Tag Archives: Philosophy

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.


Why 360 Degrees?


                                  – 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


On Work


Work is something to be greatly desired, something to be praised and lauded by us all – our life-long friend, the giver of all gifts, the creator of everything we shall ever need or desire. And surely, with such thoughts in mind, our love for work will become deep and true. Then we shall gain the power to work even better – with greater capacity and talent – even with genius: for an intense love of work usually gives birth to genius.

Work for a great idea, and you arouse great ideas in your own mind. Great ideas produce great thoughts, and great thoughts produce great men. A man is exactly what he thinks himself to be. Therefore, the man who thinks great thoughts must necessarily become a great man, and the simplest way for anyone to form the habit of thinking great thoughts is to work for great ideas.

The man who shirks does not grow. The man who works poorly will remain small in mind. The man who works in the wrong concept of work will tire and wear out.

When you work simply for yourself, or for your own personal gain, your mind will seldom rise above the limitations of an undeveloped personal life. But when you are inspired by some great purpose, some extraordinary project, all your thoughts break their bonds: your mind transcends limitiations, your consciousness expands in every direction, and you find yourself in a new, great and wonderful world. Dormant forces, faculties and talents become alive, and you discover yourself to be a greater person by far than you ever dreamed yourself to be.

The majority work to make a living; some work to acquire wealth or fame, while a few work because there is something within them which demands expression. The majority dislike work. Only a few truly love it. Nearly everybody wearies of work and there is only a limited number that gain streangth from work. The average person works because he has to, so that it is the exceptional one who works because he want to. When we dream of Utopia we picture it as a place where there is less work and more pleasure, and the highest heaven is supposed to be a realm where one does nothing. With this idea of work, the multitudes are eternally longing for rest, but this longing is seldom satisfied because their whole conception of work is based on lies and falsehood.

To get something without working for it – that seems to be the acme of delight. But why is the desire to get something for nothing so strong in so many minds? For no other reason that this: we do not understand the true nature of work, and therefore dislike it. When we learn to understand work, however, and learn how to work, we shall go to our work with just as much delight as we go to our pleasure. And when we consider the real purpose of work and discover the work that builds the man [or woman], we will consider it a far greater privilege to work for everything we need or desire, than to go to a free mine and take all the gold we can carry away.

– E. B. Szekely (?)


. . . . Until one is committed there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man would have dreamt would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.

– W. H. Murray


An Occult Tale


A Stranger within the Gates
– Annie Getchell Gale

Chapter I

 When Mr. Holcomb saw Dr. Riter start out on his round of evening visits he joined him. "Where are you going first?", he asked.
 "Down to Mr. Lester's", the doctor answered.
 "Then I will walk along with you. There's a piece of land down that way that I want to call your attention to. The thought occurred to me that perhaps you and I had better invest a few hundreds in it. Is Lester's boy going to pull through?" 
 "I see no reason why he shouldn't, though the fever has not run its course yet. He is rather a delicate child; he has a fair constitution, but not much vitality."
 "My boy speaks of him as a good-natured little chap who takes to books and pets."
 "Yes; he has a good mind and a good disposition. He is rather an unusually promising child."
 "I suppose his father and mother will try to make a preacher of him - if he lives. It runs in the blood."
 "It has run in the blood, as you say, but it may have run out. The time is coming, Mr. Holcomb, when there will be no preachers - using the word in the sense in which we use it now. The time is coming when men will look within for guidance in matters of religion."
 "Undoubtedly; and I fancy when that time comes every man will be his own physician."
 "I hope he will; there are signs in the air now that he who runs may read - if he runs with his eyes wide open."
 "This is the property that I had reference to", said Mr. Holcomb, stopping before a dilapidated old house, half-concealed by trees. "The buildings are of no value, but the land will bring a good price some day. We can buy it for two thousand dollars. What do you think of investing a thousand in it?"
 "It strikes me as a good bargain, and I will talk with you further about it to night, as I may have to go out of the city in the morning, and if we buy it at all we may as well do so immediately. But I must go on to Mr. Lester's now. I may not be detained five minutes; suppose you wait here for me, and we will walk down town together. I have an errand at the drug store before making my next call."
 Mr. Holcomb assented, and Dr, Riter went on. He was not gone long, but when he returned the sky was growing dark and lights shone through the windows of the buildings along the street. While passing a saloon their attention was attracted by sounds of angry voices, scuffling, and the crash of glass. They stopped and looked through a window; in the middle of the room two men, bent on murder, faced each other like wild animals about to spring. One held a revolver, the other a knife. For an instant they stood there, leaning forward, intent, alert, calculating the moment for action - the knife flashed in the air, and the report of the revolver was heard. One fell to the floor with a bullet in his heart; the other, unhurt, laid his smoking revolver on the bar. 
 "That was a close shave", he said coolly. "Another second and that knife would have done me."
 Following his professional instinct, Dr. Riter went inside and made a hasty examination of the body. The heart had ceased to beat and he told the bystanders that the man was dead.
 A crowd had gathered, and comments on the affair were made without reserve. "That was a neat bit of work", said one.
 "Caldwell was a tough and a bully, and it's a good thing for the community that he's gone where he can do no more harm", said another.
 "That's a fact."
 "He made the row in the first place", said the bartender, who had seen the beginning of the difficulty. "He wanted to fight, and he got what he deserved."
 "The world is well rid of him."
 "What are you men talking about?" Dr. Riter demanded. "How do any of you know that he can do no more harm?"
 The respect in which Dr. Riter was held prevented any open derision of his question, but several men exchanged significant glances. One, however, attempted to justify what he had said: "Dead men don't handle guns or knives - at least not that I ever heard of."
 "You are speaking according to your knowledge; you never heard of their ever handling guns or knives; that is well put in. But what lies behind the hand that fires the gun? Some one's mind supplies a motive. That is the real thing."
 "You're too deep for me, doctor; I don't know what you are driving at."
 "Do you think the soul of a man dies with his body?" 
 "No - no; I don't believe that."
 "Very well; Caldwell had a soul, and according to your belief and mine it didn't die with his body, but it can't control it any longer because his body is dead. Don't you think it might like to instigate some other man to commit crime, now, or do you imagine it has become changed in the twinkling of an eye, from what it was, to pure goodness?"
 "I don't know anything about it; I'm no spiritualist."
 "Neither am I; but for all we know to the contrary Caldwell's power to do evil may be ten times as great as it was half an hour ago."
 Mr. Holcomb and the doctor went out. "The man who said Caldwell had gone where he could do no more harm expressed the ideas of a great many people", Mr. Holcomb remarked. "You gave those people something to think about."
 "If they were in the habit of thinking they would question what becomes of a soul intent on crime at the moment it is set free. But they haven't learned to think. What would any one of that crowd say if I were to take him into an insane asylum and explain to him the real meaning of what he saw? He would be of the opinion that I was quite as much of a lunatic as any one there. How many generations do you imagine must pass before the masses have become fairly enlightened as to the facts of nature?"
 "About five, I should say."

Chapter II

 Willie Lester lost strength so fast that when the fever had run its course Dr. Riter doubted whether he could recover. For days he lay in a stupor of complete exhaustion; and when, at length, an increase of strength became perceptible, it was so very slight that weeks had passed before Dr. Riter could say that he was certainly recovering.
 As his strength returned certain peculiarities became apparent; his moods changed constantly, but none of them were pleasant. He was irritable, reserved, watchful, suspicious, and he frequently indulged in violent fits of anger, for which neither his mother nor Dr. Riter could find a cause, and which he could not, or would not, explain. He no longer cared for books, pets, schoolmates, or for anything which had formerly given him pleasure, but occupied himself in making feeble, but determined, efforts to kill the flies which occasionally came within his reach.
 Dr. Riter observed the change with some anxiety. His constitution was shattered, and his mind was weak; that he would be an easy victim to any strong and persistent influence was certain, and that some evil thing, seeing his weakness, would attack him, was more than possible. In the doctor's opinion his changing moods indicated real danger; two individuals, he argued, contending for supremacy in one body, would produce a discord which would be manifested externally by moodiness and irritability. Unfortunately, Dr. Riter was working in the dark; all that he could do was to exert his own will against the intruder - if such there was - whom he was unable to see, and there was not a well developed clairvoyant in the city.
 Going in very quietly one day, Dr. Riter heard him talking, with an expression of mingled fear and loathing: "Get away! get away, I say!"
 "To whom are you talking, Willie?" the Doctor asked.
 Willie started up, confused: "O, nothing - I don't know."
 "But you were talking to some one who was here; I would like to know. Don't you think you had better tell me?"
 Confused emotions flitted over his face, - fear, suspicion, and anger. "I tell you I don't know", he answered. "I wasn't talking. I wish folks wouldn't ask me so many questions."
 "Some one annoys you", Dr. Riter continued; "I will tell him to go away and let you alone."
 A strange expression came over Willie's face - a leer of triumph and defiance. It passed as quickly as it came, but its full significance was not lost on Dr. Riter. "It may be too late", he thought,
 In another room he questioned Mrs. Lester, adroitly, so as not to alarm her: "I heard Willie talking to himself just now; does he often amuse himself in this way?"
 "No, not now; he's getting over that."
 "Do you mean that he has been in the habit of talking to himself?"
 "Since he was ill he has talked and muttered to himself a good deal. Something annoys him, but he doesn't seem able to tell me what it is. He acts as though he was afraid of something. Have you noticed how moody he is? Sometimes he is like himself, and then, in a minute, he isn't like my Willie at all."
 "I wish you would observe him closely, without allowing him to suspect that you are watching him, and tell me what you see. He doesn't like to answer my questions."
 "I have noticed that; and it seems strange, because he used to like you, and to be pleased when you came."
 "He may like me well enough now", said the doctor, giving Mrs. Lester a look of keen enquiry and speculation.
 "Doctor", she said quickly, "I don't know precisely what you mean, but you mean a little more than you say. I feel it. And I have felt that something is wrong with Willie; I see now that you know there is - and you may as well tell me."
 "I will tell you, but not this morning, because I have not time. Tomorrow I will explain it to you - so far as I understand it myself. In the meantime, observe him and draw your own inferences."
 "Five generations", Dr. Riter said to himself as he went out; "well, it may be, but people are waking up pretty fast. Here's Mrs. Lester; she has intuitions; last week I ran across a case of clairvoyance. And if some kind of a plague should remove all the cattle and sheep and pigs from the face of the earth, there would be a great deal more intuition and clairvoyance."
 On his human side Dr. Riter regretted the tragedy which he believed was being enacted before his eyes, but on his scientific side he felt deeply interested in what he regarded as a tolerably clear illustration of a fact in nature; it was a case for observation and investigation, and for record in a certain private notebook. This notebook contained records of cases usually denominated "mental", which he had seen in many years of experience, and would, as he knew well, constitute sufficient proof in the minds of any court and jury that the writer was a lunatic - sane, perhaps, on all subjects but one, and on that one a monomaniac, a person who must not be permitted to tamper with precious lives. But as he had, in fact, a well-balanced mind, and was aware that he was moving along in the direction in which nature had fitted him to move, he did not impair his usefulness by leaving this interesting, but dangerous, book within reach of any hands but his own.
 The next day he had a talk with Mrs. Lester. "We must build Willie up'', he said, "build him up so that he will be strong enough to resist and crowd out this individuality which has begun to fasten itself upon him. He is weak and passive; he must become strong and positive. I am aware that it is easier to talk about bringing about this result than it is to accomplish it. Casting out devils is not an easy matter, I fancy. But we must try. Continue to give him a strengthening diet, but not a particle of meat, as that would tend to build up the animal within him - which is what we want to overcome. Keep him as much as possible in the fresh air, and occupy his mind in every way that you can think of; we must trust him to nature while he's asleep. We must make the conditions as unfavorable as possible to the will of the intruder. When he learns that he can no longer use Willie's brain and hands we must suppose he will seek some other victim, weakened by disease and without power of resistance. Meanwhile, watch him closely; some purpose or desire will become apparent if the obsessing influence increases; and, on the other hand, if Willie's power of resistance becomes stronger you will notice these strange moods less and less, and they will gradually disappear."
 "In your judgment, are the chances for or against him?" Mrs. Lester asked.
 "I am sorry to be obliged to say that in my judgment it is an even question; we do not know who or what the obsessing force is, and therefore we cannot estimate its strength. I have no personal knowledge of any one who can assist us in this matter at all. I have seen instances in which those who were affected in this way threw off the influence and regained their normal mental condition; and I have seen other instances in which they did not."

Chapter III

 One afternoon in November, six months later, Dr. Riter and Mr. Holcomb went with a probable purchaser to look at the old house which stood on their land.
 "We will let you have the old lumber cheap", Mr. Holcomb said as they walked along. "It is of no present use to us."
 "I understand it's headquarters for some rough boys - the Lester boy and the crowd he draws around him. I was in the lot yesterday, trying to get a look at the inside of the house, but the doors were fastened and the windows were boarded up outside and covered with old papers inside, so I got only a glimpse here and there."
 Dr. Riter and Mr. Holcomb looked at each other in surprise. "If the doors are fastened and the windows boarded up it must be the work of those boys."
 "What is Lester's boy coming to, doctor? It looks to some people as though he's a proper subject for the reform school."
 "He will land in prison or in an insane asylum before he is many years older. The reform school will do him no good. The fact is, we don't know what to do with just such cases as his. I have told Mr. Lester that Willie should be under strict authority. Moral suasion has no effect upon him, because he has lost his moral sense, but, and very naturally, his parents are unwilling to send him to strangers."
 Two policemen and a boy rushed past them, and turning a corner disappeared from sight, and when they also turned the corner and approached the old house they perceived that something of an unusual nature had occurred, or was taking place there, and that the policemen whom they had seen were trying to break in one of the doors, while an excited crowd looked on.
 "What is the matter?" Dr. Riter asked, addressing one of the officers.
 "Some boys say that the Lester boy has killed a little chap in here - pounded him to pieces. They looked in through a crack somewhere. They're too excited to tell a straight story, but they must have seen something, for the boy that came for us was pretty near scared to death".
 "The child may not be dead", said the doctor, "but we must lose no time. Here - one of you men who live near - go for an axe. We must get that door open."
 "Mr. Lester must know of this; has any one gone to tell him?" Mr. Holcomb asked.
 "Yes" a man in the crowd answered. "The boy seems to have a devil in him. He wants to torture and kill".
 "He killed my dog last week", said a boy. "I guess he buried it in the cellar of that house. That's where he buries the cats and dogs that he kills."
 "He tried to kill his little sister a while ago", exclaimed another.
 The door was broken in at last, but it was not an easy matter to capture Willie Lester. He resisted the officers, striking furiously with an old ramrod at all who came near him, and being very quick and strong he succeeded in disabling several hands before he was finally overcome.
 In one of the rooms the body of a child five or six years old-was found, perfectly dead and horribly mutilated. While Dr. Riter was looking at it Mr. Lester came: "If I had taken your advice this would not have occurred", he said.
 The body was carried out and laid on the ground. Demoniacal fury had been spent upon it; men turned away from the sickening sight, but Willie Lester's eyes did not shrink from it, as he was carried past by the officers, struggling, screaming, and biting with uncontrollable rage.

 (The Path, May, 1894)



Stray Thoughts – PTSD


     In Theosophical philosophy there are three “upadhis” or “bases of consciousness.” (see Secret Doctrine I, pp. 157-8) The (a) physical body, the (b) mental self or personal ego; and the (c) spiritual self are all capable of operating on their own, separate from other aspects of the six principles (plus universal “Atman”) Theosophical psychology separates our being into. We are 3 separate creatures in one in this respect.

“According to the classification of the Taraka-Raja-Yoga philosophy, man is divided into three upadhis which are synthesized by, and are the vehicle of, the highest principle or atman. These three upadhis are: karanopadhi, the upadhi of the causal or spiritual mind; sukshmopadhi, the upadhi of the higher and lower manas plus the astral vehicle and the life-essence combined with kama; and the sthulopadhi, the physical body, which thus is the general vehicle or upadhi of the six principles composing the human constitution.” (Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary)

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder which has been epidemic in Veterans returning from the Middle East has been extremely difficult to treat by conventional psychological methods, and I think this is so because it is not a disability of the mind, but a disability of the body, or the lowest “upadhi” in Theosophical philosophy. The body has a mind of its own, and in ideal conditions is controlled or directed by the personal ego, or “oneself.” We’re, in one sense, three different beings within one experience, – body, mind, and spirit, and normally identify with the mind or personal ego. When the body has experienced sufficient trauma in the terrors of war or otherwise, it breaks free of the normal control of mind into its own reaction of fear, rage, or other expression, and is not amenable to “reason.” Its limited animal-like consciousness has learned in War that things can go terribly wrong, and anticipates that they can do so again at any time. It doesn’t understand psychological counselling, and is too thoroughly tramatized to be brought under control.

That the body has a separate consciousness of its own might be seen in sleep-walking, where one can go through most any type of behavior and not have any recall on waking. I had a curous experience along this line once on being hauled to the hospital unconscious. As I began to regain consciousness the first thing I was aware of was someone talking. I realized then that it had been myself talking, or the body spouting some fearful nonsense. A Doctor had been calming me down and assuring me I was in no danger, – and I believe this calmed the body down enough that my consciousness – “me” – was able to properly use it again.

The body can go “on strike” if conditions are too extreme. Overworked Founder of the original Theosophical Society H.P. Blavatsky once unexplainably passed out. She couldn’t be roused for 3 days, and then was normal again. Her Teacher said that her body needed a rest and took it.

Another example of body-only consciousness might be that of advanced senility or Alzheimer’s Disease. The brain progressively decays, and after a certain point the central consciousness, the mind or personal ego, can no longer use it as a vehicle. What is left is a disabled body-upadhi, with its own karma and life-span, which eventually can’t even function properly for its animal body-consciousness because of the debilitated brain. Perhaps the real person, – ourselves as the middle upadhi, then waits in a dream-world until the body dies and we are freed to after-life experience (“Devachan” in Theosophy).


Quantum Levels of Error and Virtue

It seems everything in existence can be viewed as a continuum in lines of measurement and also a continuum that contains quantum levels – or jumps in quality that separates an event significantly from events below it in a continuum. This can be seen in physics – water, within a temperature continuum, makes quantum leaps in quality from solid to liquid to gas. These states exist on the same temperature continuum, differing by only minuscule temperature gradients to produce the quantum leap of quality change. This “quantum leap” effect also likely exists in psychological and moral life.

One might say that cursing, for instance, is a minor evil (if even that) – while lying to destroy someone’s reputation, as an example, is an evil of a completely different quantum level. A child lying to protect itself is a completely different thing from an adult maliciously lying to destroy someone else. Strictly in example – if a person is an inveterate curser (yet doesn’t defame his neighbor), does all this cursing ever accumulate in demerit to that of one incident of lying to defame someone? The karmic result would seem to belong to completely different levels also. They belong to different moral quantum levels. It seems this idea can be applied to many areas. The more sophisticated the evil is, the worse the moral karmic effect.

In a coarse example, does the detrimental effects morally of a promiscuous sex-life ever add up to that of a rapist? It would seem not. They belong to completely different moral quantum levels. One is mutual acts of consent, and the other, while the same category of act, is a soul-ripping act of violence. The drug degenerate or addict is on a less corrupt moral level than the non-addict drug-seller who corrupts others, and the crime is recognized as such by the courts. The aspiring black magician (even unconscious to themselves perhaps), stealing or trapping through cleverness, reaps worse karma than the quantum-lower mugger or petty thief. The subtle criminal in some aspects sets himself up for worse karmic results than the simple and brutal one. Stealing reputation is a quantum worse crime than stealing money. Crimes of the Mind are worse and more damning to the future of the soul, than uncontroled animal brutality and desire or perhaps need. Murder is likely an exception, although even the courts recognize the difference between a crime of passion and the premeditated one. The lower mind or Manas is really the coarsest or most corrupt of the Theosophical seven principles, not the body.

On the positive side of things, doing charity work through established organizations is positive karmic merit and socially praised, while some efforts at helping others are not socially acceptable and viewed suspiciously and result in opprobrium. An example among others might be a white person in the south in the 50’s and 60’s who worked for voting rights for Blacks. He’d likely be ostracized from his peer group, and so this type of genuine work might be seen as a quantum level superior and more difficult than socially acceptable work, like working in a soup kitchen. Doing charity work through an acceptable institution is laudable, while getting down-and-dirty on the streets and perhaps doing more genuinely valuable work will likely get one regarded as another criminal.

– m.r.j. (based on same article June, 1996, Protogonos)


                 – Mark Twain


        ……Now and then, while we rested, we watched the laborious ant at his work. I found nothing new in him, – certainly nothing to change my opinion of him. It seems to me that in the matter of intellect the ant must be a strangely overrated bird. During many summers, now, I have watched him, when I ought to have been in better business, and I have not yet come across a living ant that seemed to have any more sense than a dead one. I refer to the ordinary ant, of course; I have had no experience of those wonderful Swiss and African ones which vote, keep drilled armies, hold slaves, and dispute about religion. Those particular ants may be all that the naturalist paints them, but I am persuaded that the average ant is a sham. I admit his industry, of course; he is the hardest working creature in the world, – when anybody is looking, – but his leather-headedness is the point I make against him. He goes out foraging, he makes a capture, and then what does he do? Go home? No, – he goes anywhere but home. He doesn’t know where home is. His home may be only three feet away, – no matter, he can’t find it. He makes his capture, as I have said; it is generally something which can be of no sort of use to himself or anybody else; it is usually seven times bigger than it ought to be; he hunts out the awkwardest place to take hold of it; he lifts it bodily up in the air by main force, and starts: not toward home, but in the opposite direction; not calmly and wisely, but with a frantic haste which is wasteful of his strength; he fetches up against a pebble, and instead of going around it, he climbs over it backwards dragging his booty after him, tumbles down on the other side, jumps up in a passion, kicks the dust off his clothes, moistens his hands, grabs his property viciously, yanks it this way then that, shoves it ahead of him a moment, turns tail and lugs it after him another moment, gets madder and madder, then presently hoists it into the air and goes tearing away in an entirely new direction; comes to a weed; it never occurs to him to go around it; no, he must climb it; and he does climb it, dragging his worthless property to the top – which is as bright a thing to do as it would be for me to carry a sack of flour from Heidelberg to Paris by way of Strasburg steeple; when he gets up there he finds that that is not the place; takes a cursory glance at the scenery and either climbs down again or tumbles down, and starts off once more – as usual, in a new direction. At the end of half an hour, he fetches up within six inches of the place he started from and lays his burden down; meantime he has been over all the ground for two yards around, and climbed all the weeds and pebbles he came across. Now he wipes the sweat from his brow, strokes his limbs, and then marches aimlessly off, in as violent a hurry as ever. He traverses a good deal of zig-zag country, and by and by stumbles on his same booty again. He does not remember to have ever seen it before; he looks around to see which is not the way home, grabs his bundle and starts; he goes through the same adventures he had before; finally stops to rest, and a friend comes along. Evidently the friend remarks that a last year’s grasshopper leg is a very noble acquisition, and inquires where he got it. Evidently the proprietor does not remember exactly where he did get it, but thinks he got it “around here somewhere.” Evidently the friend contracts to help him freight it home. Then, with a judgment peculiarly antic, (pun not intentional,) they take hold of opposite ends of that grasshopper leg and begin to tug with all their might in opposite directions. Presently they take a rest and confer together. They decide that something is wrong, they can’t make out what. Then they go at it again, just as before. Same result. Mutual recriminations follow. Evidently each accuses the other of being an obstructionist. They warm up, and the dispute ends in a fight. They lock themselves together and chew each other’s jaws for a while; then they roll and tumble on the ground till one loses a horn or a leg and has to haul off for repairs. They make up and go to work again in the same old insane way, but the crippled ant is at a disadvantage; tug as he may, the other one drags off the booty and him at the end of it. Instead of giving up, he hangs on, and gets his shins bruised against every obstruction that comes in the way. By and by, when that grasshopper leg has been dragged all over the same old ground once more, it is finally dumped at about the spot where it originally lay, the two perspiring ants inspect it thoughtfully and decide that dried grasshopper legs are a poor sort of property after all, and then each starts off in a different direction to see if he can’t find an old nail or something else that is heavy enough to afford entertainment and at the same time valueless enough to make an ant want to own it.

         There in the Black Forest, on the mountain side, I saw an ant go through with such a performance as this with a dead spider of fully ten times his own weight. The spider was not quite dead, but too far gone to resist. He had a round body the size of a pea. The little ant – observing that I was noticing – turned him on his back, sunk his fangs into his throat, lifted him into the air and started vigorously off with him, stumbling over little pebbles, stepping on the spider’s legs and tripping himself up, dragging him backwards, shoving him bodily ahead, dragging him up stones six inches high instead of going around them, climbing weeds twenty times his own height and jumping from their summits,-and finally leaving him in the middle of the road to be confiscated by any other fool of an ant that wanted him. I measured the ground which this ass traversed, and arrived at the conclusion that what he had accomplished inside of twenty minutes would constitute some such job as this, – relatively speaking, – for a man; to-wit: to strap two eight-hundred pound horses together, carry them eighteen hundred feet, mainly over (not around) bowlders averaging six feet high, and in the course of the journey climb up and jump from the top of one precipice like Niagara, and three steeples, each a hundred and twenty feet high; and then put the horses down, in an exposed place, without anybody to watch them, and go off to indulge in some other idiotic miracle for vanity’s sake…….. (A Tramp Abroad)