India: A Trumpet Call at a Crisis [ 1893 ]
From the facts that I am now the General Secretary of the American Section of the T. S. and its Vice-President, and was one of those who participated at the very first meeting of the Society in 1875, and for many years was intimately acquainted with H. P. Blavatsky and also with Col. Olcott, what I have to say on the subject of this article should have a weight it could not have if I were a new member, or unacquainted with its history, its real aims, and the aims and purposes of those who, greater than I, were and are so long in the front of its ranks. I ask for these few remarks, therefore, a serious consideration by our members in all countries, and also by such persons in India, not members, who may read this article.
Is there a crisis, and if so what is it and what does it amount to? There is a crisis not noticeable on the top of our historical wave, and which will not be perceived by those among us who are much interested in the work in their own particular Section. In some places there is no cause for any alarm, as interest is great and work goes forward. But the T. S. is not a national body; it is international; it has an object that embraces the entire race; causes at work in any one part of it may react on all with force when the time comes. We must, for that reason, look over the whole field from time to time, and not confine our estimate to what goes on merely in our own Section or Branch.
The critical spot is in India, the land where at the present time the Masters live in person, and from where went out the real impulse for our foundation and work. If India is of no consequence in our movement, then discussion is useless, for to bother about a place of no importance would be waste of time. If Western members are so enamored of Western culture, civilization, and religion, as to look on Indian thought and philosophy as more or less fantastic, any consideration of the present would be out of place; to all such members I say, do not read this. But those who know that our forms of thought are really Indian, colored a little by our own short lives as nations; those who realize how important in the great family of nations the Indian race is; those who see that no part of the great human mind can be left out -- all those will be able to appreciate the nature of the crisis, and then will act as discreetly as possible to the end that danger may be averted.
Centuries before the West had grown out of its savagery, the mighty East had grappled with all the problems that vex the men of the Western world and the nineteenth century. The solutions of these were recorded and preserved among the people of the East. This preservation has been in many ways. In stone of monuments, in books of various materials, in the arrangement of cities, in customs of the people, and last, but not least, in the very beliefs of the common people, looked on by our great men -- whom many follow like sheep -- as superstition and folly, and often degrading. The monuments and temples need to be read in the light of symbolism; the books are cast in a mold not quite the same as the idioms of the West, and have to be read with that in view as well as holding in the mind the fact that those who wrote them knew more of the Occult machinery of the Kosmos than we now know; they are not to be thrown on one side as folly or phantasy, but should be studied with serious care and with the help of the Hindus of today, who must naturally have some inkling of the hidden meaning. The philosophy in these books is the grandest known to man; the true religion there will be found, when the dust is cleared away, to be, as it says, the religion of Brahma, and hence the first. It will turn out to be the foundation for which the members of the T.S. are looking. But this does not mean to say that that true core and center is just what this, that, or the other school of Vedantins say it is, for it might turn out to be different. It is hence of the highest importance that our Society should not, at any time, needlessly bring into the minds of Brahmans the idea or belief that the T. S. is engaged covertly or openly in bringing forward any other religion, or any particular religion or philosophy. And if by accident or fortuitous circumstance Brahmans in general acquire such an idea or belief, then it is the duty of our members to show how that is a mistake and to induce the others to alter their attitude.
But some may say that it is not of much consequence what some or many Brahmans who do not enter the T. S. may say or think on the matter. It is of consequence, for the reason that the Brahman in India is the natural priest, the one who is supposed to preserve the truth as to religion and religious books; and as the whole country so far as Brahmanism is concerned moves on by and through religion, a false attitude on the part of the Brahmans is very serious, and should be done away with if possible, by all right means and arguments. If they in their own circle, having a false idea of our movement, preach against us, we shall find a silent, subtle, untouchable influence negativing all our work. On the other hand, these teachers of the Hindu can do much work if they have a mind, as they have shown in the past. As an illustration I may cite the Arya Samaj, which rose up from the efforts of one Brahman, but obtained the support of many more, and learned ones also, when it was seen that the object in view was necessary.
Now, then, the crisis is that the Brahmans in general all over India are beginning to get the idea and belief that the T. S. is merely an engine for the propagation of Buddhism. They are therefore starting an opposition by means of their own power and influence, and the consequence may be that they will keep many worthy men there from coming into the T. S., or from giving it any encouragement whatever. They are not making a new society, but are privately arguing against the T. S., and that is more subtle than public effort, because no counter argument is possible.
It is true they are not supported by the real facts, but to some extent they have arguments from appearances. A famous book in our list is called Esoteric Buddhism, while, in fact, it is not Buddhism at all distinctively, but is distinctively Brahmanical. Its entitlement was due perhaps to enthusiasm about the Guru of the writer. Col. Olcott has declared himself officially and privately to be a Buddhist duly admitted to the high priest, and has written a Buddhist Catechism, a great and useful work which has the approval of the same high priest. The Colonel also is now going about a strictly Buddhist work, which has not so much to do with religious or philosophical opinion as it has with mere questions relating to a theological foundation, a temple and its appurtenances in the heart of India. If these Brahmans were able to gauge public opinion in America they would have more arguments from the outer look of things, because here everything in respect to Indian religion is called by the generic name of "Buddhism," as the people are too hurried to distinguish between that and Hinduism, and have been accustomed to the Light of Asia and other works bringing forward the name of the religion of the Buddha. So much is this the case that all newspaper matter on this subject is labeled with the one name, and very often people when speaking of a Hindu will say, "Of course he is a Buddhist."
Our crisis is, then, that all our efforts may be hindered in India, and we may be deprived of the very necessary help of the Brahmans in the attempt to bring forward to the world the great truths of the Wisdom Religion. What then is the remedy? Is any one to blame?
No one is to blame. Col. Olcott's efforts are right and proper, as he could not be rightfully asked to give up one form of his general work just for the sake of one religion or system. We all know very well that he is not engaged in trying to make the T. S. an engine for the propagation of Buddhism. For many years he labored for Hinduism to almost the exclusion of the other system. Mr. Sinnett is not to be censured either, for his book really teaches Brahmanism. Besides, all the work of Col. Olcott and of the book named must end in giving to the West a greater light on the subject of the Hindu religion, and in deepening the effect on the Western mind of ancient philosophy as found in the Wisdom Religion. In consequence of that, every day, more and more, the West will look for the treasures of the East, if these are not deliberately hidden away.
The remedy is for all the members who take the right view in this matter to persistently show to the Brahman how he is mistaken, and how, in fact, the T. S. is the very best and strongest engine for the preservation of the truths of the Vedas. If the Brahman non-member is convinced of this, he will then encourage the community to help the T. S., and the young men under his influence to enter its ranks; he will try to discover hidden manuscripts of value and give them to us. We should also show that in the course of progress and the cycles, the time has come now when the Brahman can no more remain isolated and the sole possessor of valuable treatises, for the West is beginning to drag these from his hands, while at the same time it is doing much to spoil the ideals of the younger generations of India, by the mechanical and material glitter of our Western civilization. Waked up fully to this, he will see how necessary it is for him to seek the help of the only organization in the world broad and free enough to help him, and to give all that equal field without favor where the Truth must at last prevail.
We should all rise then at this call and do whatever we can at every opportunity to avert the danger by applying the remedy. The sincere Hindu members of the T. S., especially, should take note and act in accordance with this, and with the facts they know of their own observation, warrant, and demand.
From Lucifer, April, 1893, pp. 143-47.
Illusions of Time and Space
[ printed in 1912 ]
Of all the illusions that beset us, in this world of Maya, perhaps the deadliest are those to which, for lack of better, we give the names of "Time" and "Space": and quite naturally -- since they are prime factors in our every action here below; each undertaking is prefaced by the question -- uttered or unexpressed -- How long? how far? what duration, or extent, intervenes between us and the fulfilment of our desire? Yet that they are illusions, the wise of all ages bear witness: we read in the Bible that "a day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day"; the Mohammedan legend tells us of the devotee at the well, met by an Angel, who rapt him into Paradise, where he dwelt for seventy thousand years in bliss, the while a drop of water was falling from his cruse to the ground; and Emerson expresses the same truth in the language of our time -- "The Soul . . . abolishes Time and Space. . . . Time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul. The spirit sports with time -- can crowd eternity into an hour, or stretch an hour to Eternity."
And we realize this ourselves, to some extent, though perhaps unconsciously: yet often we are so engrossed either by our own thoughts -- pleasurable or the reverse -- or by the conversation of others -- that we become entirely oblivious of the flight of time, or the distance over which we have passed, while so occupied.
Even more is this the case when we are asleep: in dreams we revisit the scenes, and live over again the days, of our childhood -- commune with friends long since passed away, or visit the ends of the earth, with no feelings of surprise or incongruity: yet an hour later, on awakening to what, in our blindness, we call "the realities of life," we bind on again the chains that Veda, Bible, and Koran -- Prophet, Priest, and Sage, concur in assuring us we shall, in due course, know to be as unreal as the mirage of the desert.
Pending this perfect enlightenment, it may not be wholly unprofitable to try if we cannot get a partial conception of this great truth -- even if it should be merely from an intellectual standpoint.
Let us consider the habitual performance of a purely mechanical, or automatic action -- such as the daily journey of a commuter on the railway: every day, at the same hour, he enters the same car -- probably takes the same seat -- and meets the same fellow-passengers: they converse on substantially the same topics: at the same stage the conductor takes up his ticket, and the engineer -- alas! -- blows the same fiendish and superfluous whistle. Now it does not require a very vivid imagination on the part of our commuter, to so blend the reminiscences of yesterday and the anticipation of tomorrow, with the experiences of today, that all then may seem synchronous. If it is objected that this illustration is faulty, in that it ignores the element of uncertainty inherent in all human affairs, it might fairly be replied that it only does so to the extent of adopting that working hypothesis that is universally accepted in daily affairs, and without which, no one would look beyond the needs of the present moment. Yet possibly a happier illustration may be found: suppose that I wish to revisit a familiar but far distant place -- as, for instance, Damascus: now, if I go there in my physical body, days and weeks must elapse, before I can reach the immemorial city -- sunset and moon-rise, day and night -- with all the incidents of sleep and waking, pleasure and discomfort, possibly the alterations of sickness and health -- all these must be gone through with, and not by one second can the appointed time be shortened: yet if I go simply in memory and imagination, I have but to will -- and instantly, without an appreciable interval, I wander again past mosque and minaret, amid rose-leaf and almond-bloom that perfume the gardens of the "Eye of the East."
So, too, with the kindred illusion of Space. Thousands of leagues of sea and land must be traversed by "this prison of the senses, sorrow-fraught"; whether in the steamer battling with the Atlantic surfs, or the express shooting through the vineyards of fair France -- or the carriage toiling up the cedar-clad slopes of Lebanon -- every inch of the weary way must be consecutively passed over, and not by one hair's breadth can it be avoided. Yet, going without the encumbrance of the flesh, even as I had no sensation of Time, so I have no perception of distance, between the swirl of the tide of the Hudson, and the plash of the fountains of Abana and Pharpar.
Experiences like these are so familiar, and so apparently meaningless, that some may attach little importance to them, or even be disposed to ignore them altogether. Yet probably this would not prove wise. It may well be that, in Occultism, as in Physical Science, great truths lie just before us -- stare us in the face, as it were: and when they are at last discovered, it is not by elaborate research, but by the application of the most familiar methods.
Again -- it was because he had been faithful over a few things, that the good servant was promoted to be ruler over many things. What right have we to expect to attain to higher knowledge, or claim to be entrusted with greater powers, until we have proven ourselves worthy of such preferment by thoroughly using, and profiting by, such as we now have?
From The Theosophical Path, January 1912, pp. 1-3.
Hindu Theosophy and Professor Buchanan
To the Editor of the Religio-Philosophical Journal:
Will you permit me to say a few words about Prof. J. Rodes Buchanan's articles in your valuable paper upon "The Profundities of Theosophy and the Shallows of Hinduism"?
These exhibit an astonishing amount of superficial, and therefore, inadequate, acquaintance with Theosophy and Hinduism. He has possession of numerous words but knows nothing it appears about their meaning. Such terms as Karma and Jiva, Kama-rupa and Rishi, Astral and Elemental, are hopelessly jumbled in his mind coming through his pen in an utterly irrelevant manner.
The chief charge made by him against Theosophy is, that it is not new, but is merely the wisdom -- or alleged wisdom -- of the past. In other words, it is not the wisdom lately given out to this age by the excellent gentleman, J. Rodes Buchanan. Now if the charge were new there might be point to it. Prof. Buchanan has harped upon it as if it were another new thing he had discovered; but the joke of it is, that the Theosophical Society and its members have, from the very first day of the Society's organization, insisted upon this very thing, namely: that they wished the minds of the present age to be directed toward all the old philosophies and religions, hence it would seem that Prof. Buchanan's discovery, that after all the Theosophical Society is only bringing forward very old theories, is no discovery at all. I doubt if he has read the literature of Theosophy. Perhaps if he should read H. P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine, he would object to parts of it because they expound ancient lore, and to other parts because they show that the particular studies and "discoveries" of Prof. Buchanan were anticipated by the ancients ages ago.
I have yet to learn that any one has accepted as an axiom that that which is not new is necessarily untrue and valueless. Such, however, is Prof. Buchanan's position. The consequence is that his system of psychometry and psychopathy must be rejected because they were well known even so lately as during the time of the Delphic oracle, to say nothing of anterior periods in Egypt and India.
He objects to words like Karma and Kama-rupa. Will he furnish better ones to meet the necessities of the case? Will he not have to invent? Is it not true that the word psychometry is Greek to the same ordinary readers who investigate Theosophy; and worse yet, is it not an impossibility to argue about psychometry with a man who has no glimmer of the faculty himself?
The Professor thus sums up:
"I find nothing in what I have seen of the Hindu Theosophy to enlighten American Theosophists, but much to darken the human mind if accepted. The Hindu Theosophy discourages and retards the legitimate cultivation of psychic science, and contributes an enfeebling influence, the evil tendency of which I may illustrate if it should become necessary."
It is a pity the illustration was not made as we are left in the dark, in view of the fact that the so-called "Hindu Theosophy" has waked up Europe and America, and that nearly all the writers in the Society are not Hindus, but Americans and English. Dr. Coues, the scientist who has contributed valuable aid to the theosophical movement, can hardly be called a Hindu. Mr. Sinnett is English, Col. Olcott an American, and Mme. Blavatsky a Russian. Nor can we understand how a broad, just and scientific scheme of life and evolution, such as the Theosophy of the Hindus presents, which meets every problem, can be said to enfeeble or darken the human mind. In all candor, also, it is absolutely untrue that "Hindu Theosophy discourages legitimate cultivation of psychic science." It aids it in every way; it shows the student where the causes of error lie; it demands from him the closest scrutiny and the most perfect discrimination. On the other hand, the study of psychometry, for instance -- the Professor's hobby -- is surrounded with a halo of imagination, cursed by invading hosts of impressions totally unconnected with the subject examined, and liable to lead the investigator to indulging in flights to Mars and other planets where nothing can be gained of use in this life.
We fear that the failure of Prof. Buchanan to induce the scientific or social or political world to accept psychometry as a means of discovering all the laws of nature, or detection of crime and criminals, and of generally reforming us in every way, has embittered his nature in some degree and beclouded his mind whenever it comes across that which happens to be as old as "Hindu Theosophy."
'To the Editor of The Golden Gate':
. . . . According to her (H. P. Blavatsky) the healing becomes Black Magic when the operator deliberately influences the mind of the patient and by that means causes the cure. Of course it is not the very highest and blackest form of Black Magic, but it is not White Magic -- since it does not leave the patient to the operation of Karma and his own will -- it is a weak form of the Black variety.
My own view goes a little further and leads me to the conclusion that when persons suffer from sickness they should endeavor to cure it with physical agencies, for it is truly the working down through the body of bad Karmic causes in the mind; and when one falls back upon his higher nature for the cure of his body, he removes the operation of the Karmic causes from their proper plane, which is the physical body, and draws them back into the mind, and thus not only tends to becloud his mental plane, but also keeps in him the seed for future diseases in another life, which will be larger, because, as it were, they have accumulated interest during the interval.
Lastly, we must wait to hear from Mme. Blavatsky, over her own signature, for an exact expression of her views hereupon.
Very truly yours,
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE
Gen. Secretary, T.S. American Section.
We have inserted in this issue a picture of H. P. Blavatsky, who is -- whether from the standpoint of her enemies or that of her friends -- the most remarkable person of this century.
Fifty-eight years ago she was born in Russia, and in the year 1875 caused the starting of the Theosophical Society. Ever since that date she has been the target for abuse and vilification of the vilest sort, and, sad to say for human nature, those who have received benefits from her have not given to her efforts that support which was due. But knowing her intimately, we know that she cares nothing for the abuse or the luke-warmness of theosophists, for, as declared by herself, she is not working for this century but for another yet to come, secure in the truth of Reincarnation and content if she can but sow the seeds that in another age will grow, blossom, and bear good fruit.
When she will leave the mortal frame now occupied by her we know not; but we are convinced that, when the personality denominated H. P. Blavatsky shall have passed away, her pupils and her friends will acknowledge her greatness, -- perhaps not before.
From The Path, February, 1890, p. 338
The General Secretary was to have started for the West upon the very day when the death of Madame Blavatsky caused him to sail for Europe, and upon his return the new date was fixed for Sept. 5th, but sickness caused postponement till the 8th, at which time he left for Omaha. From Omaha he went to Washington Terr., visiting the 3 Branches therein, thence to Portland, Oregon, and to San Francisco, arriving about the 23rd. It had been arranged that his route through California should be made out by the Pacific Coast Committee, they being conversant with the State. It is hardly probable that the route can be completed before the close of October, after which occurs the series of visitations on his journey homewards, beginning with Salt Lake City. Branches and groups desiring a visit and a public lecture are desired to address him before Oct. 25th, Care Dr. J. A. Anderson, 4 Odd Fellows Bdg., San Francisco, stating what provision can be made for a hall, for his entertainment, and for the expense of travel. He will make out his schedule before leaving California, and will notify successive points of his date and length of stay.
This is the longest and most carefully planned tour yet made in America for Theosophical purposes, and is expected to produce good results. H.P.B.'s departure has sounded the word "Theosophy" all over the land and opened thousands of ears to an exposition of it, and there never was a time when a series of public lectures was so certain of attendance and of press notice. Every Western Branch may be quickened and its growth fostered by now receiving a visit during this tour, for the field is prepared for the seed and the sower is at hand. While no human arithmetic can ever figure the precise effect of a wide distribution of truth, it is reasonably certain that enough will be palpable to affirm the wisdom of the tour and to make American Theosophists long and labor for the time when a Permanent Lecturer will be part of the outfit of Headquarters. This is not at all an impossible thing. The Convention endorsed the project, and $1200 a year have been guaranteed towards expenses. If the General Secretary's present journey stimulates Theosophists in this direction it will be doing one of the many things expected from it.
Path, October, 1891
[ “ESOTERIC BUDDHISM” REVIEW ]
By W. Q. Judge
In consequence of a book with this title having been written by A. P. Sinnett, much controversy and inquiry has arisen, on the one hand, as to what Esoteric Buddhism is and on the other, as to whether there be any such thing.
The term as it has been used since the Theosophical Society began to be the means of bringing the sublime philosophies of the East before a large body of students, is held to refer to some hitherto hidden knowledge or explanation of the laws governing the evolution of the universe.
While there is in fact an Esoteric Buddhism, some other name for the book referred to might have been perhaps better, because the student speedily finds that there is no essential difference between Esoteric Buddhism and Esoteric Brahmanism, although as a matter of history, the Brahmans drove the Buddhists out of India, several hundred years after the death of Buddha.
If the title selected had been "Esoteric Brahmanism," it would have done just as well.
THE ESOTERIC DOCTRINE
In briefly considering the matter then, it must be understood that we are not confined solely to Buddhism but to what would be more properly called the "Esoteric doctrine," which underlies Brahmanism and Buddhism alike. And it should also be well understood that much that is now called "Esoteric" by us, has been long known in India and cannot therefore be properly said to be Esoteric.
Very much as the secret meaning of the Hebrew Bible has been plainly before the eyes of all in what is known among the rabbins as the Kabalah, so this Esoteric doctrine has been buried in the Indian scriptures for ages under many allegories, the key to which has been held by the Brahmans, the priests of India, and they, like the priests of other religions, have kept that key to themselves or thrown it away.
A very good illustration of this may be found in the story of Draupadi, who is said to have been the wife of all the five Pandu brothers at the same time, as related in the great epic poem of the Aryans, the Mahabharata. This is taken as proof by many prominent orientalists of the existence of polyandry in India at that period.
The key to the story is found in the Indian psychological system, which locates in the human body five vital centers. The union of these centers is in this system said to take place when a man has become completely master of himself and is called the marriage of Draupadi with the five Pandus, as those vital centers are the Pandus.
In the Bhagavad-Gita, translated by Edwin Arnold under the title of The Song Celestial, the entire doctrine called Esoteric Buddhism may be found; and this book is held in the highest esteem by both Brahmans and Buddhists. The reason why this doctrine has not been long ago apparent to us is because of the extremely narrow way in which all Indian psychology and philosophy has hitherto been regarded, with the aid of such eminent authority as Max Muller.
A KEY TO ESOTERICISM EXISTS
It has been said above that the Bhagavad-Gita contains all of this Esoteric doctrine, but while such is the case it cannot be found in its entirety without the key. That key was deliberately suppressed at the time of the driving out of the Buddhists from India when the Pauranikas, or those who followed the ancient Puranas, were desirous of concealing the similarity between Buddhism and Brahmanism.
The missing key is said to be contained in a work three times as bulky as the Mahabharata, and to have been carried away by the Buddhist Initiates; and the tradition now claims that in Ceylon at the Kandy Temple is a copy. It is from this key that whatever is new in Mr. Sinnett's book has been taken, although it is improbable that he was aware of that fact.
WHENCE THE UNIVERSE ?
Most orthodox Aryans believe that the universe came out of something, while a few say that it came out of nothing. The Esoteric doctrine reconciles these by saying that that something is no thing. The particular sect which holds to the coming out of nothing is known as the Madhyamika, and is not numerous.
The exoteric Indian philosophies, call the Universe, Brahma, consisting of (Sat) absolute existence, (Chit) absolute intelligence and (Ananda) absolute bliss, with two other divisions called (Nama) name and (Rupa) form.
The Esoteric doctrine does not content itself with a mere metaphysical juggling with these terms, but goes to the length of claiming to explain the method of universal evolution and the hidden things in nature. This of course includes declarations in regard to the state of the soul of man preceding birth and his condition and course after death.
THE COURSE OF EVOLUTION
As to the course of evolution, it is said, as far as our solar system is concerned, that there are seven planets corresponding to a seven fold division of man's nature which are necessary to carry out the process. This earth is one of these and the other planets known to astronomy are not necessarily a part of that portion of the process so far given out.
In these this earth is the turning point where the soul of man begins its conscious career.
HOW KARMA WORKS
Here, after having passed through all forms of animate and inanimate life he begins to come consciously under the operation of the law of Karma, which is a law demanding complete compensation for every act, word and thought, and which results in removing the idea of the possibility of a vicarious atonement; and here he is born over and over again, reaping in each life the exact results due to him from the life preceding, and being therefore at any one instant of time the exact product or resultant of all his previous lives and experiences. So that these two doctrines of Karma and Rebirth, are interwoven one with the other.
After death the real man -- the ego -- goes to what the Christians call Heaven, and which in the East is called Devachan. The words of the Bhagavad-Gita will best enunciate this. In Chapter VI, Arjuna asks,
"Whither O Krishna, doth the man go after death, who although he be endowed with faith, hath not obtained perfection in his devotion?"
To which Krishna replied:
"His destruction is found neither here nor in the world above. A man whose devotions have been broken off by death, having enjoyed for an immensity of years the rewards of his virtues in the regions above, is at length born again. . . . Being thus born again he resumes in his new body the same habit he had before acquired and the same advancement of the understanding and here he begins again his labor (where he left it off)."
HEAVEN IS DEVACHAN BETWEEN REBIRTHS
This law applies to all, righteous or not, and the period of rest which is had in Devachan is the exact length of time the spiritual energy stored up in earth life will last. The length of time one stays in Devachan has been put by one or two English writers at fifteen hundred years, but this is erroneous, for the stay there depends in each particular instance upon the application of the immutable law to the facts of that case.
The Devachanic period is the great resting spell for all, and is one of the means provided by Nature for preventing a total degradation. During that state the Ego acquires some goodness for the next earth life, and when the Ego of a man who had before been extremely wicked is reborn, the new personality has to feel the consequences of all the evil done in that preceding life but comes to the task with the aid of the good influences of the rest in Devachan.
“RACES” VIEWED THEOSOPHICALLY
The doctrine does not leave out of view the different races of men, but in this instance the word "races" must be extended in its meaning so that it includes not merely a few varieties, such as ethnologists now admit, but gathers several of those varieties into one class.
Those races were developed as man himself developed different senses and different uses for them, and as the necessity for each race ceased, that race gradually almost disappeared, leaving now on earth only a few examples of each. In this way each ego had to pass successively through all the great races with their offshoots and being in every case subject to the law that it could not pass on to any new race until the one to which it belonged had finished its course and become converted into another.
This law is capable of modification in the case of adepts -- sometimes called Mahatmas -- who by the use of another law are able to rise above the limitations to which the ordinary man is subject.
The different races come and go, according to this doctrine, for enormous periods of time and all forms of life and nature pass and repass, until the hour arrives when the universal dissolution takes place. This dissolution is called the end of the Manvantara, and the name for it is Pralaya.
PRALAYA AND REBIRTH OF THE UNIVERSE
The succeeding chaotic period is known as the night of Brahma and is said to be as long as the Day, each lasting one thousand ages. When the night ends then all manifested nature begins again to appear as before, the evolutionary process commencing with nebulous matter or fire mist which cools gradually into various planets and stars where come forth forms of life.
Each world is held to be subject in its own small way to the law governing the outbreathing and inbreathing of the whole, just as man has his own pralaya each night in sleep and his great, or Maha pralaya, at death. So it follows that while in one solar system a minor pralaya had covered all with night, other systems might be perfecting their evolution, until the Maha pralaya when the whole manifested universe of Brahma comes to an end. From this follows the doctrine held by some Indian pandits, that Brahma containing potentially all manifested nature -- or manifestable nature -- converts itself into the Universe, and in no case creates anything but leaves all to be regularly evolved.
Much detail, very necessary for a proper understanding of the subject, has been omitted, but even from this inadequate view of only a portion of the Esoteric Doctrine, it will be seen that it is one which has a perfect scheme of evolution where both spirit and matter are given their proper places.
From The Theosophical Forum, October 15, 1934, pp. 33-37.
An account of the dwellers upon high mountains would be incomplete without some reference to a widespread belief prevailing in Hindustan in regard to authorities and others, who are said to dwell in inaccessible places, and who are now and then seen by natives. It is true that all over India are to be found Fakirs of much or little sanctity, and of greater or less accumulation of dirt, but the natives all tell of Fakirs, as many of us would call them, who dwell alone in places remote from the habitation of man, and who are regarded with a feeling of veneration very different from that which is accorded to the ordinary traveling devotee.
The Hindu has an intense religious nature and says that devotion to religious contemplation is one of the highest walks in life. He therefore looks upon the traveling ascetic as one who by means of renunciation has gained a great degree of advancement toward final bliss, and he says that there are other men who are farther advanced in this line of practice. These others finding the magnetism or exhalations from ordinary people and from places where persons congregate to be inimical to further progress, have retired to spots difficult to find even when sought for, and not at all likely to be stumbled upon by accident. For that reason they select high mountains, because the paths worn by man in going from place to place on earth are always by that route which is the shortest or most easy of travel, just as electricity by a law of its being will always follow the line of least resistance and quickest access.
And so English and French travelers tell of meeting from time to time with natives who repeat local traditions and lore relating to some very holy man who lives alone upon some neighboring mountain, where he devotes his time in contemplating the universe as a whole, and in trying to reach, if he may, final emancipation.
The name given to these men is "mahatma," meaning, in English, "great souls," because it is claimed that they could not renounce the world and its pleasures unless they possessed souls more noble and of greater dynamic force than the souls of the mere ordinary man, who is content to live on through ages of reincarnations round the great wheel of the universe, awaiting a happy chanceful deliverance from the bond of matter some day.
That great traveler, the Abbe Huc, who went over a large part of Thibet and put his wonderful experiences, as a Catholic missionary there, into an interesting book of travels, refers often to these men with a different name. But he establishes the fact beyond dispute that they are believed to live as related, and to possess extraordinary power over the forces of nature, or as the learned and pious Abbe would say, an intimate and personal combination with the devil himself, who in return does great and miraculous works for them.
The French traveler Jacolliot also attests to the wide extent of the belief in these extraordinary men of whose lesser disciples he claims to have seen and have had perform for him extraordinary and hair raising feats of magic, which they said to him they were enabled to do by the power transmitted to them from their guru or teacher, one of the Mahatmas, a dweller on some high mountain.
It seems they assert that the air circulating around the tops of mountains of great altitude is very pure and untainted with the emanations from animals or man and that, therefore, the Mahatmas can see spiritually better and do more to advance their control over nature by living in such pure surroundings. There is indeed much to be said in favor of the sanitary virtue of such a residence. Upon a raw, moist day, down upon the level of our cities, one can easily see, made heavily and oppressively visible, the steamy exhalation from both human beings and quadrupeds. The fact that upon a fine day we do not see this is not proof that on those days the emanations are stopped. Science declares that they go on all the time, and are simply made palpable by their natural process of the settling of moisture upon cold and damp days.
Among Europeans in India all stories respecting the dwellers upon high mountains to whom we are referring are received in two ways. One is that which simply permits it to be asserted that such men exist, receiving the proposition with a shrug of either indifference or lack of faith. The other, that one which admits the truth of the proposition while wondering how it is to be proved. Many officers of the English army have testified to a belief in these traditions and many to not only belief, but also to have had ocular demonstrations of their wonderful powers. While the other side is simply represented by those who are unable to say that they ever had any proof at all.
The Hindu says that his ancient sages have always lived in these high places, safe from contamination and near the infinite. It is related that the pilgrims who annually do the round of pilgrimage through the sacred places of India, sometimes penetrate as far as a certain little temple on the sides of the sky-reaching Himalayas, and that in this is a brass tablet of great age stating that that is the highest point to which it is safe to go; and, that from there one can now and then see looking down at you from the cold and distant cliff still higher up, men of grave and venerable aspect. These are said by some to be the Mahatmas or great souls, dwelling up there alone and unsought. In Thibet the story can be heard any time of the Sacred Mountain where the great souls of the earth meet for converse and communion.
The Hindu early saw that his conquerors, the Dutch and English, were unable as well as incapable of appreciating his views of devotion and devotees, and therefore maintained a rather exasperating silence and claim of ignorance on such matters. But here and there when a listener, who was not also a scoffer, was found, he unbosomed himself, and it is now generally admitted by all well informed Anglo-Indians and Indian scholars that there is a universal belief in these Mahatmas, or dwellers upon high mountains, extending from one end of India to the other throughout every caste.
For the Christian it ought to be significant here, that when Jehovah commanded Moses to attend him for instruction and to receive the law, he did not set the place of meeting in the plain, but designated Mount Sinai, a high place of awful ruggedness, and more or less inaccessible. Then in that high mountain he hid Moses in the cleft of the rock while he passed by; and from that high mountain, now roll and reverberate through Christendom the thunders of the Judaic law. All through the Semitic book, this peculiar connection of great events and men with high mountains is noticeable. Abraham, when he was ordered to sacrifice Isaac, received command to proceed to Mount Moriah. Sadly enough he set forth, not acquainting either the human victim or his family with his determination, and traveled some weary days to reach the appointed spot.
The thoughtful man will see the indicia of a unity of plan and action in nearly all these occurrences. The sacrifice of Isaac could with great ease and perfect propriety have been offered on the plain, but Abraham is made to go a long distance in order to reach the summit of a high mountain. And when he reached it, made his preparations, and piously lifted the fatal blade; he was restrained, and his son restored to him.
Passing rapidly through long centuries from the great patriarch down to Jesus of Nazareth, we find him preaching his most celebrated sermon not in the synagogue or at the corners of the streets, but from the mount, and from there also he distributes to the hungry multitude the loaves and fishes. Again, he is transfigured, but not in the city nor outside in view of all the people, but with two disciples he returns to the summit of a high mountain, and there the wonderful glory sat upon him. Or we watch him in the wilderness, only to see him again on a high mountain, where he resists the Arch temptation. And then, when the appointed hour for the veiling from human gaze of his earthly life is come, we have to follow him up the steep sides of the Mount Golgotha, where, in agony of body and woe of soul, with words of appealing anguish, his spirit flies to the Father.
The story of Mohammed, that world-famed descendant of Ishmael, is closely associated with high mountains. He often sought the quiet and solitude of the hills to restore his health and increase his faith. It was while he was in the wilds of Mount Hira that the Angel Gabriel appeared to him, and told him he was Mohammed, the prophet of God, and to fear not. In his youth Mohammed had wandered much upon the sides and along the summits of high ranges of mountains. There the mighty trees waved their arms at him in appeal, while the sad long traveling wind sighed pityingly through their branches, and the trembling leaves added to the force of the mighty cry of nature. Upon those mountains he was not oppressed by care or by the adverse influences of his fellows, such as kept him down when he was one merely of a lot of camel drivers. So, then, when he returned to the mountain's clear and wide expansive view, his spiritual eyes and ears heard more than the simple moaning of the wind and saw greater meaning than unconscious motion in the beckoning of the trees. There he saw the vision of the different heavens, peopled by lovely houris, garlanded with flowers, and musical with the majestic tones of the universe; and then, too, he saw handed to him the sword with which he was to compel all people to bow to Allah and his prophet.
The countries of all the earth are full of similar traditions. In South America, Humboldt heard the story of the wonderful people who are said to dwell unfound among the inaccessible Cordilleras and stern traveler though he was, he set out to find some trace of them. He went so far as to leave after him a fragment of testimony of his belief that somewhere in those awful wilds a people could easily live, and perhaps did.
It was from a high mountain where he had long lived, that Peter the Hermit rushed down upon Europe with his hordes of Crusaders, men, women and children, to wrest the holy land from the profaning hand of the Saracen; and the force and fury of the feelings that inspired William Tell were drawn in upon the tops of his native high mountain, to whom upon his return, he cried:
Ye crags and peaks,
I am with you once again.
Japan, the highly civilized country of Islands so long buried from European sight, and Korea, which has only just partly opened a door of communication, have always venerated a high mountain. This is called Fujiyama. They say that it can be seen from any part of the world and they regard it as extremely sacred. Its top is cold and covered with snow, while round its base the corn waves to the touch of the zephyr and the flowers bloom.
The love for this mountain is so great that it is pictured on their china, in their paintings, and reproduced wherever possible, whether in mural decoration or carvings. Its sacredness is due to its being the residence, as they claim, of holy persons. And they also believe that thorated carvere [sic.] is, too, a spiritual Fujiyama, whose base is on earth and top in heaven.
From The Word, June 1912, pp. 133-37.
DISAPPEARANCE OF ASCETICS AT WILL
[Editorial Note (following) by William Q. Judge]
We often read of Yogis and Rishis disappearing on a sudden; a moment before, they were speaking to a king or his ministers, their mission ends and they disappear. How could they do so? Did they appear in their Mayavi-rupa? Could they dissolve their physical bodies at will and re-form them? I was often confronted by these questions but could not answer satisfactorily; many of our Saints have thus disappeared, a few even after the Mohammedan Conquest of India. One was seen to enter a temple for the apparent purpose of worship, but was never seen to come out again; the temple had but one door and no windows; he was living near the temple long since -- in his physical body; his work ended, he disappeared on a sudden.
2. Now it must be understood that in all such phenomena what is absolutely necessary is a developed and trained will and a strong power of concentration practiced for a long time. The Yogi simply hypnotizes the persons present and passes out unobserved. To a person thus trained it is only necessary to concentrate on the thought that his body is without a rupa, and as a strong-scented essence when opened in the midst of an assembly affects all present, that focalized thought sends out rays on all sides and affects or hypnotizes those standing near; and they do not see the Yogi, though he might pass by them or be close to them. That this can happen has been already proved in France and other places by hypnotic experiments.
3. But no such successful concentration is possible without preliminary training, without long practice. In those days they never tried to know something of every thing, but each tried to excel in that which appeared best suited to his nature.
4. The Yogis in those days mixed more freely with men, and perhaps the conditions were more favorable then. It was only after the battle of Kuru Kshetra, and the death of Sri Krishna that they retired to thenceforth live in a secluded sacred spot where the influence of the Black Age would not be felt.
5. And now Antardhanam, as such disappearance is called, is no longer regarded by our Indians, educated in the science of the West, as belonging to the realm of truth and reality, until western hypnotism, a monster infant of occult laws, shows them that Antardhanam is not an impossibility after all.
6. But that power of Concentration, that preliminary training are no longer to be found in us. We aim at knowing all about everything, can talk on a variety of subjects which must have bewildered many a sage, had they been living still, and we are always active and talking, and imagine that we are progressing.
7. Thus in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali we find in the twenty-first Sutra of Bibhuti Padu that on concentrating on the rupa of our body, its visibility being suspended, there is no more union with the power of seeing, and Antardhanam is accomplished. Now it must be understood that in order that we might see an object three things are necessary, viz.: 1. The visibility of the object; 2. Our power to see; and 3. The union of the two. If, for instance, there be no transparent media between our eyes and the object to be seen, the first condition is wanting and we do not see it; if, again, the object is visible but our eyesight is not strong enough, we do not see it because condition No. 2 is not fulfilled. It sometimes happens that being deeply absorbed in thinking we sometimes do not see an object though perfectly visible to us and our eyes directed towards it; in this case there is no union between the two. To make an object invisible, therefore, we should cut off this union; in order to do this, the minds of others must be affected, and this is done by a trained and concentrated will.
KALI PRASANNA MUKHERJI.
Barakar, India, September 10, 1893.
W Q J Ed. Note. –
The aphorism of Patanjali on the subject of this article is No. 21, Book II, and in the American edition reads as follows:
"By performing concentration in regard to the properties and essential nature of form, especially of the human body, the ascetic acquires the power of causing the disappearance of his corporeal frame from the sight of others, because thereby its property of being apprehended by the eye is checked, and that property of sattva which exhibits itself as luminousness is disconnected from the spectator's organ of sight."
In the old edition and in that published later by M. N. Dvivedi, the word used for concentration is sanyama. This is to be translated as concentration, and also "restraint," which comes to the same thing. The aphorism raises the issues made by modern science that no disappearance is possible if the object be in line with a normal eye and there be light and the like. Hypnotism has for some made the modern view a little doubtful, but many deny hypnotism, and the cases of disappearance in those experiments have all been but disappearances for the senses of but one person who is admittedly under some influence and is not normal in organ and function.
The author cites alleged cases of complete disappearance of ascetics from the sight of normal persons normally exercising their senses. It is not a case of hypnotism collectively or otherwise, but should be distinguished from all such. In hypnotic cases normal function is abated and the mind imposed with an inhibiting idea or picture which seems real in action to the subject. In the cases of the ascetics there is left to those about perfect control of their organs and senses, the powerful mental action of the ascetic bringing into play another law, as indicated in the aphorism, which prevents the senses, however normal, from seeing the form of the ascetic.
Form, it is held by the occultists of the school to which Patanjali must have belonged, is an illusion itself, which remains for the generality of all people because they are subject to a grand common limitation due to the non-development of other than the usual senses. It would seem that all clairvoyance might prove this, as in that it is known by the seer that every form visible to our eye has extensions and variations in the subtler parts of its constitution which are not visible on the material plane. The illusionary nature of form in its essence being meditated on, one becomes able, it is held, to check the "luminousness of sattva" and thus prevent sight.
This does not mean that ordinary light is obstructed, but something different. All light, gross or fine, is due to the universal sattva, which is one of the qualities of the basis of manifested nature. And besides showing as ordinary light, it is also present, unseen by us it is true, but absolutely necessary for any sense-perception of that sort, whether by men, animals, or insects. If the finer plane of this luminousness is obstructed, the ordinary light is none the less, but the result will be that no eye can see the body of that person whose mind is operative at the time to cause the obstruction of the luminous quality mentioned.
This may seem labored, but it is in consequence of our language and ideas that such is the case. I have known some cases in the West of disappearances similar to those mentioned by the foregoing article, and in The Secret Doctrine and, I think, Isis Unveiled, are some references to the matter where the author says the power conferred by this is wonderful as well as full of responsibility. While very likely no Theosophist or scientist will be able to use this power, still the cases cited and the explanation will go towards showing that the ancient Rishis knew more of man and his nature than moderns are prone to allow, and it may also serve to draw the attention of the mind of young Indians who worship the shrine of modern science to the works and thoughts of their ancestors.
From The Path, January, 1894, pp. 315-318.
Reprinted in W Q J ART II P. 451
There is growing every day among contemporary writers a strong disposition to take up theosophic doctrine, and especially in those light stories that always flow from ideas that are "in the air." This will grow as time goes on, for every one with any means of judging knows that the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation are gaining a hold, slowly perhaps, but surely, on the public mind. Both of these offer a wide field for novelists and magazine writers.
In a recent number of the Century, Mr. Stevenson, who writes such charming stories, and also weird ones like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, gave an account -- in some sense a confession -- of how his best stories and plots came to him. He said that all his life, in dreams and waking visions, his "little Brownies" showed him scenes, incidents, and plots that he wove into his writings, and that the main situations in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde were obtained in that manner.
The field is extended enough. None of the possibilities of black or white Magic have been touched on except by such writers as Mabel Collins, one of the Editors of Lucifer, but as that comes to be better understood -- or misunderstood, which is the same thing for those who write for their daily bread -- we shall be flooded with a series of tales and sketches based on these ideas. This suggestion is not copyrighted, so that aspiring authors can use it as they will, to their heart's content.
The rising tide is shown when such a staid, and anciently somewhat bigoted, magazine as Harper's Monthly treats of these matters. In Harper's for May last, Mr. Charles Dudley Warner, in the "Editor's Drawer," takes up the subject of Heredity so as to use it for the bringing in of Karma and Reincarnation, together with some light remarks about the theosophists of India, Boston, and Ohio. He considers Heredity to be a puzzle, mourning a little that the progress made in questions of the effect of breeding and descent was to some extent impeded by these notions. But he also gives a fair resume of Karma, clearly showing that responsibility for deeds done in the body must rest upon the individual, and cannot be shifted to his ancestors. We have to thank him for his words, since he reaches clearly the gist of the matter in saying: "The notion is that all human beings in this world undergo successive incarnations, preserving unconsciously the personal identity in all the changes of condition. Therefore, every human being is the result of all the influences in all his previous conditions. . . . . The form in which he shall reappear in the world is not determined by his visible ancestors, but by his conduct in his former lives . . . . But whatever he was, now in this present incarnation he suffers the penalty of all his misdeeds in all former states of being, or he enjoys the reward of good conduct in any of them. And it behooves him now to live the higher life -- perhaps of expiation -- in order that he may rise into a still higher life in the next unknown incarnation, and not sink into a lower. Therefore no effort is thrown away, and no act is without its infinite personal consequences. The law of Karma, it is explained, is the law of the conservation of energy on the moral and spiritual planes of nature . . . . The Drawer, of course, has nothing to do with an investigation of this theory of life; it simply notes it in reference to the prevalent study of the doctrine of heredity."
This is just the doctrine the people need, and it can easily be understood. When they come to believe that there is no way of escape, either through priest or mere lip-acceptance of a dogma, they will begin so to live, if only for selfish reasons, as that the "next unknown incarnation" will not find them in suffering and misery. While the motive at first may not be of the highest character, it will lead to a wide belief in the doctrines, so that, as the spirit of the age is changed, those who are sincere and unselfish will not have such a hard fight to wage against subtle and dangerous influences. In fine, it will prepare the conditions for the dawn of the day when human brotherhood shall be admitted and lived. Men will then see that legislation and strikes and outward temporary reforms can cure no evil. The evil lies within, in other lives, in this one. In a sense, we are our own ancestors; we are building now the houses we are to live in during our coming lives. For our ignorance of this, nature reeks not; she holds us fast in an iron-grasp, and will compel us at last through pain to believe in the true doctrine, and to live our lives and think our thoughts in submission to the Higher Law that no human assemblies can revoke.
From The Path, June, 1888, pp. 92-94.
EDITOR OF GOLDEN GATE:
I notice in your valuable paper of the 12th, an inquiry from Oakland, asking Mrs. S. A. Harris about concentration. Permit me to add a word to the excellent reply by Mrs. Harris.
1. The great and wide-spread defect in the people of the present day is want of concentration.
2. It is this very want that causes them to ask the question, "How am I to acquire it?" For a little concentration of mind upon the question would partly answer the enormous amount of light literature read by everybody. This is seen every day in the quantities of novels of a superficial sort that are published and read in the daily newspapers which record multitudes of small events transpiring each twenty-four hours, and which the people scan with avidity because it in no way taxes the mind, and may be all at once forgotten. Another cause is to be found in the mad rush and roar of American civilization.
4. This then brings about a weakness of the memory which is apparent in every walk of life. The national mind has been so diverted into a thousand different channels, that the memory fails to enclose an idea, or an object with sufficient power to prevent its slipping out.
5. I suggest to "Oakland" that the experiment be tried of selecting any word, object or idea for consideration, and then holding it firmly before the mind for five minutes, to the exclusion of everything else. If this can be done it should be kept up for six months, always repeating the exercise at the same hour.
6. I predict that "Oakland" will either (a) fail in doing this, or (b) give it up on the third day. This is because of certain tendencies inherent in the human mind. These are in the ancient Hindu systems divided thus:
(a) A tendency to fly away from the point selected.
(b) A tendency to recur to something more pleasant, seemingly more advisable and useful.
(c) A tendency to recur to something else that is unpleasant.
(d) A tendency to total passivity -- a mental blank.
These tendencies are always present potentially and must be controlled, or concentration will not be possible.
I would like to hear how "Oakland" gets on with this. The above ideas are not mine but those of the Hindu philosophers and the real founders of the Theosophical Society.
WILLIAM Q. JUDGE, F.T.S.
NEW YORK, Jan. 19, 1889
-- From The Golden Gate, San Francisco, February 3, 1889