Ambition vs. Attainment

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                                             – G. C. LeGros

“Oh, not the men of pomp and guile,
The crafty and the bold,
The haughty men who never smile,
And men who live for gold;
But broken men with hands that bleed
And souls by anguish rent . . . . ”

On the first page of Light on the Path we read the number one rule for disciples – “Kill out ambition.” The Adept-author explains that “Ambition is the first curse: the great tempter of the man who is rising above his fellows. It is the simplest form of looking for reward. Men of intelligence and power are led away from their higher possibilities by it continually. Yet it is a necessary teacher. Its results turn to dust and ashes in the mouth; like death and estrangement it shows the man at last that to work for self is to work for disappointment.”

Ambition may even persist in the life of the occultists “…who fancies he has removed his interest from self, but who has in reality only enlarged the limits of experience and desire, and transferred his interest to the things which concern his larger span of life.” We see this everywhere – “astral projection,” “psychic powers,” “third-eye clairvoyance,” “hypnotic control over others, ” etc.  Ambition is a hydra-headed thing.

In another book – Fragments of Life and Thought – the same Adept points out that “…not until the man has triumphed again and again in one incarnation after another, not until success has become tedious to him, and the high places of the earth all seem low and poor to him, is he beginning to be ready to go beyond it. And only so can it be killed out. “Man must go on struggling for earthly prizes until he reaches the point “…where the excelling of his fellows becomes suddenly and forever contemptible in his eyes, beneath the dignity and greatness of his soul, and then he will kill out ambition and cast it from him as a weed of earth. He will perceive that the strength which he has developed must be used, not in order to excel, but in the endeavor to attain.”

Attainment is different from Ambition because the latter fires one with a passion to out-distance all others striving for the same goal. The ambitious man is by necessity personal, jealous, envious, and ruthless – in other words, a menace to the world because he sows discord. To realize his aims he will stop at nothing save that which imperils his own preservation. And sometimes he will risk even that, like Shakespeare’s soldier “… seeking the bubble reputation even in the cannon’s mouth.”

Attainment, on the other hand, is a reaching out from self to SELF, from the finite to the Infinite, from the conditioned to the Unconditioned. The man who attains finds no rivals at his side, no single prize waiting at the end of the race. He moves in Eternity, where there is room for all.

Ambition is the effort of man to add to himself some coveted fragment of Earth, hoping thereby to exalt and increase his stature before others; but Attainment is the giving of oneself to the Whole.

A good example is the poet who wins first prize in an important contest. At the reception which follows, he receives honor and praise, and for a little hour feels as a god among men. But he also looks upon the faces of other poets who had competed and lost. They regard him as a thief, a usurper of the prize they sought, and which, in their opinion, they deserve.

He also thinks of next year’s contest, and wonders if he will win again, or only receive honorable mention, or no mention at all. Instead of rejoicing in his triumph, he finds himself under a cloud of apprehension. Victory is not the splendid thing he had envisioned.

Looking back, he sees that writing the poem was Attainment; but competing and winning the prize was Ambition. In the joy of creating something beautiful, he reached out of himself into the starry spaces where the Gods of Glory sing, and where, for a moment, he was one with their song.

But winning the prize and humbling his rivals, was an earthly thing that compressed his soul, and imprisoned him in a little world made by the littleness of men, where Ambition is king, demanding its terrible price.

The poet should sing as a bird sings – not for reward, but to Attain, to reach out from self to Infinity. The poet can be taken as a symbol of all men because everyone strives to express what he is – what is in him – either to win something from the world that may be added unto himself, or to give something of himself to the world. Each man is, by nature, either a taker or a giver.

The taker, following the path of Ambition, loses with every step because he violates the Supreme Order of the Universe, which is Duty, Service, and Cooperation. The giver, following the path of Attainment, wins with every step because he acts in keeping with the Harmony of the Whole, thereby enriching himself, because he is the Universe.

Attainment is the foundation of the Ultimate Discipline of Life. “Work as those work who are ambitious.” Make the utmost of the life that is yours; but seek no personal victories which, once realized, crush those around you. Regard men not as rivals, but as fellow pilgrims walking beside you on the Eternal Highway. Help them to attain with you, to become whole with you, and all the treasures of the Universe will be yours!

(from “Messiah”)

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The Last Theocracy

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[This was written about 30 years ago, but the situation is the same and worse in Tibet as it was in 1950, with monasteries now being monitored with spy-cameras, and the Chinese bulldozing a Tibetan settlement and monastery of Larung Gar last summer. See: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-36863888?SThisFB    Let’s hope the U.S.’s new administration will have more backbone in challenging the biggest murderer of human rights in the world.]

In what was to be the beginning of one of the periodic madnesses that grip parts or all the globe, in the spring of 1950 Tibet was invaded by China after China’s declaration that it intended to free Tibet from “the influence of foreign imperialists” (there being six westerners in Tibet at the time) It was to prove the total destruction of the base of exoteric Mahayana Buddhism, which has near identical doctrines to that of Theosophy. The invasion was to directly and indirectly result in the death of some one million Tibetans and to make refugees of 100,000 others including the Dalai Lama.

Before China’s attempted “modernization” of Tibet, it was the home of some 3,000 Buddhist monasteries and 200,000 monks. By 1984 these vast numbers had shrunk to a remaining or rebuilt 45 monasteries housing some 1,400 monks. For years any practice of religion was forbidden in Tibet, but in the last ten years under a new Chinese administration some of these strictures have been loosen. Partially this change in policy is due to the value of Buddhism as a tourist attraction. While the superficial ceremonial practice of Buddhism is allowed, any serious scholastic study of its scriptures is forbidden.

Most the destruction of monasteries occurred during the chaos of China’s “Cultural Revolution” in the 1960’s. Some monasteries were taken apart brick by brick while most were dynamited or shelled with field artillery – although the walls of most were too thick to be totally destroyed. The process was to first take an inventory of all valuables. Gold and silver artifacts were taken in truck convoys to China to be melted into bullion. Manuscripts were either burned on the spot or sent for use as shoe padding and toilet paper. Clay images were pulverized and recast for the specific purpose of making public lavatories. At the central temple in the capital at Lhasa, sacred manuscripts kept bonfires burning for five days. Monasteries not totally destroyed were used for granaries, barracks or offices. The temple at Lhasa was renamed “Guest House #5” and used for government offices and its courtyards for keeping pigs.

Monks were either killed or shipped with other Tibetans to work camps such as that at Golomo to build railroads, Tsala Ka to mine borax, or Kongpo for Timbering. At Golomo, which is at 10,000 foot elevation and has six months of winter with gale force winds much of the time, large numbers died almost immediately from exposure and starvation. One account claims that 1,400 of 1,700 prisoners held at Drepang monastery died of starvation from November 1960 to June 1961. Tibetan’s homes were arbitrarily seized and all their possessions sold. During this period Tibet’s agricultural production actually increased, but nearly all the harvest, except that kept for Chinese troops, was shipped to China. to offset its own famine. While famine was previously unknown in Tibet, formerly prosperous peasants were reduced to stealing scraps from the Chinese pigs, picking horse offal for undigested grain, and feeding their own blood mixed with tsampa to their starving children. Fare at the work camps, when there was any, was typically barley husks mixed with sawdust or ulcer-producing tree bark.

Monks and Lamas were special objects of Chinese persecution. Lamas, formerly heads of monasteries, were lashed through the streets of Lhasa with heavy statues of Buddha strapped to their backs. Monks and nuns were forced to copulate in public or branded with irons. There were crucifixions. Monks and nuns were forced to marry while other Tibetans were sterilized in large numbers. One of Tibet’s highest Lamas, the Panchen Lama, was publicly beaten in his trial for “crimes against the state” – chiefly his support of the Dalai Lama. His aged tutor was sent to Golomo where he shortly died and the Panchen himself was imprisoned for fourteen years, and released in 1978 for political reasons. [After the Panchen Lama died, the Chinese kidnapped his recognized child-reincarnation, and substituted their own state-sponsored reincarnation.] It is still illegal today to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. NBC recently reported an arrest for having the Lama’s picture on a T-shirt.

In China’s “development” of Tibet, the provinces of Gansu and Amdo were transformed into what a 1979 Time magazine article calls a “vast sea of prison camps” with up to ten million Tibetan and Chinese prisoners – a “black hole … from which little information ever reached the outside world.” By 1978 China’s largest nuclear weapons factory was located at Nagchuka 165 miles north of Lhasa. Whole mountain ranges have been denuded of timber. Tibet’s vast herds of wild ass were machine-gunned, her snow leopards, himalayan monkeys and wild yaks have become nearly if not extinct and her formerly endless flocks of ducks and geese have disappeared. Sixty western scientists were allowed to visit Tibet in 1980 and according to their account there is not a large wild animal to be seen anywhere and only a few birds in Tibet’s now sterile landscape.

In short, there has been nothing worse in Nazi Germany, Stalin’s Gulag, or under the Khymer Regime in Cambodia than what has occurred in Tibet under the Chinese. There is no outcry in the West, however, over this great atrocity or even sparse public knowledge. It is good politics to be friends with China and its billion people, while Tibet is important neither economically nor militarily and Buddhism matters very little in the political grist mills of the world. Our country, which prides itself for its stand on worldwide human rights, has chosen expediency and officially recognizes China’s claim to right of sovereignty over Tibet.

What was to befall Tibet was perhaps foreseen by the thirteenth Dalai Lama when he wrote in 1932 a year before his death:

“It may happen that here, in the center of Tibet, religion and government will be attacked both from without and from within. Unless we can guard our own country, it will now happen that the Dalai and Panchen Lamas, the Father and Son, and all the revered holders of the Faith,, will disappear and become nameless. Monks and their monasteries will be destroyed. The rule of law will be weakened. The lands and property of government officials will be seized. They themselves will be forced to serve their enemies or wander the country like beggars. All beings will be sunk in great hardship and overpowering fear; the days and nights will drag on slowly in suffering.”

While the present Dalai Lama has become a world ambassador in his never ending efforts to gain independence for Tibet, his attitude is also objective and philosophic. “There are many prophecies which indicate that I will be the last Dalai Lama. The world is changing so dramatically, that there may no longer be a need for the lineage.” Elsewhere he has stated that “the very aggregates of a human mind and body have, as their actual nature, suffering. They serve as a basis for suffering, and as long as one has them one is susceptible to suffering. From a deep point of view, while we Tibetans don’t have our independence and are living in someone else’s country, we are subject to a certain type of suffering, but when we return to Tibet and gain our independence, then there will be other types of suffering. So, you see, this is just the way it is. You might think that I’m pessimistic, but I am not. This is Buddhist realism. This is how, through Buddhist teaching and advice, we handle situations. These sorts of thoughts make one stronger, more active.”

Sources:
In Exile from the Land of Snows, John F. Avedon, Alfred A. Knopf, NY, 1984
The Making of Modern Tibet, A. Tom Grunfeld, M.E. Sharp Inc., Armonk, NY, 1987

(from Protogonos, Winter 1987-8)

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What is Truth?

winged-victory

                – H. P. Blavatsky

“What is truth?” asked Pilate of one who, if the claims of the Christian Church are even approximately correct, must have known it. But he kept silent. And the truth which He did not divulge remained unrevealed, for his later followers as much as for the Roman Governor. The silence of Jesus, however, on this and other occasions, does not prevent his present followers from acting as though they had received the ultimate and absolute Truth itself, and from ignoring the fact that only such Words of Wisdom had been given them as contained a share of the truth, itself concealed in parables and dark, though beautiful, sayings. * (* Jesus says to the “twelve” – “Unto you is given the mystery of the kingdom of God; but unto them that are without, all things are done in parables,” etc, Mark, iv, 11.)

This policy led gradually to dogmatism and assertion. Dogmatism in churches, dogmatism in science, dogmatism everywhere. The possible truths, hazily perceived in the world of abstractions, like those inferred from observation and experiment in the world of matter, are forced upon the profane multitudes, too busy to think for themselves, under the form of Divine revelation and Scientific authority. But the same question stands open from the days of Socrates and Pilate down to our own age of wholesale negation: is there such a thing as absolute truth in the hands of any one party or man? Reason answers, “there cannot be.” There is no room for absolute truth upon any subject whatsoever, in a world as finite and conditioned as man is himself. But there are relative truths, and we have to make the best we can of them.

In every age there have been Sages who had mastered the absolute and yet could teach but relative truths. For none yet, born of mortal woman in our race, has, or could have given out, the whole and final truth to another man, for every one of us has to find that (to him) final knowledge in himself. As no two minds can be absolutely alike, each has to receive the supreme illumination through itself, according to its capacity, and from no human light. The greatest adept living can reveal of the Universal truth only so much as the mind he is impressing it upon can assimilate, and no more. Tot homines, aquot sententiae – – is an immortal truism. The sun is one, but its beams are numberless; and the effects produced are beneficent or maleficent, according to the nature and constitution of the objects they shine upon. Polarity is universal, but the polarizer lies in our own consciousness. In proportion as our consciousness is elevated towards absolute truth, so do we men assimilate it more or less absolutely. But man’s consciousness again, is only the sunflower of the earth. Longing for the warm ray, the plant can only turn to the sun, and move round and round in following the course of the unreachable luminary: its roots keep it fast to the soil, and half its life is passed in the shadow.

Still each of us can relatively reach the Sun of Truth even on this earth, and assimilate its warmest and most direct rays, however differentiated they may become after their long journey through the physical particles in space.. To achieve this, there are two methods. On the physical plane we may use our mental polariscope; and, analyzing the properties of each ray, choose the purest. On the plane of spirituality, to reach the Sun of Truth we must work in dead earnest for the development of our higher nature. We know that by paralyzing gradually within ourselves the appetites of the lower personality, and thereby deadening the voice of the purely physiological mind – that mind which depends upon, and is inseparable from, its medium or vehicle, the organic brain – the animal man in us may make room for the spiritual; and once aroused from its latent state, the highest spiritual senses and perceptions grow in us in proportion, and develop pari passu with the “divine man.” This is what the great adepts, the Yogis in the East and the Mystics in the West, have always done and are still doing.

But we also know that with a few exceptions, no man of the world, no materialist, will ever believe in the existence of such adepts, or even in the possibility of such spiritual and psychic development. “The (ancient) fool hath said in his heart, there is no God”; the modern says, “There are no adepts on earth, they are figments of your diseased fancy.”

… It thus follows that, though “general abstract truth is the most precious of all blessings” for many of us, as it was for Rousseau, we have, meanwhile, to be satisfied with relative truths. In sober fact, we are a poor set of mortals at best, ever in dread before the face of even a relative truth, lest it should devour ourselves and our petty little preconceptions along with us. As for an absolute truth, most of us are as incapable of seeing it as of reaching the moon on a bicycle. Firstly, because absolute truth is as immovable as the mountain of Mohammed, which refused to disturb itself for the prophet, so that he had to go to it himself. And we have to follow his example if we would approach it even at a distance. Secondly, because the kingdom of absolute truth is not of this world, while we are too much of it. And thirdly, because notwithstanding that in the poet’s fancy man is

“…..the abstract
Of all perfection, which the workmanship
Of heaven hath modeled ……”

in reality he is a sorry bundle of anomalies and paradoxes, an empty windbag inflated with his own importance, with contradictory and easily influenced opinions. He is at once an arrogant and weak creature, which, though in constant dread of some authority, terrestrial or celestial, will yet –

“….like an angry ape,
Play such fantastic tricks before high Heaven
As make the angels weep.”

Now, since truth is a multifaced jewel, the facets of which it is impossible to perceive all at once; and since, again, no two men, however anxious to discern truth, can see even one of those facets alike, what can be done to help them to perceive it? As physical man, limited and trammeled from every side by illusions, cannot reach truth by the light of his terrestrial perceptions, we say – develop in you the inner knowledge. From the time when the Delphic oracle said to the enquirer “Man, know thyself,” no greater or more important truth was ever taught. Without such a perception, man will remain ever blind to even many a relative, let alone absolute, truth. Man has to know himself, i.e., acquire the inner perceptions which never deceive, before he can master any absolute truth. Absolute truth is the symbol of Eternity, and no finite mind can ever grasp the eternal, hence, no truth in its fullness can ever dawn upon it. To reach the state during which man sees and senses it, we have to paralyze the sense of the external man of clay. This is a difficult task, we may be told, and most people will, at this rate, prefer to remain satisfied with relative truths, no doubt. But to approach even terrestrial truths requires, first of all, love of truth for its own sake, for otherwise no recognition of it will follow. And who loves truth in this age for its own sake? How many of us are prepared to search for, accept, and carry it out, in the midst of a society in which anything that would achieve success has to be built on appearances, not on reality, on self-assertion, not on intrinsic value?

We are fully aware of the difficulties in the way of receiving truth. The fair heavenly maiden descends only on a (to her) congenial soil – the soil of an impartial, unprejudiced mind, illuminated by pure Spiritual Consciousness; and both are truly rare dwellers in civilized lands. In our century … when man lives at a maddening speed that leaves him barely time for reflection, he allows himself usually to be drifted down from cradle to grave, nailed to the Procrustean bed of custom and conventionality. Now conventionality – pure and simple – is a congenital LIE, as it is in every case a “simulation of feelings according to a received standard” (F.W. Robertsons definition); and where there is any simulation there cannot be any truth. How profound the remark made by Byron, that “truth is a gem that is found at a great depth; whilst on the surface of this world all things are weighed by the false scales of custom,” is best known by those who are forced to live in the stifling atmosphere of such social conventionalism, and who, even when willing and anxious to learn, dare not accept the truths they long for, for fear of the ferocious Moloch called Society.

Look around you reader; study the accounts given by world known travelers, recall the joint observations of literary thinkers, the data of science and of statistics, Draw the picture of modern society, of modem politics, of modern religion and modern life in general before your mind’s eye. Remember the ways and customs of every cultured race and nation under the sun. Observe the doings and the moral attitude of people in the civilized centres of Europe, America, and even of the far East…. everywhere where the white man has carried the “benefits” of so-called civilization. And now, having passed in review all this, pause and reflect, and then name, if you can, that blessed Eldorado, that exceptional spot on the globe, where TRUTH is the honoured guest, and LIE and SHAM the ostracized outcasts? YOU CANNOT. Nor can anyone else, unless he is prepared and determined to add his mite to the mass of falsehood that reigns supreme in every department of national and social life.

“Truth!” cried Carlyle, “truth, though the heavens crush me for following her, no falsehood, though a whole celestial Lubberland were the prize of Apostasy.” Noble words, these. But how many think and how many will dare to speak as Carlyle did, in our… day? Does not the gigantic appalling majority prefer to a man the “paradise of do-nothings,” the pays de Cocagne of heartless selfishness? It is this majority that recoils terror-stricken before the most shadowy outline of every new and unpopular truth, out of mere cowardly fear, lest Mrs. Harris should denounce, and Mrs. Grundy condemn, its converts to the torture of being rent piece-meal by her murderous tongue.

SELFISHNESS, the first-born of Ignorance, and the fruit of the teaching which asserts that for ever newly-born infant a new soul, separate and distinct from the Universal Soul, is “created” – this Selfishness is the impassable wall between the personal Self and The Truth. It is the prolific mother of all human vices, Lie being born out of the necessity for dissembling, and Hypocrisy out of the desire to mask Lie. It is the fungus growing and strengthening with age in every human heart in which it has devoured all better feelings. Selfishness kills every noble impulse in our natures, and is the one deity, fearing no faithlessness or desertion from its votaries. Hence, we see it reign supreme in the world and in so-called fashionable society. As a result, we live, and move, and have our being in this god of darkness under his trinitarian aspect of Sham, Humbug, and Falsehood, called RESPECTABILITY.

…… To sum up the idea, with regard to absolute and relative truth, we can only repeat what we said before. Outside a certain highly spiritual and elevated state of mind, during which Man is at one with the UNIVERSAL MIND – he can get nought on earth but relative truth, or truths, from whatsoever philosophy or religion. Were even the goddess who dwells at the bottom of the well to issue from her place of confinement, she could give man no more than he can assimilate. Meanwhile, every one can sit near that well – the name of which is Knowledge and gaze into its depths in the hope of seeing Truth’s fair image reflected, at least, on the dark waters. This, however, as remarked by Richter, presents a certain danger. Some truth, to be sure, may be occasionally reflected as in a mirror on the spot we gaze upon, and thus reward the patient student. But, adds the German thinker, “I have heard that some philosophers in seeking for Truth, to pay homage to her, have seen their own image in the water and adored it instead.”

(“Lucifer,” Feb., 1888)

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A Short Christmas Parable

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From the New York Herald, about Christmas, 1878:

An aged man, presiding at a public meeting, said he would avail himself of the opportunity to relate a vision he had witnessed on the previous night.

“He thought he was standing in the pulpit of the most gorgeous and magnificent cathedral he had ever seen. Before him was the priest or pastor of the church, and beside him stood an angel with a tablet and pencil in hand, whose mission it was to make record of every act of worship or prayer that transpired in his presence and ascended as an acceptable offering to the throne of God. Every pew was filled with richly-attired worshippers of either sex. The most sublime music that ever fell on his enraptured ear filled the air with melody. All the beautiful ritualistic Church services, including a surpassingly eloquent sermon from the gifted minister, had in turn transpired, and yet the recording angel made no entry in his tablet! The congregation were at length dismissed by the pastor with a lengthy and beautifully-worded prayer, followed by a benediction, and yet the angel made no sign!

“Attended still by the angel, the speaker left the door of the church in rear of the richly-attired congregation. A poor, tattered castaway stood in the gutter beside the curbstone, with her pale, famished hand extended, silently pleading for alms. As the richly-attired worshippers from the church passed by, they shrank from the poor Magdalen, the ladies withdrawing aside their silken, jewel-bedecked robes, lest they should be polluted by her touch.

“Just then an intoxicated sailor came reeling down the sidewalk on the other side. When he got opposite the poor forsaken girl, he staggered across the street to where she stood, and, taking a few pennies from his pocket, he thrust them into her hand, accompanied with the adjuration, ‘Here, you poor forsaken cuss, take this!’ A celestial radiance now lighted up the face of the recording angel, who instantly entered the sailor’s act of sympathy and charity in his tablet, and departed with it as a sweet sacrifice to God.”

– from “The Theosophist,” Dec, 1879, “Christmas Then and Christmas Now,” by H. P. Blavatsky

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Theosophy and Death

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Most of us when the time comes will have a “natural” death from old age in our beds, or from illness complications the result of age, or keel over on the back patio from a heart attack or something such. For loved ones it is sore loss and great grief, but at least in Theosophical teachings, those dying are unaware of loss and are subject to the kind hand of Nature in relief of hardships and compensation after death for the heartbreaks and sufferings of the past life. It is all part of the cyclic processes of Nature – day and night, Spring and Winter, waking and sleeping, physical Life and Death, to be repeated again ultimately in a new incarnation among friends left behind. The following is a general outline of what happens at natural death according to Blavatsky Theosophy.

(1) At the death of the body, the brain or at least mental process continue for a short time in a review of scenes and details of the previous life. (This is often reported in people having a near-death experience.)

In the Theosophical system Human objective and subjective Nature is divided into seven aspects or principles, from the first principle, the physical body (sthula-sairira) to the seventh principle, an individual aspect of the Universal spirit of all – Atman. The physical body begins to immediately decay at death, and along with it the second and third principles also begin to disintegrate – the astral or pattern body (which is what is sometimes reported as a spook or ghost) and the 3rd principle or individual aspect of Nature’s Life-energy or Prana.

After sloughing off the most physical aspects of our nature, we have left our desire-nature (Kama), our mental-nature (Manas) and our spiritual or universal nature (Buddhi and Atman. Buddhi is an individual aspect of Universality, Atman, or the Absolute, Brahman, the Godhead, or whatever name is used.)

(2) After physical death the Theosophical teaching is that in our subjective nature (which is really another form of matter objective in its own sphere) – we enter the Kama-loka, or “desire-realm”, and a process starts of the separation of the higher and lower parts of our subjective nature from the last life-time. This might last from a few hours to a few years. The mind principle or Manas becomes duel in this process. The lower mind in its cruder aspects identifies with Kama or desire, forming the “shell” or Kama-manas bereft of any spiritual aspects and directed toward the earth-earthly of the past life. This gradually disintegrates unless unlucky enough to be attracted to a medium. All one’s spiritual aspects – unselfish love for family or others, unfulfilled higher aspirations, – say, maybe to study music and be a musician, or impulses of charity, or perhaps love of objective study of science, and maybe wisdom gleaned from the last life – these coalesce in what Theosophy calls the Monad, or the “Reincarnating Ego” – and it is this that goes on to the next stage of what the Tibetans call the “Bardo” or “between death and rebirth.”

(3) The next stage for the “reincarnating ego” or Human Soul between lives described by Theosophical teachings (and echoed in many of the world’s ancient religious and philosophic literature) is the Deva-chan, which in Sanscrit means loosely “land of the gods.” It is a dream-world* of sorts and a self-made paradise in which one is rapt in fulfillment of all one’s unfulfilled aspirations of the past life, filled with one’s friends perhaps and lost loved ones – whatever is in most need of by the Soul experiencing it. Perhaps also there is an incorporation of lessons from the past life. It may last a short time to thousands of year, depending on the degree of spiritual nature of the person’s last lifetime, yet there is no more experience of the passage of time than there is experienced in the dreams of a night’s sleep. When the person becomes fulfilled on this side of his nature in Deva-chan, attraction toward earth life begins again to arise, eventually resulting in rebirth, and the forming of a new personality. The new person is formed by the attraction of the “skandhas” or tendencies and character belonging to oneself from the previous life, and we continue a new cycle in our evolutionary journey.
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– M.R.J.

* While Deva-chan is called a “dream” it is as real as it can be, as nightly dreams are experienced as real, and a needed purpose is being fulfilled. Eastern religions say that our world is Maya, or a mental illusion, and a relative world is the only possibility for Individual experience of any nature. In the “One,” or the Absolute, or Godhead there are no parts, so to speak, or individuals to have experience.

In Theosophical teachings we are held to be part of our “Higher Self” or a Manasaputra, or perhaps “Guardian Angel” in another tradition. During Deva-chan we are at one spiritually with this Higher Self or Manasaputra in whatever world it lives in, and rapt in our own Deva-chanic experiences.

One might ask when reading this “How can men know such things? – isn’t it just speculation and a bunch of air-castles!” By saying that men, or some men, _can’t_ know such things as what happens after death, one is also claiming omniscience in knowing human limits. “Upon the shoulders of a million men, Buddha entered the Gates of Gold” I believe is in a Mabel Collins book, which means Buddha built on the discoveries of a million searchers before himself.

A large portion of the world’s population believes in Evolution, for ages in the East based on Religious propositions and reincarnation, and more recently in the west based scientifically on the observed gradually developing complexity of life. We assume that man is the top of the pyramid of evolution of plant, animal, humans, but in this billions of years of Earth and the Universe there is no guarantee that there aren’t evolved forms of life higher than humans, that may keep hidden for their own reasons (and perhaps for us). Cultures are full of myths of gods, heroes, and god-kings, and if such superiorly evolved beings exist we might consider they have had a hand in the nursery education of humanity, and the origins of philosophy.

References:

“After Death – What?,” Leoline Wright http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/death/death-1.htm

“The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett,” edited by Trevor Barker
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Mother Shipton’s Prophecy

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In the air men shall be seen
In white, in black, in green.
Fire and water shall more wonders do.
England shall at last admit a Jew,
The Jew that was held in scorn
Shall of a Christian be born, and born.

When pictures look alive with movements free,
When ships, like fishes, swim beneath the sea,
When men, outstripping birds can soar the sky,
Then half the world, deep-drenched in blood
Shall die.

Women will dress like men and trousers wear,
And cut off all their locks of hair.
They will ride astride with brazen brow,
And love shall die and marriage cease,
And nations wane, and babes decrease,
And wives shall fondle cats and dogs,
And men shall live much as hogs,
Just for food and lust.

Iron in the water shall float,
as easily as a wooden boat.
Through hills shall man ride,
And no horse be at his side.
Carriages without horses shall go,
And accidents fill the world with woe.
Around the world thought shall fly,
in the twinkling of an eye.
Under water men shall walk,
Shall ride, shall sleep, shall talk.

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I don’t know the origin of this version or compilation of Mother Shipton’s prophecies (Ursula Southeil, c. 1488–1561), but it is pretty straight-forward, without all the vague mumbo-jumbo subject to any interpretation of most “prophecies.” The lines about a Jew is unclear, unless it could refer to Benjamin Disraeli, twice Prime Minister of Britain and of Italian Jewish Descent. Until 1858 a Jew could not serve in Parliament, but Disraeli was baptized Christian. Sequentially, there are predictions at least of motion pictures, submarines, airplanes, a world-war, women’s liberation (?), descent of moral standards, iron ships, automobiles, and radio. Not bad for the 16th century! It is hard to see how a peasant woman in the 1500’s could even have such thoughts.

The Mass Mind

crowd

by Ely Culbertson

(1940)

…. In the notes below, I shall outline some of my concepts of the psychology of the mass mind which may prove to be of interest to those who have dealings with the masses. I will make no attempt here to present a complete picture. This tremendously complicated subject requires a book, which I hope to write someday.

Early in my youth, as a revolutionist I ran up against the blank wall of the mystery of the mass mind. I then realized that one may have the noblest and the most practical ideals [for] levers [to] move the masses; that propaganda is often more powerful than the truth. All around me I saw political charlatans and demagogues drench the people with lies and the spit of hatred and yet carry them off their feet; while my teachers floundered, although they understood the truth and were sincere. I rushed to libraries to find out about this wonderful science of influencing people. But there was very little information.

The practical application of the knowledge of the mass mind, which is based on crude trial and-error methods, has been known since earliest times. The structure of armies and churches is unconsciously based on these little-known laws; the Communists and Fascists have perfected the methods; and the American advertising industry has brought in a wealth of practical discoveries. But even today, there are no scientific definitions or acceptable theories on the anatomy of the mass mind, how it behaves, and why.

The Individual and the Crowd

It is already known that there is a certain difference between a person taken singly and the same person taken as part of a crowd. Actually, the difference is tremendous. A crowd is something very much more than the sum total of the individuals that comprise it. It is a new entity, personality, possessing its own emotional and thinking organs.

I define a crowd as consisting of five or more individuals. One of these individuals is always the leader. The moment several individuals get together to form a crowd, a number of their usual emotional reactions become atrophied, while other emotional reactions, theretofore dormant, become intensified. In a crowd, the individual loses most of his initiative; his fears and doubts are dissipated, and his reasoning faculties are narrowed down to one or two simple issues; he acquires new emotions of a religious or mystic nature; he feels a compelling sense of communal responsibility and a confidence that borders on omnipotence. Under the spell of the crowd emanations, he is capable of acts of supreme heroism or of dastardly cowardice – acts which he might not perform as an individual. Thus, a crowd is always composed of demigods who are at the same time savage beasts; of heroes who are simultaneously cruel cowards.

The basic fact from which all study of the mass mind must start, is this; every crowd possesses its own anatomy, its own brain, and its own nervous system, as distinct from the psychology of the individuals who comprise it.

This mass mind operates not only when people are gathered together in physical crowds – in auditoriums or on street corners – but continuously. Every individual is endowed, from time immemorial, with a number of instincts that make him a part of the herd and subject to reactions of the herd. He is dominated by crowd influences and crowd emotions wherever he is – whether he talks to other people, listens to the radio, or reads a newspaper in front of his own fireplace. Besides, in the course of the day most individuals are at some time or other in contact with different physical crowds, where they easily pick up the highly contagious germs of crowd emotions.

Thus, the mass mind functions even when there is not a physical crowd, except that then its emotions are not so intense and its psychological reactions do not occur so rapidly.

All the observations in this appendix, therefore, apply not only to physical crowds, but to all individuals who have social contact with the world around them.

The Structure of the Crowd or Mass Mind

If the crowd does have a mind of its own, just what is its structure, and how does it operate?

The crowd is made up of two elements: the mass and the leaders. Its structure is somewhat analogous to that of a cell, with its protoplasm and nucleus. The mass element in the crowd is nameless and passive, its essential function is to provide “nourishment” for the active principle, which is the nucleus. The crowd’s nucleus is composed of the crowd’s leaders, in whom practically the entire activity of the crowd is concentrated. And here the analogy between a cell and a crowd ceases. For a crowd is not comparable to one gigantic cell, but is actually made up of a great number of units, or crowd-cells. Each of these crowd-cells consists of five, six, or seven individuals, and each has its group leader. Thoughts and emotions are communicated from one unit or crowd cell to another through these group leaders, who act in the double capacity of transmitters and initiators of action.

The important point is that, of the individuals who make up a crowd-cell, only the leader is active; the others, so to speak, have delegated to him not only most of their authority, but a great part of their emotional and intellectual mechanisms. They leave to their leader the task of making decisions, and even the emotional function of becoming cruel or loving, heroic or cowardly. This process of delegation is, in my opinion, one of the underlying principles in the structure of the crowd. The group leader stands at the front of the stage, and his six or seven followers stand in the background, imitating his every gesture, thought, or emotion. It is the group leader who organizes a bridge game, selects a brand of cigarettes, decides that Roosevelt is a hero or a monster, throws rice and old shoes at the newlyweds, or lynches ….. He counts; his followers are but shadows in his image.

The Leaders

The group leaders in turn are organized into special leader-cells, each of which is controlled by a higher leader. Finally, there is a still higher leader-cell, composed of leaders of the leaders, and controlled by the supreme leader. At each intermediate stage the lower group of leaders transmits a large part of its authority and will to the higher leaders.

Thus, the structure of a crowd can be compared to a skyscraper built like a pyramid: its skeleton of steel is the leadership factor, its backbone and brain; the bricks that fill in this framework to complete the building make up the passive element, or the mass of the crowd. The higher “stories” of this tapering skyscraper are made up entirely of the higher leaders, where most of the power is concentrated; while the foundation is cemented and held together by the group leaders incrustated within the mass.

These leaders are always potentially present in any crowd. They spring up from the mass spontaneously. In a theater someone shouts, “Fire!” There are a few seconds of hesitation, during which the leaders crystalize. If the leaders are panicky, the crowd is panicky; if the leaders walk calmly to the nearest exit, so does the crowd. It may happen that the struggle of opposing leaders neutralizes the action of the crowd, leaving it temporarily leaderless; then there is a stampede.

This leadership structure is the characteristic organ of any crowd – its brain, its nervous and muscular systems, all in one. It is common to masses, crowds, and even herds of animals. These leaders are to be found among males and females, and in every conceivable human activity. Their presence, and not the so-called “tribal inheritance,” is the true explanation for the transmission of innumerable customs, traditions, and learned aptitudes of society.

The structure of a crowd of one hundred people is exactly the same as that of one hundred thousand; and its dynamics are the same, whether it be a crowd of Chinese, Russians, or Americans, and whether it be a crowd of delegates to the Republican convention or a lynching mob. The same laws apply to all crowds or masses of people, and most of these laws deal with the leadership factor. The essential difference, for instance, between a mob and an army does not lie in the structure, but in the difference between trained and spontaneous leadership. The army has discipline; that is, the leaders have been trained how to command, and the masses, how to obey. Thus, discipline merely intensifies the leadership principle in the structure of the mass mind.

The Mass

In a crowd, the mass never acts of its own volition, never takes any initiative, never attacks or runs. I am not attempting a paradox when I say that for all practical purposes of initiative or action, the mass does not exist!

The mass, however, does have one basic function, other than serving as “roughage”: it furnishes the raw material from which the leaders are produced.

The number and quality of the leaders, however, depends upon the mood, the climate of the mass. For want of a better word, I use the word “climate” to indicate the combination of physical, economic, and psychological conditions which influence the mass. It is this mass-climate which determines whether the mass accelerates or retards the formation and the acceptance of leaders. If the mass-climate is favorable to a movement, then the mass easily produces new leaders and the movement is accelerated. But if the climate is unfavorable, then the mass forms but few leaders, or forms leaders who are in opposition to the movement; as a result, the movement is either retarded or stopped…..

These two basic principles of leadership and mass apply not only to the psychology of crowds, but also to the structure of societies, as well as to the dynamics of social movements – be they wars, migrations, or an advertising campaign to launch a new kind of soap. In the preceding pages I have tried to explain a little of the theoretical background of the structure of the mass mind. These theories are of great practical value when applied to the technique of advertising, publicity, showmanship, and general mass appeal…..

…..There is another fallacy, caused by ignorance of the structure of the mass mind, which is costing the motion-picture industry alone many millions of dollars and which explains some of the monstrosities which they produce. It is the belief that the average intelligence of the masses is that of a twelve-year-old. Taken individually this may be true. But taken as a level at which to produce movies, it is a serious mistake, for every individual who sees a movie is part of a crowd. And the intelligence level of every crowd is that of its group leaders. If the intelligence level of the group leaders equals that of a college graduate, then the intelligence of the crowd, for all practical purposes, equals the college graduate; if, on the other hand, the intelligence level of the crowd’s group leaders is that of a twelve-year-old (which is relatively rare), then even a crowd of senators would be on the same level (and sometimes is). The important fact about any crowd is that the level of the group leaders’ intelligence is usually several notches higher that the average of the individuals which comprise the crowd. Here I am sharply at variance with Le Bon and modern students of the crowd, who believe that a crowd is per se stupid, cruel, and cowardly, and is of lower mentality than the individuals comprising it.

The group and higher leaders are the censors and sentinels of the masses. It is at them advertising and motion pictures should be aimed…..

Intellectually, it is quite possible to fool most of the people most of the time, and they are being so fooled continuously through various political doctrines and war propaganda, for instance; emotionally, however, it is much more difficult to fool the crowds. For a crowd, like a woman, follows intellectual arguments only superficially; all its attention is concentrated on feeling whether or not the speaker is sincere…..

Dictatorship and Democracy

….. A democracy – even at its worst, with the waste, stupid greed, and sloppiness we see in our country today – offers the best chances for initiative and fruitful struggle among rival groups of leaders in every walk of life. Its very instability and apparent disorganization insure the indispensable freedom for the maximum application of initiative and the correction of errors. And whatever a democracy may lose temporarily through less efficiency, it more than regains through greater initiative and freedom. The best safeguard of democracy is to be found in the education of both the masses and the leaders, so as to favor the maximum development of superior and freely competing leaders in all walks of life…..

There is also the principle of velocity in social movements; it results from the physical factor of tremendously increased facilities for communication and transportation. The masses are subject to thousands of influences from all sides, through radio, motion pictures, newspapers, books, automobiles; the mass-climate can be changed in the course of months or years, instead of generations. Group leaders are produced more quickly, and movements spread at terrific speed… The greater the velocity of social movements, the greater the instability and strife in the world. It follows that we are entering upon an era of great wars and revolutions, when classes and nations will be reshuffled, and the earth divided anew. Peace will come, perhaps several generations later, with the progress of science and the development of a system whereby the new leaders of the world will be technicians, specialists, and philosophers.

[From The Strange Lives of One Man, by Ely Culbertson, 1940.]

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