Tag Archives: Psychology

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.


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


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).


“The Gem” and Blavatsky


Bertram Keightly, H.P. Blavatsky’s proof reader for her magazine “Lucifer” wrote of an uncanny example of what appears to have been Blavatsky’s ability to accurately read the astral light. The poem below was used to lead off her occult story “Karmic Visions.” The following account is taken from the Blavatsky Collected Writings, volume IX:

Oh sad No More! Oh sweet No More!
……Oh strange No More!
By a mossed brookbank on a stone I smelt a wildweed-flower alone;
There was a ringing in my ears,
And both my eyes gushed out with tears,
Surely all pleasant things had gone before,
Lowburied fathom deep beneath with thee, No More!
– Tennyson (The Gem, 1831)

There is an interesting story connected with this particular poem. According to Bertram Keightly … H.P.B. always wrote her Lucifer editorials herself, “and she had a fancy for very often heading (them) with some quotation, and it used to be one of my troubles that she very seldom gave a reference for these, so that I had much work, and even visits to the British Museum Reading Room, in order to verify and check them, even when I did manage, with much entreaty, and after being most heartily ‘cussed,’ to extract some reference from her.

“One day she handed me as usual the copy of her contribution, a story for the next issue headed with a couple of four line stanzas. I went and plagued her for a reference and would not be satisfied without one. She took the manuscript and when I came back for it, I found she had just written ‘Alfred Tennyson’ under the verses. Seeing this I was at a loss for I knew my Tennyson pretty well and was certain that I had never read these lines in any poem of his, nor were they at all in his style. I hunted up my Tennyson, could not find them; consulted everyone I could get at – also in vain. Then back I went to H.P.B. and told her all this and said that I was sure these lines could not be Tennyson’s, and I dared not print them with his name attached, unless I could give an exact reference. H.P.B. just damned me and told me to get out and go to Hell. It happened that the Lucifer copy must go to the printers that same day. So I just told her that I should strike out Tennyson’s name when I went, unless she gave me a reference before I started. Just on starting I went to her again, and she handed me a scrap of paper on which were written the words: “The Gem – 1831.” ‘Well, H.P.B.,’ I said, ‘this is worse than ever; for I am dead certain that Tennyson has never written any poem called “The Gem.”‘ All H.P. B. said was just: ‘Go out and be off.’

“So I went to the British Museum Reading Room and consulted the folk there, but they could give me no help and they one and all agreed that the verse’s could not be, and were not Tennyson’s. As a last resort, I asked to see Mr. Richard Garnett, the famous Head of the Reading Room in those days, and was taken to him. I explained to him the situation and he also agreed in feeling sure the verses were not Tennyson’s. But after thinking quite a while, he asked me if I had consulted the Catalogue of Periodical Publications’. I said no, and asked where that came in. ‘Well,” said Mr. Garnett, ‘I have a dim recollection that, there was once a brief-lived magazine called the “Gem.” It might be worth your looking it up.’ I did so, and in the volume for the year given in H.P.B’s note, I found a poem of a few stanzas signed ‘Alfred Tennyson’ and containing the two stanzas quoted by H.P.B. verbatim as she had written them down. And anyone can now read them in the second volume of “Lucifer”; but I have never found them even in the supposedly most complete and perfect edition of Tennyson’s Works.”



From the perspective of Theosophical teachings Suicide is not ever an escape because the person does not really Die. He wakes up in a realm in which he has little control and no longer has a physical body to use to escape the condition he is in. In Theosophical terminology it is the Kama-Loka, or desire-realm, which in natural death a short time may be spent in, and which there are natural processes going on for the separation of the higher and lower parts of our constitution. Our higher parts and essence of worthwhile experiece from the finished lifetime go for a long rest – “Devachan”, before once again entering a new lifetime. The lower parts of our constituion – the Astral or pattern body and latent mentality or personality gradually dissipate, to be partly picked up again in the next lifetime. The Eastern teaching of the Kama-Loka may have echoes in the Catholic idea of Purgatory. The Tibetan idea of the “Bardo” may be the same or similar idea.

While in a natural death from old-age the time spent in the Kama-loka is short, for the suicide the period has to extend at least until the natural lifetime of the life-that-was would have ended. If one committed suicide at 30, the period would extend 40 to 60 years or until the natural lifetime of 70-90 years or so would have been. Much of this time might consist of going over and over in one’s mind the last moments of life and the fatal act. We are “wound up” for so many years on earth, and must serve this time out somehow. We’re not just a physical body, but also an Astral or Pattern Body, and a Vital self in our lower nature. When the physical body is destroyed by the suicide, the Astral self is left intact, as it is unaffected and has a life-span the same as would have been the physical body’s. In the normal natural death, the astral body is a “corpse” also on that level with only at best a remaining automatic-like consciousness. This is the “ghost” that is sometimes seen, not a “spirit” at all, but a dissipating shell, and why the “spirits” of spiritualistic seances seldom make a bit of sense.

A worse result can occur to the suicide than being trapped in a Kama-lokic state for many years. As the suicide is not completely dead, he is may be aware still of the physical world, and without a body may be tempted to live by proxy the body and thoughts of the still living he senses around him, and can plague those mediumistic or sickly sensitive to such things. By doing this, the kama-lokic suicide ruins another life or lives and creates a whole new series of cause and effect, or karma, to affect his next lifetime, perhaps even attracting the “spook he was” as a fiend to plague his next attempt at life.

The variety of suicides and accident victims that have their life artificially cut short are endless, and nature has a just and appropriate place and result for each. The sacrificing hero in war is not a suicide. Death from overwork is not suicide. The suicide in a fit of insanity is not responsible and not a suicide. The accident victim from no intention of his own does not suffer in the after-death state.

– “Suicide is Not Death,” W. Q. Judge
– “Is Suicide a Crime?,” H. P. Blavatsky, “The Theosophist,” Vol. IV, No. 38, November, 1882, pp. 31-32.
– “One Suicide’s Decision,” Victor Endersy, “Theosophical Notes,” Feb., 1952
– (Question on Suicide), Irene Ponsonby, W.E.S., “Eclectic Theosophist,” March 15, 1973
– “Thoughts by the Wayside – On Suicide,” [Maj. Hubert S. Turner], “Theosophia,” May-June, 1945
– “The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett,” (T.U.P. edition), p. 109, pp. 112-13, p. 132, p. 171.