AUSTRALASIAN TS NEWSLETTER
No. : 77 August 2002
Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162 AUSTRALIA
Tel. : (03) 9528.1011 Fax : (03) 9528.3907
Email : email@example.com
WWW homepage : www.theosophie.net/australia/
ISSN : 0814-569
What is Theosophy? - Lo Guest
Apples are really all White! - Nancy Coker
Threats to Humanity - Mahatma Gandhi
Prophesies for the 21st century : do they mean anything? - Paul Rooke.
Seven Jewels of Wisdom : The Doctrine of Swabhava - Stefan Carey.
Huib de Jong-Heybroek
John Van Mater Snr.
Last Word : Thomas Carlyle
WHAT IS THEOSOPHY?
Lo Guest - Melbourne
Theosophy is not just another dry and dusty philosophy for university academics! On the contrary, Theosophy is a bright living beam of light in our troubled world, for which all who may wish, can see and follow.
Why did Madam Blavatsky and her Teachers establish the Theosophical Society 127 years ago? With the upsurge of interest in the ancient Sanskrit literature in the West during the 19th century and the discovery of the profound knowledge and truth to be found in it, combined with the greatly increasing materialism, greed and lust for power that the mechanisation of industry that century brought with it, the need for restating the ancient Truths for a world in dire need of them had come. HPB was well aware of the fact that the ideas of compassion, tolerance and of a brotherhood of men were desperately needed in the world not only for the last quarter of the 19th century, but still more for the turbulent 20th century which lay ahead.
In her very first issue of the magazine The Theosophist published in October 1879, HPB wrote an article explaining the meaning of Theosophy in detail, stating that it had been studied for many thousands of years. One of the definitions of the meaning of Theosophy she gives in this article is as follows : ...”The answer, as with all things, is really a hierarchy; a multilevel system that is limited only by our own inability to comprehend. In other words : ‘What is Theosophy? is a Koan ( a word used in Japanese Zen Buddhism, the same as a Mantra = Man = Latin, mense to think, Tra = Tool, therefore a Mantra is nothing else but ‘A tool to think’). The article then goes on : “Theosophy in its fruition is spiritual knowledge itself - the very essence of philosophical and theistic inquiry.”[from The Theosophist Oct. 1879 : 6]
William Quan Judge, who was one of the co-founders of the Theosophical Society along with Madam Blavatsky, Col. Henry Olcott and others, said of the meaning of Theosophy : “The strength of Theosophy lies in the fact that it is not defined. This means that evolution, slowly progressing will bring out new truths and new aspects of old truths, thus absolutely preventing any dogmas or ‘unequivocal definitions’.
In this modern world, Theosophy serves the purpose of quietly, without power and glory, trying to keep alive the ancient Truths without which Humanity cannot survive intact for very long. There is nothing spectacular about Theosophy as stated by Madam Blavatsky. There is no promise of instant enlightenment, of contact with other worlds, or with spirits or ghosts or paranormal phenomena.
There are no shortcuts to learning about the meaning of Theosophy, no help of mediums or spiritualists, for it is up to each student of Theosophy to try and understand by herself/himself. It is a fact that nobody can tell someone else what is right for them. Each one of us has to be his or her judge. It is well to remember that Life and Karma is an evolutionary process based on Cause and Effect produced by our own actions.
One of the lessons that Theosophy teaches is the need to avoid excesses of any kind. The Middle Path which the Buddha advocated, is perhaps the hardest path of all to travel, for it demands tolerance and understanding and above all love for our fellow men and compassion for them. It also demands of us that we keep our equilibrium, particularly under stress.
In his book, Expanding Horizons, James A. Long summarised this task of Theosophy :
“The present confusion of ideals has brought us to a dangerous pass - and I am not referring to the perils of missiles and rockets, satellites or bombs. They are symptoms, and alarming ones in the hands of the wilfully destructive; but they are symptoms only and do not constitute Man. Should the much feared destruction of civilisation eventuate - which I very much doubt will occur - we will have to rely on the simple yet all inclusive truth that you may destroy the body, but you cannot kill life. Man will survive; he will face and surmount every cataclysm that may be in store for him, whether by flood, fire, outer space - or himself! Nations and races, as such have time and again passed out of existence, but the egos that once inhabited them incarnate anew in other lands and in other racial strains. If we grasp that larger vision as far as humanly possible, this will not remove the dangers, but it will help us to meet whatever comes with fortitude...”
After all this the question still remains : WHAT IS THEOSOPHY? What does it mean in every day life? Is it hard to understand? Is it difficult to learn? Do we have to sit for hours studying books?
I would say a resounding ‘NO’ to each and every one of these questions! Why? Because the main role of Theosophy in our daily lives is to give us awareness of life, a feeling of compassion and tolerance for the joys and sorrows of our fellow men and to help remember the old maxim : “Do unto others, what you would like others to do unto you.”
Perhaps to put the meaning of Theosophy into other words we would say - Theosophy is trying to teach us to be ‘humane’ in the fullest sense of the word.
AUSTRALIA : TS (Pasadena) Centre is 10 years old : our library centre in Melbourne celebrated its 10th birthday on March 7th this year. In 1992 the Centre was opened with the hope that it would provide an effective pathway to Theosophy for seekers in Australia. Over its first ten years we have had regular discussions and study groups, visits from friends from our International Headquarters and other special events in addition to housing the library and bookshop. Let’s pause for a moment to thank all those who have helped make the TS(Pasadena) Centre in Melbourne what it is today - and to look forward to many years of fruitful theosophical work ahead of us.
New symbol of the Ancient Wisdom in Melbourne : in May 2002 a giant 25 metre high statue of Banjil, the eagle that is regarded as the spirit creator of local aboriginal peoples, was erected in the downtown Docklands district of Melbourne. The imposing giant eagle was sculpted in aluminium and glass by Melbourne artist Bruce Armstrong. Banjil is sacred to the Kulin nations of aboriginal people which include the local Wurundjeri people of the Melbourne area. The Wurundjeri believe that Bumjil is a spiritual being who created people and all living things from the land. He keeps a watchful eye on people and offers guidance to those who choose to listen. Isn’t it heartening to have such a potent symbol of the Ancient Wisdom amongst the steel and glass towers of our 21st century city.
Treasures from the world’s great libraries : Australia is often accused of being sporting-mad and a cultural wasteland for most people! It is interesting to note that a recent exhibition at the National Library in Canberra drew record crowds of 150,000 people to look at treasures from the libraries of the world. One visitor wrote in the National Libraries’ Visitor’s Book : “It renews my faith in the people of this country that some of them are prepared to queue for hours before dawn, to see an exhibition after dark, that has absolutely nothing to do with sport - but knowledge, literature and enlightenment.”
USA : the latest issue of The Link gives details of a wide range of activities of the American Section in several centres around the USA. These include theosophical classes in Spanish language in California and study groups on a wide range of theosophical books from HPB’s Collected writings,, The Bhagavad-Gita, The Esoteric Tradition, Studies in Occult Philosophy. Alan Donant writes about the War on Terror in his lead article : “...in the last analysis, legislation (by the world’s governments} for peace without inner change is no answer. WQJudge suggested that one of the purposes of the TS was to raise the thought-life of humanity, a step from which more harmonious and altruistic actions would inevitably follow. Theosophy pure and simple is brotherhood - kindness in daily living. If there is to be another revolution in the way we live, let it be ‘a radical regeneration of the human heart - a change of spirit’....”
HOLLAND : The latest Impuls newsletter from Holland contains several interesting articles as always. In particular, Fred Pruyn’s article on animals will find a sympathetic audience amongst animal lovers. He concludes with some comments on universal brotherhood : “The world forms a single chain, from the invisibly small to the invisibly divine. Slowly a caterpillar crawls its way up and will in due course spread its wings and assume a different form. Transformation is the watchword and everything is geared to it. Everything is in motion and changes continuously under the guiding influence of the divine light. If we recognise this flow of nature and work with it, we become more in harmony with it. We see that everything arises from prior causes in the ocean of mind that permeates all.”
OUR SOLAR SYSTEM : Conjunction of five planets : In April, the five brightest planets visible from the Earth lined up to form a dramatic celestial array. Mercury, Mars, Venus, Jupiter and Saturn lined up in a straight line with the Earth for about a month. Even though they line up like this every 20 years or so, they will not be visible again until the year 2040. Traditionally in India, such conjunctions are looked upon as the harbingers of devastation - floods, fires and others disasters which have been in evidence in the USA throughout the northern summer. Summer Solstice : the summer solstice, June 21st, was the time of the “Great Renunciation” initiation in the traditional initiatory cycle. This was the “bodhisattva” initiation where a candidate chose to renounce a blissful life in spiritual realms to return to earth to assist humanity evolve. Simply put, northern summer solstice symbolises maturity and ripening judgement, when our natural interest turns to the needs of others. This solstice period is perhaps the sacred season to which we can most easily relate, because altruism and service is something all of us can understand.”[thanks to Will Thackara for this information on the northern summer solstice from Theosophy Northwest view June 2002]
APPLES ARE REALLY ALL WHITE! - Nancy Coker - Pasadena, USA
The Sun, our day-star, shines so brilliantly the it blinds us to every other star in the daytime sky. How curious to discover that which illumines, also obscures. In a similar way, the familiar and ordinary can also limit our vision and conceal truth. A story illustrates this :
“A friend’s son was in the first grade of school, and his teacher asked the class, “What is the colour of apples?” Most of the children answered red. A few said green. Kevin, my friend’s son, raised his hand and said, “White”. The teacher tried to explain that apples could be red, green, or sometimes golden, but never white. Kevin was quite insistent and finally said...”Look inside.” [from J.Goldstein Insight Meditation page 110.]
Perhaps we should also pause and take time sometimes to look beneath the colourful surface of life. Let us remember to “Look inside”.
THREATS TO HUMANITY - Mahatma Gandhi
Great Indian leader of the 20th century, Mahatma Gandhi, listed the following as the greatest threats to peace and stability in the world :
wealth without work
pleasure without conscience
science without humanity
knowledge without character
politics without principle
commerce without morality
worship without sacrifice
[Submitted by Charu Joshi - Melbourne]
PROPHESIES FOR THE 21st CENTURY - do they mean anything?
Paul Rooke - Melbourne
The prophesies of Nostradamus (16th century - France), St. Malachai of Armagh (12th century - Ireland), Edgar Cayce (20th century - USA), The Visions of Fatima (1917 - Portugal), Mother Shipton (Norfolk, England - 15th century), Jean Dixon (20th century - USA), The Hopi Indians (they say 10,000 years ago - Arizona, USA), and the Vishnu Purana (600BC and maybe much older - India) all have fascinating, if disturbing messages for us at the threshold of the 21st century. There is not space here to give a summary of the main points made by each of these far-sighted people or groups, but such summaries are available by writing to the editor. There certainly are common threads running through their prophesies which might be of value for us in facing possible futures in this young century. There are five common propositions arising from the sayings of these prophets bearing in mind that they came from different parts of the world and they lived in widely different times over the last several hundred years (or even thousands in the case of the Hopi Indians and the Vishnu Purana)) :
1/ Growth in Materialism : there will be a growth in materialism and a derogation of spirit, that is a decline in moral and spiritual values. A number of the prophesies concur in this respect. They are the Vishnu Purana (speaking of the Kali-Yuga), the Visions of Fatima, Mother Shipton, Jean Dixon, and the Hopi Indians.
2/ Emergence of the Anti-Christ : there will emerge a leader, the third Anti-Christ (Napoleon and Hitler presumably being the other two), who will capitalise on the political aspect of this decline in ethical standards in an effort to control the world for his own evil ends - June Dixon, Nostradamus and St Malachi.
3/ Massive Conflict : there will be a massive conflict between the forces of good and evil, with the forces of good winning out eventually over those of evil, but only at huge cost to the human race and the planet itself - St. Malachai, Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, Visions of Fatima, Jean Dixon, and The Hopi Indians.
4/ Natural Disasters on a Global scale : in conjunction with human conflict, there will be global changes, inundation of existing land-masses and rising of new ones. There will be a decline in the world’s population in conjunction with this. This should have already happened according to some of the prophets, by the end of the 20th century. - Edgar Cayce and Mother Shipton.
5/ A Golden Age emerges : the final proposition is that after this massive disruption of the old order, there will emerge a Golden Age in which those remaining alive on earth will live in far greater harmony with themselves and with the planet - Edgar Cayce, Nostradamus, Mother Shipton, Jean Dixon and the Hopi Indians.
All this sounds very frightening and threatening as it was seen by several of these prophets to be due to occur within the next thirty years from now and even, in some cases, they said this should have happened by now. It also sounds very reminiscent of events supposed to occur at the end of the Kali-Yuga, or Black Age, which theosophy says will occur in about 427,000 years from the present time! Should we pay any credence at all to such predictions? Were such prophets inspired by the Spiritual Hierarchy to warn Mankind to change our ways? What does all this mean for people, such as members of the TS, who are trying to work for the forces of Light in the world as it is now in the 21st century?
What do you think to all of this?
SEVEN JEWELS OF WISDOM : The doctrine of SWABHAVA : the essential nature of things
Stefan Carey - Melbourne
We continue our series on The Seven Jewels of Wisdom which summarise the basic teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. This issue we look at the fourth jewel, the Doctrine of Swabhava :
Swabhava in the Indian Sanskrit language means “to become”,“to grow into something” or “self-becoming”. It is the key to understanding the preceding three jewels, that is, Reincarnation, Karma and Hierarchies. It is the teaching that each being has its essential nature “Swabhavat” and that each being expresses this essential nature through garments, vehicles or bodies, which are suitable for it at each stage of its long journey of spiritual evolution. The fundamental and immortal Self sends rays of itself into the material worlds and uses appropriate vehicles to express its inner nature a bit like the Sun sending out its rays into the surrounding darkness of the Solar System and nourishing the different planets of its kingdom.
A theosophical writer defines this complex subject as follows : “ Swabhava has two general philosophical meanings : First : self-begetting, self-becoming, the general idea that there is no merely mechanical or soulless activity of Nature in bringing us into being, for we brought ourselves forth, in and through and by Nature, of which we are a part of the conscious forces, and therefore are our own children. Second : each and every entity that exists is the result of what he actually is spiritually in his own higher nature : he brings forth, that which is in himself interiorly, nothing else....What makes a rose bring forth always a rose and not thistles, or daisies or pansies? ...It is because of its Swabhava, the essential nature in and of the seed...Swabhava in short, may be called the essential Individuality of any monad, expressing its own characteristics, qualities, and types, by self-urged evolution.” [G de Purucker Occult Glossary page 166.]
From our discussions over the past few issues, we have a basic understanding of Karma, Reincarnation, Hierarchies and now Swabhava. It seems clear that the Seven Jewels all involve, and in fact build on each other. But what is the point of all these complex ideas and why all this struggle in Nature? The next of the seven Jewels, The Doctrine of Evolution, begins to answer these questions and will be available in our November issue.
Huib Willem de Jong-Heybroek : we recently heard of the passing of our member from Queensland, Mr Huib Willem de Jong-Heybroek. Our condolences to his family and friends.
John Van Mater Snr. : from Headquarters in Pasadena comes the sad news of the passing of John Van Mater Snr. on March 25th 2002. A special meeting of remembrance was held in his honour at HQ on April 7th where John was remembered by his friends and colleagues. John is probably best known to most members as the compiler of The Secret Doctrine Index published in 1997. Amongst his many outstanding achievements in the service of theosophy John was Secretary General from 1942 to 1948 and toured the world lecturing. In 1948 he became National Secretary of the American Section, a position in which he served till 1982. In 1972, John became Head Librarian of the Theosophical University Library in which position he prepared the library for use by the public, devised a special classification scheme, and built the collection into one of the foremost theosophical libraries in the world today. Beyond this he will be remembered for his ready wit and humour in every situation, his willingness to listen and help, particularly the young, his ability as a raconteur and public speaker, and his down-to-earth brand of theosophy tinged with great erudition. John always had a special interest in the Australian Section and sent the text of many of his lectures to us which have been read at our meetings in Melbourne. We salute the passing of a great student of theosophy.
LAST WORD from Thomas Carlyle
The Scottish philosopher is reported as saying :
“Nothing dies! Nothing can die! The idlest word which thou may speakest, is a seed cast into time, which brings forth fruit for all Eternity.”
[Submitted by Julius Leslie - Melbourne]
Australasian TS Newsletter is edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Australasian Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162, AUSTRALIA. Tel : (03) 9528.1011 Fax : (03) 9528.3907 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web homepage at www.theosophie.net/australia/ The current issue of this newsletter is also published electronically on our website and copies can be sent via email.
We welcome contributions on theosophy or related subjects. You can be placed on the mailing list by contacting the editor or see our website.