looks as
if the teachings of Theosophy were being vindicated in a way that was
not dreamed of by archaeologists in the days when H. P. Blavatsky
opened a small window into the nlysterious past of glorious Egypt.

THE NEW EGYPTOLOGY

19

Under the reign of ViSv2-mitra, first king of the Dynasty of Sorna-Vanga,


in consequence of a battle which lasted five days, hlanu-LTina, heir of the ancient
kings, being abandoned by the Brihmans, emigrated with all his companions,
passing through Arya, and the countries of Barria, till he came to the shores of
Masra. (Vol. I, p. 627)

She adds :
Arya is Eran (Persia) ; Earria ig Arabia, and Slasra was the name of Cairo,
which to this day is cailcd Musr, Rlusr, and llisro. ( I D i d . )

Mitsraim was the Hebrew name for the land of Cham, Egypt.
Dr. E. A. 137. B ~ ~ d g the
e , learned Keeper of the Egyptian and
Assyrian antiquities ill the British Rluseuin, says he believes that
a series of carvings on the walls of the Temple of Edfi3,
represent the invaders in prehistoric times, who made their way into Egypt,
from a country in the East, by way of the Red Sea. . . . I n later times the
indigenous priesthoods merged the legendary history of the deified king of the
" Blacksmiths " in that of IIorus, the got1 of heaven in the earliest times, and in
that of R i which belonged to a later period.

'I'he mythical story of Horus conquering Nubia and Egypt, with


which Dr. Budge thinks the true story of incursion was blended,
contains the significant assertions that tlie warriors of Horus, the
" P,lacksmiths," were armed with weapons of metal, and chains, and
were expert builders.
According to the Theosophical records the Great Pyramid was
built long before the fifth tnillennium u. c. There are many mysteries
connected with that most stupendous work of man which have not
yet been suspected by the Egq-ptologists, not the least of which is the
problenl of its date and its builder; but, so far as they go, the stories
of Horus' invasion and M. Capart's lunlinous suggestions as to the
origin of the Dynastic Egyptian civilization, are not inconsistent with
the account of Kulliika-Ehatta ; and in the light of the new discoveries
of one or n ~ o r eprehistoric civilizatioiis in the Xile Valley, it looks as
if the teachings of Theosophy were being vindicated in a way that was
not dreamed of by archaeologists in the days when H. P. Blavatsky
opened a small window into the nlysterious past of glorious Egypt.

The Theosophical Forum July 1945

THE PREHISTORIC ZODIAC AT GLASTONBURY Charles J. Ryan


Everyone has heard of the Great Stone Monuments at Stonehenge and Avebury in England,
but comparatively few know much about the prehistoric Sacred Center at Glastonbury in
Somersetshire which is associated with the semi-mythical King Arthur and his Knights of the
Round Table and which, as Mrs. Maltwood remarks in The Enchantments of Britain (1)
"constituted a laboratory of thought and mystery recognised by the races of Europe as
unspeakably hallowed and inscrutable." Lewis Spence, in his The Mysteries of Britain, calls it
"The Temple of the British Sacred Tradition." Mrs. Maltwood's twenty-five years of intensive
research have, as she very reasonably considers, established in the vicinity of Glastonbury the
existence of a hitherto unsuspected monument that greatly surpasses in interest and in size
anything hitherto found in that ancient center of the Mysteries, or maybe in Western Europe.
It consists of a representation of the Signs of the Zodiac whose components are delineated on
the scale of miles, the entire circle of effigies being ten miles in diameter! This colossal
Zodiac is outlined on the surface of the earth with great engineering skill by the adapted
contours of streams, hills, forests, huge artificial earthworks, etc., and the labor of shaping
them must have been great. Such an undertaking is enduring and the changes caused by
farming operations have done little to obliterate the gigantic effigies since their creation about
2700 b.c. as calculated by Mrs. Maltwood from astronomical data. From an airplane the
outlines are plainly seen, but otherwise they can only be properly traced on maps and airplane
photographs. Mrs. Malt-wood's discovery was made through her efforts to map out the quest
of King Arthur's Knights whose holy isle of Avalon has been identified with Glastonbury. In
her previous works, A Guide to Glastonbury's Temple of the Stars, and its Air View
Supplement, the Zodiac King Arthur's Round Table is fully described and illustrated.
This book has a few, but sufficient, illustrations.
Judging by the mass of corroborating evidence that the author produces as the result of
profound scholarly research and of her own observations, it seems impossible to doubt that
she has made an excellent case for both the actual existence and the origin of the amazing
monument which so definitely sustains the claim of the Theosophical Teachers that
prehistoric races had high intelligence and technical skill, and above all a unified system of
thought which Theosophists call the ancient Wisdom-Religion, widely spread over the earth.
In regard to the method of preserving knowledge by indelibly carving it on the surface of the
earth we have other examples in England in the great White Horse at Uffington, the
Wilmington Giant, and others. Mrs. Maltwood quotes H. P. Blavatsky's The Secret Doctrine,
II, 750, where she refers to the records of Initiates from Egypt traveling by land before the
breaking through of the British Channel to Britain and establishing "colossal Zodiacs,"
and above all the reference from the same source to the one-time gigantic Zodiac in what is
now the Gobi or Shamo desert. H. P. B. writes:
As above so below. Sidereal phenomena and the behavior of the celestial
bodies in the heavens, were taken as a model, and the plan was carried out
below, on earth. . . . In the same manner and on the plan of the Zodiac in the
upper Ocean or the heavens, a certain realm on Earth, an inland sea, was
consecrated and called "the Abyss of Learning"; twelve centers on it in the
shape of twelve small islands representing the Zodiacal signs two of which
remained for ages the "mystery signs" and were the abodes of twelve

Hierophants and masters of wisdom. This "sea of knowledge" or learning


remained for ages there, where now stretches the Shamo or Gobi desert.
The Secret Doctrine, II 502
Mrs. Maltwood points out that while the reference to "colossal Zodiacs" connects up with
Egypt, the sentences just quoted above deal with Asia. She writes:
The latter exactly pictures "The Temple of the Stars," in England, for the signs
are set in what are called on the map, the Sea Moors. The low-lying land has
now been more or less drained but in Winter time the little hills appear as
islands emerging from the flooded Sea Moors. Probably the "Initiates" came
via Egypt, to lay out this Zodiac.
Another reference to The Secret Doctrine by Mrs. Maltwood relates to the divine Flames or
Fiery Lions "whose esotericism is securely hidden in the Zodiacal sign of Leo." (S. D., I,
213) These red flames are ingeniously indicated at Glastonbury. Mrs. Maltwood writes:
In this Temple of the Stars the Lion's tongue composed of red clay is one of
the most interesting modeled earthworks; it is extended intentionally to rest on
and point out the central line of the Ecliptic. . . . I marveled at its life-like
drawing expressed by the processional path that surrounds it. . . .
The author presents a striking array of traditions and ancient records from Asia, etc.,
collected with great industry from authentic sources, tending to demonstrate the origin of the
Glastonbury Zodiac from Sumerian-Chaldean sources, probably toward the close of the time
when Taurus was the dominant sign (roughly speaking 4800 B.C. to 2400 B.C.). The
Sumerians probably derived their knowledge from the far older Gobi civilization described
by H. P. Blavatsky.
Mrs. Maltwood has found that many of the names of places, farms, etc., in the area of the
Zodiac bear close resemblances to Oriental ones. Glastonbury is located in the county of
Somerset and the ancient county seat was Somerton, derived from the Sumerians. The name
of the river Parutti, which guards the sacred area of the gods in the Babylonian legend of
Gilgamesh is obviously, as she says:
. . . the Parrett River of Somerset, which outlines the "great dog" of this
"Kingdom of Logres," is perhaps the oldest name in the British Isles, it was
left by the Sumerian settlers, Somerset being "The Seat of the Sumers" or
Cymry. So, close to the effigy that portrays the constellation Gemini, we find
the ancient names for the sun gods, Lug and Hu, in Lugshorn and Huish. . . .
The connexion between the Arthurian legend and the Zodiacal "Round Table" is clearly laid
out in this fascinating study, but it is impossible to go into this in a brief review. We notice
that only ten of the Zodiacal Signs are definitely represented or indicated on the Glastonbury
Giant Zodiac, Cancer the Crab and Libra the Balance being omitted. According to H. P.
Blavatsky ten signs only were known to "the profane" until the Greeks added Libra, and
Virgo-Scorpio was divided into two; though the initiates always had the twelve. This,
however, does not explain the omission (if it is really omitted and not merely obscured) of
Cancer in the Glastonbury Zodiac.

Glastonbury has always had a strong link with the Orient. It was not only a prehistoric
spiritual center but a specially sacred locality to the Christian world with its traditions of the
visit of Joseph of Arimathea and perhaps the youthful Jesus, and other associations which are
not altogether forgotten.
In an environment like this where a devotional atmosphere has been maintained for several
thousand years, it would be surprising if the partition between the material world and the
unseen were not somewhat thinner than in the conditions of modern fretful city life. And,
according to strong evidence, this was demonstrated in June 1910 when great interest was
aroused by a report in the Daily Chronicle, a leading London paper, of unexplained
happenings at Glastonbury and neighborhood consisting of manifestations of a powerful
perfume of incense at various places. They occurred in an ancient Manor House outside the
city and also within its precincts, in private houses as well as in the open air. The grounds of
the famous ruined Abbey were the scene of strongly marked manifestations. The witnesses
were numerous and no normal explanation was able to be found. The perfume appeared and
disappeared suddenly and sometimes lasted for many minutes. Comparison with ordinary
Western Church incense and experiments with gums and balsams indicated that it was of
Oriental type. The correspondent of the Daily Chronicle wrote:
Here we have phenomena occurring of a rare and beautiful nature, observed
by a number of witnesses, and even now occurring in the most unexpected
manner. And there is no place so admirably "staged" with its venerable history
and associations as Glastonbury for the mysterious happenings. The story
contains no element of the terrifying or the malignant, but rather is reminiscent
of the gentle lives of devoted men. . . .
Many other unexplained phenomena of no low order are claimed to have occurred at
Glastonbury in recent years, but as this review is not a discussion on psychical research we
must say no more. Mrs. Maltwood's book is entirely devoted to a scholarly presentation of the
scientific and historical demonstration of her "discovery, delineation and localization" of the
colossal Zodiac, and the highly important conclusions to be drawn therefrom.
FOOTNOTE:
1. The Enchantments of Britain. By K. E. Maltwood, F. R. S. A. Publishers, The Victoria
Printing and Publishing Co. Victoria, B. C, Canada. $1.25. (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum


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The Theosophical Forum April 1938

THE SOLUTION ACCORDING TO ALDOUS HUXLEY C. J. Ryan


A valued correspondent writes that he believes many people are repelled by the supposition
that impersonality, so strongly advanced in Theosophy, is equivalent to the complete
obliteration of diversities in character between human beings. He says rightly that people do
not relish the prospect of a dreary uniformity in anything; no one will strive for a spiritual
existence in which all would be cast in exactly the same mold, even if told that it would lead
to Nirvana or a heaven of harps and crowns. Quoting Thoreau, "I want all men to be as
different as possible," he suggests that harmony in diversity, similarity without identity, with
the suppression of selfishness and egoism, is a higher ideal.
He is right, and if anyone imagines that the distorted view of impersonality he pictures is
Theosophical, a little study of what the Theosophical leaders have written will quickly clear
up the misunderstanding. The mistake may have arisen from misapprehension of Arnold's
famous line about the dewdrop slipping into the shining sea, but more probably from a lack
of understanding of the meaning of "non-attachment," the key to impersonality.
Dr. de Purucker's Golden Precepts of Esotericism contains a clear explanation of the meaning
and importance of impersonality, and it is plainly stated that it is the only practical method of
breaking down the obscuring veils between man and his inner Divinity. Impersonal love,
forgetfulness of the selfish demands of the lower personality, are the ways to save humanity
from sinking into an abyss from which it could only escape after passing through untold
suffering. It is an individual problem. Our "civilization" is made by the thoughts and desires
of individuals, and no alleviation of the evils of this "iron age" is possible while efforts are
directed merely to the change of conditions, and the change of hearts is ignored.
But light is breaking here and there through the darkness and evidence is increasing of the
development of Theosophical principles of duty to humanity. While the majority in the
churches still cling to the creeds which appeal to the pathetic craving for "personal salvation,"
intuitive minds are beginning to attract attention by proclaiming that nearly all the values
accepted in the West for the re-ordering of the world are useless because they do not go to the
root of the trouble. A prominent clergyman recently said from the pulpit: "Accepted
standards are damning the world. Respectability has led us to the brink of destruction. The
ordinary level of human ideals, thought and practice is a dead level. Jesus did not hesitate to
demand that His followers be so much unlike the run of society that they be noticeably
marked. "Do not even the others so?" is a question He often put to them."
Dr. Matthews, Dean of St. Paul's Cathedral, London, wrote lately, "Christians have not had
the courage or the insight to draw the conclusions from their own principles. Jesus was
indeed a revolutionary . . . but he had no faith in the efficacy of political or economic changes
which were alleviations of conditions but not of people. In His view "as a man thinks, so he
is." There is no real revolution which does not begin with a change of mind." Not only Jesus,
but all the World-Teachers, held and taught the same age-old doctrine.
And now comes Mr. Aldous Huxley (one of the famous grandsons of Professor T. H. Huxley,
the champion of Darwinism), who has aroused widespread interest by his new book, Ends
and Means, a brilliant presentation of the true remedy of our ills. If Mr. Huxley ever was a
materialist he has quite abandoned that dreary creed. His eloquent words ring like the call to

righteousness from one of the major prophets. His corrective is radical and, whether he
knows it or not, it is purely Theosophical. He appeals for a thorough-going reform through
spiritual self-discipline and a new outlook on the meaning of life. He insists upon the reality
and validity of the mystical experience. Liberation from attachment to the desires of the
lower side of our dual nature can be reached and the beatific vision obtained, but not without
the strictest self-discipline. He shows that in the concept of union with the Divine Principle
within there is no room for a personal, anthropomorphic God, and he believes that not only
the great mystics and seers of antiquity accepted this, but that even the great Christian
mystics did the same. (1) In the same connexion he writes:
Belief in a personal God has . . . led to that enormous over-valuation of the
individual ego, which is so characteristic of Western popular philosophy. All
the great religions have taught the necessity of transcending personality, but
the Christians have made it particularly difficult for themselves to act upon
this teaching. They have accompanied the injunction that men should lose
their lives in order to save them by the assertion that God himself is a person
and that personal values are the highest that we can know.
Mr. Huxley sets forth with clarity the true significance of impersonality or non-attachment,
and shows that it is not a negative but a very positive quality. A few quotations illustrate the
fundamental principles by which he would reform the world. They are indeed familiar to
Theosophists, and they are true. But would they be listened to even today if it had not been
for the sacrifice made by H. P. Blavatsky in bringing Theosophy to a bitterly hostile world?
Can we honorably accept and profit by the teachings while scornfully rejecting the teacher, as
many have done? Mr. Huxley writes:
The ideal man is the non-attached man . . . non-attached to wealth, fame,
social position. Non-attached even to science, art, speculation and philosophy.
Yes, non-attached even to these. . . .
But such profound non-attachment does not mean running away to the jungle and living on
roots and herbs. As W. Q. Judge said, the place of the true mystic is in the rough and tumble
of the world, where his duty to humanity lies. Mr. Huxley sees this, for he says, further:
The practice of non-attachment entails all the virtues. It entails the practice of
charity, for example; for there are no more fatal impediments than anger (even
"righteous indignation") and cold-blooded malice to the identification of the
self with the immanent and transcendent more-than-self. It entails the practice
of courage, for fear is a painful and obsessive identification of the self with its
body. . . . It entails the cultivation of intelligence, for insensitive stupidity is a
main root of all the other vices. It entails the practice of generosity and
disinterestedness, for avarice and the love of possessions constrain their victim
to equate himself with mere things. . . . It imposes upon those who would
practice it the adoption of an intensely practical attitude toward the world.
We are not reviewing Ends and Means, but only mentioning one of its leading features as an
illustration of the spread of Theosophical ideas; there is much more in it with which we
heartily agree. For instance, the author fully realizes that unless human nature is changed no
amount of social improvement will produce permanent reform; the defects of the personality
will simply find new ways of expressing themselves. This change, as he sees, can only come

by individual effort, from within. A slow process, perhaps, for most of us, but sure, and while
it can be helped by a better social order there is no hope of overcoming the evils of our age by
any form of violence, military or economic. Above all else, to obtain practical results, "the
life of the spirit must be quickened." Speaking of the great snares, the love of Money, Power,
Social Success, Mr. Huxley's remedy is non-attachment to these appeals to the lower nature,
and a turning of the mind to higher ideals, and especially to the love of our neighbor and our
duty to humanity. These will lead away from the limitations of "personality" toward the
mystic union with the greater life "which passeth [ordinary] understanding."
If the intuitive minds who are approaching the Theosophical viewpoint about the cure for
present discontents will study without prejudice the profound philosophic and scientific
teaching of the Ancient Wisdom, they will find that their ethical views are not mere opinions,
ideals, or hopes, but that they are rooted in the very fabric of the universe, as scientifically
true as they are spiritually beautiful. The strength of Theosophy lies in its unification of
religion, philosophy, and science.
FOOTNOTE:
1. H. P. Blavatsky, writing of the Great Ones who had succeeded in uniting themselves
permanently with their inner Divinity, thereby becoming gods on earth, says there were
others, such as Moses, Pythagoras, Plotinus, Confucius, etc., "and some Christian saints,"
who were so united at intervals, and have taken rank as demi-gods. See Isis Unveiled, II, 159.
(return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum October 1941

THE STARS IN THEIR COURSES C. J. Ryan


H. P. Blavatsky's Contribution to Astronomy. Part II
The "Expansion of the Universe" and the "Great Breath"
In our last article we considered the rhythmic or periodic appearances and disappearances of
worlds and universes and the tentative approach that science is making to this important
fundamental in Theosophical cosmogony. A casual reference was made to the "Expansion of
the Universe," a remarkable and ingenious hypothesis devised to explain the affection of light
called the "red shift" of the lines of the spectrum, the rainbow band of color into which light
is analysed by the spectroscope. The apparent movement of the lines is very clearly marked
in the light coming from the far distant galaxies of stars beyond our Milky Way system. In
the majority of cases the lines are displaced toward the red end of the spectrum, which is
taken as evidence that nearly all of the host of galaxies scattered all over the firmament are
moving away from us; the greater the displacement the faster the motion. We cannot give the
full particulars here but they can be found in any modern textbook of astronomy.
In regard to the velocity of recession a curious effect has been observed which has called
forth the hypothesis that what is commonly called "the Universe" (rather a vague term as
used by astronomers in this connexion) has been expanding from a central and small nucleus
for billions of years. While the nearer galaxies appear to move away from us comparatively
slowly, the more remote ones seem to travel more rapidly and the farther away they are the
faster they go until the farthest yet discovered reach almost incredible velocities. By
employing these observations and calculating backward to the time when the galaxies were
starting out in all directions from the supposed central nucleus, the approximate date of the
beginning of the explosion has been estimated. But unfortunately this does not give nearly
enough time to cover the generally accepted life-history or probable evolution of suns and
systems. Yet if the expansion hypothesis is discarded science must look for some other
explanation of the red shift. No satisfactory one is in sight, though several have been
considered. One is that the red shift effects are produced by a process akin to "fatigue" as
light travels through enormous distances in space. Another is that "the" universe of galaxies
is expanding in some parts and contracting in others, and that immense regions are stationary.
Dr. Herbert Dingle, distinguished British physicist, after suggesting other solutions of the
expansion and other problems of space, says "or again, our universe may be of a character at
present unconceived. . . . We leave off where we began: the universe eludes our
apprehension. But we shall continue to pursue it."
The fact that the "Expansion of the Universe" is being seriously discussed by the scientists is
of considerable significance to Theosophists, for it implies contraction as well as expansion
and, probably, an endless succession of rhythmic activities on a cosmic scale as the logical
deduction. The physical or material aspect of Expansion may be abandoned, but the general
principle is very important for it points directly to one of the grandest teachings of the
Ancient Wisdom the Law of Periodicity or Rhythm which rules in the smallest
manifestation of life-matter as well as in the greatest galaxies of stars. It is the framework
within which evolution proceeds. In the Cosmos it appears as alternations of manifestation in
form and matter and of withdrawal into the invisible and subjective, poetically but

graphically called in Hindu philosophy the Outbreathing and Inbreathing of Brahma, a name
derived from the Sanskrit "brih," to expand, to grow.
There is one marked difference, however, between the modern Expansion hypothesis and the
Archaic Teaching. Both convey the idea of rhythmic pulsation, but the "Outbreathing"
metaphor represents the re-appearance of life and consciousness into forms and compounds
from the invisible ultimate Essence into objective existence, and the "Inbreathing" stands for
the dissolution of all into the original state. Neither is external. The modern "Expansion" is
supposed to be a purely physical phenomenon, if it exists at all. It should not be overlooked,
however, that neither the scientific hypothesis (or its modifications) nor the archaic Teaching
excludes the other; they are not incompatible.
As we pointed out in the last article there is strong evidence that some tremendous cosmic
change or so-called "catastrophe" did take place not very long ago, astronomically speaking,
and the question arises: has cosmic evolution proceeded in our part of space more rapidly
than seemed probable and may this catastrophe have been a minor though enormous
cataclysm and reconstruction within vastly greater periodic cycles? Have any celestial bodies
survived from a previous minor cycle through a reconstruction which would occur after a
partial contraction one of a series? This remarkable suggestion is being seriously
considered by astronomers, as it would explain many difficulties.
As a help to the understanding of the Archaic Doctrine of Periodicity and its bearing on
modern speculations the following passages from H. P. Blavatsky's works will be found
convenient for reference:
The esoteric doctrine teaches, like Buddhism and Brahmanism, and even the
Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and
in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. In the
poetical phraseology of Manu these conditions are called the "Days" and the
"Nights" of Brahma. The latter is either "awake" or "asleep." . . . Upon
inaugurating an active period, says the Secret Doctrine, an expansion of this
Divine essence from without inwardly and from within outwardly, occurs in
obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible
universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus
progressively set in motion. . . . an out-breathing of the "unknown essence"
produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has
been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an
infinite series, which had no beginning and will have no end. See The
Secret Doctrine, I, 3-4
The appearance and disappearance of the Universe are pictured as an outbreathing and inbreathing of "the Great Breath," which is eternal, and which,
being Motion, is one of the three aspects of the Absolute. . . . When the "Great
Breath" is projected, it is called the Divine Breath, and is regarded as the
breathing of the Unknowable Deity the One Existence which breathes
out a thought, as it were, which becomes the Kosmos. Op. cit., I, 43.
Intra-Cosmic motion is eternal and ceaseless; cosmic motion (the visible or
that which is subject to perception) is finite and periodical. Op. cit., I, 3

The former [the inbreathing] represents a certain period of cosmic activity, the
latter [the outbreathing] an equal one of cosmical repose. In the one, worlds
are being evolved, and passing through their allotted four ages of existence; in
the latter the "inbreathing" of Brahma reverses the tendency of the natural
forces; everything visible becomes gradually dispersed; chaos comes; and a
long night of repose reinvigorates the cosmos for its next term of evolution. In
the morning of one of these "days" the formative processes are gradually
reaching their climax of activity; in the evening imperceptibly diminishing the
same until the pralaya arrives, and with it "night." . . . and it was a "day of
Brahma" that the kabalistic author of Genesis had in mind each time when he
said: "And the evening and the morning were the first (or fifth or sixth, or any
other) day." 1sis Unveiled, II, 421-2
In the first book of Manu, we read: "Know that the sum of 1,000 divine ages,
composes the totality of one day of Brahma; and one night is equal to that
day." One thousand divine ages is equal to 4,320,000,000 of human years, in
the Brahmanical calculations. Op. cit., II, 272
He alone, the Unconceivable, is unchangeable (ever latent), but the Creative
Force, though also eternal, as it has been in the former from "no beginning,"
yet must be subject to periodical cycles of activity and rest; as it had a
beginning in one of its aspects, when it first emanated, therefore must also
have an end. Thus, the evening succeeds the day, and the night of the deity
approaches. Brahma is gradually falling asleep. In one of the books of Sohar
[a Kabbalistic work of great antiquity, at least in part], we read the following:
"As Moses was keeping a vigil on Mount Sinai, in company with the Deity,
who was concealed from his sight by a cloud, he felt a great fear overcome
him and suddenly asked: "Lord, where art Thou . . . sleepest thou, O Lord?"
And the Spirit answered him: "I never sleep; were I to fall asleep for a moment
before my time, all the Creation would crumble into dissolution in one
instant.'" Op. cit., II, 273
How the Sun keeps its "Fires" burning
When H. P. Blavatsky brought the Archaic Wisdom to the West the method by which the sun
pours out an apparently endless volume of light and other forms of energy was unanswered.
To quote Dr. Harlow Shapley of Harvard Observatory, in a recent announcement:
It has long been a serious problem to explain why the sun exists at present, and
why it radiates at apparently the same rate as it did in Palaeozoic times. The
ancient plants and animals apparently lived under conditions similar to our
own two hundred million years ago.
When H. P. Blavatsky's Teachers challenged certain astronomical theories more than sixty
years ago the problem of the sun's supply of energy was becoming acute. The most favored
hypothesis was that of combustion burning in which compounds are formed by the
chemical combination of free atoms or molecules. For instance, when the carbon in a piece of
coal "burns" it unites with oxygen in the air to form carbon dioxide, and as this goes on a
certain amount of energy in the form of heat and light is given off. When this principle was
found inadequate (1), mechanical processes, such as the gravitational contraction of the sun

or bombardment by meteors were tried, also without success. When radium was discovered it
seemed promising, but it failed to stand the test, and the problem remained unsolved till
recently. It was unanimously agreed, however, that the sun could not be very old only a
comparatively few million years and that its energies must be rapidly declining,
astronomically speaking. With its approaching "heat-death" the planets would freeze to death
and, as Balfour said, human life, "a rather discreditable episode on one of the meanest of the
planets," would come to an inglorious end! It need hardly be said that this was not the view of
the Adepts, the exponents of the Ancient Wisdom.
But the geologists and biologists were thoroughly dissatisfied with the limited time allowed
by physics and astronomy, because the evidence of geology and of the evolution of life on
earth demanded a far longer period. No solution seemed possible until the New Physics
revealed the enormous energies locked up in the atom and the possibility of liberating them
under conditions existing in the sun and the stars, and which can now be reproduced on a
small scale in the laboratory. Chemical combinations need no longer be considered. A
remarkable process of transmutation of certain elements the dream of the alchemist has
been found to explain the sun's vast energy production, and, (with a little help from the solar
contraction), its uninterrupted pouring forth for the billions of years required by science and,
of course, Theosophy. The sun, then, is ceaselessly transmuting certain elements into others
and liberating its stores of energy Life-Energy we call it as a "by-product," a very
important one for us, however. The vital fact is now scientifically established that the sun has
sufficient resources within itself to be independent of any outside help for untold billions of
years, time enough to cover any reasonable scheme of human evolution on the physical plane.
It can bountifully sustain its planetary family and ask no support in return. (2)
Although Sir Arthur Eddington said a few years ago that "the sun contains within it the
energy which is to last the rest of its life," the modus operandi was not then worked out; but
he unwittingly repeated what the Theosophical Teachers had openly declared from their own
researches nearly sixty years ago. The problem was finally worked out by Dr. Hans Bethe,
now of Cornell University, who in 1938 provided a solution which has received an
enthusiastic reception and which has been further developed by Dr. George Gamow and
others. It depends upon the demonstrated principle that when a lighter element is transmuted
into a heavier one in this case hydrogen into helium an enormously greater quantity of
energy in the form of light, heat, etc., is released than that produced by the most intense
chemical combustion as mentioned above. The process is a long and complicated series of
atomic transmutations which remind us of the extraordinary and complicated series of
physical transformations called mitosis that nature adopts to produce the cells of our bodies.
A brief description will give some notion of the process of the suns.
The process of atomic transmutation which liberates the required amount of solar radiation is
composed of four elements (and some isotopes of three of them). These are carbon, oxygen,
nitrogen and hydrogen, as already mentioned. The helium which appears at the close of the
cycle is only the transformed residue of the hydrogen, the "ashes" as it has been called. The
fact that the four elements are essential to the work is of primary importance to us in view of
their special significance in occult science. We refer the reader to The Secret Doctrine II, pp.
592 and later, which should be carefully read by students of chemistry. Here she shows that
the four elements are the basic factors in physical organic life, and defines their parallelism
with the four lower "principles" of man. Once we recognise their importance in terrestrial
affairs as described in The Secret Doctrine, the complicated and laborious series of

transmutations of these particular elements no longer seems so extraordinary, even though we


cannot yet penetrate further into the mystery.
The elements which appear in the chain or series of atomic transmutations that liberate the
sun's life-energies are Carbon, Nitrogen, Oxygen and Hydrogen in one form or another. The
process begins when an atom of carbon is struck by the nucleus of a hydrogen atom and is
transmuted into a special type of nitrogen (an "isotope'). More hydrogen comes along from
time to time, and other changes take place during which the original carbon atom is
transmuted into normal or isotopic forms of oxygen or nitrogen. Finally, it is restored to its
original condition as a normal carbon atom, ready to start the whole cycle over again when
another hydrogen proton attacks it. The last phase of the process is marked by a surprising
and "magical" change, as one scientist calls it. The hydrogen that came in during the
transmutations has disappeared as hydrogen but has been in part transmuted into the heavier
element helium and in part into the liberated energy which constitutes the solar radiation that
makes life possible on earth. Fortunately for us hydrogen is abundant in the sun, and though
millions of tons are transmuted every second many billions of years will elapse before it is all
used up, and even then other possibilities of energy supply are suspected which could carry
on for a good while longer.
How the carbon, hydrogen and all the other elements in the sun originally were formed is a
problem unanswered by modern science, but we may be sure that no attempted explanation
can be more than superficial which ignores the Cosmic consciousness and intelligent control
over the ceaseless and universal activities of the One Life that is behind all phenomena.
It is interesting to learn that the sun, structurally, possesses an unfailing and automatic
regulating system which controls the output of energy and prevents any dangerous fluctuation
in the steady flow until, like everything else in nature, its time has come to withdraw from
active life on this plane.
In regard to the sun's ability to support itself and shine with undiminished brilliance without
external assistance for the enormous time required for the Seven Rounds of human evolution
at the very least, it is clear from the following quotations written about sixty years ago that
the Masters of Wisdom possessed knowledge of natural phenomena quite unknown to
Western scientists. In an authoritative series of articles published by Madame Blavatsky in
1883 and called by her "the true occult teaching" (See S. D. I, 528, footnote) because they
were written by the Masters and their advanced disciples, we read:
. . . [the sun] is quite as self-dependent as he is self-luminous; and for the
maintenance of this heat requires no help, no foreign accession of vital energy,
for he is the heart of his system, a heart that will not cease its throbbing until
its hour of rest shall come. Were the sun "a cooling mass," our great life-giver
would have indeed grown dim with age by this time, and found some trouble
to keep his watch-fires burning for the future races to accomplish their cycles.
. . . There would remain no hope for evoluting humanity. . . . The
Theosophist, Vol. IV, Sept., 1883. Also Five Years of Theosophy, pp. 251-2
The "cooling mass" mentioned by the Master of course relates to the general belief that the
sun was like a coal fire burning by the ordinary process of chemical combustion and rapidly
running down to extinction. He knew, however, that the sun sustained the steady output of

heat and light it had been giving off for untold ages by some far more effective process
one that the contemporary scientists never suspected. The Master continues:
The "Adepts," who are thus forced to demolish before they can reconstruct,
deny most emphatically (a) that the Sun is in combustion in any ordinary sense
of the word; or (b) that he is incandescent or even burning, though he is
glowing; . . . Ibid.
Notice the words "in any ordinary sense of the word," because the sun's activities may be
accurately called a very extraordinary kind of "combustion," a "combustion" of atoms, which
would indeed have seemed incredible in 1883, but which is comprehensible in 1941 when our
scientists have discovered atomic disintegration and transmutation. Again:
The Solar substance is immaterial. In the sense, of course, of matter existing in
states unknown to science [in 1888, of course]. The Secret Doctrine, I, 499
This statement, as we all know, has been amply verified by the new atomic discoveries which
have proved that "matter" can exist in states that were utterly undreamed of in 1883. We must
not forget, also, that the great discoveries in atomic physics were largely made possible by
the technical researches of Sir William Crookes, a member of the Theosophical Society, and
one who was in touch with the Mahatmans through H. P. Blavatsky. In future articles on
modern scientific rediscovery of the Archaic Teaching we hope to discuss new and
remarkable discoveries about the sun, the stars and the planets, and conclusions reached by
astronomers which either positively confirm the teachings or show how closely science is
approaching them.
FOOTNOTES:
1. According to the combustion theory, we are told that even if the sun were made of pure
carbon burning in pure oxygen it probably could not be much more than 6,000 years old! But
chemical compounds subjected to the enormous forces raging in the sun would be broken up
into their elements and combustion could not begin. For instance, if carbon dioxide happened
to get into the sun it would instantly be "unburned," as it were. The carbon and oxygen atoms
in that combination would be torn apart and even perhaps disrupted within themselves by the
radiations which are enough to melt a 40-foot shell of ice completely covering the sun in one
minute. (return to text)
2. The Mahatman K. H. says in The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, written in 1882: "For
indeed, there is but one thing radiant energy which is inexhaustible and knows neither
increase nor decrease and will go on with its self-generating work to the end of the Solar
manvantara [period of life or physical manifestation], . . . Yes; call it "Radiant Energy" if you
will: we call it Life all-pervading, omnipresent life, ever at work in its great laboratory
the SUN." p. 168 (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum November 1940

THE TIBETAN BUDDHIST TRADITION C. J. Ryan


In regard to the work Peaks and Lamas (1) we agree with Dr Coomaraswamy's appreciation
in Asia magazine that this:
is one of those very rare books which it is impossible to overpraise.This is we
feel, the book with which every student of Tibet and of Mahayana Buddhism
should prepare himself and over and above this it is altogether pertinent to the
consideration of the tragic problems with which humanity is faced at the
present day, as well in Europe as in Asia.
We would add that to the student of Theosophy it is especially valuable for its confirmation
by an unprejudiced and keen observer of the favorable impression of the majority of the
people of Tibet and neighborhood given by H P Blavatsky and her Indian Masters as well as
by Theosophical scholars like Dr W. Y. Evans-Wentz, and other writers and travelers whose
firsthand knowledge of Tibet qualifies them to speak.
Mr Marco Pallis, the author, leader of an English mountain climbing party, came in 1933 into
close and friendly contact with certain lamas while he was conducting an expedition to scale
the highest peaks of the Ganges-Satlej watershed on the border of Tibet. At Lachhen in
Sikkim he received valuable preliminary instruction from a lama-anchorite who seems to be
the one mentioned with great respect by Mme David-Neel in her Magic and Mystery in Tibet.
Not being able to penetrate into Tibet proper, but seeking more wisdom, Mr. Pallis was
advised to travel to the western border of Tibet where later he continued his studies of
Tibetan Buddhism under several learned and spiritual-minded lamas.
For some readers his detailed accounts of ascents of the great Himalayan peaks will be the
most interesting parts of the book, while others will be attracted by the word-paintings of the
sublime mountain and forest scenery. Everyone will enjoy his delightful sketches or studies
of the people he met, including high and really holy lamas and hermits as well as distinctly
inferior ones, down to the simple peasants and the porters in his expedition. His humor is
conspicuous but it never transcends the bounds of kindliness and good taste. In return for the
friendliness and consideration shown to all by Mr. Pallis and his associates they received an
equal if not greater return in kind. He was so happy as a guest in one monastery in Ladak that
he writes under its photograph "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem!" And this reminds us that we
must not forget to mention the magnificent and unusual series of photographs of scenery,
temples and monasteries, symbolic and other works of art, and interesting people.
During the last few years a number of valuable books about Tibet have appeared, such as
Professor Roerich's Shamballa, F. S. Chapman's Lhasa: the Holy City, T. Bernard's The
Penthouse of the Gods, Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz's and Madame David-Neels scholarly works,
and others; all of which treat Tibetan religion and the Tibetans from a thoroughly sympathetic
point of view. These books have removed much Western prejudice founded on ignorance.
Mr. Pallis, tired of being a mere observer, adopted the costume, food, ways of living and, as
far as possible, the mentality of the people of the Tibetan borderland, and was thereby able to
make close personal and especially spiritual association with them. His tribute to the Tibetan
character in general is high. Honesty, goodnature, and cheerfulness in adversity as well as
prosperity, tolerance, politeness, and the absence of servile manners became more

conspicuous as he approached the Tibetan border. He quotes the well-known French


observer, Professor Jacques Bacot:
The Tibetans impress one at once by the dignity of their persons. . . . The
Tibetans are not barbarous, not uncultivated; nor for that matter is their
country. Under their rough hide they conceal refinements that we lack, much
courtesy and philosophy, and the need for beautifying common things, be it a
tent, a knife or a stirrup. . . . Moreover they are gay, these Tibetans, and happy
as is not the case elsewhere today, more so than our wretched workers in their
wretched factories. . . . The more densely the country is populated, the tamer is
the wild game1. The Tibetans have long since lost the taste for killing which
we still keep. . . . I love their companionship during the long rides, for they are
taciturn, or else they only speak with good sense, originality, and a taste for
speculative things.
Kindness to animals is the rule, though the blind and literal following of the injunction to
avoid hurting living creatures often leads to unintentional cruelty when an injured or sick
animal is allowed to suffer. While many "superstitions" are rampant, such as the fear of
demons and the widespread belief in charms and the like, Mr. Pallis points out that with
Tibetans superstition does not lead to such horrors as the burning of witches, and he
absolutely denies that superstition has replaced religion. He found that "the Doctrine had left
its mark deeply even on simple inarticulate souls." In regard to the charge of lack of
cleanliness, which, he says, "is a great standby of a certain class of lecturer or writer, when
they can find nothing else to say about the people whose hospitality they have enjoyed," he
claims that it is greatly exaggerated. He quotes impartial travelers who make no special
complaints. The long bitter winters do not encourage indulgence in cold baths and fuel is
scarce. Taking one thing with another, he calls the inhabitants of the Buddhist lands where he
traveled, "one of the earth's most civilized peoples." Mme Alexandra David-Neel, the famous
Orientalist and traveler, agrees with this. Writing in her Magic and Mystery in Tibet, she says:
"I had vaguely imagined that beyond the Himalayas the country would become wild, but now
I was beginning to realize that on the contrary I was coming into contact with a truly civilized
people." Mr. Pallis often "had to whet his intellect to its keenest edge, trying to keep pace
with the descant of some contemplative recluse upon a theme of pure metaphysic," after
having exchanged elegant and truly expressive courtesies. He found a profound respect for
learning ingrained in the average Tibetan: can we say this of the West?
In view of such tributes by Mr. Pallis and the other authorities it is interesting to note the
opinion of a still more competent observer, who resides in Tibet but who is also not a
Tibetan. We refer to the Mahatman Koot Hoomi who wrote: "For ages has been Tibet the last
corner of the globe not so entirely corrupted as to preclude the mingling together of the two
atmospheres the physical and the spiritual." He adds that the Tibetans are a moral, purehearted, simple people, untainted with the vices of "civilization." (See The Mahatma Letters
to A. P. Sinnett, p. 434.)
To the Theosophical or other student who is looking for more important spiritual values than
are contained in the mere technical study of "comparative religion" the main interest of this
work will be the admirable exposition of the deeper meaning of Tibetan Buddhism which the
author acquired under unusually favorable conditions after he abandoned the rarefied air of
the snow peaks to seek the more rarefied heights of the spirit.

Mr. Pallis warns us against "the grotesque travesties of doctrines and customs with which
certain persons with obvious axes to grind try to saddle the thinkers of India and Tibet." He
strongly protests against the narrowness of too many well-meaning western missionaries in
the Orient "whose consciousness of their own righteousness" and of the defects of the
"heathen" is still very marked. He contrasts it with the open-minded spirit of the lamas and
their followers in general. When he commented on this to Tibetans they told him "we are
taught that it is a sin to speak disrespectfully of other religions or to treat their ministers in
unfriendly fashion." This is, of course, nothing new. H. P. Blavatsky mentions it in her article
"Lamas and Druses" in The Complete Works of H. P. Blavatsky, Volume III, where she
describes the respect shown by the Tibetans to other religions and their representatives. She
compares the refined courtesy extended by a very high lama at Kum-Bum to the Abbe Hue
and his colleague about a hundred years ago, with the gross impoliteness of the "lamas of
Jehovah," as they called themselves, to the Tibetan prelate, "a poor heathen." The Abbe
describes the unbecoming incident without a qualm, in his Journey through Tartary, Tibet
and China.
While Mr. Pallis believes that Christianity has been one of the great "Traditional" (2) avenues
for the transmission of the True Doctrine and that the ethics of the Sermon on the Mount and
that of the Buddha in the Deer Park are practically the same, he claims that his "meetings
with a good many missionaries and the perusal of their literature have led me to the opinion
that, on the whole, their activities are disruptive and their methods open to severe criticism."
In saying this Mr. Pallis is not condemning the Christian "Tradition." On the contrary, he
devotes many pages to the demonstration of its fundamental identity with the Tibetan
Buddhist "Tradition," though outward forms differ in many points. In support of this, he
quotes passages from medieval orthodox Christian writers which might be taken from the
Tibetan Canon. He claims, as does the Theosophist, that all authentic "Traditions" are united
by their "Note" of universality, though it has been trammeled more severely in the West by
dualistic and "warlike" mentality than in India, China or Tibet. He shows that even the
Doctrine of the "Void" or Nirvana was definitely taught in the fourteenth century by the
English Benedictine monk, Father Augustine Baker, but he rather drily remarks that today it
would be more intelligible to a Tibetan lama than to the monk's modern Western
countrymen!
The "Void" is actual "Knowledge," Reality; to us it may appear to be empty because it
transcends the capacity of our ordinary consciousness. But this Reality may be reached
through the illumination obtained by initiation. The Gnostics called it the Pleroma or Fulness.
Father Baker evidently realized this when he wrote, as quoted by Mr. Pallis:
The nought . . . is God, to whom the soul may be united when she is nowhere
bodily, nor hath in her any image of creatures. And when she is nowhere
bodily then she is everywhere spiritually; and being in such condition she is fit
to be united with the said nothing, which also is in all places . . . our inner man
calls it All. . . .
The "Knowledge" mentioned as the Reality is, as Mr. Pallis points out, superior to Reason. It
is the fruit of direct intuitive experience, which is not so much a thing acquired by accretion;
rather it is a thing already there from the moment that the obstacles to its realization have
ceased to be. Our whole problem is, How shall we clear away the obstacles?

Many true followers of the Lord Buddha employ certain ascetic measures for inner
development, but the object of these exercises is not personal salvation per se in its ordinary
Western meaning. Nor is it, as mistakenly thought by some, the cultivation of psychic powers
or occult arts. The wise disciple seeks the power to rise above personal limitations to the high
and serene state of Liberation from which poor ignorant, suffering humanity may be
effectively helped. Before you can save others you must have freed yourself from the chains
of the lower self. Mr. Pallis says that the spiritually high lamas he met and there were not
a few were hardworking practical helpers of their people who only retired at times to their
solitary hermitages to seek further inner growth in wisdom. Of course there were others
whose apparent devotion was merely lip-service for worldly ends, and whose monasteries
were ill conducted. He frankly describes such cases, but he did not see many. Mr. Pallis gives
many pages to the interpretation of the well-known Buddhist Wheel or Round of Life found
in every Buddhist Temple, which he learned from his lama teachers. The study of the Wheel
is very desirable in order to understand the meaning of Liberation. Under a quaint but
expressive symbolism the divisions of the Wheel represent the processes which "gods,"
"demons," men, and even animals, have to go through while they are bound by illusion. Its
"hells" and "heavens" are here and now, and the Agent which keeps this Wheel of Fortune is
Karman. (We note that the Sanskrit word Karman is spelt thus in this scholarly though not
pedantic work.) The only remedy for the ills caused by seeking happiness in the impermanent
and mocking region of Desire is true Knowledge, which of course includes Compassion.
Mr. Pallis, at his first contact with Tibetans and lamas of the Tibetan borderland, found that
he "had stepped right out of the circle of influences that had enclosed our lives hitherto," and
the lively temperament, bodily vigor, and kindly serenity of spirit of those he met induced
him seriously to study the teachings which were able to produce such results. He found that
the lives of the people in general have been powerfully influenced by the sublime teaching of
the Great Renunciation, the refusal of the bliss of Nirvana, exemplified in Tibetan Buddhism
by the self-sacrifice of (among others) the Bodhisattva Chenrezi (Avalokitesvara in India),
"the Good Shepherd, the Savior, sinless and all-knowing who offers himself for the Universe
in the supreme sacrifice of redemptive love."
Deeply impressed by one of the first lamas he met, and referring to the power of Compassion
which he radiated, Mr. Pallis writes:
Our lama's love possessed a note of serenity which seemed to distinguish it
from the similarly-named but usually more passionately expressed virtue
found among Europeans. I do not believe that this Compassion, said by some
to be special to Buddhism, really differs in essence from Christian Charity; but
it is . . . consciously linked with a certain intellectual concept, of which it is the
corollary a recognition of the relations which exist between all creatures,
including man, based on an insight into the true nature of the Universe, and
not dependent on a vague emotional appeal. (Italics ours.)
This eternal virtue, Compassion, then, is not an emotional byproduct but is closely linked (or
identical) with a scientific understanding of the universe. It is one of the most important
teachings of Theosophy that ethics and morality cannot be divorced from other expressions of
natural law, because the Kosmos is fundamentally a unity, and as Dr. de Purucker says,
"Love is the cement of the universe." Mr. Pallis points out that loving impulses are less likely
to be upset by a swing of the emotional pendulum when they are firmly linked with definite

ideas. We may rejoice that he is able to show the world that these Theosophical principles are
being taught by the lamas.
Mr. Pallis records a rich harvest of teaching he derived from the spiritually and intellectually
qualified lamas under whom he studied. It includes difficult problems such as the true nature
of man, of gods and of demons, asceticism, "idol" worship, Karman and Reincarnation, the
difference between Knowledge and Reason, the perilous Short or Direct Path of initiation or
Liberation, and many other cognate subjects. Whenever he asked for the best way to find the
Path, the answer never varied the first thing of all is to find a Teacher. He was warned that
though certain Western translations from the Sanskrit are said to contain "practical methods"
for seekers toward Enlightenment, any attempt to apply those methods without the watchful
guidance of a real Teacher, an adept, is more than foolish, it is dangerous in the extreme.
Even in the purely intellectual study of abstruse and condensed doctrinal texts many a
Western savant presumes to pass judgments and to write commentaries, though he is ignorant
of the vast amount of detail which is left to be filled in by the word of mouth of the Teacher.
This is precisely what Col. H. S. Olcott, under H. P. Blavatsky's inspiration, brought to the
attention of Professor Max Muller, the great Sanskritist, when he denied that within the outer
meaning of the Hindu Scriptures lay concealed a hidden and esoteric one. Mme. David-Neel,
rather better informed than Max Muller, while insisting that all the Buddhistic doctrines
taught in mystic circles can be found in books, admits that in Tibet certain secret information
is imparted to a few "initiates," she calls them. But she believes that this esoteric teaching
merely consists of methods of training the mind or, in lower degrees, of developing psychic
or "supernormal" powers. We feel that Mr. Pallis has reached a truer understanding of the
kind of "esoteric teaching" given to real disciples, such as H. P. Blavatsky received from her
Tibetan Teachers, and which is primarily spiritual and intellectual; not psychic even though
occult powers may appear as by-products. She was allowed to give out a few of the hitherto
secret teachings in her The Secret Doctrine. Theosophical students of the Hindu sacred
literature or the Tibetan Buddhist writings such as the series translated by the Lama Kazi
Dawa Samdup and annotated by Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz, can see far deeper meanings in
such writings than the learned scholars who ignore the key of interpretation she brought from
the East.
Considerable misunderstanding has prevailed about certain aspects of Tibetan Buddhist art
works, and Mr. Pallis makes praiseworthy efforts to help us understand what the lama artists
meant to convey. Everyone knows that the subjects represented in Tibetan religious art are
marked by a strong duality. One moiety consists largely of serene and gracious Beings sitting
on lotus pedestals in dignified attitudes, the other displays numerous frightful apparitions
frenziedly dancing on or torturing men and even animals. The Western traveler or observer of
museum pieces who may only be acquainted with medieval pictures of saints and prophets
might interpret the Tibetan benign divinities with some approach to accuracy, but, with his
recollection of the medieval pictures of Satan and his imps, he would probably misunderstand
the symbolism of the Buddhist forms of horror and imagine that the Tibetans worshiped
devils and offered sacrifices to them! Mr. Pallis redeems the reputation of the Oriental
philosophers and artists by lucidly explaining the significance of this symbolic Duality.
Much confusion has also arisen in regard to the so-called Tibetan "Devil-Dances," and this is
explained. These performances are not entertainment in the ordinary sense, but they are
ceremonial dramatizations of religious themes of profound significance to the devout
onlookers; in fact they are true Mystery Plays. Mr. Pallis speaks with deep admiration for the
beauty and magnificence of some of these spectacles. Very few foreigners have seen them.

The author also discusses the alleged objectionable nature of a certain class of paintings of
deities which are seldom shown to travelers. He explains that they are merely symbolic,
which is no doubt correct, and that their philosophic meaning is pure and profound; but, to
speak plainly, we feel that although in the Orient, as in antiquity, the creative aspect of nature
is frankly recognised and treated in art without Occidental reserve, yet far too much emphasis
has been placed in the East on its emblems. According to Theosophy, sex is merely a
temporary expression of Duality, and its symbolism, however pure and philosophic in intent,
is liable to serious abuse. Without defending a false prudery we may well protest against the
cruder developments in India, and to a lesser degree perhaps in Tibet, of such pictorial or
sculptural symbolism of metaphysical concepts. We deny that they have any place in the
presentations of the pure teachings of Buddhism. They are seemingly relics of the dark Bonpa
magic and the dangerous worship of nature spirits, which is said to have come from ancient
Chaldaea and originally from degenerating Atlantis. Mr. Pallis says that the adherents of the
old Bonpa Tradition are still feared for their skill in sorcery, but he charitably suggests that
"from all accounts they are really harmless enough people." Maybe, but other writers think
differently.
In regard to magic, black or white, the phenomenon-hunter will find little to gratify his
curiosity in this book. The author was too deeply absorbed in real occultism as we understand
it, spiritual wisdom, to spend precious time on side-issues. But his references to Mme. DavidNeel's experiences, especially with Tummo, the occult art of keeping oneself warm and
comfortable without fuel or winter clothing in the bitterest cold of the ice caves or the frozen
wastes, which she studied successfully, and his remarks about the magical doings of the great
Tibetan ascetic and poet Mila Repa, show that he does not avoid the subject through
ignorance. Moreover, he gives three pages to the mystical subject of the Tulkus, or
Incarnations of Heavenly Beings or other Saintly Personages in human personalities which in
some cases, such as that of certain Avataras, like Jesus, are acts of White Magic. Mr. Pallis
was puzzled by accounts of Tulkus who do not at all times act up to their high reputation; but
this is not strange when we learn that the incarnating soul of a superior being, or in some
instances a projected Ray, is not always "on deck," as it were, in its chosen physical vehicle.
It may withdraw for a while, or even permanently.
There has been considerable misunderstanding in the West about the supposed "sacrifices"
made by Tibetan lamas or yogis who retire for long or short periods to mountain retreats. Mr.
Pallis explains from personal observation that the Buddhist conception of asceticism is very
different from that of the early Christian anchorites who fled from the temptations of the
world to the Egyptian deserts in order to save their own souls from eternal destruction. He
says:
There is no idea of mortifying the flesh by painful austerities. The Buddha
formally condemned the extremes both of luxury and self-torture. . . . Nothing
which is calculated to damage health is encouraged, for with impaired health
must come deterioration of mental powers which is an obstacle in the pursuit
of Knowledge.
Each monastery (Gompa) owns a number of solitary retreats or cells for meditation and inner
development free from distraction. No one is expected to intrude during the period of
seclusion, be it long or short, but any suggestion of imprisonment or compulsion would be
ridiculous. Mr. Pallis corroborates Mme. David-Neel's experiences among the genuine
ascetics. They do not suffer from the absence of social intercourse during their retreats. Their

days are occupied by methodical exercises in spiritual training, meditation on profound


philosophical problems, and efforts to reach higher states of consciousness. Passionately
interested in these strenuous investigations and introspections, they are too busy to notice
their isolation. Members of the Kargyiitpa Order, who follow the teachings of Mila Repa,
sometimes withdraw into icy glacier caves in the high mountain solitudes where a cotton
cloth is their only garment! They keep warm by the occult process of Tummo already
mentioned. But the general practice is to make retreats under sufficiently comfortable
conditions.
The author deals with many highly interesting and instructive matters which cannot even be
mentioned, and in every case he throws light on his subject. His point of view is original, and
even in the rare cases where we may not agree with him, his conclusions demand careful
consideration. He has no hesitation in discussing difficult problems, such as the disputed
question of the Tantras, which are so frequently confused with the archaic Bon black magic,
yet which did not fall into disrepute until about 400 years ago. In regard to the problem of the
Tibetan Deities he has much to say of great interest. Do the instructed lamas believe them to
be real Divine Personages or merely metaphorical abstractions? Apparently neither, or both!
He quotes the great fourteenth century Adept and Reformer, Tsong-kha-pa, to the effect that
from the standpoint of the consciousness which lives in the region of "name and form," to use
the technical expression, the conventional Deities do exist, but to the fully Enlightened who
understand "Reality" they "simply are not."
But we must not take the words "are not" too literally. A clue to the deeper meaning may be
found in The Secret Doctrine (I, 128-32, etc.) where the Lipika, the Recorders or Agents of
Karman, are discussed. Mr. Pallis shows that the Tibetan Judge of the Dead, Shindje, is
Karman itself, the law of cause and effect, from which none can escape. Karman is real
enough! It is reassuring to find that Mr. Pallis was protected by his lama teachers from falling
into the common error of regarding Karman as merely retribution for evil doing. He explains
that it is not a process of reward or punishment in the ordinary meaning of those words; it is
simply inexorable justice which returns to you exactly what you have called for by your
thoughts and deeds, be it pleasant or otherwise. Like other laws of this orderly universe it can
be absolutely relied upon. To the evil-doers Shindje, the Karmic Judge of the Dead, is
naturally a terrible monster, and in order to warn them while there is time to repent he is
depicted as such.
The latter part of this illuminating book deals with the present conditions and the dangers
threatening the culture of the lands in which the Tibetan Buddhist "Tradition" still holds its
own. Mr. Pallis discusses these profoundly important problems with a breadth of outlook and
a sympathetic insight rare indeed in a Western writer. "Advanced" social and educational
reformers, so-called, will find much that is new to them and much instruction on lines
unfamiliar in the West, presented temperately but convincingly.
Among many cultural phases of the Buddhist "Tradition" discussed, but which we have no
room to do more than mention, interesting and important though they be, are vegetarianism,
non-resistance, war, education and the meaning of "progress," crime and punishment, the
social conditions and family life, and many others, all of which supply a solid foundation for
judgment.
Mr. Pallis eloquently sets forth the high standard of the "Traditional" arts, music,
architecture, painting, handwoven textiles and so forth. He greatly dreads the mechanistic

commercial irruptions which seriously threaten to injure or destroy the creative inspiration
which has developed these fine results. As one example; the native paints with their
harmonious colors are being replaced here and there by cruder (and cheaper) commercial
importations, and in consequence the appreciation of subtil shades of color is already
beginning to degenerate.
In regard to the knowledge of Man, the Buddhist Tradition has much to teach us, as Mr. Pallis
quickly found. Our Western scientists, by hard work directed on materialistic lines mostly,
have discovered worthwhile information about the brain and its mechanisms, and have
developed some rudimentary theories of psychology, a science admittedly in its early infancy.
All this from external observation. By harder work and at enormous sacrifice in another
direction mostly internal observation generations untold of Oriental researchers have
discovered an infinitely larger field of study in man's consciousness and have reduced it to an
exact science. Their science has a high moral and spiritual background and aim, which
unfortunately ours disregards as of no practical significance. But they get results which the
world cannot afford to lose!
The respect for learning is ingrained even among the illiterate, but the learning must have a
spiritual motive or background. Mr. Pallis is firmly convinced that the isolation of Tibet has
been no misfortune. It has enabled a considerable vestige of the finer atmosphere of the
ancient world to survive, a spirit which the West has lost in its competitive race for
materialistic commercial domination and in its worship of the Western god of inventive
science. He feels that the Tibetans and their neighbors hold something spiritually and
intellectually precious in their keeping, and that if they can realize the importance of their
trust and preserve it from contamination, it may become the expanding focus from which the
Oriental "Tradition" in its purity will spread widely over the earth. But if this fails, he
believes, the world may drift into sheer opportunism, out of which it will take almost
superhuman efforts to rise. He frankly admits that he would like to reincarnate in Tibet if it
remains Tibet and refuses to become a slavish copy of the meretricious civilization of the
West!
FOOTNOTES:
1. Peaks and Lamas, by Marco Pallis Alfred Knopf, New York 99 illustrations and maps. 428
pp. $5. 00 (return to text)
2. He employs the word "Tradition" to convey the idea of something wider than any closed
system of religion or philosophy Though it includes religion and philosophy "Tradition"
embraces a characteristic culture or mode of life, ethical, social and cultural in general, for
which such antitheses as "sacred and profane" are meaningless. He prefers to use "the Tibetan
Buddhist Tradition" as being more expressive than "Lamaism" which is misleading as well as
offensive in its implications. (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum


THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE

The Theosophical Forum April 1948

THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: 1 Charles J. Ryan


An Interpretation Part I (1)
Sing, Muse, the song of Odysseus, him of the hardy heart, bravest of all the
brave who sailed in the hollow ships of the Grecians, ODYSSEUS, erstwhile
King of Ithaca, now held by crafty Calypso, she of the braided tresses, in far
Ogygia. Gone indeed is the day of his returning! Zeus the cloud-gatherer aids
him not; Poseidon the earth-shaker sends ruinous winds upon him and dire
engulfings in the wine-dark sea. Only Athena would aid thee grey-eyed
Athena of the bronze-shod spear, daughter of Zeus, the thunderer. See! From
the azure seats of the gods, even from Olympus, comes she now glancing
down.
The wise teachers of old knew that not only children but grown men and women are always
ready to listen to an interesting story. In ancient times, when few people could read, bards
and story-tellers would travel about singing or reciting, as they still do in the East. Serious
teachings about life and morals were put into the form of vivid and absorbing stories.
Enshrined in imperishable forms, great truths were presented by the effective method of
suggestion. Allegory was a recognized method of instruction, as it now is in the Orient.
The basis of many such legends was the experience and suffering of man, individually and as
a race, in seeking a higher and nobler life, in the quest for enlightenment. The pilgrimage and
tribulations of the awakening personality when it seriously commences to seek for
purification, or in other words, union with its own higher nature, have been presented in
various forms according to the varying conditions of the times, but the underlying principle
or motif was always the same. At a certain stage man is no longer satisfied with the ordinary
pleasures and ambitions of life; he begins to suspect that a greater life awaits him, and he
becomes willing to endure with patience the experiences in store for him which are necessary
for his purification, even though they take many lifetimes.
The vulgar Western belief of modern times, that we live but once on earth, has deprived us of
a right understanding of many of the greater truths concealed in the ancient allegories. Once
comprehended in the light of reincarnation the mechanism of evolution human life no
longer appears a meaningless frenzy, but something worthy and governed by justice.
The epics of the nations which tell the story of man's aspiration are built upon the trials,
temptations, and victories that precede the union of the purified lower personality with the
Higher Ego, its over-shadowing Divinity, the Father that lives in "heaven." Remember that
"heaven" is said to be within man. The goal of attainment is symbolized in various ways. It
may be the vision of the Holy Grail, or the winning of a treasure such as the Golden Apples
of the Hesperides or the Golden Fleece; it is sometimes a marriage with a princess after
rescuing her from a monster, as in the story of Perseus and Andromeda, or with a goddess.
Perhaps a wife has to be regained. In India the subject of the semi-historical Bhagavad-Gita
included in the great epic of the Mahabharata is Arjuna's battling for his rightful
heritage. The Biblical story of the Israelites breaking out of bondage and passing through the
Red Sea and then wandering for forty years in the Desert of Sinai on their way to the
Promised Land is a very clear allegory.

In Ireland we find the legend of Bran seeking the mystic country of joy and peace; of Art the
son of Conn overcoming ordeals in his search for a princess of the Isle of Wonders, and many
others. In Wales there are the legends of Pwyll and Manawyddan, and the adventurous
journey of King Arthur to the Annwn, the Welsh Hades, to obtain a magic caldron a type
of the Cup of the Holy Grail.
Thanks to Wagner, the Teutonic legends of Siegfried and Brunhilde, of Tannhauser and
Parsifal, and the rest are now familiar. Greece has a wealth of myths founded on the drama of
the soul; some are quite transparent to interpretation, such as Perseus and Andromeda,
Orpheus and Eurydice, and Jason and the Golden Fleece; but as a secular and popular story,
nothing has appeared of more enduring fame than the Wanderings of Odysseus as told in the
Odyssey of Homer.
Odysseus is representative of the awakened mind of man seeking, after long years of battling
with worldly things represented by the Trojans to find, or more accurately, to regain,
the spiritual wisdom deep-buried within his soul, and symbolized by his faithful wife,
Penelope. This spiritual Intuition stands in the dim background of the whole poem as a
permeating influence, calm, and waiting patiently for him to find her. While Odysseus, as the
active mentality, is fighting against obstacles and pushing onward in rapid movement,
Penelope sits at home and weaves her patterns, creating and preserving. Odysseus is not only
separated from his wife but is an exile from his hearth and country; not only has he to keep
constantly in action but he has to find for himself the true Path which leads homeward, a very
significant point.
In tracing the plain Theosophical interpretation of the Odyssey, we need not follow the order
of the poem as arranged by Homer or by whomever compiled the Homeric legends, but will
take the simple narrative of the wanderings of Odysseus in their natural sequence of events.
This paper is not an analysis of the poem from a literary standpoint in any way, nor shall we
consider the archaeological problems aroused by sundry references to customs and the
construction of buildings found in the text, interesting as these may be, particularly in view of
the modern discoveries of early Mediterranean civilizations.
After leaving the battlefields of Troy, Odysseus embarks for his native isle, "Ithaca the Fair,"
expecting to arrive there quickly, but a tempest drives the fleet out of its course, and a great
fight impedes his progress at the very outset. Many students know how true this is. The
destruction of all his ships but one, and of many of the sailors, follows quickly. One of the
most curious stories of this introductory part is that of Polyphemus, the Cyclopean giant with
a single eye in the midst of his forehead. Madame Blavatsky, in her great work, The Secret
Doctrine, gives considerable attention to the partly-hidden meaning of this grotesque
incident. She reveals the clue by showing that it is based upon historical facts, however little
they may be known in modern times. Urged by curiosity, Odysseus ventures too near the
giant, and with his companions, falls into his hands. In order to escape, they destroy the
single eye of Polyphemus and deceive him by the stratagem of the flocks of rams, a well
known esoteric symbol. The legend is based upon the disappearance from use of the "third
Eye" (the existing vestige of which is commonly known as the pineal gland in the brain) at a
very early period in human evolution. H. P. Blavatsky says that Odysseus'
adventure with the latter [the pastoral Cyclopes] a savage gigantic race, the
antithesis of cultured civilization in the Odyssey is an allegorical record of
the gradual passage from the Cyclopean civilization of stone and colossal

buildings to the more sensual and physical culture of the Atlanteans, which
finally caused the last of the Third Race to lose their all-penetrating spiritual
eye. The Secret Doctrine, II, p. 769. See also I sis Unveiled, II, p. 423.
The story of the tribe of one-eyed Cyclops, which preserves the memory of the
transformation in the human frame far more than a million years ago, is found in many
countries in different forms. In China, the legends speak of men who had two faces and could
see behind them; in Ireland the hero who blinds the Cyclops-eyed giant is called Finn. There
is one living animal possessing the third eye in recognizable form today the New Zealand
lizard Hatteria punctata, a relic of long-vanished conditions on earth.
After their escape and some further perilous adventures, Odysseus and his companions soon
reach the island of the enchantress Circe, which very clearly represents the fascination of
sensual delights. Odysseus is unaffected by the gross temptations which overwhelm his
companions, who are turned into swine by the goddess. He retains his human form and is
helped by the Olympian god Hermes to frustrate the designs of Circe. Odysseus' boldness and
"confidence in heaven" finally conquer the enchantress and compel her to serve him. She
becomes transformed into a friend and counsellor. She restores the men to human form and
instructs Odysseus how to find the way to the Underworld. This episode reminds us of and
illustrates the saying of Katherine Tingley "that after a certain stage of spiritual unfoldment,
the action of Karma changes from penalty to tuition," and also of a striking passage in a wellknown Theosophical book, Through the Gates of Gold:
Once force the animal into his rightful place, that of an inferior, and you find
yourself in possession of a great force hitherto unsuspected and unknown. The
god as a servant adds a thousand-fold to the pleasures of the animal; the
animal as a servant adds a thousand-fold to the powers of the god. . . . The
animal in man, elevated, is a thing unimaginable in its great powers of service
and strength. . . . But this power can only be attained by giving the god the
sovereignty. Make your animal ruler over yourself, and he will never rule
others.
Now comes the ordeal of Terror, an emotion not familiar to Odysseus. Circe has warned him
that, before he goes farther, he must gain some necessary information about the future from
Tiresias, the ancient prophet who lives with the Shades in Hades, though he himself is not
dead. The approach to this great seer and the initiation itself are surrounded by fearful
dangers; safely to defy the multitudes of the vengeful shades of the dead calls forth the
highest physical and moral courage of Odysseus. Like all the heroes of the epics of the Soul,
he has to pass through the Valley of the Shadow of Death in a very real sense; to meet and
face and remain unappalled by the Shades, the lingering remains of past sins and errors; then
to learn what is necessary for his further progress; and finally to return unharmed, though
tried to the uttermost. This Descent into Hell, or the Underworld, or the "Open Tomb" has
more than one meaning, and it is always introduced in some form in the myths of initiation.
For instance, in the legend of Perseus and Andromeda, the hero, aided by the gods, must fly
to the hideous regions of cold and darkness and destroy the death-dealing monster Medusa
and take her head, before he can rescue the princess of Ethiopia.
Not only Christ is said to have descended into the Underworld and "ministered to the spirits
in prison" but Orpheus, Aeneas and many other Great Ones, and we are told that in the
ceremonies conducted in the profound recesses of the Great Pyramid of Egypt the candidates

had to descend into the subterranean chamber or symbolic Underworld, for trial, reascending
the third day strengthened and illuminated. The descent into the shadows is an indispensable
part of every complete story of the pilgrimage of the soul, for it represents a necessary
experience. "No cross, no crown." It is not mere physical death and resurrection or rebirth
into a new body; that is but a natural incident, frequently recurring, in the far-stretching
career of the soul, the close of a day in its life-story. When the true resurrection has been fully
accomplished there will be little necessity of reincarnation on earth, except by the deliberate
choice of great souls who descend for the purpose of helping humanity.
The tone of the poem changes at this point; the lightness and gaiety with which Odysseus has
related his adventures is replaced by a deep solemnity, and the horrid scenes in Hades are
described with intense vividness, and many curious touches of realism, as in the account of
the blood-evocation a necromantic ceremony the contemporaries of Homer would firmly
believe in. In his description of the Underworld, Homer shows a real knowledge of certain
conditions of the post mortem life, a knowledge more common then than now. He unveils
only a partial glimpse of the lower states or planes, and, of course, he allegorizes everything
for the popular understanding, but he gives a very striking picture of the weird and desolate
sphere of restless phantoms, most of them merely "eidolons," i.e., soulless images or dregs of
what once were men whose real higher nature or spirit has passed onward. Leaving the
impure remains to fade out, often painfully, in the lower astral planes, Odysseus gets a
passing view of "stern Minos," the Judge of the Dead, the personification of the Law of
Karma or Justice, rewarding the righteous and dooming the guilty, and he is privileged to
gain a momentary glance into the heavenly world of Elysium or Devachan in which live in
blessedness during the periods of rest between incarnations on earth, the higher immortal
spirits of those whose fading shadows wander in Hades below. H. P. Blavastky says:
. . . the Hades of the ancients [is] . . . a locality only in a relative sense. . . .
Still it exists, and it is there that the astral eidolons of all the beings that have
lived . . . await their second death. The Key to Theosophy, p. 143
Plato and Plutarch give more complete accounts of the Greek teachings on this mysterious
subject; examined in the light of Theosophy they are seen to be practically identical with the
Egyptian, Indian, and other ancient teachings on these states of existence. It is very
significant that wherever we go among so-called "primitive peoples" we find they are aware
of the danger of intercourse with the lower and irresponsible remains of the dead, and though
devoted to them in life will go to great pains to avoid the soulless relics of their parted
friends.
Odysseus does not ask the shuddering phantoms to help him; he appeals to the prophet
Tiresias, who, though shadowy himself, is fully human:
. . . the Theban bard, deprived of sight;
Within, irradiate with prophetic light;
To whom Persephone, entire and whole,
Gave to retain the unseparated soul;
The rest are forms, of empty ether made;
Impassive semblance, and a flitting shade.
Tiresias sees what possibilities the future has for Odysseus, outlines his trials, and warns him
against the rashness of his followers. Odysseus replies to the prophet:

. . . If this the gods prepare,


What Heaven ordains the wise with courage bear.
Returning to Circe, who outlines in greater detail the dangers of his coming journey, and
gives him good counsel, he once more collects his men and starts. Then comes the perilous
passage of the Straits between Scylla and Charybdis, and the subtle temptation of the Sirens.
The Sirens, whose outward appearance is exquisitely fair, offer the hero the satisfaction of the
pride of knowledge. They tell him they know "Whate'er beneath the sun's bright journey
lies," and they sing with all the charm of celestial music:
O stay, O pride of Greece! Ulysses stay!
O cease thy course, and listen to our lay!
Blest is the man ordain'd our voice to hear,
The song instructs the soul, and charms the ear.
Approach! thy soul shall into raptures rise!
Approach! and learn new wisdom from the wise.
(To be concluded)
FOOTNOTE:
1. From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October, 1917. Revised and amended by the author.
(return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum May 1948

THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: 2 Charles J. Ryan


An Interpretation Part II (1)
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: all times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone; on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vexed the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; . . .
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world, whose margin fades
For ever and for ever when I move.
And this grey spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge, like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
From Ulysses by Alfred Tennyson
Having passed through the initiation in the Underworld and having learned unspeakable
things therein, Odysseus is in danger of being overcome by pride and rash self-confidence
and may yield to the fascination of the temptation. The satisfaction of intellectual desires
alone threatens to lead him from the direct path into destruction, for the Sirens are maneaters.
Knowing well the overwhelming power of this temptation, and that before he can be safe he
must be willing "to appear as nothing in the eyes of men" (2) the hero takes every precaution.
He has himself firmly bound to the mast so that he cannot fling himself out of the vessel, and
he stops the ears of his crew with wax so that they cannot hear the Siren voices while they
work the ship. Exposed to the full force of the temptation Odysseus struggles to be free, but
he gets through in safety. The sailors, whose ears are deaf to the allurements of the
intellectual seductions, seem to represent the remaining traces of the gross elements in man's
nature, particularly in view of the next incident of importance, when they kill and devour
Apollo's sacred oxen to satisfy their gluttony. This so greatly arouses the wrath of the god
that he sends a great tempest and destroys the last of Odysseus' followers. The hero is now
left alone with nothing but his own strength and the favor of Pallas Athene, his Guide, to
bring him safely through. But he is not yet completely free from the chains of personality and
in his desperation and loneliness he meets with a temptation that nearly proves his undoing,
i.e., the dalliance with the lovely nymph Calypso in her enchanted Atlantean island upon
which he is cast by the waves. Seven long years he lingers with Calypso, unmindful for the

most part of his purpose, and dazzled with the glories of her magic realm. Now and again
something faintly stirs within him calling him to be up and doing. The poet says he has never
been quite able
To banish from his breast his country's love.
Calypso even offers him
Immortal life, exempt from age or woe.
But with the help of Athene, the personification of Divine Wisdom, he has enough strength to
resist this supreme test. This is one of the passages in the Odyssey, that show the profound
wisdom of the poet and the high quality of his teaching, for here he shows the great
difference between the real immortality gained when the lower elements of the personality
are dissolved and ultimate union with the Higher Self is made, and an artificial prolongation
of the unpurified life of the ordinary personality with its selfish cravings and desires.
Odysseus recognizes that to drink the elixir of life in any form before he is truly purified
would be a fearful error. A great deal might be said upon the philosophy of this, for it goes
very deeply into the roots of our being, but it would carry us too far for our present purpose.
We are irresistibly reminded of the words of Christ:
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 life shall lose it; but whosoever will lose his life
for my sake, the same shall save it.
Luke ix, 23, 24
Paul, the "wise masterbuilder," in common with all the great teachers of antiquity, refers to
the same principle when he speaks of being changed "in the twinkling of an eye," a very
cryptic saying suggesting the springing into activity of the inner "eye" or power of intuition
which sees the difference between the higher life and the delusions of sensual gratification.
To Odysseus, after his luxurious existence in Calypso's magic island and the promise of
eternal youth, the return to ordinary life and duty offers a great contrast and many trials, but
at the bottom of his heart he languishes "to return and die at home." When he makes his
decision the irresistible power of the Olympian deities is exerted in his favor: Calypso
abandons her enchantments and, like Circe, is transformed, from the tempter she at first
appears to be, to helper.
Calypso's Isle is said by Homer to be far away, over
Such length of Ocean and unmeasured deep;
A world of waters! far from all the ways
Where men frequent, or sacred altars blaze.
Calypso was the daughter of Atlas, and the island was called "Ogygia the Atlantic Isle." H. P.
Blavatsky points out, in The Secret Doctrine, that the poet, in certain passages, distinctly
refers to the lost continent of Atlantis, mentioned later by Plato, and to certain historical
events that took place upon that former seat of a powerful civilization.

Odysseus builds a new vessel with his own hands and sets forth joyfully, feeling sure he will
soon reach his goal. But, although he has received the powerful aid of Athene and other
Olympian gods, the opposition of Poseidon, who has been his enemy from nearly the
beginning, is not withdrawn, and he still has many perils and trials. Poseidon, the god of the
sea, was the father of Polyphemus, whose "third eye" was destroyed by Odysseus. This is
significant, for the sea often stands in symbolism for the great Illusion, the ever-shifting
unstable elements in life. Odysseus is no exception to the rule that all who start on the great
adventure for self-knowledge and the higher life must fight continually against the false
ideals and illusions of their surroundings; they are swimming against the stream of the
ordinary worldly consciousness. The hero in Homer's epic is just strong enough with the
divine aid to save his life, and though wrecked and left without an atom of personal
possessions, he reaches the friendly coast of the wise king Alcinous who helps him to reach
his native land, Ithaca.
Odysseus had rashly and without orders trespassed on the territory of the Cyclops. It was
therefore his own act that aroused Poseidon's wrath, and became the fundamental cause of his
misfortunes. Pallas Athene and the other gods could not avert the consequences, and the great
Zeus himself had to put forth his power to restore his fortunes after long years of suffering
and sorrow.
Upon his arrival home he discovers the terrible straits to which his wife and son have been
reduced by the outrageous conduct of her admirers, and he soon perceives that his greatest
battle is yet to come. Though the odds are apparently against him, he knows that he cannot
fail, for his cause is just and has the help of the gods.
At this point we have another opportunity to admire the profound insight of the poet, and to
realize that he must have been a true initiate into the mysteries of human life. Penelope, the
noble wife of Odysseus, who stands for the climax of his endeavor, his goal, his higher self,
does not immediately throw herself into his arms in welcome. Ragged, worn, and disguised
as an old man, he is not recognized by her, though his old nurse and his faithful dog know
him quickly. Is this because they are less sophisticated? Even when Athene restores him to
his prime of life and to greater dignity and beauty than before, he has to prove his identity to
Penelope without possibility of doubt before she can accept him as her long lost husband.
This hesitation on her part is not, as some have thought, a blemish on the story; it could not
be otherwise and remain true to the meaning Homer wished to convey, if our hypothesis of
the general import of the poem be true. It is the law that the aspirant for recognition by the
higher self should make a clear demand; he must give the complete password before he can
be admitted to the inner chamber. A mystic writing on this subject warns us:
Look for the warrior and let him fight in thee. . . . Look for him, else in the
fever and hurry of the fight thou mayest pass him; and he will not know thee
unless thou knowest him. If thy cry reach his listening ear then will he fight in
thee and fill the dull void within. . . . Light on the Path
and a greater Teacher said:
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be
opened unto you.

Odysseus" final opportunity to prove his quality comes when he finds his palace invaded and
his wife surrounded by a mob of suitors all trying to persuade her that he is surely dead and
that she should choose a second husband among them. They are utterly repugnant to the hero;
they have no power over him; but he must destroy them before he can regain his rightful
place. They represent the last lingering traces of the lower desires, even "the very knowledge
of desire" mentioned by H. P. Blavatsky in The Voice of the Silence, which must be slain
forever, even though its force has passed away.
The suitors have already received a warning from Zeus in the form of two eagles fighting in
the sky. This is, of course, a direct reference to the stirring up of the lower nature when the
awakening of the higher aspirations compels it to realize that the time has come for the last
desperate battle in which no quarter is asked or given. The scene of the struggle which shall
decide is in the very home of Odysseus itself. This seems strange, yet how could it be
otherwise! It is from the heart that come the issues of life. The higher powers, symbolized by
Athene in the background, give encouragement, and at last the battle is won and the evil
forces annihilated. The master of the house, calm, purified, and restored to more than his
former beauty, attired in his royal robes, proves his identity to Penelope and is joyously
recognized by her.
From a practical point of view, the method adopted by Odysseus in attacking the suitors may
seem singular, but there is good warrant for it in the mystical symbolism familiar to Homer.
Although the struggle takes place in the confined space of the palace hall, at very close
quarters, the hero depends upon his mighty Bow for success the Bow that none other can
wield instead of trusting to his sword or spear, which only come into action later. In
making the Bow so prominent Homer shows his knowledge of a profoundly significant
symbol in ancient psychology. The bow is the weapon of Apollo, the god of light, and the day
of Odysseus" victory is sacred to that deity. In Indian philosophy the bow, or in some cases
the arrow, stands for man himself who must be strong enough in texture to stand the strain or
the spiritual archery will fail. The bow, not the sword, is the principal weapon of Arjuna,
Prince of India, the hero of the Bhagavad-Gita, the Indian allegorical poem, famous as the
vehicle of a profound philosophical teaching. In other Oriental scriptures the bow is a
frequent symbol. One of the Upanishads says:
Having taken the bow, the great weapon, let him place on it the arrow,
sharpened by devotion. Then, having drawn it with a thought directed to that
which is, hit the mark, O friend the Indestructible. Om is the bow, the Self
is the arrow, Brahman is called its aim. It is to be hit by a man who is not
thoughtless; and then as the arrow becomes one with the target, he will
become one with Brahman. . . . Hail to you that you may cross beyond the sea
of darkness.
William Q. Judge wrote a very striking article, "Hit the Mark," in The Path, Sept., 1890. He
gives the practice and theory of archery as an illustration of concentration, poise, firmness,
high aims, and other valuable qualities. In this article he says:
The bow figures in the lives of the Greek heroes, and just now the novelist
Louis Stevenson is publishing a book in which he sings the praises of a bow,
the bow of war possessed by Ulysses; when war was at hand it sang its own
peculiar, shrill, clear song, and the arrows shot from it hit the mark.

Archery is a practice that symbolizes concentration. There is the archer, the


arrow, the bow, and the target to be hit. To reach the mark it is necessary to
concentrate the mind, the eye, and the body upon many points at once, while
at the same time the string must be let go without disturbing the aim. The draw
of the string with the arrow must be even and steady on the line of sight, and
when grasp, draw, aim, and line are perfected, the arrow must be loosed
smoothly at the moment of full draw, so that by the bow's recoil it may be
carried straight to the mark. So those who truly seek wisdom are archers trying
to hit the mark. This is spiritual archery. . . .
The Odyssey closes with the hero, now triumphant as the rightful king and leader, going forth
and subduing the few remaining rebels, after which, the poet says, the "willing nations knew
their lawful lord." His future peaceful and wise reign is left to the imagination, but it is
secure, for he cannot fail after the final conquest of the enemies who found lodgement in his
own house.
In an editorial in Lucifer, Sept., 1891, we find these eloquent words which fittingly close our
very brief study of the esoteric side of the Odyssey:
There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a
road, and it leads to the heart of the Universe. . . . There is no danger that
dauntless courage cannot conquer; there is no trial that spotless purity cannot
pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For
those who win onwards there is reward past all telling the power to bless
and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success
may come.
FOOTNOTE:
1. From THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, October, 1917, Revised and amended by the author.
(return to text)
2. Light on the Path. (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum June 1936

THEOSOPHY AND EASTERN YOGA C. J. Ryan


I strongly advise you to give up all yoga practices, which in almost all cases
have disastrous results. . . . You have learnt, to a certain degree, the power of
concentration, and the greatest help will now come to you from concentration
upon the Higher Self, and aspiration toward the Higher Self. Also if you will
take some subject or sentence from the Bhagavat-Gita, and concentrate your
mind upon that and meditate upon it, you will find much good result from it,
and there is no danger in such concentration. . . .
What then is the panacea finally, the royal talisman? It is DUTY, Selfless-ness.
Duty persistently followed is the highest yoga, and is better than . . . any other
thing. If you can do no more than duty it will bring you to the goal.
William Q. Judge
We are frequently asked by inquirers if Theosophy teaches Oriental methods of Yoga, or
whether it recommends them to seekers for spiritual wisdom. This is not an unnatural
question because it is well known that the Theosophical Society was established under the
direction of certain Oriental Masters of Wisdom, Compassion, and Peace. While we may say
at once that the yoga-methods usually known by that name in the West have no place in the
work or teaching of the Theosophical Society, the subject is sufficiently important to invite
our consideration, even if only to clear up possible misunderstandings. Theosophy, indeed,
has a system of spiritual development. In fact, it is the only system that is suitable for all
people of whatever race or shade of opinion. If anyone chooses to call it 'yoga' it must be
understood that it does not resemble what is commonly thought of over here when the word
'yoga' is spoken.
The Masters who founded the Theosophical Society are perfectly familiar with the ordinary
physical and psychological yoga, but they have never permitted its introduction into the
activities of the Society; what is called 'sitting for yoga' has always been rigorously
discountenanced, and for good reasons. There are, however, perfectly safe and sane methods
of studying ourselves and learning much about our inner consciousness, which are open to
anyone who reads the sacred books of the East, including, we may say, the New Testament.
Though sometimes the word 'yoga' is connected with these studies they must not be confused
with the yoga just mentioned.
The lower form of yoga, best known in the West, is the yoga of bodily control or Hatha-yoga.
According to the practitioners of Hatha-yoga, long and arduous concentration on control of
the body and certain of its forces, which are unknown to Western science, is necessary before
even mental training can begin, and actually with many so-called yogis mental purification is
not their chief ambition. While this self-centered kind of yoga may develop willpower, it
begins at the wrong end and strengthens the egotism of personal acquisition which is already
lively enough. Hatha-yoga tries to develop astral sight and other changes in brainconsciousness by forcibly controlling the vibrations of matter. This is injurious to the
working of the higher spiritual centers of the brain because of the strain upon the
comparatively intractable matter of the body, and it also has other serious dangers.

Theosophy begins with moral and spiritual training and never loses sight of it. This cannot be
said of Hatha-yoga, which handles the physical vehicle in order to acquire power, and not to
attain the purification of the mind and emotions for the sake of humanity. It forces the control
of respiration, an exercise which arouses strange forces of menacing potency. Many records
are available of cases where dabbling with breath-control produced disastrous consequences,
followed too late by bitter regret for the disregard of friendly warnings. Such unhappy
reactions arise from ignorant and selfish L efforts to snatch forbidden powers forbidden to
the normal human being in the present phase of evolution before their development is safe
and in natural order. Criticisms of the much advertised 'yoga-breathing' do not, of course,
refer to the perfectly proper methods pursued in the West in athletic training or under medical
advice.
When the right time comes for the use of the inner powers by a few advanced souls a very
few at present because of the prevailing egotism, the enemy of man they gradually
develop and are seen to be a perfectly natural expression of the god within. Theosophical
history contains examples of this legitimate form of evolution. One case was that of a
spiritually and intellectually advanced Hindu lad who came to Madame Blavatsky's
assistance more than fifty years ago, when she was in India bringing out her first journal
under great difficulties, chiefly from the lack of qualified helpers. He abandoned his
Brahmanical, proud, and exclusive caste, and brilliant worldly prospects, to devote himself to
hard work for Theosophy, whose immense importance to his country and to the world he
deeply realized. He utterly repudiated the allurements of yoga, knowing that he had found an
infinitely higher path to truth and wisdom, the path of pure devotion to the betterment of
humanity. His sincerity quickly attracted the notice of the Masters of Wisdom, Compassion,
and Peace, and they saw fit to give him personal attention. Gradually, and without straining,
he found unknown capacities and powers naturally awakening and becoming available for the
greater responsibilities and opportunities for service that soon came to him. The career of
Damodar K. Mavalankar is honored by all Theosophists as a shining example of true
discipleship and its triumphant fulfilment. In his case, as in that of all advanced souls who
have killed out egotism and transmuted desire into spiritual energy, the higher powers he
acquired were perfectly normal; and as they had never been coveted or sought for their own
sake, so they were never displayed as inducements to others.
A few words more about Hatha-yoga are necessary because there is so much
misunderstanding about yoga in general, and there are so many cunning sirens tempting the
unwary with their alluring songs. The word yoga attracts the ill-informed by the wide
advertising it gets through paid advertisements and the promise of acquiring psychic powers,
'success' in life, and so forth. Many clairvoyants, more or less genuine, practise under the
name of yogi, but should be regarded as plain fortune-tellers. For one serious and valuable
book on the spiritual yoga-philosophy of the Orient, dozens are produced which pander to an
unhealthy curiosity about yoga, the authors seeming utterly careless as to whether the
practices they recommend are dangerous or not possibly being ignorant themselves in
many cases so long as they can produce a salable book. Perhaps the worst publications are
the correspondence courses of so-called 'Secret Lessons' which promise adeptship, or, at
least, mystic knowledge and the power of getting what you want at twenty-five dollars up!
Some promise initiation for two dollars a real bargain!
If yoga meant nothing but a low-grade psychism, a common dollar-philosophy, or a few hints
on hypnotism for control of others; or if it only suggested Hindus lying on spikes or
performing the mango-trick for the benefit of tourists (and incidentally for their own pockets)

there would be no reason for these remarks, for everyone knows that Theosophy is worlds
away from such quackery.
There is, however, another aspect of yoga, not spurious or fraudulent, and not professing to
be a spiritual or even an ethical system, but a purely scientific method of artificially
awakening certain dormant psychological faculties unknown to Western science. It is
practised by certain Tibetan lamas of less spiritual orders, and by other yogis. It has, of
course, no place in the program of the Theosophical Movement, but it calls for a little
attention.
In the West, until lately, little or no notice was taken of Oriental psychology, or perhaps more
properly, psychoanalysis, but now a few distinguished scholars, such as Dr. Carl Jung, are
beginning to realize that Western psychology is a mere infant in comparison with that of the
hoary East, especially in regard to the complex nature of man. This is perhaps largely due to
the strange disregard of Reincarnation, without which no understanding of our true nature is
possible. The discoveries of Oriental science were not made by the study of dreams in the
clinic of the psychoanalyst, or through the investigation of insanity, but by the direct
observation of the consciousness of the observer himself, a more profitable though more
difficult method. Unfortunately, many side-issues on the line of yoga have developed from
these discoveries which are an unprofitable and often highly dangerous field of investigation
for the ordinary inquirer, however scientific and well-prepared in Western psychology he
may be. He little suspects the strain on the moral as well as the mental qualities that the
untrained and self-sufficient would have to stand. Those so-called 'yogas' are no less
unprofitable to those who are seeking spiritual knowledge and have no time to waste. Even an
apparently harmless yoga-system, if such be known, leads into a blind alley, if not worse.
Some of the Hindu and Lamaistic systems, while claiming to be efficient methods of getting
behind the outer veil of Nature, are no more spiritual than, say, chemistry, but are strictly
scientific, and, like chemistry, are capable of being employed for the most abominable
purposes. Mme Alexandra David-Neel, the eminent French scholar and leading authority on
Tibetan Yoga, and also other qualified observers, describe many cases where revenge, vanity,
vulgar ambition, and hatred, were the motives that inspired the practitioners or would-be
practitioners of scientific yoga. Even the better class of yoga (as well as Hatha-yoga) is
associated in the public mind with notions of Hindu beggars, cross-legged and ash-smeared,
with fire-walking, snake-charming, and so forth. It is a well-known fact that a large
proportion of Eastern yogis not only Hatha-yogis have not only renounced the vanities
of this world but have ceased to take any interest in the general welfare of humanity so
completely that it would seem that the unhappy world may go to the devil its own way for all
they care. All their time is devoted to their own salvation. This line of conduct is, of course,
not universally followed, and we must remember that it is not unknown in Christian
countries. It always defeats its own ends.
Such a self-centered attitude is the very last thing that a yoga of a Theosophical kind would
inspire in anyone. A true yoga would mean a sympathetic and thorough understanding of
human nature and human needs. It would mean the wise application of this knowledge to the
service of humanity by one who has attained what is sometimes called Raja-yoga, the kingly
union with man's inner god. An Orientalist has said, "Buddhism is fundamentally a system of
practically applied yoga." If so, true yoga means the study and practice of the Noble
Eightfold Path, the magnificent moral and spiritual teaching of the Buddha, in which
devotion to the higher interests of humanity is the first duty, and concentration on one's own

petty personality the worst folly. For the Buddha himself abandoned the peaceful solitudes to
answer the challenge of suffering mankind, as soon as he obtained Enlightenment.
Egotism is the greatest hindrance to spiritual progress, and when the commoner forms of
ambition or appetite are overpassed, more subtil desires appear, such as the craving for
exclusive and confidential information, or personal power in unusual directions. Anxiety to
possess psychic powers for personal gratification is a serious bar to progress, even though
disguised under specious pretexts. Our motives are not always so pure as we like to fancy,
and the lower selfish part of our complex natures is exceedingly cunning in getting its own
way. We have made personal acquisitiveness, personal desire, the mainspring of action, and
we know the result. We reap the harvest we have sown. The yoga that the world is needing is
one that makes altruism, love for others, self-sacrifice, a habit.
We are sometimes asked, Did not Madame Blavatsky, the founder of your Society, go to
India to study yoga? No, she did not go to India in 1878, after establishing the Theosophical
Society in America, to learn anything from Oriental yogis. She went to take the yoga of
Universal Brotherhood to the East, which sorely needed it, in spite of all its thousands of
yogis. She went, under the direction of the Masters of Wisdom, who are international and
without partiality, to arouse India from its spiritual slumber, to answer the call of many who
hungered for a higher interpretation of the ancient Hindu scriptures, the allegories of which
had been perverted into superstitious dogmas. Many leading societies of native Sanskrit
scholars welcomed her to their fellowship, and the strange sight was seen of proud
Brahmanas, exclusive and self-sufficient to a degree, recognising her as a teacher, she, a
foreigner, an 'outcaste,' and a woman! She was publicly thanked by them on many
occasions and honored by many tributes. One of these, tendered by more than three hundred
Hindu students at a college at Madras, begins: "We are conscious that we are giving but a
feeble expression to the debt of endless gratitude which India lies under to you. . . ." That was
more than fifty years ago, but India and Ceylon have not forgotten her and what she did to
arouse the dormant spirituality there.
William Q. Judge wrote that modern India was not to be regarded as a source of spirituality.
He said:
It is not the desire of the Brotherhood that those members of the Theosophical
movement who have, under their rights, taken up a belief in the messengers
and the message should become pilgrims to India. To arouse that thought was
not the work nor the wish of H. P. B. Nor is it the desire of the Lodge to have
members think that Eastern methods are to be followed, Eastern habits
adopted, or the present East made the model or the goal. The West has its own
duty, its own life and development.
Quite recently a brilliant journalistic writer and student of the occult searched India from
North to South to find wisdom. He found many alleged yogis, mostly self-seekers or frauds
who have discredited the name of yogi among the younger generation of Hindus and the
educated classes; he found a few real psychics or magicians of a low order; and a very few
sincerely thoughtful men who were not 'showing off' in any way. The best one of these did
not recommend yoga-practices, but gave good advice on self-control as the path to higher
knowledge. So far as it went, this was good Theosophy which the journalist could have
found at home, by the way, in Madame Blavatsky's little book of devotion, The Voice of the
Silence, in Dr. de Purucker's Golden Precepts of Esotericism, or elsewhere in Theosophical

literature, where the path of discipleship is plainly set forth in a way that is equally suitable
for all peoples, Oriental or Occidental. Further, though this researcher heard much of
concentration, he found no emphasis laid on that unselfish, beneficent concentration which is
the fundamental teaching of the true Masters concentration on the spread of Universal
Brotherhood among the nations of the world.
When the Hindu sage, previously mentioned, was asked by the journalist how to make
spiritual progress, he replied:
There is only one thing to be done. Look within yourself. Do this in the right
way and you shall find the answer to all your problems. You have to ask
yourself, Who am I? Know the real Self, and then the truth will shine forth
within your heart like sunshine. The mind will become untroubled and real
happiness will flood it, for happiness and the true self are identical.
That is excellent Theosophy, so far as it goes. But without further explanation it could easily
be misinterpreted to mean sitting in solitary indifference and looking at a spot on the wall.
"Do this in the right way," he said but what is the right way? Why did he not boldly
proclaim the truth that the only right way to bring the sunshine into the heart is to broaden our
sympathies by active service to a world which needs it badly?
In Theosophy we have the true spiritual yoga which saves us from our lower selves by
leading us out of egotistical concentration on personal concerns into a larger life. There is no
need to struggle for initiation by force; it is prepared for by the right use of the opportunities
of daily life. This requires a sympathetic imagination which can understand the sufferings as
well as the joys of others, and which knows how to help wisely. How shall we develop this
godlike power? All the Great Teachers have given us the true method. The present Leader of
the Theosophical Society has condensed it into a few words: "LEARN TO LOVE. LEARN TO
FORGIVE." Our duty is to send this, and all that it implies, ringing round the world. If we
make this principle the basis of our lives a living power we cannot wander from the
true path of progress, and in due time intuition and all the higher psychic powers we need will
develop within us because we can be trusted not to misuse them.
We have to fight our own battles, for it is said: "the adept becomes, he is not made." But we
can get help; we can find a Teacher whose advice will prevent us from wandering from the
straight path if we are willing to take it wholeheartedly, one who can hasten our progress by
bringing our hidden weaknesses to our attention. This is not always pleasant, for the real
Teacher does not humor the egotism of anyone and the truth about one's lower nature is
usually anything but flattering when honestly faced. On the other hand, constant practice in
self-discipline gradually reveals the fact that the egotistical side is only the shadow of the true
man, and that we have everything to gain and nothing to lose by putting an end to its tyranny.
At a critical epoch, when the old medieval theology was breaking up and a mechanistic
science was threatening to destroy all vestiges of spirituality in the West (and it very nearly
did so), the Masters of Wisdom established the Theosophical Society, in order, as was stated,
"to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions." They called together a few devoted souls and
gave them the opportunity to bring hope and light to thousands. But no personal reward was
offered, such as immediate intercourse with the Mahatmans, psychic powers, perfect physical
health or prosperity nothing but the deep satisfaction that comes from unselfish work in
promoting a genuine Universal Brotherhood and all the blessings that it implies. In

Theosophy the beginning of wisdom is self-forgetfulness. H. P. Blavatsky and her successors


have been uncompromising in their warfare; they gave no quarter to the lower selfish desires.
She proclaimed: "To live to benefit mankind is the first step," and "Can there be bliss when
all that lives must suffer? Shalt thou be saved and hear the whole world cry?" Do not make
any mistake. Membership and progress in the Theosophical Movement means just that, and if
one has no response in the heart to that appeal, no corresponding throb of joy at hearing of
this unique opportunity to do something of real value, however little at first, membership in
the Theosophical Society will give meager satisfaction.
In a series of communications made many years ago, the great Initiates who are behind the
Theosophical Movement broke their traditional silence and gave out teachings about man and
Nature that were hitherto unknown. They also gave an outline of their system of training for
discipleship which is applicable to all, whether in the East or the West. In a few sentences
written by H. P. Blavatsky we find this briefly expressed:
To merit the honorable title of Theosophist one must be an altruist above all.
The duty of every Theosophist is certainly to help others to carry their burden.
The Theosophist must himself be a center of spiritual action. Self-sacrifice is
the highest standard of Theosophy.
Speaking of the way to bring this about, she says:
And what may be the duty of a Theosophist to himself? To control and
conquer, through the Higher, the lower self. To purify himself inwardly and
morally; to fear no one, and nought, save the tribunal of his own conscience.
One of the Mahatmans, in correcting the mistaken notion of a new member of the
Theosophical Society, who asked for yoga-methods by which to get psychic powers,
explained that the dynamic energy which gives the Movement strength to stand any shock is
not the craving for personal advantages but:
Love, an Immense Love for humanity as a Whole! For it is "Humanity"
which is the great Orphan, the only disinherited one upon this earth, my friend.
And it is the duty of every man who is capable of an unselfish impulse, to do
something, however little, for its welfare. K. H. in The Mahatma Letters to
A. P. Sinnett, p. 52
Another (and a greater Master) confirmed this in these words:
It is not the individual determined purpose of attaining [for] oneself Nirvana (the culmination
of all knowledge and absolute wisdom) which is after all only an exalted and glorious
selfishness but the self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead in the right path our
neighbor, to cause as many of our fellow-creatures as we possibly can to benefit by it, which
constitutes the true Theosophist.
The same high Initiate added that the Masters would rather see the Theosophical Society
perish "than become no better than an academy of magic or a hall of occultism," and in spite
of all the lures of various side-issues it has remained faithful to its trust, thanks largely to the
determination and unshaken loyalty to its original principles of H. P. Blavatsky, and those
who followed her example.

Doing something for others, unselfish work to raise the spiritual standard of the world is,
then, the true yoga, the yoga of Theosophy. The world is our home. It needs our help, and we
shall not get away from it quickly. The urgent question for all who think seriously is: Am I
becoming more useful, more capable of giving the help that is demanded of me?

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TIBETAN YOGA: I C. J. Ryan


In this Transition Age, we, who have the good fortune of being here to watch the new
developments and to do our share in their unfoldment, are naturally interested in the progress
of scientific discovery and the steady advance of the new science a philosophic science
toward the Ancient Wisdom. But there is a still more important change taking place in the
high intellectual regions of Western thought which likewise is directly traceable to the
untiring work of the Theosophical Movement, outwardly started by H. P. Blavatsky in 1875,
but originated and constantly energized by the Masters of Wisdom. This change is shown by
the new attitude of Western scholarship to the philosophy and Yoga teachings of Tibet. Not
many years ago the stories of mysteries and magic in Tibet were utterly ridiculed by serious
scholars; it was not respectable to listen to them in academic good society, or perhaps
anywhere. The deadly, stodgy opposition from which H. P. Blavatsky suffered so terribly,
largely arose from the complete ignorance of such possibilities on the part of the Western
cultivated classes, elated and enthusiastic over the triumphs of materialistic science. "There
ain't no sich animal," as the farmer said, and when H. P. Blavatsky said there was and that she
could prove it well, the natural consequences followed.
When Col. Olcott, the then President of the Theosophical Society, interviewed the great
Sanskrit authority, Max Mller, about fifty years ago, the latter pleaded with him to advise
the scholars in the Theosophical Society to abandon their belief that there was anything more
in the Hindu Scriptures than what appeared on the surface, or that there could be any basis for
esoteric or occult interpretations of them, as claimed by the 'superstitious' Hindus.
Today, however, we find great Orientalists not only accepting as a matter of course the
existence of yogis possessing some occult powers, but whole-heartedly speaking of esoteric
interpretations of the Hindu Scriptures, and some, like Mme Alexandra David-Nel, even
claiming personal, though limited, knowledge of the rationale of certain psycho-magical
processes. Dr. Richard Wilhelm the great German Sinologist, Dr. Carl Jung the psychologist,
Sir Wallis Budge, late Egyptologist to the British Museum, and others, have given open
support to the fact of that Eastern occult knowledge which was regarded as the purest
superstition before H. P. Blavatsky began "to break the molds of mind" in the West. Today
we see an audience of eminent scientists in England seriously studying the 'impossible' FireWalk and finding it a fact, but also finding no physical explanation!
The latest revelation of Oriental psychology is Dr. Evans-Wentz's Tibetan Yoga and Secret
Doctrines (1) This is the third volume of a trilogy, the others being The Tibetan Book of the
Dead, and Tibet's Great Yogi, Milarepa, also published by the Oxford University Press. Thus,
as Dr. Marett says in the Foreword, in regard to the collaboration between the author, or
'editor' as he modestly calls himself, and his Tibetan teacher, the late Lama Kazi DawaSamdup, the translator:
Its fruit is the trilogy of substantial works, based on translations from the
Tibetan, and accompanied by an interpretation from within such as demands
something even rarer with Western scholars than the ordinary scholarly
equipment, namely, a sympathetic insight transcending the prejudices which
render the average man antipathetic to any type of unfamiliar experience.

This is hardly surprising in view of the fact that Dr. Evans-Wentz has been closely associated
for many years with the teachings of Theosophy and the International Headquarters at Point
Loma, and that he has also spent much time in India in the intensive study of the Yoga
philosophy at first hand.
Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines consists of seven treatises translated from the Tibetan and
"representing a more or less comprehensive and unified expression of the most important
tenets of Mahayanic Buddhism," elucidated by a masterly Commentary and exhaustive
explanatory footnotes by Dr. Evans-Wentz. The translation was made by the Lama DawaSamdup, assisted by the editor, and the difficulty of rendering subtil philosophical and
technical Tibetan expressions into good English has been brilliantly overcome. The Lama
was an initiate of the Kargyutpa School of Mahayana or Northern Buddhism and had
profound practical knowledge of the Yoga philosophy and methods. He was, therefore,
unusually qualified to help in the interpretation of Tibetan esoteric doctrines and secret lore
hitherto hardly known, if at all, outside the precincts of Lamaism. They are not easy of
comprehension by the Westerner, with the exception of a few students of Theosophy, or the
like.
Dr. Evans-Wentz speaks very highly of his Tibetan guru's learning and marvelous
interpretive ability, and of his splendid spirit of helpfulness and desire to serve by
bequeathing these translations of the abstruse doctrines of "the master minds," so-called, of
Tibetan Lamaism. Mme David-Nel was also associated with the Lama Dawa-Samdup, of
whom she gives an account that shows he was a quaint and unique character. He ended his
days as Professor of Tibetan at the University of Calcutta.
The Lama is a valuable witness in defense of H. P. Blavatsky against the absurd charges
made in her lifetime that she invented the teachings of Theosophy. In his Tibetan Book of the
Dead, Dr. Evans-Wentz says:
The late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup was of opinion that, despite the adverse
criticisms directed against H. P. Blavatsky's works, there is adequate internal
evidence in them of their author's intimate acquaintance with the higher
lamaistic teachings into which she claimed to have been initiated.
We venture to suggest that, while the Lama was right so far as he goes, H. P. Blavatsky
belonged to a far higher Order, and a far nobler, than the term 'lamaistic' suggests.
The seven treatises are arranged in a definite order, though each can be profitably studied by
itself, but they are not all of similar origin. The first four are from the Kargyutpa School of
the Mahayana or 'Great Path,' and are decidedly interesting to students of Theosophy. Dr.
Evans-Wentz says that the entire Seven, however, "represent a more or less comprehensive
and unified expression of the most important tenets of Mahayanic Buddhism, some of which
in the form herein presented are as yet unknown to the Occident save for a few fragmentary
extracts."
Much, if not all, of the Kargyutpa Treatises are fairly in harmony with the Theosophical
teachings on inner development, but parts of the others deal with extremely perilous
psychological exercises which cannot be attempted safely, if at all, without an adept teacher
and without the previous attainment, after almost incredible labor, of a power of self-control
hardly conceivable in the West. These parts treat of occult forces, and of powers that are said,

perhaps with truth, to arise as by-products of deep insight into occult laws or of spiritual
development, but we are compelled to state that high spiritual Teachers would never give the
real facts outside the privacy of the asrama. Most of the Treatises which touch on these
matters are derived from the primitive unreformed Bonpa sources. The Bon religion, as H. P.
Blavatsky mentions it, is:
itself a degenerated remnant of the Chaldean mysteries of old, now a religion
entirely based upon necromancy, sorcery and soothsaying. The introduction of
Buddha's name into it means nothing. The Complete Works of H. P.
Blavatsky, III, 271
The Ritualistic Texts contain instructions for the development of occult knowledge little or
not at all known in the West, such as immunity from fire, levitation, materializing of thoughtforms, "transfer of consciousness," and the Tummo, or the control of bodily temperature. In
the last case the yogi keeps warm and comfortable while sitting on the snow in a furious
blizzard with the temperature far below zero! Mme David-Neel describes her observations of
this feat, and even mentions her own application of the Tummo to a limited degree when
caught without fuel in a Tibetan wilderness!
The Fifth Treatise, which largely comes down from the pre-Buddhistic Bon faith, presents
the Chod Rite of the 'short path' method, a desperate method of rapidly breaking the fetters of
Maya and separateness by the mystical sacrifice of the body to the elementals, which
sometimes brings insanity or death to the impatient venturer. Mme David-Neel gives a rather
horrifying account of personal experiences in connexion with Chod in Magic and Mystery in
Tibet. The ostensible aim of this grim Rite is to deliver the candidate from the necessity of
rebirth, but it seems only too probable that it would be more often used to gain control of the
elementals for personal power. Mme David-Neel frankly states that many so-called yogis
enter the psychic training for selfish reasons such as revenge and vanity.
It is interesting, and should be of great significance to Western ill-informed and skeptical
psychologists and other students for whom this work is written, to see in what a matter-offact way these occult and psychic matters are regarded by the yogi-authors of the Treatises.
All such things are known to be strictly governed by natural laws, however obscure and
'miraculous' to the profane. Also, as we are told, they are treated by the most respected
lamaistic teachers as being insignificant in comparison with the attainment of the Cosmic
consciousness, the transcending of Maya, the Great Illusion in this and higher worlds.
It would be an error to condemn these Treatises as a whole, though some of the instructions,
derived from Bonpa practices entirely at variance with the pure, impersonal, and beneficent
Yoga of the Lord Buddha, are not at all consonant with the wholesome self-disciplinary
methods advised by H. P. Blavatsky for her pupils. It seems a pity that the excellent precepts
of the first Treatise on 'The Supreme Path of Discipleship' should have to be associated in the
same series with certain phenomenalistic instructions, useless though the latter may be
without the guiding and warning hand of a real teacher. Are not such texts, while perhaps
informative for scholars as exhibiting the weaker side of lamaistic Buddhism, doubtfully
suitable for wide publication to the Western world which is turning more and more toward
the development of psychic powers for purely selfish purposes, or, at best, for the
gratification of curiosity disguised under high-sounding names?

The Kargyutpa School, to which the Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup belonged, originated in a
purifying reform under the famous Gurus Marpa and Milarepa in the 12th century when it
separated from the Singmapa School, the "Red Caps" founded in 747 a.d. by the Hindu
University Professor Padma Sambhava, who introduced the Tantrik element into Buddhism.
The improvement brought about by the Kargyutpa reform was important, and its Tibetan
Gurus followed Marpa (llth-12th cent.) in regular 'apostolic succession,' as Dr. Evans-Wentz
mentions with approval. The word Kargyutpa means 'Followers of the Apostolic Succession,'
and the line from which the Order was derived traditionally goes back for unknown centuries
before the Christian Era. In this esoteric method each successor was obligated to hand on the
teachings as received, and even Gautama-Buddha "is but One who handed on teachings
which had existed since beginningless time." The author praises the followers of the
reforming Gurus, Marpa and Milarepa, for "their insistence upon the Bodhisattvic ideal of
world-renunciation and selfless aeon-long labor looking to the ultimate enlightenment of
every sentient being."
Dr. Evans-Wentz states that Tsongkhapa, the greatest and wisest Reformer of Tibetan
Buddhism, was "an eminent apostle" of the Kargyutpa School, but he refers to him only very
briefly. Tsongkhapa did not, however, utilize that School as the nucleus of his sweeping
reform in the fourteenth century, but associated himself with the Khadampas, "Those bound
by the Ordinances." This was the School which Atisha, another great Reformer, joined in the
eleventh century. A good deal was written by H. P. Blavatsky about Tsongkhapa, but
significantly she does not mention the names of the Kargyutpa Gurus. It was Tsongkhapa as
Avatara of Buddha, she says, who established the Gelugpa, 'Yellow Caps,' the now
Established Church, and also "the mystic Brotherhood connected with its chiefs."
Tsongkhapa must have had good reasons for choosing the Khadampas rather than the
Kargyutpas as the foundation of his new and completely reformed institution. Is it not
possible that there was too much old Bonpa sorcery, or at least phenomenalism, in the
Kargyutpa Order?
(To be concluded)
"The Esoteric Philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass
and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds
most dear and sacred, in his inner spiritual life." H. P. Blavatsky (quoted in
The Esoteric Tradition)
FOOTNOTE:
1. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, or Seven Books of Wisdom of the Great Path,
according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering. Arranged and Edited
with Introductions and Annotations to serve as a Commentary by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.
Oxford University Press. $6.00. pp. 385. (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum February 1936

TIBETAN YOGA: II C. J. Ryan


II
In resuming our consideration of Dr. W. Y. Evans-Wentz's Tibetan Yoga and Secret
Doctrines (1), a work which contains much information hitherto entirely unknown to Western
scholars, we must draw special attention to the "general Introduction" to the subject of
Mahayana or Northern Buddhism. Dr. Evans-Wentz gives a concise and sympathetic outline
of the teaching, which is shown as the most systematic, philosophical and logical form. He
points out that without the Mahayana the Southern or Pali canon would be very difficult to
understand, as it contains so many obscure passages and doctrines. As outlined in his brief
analysis, the Mahayana Buddhism is very closely akin to the philosophic and devotional
teaching of Theosophy as presented by H. P. Blavatsky.
We regret that there is not room here to quote the first twenty-one pages of the "General
Introduction," which with very slight alteration would make an excellent introductory
handbook to Theosophy. The supreme aim of Buddhism, according to our author, is the
Deliverance of the Mind from ignorance, illusion, and thereby the attainment of Nirvana
or perhaps more properly, of the right to enter Nirvana for the Lord Buddha taught, above
all, the Great Renunciation never finally to pass out of the Samsara or phenomenal world
into the ineffable Bliss of Nirvana until the weary pilgrims in all the worlds have reached "the
Other Shore."
According to the deepest teaching given in the Seven Treatises translated from the Tibetan
and contained in Dr Evans-Wentz's scholarly work, the emancipated yogi reaches actual
perception of the unity of the Universe, the consciousness that Samsara, the phenomenal, and
Nirvana, the noumenal, are really One. Of this supreme attainment, the author writes with
justified enthusiasm:
The Conqueror of Maya becomes a master of life and death, a Light in the
Darkness, a Guide to the Bewildered, a Freer of the Enslaved. In the
transcendent language of the Great Path, the Mahayana, no longer is there for
Him any distinction between the Sangsara and Nirvana Like an unbridled lion
roaming free among the mountain ranges, He roams at will through the
Existences. [See page 12 of The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett ]
Samsara is the state of conditioned being, the realm of phenomena, of impermanence; while
Nirvana is beyond lower "Nature," beyond all "paradises" and "hells." It is "the Other Shore."
As Shelley intuitively divined, we have to wake from "this dream of life." The Tibetan-Yoga
use of dreams is very different from that of the Freudians. By studying them and controlling
their content it is seen that they are mere playthings of the mind, and from this a further step
in yoga-training shows that the essential nature of "name and form" is equally unreal, and that
the Reality must be looked for outside this or any other phenomenal world.
Many of the more profound and less familiar teachings of the Ancient Wisdom, to which in
recent years Dr de Purucker has drawn attention, are referred to in these Treatises. One of
these is the problem of Renunciation and the Pratyeka-Buddhas, about which there has been
much confusion in some places. Dr. Evans-Wentz says:

Self-Enlightened (Skt. Pratyeka) Buddhas do not teach the Doctrine publicly,


but merely do good to those who come into personal contact with Them,
whereas Omniscient Buddhas, of Whom was the Buddha Gautama, preach the
Doctrine widely, both to gods and to men . . .The Gurus of the Great Symbol
School . . . .teach that Nirvana is not to be regarded as a final state, wherein its
realizer selfishly abides in absolute bliss and rest. That is to say, Nirvana is not
a state to be realized for one's own good alone, but for the sake of the greater
good which will accrue to every sentient thing merely in virtue of a realization
of it. Thus it is that in Tibet all aspirants for the Divine Wisdom, for the Full
Enlightenment known as Nirvana, take the vow to attain the state of the
Bodhisattva, or Great Teacher. The vow implies that the Nirvanic State will
not be finally entered, by the one taking the vow, until all beings, from the
lowest in subhuman kingdoms on this and every other planet to the highest of
unenlightened gods in many heaven-worlds, and the most fallen of dwellers in
hell-worlds are safely led across the Ocean of the Sangsara to the Other Shore.
Southern Buddhists are inclined to regard Nirvana, at least when attained by
Pratyeka (or Non-teaching) Buddhas, as a state of finality. Mahayanists,
however, say that Nirvana is a state of mind reached as a result of
evolutionary spiritual unfoldment, and that It cannot, therefore, be regarded as
a final state, inasmuch as evolution has no conceivable ending, being an
eternal progression.
Students of Dr. de Purucker's recent answers to questions, etc, on the paradoxical question of
the Pratyeka-Buddhas and Nirvanic Bliss, will see the way to harmonize these conflicting
opinions. The "Selfishness" of the Pratyeka-Buddha, spoken of in several places by H. P
Blavatsky, is not the ordinary kind of selfishness but, as she says, a "Spiritual" kind. Efforts
have been made by ill-advised editors to suppress H. P. Blavatsky's remarks about PratyekaBuddhas by leaving them out of The Voice of the Silence in certain editions. They apparently
forget that she gave half a page to the subject in her Theosophical Glossary! Her observations
should be carefully studied, as they are very practical.
The first of the Seven Treatises is called "The Supreme Path of Discipleship: the Precepts of
the Gurus" and it consists of 290 aphorisms for the use of those who enter the career of the
yogi. Some are strictly practical, and some are not easily comprehended but are open to
misconstruction unless explained by the guru, but the majority are clear. Among these are
definite teachings in regard to the Nirmanakaya Path of the Great Renunciation, the highest
spiritual ideal possible to man. Many of these texts closely resemble those translated by H. P.
Blavatsky for The Voice of the Silence, though, as presented, they lack the exquisitely
poetical rhythm and loftiness of diction that distinguishes that immortal textbook for
aspirants. Here are a few, selected from the more ethical part:
Unless the mind be trained to selflessness and infinite compassion, one is apt
to fall into the error of seeking liberation for self alone.
For a religious devotee to try to reform others instead of reforming himself is a
grievous mistake.
The smallest amount of merit dedicated to the good of others is more precious
than any amount of merit devoted to one's own good.

If only the good of others be sought in all that one doeth, no need is there to
seek benefit for oneself.
For him who hath attained the Sublime Wisdom, it is the same whether he be
able to exercise miraculous powers or not.
The fact that there are Those who have attained Bodhic Enlightenment and are
able to return to the world as Divine Incarnations and work for the deliverance
of mankind and of all living things till the dissolution of the physical universe
showeth the virtue of the Holy Dharma.
Having acquired practical knowledge of spiritual things and made the Great
Renunciation, permit not the body, speech, or mind to become unruly, but
observe the three vows, of poverty, chastity, and obedience.
One text is decidedly "practical" and worth the attention of some would-be ascetics:
One who professeth religion and is unable to live in solitude in his own
company and yet knoweth not how to make himself agreeable in the company
of others showeth weakness.
A sense of humor is not absent in Tibet:
To preach religion and not practise it is to be like a parrot saying a prayer; and
this is a grievous failure.
Dr. Evans-Wentz prefaces these "Precepts of the Gurus" by a page from H. P. Blavatsky's
Voice of the Silence, though he does not mention her name. While the subject-matter of the
aphorisms in both is closely alike in parts, the impression produced by the Kargyutpa
precepts is not so inspiring; the latter do not radiate the magnificent Buddhic compassion for
all that breathes with the fervor that inspires the noble teaching given in The Voice of the
Silence.
Much of great interest in this remarkable book cannot even be mentioned here, especially the
exceedingly useful notes which explain the original text. Very many of the most difficult
teachings of Theosophy are shown to be stated in the Treatises, or in the oral explanations of
obscure passages given by the Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup. It is not surprising that he
immediately recognised that H. P. Blavatsky's books contained proof that she was acquainted
with the deeper teachings. To the Western scholar the book will be a revelation of something
new the fact that the Orient has made overwhelming discoveries in human psychology
beside which much Western psychology is almost infantile. The author quotes the following
from the eminent English philosopher Dr. C. D. Broad:
[Progress] depends upon our getting an adequate knowledge and control of life
and mind before the combination of ignorance on these subjects with
knowledge of physics and chemistry wrecks the whole social system. Which
of the runners in this very interesting race will win, it is impossible to foretell.
But physics and death have a long start over psychology and life.
And, as Dr. Evan-Wentz adds:

Is Occidental man for much longer to be content with the study of the external
universe, and not know himself?
In place of psychoanalysing dreams, trying crude experiments with hypnotism, studying the
reactions of mentally sick patients, and so forth, the Oriental psychologist boldly plunges
within himself and tries to find something greater than his surface-personality, namely, a
Universal Self. In this process he discovers unthought-of "magical" powers, but as already
mentioned they fade into nothingness when the greater goal is glimpsed. In fact, in many
cases they are hindrances.
In this process the Oriental has found that true psychology is not a cold, intellectual study,
such as can be learned in classrooms, but that it deals with the highest and most spiritual parts
of man begins there, in fact. Without self-sacrificing devotion to the interests of others, the
sense of universal brotherhood and the burning desire to lift the heavy burdens of the world,
all intellectual knowledge, all development of personal psychic powers, turns to dust and
ashes. Dr. Evans-Wentz never loses sight of the spiritual basis of Mahayana Buddhism and
Tibetan Yoga, and he would be the last to advocate yoga as a means to attain personal occult
powers, to satisfy cold intellectual curiosity, or for other selfish ends; but here and there in
the Treatises passages occur which might be construed or misconstrued as leading that way.
One of these occurs on page 326, as the author himself points out.
This book should do much to awaken Western scholars and anthropologists from their
ignorance of man's nature, and to arouse a proper respect for Oriental science, but it is
difficult to appraise its value to the Theosophist who already has his glorious yoga-teachings
in H. P. Blavatsky's Voice of the Silence, and elsewhere. These are the principles and
practices that the world needs for its salvation, and the work of the Theosophical disciple is
well marked out therein. As H. P. Blavatsky says, "Occultism is the Science of Life, the Art
of Living." And, "It is altruism, not ego-ism even in its most legal and noble conception, that
can lead the unit to merge its little Self in the Universal Selves." It may be, and probably is,
an excellent provision of Nature that scientific Tibetan Yoga, even on a lower level than the
highest Atma-Vidya of the Masters of the Great Lodge, and more or less entangled with
inferior practices, should be kept alive by a small section of that remarkable, isolated race;
but, except as an intellectual study for Western scholars, useful in breaking up the false view
of Oriental "superstition" so-called, it does not seem that its introduction in any widespread
form in the West would be advantageous. In this hotbed of personal ambitions, personal
desires, unrest and emotionalism, the results would be dangerous in the extreme. Already the
craze for so-called "occultism" has done much harm in the West. At best, under present
conditions here, the Tibetan semi-esoteric yoga would produce Pratyeka-occultists, while the
probability of making proficients in Black Magic is almost infinitely great. The wise words of
W. Q. Judge express what is the real need of the West:
What then is the panacea finally, the royal talisman? It is DUTY, Selflessness.
Duty persistently followed is the highest yoga. . . . If you can do no more than
duty it will bring you to the goal. . . . It is that boundless charity of love that
led Buddha to say: "Let the sins of this dark age fall on me that the world may
be saved," and not a desire to escape or for knowledge. It is expressed in the
words: THE FIRST STEP IN TRUE MAGIC IS DEVOTION TO THE INTERESTS OF
OTHERS.
FOOTNOTE:

1. Tibetan Yoga and Secret Doctrines, or Seven Books of Wisdom of the Great Path,
according to the late Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup's English rendering. Arranged and Edited
with Introductions and Annotations to serve as a Commentary by W. Y. Evans-Wentz.
Oxford University Press. $6.00. pp. 385. (return to text)

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The Theosophical Forum July 1944

TRANSFORMISM IS NOT EVOLUTION Charles J. Ryan


A few years ago the French journal L'Ami du Peuple published reviews of two books on
Evolution which are even more significant today than ever. In the first, Professor L.
Vialleton, distinguished embryologist of Montpellier, discusses "Transformism" as opposed
to "Evolution," in almost perfect consonance with the Theosophical point of view. The
reviewer quotes Cyrano de Bergerac:
An hour after death the soul vanishes to
re-become what it was an hour before birth,
and asks "what was that? Did it exist in the infinitude, in "the States of the Sun and of the
Moon" which Cyrano is said to have journeyed in?" Perhaps. Turning from that profound
mystery to the more practical subject of the origin of species the reviewer speaks of the
struggles between "the more or less damaged theories of theology and science," showing that
there is an increasing approach between them, the former becoming freer and the latter less
materialistic.
A significant remark of Prof. J. S. Haldane's comes to mind:
Materialism, once a scientific theory, is now the fatalistic creed of thousands,
but materialism is nothing better than a superstition on the same level as belief
in witches and devils.
Prof. Vialleton's book is a demonstration that transformism as the reason for the various
species of living forms is a pure illusion, and his arguments are derived from the most recent
researches in embryology. He shows that the "missing link" between the various species is
everywhere lacking. Species do not fit into one another like the ingenious Chinese boxes, he
says; or, as others have also said, "end-on" evolution is not found in nature. Prof. Vialleton
claims that biology proves that the laws of heredity are carried on solely within the limits of
specific types, and that structures belonging to each type are not reproduced outside its limits.
This is perfectly in harmony with the outline of the evolution of types given in The Secret
Doctrine where it is shown that the fundamental types of animals and plants archetypes,
they may be called originated in a superior plane of Intelligent Causes. When these
generalized planes were "precipitated," as it were, into physical activity, minor modifications
of great variety appeared by so-called "natural" means and formed the species which are
contained in the larger outlines.
Prof. Vialleton examines, in this connexion, the fossil remains of ancient man and concludes
that the "human type is a highly particular and widespread form in the mammalian kingdom."
His close analysis of the character of human and ape structures supports Dr. H. F. Osborn's
declaration of their essential differences.
Transformism is commonly and wrongly thought by those who have a superficial knowledge
of biology to be the same thing as Evolution. In English the words are used with little
discrimination, but the French writers recognise the distinction. Theosophy takes Evolution
as the continuous growth of an inner being or spirit through numerous experiences to a goal.
Transformism is meaningless, and Dr. de Purucker in his Man in Evolution defines it as "the

doctrine that things grow into other things unguided by either innate purpose or inner urge."
Professor Vialleton's definition of the difference between the materialistic and the true point
of view are well-considered. He says:
Transformism is a mechanistic doctrine which explains the appearance of
living beings by the sole action of natural causes, working without any kind of
direction, and without any end in view. The word Evolution implies a
determined direction, an order or system that realizes higher results than those
that could be expected from Transformism.
He points out that Transformism, in which are included the "survival of the fittest," the brutal
"struggle for existence" and blind "natural selection" (a curious misnomer, as the word
"selection" implies thought and will), has never explained the ascent of life, still less the
higher faculties of man. He boldly declares:
The word Creation, which has been banished from the biological vocabulary,
must be replaced, at least so far as to show that the world as presented to us is
a co-ordinated Whole, and therefore the product of Will.
This is good Theosophy, so far as it goes. To complete it, only the idea of conscious guiding
Hierarchies behind (or within) the "world as presented" is lacking.
The same reviewer in discussing another new work on biology concludes his remarks in a
paragraph which is worth translating in its entirety:
But, when we have finished reading these scientific works, and return to our
own thoughts, the same old question presents itself, the insoluble problem:
What, then, is man? What does it signify at bottom as to where he originates,
and where he is going? He has built cities, invented railways and radio, yes,
but for what? Still better, he has conceived an idea of the universe, has
calculated the thousands of light-years that separate the constellations of Orion
from Cassiopeia, but what does even that lead to? What place does he hold in
Infinity? Science cannot answer, and human intelligence recoils appalled
before the great mystery of the Beyond.
True; the intelligence of the ordinary man, however learned and brilliant, has not raised the
Veil of Isis, but there exist a certain few, even on this earth, who have stepped out into a
wider consciousness and who have penetrated deeply into the mystery of man's true place in
nature. These Masters of Wisdom, at present limited in number, have reached by intensive
training the knowledge and power that the majority of mankind will possess in far distant
ages as the capacities of the divinity within are brought forth. From time to time they have
given out as much of their wisdom as conditions permitted; and it is our privilege and our
duty to study and present it to the world.

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The Theosophical Forum April 1944

WISDOM OF THE OVERSELF Charles J. Ryan


A large and intelligent audience has followed with sympathy and interest Dr. Brunton's
pilgrimage toward philosophical and mystical insight as displayed in the nine volumes which
have already come from his pen. This one, The Wisdom of the Overself, (1) completes the
exposition given in his earlier volume, The Hidden Teachings Beyond Yoga, and represents
the culmination of many years of research, study and self-discipline. He says it is a restatement or living reconstruction of the "Ancient Wisdom" (which we know also as
"Theosophy') of the Orient, "whose basic essentials are indeed impregnable and will remain
untouched for all time," presented in a form adapted to the present conditions in the West and
including time-honored disciplines of a mental and spiritual nature suited to the conditions of
Western life. This book, of course, does not cover the whole field but is chiefly concerned
with mind and consciousness in the universe and in man. The author writes:
The two volumes now lay before readers a teaching which constitutes an
endeavor to acquaint this epoch with the fundamental meaning of existence
and which, in such explicit fullness, is for the first time written down in a
Western language. An exposition in such an ultra-modern form was until now
quite non-existent. . . . Readers may begin to understand better why the earlier
volumes had to clear up the intellectual foreground and leave hidden in the
background the real goal of all this effort, the Overself.
The Overself is the author's term for the "higher individuality" in man which is a phase of the
"World-Mind." It is "that fragment of God which dwells in man."
The reader will find in this book a rich store of stimulating ideas to ponder over and perhaps
to put into practice. Although the main principles are not unfamiliar to well-informed
students of Theosophy, this reviewer believes that Dr. Brunton's careful analysis of the Mind
calls for close study, especially by those who are preparing to discuss with professional
psychologists, few of whom possess correct knowledge of the profound psychology of the
Ancient Wisdom.
Dr. Brunton unequivocally repudiates all pandering to the vulgar craving for psychic powers
and other perversions of Occultism so rampant in this maladjusted age. He claims no
authority, saying that the spirit behind his attempt is a humble one though the effort is bold.
He professes to be no more than a fellow-student who has had special opportunities to
explore and study the scattered and broken fragments of Sanskrit literature which are hidden
in Chinese, Tokhari, and Tibetan translations. But he adds "for the encouragement of
aspirants" that some of his statements are not only the outcome of his re-interpretations but of
"present-day experience," presumably meaning his meditations and application thereof. He
pays high tribute to an Asiatic philosopher or teacher he met in the deserted temples of
Cambodia and above all to the late Maharaja of Mysore for light on difficult problems.
Neither of these, he says, were emotional mystics or mere intellectualist metaphysicians.
He writes for all whose pained observation of, or sharing in, the awful experiences of this
war-mangled era and whose desire no longer to suffer blindly have aroused an inner
prompting to seek for practical help. He says, "it is the inescapable duty of whoever knows
that a higher Hope exists for mankind to speak the lost Word for the sake of those who will

listen." But "these leaves are sent out across the window without adolescent illusions about
their reception and if a few of them shall flutter down to rest awhile beside a friend or two
and remind him of his divine origin and destiny it shall surely be enough."
H. P. Blavatsky must have felt the same when she dedicated her The Voice of the Silence to
"the Few", and advised the study of the Bhagavad-Gita and Light on the Path; but owing to
the spread of the Theosophical Movement a great increase has taken place in the number of
students who can appreciate such teachings. In this volume Dr. Brunton quotes with
understanding from The Voice of the Silence and Light on the Path, and here and in his
Hidden Teachings Beyond Yoga he pays a very high tribute to the Bhagavad-Gita.
So many topics are discussed in this remarkable work that it is impossible to do it justice in
the limited space at disposal, but the most important chapters on the philosophic side are
those which demonstrate that Ideas not only rule the world but that the universe is made of as
well as made by Ideation, an uncomprising presenta-of the Theosophical principle of
"Objective Idealism," which Dr. Brunton says has been only half adopted by many Eastern
and Western idealists. He calls his doctrine "Mentalism," the antithesis to Materialism,
interpreting it as "the fundamental principle that in the last analysis Mind is the one reality,
the only substance, the only existence," and that "this entire panorama of universal existence
is nothing but a mental experience and not merely a mental representation of a separate
material existence." He shows how to "arrive at such conclusions not only by a straight-line
sequence of reasoned thinking but also by a re-orientation of consciousness during advanced
mystical meditation." According to the mentalist point of view, consciousness itself is an
aspect of Mind, and Mind reaches to the highest plane, to the divine, or as we might say, to
Parabrahm.
Subsidiary topics discussed in relation to Mentalism include Evil and Suffering; Karma and
Reincarnation; War conditions and causes; Death, Sleep and Dreams; Time; After Death
states, and others. The state of Devachan is interpreted with profound understanding, and
Spiritualism is treated without offence but with well-informed discrimination. "The Mystical
Phenomena of Meditation" (which does not mean psychic phenomena) commands an
important section of a work like this which is devoted to the demonstration that man is an
integral part of a Living, Conscious Universe.
Dr. Brunton introduces his analysis of Mentalism by a study of the extraordinary imagemaking power of the mind in dreams, which duplicates on a small scale the infinitely greater
power of the World-Mind in shaping the Cosmos by Divine Imagination, "God-dreaming," he
calls it. In our dreams some unfamiliar part of the mind beyond the ordinary consciousness
creates apparently independent beings and dramatises them into living and acting
personalities who even argue among themselves. The dreamer accepts such vivid dream
appearances as perfectly real and natural, yet they are only mental constructions lasting as
long as the Hidden Artificer holds them in his mind! So by analogy we may dimly understand
that our waking experience, nay the manifested Universe itself, is the reflexion or activity of
a transcendent and eternal Mind. It is only ephemeral in the sense that it is ever-changing.
Can we get to know the Hidden Artificer of our dreams, and in that way approach the
Overself? Dr. Brunton thinks we can.
Dr. Brunton's methods of self-study and self-discipline have none of the dangers or abnormal
practices of so much that passes in the West under the alluring title of Indian Yoga. He takes
it for granted that the aspirant for self-knowledge is inspired by unselfish motives, the

betterment of his neighbor as much as of himself. The methods are whole-heartedly directed
toward wide, universal and impersonal horizons and away from the limitations of the
personality, the "under-self" as Dr. Brunton labels it. His technique, if it may be so-called, is
aimed to help the student to rise above the need of techniques or any help that does not come
from within; and the result in no way impoverishes a life of attainment in the wholesome
activities of the outer world. On the contrary, success in this endeavor brings the wonder and
glory of the transcendental consciousness into all the doings of this workaday space-time
existence.
The acquisition of even a high degree of mystical vision must not be regarded as an end in
itself. This mistake has often been made by many who have made some progress behind the
veil; and in regard to "heavenly visions" of saints and yogis it is well known that some
celebrated mystics had none and yet were more advanced in spirituality than others who had
plenty. Many of the latter, Eastern as well as Western, suffered from the extremes of
rapturous ecstasy and dreary dryness. The author remarks that "an unbroken serene assurance
of the divine ever-presence is immeasurably better." Nature hurls the self-absorbed mystic
back to the world every time he tries to disregard it and remain permanently in his trance, for
we are here "in the flesh for instructive experience, not for stultifying desertion," and it is
"only in the fully-awakened state that the widest consciousness of reality is attained." The
mental blank that is associated with much of trance-yoga (such as that of the Indian yogis
who allow themselves to be buried alive for months) is valueless. As Dr. Brunton says, "they
leave the idiot in full possession of his idiocy, the self-deceived in undisturbed proprietorship
of his illusions," and he shows that while a well-considered system of thought and meditation
leads through "authority, logic, pseudo-intuition and mystical experience," the latter must
always be checked by "reason" which he defines as "the active functioning of human
intelligence stretching from the practical-scientific pole to the abstract metaphysical one."
Otherwise it will prove sterile and lead to no worthy purpose. The right combination provides
a trustworthy spiritual background to rest on in daily life, and especially in unselfish,
impersonal service to others. He says, "In striving for the triumph of Good instead of letting
contemplation die with itself he must let it fertilize his deeds," and when he aptly quotes from
Light on the Path, "Seek the way by retreating within," he immediately adds the balancing
precept, "Seek the way by advancing boldly without."
The author criticizes those who regard waking life as an evil or an illusion, declaring that it is
only in embodiment that achievement of our highest destiny is possible, even though it take
many incarnations, for "The Spirit of Heaven must descend to earth and enter through the
door of the body and be a welcomed guest whilst we are fully awake." The descent of the
higher consciousness, the "Over-self," into the personality is not an emotional disturbance but
is quiet and untheatrical. The Power which is behind the universal life can only inspire the
personal life of man if he obeys the ancient teaching "Thy will be done," and in order to enter
the sacred union with the Cosmic or Divine Will "every illumined religious, mystic, and
philosophical teacher has voiced the need of self-surrender." All this is, of course, good
Theosophical doctrine.
Instructive and interesting chapters in this book deal with a knowledge of the deeper reaches
of consciousness which can be studied through control of the mind in sleep and dream. Have
we not all wondered why we must spend nearly one third of our brief lives in an unconscious
state? But it would seem that it is our own fault. During sleep we can if we will take a
wonderful journey within ourselves. When the writer of Job said that "in a dream, in a vision
of the night, when deep sleep falleth upon men ... he openeth the ears of men and sealeth their

instructions," (33, 15) he was repeating what the wise have always known; but not all have
been able to interpret the saying. Dr. Brunton follows the mind as it penetrates in sleep to
states of consciousness unknown to the waking personality but which need not remain
unknown to the earnest student. The training is of course all done by the student himself; all
that another person can do is to give a few simple directions and warnings. Dr. Brunton
quotes from the Sanskrit Tripura: "Unbroken supreme awareness even in dream is the mark
of the highest order of sages," but he encourages those who are not of that class but who are
only beginners in self-training and self-discipline by saying that flashes of insight may come
at any time if they are sincere and hold to the highest ideals of morality. In this connexion he
adds that "the real altruist who does not primarily seek his own happiness finds it, while the
intense egotist who is always seeking it, never finds it." And in regard to the higher
knowledge and wisdom obtained in sleep he says:
Thus the sleep state, which is so devoid of light and significance during the
present psychological state of mankind, becomes full of both for the developed
man.
In many places in his The Esoteric Tradition Dr. de Purucker discusses the subject of sleep
and dream, chiefly in connexion with his profound analysis of the Theosophical teaching that
the universe is in all its reaches strictly a manifestation of Mind, "embodied Thought." (p.
180, etc.) In an unpublished lecture by Dr. de Purucker given on July 28, 1940, he said that in
order to speed up his evolution by more fully understanding the nature of his own being man
must learn to be fully conscious during sleep, and ultimately through the change we call
death. I quote from my own notes: "We men are not truly alert to what is in us and what we
can do. ... First learn to be fully awake when you are in the Jagrat state the state we are in
now, physical wakefulness. . . . Then learn to carry that self-conscious state of awakening
with you when you are asleep. Thirdly, and highest, learn to be self-consciously awake after
death. . . . Consciousness is a continuity, but we have not taught ourselves to be selfconsciously awake when we sleep, or self-consciously awake when we die. But it is in you; it
is in you for the asking." Dr. Brunton's teaching of the close resemblance between sleep and
death is in perfect accord with that of Theosophy, so often emphasized by Dr. de Purucker
because of its great importance.
In his chapters on methods of meditation in waking and in preparing for mind control in
sleep, Dr. Brunton quotes the Buddha's teaching about making the mind "flexible" through
exercise; and the exercises he recommends are perfectly natural and sensible and have no
resemblance whatever to the dangerous breath-control, hypnotic, or other psychic methods
unfortunately associated with the word "yoga" because of the perversions spread so widely in
the West by charlatans and money-makers. It is no crime to wish to prove for oneself the
existence of other planes of being or of the psychic faculties in man. The effort, however,
forcibly to crash the gate into the astral world, to gratify "occult" curiosity by getting out of
the physical body and traveling around, and so forth, shows an entire misapprehension of the
kind of knowledge which is desirable. It likewise reveals an absolute ignorance, however
well meaning, of the unhappy possibilities which lie in wait for the rash invader who crosses
the threshold without the protection which surrounds those who have proved their right to
enter and who have necessary business in the unwholesome regions of the lower astral light.
In his instructions to the beginner in meditation Dr. Brunton warns the aspirant not to be
carried away by various wonders that may occur, for they are only incidentals, fugitive and
fragmentary. "The Ultimate has no shape, size, color, or voice whatever." This is well known

to students of true occultism. More than sixty years ago William Q. Judge in his Letters That
Have Helped Me warned the devotional members of the Theosophical Society of these
"lures," as he called them, saying:
There are so many, many of these things. Often they result from extraordinary
tension or vibration in the aura of an aspirant of pure devotion. They are
himself, and he should be on his guard against taking them for wonders. . . .
They are like new lights and sights to a mariner on an unknown coast. They
will go on and alter or stop. You are only to carefully note them, and "do not
wonder or form association."
The Wisdom of the Overself closes with a noble chapter on the practical aspect of the
philosophy and the need of attaining some measure of self-knowledge. Dr. Brunton claims
that there is a master plan behind the universe, and that in the present death pangs of the old
order, when we are striving for higher values, a nobler conception of life can be found if men
will only grasp the opportunity. In regard to what he calls "insight," a word he uses to
designate the highest faculty of the mind, higher even than intuition, he writes in eloquent
terms:
Whoever believes that the awakening of insight is something which affects the
intelligence only, believes wrongly. For with it there is a simultaneous
awakening of the finest qualities of the heart. Indeed, in this transcendent
sphere to which the philosopher penetrates, thought and feeling are
inseparable. Compassion is released automatically along with the mental
insight itself. One and the same Mind is the inner nature of all men. This is
why he who realises it for himself throws down the hard barrier which isolates
the "I" from the "you."
FOOTNOTE:
1. The Wisdom of the Overself. By Paul Brunton. E. P. Dutton, New York. 463 pages. $3.75.
(return to text)

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