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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


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”)


History of Saint Nicholas

St Nicholas

– Alexander Wilder

The sixth of December has long been set apart by the holy church as the anniversary of the jolly Saint Nicholas, dear alike to school boy and maiden, and equally so of later days to the wee lad and lass of the nursery. He seems to have wandered far and wide,

“Through many a clime,
O’er many a land and sea;”

and everywhere he wins a joyous welcome. In western lands he has wrested from Christmas its peculiar rites; and so far as we know, the simpler ones imagine that his vehicle, and not the choir of angels, made the joyous announcement of Bethlehem; and the eager little ones drown the carol of Yule morning with their glad refrain: “Santa Claus has come!”

But in the long-ago, among our British ancestors, an ill repute long attached to the name of this saint of tankards and flagons. The tears of the Recording Angel, long wept, would not suffice to wash away the entries made in his book of the evil deeds of the knights and chiefs who worshiped at his shrine. The halo of canonization which distinguishes saints from men of commoner clay, served to give to light the records in which were inscribed the scandalous mischiefs wrought by his votaries. Doubtless, canonizing was the charity which the apostle declared “shall cover the multitude of sins.”

In the undated periods of antiquity, great and good men were delivered by apotheosis from the ordinary conditions of entombment, and given a wider sphere of activity. Afterward, when religions changed, many a divinity, archangel and patriarch was taken from his former shrine, and by solemn canonization was placed in the category of “lang-syne saunts.” Abraham and David, Michael and Gabriel, Bacchus, Mithra, Satur, even Seithin himself, and the Nik or ocean-god of Norse mythology are all duly enrolled in the Christian calendar.

Of those who have received the new adoption, St. Nicholas has, perhaps, the most equivocal record. Even his associate, George, the brigand of Cappadocia, hardly comes up to his measure. The first mention of the name is in the Acts of the Apostles – “Nikolaos a proselyte of Antioch.” He is there chronicled as “of honest report.” Unfortunately, that praise has not, in English-speaking countries, been since attached to his name. “Keep thy neck for the hangman,” cries Chamberlain to Gadshill,(1) “for I know thou worshipest St. Nicholas as truly as any man of falsehood may.”

This kind of worship will readily be comprehended by anyone conversant with our English classics. There is a quaint old volume entitled Plaine Percival, the Peacemaker of England, the author of which gives us this passage: “He was a tender-hearted fellow, though his luck was but bad, which hasting to make up a quarrell by the highway side, between a brace of St. Nicholas’s clargiemen, was so courteously imbraced on both parties that he tendered his purse for their truce.” Without a doubt our hero was content to let that interview pass for a last shrift.

The Golden Legend has recorded very properly that robbers were under the protection of St. Nicholas; and other writers style them his knights. The more usual designation, however, appears to have been his clerks or priests. “If they meet not with St. Nicholas’ clerks,” says Gadshill,(2) “I’ll give thee this neck.”

Sir Walter Scott also treats of them. He depicts Jim Ratcliffe, the keeper of the Tolbooth of Edinburgh, endeavoring to protect Jeanie Deans from highwaymen, when making her journey to London to implore his sister’s life.(3)
“He hastily scrawled a line or two on a dirty piece of paper, and said to her, as she drew back when he offered it: ‘Hey! what the de’il? it winna bite you, my lass; if it does nae gude, it can do nae ill. But I wish you to show it, if you have any fasherie wi’ ony o’ St. Nicholas’s clerks.’

“‘Alas!’ said she; ‘I do not understand what you mean.’

“‘I mean, if ye fall among thieves, my precious; that is a Scripture phrase, if ye will hae ane – the bauldest of them will ken a scart o’ my guse feather.'”

When Jeanie afterward showed this paper to Mrs. Bickerton, the hostess of The Seven Stars at York, that personage consulted her serving-man, Dick Ostler, who gave the assurance: “Only gentleman, as keeps the road o’ this side Stamford will respect Jim’s pass.” True enough, the heroine fell into the hands of highwaymen, …. resenting it, one ruffian exclaimed:

“‘Do you look at it, for d–n me, if I could read it, if it were for the benefit of my clergy.’

“‘This is a jark from Jim Ratcliffe,’ said the toller, having looked at the bit of paper. ‘The wench must pass by our cutter’s law.'”

Every reader of Ivanhoe remembers the sacking of the Castle of Torquilstone, and doubtless he sympathized with the deadly fright of Isaac the Jew, when passing the night with Friar Tuck, “the Holy Clerk of Copmanhurst.” The hedge-priest tarried to solace himself with Front-de-Boeuf’s Gascoigne wine. He was missed in the morning by his merry penitents, the outlaws of Sherwood Forest, who had met to divide the plunder, and required his presence to receive the tithe for the Church. He was found in the ruins, with Isaac as his prisoner, in the predicament explained by his finder thus graphically; “the runlet of sack half empty, the Jew half dead, and the Friar more than half-exhausted.” Locksley addresses his chaplain:

“‘Curtal priest,’ said the Captain, ‘thou has been at wet mass this morning, as early as it is. In the name of St. Nicholas, who has thou got here?’

“‘A captive to my sword and my lance, noble captain,’ replied the Clerk of Copmanhurst; ‘to my bow and my halberd, I shall rather say; and yet I have redeemed him by my divinity from a worse captivity. Speak, Jew; have I not ransomed thee from Sathanas? Have I not taught thee thy credo, thy pater and thine ave Maria? Did I not spend the whole night in drinking to thee, and in expounding of mysteries?’

“‘For the love of God,’ ejaculated the poor Jew, ‘will no one …… I know not one word which the reverend prelate spake to me all this fearful night. Alas! I was so distraught with agony and fear, and grief, that had our holy father Abraham come to preach to me, he had found but a deaf listener.’

“‘Thou liest, Jew; O thou knowest thou dost,’ said the Friar; ‘I will remind thee of one word of our conference; thou didst promist to give all thy substance to our holy order.'”

The Friar was well worthy to be Vicar-General of the “Holy Order.”

St. Nicholas, we apprehend, gained much of his ill-repute from his early associations. The deeds and the doctrines of the Nocolaitans I hate,” is the declaration of the Apocalypse.(4) We are not told why. A legend says that he had a wife and would not leave her, as recommended in the Gospel.(5) The old anchorites of Essenean and Apostolic times envied and hated men that had good wives. In our later times of private interpretation, each one explains passages by the way things happen nowadays. Such exgesis would make the Nicolaitans, the children of Nikolaos the deacon; and everybody knows the peculiar naughtinesses of deacons’ children in classic New England.

Ecclesiastical legend, however, has set forth that the deacon, though “full of the spirit,” was not the Saint; but that a bishop of Myra, in Asia Minor, who died in 326, was the august personage. In his cultus, he seems to have replaced Poseidon, or Neptune, and in that character received similar votive offerings from seamen escaped from peril.(6) The Scandinavians had also an ocean-god, the Nikke or Nek, who was greatly feared by mariners. “The British sailor,” says Scott, “who fears nothing else, confesses his terror for this terrible being, and believes him the author of almost all the various calamities to which the precarious life of the seaman is so continually exposed.” Hence the name, or rather Nick-name, which has been conferred on the arch-enemy, him of electro-sulphurous emananations, bovine horns and Bacchic foot. But the reputation of St. Nicholas is rather that of Mephisto, or Mercury, as god of thieves. We would have presumed this from his tutelary charge of merchants and shipping, which till very recently combined the practice of piracy with lawful trade. But English legend-writers offer another explanation.

St. Nicholas, having restored three murdered children to life, was thenceforth the patron of schoolboys, and aided them in their enterprises. Hence in the play,(7) when Speed endeavors to decipher the “catelog” which Launce had received of his sweetheart, the latter exclaims: “St. Nicholas, by thy speed.”

Accordingly, the sixth of December, the anniversary of the scholars’ patron, was anciently celebrated with peculiar rites and practices. It was usual to consecrate a boy-bishop, who continued in office till the twenty-eighth. An endeavor was made, in vain, as far back as the year 867, by the Synod of Constantinople, to break up the custom. The English had a prelate of this character in every parish, who seems to have exercised, during his brief episcopate, all the functions of the office. The Reformers made several efforts to abolish the Lilliputian diocese, and finally succeeded in 1542 in unfrocking the bishop, after which the pupils in Eton school adopted the montem festivities.

But presently the reputation of St. Nicholas became sadly clouded throughout England. Mr. Charles Knight suggests that this probably arose from the fact that the “poor scholars,” of whom there were many traveling about the country, and against whom, as vagrants, statutes were passed, may have occasionally “taken a purse” as well as begged “an almesse.” Be this as it may, both the saint and his pagan antecessor have been in turn, assigned to the patronship of robbers and outlaws.

But as the special tutelary of the children, Santa Klaus, as he is popularly designated, was widely known and esteemed. On the evening immediately preceding his anniversary, parents were accustomed, during many centuries, to indicate it by little presents and testimonials. The children were taught to believe that they owed these gifts to the kindness of St. Nicholas, his train, who came in at the window, even when closed, and made distribution. In Italy these presents were secreted in the shoes and slippers of the recipients, to surprise them when they came to dress in the morning. Young maidens were likewise under the protection of the bonny saint. He is recorded as having presented three destitute fiancees with marriage portions, by secretly leaving money at their windows. The pupils at convents used, on the evening of the fifth of December, to suspend their silk hose at the door of the abbess’s apartment, with a paper inclosed, recommending them to the great saint, and generally, the next morning, found the stocking filled with sweetmeats and other benefactions. In Flanders and Holland, all children put out their shoes or stockings in this way, in the confidence that Santa Klaus, or Knecht Klobes, as they call him, will put in a prize for good conduct before morning.

As a Dutch festival, St. Nicholas day transcends every other observance. Only lawful initiates are allowed to participate in the sacred orgies of the Holland Bacchus. When the awful night has come, the St. Nicholas societies meet in their mystic chapel. Proclamation is duly made: “Procul ite, o profani! donner und blitzen.” No Yankee may then remain, for of such is the abhorrence of every Dutchman of blue blood; nor is a “blarsted Englishman” welcome at the hearth of St. Nicholas. Even the English-tongued posterity of Dutch ancestors may be out of place. They only are welcome who utter aright the mystic password, KNICKERBOCKER. Alacki! for him who facilely lets drop the syllables, nick-kur-bok-kur. He has mispronounced the Shibboleth. He has intruded, like Clodinus at the rites of the Bona Dea. Like the man at the king’s marriage-feast, who had not on a wedding garment, he is incontinently driven away into the outer darkness.

Philologists, profound in Sanskrit and Semitic three-lettered radicals, have asserted that the secret of the password consists solely in properly separating the jaw-cracking consonants with a short vowel-sound, and clucking the heavy aspirates. Mr. Ellis once penetrated the adytum of a Brahman Temple by masonic grips and passwords; and perhaps even a drawling, nasal-speaking Yankee by saying as a suspiration, KUN-nikh-er-bokh-er, may enter the inmost sanctuary of the Dutch mysteries.

Much may occur that will never transpire. The “enterprising reporter,” so skillful in describing interviews and events that never had existence, has here no rightful place. It is the time of convocation of Dutch patriarchs and their unperverted discendants, to do honor to the manes and memory of their tutelary saint. The presiding officer, crowned – not with oak, laurel, or even oleaster, but – with the symbolic cabbage, exhibits a spectacle perhaps like that of Hendrick Hudson’s ghost in the Kaatskills, as nightly witnessed during Joe Jefferson’s personations of Rip Van Winkle. Of the brotherhood of St. Nicholas, it may be well not to say too much; it may be advised, however, that they refrain, as the sacred orgy, from quaffing any beverage of uncertain composition, lest it prove as lulling as the fiery draught swallowed by the luckless visitor from the village of Falling Water.

But we will not lift the veil that conceals the Batavian arcana. A Puritan ancestry of many generations, unmingled with any commixture from the region of the Elbe or Zuyder Zee since the emigration of Hengist and Horsa, has placed a Chinese wall between us and the sacellum of a Dutch sanctuary. We have never been permitted to taste the ambrosial kraut or drink the nectarean Johannisberger. We may not chronicle aught concerning the awe-inspiring ceremonials, the solemn processions, the invocations, the sacred incantations and the joyous smposiacs. All these we leave to every reader’s glowing fancy. We have heard of the distribution of pipes, stem a Flemish ell in length, and the ensuing holocaust accompanied with profuse and numerous libations. The fragrant wreaths and rings of smoke that ascend prepare all for the agonistics that follow. The Olympic games, the Isthmian and Pythian wrestlings cannot be compared with the contests at the festival of St. Nicholas. Mumming, blindman’s buff, and puss in the corner are all suggestions from this occasion. The scuffling queer antics which take place are the theme of many a jolly rehersal in the aftertime. It is against the unwritten law of St. Nicholas to permit a pipe to be carried out of the hall entire. Every tall man would have a superior opportunity; but few Batavi are of this character. The merry contest is kept up till the last pipe is broken. Immediately the blow of the gavel from the king of the night declares the festivities ended. But how the orgiasts find the street and the right way home, is a theme for the novelist. We pass it over, like Herodotus, in silence.

But may neither bigotry or indifference induce the abandoning of Santa Claus and his jolly rites. His journeys with car and bells from house to house down the chimneys and back again, leaving everywhere his remembrances, are so many green spots in life. Even the obliterated hearth, the pestilence-exhaling register and the sulphurous flues, have been ineffectual to drive him from the drawing-rooms and the children’s stockings. May he survive another millennium!

(from my book “The Perfective Rights, and Other Writings of Alexander Wilder,” originally “Merrie Saint Nicholas,” in The Evolution, Dec., 1877. The book is available at Lulu and Amazon.)

1 Shakespeare: King Henry IV, part I, Act ii, Scene 1.
2 Shakespeare: King Henry IV, part I, Act ii.
3 Heart of Mid-Lothian, xxv, xxviii, xxix.
4 Revelation of Joannes Theologos, ii, 6, 15.
5 Gospel according to Matthew, xix, 12.
6 Jonah, i, 5, 16.
7 Shakespeare: Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act iii, Scene 1.


Speed – More Speed!

The buildings rear immense, horizons fade
And thought forgets old gages in the ecstasy of view.
The standards go by which the steps were made.
On which we trod from former levels to the new.
No time for backward glance, no pause for breath,
Since impulse like a bowstring loosed us in full flight
And in delirium of speed none aim considereth
Nor in the blaze of burning codes can think of night.
The whirring of sped wheels and horn remind
That speed, more speed is best and peace is waste!
They rank unfortunate who lag behind
And only they seem wise who urge, and haste and haste.
New comforts multiply (for there is need!)
Each ballot adds assent to law that crowds the days.
None pause.  None clamor but for speed – more speed!
And yet – there was a sweetness in the olden ways.

– Talbot Mundy, 1921, “Guns of the Gods”

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 )

Gems from the East

Gems from the East

Days end with sunset, nights with the rising of the sun; the end of pleasure is ever grief, the end of grief ever pleasure.

Two things are impossible in this world of Maya: to enjoy more that Karma hath allotted; to die before one’s hour hath struck.

Seek refuge in thy soul; have there thy Heaven! Scorn them that follow virtue for her gifts!

Patience leads to power, but lust leads to loss.

The soul ripens in tears.

A narrow stomach may be filled to its satisfaction, but a narrow mind will never be satisfied, not even with all the riches of the world.

A learned man without pupils, is a tree which bears no fruit; a devotee without good works, is a dwelling without a door.

When Fate overtakes us, the eye of Wisdom becomes blind.

He who keeps to his business, he who loves his companions, he who does his duty, will never be poor.

He who knows not his own worth, will never appreciate the worth of others.

Whomsoever Riches do not exalt, poverty will not abase, nor calamity cast him down.

All the air resounds with the presence of spirit and spiritual laws.

[from “Gems from the East, A Birthday Book of Precepts and Axioms,” compiled by H. P. Blavatsky, which consists of a quote or axiom for every day of the year.