All posts by Irregular Theosophist

About Irregular Theosophist

I'm in my 60's. My wife "Sophia" is hanging on the wall in my Library.

Ben Franklin’s Spiritual Discipline

Ben Franklin


(Taken from “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin”)


It was about this time [in his mid-twenties] I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wish’d to live without committing any fault at any time; I would conquer all that either natural inclination, custom, or company might lead me into. As I knew, or thought I knew, what was right and wrong, I did not see why I might not always do the one and avoid the other. But I soon found I had undertaken a task of more difficulty than I had imagined. While my care was employ’d in guarding against one fault, I was often surprised by another; habit took the advantage of inattention; inclination was sometimes too strong for reason. I concluded, at length, that the mere speculative conviction that it was our interest to be completely virtuous, was not sufficient to prevent our slipping; and that the contrary habits must be broken, and good ones acquired and established, before we can have any dependence on a steady, uniform rectitude of conduct. For this purpose I therefore contrived the following method.

In the various enumerations of the moral virtues I had met with in my reading, I found the catalogue more or less numerous, as different writers included more or fewer ideas under the same name. Temperance, for example, was by some confined to eating and drinking, while by others it was extended to mean the moderating every other pleasure, appetite, inclination, or passion, bodily or mental, even to our avarice and ambition. I propos’d to myself, for the sake of clearness, to use rather more names, with fewer ideas annex’d to each, than a few names with more ideas; and I included under thirteen names of virtues all that at that time occurr’d to me as necessary or desirable, and annexed to each a short precept, which fully express’d the extent I gave to its meaning.

These names of virtues, with their precepts, were:

1. Temperance – Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.

2. Silence – Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.

3. Order – Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.

4. Resolution – Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.

5. Frugality – Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.

6. Industry – Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.

7. Sincerity – Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly; and, if you speak, speak accordingly.

8. Justice – Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.

9. Moderation – Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.

10. Cleanliness – Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.

11. Tranquillity – Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.

12. Chastity.

13. Humility – Imitate Jesus and Socrates.


My intention being to acquire the _habitude_ of all these virtues, I judg’d it would be well not to distract my attention by attempting the whole at once, but to fix it on one of them at a time; and, when I should be master of that, then to proceed to another, and so on, till I should have gone thro’ the thirteen; and, as the previous acquisition of some might facilitate the acquisition of certain others, I arrang’d them with that view, as they stand above. Temperance first, as it tends to procure that coolness and clearness of head, which is so necessary where constant vigilance was to be kept up, and guard maintained against the unremitting attraction of ancient habits, and the force of perpetual temptations. This being acquir’d and establish’d, Silence would be more easy; and my desire being to gain knowledge at the same time that I improv’d in virtue, and considering that in conversation it was obtain’d rather by the use of the ears than of the tongue, and therefore wishing to break a habit I was getting into of prattling, punning, and joking, which only made me acceptable to trifling company, I gave _Silence_ the second place. This and the next, _Order_, I expected would allow me more time for attending to my project and my studies. _Resolution_, once become habitual, would keep me firm in my endeavours to obtain all the subsequent virtues; _Frugality_ and Industry freeing me from my remaining debt, and producing affluence and independence, would make more easy the practice of Sincerity and Justice, etc., etc. Conceiving then, that, agreeably to the advice of Pythagoras in his Golden Verses, daily examination would be necessary, I contrived the following method for conducting that examination.

I made a little book, in which I allotted a page for each of the virtues. I rul’d each page with red ink, so as to have seven columns, one for each day of the week, marking each column with a letter for the day. I cross’d these columns with thirteen red lines, marking the beginning of each line with the first letter of one of the virtues, on which line, and in its proper column, I might mark, by a little black spot, every fault I found upon examination to have been committed respecting that virtue upon that day…..

I determined to give a week’s strict attention to each of the virtues successively. Thus, in the first week, my great guard was to avoid every the least offense against _Temperance_, leaving the other virtues to their ordinary chance, only marking every evening the faults of the day. Thus, if in the first week I could keep my first line, marked T, clear of spots, I suppos’d the habit of that virtue so much strengthen’d, and its opposite weaken’d, that I might venture extending my attention to include the next, and for the following week keep both lines clear of spots. Proceeding thus to the last, I could go thro’ a course complete in thirteen weeks, and four courses in a year. And like him who, having a garden to weed, does not attempt to eradicate all the bad herbs at once, which would exceed his reach and his strength, but works on one of the beds at a time, and, having accomplish’d the first, proceeds to a second, so I should have, I hoped, the encouraging pleasure of seeing on my pages the progress I made in virtue, by clearing successively my lines of their spots, till in the end, by a number of courses, I should be happy in viewing a clean book, after a thirteen weeks’ daily examination…..

And conceiving God to be the fountain of wisdom, I thought it right and necessary to solicit his assistance for obtaining it; to this end I formed the following little prayer, which was prefix’d to my tables of examination, for daily use.

“O powerful Goodness! bountiful Father! merciful Guide! Increase in me that wisdom which discovers my truest interest. Strengthen my resolutions to perform what that wisdom dictates. Accept my kind offices to thy other children as the only return in my power for thy continual favours to me.”

I used also sometimes a little prayer which I took from Thomson’s Poems, viz.:

“Father of light and life, thou Good Supreme!
O teach me what is good; teach me Thyself!
Save me from folly, vanity, and vice,
From every low pursuit; and fill my soul
With knowledge, conscious peace, and virtue pure;
Sacred, substantial, never-fading bliss!”

The precept of _Order_ requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time, one page in my little book contain’d the following scheme of employment for the twenty-four hours of a natural day….

[Franklin had here a chart for the hours of his day: He rose at about 4:30 and the Question he pondered was “What good shall I do this day?” Hours 4:30 until 7:30 consisted of “Rise, wash, and address Powerful Goodness! Contrive day’s business, and take the resolution of the day; prosecute the present study and breakfast.” He worked 7:30 until 12:00 and from 12 until 1:00 he would “Read, or look over my accounts and dine.” He worked again from 1:00 until 5:30, and from 5:30 until 9:30 he would “Put things in their places (at work), Supper, Music or diversion, or conversation, Examination of the day with the Question “What good have I done today?” From 9:30 until 4:30 he would sleep.]

I enter’d upon the execution of this plan for self-examination, and continu’d it with occasional intermissions for some time. I was surpris’d to find myself so much fuller of faults than I had imagined; but I had the satisfaction of seeing them diminish. To avoid the trouble of renewing now and then my little book, which, by scraping out the marks on the paper of old faults to make room for new ones in a new course, became full of holes, I transferr’d my tables and precepts to the ivory leaves of a memorandum book, on which the lines were drawn with red ink, that made a durable stain, and on those lines I mark’d my faults with a black-lead pencil, which marks I could easily wipe out with a wet sponge. After a while I went thro’ one course only in a year, and afterward only one in several years, till at length I omitted them entirely, being employ’d in voyages and business abroad, with a multiplicity of affairs that interfered; but I always carried my little book with me.

My scheme of Order gave me the most trouble; and I found that, tho’ it might be practicable where a man’s business was such as to leave him the disposition of his time, that of a journeyman printer, for instance, it was not possible to be exactly observed by a master, who must mix with the world, and often receive people of business at their own hours. _Order_, too, with regard to places for things, papers, etc., I found extremely difficult to acquire. I had not been early accustomed to it, and, having an exceeding good memory, I was not so sensible of the inconvenience attending want of method. This article, therefore, cost me so much painful attention, and my faults in it vexed me so much, and I made so little progress in amendment, and had such frequent relapses, that I was almost ready to give up the attempt, and content myself with a faulty character in that respect….

In truth, I found myself incorrigible with respect to Order; and now I am grown old, and my memory bad, I feel very sensibly the want of it. But, on the whole, tho’ I never arrived at the perfection I had been so ambitious of obtaining, but fell far short of it, yet I was, by the endeavour, a better and a happier man than I otherwise should have been if I had not attempted it; as those who aim at perfect writing by imitating the engraved copies, tho’ they never reach the wish’d-for excellence of those copies, their hand is mended by the endeavour, and is tolerable while it continues fair and legible.

It may be well my posterity should be informed that to this little artifice, with the blessing of God, their ancestor ow’d the constant felicity of his life, down to his 79th year, in which this is written. What reverses may attend the remainder is in the hand of Providence; but, if they arrive, the reflection on past happiness enjoy’d ought to help his bearing them with more resignation. To Temperance he ascribes his long-continued health, and what is still left to him of a good constitution; to Industry and Frugality, the early easiness of his circumstances and acquisition of his fortune, with all that knowledge that enabled him to be a useful citizen, and obtained for him some degree of reputation among the learned; to Sincerity and Justice, the confidence of his country, and the honorable employs it conferred upon him; and to the joint influence of the whole mass of the virtues, even in the imperfect state he was able to acquire them, all that evenness of temper, and that cheerfulness in conversation, which makes his company still sought for, and agreeable even to his younger acquaintance. I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow the example and reap the benefit.

It will be remark’d that, tho’ my scheme was not wholly without religion, there was in it no mark of any of the distinguishing tenets of any particular sect. I had purposely avoided them; for, being fully persuaded of the utility and excellency of my method, and that it might be serviceable to people in all religions, and intending some time or other to publish it, I would not have anything in it that should prejudice anyone, of any sect, against it. I purposed writing a little comment on each virtue, in which I would have shown the advantages of possessing it, and the mischiefs attending its opposite vice; and I should have called my book The Art of Virtue, because it would have shown the means and manner of obtaining virtue, which would have distinguished it from the mere exhortation to be good, that does not instruct and indicate the means, but is like the apostle’s man of verbal charity, who only without showing to the naked and hungry how or where they might get clothes or victuals, exhorted them to be fed and clothed…. But it so happened that my intention of writing and publishing this comment was never fulfilled….

My list of virtues contain’d at first but twelve; but a Quaker friend having kindly informed me that I was generally thought proud; that my pride show’d itself frequently in conversation; that I was not content with being in the right when discussing any point, but was overbearing, and rather insolent, of which he convinc’d me by mentioning several instances; I determined endeavouring to cure myself, if I could, of this vice or folly among the rest, and I added _Humility_ to my list, giving an extensive meaning to the word.

I cannot boast of much success in acquiring the _reality_ of this virtue, but I had a good deal with regard to the _appearance_ of it. I made it a rule to forbear all direct contradiction to the sentiments of others, and all positive assertion of my own. I even forbid myself, agreeably to the old laws of our Junto, the use of every word or expression in the language that imported a fix’d opinion, such as _certainly, undoubtedly_, etc., and I adopted, instead of them, _I conceive, I apprehend_, or _I imagine_ a thing to be so or so; or it _so appears to me at present_. When another asserted something that I thought an error, I deny’d myself the pleasure of contradicting him abruptly, and of showing immediately some absurdity in his proposition; and in answering I began by observing that in certain cases or circumstances his opinion would be right, but in the present case there _appear’d_ or _seem’d_ to me some difference, etc. I soon found the advantage of this change in my manner; the conversations I engag’d in went on more pleasantly. The modest way in which I propos’d my opinions procur’d them a readier reception and less contradiction; I had less mortification when I was found to be in the wrong, and I more easily prevail’d with others to give up their mistakes and join with me when I happened to be in the right….

In reality, there is, perhaps, no one of our natural passions so hard to subdue as _pride_. Disguise it, struggle with it, beat it down, stifle it, mortify it as much as one pleases, it is still alive, and will every now and then peep out and show itself; you will see it, perhaps, often in this history; for, even if I could conceive that I had completely overcome it, I should probably be proud of my humility.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Ambition vs. Attainment


– G. G. 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 occultist “…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”)


More Jung and Theosophy



“Higher Spirituality in Jung”


Editor, The Canadian Theosophist:


In your number of May 15th, 1935, there is an arrticle called “The Psychology of The New Age,” signed W.F.S., and in it a passing mention of Jung’s psychology. It seems to me that the author cannot have studied Jung’s latest works, or he would never have concluded his paragraph with such a depreciatory statement. Not only has the existence of “higher spiritual and mental realms” occurred to Jung but his psychology actually leads to parallels with the highest Chinese Yoga, as shown in his commentary on “The Secret of The Golden Flower.” His concept of the “unconscious” seems to me parallel with the “anima mundi” spoken of by H.P.B. in “The Secret Doctrine” as follows, –


She says, (S.D. II, 511), “Akasa – the astral light, – can be defined in a few words; it is the universal Soul, the Matrix of the universe, the Mysterium Magnum, from which all that exists is born by seperation or differentiation . . . . as the finite, in the Infinite, as regards manifestation, this light must have its shadowy side… which its actions draw upon humanity and which men attract and force to activity. Hence, while it is the universal Cause in its unmanifested, unity and infinity, the Astral Light becomes with regard to Mankind, simply the effects of the causes produced by men . . . that determines the unavoidable action and reaction of the great magic agent. It is mankind which has become the ‘Serpent of Genesis’ and thus causes daily and hourly the Fall and sin of the ‘Celestial Virgin’ – which thus becomes the Mother of gods and devils at one and the same time: for she is the ever-loving beneficent deity to all those who stir her Soul and heart, instead of attracting to themselves her shadowy manifested essence . . . .which kills and destroys . . . . .The Astral Light may be God and Devil at once – ‘Demon est Deus inverses’. . . . . the `Holy Ghost’ and `Satan’ at one and the same time …The manifested effects of the two who are one, guided and attracted by ourselves is the Karma of humanity.”


“The Astral Light stands in the same relation to Akasa and Anima Mundi as Satan stands to the Deity – they are one and the same thing seen from two aspects.” – (S.D., I, 197)


She says again: – “Alaya is literally the ‘Soul of the World’ or Anima Mundi, the ‘Over Soul’ of Emerson . . . . not only the Dhyani-Buddhas are one with Alaya in Soul and Essence, but even the man strong in the Yoga (mystic meditation), is able to merge his soul with it.” (S.D., I, 48)


On page 59 she speaks, of “the prototypes impressed in the Astral Light – the lowest plane and world of Anima Mundi” which is dual and bisexual. (I, 196)


The Logoi of all countries and religions are correlative. . . with the female Soul of the World, or the “Great Deep”; the deity, from which these two in one have their being, is ever concealed and called the “Hidden One”. . . it can act only through the Dual Force emanating from the Eternal Essence. (S.D., I, 353)


Svabhavat is the mystic essence, the plastic root of physical Nature – “Numbers” when manifested; the Number, in its unity of Substance, on the highest plane. The name is of Buddhist use and a synonym for the four-fold Anima Mundi, the Kabalistic “Archetypal world.” (S.D., I, 98)


Now the above is what Jung means by his concept of the “unconscious.”


In “Psychological Types,” p. 271, he says: “The great problems of life. . . are always related to the primordial images of the collective unconscious. These images are really balancing or compensating factors which correspond with the problems life presents in actuality ….. Every great experience in life, every profound conflict, evokes the treasured wealth of these images, and brings them to inner perception; as such, they become accessible to consciousness only in the presence of that degree of self-awareness and power of understanding which enables a man also to think what he experiences instead of just living it blindly. In the latter case he actually lives the myth and the symbol without knowing it.”


With regard to mythological associations Jung says . . . “Those motives and images . . . can spring anew in every age and clime, without historical tradition or migration. I term these contents the collective unconscious, just as conscious contents are engaged in a definite activity, the unconscious contents – so experience teaches us – are similarly active.” (p. 616) “I am myself so profoundly convinced of this homogeneity of the human psyche that I have actually embraced it in the concept of the collective unconscious as a universal and homogeneous subtratum whose homogeneity extends even into a world-wide identity or similarity of myths and fairy tales, so that a negro of the southern states of America dreams in the motives of Grecian mytholoy, and a Swiss grocer’s apprentice repeats in his psychosis the vistion of an Egyptian Gnostic.” (p. 264)


Speaking of popular myth and legend, H.P.B. says, in the Secret Doctrine (II, 293): “The imagination of the masses . . . could never have conceived and fabricated ex nihilo so many monstrous figures, such a wealth of extraordinary tales, had it not had to serve it as a central nucleus, those floating reminiscences, obscure and vague, which unite the broken links of the chain of time to form with them the mysterious dream foundation of our collective consciousness.”


Jung’s concept of the collective unconscious is bound up with the problem of the pairs of opposites. In “Two Essays” (page 115) he says: “Through tension beween the opposites, the collective unconscious brings forth images which as symbols make possible an irrational union of the opposites”, (meaning that it cannot be done by brain reasoning). Our immediate life is only a world of images. All conscious imagination and action have grown out of these unconscious prototypes, and remain bound up with them.”


In “Psychological Types”, p. 577, Jung says: – Active phantasy, which brings the symbol to birth, “belongs to the highest form of psychic activity. For here, in a converging stream, flow the conscious and unconsciouss personality of the subject into a common and reconciling product. A phantasy thus framed may be the supreme expression of the unity of an individual; it may even create the individual by the consummate expression of its unity.”


(p. 144): Under normal conditions…. energy must be artificially added to the unconscious symbol, in order to. . .bring it to consciousness – this occurs. . . through a differentiation of the Self from the opposites… “this points to the separability of an individual nucleus”. This detachment causes the energy to sink into the unconscious, where it automatically takes possession of the waiting phantasy material, which it activaltes and urges towards consciousness.” The expression for the symbol “living form” is happily chosen, “because the phantasy material thus animated contains images of the psychological development of the individual in its successive states, thus providing a sort of model or representative of the further way between the opposites….. this function of mediation between the opposites I have termed the transcendent function. (p. 149). The positive something which results is the “symbolic determinant of the Will” …..


“The primordial image to which I refer is revealed in that growth of oriental thought which centres around the Brahman-Atman teaching in India, and in China found its philosophical representative in Lao Tze. (p. 151) …… Tao is….. a middle road between the opposites, freed from them and yet uniting them in itself. The purpose of life is to travel this middle path and never to deviate towards the opposites.” Such a wisdom presents what is the highest attainable to spiritual superiority. (p. 153): “For its achievement the highest moral effort, the greatest self-denial and sacrifice, the most intense religious earnestness and saintliness, are needed.” (p. 244): “The East has for thousands of years been familiar with this process, and has founded thereon a psychological doctrine of salvation which brings the way of deliverance within the compass of human intention – thus both the Indian and the Chinese religions, as also Buddhism which combines the spheres of both, possess the idea of a redeeming middle path of magical efficacy which is attainable through a conscious attitude.”


Jung quotes the Kaushitaki Upanishad, 1-4, “like one who faring fast in a chariot looketh down upon the chariot wheels, so upon day and night, upon good and evil deeds and upon all the opposites doth he look down; but he, freed from good and evil deeds, as knower of Brahman, entereth into Brahman.”


On p. 266 Jung says of Tao: “Tao is an irrational union of the opposites, therefore a symbol which is and is not”…. “The spirit of the valley is immortal; it is called the deep feminine. The gateway of the deep feminine is called root of heaven and earth”…. – “Too withdraw oneself is the celestial way”…. (quoting Lao Tze): “Therefore is he (the complete one) inaccessible to intimacy, inaccessible to estrangement, inaccessible to profit, inaccessible to injury, inaccessible to honor, inaccessible to disgrace.” Being one with Tao resembles the spiritual condition of a child. This is the psychological attitude which is an esesntial condition of the inheritance of the Christian Kingdom of Heaven – …. The basic image and symbol whence proceeds the redeeming effect. (p 267): “Hence as a microcosm, uniting in himself the world opposites, man corresponds with the irrational symbol which reconciles psychological antithesis – . This root-image of man – accords with the symbol `living forms’.” The opposites are two mutually contending tendencies, both striving to drag man into extreme attitudes and entangle him in the world.


Wu Wei, another Chinese concept, means “not doing and not doing nothing.” In this connection Jung quotes a Japanese philosopher, NakaeToju – “Ri is the world soul, Ki the world matter, which are two aspects of the same thing. The individual also embraces the opposites.” There is a universal Self and an individual Self which is a divine essence which Toju calls Ryochi. It is the universal Self in use (as Jung also says elsewhere: “The individual Self is a …. representative of something universally present in all living are creatures.”) Ryochi is the True Self – not the false self which is an “acquired personality arising from perverted beliefs.” Ryochi is called “alone being,” or “alone knowing.” It is the self regulating function, this mediator of the pairs of opposites Ri and Ki; it is the “ancient Wise One
who dwelleth in thy heart” – “in every heart there dwelIeth a Sage; only man will not steadfastly believe it; therefore hath the whole remained buried.”


In the “Secret of the Golden Flower” (p. 83) Jung says, “My professional experiences have shown me that in my technique I had been unconsciously led along the secret way which for centuries has been the preoccupation of the best minds of the East.” The Chinese text shows striking parallels with the course of psychic development in European people. With them it is also a question of the way in which one may become what the Hindu terms Nirdvandva, free of the opposites – but the way is narrow as a knife’s edge. He says: “This detachment is the therapeutic effect par excellence for which I labor with my students and patients.” But he points out that this technique is only appropriate at a certain stage of development, and in the second half of life it must not be entered upon too soon. The instruction is only intended for him whose “light of consciousness is capable of freeing him from the powers of life, in order to enter into the ultimate undivided unity, into the ‘centre of emptiness’ where ‘dwells the god of utmost emptiness and life,’ as the Chinese text says. This ‘centre’ reminds one of what was said by a (Theosophical) Master: “Desire only in your efforts to reach nearest the centre of life. (which is the same in the universe and in yourself). It is your divinity, it is the divinity we all share, which has within it, in its heart, a supreme and awful power.”


Jung says: “This something, though strange to us, is yet so near it is altogether ourselves and yet unrecognizable, a virtual middle point. I have called this middle point the Self.” In another place he says: “The psyche may be regarded as a mathematical point, and at the same time as a universe of fixed stars.”


He says: “Obviously the veil of Maya cannot be lifted by a mere decision of reason, but demands the most thorough-going and wearisome preparation consisting in the right payment of all debts to life… till then, there are real and relatively real figures of the unconscious.”


Of Westerners Jung says: “We would like to climb the heights of a philosophical religion, but are, in fact, incapable of it. The best we can do is to grow up to it.”


I think that the parallels given above prove that the “existence of higher spiritual and mental realms” has occurred to Jung!


– Maude Bernard

(From Canadian Theosophist, Aug., 15, 1935)


The Unity of Life


The function of Theosophy is to provide a true sense of direction for human life. The student of Theosophy therefore must realize the extreme need for becoming clear regarding this doctrine of Unity for it is the only unshakable basis for wise human living.

Expressed in the life of the individual it has two aspects – the positive or stern side and the negative or tender sympathetic side. Until an individual fully grasps both phases of the Law of Unity he will not be able to communicate the spirit of the teaching to another.

True self-abnegation is of itself exactly half of what is required. Alone, it makes a man a sort of saint but not by any means a Master of Life; the power of self-assertion is equally necessary. This is a hard thing for Western minds, nurtured in a Christian atmosphere, to realize. Meekness, humbleness, pityfulness, and self-abasement are regarded as the spiritual virtues. They are, but so are their opposites, and impersonality demands the balanced ability to assert positively and to endure unresistingly, to be diamond hard as well as to be tenderly sympathetic.

Individuals are not rare who have developed one aspect of this dual power, but when we find a man who is equally at home in both phases, we shall have discovered someone who has conquered the instinctive nature, and in whom the love of self can be completely set aside at will. Nothing less than this is Spiritual power, is Selflessness.

Some of us find it only too easy to be over tolerant of the faults of others, minimizing mistakes and weaknesses and, “Looking always for the best in people”. And we often take credit for this not realizing that we are giving way to an instinct of self-protection by seeking to disarm possible criticism of ourselves. Others, just as insitinctively, bolster up their sense of superiority by being hyper-critical at all times, making a point of telling people what they think of them.

Everyone in his early life unconscionsly builds up the attitude, through which he or she most easily faces life and maintains his sense of self-importance – the deepest, most far-reaching of all human instincts, often stronger even than the deisire for life itself. This attitude he wears as a cloak, behind which he hides and protects himself, and without consideration and almost without thought it reacts instinctively in all life’s circumstances, and the individual does and says what it dictates unless he checks this instinctive reaction and considers and acts as his intelligence directs. In all such uncontrolled instinctive actions whether the instinct be good or bad, fine or ignoble, we are not really living at all; Nature is living in us.

The Unity of Life can never be more than an intellectual idea, and Brotherhood nothing more than a sentimental ideal, until we become Self-possessed, until we incarnate our Real Self into this centre of instinctive life we think of as ourself, and control and rule it.

Selflessness is the power of the spiritually enlightened mind to hold up, control and direct Nature’s energies within us. No matter what our type, or temperament may be, the fundamental practical problem of all students is to bring the individual’s own life under the rule of intelligence. If we neglect this it will not much matter what we do. (Notes from an Orpheus Lodge Discussion)

– From The Canadian Theosophist, June 15, 1935


Virgin Births

virgin birth

…..Coming back to the countries adjacent to the Eastern end of the Mediterranean we find many examples of the Immaculate Mother and the Holy Child.  Isis and Horus are two Egyptian figures which typify this idea.  Horus was born of his virgin mother Isis at the time of the Winter Solstice (December 21st) and shortly after birth was hidden away from persecution at the hands of his elder brother Typhon in a papyrus swamp.  One of the titles applied to him was “He of the East to whom the Desert brings Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.”  Isis the mother occupied a rather different position from that of Mary as depicted in the early Gospel stories.  Isis is a goddess to whom temples were erected and adoration offered.  As the Christian Church grew and organized Mary was given such titles as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God” etc., but these were not new as exactly the same titles were applied to Isis hundreds of years before.   …..Coming back to the countries adjacent to the Eastern end of the Mediterranean we find many examples of the Immaculate Mother and the Holy Child.  Isis and Horus are two Egyptian figures which typify this idea.  Horus was born of his virgin mother Isis at the time of the Winter Solstice (December 21st) and shortly after birth was hidden away from persecution at the hands of his elder brother Typhon in a papyrus swamp.  One of the titles applied to him was “He of the East to whom the Desert brings Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh.”  Isis the mother occupied a rather different position from that of Mary as depicted in the early Gospel stories.  Isis is a goddess to whom temples were erected and adoration offered.  As the Christian Church grew and organized Mary was given such titles as “Queen of Heaven,” “Mother of God” etc., but these were not new as exactly the same titles were applied to Isis hundreds of years before.

Isis is sometimes depicted as standing on a crescent moon with a crown of twelve stars above her head.  This reminds one of the verse in Revelation which speaks of “The woman clothed with the Sun, the Moon under her feet and having about her head twelve stars.”  The similarity between the medieval art representations of the figures in the Christian religion and the art forms of the ancient Egyptians is so striking that a follower of Isis, if he could be awakened from his long sleep would have no difficulty in recognizing his divinity in the Italian paintings of the Renaissance.  As a matter of fact the pictures of Isis and Horus carved in the Egyptian bas reliefs are so similar to the Christian conventional forms that some early Christians obliterated the carvings by covering them with plaster.  This, however, merely served to preserve the sculptures from weathering and now they have been uncovered and give their silent witness to the universality of the eternal story of the ever-Virgin Mother and her Saviour Son.

Osiris, the Redeemer of Light, of whom Horus is the son, or reincarnation, was also Virgin born from his mother Neith.  His father was Seb.  Osiris and Horus are really one – one representing the candidate, the other the risen Horus, the initiate and the judge and initiator of those who follow.  The opposing figure in the Egyptian story is given various names, Typhon, Set, Apap and Herat the ‘Slayer of the Youngling in the egg.’

In Persia, Chaldea and Assyria the ancient tradition again appears.  Mithra, also known as Tseur, or Saviour, was born in a cave on December 25th.  As all record of Mithraic literature has been lost, the present knowledge of this great movement has been derived from contemporary writers and from the interpretations of rock carvings.  Mithra is sometimes called the ‘Rock Born’ because of the tradition which says he was born from the side of a huge rock, but that the idea of a Virgin Birth was present among his followers is shown by Sir J. G. Frazer in the “Golden Bough” where he says “If we may trust the evidence of an obscure scholiast, the Greeks (in the worship of Mithra at Rome) used to celebrate the birth of the Luminary by a midnight service, coming out of the inner shrines and crying ‘The Virgin has brought forth, the light is waning.”‘  On Mithraic monuments the figure of the Mother and the Child is not uncommon.

Zoroaster – Zarathustra – was considered by his followers as being born of an immaculate conception by a ray of Divine Reason, and from his body shortly after birth there shone a light which illuminated the whole room.  “Tradition reports that his mother had alarming dreams of evil spirits seeking to destroy the child to whom she was about to give birth but a good spirit came to rescue him and consoled her saying  ‘Fear not, god Ormuzd will protect the infant, whom he has sent as a prophet to the people and the world which is awaiting for him.”  Zoroaster was visited at his birth by a group of Magi.

The Greeks perhaps more than any other race seized upon this symbol of the Virgin Birth of the Redeeming One and made it peculiarly their own.  It was not ‘unique’ to their understanding.  It was the unfailing lot of an Initiate to be ‘born of a virgin’ and so many of such figures appear in the Pantheon.  Of course the educated Greek did not believe that the gods were persons but that they were the personification of principles whose influence on man and in man was rendered more understandable when told in dramatic form.

Dionysus (the Babylonian Diwuisi), Bacchus, born of the virgin Semele through the fatherhood of Zeus, the father of the (mundane) gods, is the great initiatory figure of Grecian mythology.  Hermes, Mercury, the Messenger of the gods, took the infant Dionysus to a far country where he would be safe from the wrath of Hera, the immortal consort of Zeus who was jealous of Semele.

Perseus, who was also a son of Zeus by Danae the virgin, who was impregnated in a shower of gold, slew the Gorgons, the powers of darkness and saved Andromeda (the human soul).

In the story of Prometheus, the fore-knower, who sends the divine fire from Heaven to give to man, and is crucified by Zeus to the side of Mount Caucasus for his sacrilege, we meet the elements of the Saviour story.  The myths of Pro-metheus, Heracles and Dionysus should be read together for the three personages are really one – the Ego.  The Divine Rebel is freed from his bonds by Heracles, another son of Zeus born from the virgin Alcmene.  Heracles was doomed from birth to be the servant of Eurystheus and he too suffered persecution from Hera who tried to kill him in his infancy by sending two serpents to strangle him.

– Dudley W. Barr.

– from “The Canadian Theosophist,” March 15, 1926

Thoughts on Reincarnation


We sometimes turn to Nature for illustrations that we can use in explaining some of the doctrines, and the best illustration that I can find for the teaching of reincarnation is a perennial plant. Perhaps a plant growing from a bulb provides the best example of all, because during the winter months all that had grown above the ground has been shed, and the bulb lies invisibly below the surface waiting for the new spring-time growth.

It is a wonderful thing, once you come to think about it, how the life-energies bring forth the blade-like leaves, and then the flower, and then when the flowering is over, the energies withdraw into the bulb, and the flower and the leaves are shed.

Suppose, just for the sake of this illustration, we cut the flower in its prime and preserve it.  When the new flower appears during the next Spring, we may find that to all intents and purposes it is an altogether different flower, as much so almost as though it had sprung from a different bulb.  And yet it is the outgrowth of the flower that we preserved from the year before, because the same life-energy produced them both.

It seems that here is the secret of the difference between the personality and the individuality.  The individuality, which we also call the reincarnating ego, is like the bulb because it puts forth a new personality at each new birth, which process we have come to call reincarnation.  The personality of this life-time is to all intents and purposes a different being from the personality that the reincarnating ego brought forth in its previous sojourn on earth.  And this is the reason that we cannot remember our past lives.

Now the great task confronting us in human life is to make of this personality a fitting instrument and vehicle for the life of the individuality, which is really the higher Self.  When we recognize that we as human beings have the responsibility of maintaining our bodies in health and control, and of using them for constructive purposes, and that we are responsible in the last analysis to our higher Selves, then this higher Self, or the individuality as we also call it, can become more manifest in our consciousness.  When this has been more or less successfully accomplished we have true human greatness.

So when a person says:  “But I don’t want to reincarnate,” that is the impermanent part of him speaking that isn’t going to endure anyway.  When he makes a sincere effort to study the grand teachings, and to live them, then he becomes conscious of those vaster reaches of his being that comprise the entity which does survive through the ages in that mysterious process called reincarnation.

And one more thought.  Reincarnation is only a special case of a wider teaching of the Continuance of Life.  We reincarnate because humanity at the present level of its unfoldment needs the experience.  There are entities in the universe that do not reincarnate because there is not the need for it.  They have passed through that phase of spiritual evolution, or, again, in other instances have not yet reached that phase, wherein reincarnation is the answer to their specific needs.

All entities, however, follow the habits of Nature, and the Continuance of Life in one form or another is the first law of cosmic activity.  Thus many entities, both above and below the human kingdom, reimbody although they remain within their own class.  Only entities that wear bodies of flesh, such as we humans, and the animals, reincarnate.
If we follow this line of thinking it will lead us into some of the deepest mysteries of consciousness.  And there is no spiritual exercise to be compared with that of delving into the teachings and encompassing them with our minds and hearts.  That is the secret of growth along spiritual and ethical lines.


– L. Gordon Plummer,  (Eclectic Theosophist, May, 1978)

The Greatest Curse

2 procreation

[Some Theosophical teachings on Sex]

– G. C. Legros

In his Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, pp. 342-6, Dr. G. de Purucker states: “… sex is but a passing phase in racial evolution and, strictly speaking, is not normal to mankind on Globe D of our planetary chain. This method of procreation actually was copied from the beasts, which ‘separated’ before ‘man’ … As a matter of fact, the Atlantean and Atlanto-Lemurian karma has weighed so heavily upon us, the fifth race, that we are actually belated, and have not at the present date, the middle point of the fifth race, reached that stage as regards the evolving of the physical body which otherwise we should have reached.

“As it stands, however, the teaching tells us that at the end of our own fifth race, men and women will be disappearing as opposite sexes; and that by the middle of the Sixth Root Race (the race to come) men and women as separate sexes shall be no longer.

“The humans of that period (the Sixth Root-Race) will produce children by meditation and by will; during the Seventh Root-Race, the last to come on this Globe, during this Fourth Round – a race which to us now would seem glorious – the humans of that race will produce their kind in the same general manner; but by consciously exercised will and meditation…

“The main point… is to realize that this present physiological state of sex is a passing racial and evolutionary phase; and that every abuse, every misuse, no matter of what kind or what the world may think about it, is a reaction contrary to the evolutionary ‘law’… and that while it is true that the present method is the one which nature has evolved at the present time, as said before it is not really the method which primordial humanity might have followed… Nature has followed that line, as it were, under protest, through the evil doing involved in our past karma, as the only way souls can find incarnation at present …”

Sexual reproduction for humanity definitely was not in Nature’s original plan. On page 262, Vol. II, The Secret Doctrine, we read: “As has been shown in the present volume… it is the speechless animal that first started sexual connection… Nor was it intended by Nature that man should follow the bestial example …”

Ambition is the first curse says “Light on the Path;” but sex is the greatest, says The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, p. 412: “… the fire received has turned into the greatest curse: the animal element, and consciousness of its possession, has changed periodical instinct into chronic animalism and sensuality. It is this which hangs over humanity like a heavy funereal pall.” It has degraded man into “a helpless, scrofulous being, who has become the richest heir on the globe to constitutional and hereditary diseases.”

The deliberate profanation of sex in Atlantis led to the worship of the physical body (the Easter Island statues attest to this), and finally to the sex principle in itself. Phallic Sorcery followed, with half of the Atlantean civilization falling into Black Magic practices which survive today in African Voodoo, Tibetan Dugpa Lamaism, Hindu Tantrika, and many branchs of Western metaphysics.

“The question is often asked” – The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, pp. 295-6 – “Why should celibacy and chastity be a sine qua non rule and condition of regular chelaship, or the development of psychic and occult powers? The answer is contained in the Commentary… During human life the greatest impediment in the way of spiritual development, and especially to the acquirement of Yoga powers, is the activity of our physiological senses. Sexual action being closely connected, by interaction, with the spinal cord and the grey matter of the brain…”

From H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. XII, pp. 700-2: “Humanity will become once more hermaphrodite, male-female, and then there will be two Spinal Cords in the human body.. Ida and Pingala will be joined with sushumna and they will also become one. Thus the Sympathetic Cords, which are concerned so largely with the glandular system, developed more in the female than in the male, and the Cerebrospinal Axis, connected with the muscular system, developed more in the male than in the female, will reach equality or equilibrium, and with this the Androgyne becomes the typical Humanity.
“The sexual creative power of man is not natural… It was an abnormal diversion from the course of human or divine nature, and all tends to make away with it. Man at the end of the Sixth and Seventh Races will not have sexual organs.

“…no one can properly or safely enter on the study of Practical Occultism, in the real sense of the word, unless he or she is a celibate… any who get hold of some of the Hatha-Yoga exercises, and who begin to practice them in the midst of an ordinary family life, or while living in a loose way sexually, must, if to any extent successful, bring upon themselves physical disease, and very often madness… Therefore all sexual intercourse is forbidden to the students of Practical Occultism.”

[Our magazine] entertains no grand hope that the foregoing will transform its readers into an assembly of celibates, but it does expect the Purucker-Blavatsky material to clear the air, and show that the Sexual Revolution now raging is no holy crusade for man’s liberation from Puritanism, but a campaign of moral corruption conjured by demon hands from the lowest pits of Hell.

The Man of Tomorrow must see himself as a potential god imprisoned in the body of a beast, but with the wisdom and power to train it to serve him in his work for Universal Brotherhood. Either that, or he will lose his godhood and revert to something less than human, to a dwindling caricature of the Self he might have been.

(from “Messiah”)