Category Archives: Philosophy

The Unity of Life

crowd

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

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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
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Thoughts on Reincarnation

daffodils

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)
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What is Theosophy?

Theosophy is a Greek term meaning Divine Wisdom, said to be the synthesis of religion, philosophy and science.  During the Dark Ages this wisdom was only taught in secret to dedicated pupils, but during the last century it became available to all seekers after spiritual truth, and its promulgation was intended to act as a counter-balance in our present age of scientific materialism. Theosophy is a Greek term meaning Divine Wisdom, said to be the synthesis of religion, philosophy and science.  During the Dark Ages this wisdom was only taught in secret to dedicated pupils, but during the last century it became available to all seekers after spiritual truth, and its promulgation was intended to act as a counter-balance in our present age of scientific materialism.
Two main teachings are stressed in Theosophy – Reincarnation and Karma.  Reincarnation means the successive births of every individual in a new human body, on this earth, birth and death following each other like waking and sleeping so that a period of activity is followed by a period of rest and assimilation.  Karma, meaning ‘action’, is the law of cause and effect, action and reaction being equal and opposite.
Put into practical terms, these two doctrines, called twins since one cannot be considered without the other, supply a rational and satisfactory explanation of what appears to be gross injustice in our lives.  Obviously we are not born equal, either physically or mentally, and our sense of justice demands a better explanation than laying the blame on the will of God or Fate.
If we realized the real implication of the Biblical injunction that “with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again” and if we applied this in our thoughts and actions, the quality of life would be immeasurably improved, eventually permeating the whole fabric of society.
A belief in reincarnation, which is accepted by two-thirds of the world’s population, would remove the fear of death, putting it in its proper place as a part of living, a door into a new state of consciousness free of the limitations of the physical body.
During the period between physical lives, the immortal man, the undying individuality, assimilates the experience and lessons of the life just ended, so that when the time comes to enter a new body again, he will be wiser and better able to cope with life’s problems as they arise.
Theosophical students revere all the great teachers and sages of history, as examples of what is possible for every individual.  “I have said, ye are gods and children of the most High.”
The third basic idea in Theosophy is that of the unity of all life and human brotherhood as a fact, not a sentimental opinion.
We are very aware today of the interdependence in the chain of life in the kingdoms below man.  Theosophy always taught this, but in addition includes mankind.  We are all parts of the greater life, sparks of Divinity, united like the fingers of one hand, and we have learned that when one finger is injured the whole hand suffers.
These three basic ideas are the foundation of Theosophy and can be grasped even by a child, although the deeper reaches of the philosophy have given great minds their fullest scope and will satisfy the spiritual longings of those who are gradually turning away from self-centered materialistic living.
( Dorita Gilmour, from The Eclectic Theosophist, Jan 15, 1978 )
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Why 360 Degrees?

zodiac

                                  – L. Gordon Plummer

The division of the circle into 360 equal parts called ‘degrees’ is very ancient. The early astronomers and mathematicians who divided it thus, knew well what they were about, and if we embark upon a short excursion into the mystic Land of Numbers we shall soon learn that there are wonderful correspondences between cycles of time and geometrical form. Let us first study the interesting astronomical cycle known as the Precession of the Equinoxes.

Those who have studied astronomy will recall that the points on the Earth’s orbit where it is crossed by the plane of the celestial equator, move slowly westward, making the complete circle in nearly 26,000 years. The number as reckoned by the ancients is 25,920 years. This cycle is known as the Precessional Cycle because the points of intersection above referred to are the points on the Earth’s orbit where the planet is at the vernal and autumnal equinoxes, and these equinoctial points move very slowly in the clockwise direction, while the Earth travels once around its orbit counter-clockwise every year, in other words, the time of equinox ‘precedes’ that of the year before. Hence the word ‘precession.’

The ecliptic is the great celestial circle in whose plane the Earth moves in its orbit, and as the other planets move in orbits whose planes are nearly identical with that of the Earth, these other planets actually, and the Sun apparently, move in the ecliptic. As we move along this circle or track in one year the Sun appears to pass across 12 great constellations called the Constellations of the Zodiac. The ecliptic is divided into 12 equal areas, which take their names from these 12 constellations, and therefore these divisions are called the Signs of the Zodiac. Imagine now the ecliptic (in which the Earth’s orbit lies ) to be a great wheel revolving slowly in the heavens. The point on the Earth’s orbit – and hence on the ecliptic – where the Earth passes through the vernal, or spring, equinox marks the beginning of the first of the 12 divisions, and they are reckoned counter-clockwise, or eastward. Since, as we have observed, the point of the vernal – and consequently of the autumnal – equinox moves westward, we may consider that it carries the ecliptic along with it. The great circle turns round and round in the heavens, and requires 25,920 years to make one revolution. The Signs of the Zodiac then move with it because they are a part of it. Thus, the Sign of Aries, which begins at the spring equinoctial point and the ecliptic, and which once occupied a position in the sky identical with the constellation Aries, has shifted, and is now entering the constellation Aquarius. That is to say, the Sun is now in the Constellation Aquarius at the time of the spring equinox, whereas it was once in the constellation Aries at the same equinox.

It is obvious that since the first point in the sign of Aries – usually called the ‘first point of Aries’ – takes 25,920 years to pass around the Zodiac, or across the 12 constellations, it will take one-twelfth of that time or 2,160 years to pass through one constellation, assuming for the moment that all the constellations occupy equal portions of the sky. This number, 2,160 years, is extremely important, because it is a basic factor in computing the ages of the Earth, and the Rounds and Races, as also in counting the numbers of degrees in the geometrical solids. Further, the length of the Messianic Cycle, or Cycle of certain Avataras is 2,160 years. A point of great interest is that the cube, which was anciently held to symbolize Man, has for the sum of its plane angles, 2,160′. The cube unfolded into a plane surface becomes a cross. At the commencement of the Avataric Cycle of 2,160 years a candidate for the highest initiation is placed upon a cruciform couch, and while his body remains there, his spirit soars through the inner realms of the spiritual world, reaching at last the ‘Heart of the Sun.’ When he arises from the couch, he does so as a glorified Adept, a Teacher of Men.

But we have digressed somewhat from the purpose in view, that is, to find out just why the circle is divided into 360 degrees. So let us note that the number 2,160 is 10 times the cube of 6. Now the cube of 6 is equal to the sum of the cubes of 3, 4, and 5. Among the important numbers, the numbers 3, 4, and 5 play a leading part in the building of form. The five regular polyhedrons, held so sacred by the ancients, are built upon the 3, 4 and 5. At some future time, we may devote an article to the study of these most interesting figures, so we will make but few allusions to them here.

There are five regular solids in geometry. These are: the icosahedron, having 30 edges, 20 equilateral triangular faces, and 12 vertices; the dodecahedron having also 30 edges, but 12 pentagonal faces, and 20 vertices; the cube with 12 edges, 6 quadrilateral faces, and 8 vertices; the octahedron having also 12 edges, but 8 triangular faces, and 6 vertices; and the tetrahedron, or triangular pyramid, having 6 edges, 4 triangular faces, and 4 vertices. The numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6 play a very important part in the building of these figures, both as to the numbers of faces, vertices, or edges in them, and as to the numbers of degrees in their angles. These figures are the working out in geometrical form of the same principles which are behind the manifested universe, which, before manifestation, may be represented by the circle. A circle may be divided into 3 equal arcs, each of these into 4ths, each resulting 12th part into 5ths, and the resulting 60ths, into 6 equal parts each, and the whole will be then divided into 360 equal parts, or degrees. Now the product of 3, 4, 5 and 6, or 360, divided by their sum, or 18, gives us 20, a number suggestive of the icosahedron, the most complex of the geometrical solids. Lines may be drawn, joining interiorly all the points of the icosahedron, and we shall find that within it we have a new figure, the dodecahedron. The dodecahedron, having 30 edges as well as the icosahedron, we have now 60 lines. (Note that 60 is the product of 3,4, and 5.) The dodecahedron was considered to represent the solar system – the 12 faces, symbolic of the 12 Signs of the Zodiac – and the icosahedron, the outer stars.

Suppose, now, that we take a circle, and divide the circumference into 10 equal arcs, suggestive of the 10 planes of consciousness, join each point with every other point . . . . . and we have drawn the icosahedron surrounding the dodecahedron! The point at the center of the circle, where some of the lines cross, becomes in reality 2 points, coinciding and forming the north and south poles of the icosahedron.

Now the circle here represents the Unmanifested, which, however, as soon as manifestation takes place becomes 10 Cosmic planes. These Cosmic planes we have learned to divide into sub-planes, 10 in each, as follows: 3 subjective or formless planes: 4 intermediate planes, upon which the globe-chains which belong to that particular cosmic plane manifest; then 3 lower planes of a substance and energy lower in vibration even than the lowest of the seven globes of the planetary chains occupying the four intermediate planes. Thus the planes can be numbered, 3, 4 and 3. (Incidentally, the number 343 is the cube of 7, the number of manifestation.) These sub-planes are not to be considered as layers in a cake, but are interpenetrating. Suppose, then, we divide in this fashion each of the 10 arcs of our circle: first, into 3 equal parts, each of which will be one-thirtieth of the whole, each of these into 4ths, making 120ths, then each of these into 3rds again, and we have our circle divided once more into 360 equal parts, or degrees.

To sum up, then, we find that the numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6, and also the number 10 considered as the sum of 3, 4 and 3 are of especial interest and importance in connexion with the number of degrees in the circle, because they represent active agents in the constructive side of Nature. The number 12 (the sum of 3, 4 and 5) has a particular function which will require further consideration, but it may here be said that the numbers 11 and 12 represent the zenith and the nadir of any hierarchy of 10 planes, because they represent the higher and lower connecting-points, as it were, between that hierarchy and the ones above and below it. The relations between the numbers are as intricate, apparently, as are the lines of the geometrical figure here illustrated, yet when we have a bird’s-eye view of the whole subject, we can see clearly the part that each number has to play.

And we have but touched the shores of the mystic Land of Numbers. We shall set sail again and find out more about the geometrical solids. Wonderful are the lessons we can learn about Nature and her majestic laws, and sublime is the inspiration that will come to us if we approach her with eager hearts, and a love of Truth, free from personal desires.

Theosophical Path, Jan., 1934

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The Earth

contemplation

. . . . One night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill. Dark heather checked my feet. Below marched the suburban street lamps. Windows, their curtains drawn, were shut eyes, inwardly watching the lives of dreams. Beyond the seas’s level darkness a lighthouse pulsed. Overhead, obscurity.

I distinguished our own house, our islet in the tumultuous and bitter currents of the world. There, for a decade and a half, we two, so different in quality, had grown in and in to one another, for mutual support and nourishment, in intricate symbiosis. There daily we planned our several undertakings, and recounted the day’s oddities and vexations. There letters piled up to be answered, socks to be darned. There the children were born, those sudden new lives. There, under that roof, our own two lives, recalcitrant sometimes to one another, were all the while thankfully one, one larger, more conscious life than either alone.

All this, surely, was good. Yet there was bitterness. And bitterness not only invaded us from the world; it welled up also within our own magic circle. For horror at our futility, at our own unreality, and not only at the world’s delirium, had driven me out on to the hill.

We were always hurrying from one little urgent task to another, but the upshot was unsubstantial. Had we, perhaps, misconceived our whole existence? Were we, as it were, living from false premises? And in particular, this partnership of ours, this seemingly so well-based fulcrum for activity in the world, was it after all nothing but a little eddy of complacent and ingrown domesticity, ineffectively whirling on the surface of the great flux, having in itself no depth of being, and no significance? Had we perhaps after all deceived ourselves? Behind those rapt windows did we, like so many others, indeed live only a dream? In a sick world even the hale are sick. And we two, spinning our little life mostly by rote, seldom with clear cognizance, seldom with firm intent, were products of a sick world.

Yet this life of ours was not all sheer and barren fantasy. Was it not spun from the actual fibres of reality, which we gathered in with all the comings and goings through our door, all our traffic with the suburb and the city and with remoter cities, and with the ends of the earth? And were we not spinning together an authentic expression of our own nature? Did not our life issue daily as more or less firm threads of active living and mesh itself into the growing web, the intricate, ever-proliferating pattern of mankind?

I considered “us” with quiet interest and a kind of amused awe. How could I describe our relationship even to myself without either disparaging it or insulting it with the tawdry decoration of sentimentality? For this our delicate balance of dependence and independence, this coolly critical, shrewdly ridiculing, but loving mutual contact, was surely a microcosm of true community, was after all in its simple style an actual and living example of that high goal which the world seeks.

The whole world? The whole universe? Overheard, obscurity unveiled a star. One tremulous arrow of light, projected how many thousands of years ago, now stung my nerves with vision, and my heart with fear. For in such a universe as this what significance could there be in our fortuitous, our frail, our evanescent community?

But now irrationally I was seized with a strange worship, not, surely of the star, that mere furnace which mere distance falsely sanctified, but of something other, which the dire contrast of the star and us signified to the heart. Yet what, what could thus be signified? Intellect, peering beyond the star, discovered no Star Maker, but only darkness; no Love, no Power even, but only Nothing. And yet the heart praised.

– Olaf Stapledon [from Starmaker, 1937]

Fundamental Buddhist Beliefs

Buddhist Temple

The following text is of the fourteen items of belief which have been accepted as fundamental principles in both the Southern and Northern sections of Buddhism, by authoritative committees to whom they were submitted by me personally…… [ – H. S. Olcott (1881) ]
I. Buddhists are taught to show the same tolerance, forbearance, and brotherly love to all men, without distinction; and an unswerving kindness towards the members of the animal kingdom.

II. The universe was evolved, not created; and it functions according to law, not according to the caprice of any God.

III. The truths upon which Buddhism is founded are natural. They have, we believe, been taught in successive kalpas, or world-periods, by certain illuminated beings called BUDDHAS, the name BUDDHA meaning “Enlightened”.

IV. The fourth Teacher in the present kalpa was Sakya Muni, or Gautama Buddha, who was born in a royal family in India about 2,500 years ago. He is an historical personage and his name was Siddhartha Gautama.

V. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth, and rebirth, the cause of sorrow. To get rid of sorrow, therefore, it is necessary to escape rebirth; to escape rebirth, it is necessary to extinguish desire; and to extinguish desire, it is necessary to destroy ignorance.

VI. Ignorance fosters the belief that rebirth is a necessary thing. When ignorance is destroyed the worthlessness of every such rebirth, considered as an end in itself, is perceived, as well as the paramount need of adopting a course of life by which the necessity for such repeated rebirths can be abolished. Ignorance also begets the illusive and illogical idea that there is only one existence for man, and the other illusion that this one life is followed by states of unchangeable pleasure or torment.

VII. The dispersion of all this ignorance can be attained by the persevering practice of an all-embracing altruism in conduct, development of intelligence, wisdom in thought, and destruction of desire for the lower personal pleasures.

VIII. The desire to live being the cause of rebirth, when that is extinguished rebirths cease and the perfected individual attains by meditation that highest state of peace called Nirvana.

IX. Sakya Muni taught that ignorance can be dispelled and sorrow removed by the knowledge of the four Noble Truths, namely:
1. The miseries of existence;
2. The cause productive of misery, which is the desire ever renewed of satisfying oneself without being able ever to secure that end;
3. The destruction of that desire, or the estranging of oneself from it;
4. The means of obtaining this destruction of desire. The means which he pointed out is called the Noble Eightfold Path, viz.: Right Belief; Right Thought; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Means of Livelihood; Right Exertion; Right Remembrance; Right Meditation.

X. Right Meditation leads to spiritual enlightenment, or the development of that Buddha-like faculty which is latent in every man.

XI. The essence of Buddhism, as summed up by the Tathagatha (Buddha) himself, is:
To cease from all sin,
To get virtue,
To purify the heart.

XII. The universe is subject to a natural causation known as “Karma”. The merits and demerits of a being in past existences determine his condition in the present one. Each man, therefore, has prepared the causes of the effects which he now experiences.

XIII. The obstacles to the attainment of good karma may be removed by the observance of the following precepts, which are embraced in the moral code of Buddhism, namely: (1) Kill not; (2) Steal not; (3) Indulge in no forbidden sexual pleasure; (4) Lie not; (5) Take no intoxicating or stupefying drug or liquor. Five other precepts which need not be here enumerated should be observed by those who would attain, more quickly than the average layman, the release from misery and rebirth.

XIV. Buddhism discourages superstitious credulity. Gautama Buddha taught it to be the duty of a parent to have his child educated in science and literature. He also taught that no one should believe what is spoken by any sage, written in any book, or affirmed by tradition, unless it accords with reason.

Drafted as a common platform upon which all Buddhists can agree.

– H. S. Olcott, P.T.S. (from Appendix of “The Buddhist Catechism”)

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