Published by the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
No. 91: April 2007
664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162 AUSTRALIA
Tel.: (03) 9528 1011 Fax: (03) 9528 3907
Email : Andrew Rooke
ISSN : 1447-8188
Aims of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) – Jennifer Pignataro
Contemplating our Future – Roza Riaikkenen
According to Biblical tradition, angels are invisible, created as angels, from nothing, before humankind began, pure spirit without bodies, but which take temporary form to do the work of their spiritual hierarch1. Seeking to visualise invisible beings, Angels were given white garments of light, haloes, the attribute of all holy persons such as Buddha and Christ, and are beautiful, young, androgenous, of immortal appearance.2 “Angel means “bringer of tidings” in Greek, and after the time of Constantine, first Christian Roman emperor, angels were given wings to depict messengers speedily bridging the gap between heaven and earth, according to pre-Christian predecessors, most probably the Goddess Nike/Victoria. In Egypt the goddess Nepthys, in Etruria (Tuscany), griffins – winged lions with human heads3, in Greece and Rome, Hermes/Mercury, the messenger of the gods with either a winged helmet or winged sandals, and Iris, his feminine counterpart has wings on her back – she took women’s souls to the afterlife. Other predecessors are Assyrian winged lions and bulls with human heads, and Viking winged valkyries.4
By the middle ages a multiplicity of angels became recognised, from the Seraphim, Cherubim, various archangels, and the vast heavenly host, each gaining a specific task, mission, a personality, and a focus to complete their task. Mystics extended this to the idea that everyone has an angelic counterpart, usually a “Guardian Angel” or an angel corresponding to all beings; their cult became popular in the 16th and 17th centuries AD.5
Much of pop culture’s obsession with angels revolves around “Guardian Angels’. Some modern students of the Ancient Wisdom believe some angels develop from the results of human actions, so the angel made by a good deed lives on and can return to affect people in a positive way. Angels intervened to save Daniel from the lion’s den, and St. Peter from prison, and King David wrote: “He will give his angels charge of you to guard you in all ways, bearing you up lest you dash your foot against a stone”.6 First World War allied veterans told of heavenly hosts appearing above the battlefield after the slaughter at Mons, France. The first guardian angels are said to be the four archangels, Uriel, Raphael, Gabriel and Michael who were the four ruling princes, spoken of in The Book of Enoch. St. Basil of Caesarea, one of the Church Doctors, said there were seventy national angels, but only those of the four nations are mentioned in Rabbinical writings, Dobiel for Persia, Samuel for Rome, (Edom), Rahab for Uzza, and Duma and or Semyaza, for Egypt, and Michael for Israel.7 The medieval mystic, Athanasius Kircher, even names guardian angels for each of the planets. According to the Talmud, every Jew is attended throughout life by 11,000 guardian angels, and every blade of grass has over it an angel saying “grow”; Jesus bade his disciples not to despise children and “speaks of angels in heaven”, suggesting that every child has its protecting spirit.8
Charles Lindbergh, the first aviator to cross the Atlantic from New York to Paris, met angels in their own realm, more or less. Sea fog crept across his field of vision, skimming the clouds in the moonless night. Needing to remain alert, he thought he saw translucent, weightless human forms with human voices, in the clouds, vanishing and appearing at will through the walls of the fuselage, advising him on the flight, his navigation, offering reassurance, and “messages of importance unattainable in ordinary life”.9 Joan of Arc also contacted angels “in their own realm”, when as a very pious child of thirteen she began to hear supernatural voices of Saints Michael, Margaret, and Catherine, so close at times they seemed to speak in her ear. The voices predicted to her a disastrous defeat of the French by the English, the whereabouts of an ancient sword, and many other predictions. These voices were accompanied by ringing bells, a pleasant smell, and a bright light always coming from the church to her right. Some people think that her hearing voices is indicative of suffering from schizophrenia, but Joan of Arc’s thoughts and personality were not disordered in the manner usually associated with mental illness.10
Do Guardian Angels exist? Many people around the world believe so, and myth confirms the experience of most young children who know instinctively they have an invisible companion caring for them. Ask any parent and they will tell you that their young kids can spend hours playing and talking with this unseen friend and nothing can convince them that there is nothing there! Maybe Guardian angels and Angels generally, are the spiritual hierarchy’s way of transmitting messages beyond our normal perception boundaries – in the Greater Light of the spiritual realms. Maybe young children are more keenly aware than are adults of the presence of their own invisible ‘Higher Self’ which constantly seeks to advise and guide us constructively along the pathways of life. Young children, being newly exiled from the spiritual worlds, are more keenly aware of spiritual realities than adults who have to contend with the veils of material considerations that accumulate over time. Angels are messengers, so are thoughts, both moving instantaneously from a place of inspiration, home of the greater intelligence running the universe. Maybe angels are the agents for seeing through the veil between our level of reality and their home in the spiritual worlds of Greater Light.
Saturday 31st March 2.30: Spiritual Growth in Kali
Yuga – Fred Pruyn
The TS (Pasadena) Centre is open at 2pm and closes at 5.30pm on the days of meetings.
World Parliament of Religions to be held in Melbourne, in 2009: The world’s largest multi-faith religious event, the World Parliament of Religions, will be held in Melbourne, Australia, in December 2009. First held in Chicago in 1893, the Parliament brings together many spiritual leaders and their followers and is held every five years. It was at the first parliament of religions in 1893 that the then Leader of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), William Quan Judge, made quite an impact on the world religious stage with his speeches on the unity of religions in the Ancient Wisdom. In the more recent past the Parliament has attracted many religious leaders including the Dalai Lama.
New Treasurer of the Australasian Section: Paul Rooke was recently appointed as the new Treasurer of the TS (Pasadena) Australasian Section. Paul has an accountancy/management consultancy practice, and is a qualified lawyer. Please contact Paul c/o the TS (Pasadena) Centre or at our email address above.
Asian Philosophies and Religions Course: our Bookshop Manager, Tony Downey, is now conducting classes in Asian philosophies and religions as part of the University of the Third Age program. Courses are conducted at our TS (Pasadena) Centre in Caulfield South, and at Box Hill. Please contact Tony c/o our telephone number or our email address if you are interested in attending these courses.
New books in the Melbourne library: We recently added 110 books to our library and they are now available to our members. Amongst them are the following:
The Wheel of Life: E. Kubler –Ross: Kubler Ross M.D. is the woman who has transformed the way the world thinks about death and dying. She tells the story of her life and explores the ultimate truth – death does not exist.
Music-Physician for Times to Come: Don Campbell: An anthology of music – its potential as a means of therapy and healing, hidden significance of sound, the symphony of life.
Secret Sayings of Jesus: Robert Grant: Ancient documents found at Nag Hammadi in Egypt in 1945 described as equal in importance to the Dead Sea Scrolls. These documents include the Gospel of Thomas, a collection of 114 sayings of Jesus, translated in full.
A History of Gnosticism: G. Filoramo: This account of the origins, history and influence of Gnosticism draws on new manuscript discoveries and presents convincing evidence that Gnostic beliefs still influence western and some eastern thought and religion.
A History or Religious Ideas (Vols. 1 and 2), W.R. Trask: Volume 1: From the Stone Age to the Eleusinian Mysteries, Volume 2: From Buddha to Christianity.
The Hero with a Thousand Faces: Joseph Campbell: Myth and dream, folk stories of creation, function of myth, cult and meditation.
Our thanks to those who kindly donated these books to the TS (Pasadena) library in Melbourne.
Theosophical Magazines Online: Four of our past magazines: The Path, Theosophy, Universal Brotherhood, and Universal Brotherhood Path, are now on the TS (Pasadena) website. The links to the magazines are listed on the TUP Online page at the top under ‘Magazines’.
HPB Collected Works now Online: Please check at the following link for principle founder of the TS, Helena P Blavatsky’s Collected Works now available on the Internet at: http://collectedwritings.net/
Maude Oosterwijk, who is the retiring National Secretary of the South African Section, is returning to Holland to live with her family. Maude will be known to many of us through the pages of the South African Newsletter, Contact, which she edited along with her late husband Hugo. Good wishes from friends in Australia, Maude, and we remember with respect the contributions of Hugo Oosterwijk who was the National Secretary of the South African Section for many years.
The soul can no more be satisfied by earthly treasures than the hunger of the body can be satisfied by air. If you should see a starving man standing with mouth open to the wind, inhaling drafts of air as if in hope of gratifying his hunger, you would think him a lunatic. But it is no less foolish to imagine that the soul can be satisfied with worldly things, which can only inflate it without feeding it”
I feel the following objectives of the T.S. can give adherents a practical road map for living, if you like. What exactly do each of these aims mean and how does one attempt to aspire to such noble objectives? I would like to walk you through each of them with my interpretation and application of them in daily life or “the karmic script”.
The Theosophical Society’s objectives:
1. To give people an awareness of the laws of the universe: The essence of the laws of nature is that all is Unity. Everything originates from Spirit and returns to Spirit. Moreover, that the knowledge of “ancient truths” are timeless and universal.
2. To spread the knowledge that there is unity to be found amongst all things, because unity is the basis of nature.
I like to think of this objective as meaning that everything is connected, that there is no such thing as “chance”. I believe that all civilizations over the eons have believed this, and grasping this principle may lead the seeker of truth to a sense of reconnection with the “divine”.
3. To promote an active brotherhood amongst people regardless of race, creed or colour:
I understand this to mean that a Theosophist are encouraged to consider every person that they meet as having a “divine spark”, that they have come from Spirit and that every one is at some stage of evolving along their path of “becoming”, of reaching their potential. While some people that we meet may seem “unevolved”, they hone our power of discrimination.
Yet, we must not let race, creed, colour, age or gender initially prohibit us from demonstrating one’s innate “divinity”. One should be able to help those among us by illuminating a path, by way of illustration; by acting with right intention, and mindful of one’s thoughts, words and deeds which daily create one’s karma.
I feel that this is the road that leads to “divine ethics”.
4. To learn knowledge about ancient and modern religions, science and philosophies:
Even a cursory glance of past civilizations and their human endeavours in the fields of science, art, religion and philosophy points to timeless lessons of truth, for while man has evolved over millennia, his search has not altered. That is, the perennial questions remain, which, can lead the individual to search for meaningful truth. Such a quest, once the adherent encounters it, sets him on a journey of great discovery. The fruits of such a journey lead the seeker to a greater understanding of self, of those around him and that of nature and the environment in which he finds himself in his current incarnation.
5. To study the inner powers of people:
This is the magical, alchemical process which occurs when a Theosophist earnestly searches for meaningful truth via the study over a life time, of “ancient wisdom” and universal laws.
When the Theosophist applies some of the universal, ancient laws in the practical areas of his life, such as the aims espoused by this Society, then one’s sense of divine origins and strength become further refined.
Ultimately, one is aware of creating his own Karma and so may become a beacon of light, hope and inspiration to others.
“Without an understanding of the nature of the Universe, a man cannot know where he is, without an understanding of its purpose, he cannot know what he is, nor what the Universe itself is. Let either of these discoveries be hid from him, and he will not be able so much as to give a reason for his own existence.”
The editorial in the August 2006 issue of
the Australian Theosophical Society Newsletter asks us a question:
“Do We Have a Future?” It refers to the books of a British
scientist James Lovelock who, due to pollution and global warming, doesn’t
see a future for humanity if we continue to live on Earth in the same
way we are living, thinking and behaving today.
In the 1970’s the Russian scientist P.G.Kuznetsov devised a model of a simple converter, which can be applied to describe any natural or man made process, for example, the process of receiving energy. He suggested two criteria for the evaluation of the process: converter’s efficiency and the factor of contamination. The first criterion – efficiency – is the ratio between the useful output of the converter (in our case, energy that we receive) and its input (all the expenses of energy, materials and labour which provide the functioning of the converter). The second – factor of contamination - is the ratio between the waste and emissions from the converter and its useful output.
The higher efficiency and lower contamination the better the converter. In our case, we can interpret this idea in simple words: the less we take from Earth to receive the same amount of energy, and the less we contaminate the environment for the same amount of energy, the more effective and clean our technology.
Now, as we have the criteria, we have the basis for comparison, and our contemplation is getting more substantiated. For centuries, we used to rely on fossil fuels, which were extracted from the bowels of the earth and, as it appears now, the emissions in time resulted in climate change. We are now closely looking at the option of nuclear power. This again means extracting uranium from the bowels of the earth and producing radioactive waste with unpredictable consequences for the land and the sea where it is meant to be stored. Especially, having in mind possible earthquakes and other natural and man made cataclysms. Even without any cataclysms, the Chernobyl catastrophe has demonstrated to us the immense scale of the consequences of losing control over nuclear power for a whole region and beyond - all due to a technical mistake.
So, it is difficult to compare what is more efficient and less contaminating: fossil or nuclear fuels. And we just contemplated the factor of contamination, when, in fact, we know nothing about the possible misbalancing effect which may eventuate for our continent from the extraction of a big mass of uranium from the bowels of the earth.
Have we anything else to choose from? It appears that we have. We have a whole range of energy sources which we don’t have to extract from the earth and which produce no contamination at all! The so called renewable energy of sun, wind, waves – we have abundance of it, an endless unlimited amount.
In fact, we already have an acting nuclear reactor of the Sun at our disposal. Compared to what we can build on Earth, this reactor doesn’t take anything from us. The Sun is just generously giving us as much energy as we can accept.
Taking solar energy into consideration – let us imagine for a moment that we invested in covering roofs with solar cells and transforming solar energy into electricity. Then everyone has a safe permanent source of energy. No blackouts, no catastrophes, no dependence on a far away source! Quite the reverse – the remaining energy can be given away to others, into the communal stores – we can share it! Australians will not be the first ones in the world to do this. Not the first ones, but perhaps having the biggest uninterrupted supply of solar energy!
Why don’t we clap our hands and hurry to start working in this direction: to invest in new and improved technologies and building projects based on the renewable energy? It seems that we are not prepared mentally to accept the fact that the future which we are asking about will be different from what we are used to now. That energy can become free and no longer be subject to profits and taxes! That economy will use criteria based on health and harmony for our planet and every one of its inhabitants rather than on profit for few and suffering for many!
So, the answer to the question about our future depends on us – on our ability to change, to accept and adopt new ideas and ways, and to turn these ideas into the practice of our daily life.
In a farmer’s field somewhere in India, cowherd boys kept watch over their cattle. In that same field lived a deadly cobra snake. One day a holy man passed that way travelling to a nearby temple. The boys begged him not to pass through the field as he would surely confront the venomous snake. The holy man retorted saying that he had no fear or anger towards any of God’s creatures including the venomous snake. So saying, he pressed on towards the distant temple to complete his holy duties.
Sure enough, he came upon the cobra basking boldly in the farmer’s field and, as the snake raised its hood to strike, the Holy man spoke to it, using his secret powers. “Why do you go about doing evil to others? Let me give you a Holy Name of God. Repeat this always and you will learn to love Divinity and see it in all things; the desire to do evil to others will thus gradually leave you.”
After a few days, the cowherd boys noticed the snake would not bite and they gathered courage first taunting, and then pelting the snake with rocks and sticks ‘til it crawled broken and bleeding back to its hole. Since its discussion with the Holy Man, the snake would eat only grass and leaves as it could no longer destroy the creatures it has formerly preyed upon. It thus withered away to a shadow of its former self.
After many months spent teaching the monks in the local temple, the Holy Man passed again through the field and sought in vain for his friend, the formerly terrible serpent. One of the cowherd boys said that it must be dead. The Holy Man found this difficult to believe for he knew that the Holy Name he had given the snake carried such spiritual power that death was out of the question until the great problems of life had been solved. Utilizing his holy powers, the wise man called the snake from his hiding place.
Together they discussed what had transpired between the snake and the cowherd boys. After hearing how the snake had been abused because of his kindness, the Holy Man quietly advised his friend: “I asked you not to bite, but I did not forbid you to hiss!”
Look out into the night sky. What lies beyond the moonlit clouds and the twinkling stars – the utter blackness of Space. But what is the nature of this medium and container of all manifest things? In the past few years astronomers have shown that Space is not only the infinite emptiness of popular imagination but that it contains perhaps as much as 90% plus more matter than appears to our eyes. One of the major controversies in astronomy and cosmology today is the true nature of this mysterious “dark matter” and “dark energy”. This debate echoes ancient teachings of space as an infinite void yet a complete fullness, in-filled with arenas of life beyond our visible universe, truly “spaces of space”.
Consider then that Space may not be as it appears – an empty vacuum between the planets, stars and galaxies that we recognize as matter. Theosophy reflecting the Ancient Wisdom tradition of many cultures, speaks of space as a complete fullness with every mathematical point a vibrant living god spark at various stages of evolution. Where the evolutionary development of other beings approximates our own, then we have the faculties to see them and our instruments can probe the mystery of their being to some extent.
However, space is literally filled with worlds invisible to our senses because they are higher or lower in the grand march of evolution than our own present station in Nature’s grand plan. Theosophical teachers speak of Space as the totality of all things, a complete fullness in manifestation with infinitude of spiritual worlds on the inner planes. Truly a void and yet a fullness at the same time, depending on how you look at it! Rather than Space as ‘container’, there are “spaces of space” in an endless hierarchy of Being. As one Theosophical teacher puts it: “Space, as understood in true occultism, means that all that this is a fullness, perfect and continuous absolutely, endless and beginningless; not a mere receptacle, not a mere container, nothing finite, but the boundless All. Further, Space IS; it is not merely on or in one plane, but on and in seven planes, the seven kosmic planes of our universe, besides penetrating inwards infinitely, endlessly, and also outwardly endlessly”. (G. de Purucker ‘Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, 2nd ed. pp. 382-383). This fact was taught in different ways by the Mystery Schools of the world. The ancient Greeks spoke of space as the infinite “pleroma’ meaning ‘fullness’. The Buddhist teachings of the void “Sunyata” being at the same time a fullness, express a similar concept. Perhaps the clearest explanation comes from Hinduism which taught that every state has a spiritual aspect (loka) and a material manifestation (tala). On the lowest loka-tala of our Earth’s being is the visible earth with all the kingdoms of life with which we are familiar. The other lokas and talas are filled with invisible beings of various classes, rakshasas, gandharas, vairajas, etc., who inhabit worlds as real to them as the mountains, seas, and green fields of our mother Earth are to us. As expressed in the Vishnu Purana (Bok III, Chapter VII, Wilson):
“This universe, composed of seven zones, with its seven sub terrestrial regions, and seven spheres…is everywhere swarming with living creatures, large or small, with smaller and smallest, and larger and largest; so that there is not the eighth part of an inch in which they do not abound”.
When you first begin, you will find only darkness, as it were a cloud of unknowing. You do not know what it means except that in your will you feel a simple steadfast intention reaching out towards God. Do what you will and this darkness and this cloud remains between you and God…By “darkness” I mean a “lack of knowing” – just as anything you do not know or may have forgotten may be said to be “dark” to you, for you cannot see it with your inward eye… So if you are to stand and not fall, never give up your firm intention: beat away at this cloud of unknowing between you and God with that sharp dart of longing love”.
We continue our series on practical things we can all do to put Theosophy into action in our daily lives:
Modern Theosophy says that the aim of every theosophist should be the betterment of other beings based on compassion for others. In this aim, Theosophy follows the tradition of Mahayana Buddhism by teaching our ideal is to eventually become a Bodhisattva (Sanskrit for compassionate spiritual being) after many lifetimes of self-directed effort.
The Buddhist tradition teaches there are basically three types of spiritual students and we have to make up our mind early in our search who we want to be!!
These three stages as given by Mahayana Buddhism are:
The essential difference between these three approaches is “Sravaka’ and ‘Pratkeya’ would look at this world of suffering and say: ‘If only those people/beings could have happiness and be free of suffering’, but they are not yet prepared to do much about it personally as their major motivation in life. They are typically disillusioned with this world, and direct their considerable spiritual energies to trying to escape from the physical world. The Bodhisattva approach would be: ‘I will take on the responsibility to remove the suffering and to provide for the happiness of all living beings’.
Bear in mind that we may move through all these three stages in our spiritual search and are not guaranteed of staying at one particular level or other. Remember that “sravaka” and ‘pratyeka’ spiritual searchers, are good and high-minded people who help many people in their way; and that it is possible at any stage prior to ‘Buddhahood’ of making the transition ‘forward’ or ‘back, from any one of these three conditions. An interesting question for us all to consider is, how well qualified are we at a comparatively low level of spiritual training such as most of us are at now, to make value judgements about the paths, or the stages of spiritual development, reached by others!?
Theosophy encourages us to develop the ‘Bodhisattva Attitude’ of a wholehearted resolve that assumes the responsibility of liberating all beings based on compassion. Theosophical teachers have told us that developing this attitude, i.e. ‘to live to benefit mankind [and all beings], is the first step’ along the path to Bodhisattvahood. It is the responsibility of the Theosophical Society as the ‘kindergarten’ of the ‘Mystery Schools’ to encourage this attitude at the very beginning of our ‘training’. To follow the six noble perfections or ‘paramitas’, is the second step along this noble path according to Theosophy. In the next and subsequent issues of our newsletter we will examine the ‘Six Perfections’ and practical ways to apply them in our lives in detail.
We don’t make a living by what
we get; we make a life by what we give.
Andrew Rooke: National Secretary
Our dear friend and long standing member, Lo Guest, passed to greater light in January 2007. Lo was a tireless worker for Theosophy since she joined the Society in 1957, and she was Treasurer of our TS for more than 20 years. She will be particularly remembered by all of us who attended meetings in Melbourne for her inspiring and meticulously researched lectures. Lo was especially interested in the philosophies and religions of Asia, and lectured extensively on these subjects at our meetings and to her students at the University of the Third Age classes in Indian and Asian philosophies. She was a practical theosophist who sought to apply and exemplify theosophical teachings in daily life. Lo was always available to discuss the most abstruse aspect of mysticism and the Ancient Wisdom, through to counselling people for emotional problems and preparing nutritious meals for her many hungry visitors! Since arriving in Australia from war-torn Europe in 1939, she was always a peacemaker and a paragon of tolerance and understanding in her dealings with others whilst being firm to what she believed to be true. She will be greatly missed by all her friends in Theosophy and her many other fields of endeavour.
Lo spent much of her life teaching others the wonders of Asian philosophies, so from the ancient Indian epic that she quoted so often, The Bhagavad-Gita [Chapter 2], these words are a fitting tribute:
“Those who are wise in spiritual things grieve neither for the dead nor for the living. I myself never was not, nor thou, nor all the princes of the earth; nor shall we ever hereafter cease to be. As the lord of this mortal frame experienceth therein infancy, youth, and old age, so in future incarnations will it meet the same. One who is confirmed in this belief is not disturbed by anything that may come to pass”… “As a man throweth away old garments and putteth on new, even so the dweller in the body, having quitted its old mortal frames, entereth into others which are new. The weapon divideth it not, the fire burneth it not, the water corrupteth it not, the wind drieth it not away; for it is indivisible, inconsumable, incorruptible, and is not to be dried away: it is eternal, universal, permanent, immovable; it is invisible, inconceivable, and unalterable; therefore, knowing it to be thus, thou shouldst not grieve.”
“Bhagavan Ki Kripa Se” – May the Gods guide and bless her”
Our thanks and appreciation to the many friends around Australia and the world, who send their newsletters to us. We encourage you all to read them as they are kept in our library in Melbourne, or photocopies can be sent. They include: Impuls (Netherlands), Contact (South Africa), The 21st Century Path (USA), Theosophy North-West View (USA), Kali Yuga Rag (USA), San Diego TS Newsletter (USA), Compass (England), The Tub Thumper (Australia), Peace and Love Circular (Ghana-West Africa). Also, Dutch and German language translations of Sunrise magazine are sent to us regularly.
Australian Theosophical Newsletter is issued
three times per year in April, August, and November and is edited by Andrew
Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Australasian
Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162,
We welcome contributions on theosophy or related subjects. You can be placed on the mailing list by contacting the editor or see our website.