Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
No: 97 April 2009
Arnhem Land escarpment, Kakadu National Park, Northern Territory – tropical Australia
What is Theosophy really all about?
Lighting the fires of mind – Eloise Hart
Accelerated karma…or… washing dirty socks! – Andrew Rooke
Some thoughts on presenting Theosophy – Frank Walter
The mayonnaise jar and two cups of coffee
Cosmetics in ancient Egypt – Jennifer Pignataro.
‘Minor initiations’ of daily life: a true story from Point Loma days – Karl Bendroth
Book review: Muhammad: Prophet of Islam – Fazl Ahmed
Who is this God? – Paul Murchison
From our readers: The ‘eye doctrine’ versus the ‘heart doctrine’
Questions we all ask: What are the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy?
Willy Wonka and the World Financial Crisis
I am a ship – Stefan Carey
WHAT IS THEOSOPHY REALLY ALL ABOUT?
What is the major priority in the work of our Theosophical Society today? Our Leader, Randell C. Grubb, has indicated that it is putting theosophical teachings into action in our daily lives or practicing ‘Inner rather than Outer Theosophy’. What does this mean? Why do this?
No matter how long you study Theosophy, the hardest question to answer is seemingly the easiest question about it – What is Theosophy? For as many theosophists you ask, there will be a different answer! Broadly the answers can be grouped into four responses:
Theosophy is an intellectual pastime: Theosophy is brim-full of complex and fascinating ideas that can absorb you for lifetimes. Many people view theosophists as a group of middle-class intellectuals just sitting around and endlessly discussing these ideas in an academic ‘ivory tower’ remote from the realities of everyday life. Indeed, many theosophical meetings may appear to be this way – but - is this what Theosophy really is all about?
Theosophy is comparative religion: many of the ideas and certainly the language of much of theosophy seem to be based on concepts from ancient religions and philosophies, especially Hinduism and Buddhism from ancient India. Many of the basic ideas of Theosophy seem to come right out a textbook on Buddhism with concepts like Karma and Reincarnation that we usually associate with Indian religion being major topics of conversation in theosophical meetings. This impression is reinforced by the widespread use of complex technical terms in Theosophy which come from the ancient Indian language Sanskrit. Terms such as ‘Swabhava’, ‘Linga Sarira’, ‘Nirvana’, all have a strong Indian flavour to them and many technical theosophical discussions sound like they are half in a foreign language! This has lead many people to think of theosophy as an amalgam of Eastern, especially Indian religions made palatable for a Western audience rather than a vibrant and living philosophy in its own right with truths relevant to a Western audience of the here and now. Again, many theosophical discussions often degenerate into discussion of where ideas appear in the different cultures and religions of the world rather than recognizing that theosophy is an attempt at revealing the core spiritual knowledge whence these religions arose. Is Theosophy therefore a ‘magpie eclectic montage’ of ideas from a host of others religions of interest to those curious about comparative religion?
Theosophy is for those interested in the occult arts: not surprising because of the subject matter of many of our discussion, people can view theosophy as an ‘entrez’ into the occult arts. Many of our discussion mention the invisible worlds or aspects of the inner constitution of man and how these worlds impinge and relate to the outer world that we know. This can be disturbing and even frightening to many people, and so the impression can be that Theosophy is a body of knowledge for those interested in ‘freaky’ subjects such as ghosts, clairaudience, clairvoyance, reading people’s thoughts, etc. Certainly, one of the aims of the Theosophical Society is to study the powers innate in man, but is Theosophy just another school for the study of the more spectacular aspects of occultism?
Theosophy as character-building: rather than these popular misconceptions of Theosophy and the work of the Theosophical Society, Randell C Grubb, reminds us “to be one’s own lamp” as did James A. Long (Leader from 1951 to 1971), who said that Theosophy is, rather, a form of character-building. That is, we should take seriously the teachings of Theosophy and put them into action in our lives and this will automatically strengthen and build our characters and have a beneficial affect on those who come into contact with us. Instead of looking at Theosophical teachings just as fascinating theories and concepts, try every day to see them as realities and change your behaviour to conform with these realities. For example, think of Karma and Reincarnation as realities. There are many things we would do, and more we would not do, if we seriously thought of these teachings as actual realities. This is putting Inner Theosophy into Outer Action, or simply practicing what we preach, or as the Buddhist saying goes: “It is necessary to live the Life to understand the Doctrine.”
By living Inner Theosophy and not just talking Outer Theosophy, we begin to self-direct our spiritual evolution. By this I mean we seriously take hold of the possibilities that await us in this and future lives. Instead of being blindly blown around by the winds of fate, we understand the basic laws of the universe from what we are told in Theosophy and put them into action. By so doing we can contribute toward a more spiritually enlightened future for ourselves and others. Other people will observe our actions and how we behave in certain, especially stressful and demanding situations, be attracted to what we have to offer them philosophically, and as warm and helpful human beings. As the Buddhists would say: “The flowers come into bloom when the sage walks through the garden’ or, as they say in India: “The bees come of their own accord in search of honey when the flower is in full bloom.”
Randell C. Grubb emphasises that this inner exploration of theosophy is a needed process accompanying all our activities in the Theosophical Society. James A. Long was in many ways setting the stage for our endeavours today and he defined theosophy as:
“…What is theosophy anyway? It is a system of character-building. And to get back to the Christian sacred scriptures, it is living the Golden Rule: doing unto others as we would have them do unto our selves. There isn’t anyone in this world who can convince me that if we as individual members of this Theosophical Society tried to really live the Golden Rule with the background of theosophy that we have, we would not set the world on fire pretty quickly. Now it is hard to live the Golden Rule. It is hard to be real theosophists. Not one of us is anywhere near perfect. We have a long way to go. But what we do know and what we do have, let us put to work. I don’t mean in sanctimonious conversation with this or that person. Let us be real men and real women, and think of the other fellow before we think of ourselves. If any one of us could really try that for 24 hours or for one waking day, we would be astonished at the results. None of us does it – I am not saying that criticizingly; we have a long way to go, but many of you do it for a good many hours a day, and maybe all of them, I don’t know. But if we consider theosophy, what it really is, a system of character building that will one day make us a counterpart of Masters and even beyond…Thus our job as theosophists, individually and as a Society, is to attend to our work and, being good citizens in our respective nations, work for theosophy as we see fit, to the best of our ability, doing our daily duty, whether it is one thing or another. So long as we do it one-pointedly and honestly, we will begin thereby to form such a solid nucleus of spiritual force that it will have an incalculable influence in the world around us and we will win the battle of true spiritual freedom…” James A. Long European Tour 1951 – record of a meeting at Bossum, Holland.
World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne: will be held in Melbourne from the 3-9 December 2009. The Parliament is the largest multi-faith gathering of religious and spiritual leaders in the world, attracting from 8,000 to 10,000 guests from 80 countries. Held once every five years in a different city, the Parliament of the World's Religions attracts thousands of leaders and members from spiritual and religious communities around the globe to engage in discussions, debate and presentations.
The theme of the Melbourne Parliament will be ‘Making a world of difference: hearing each other, healing the Earth’. Over seven days, delegates can choose from over 450 activities, including daily morning observances of many traditions, intra-religious and inter-religious programs, models of engagement, symposia, performances, open space dialogue and exhibits. This is a unique opportunity for Australians to take part in this important world gathering. For further information please visit: http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/index.cfm
Correspondence Courses in Theosophy: a full range of correspondence courses are offered in Theosophy at our website: www.theosophydownunder.org If you are interested in trying one of these courses, please contact Tony Downey at our email address: email@example.com
Spirituality and health: The 3rd Australian Conference on Spirituality and Health will be held in Adelaide in July concentrating on integrating spirituality into the practice of health care in Australia. How encouraging it is to see that orthodox medicine is recognizing the impact of spirituality on health at long last!
Donations needed: our Society is a voluntary organization that operates purely on the generosity of our members and friends. Currently we need donations to help support the purchase of book-stock for our bookshop. Approximately $2,000 per annum is needed to purchase books for the bookshop. A further $2,000 is needed for essential maintenance work for our Centre in Melbourne. Please contact our Treasurer, Paul Rooke, at: firstname.lastname@example.org, or at our address given at the end of this newsletter if you can help. Many thanks to all those friends who have contributed already to the work of our Society.
The life and significance of G.I.Gurdjieff: Part1: Gurdjieff in Egypt: The origin of esoteric knowledge about the life of the Greek-Armenian mystic, George Ivanovich Gurdjieff 1866-1949. Gurdjieff is most notable for his introduction of what he called ‘The Work’ meaning working on oneself according to his instructions for greater awareness, also known as ‘The Fourth Way’. This film says that he discovered his teachings in the philosophies of ancient Egypt.
Gnosis: the secret of Solomon’s temple by Philip Gardiner. An investigation into different traditions indicating the existence of esoteric knowledge.
Timewave 2013: The future is now: The Odyssey II (2008) an investigation into the world after 2012.
Closer than Close: a portrait of seeking and finding our true self (2007): a discussion amongst seven friends on the meaning of life with comments from three friends of an older generation.
Did you know that our library has a great collection of theosophical and other magazines from Science News and Astronomy, to theosophical magazines such as Theosophical Forum and Theosophy in Australia. These are all listed in a new section of our website entitled Journals List..
New on Theosophy Downunder website: lectures recently added to the ‘Theosophy Downunder Library’ on our website at: www.theosophydownunder.org include: ‘Spiritual Teachers – how do they get to know what they say they know? by Stefan Carey; ‘Beauty in ancient Egypt’ by Jennifer Pignataro; ‘Reincarnation and Karma’ by Marjorie Mitchell; ‘Man’s responsibility to the animals’ by Bernard Parsons. There is a new program in the ‘Questions we all ask’ series on ‘What is Theosophy’. Also, a new section of Book Reviews with reviews of current books, and an index of reviews from Sunrise magazine is now available.
What is it that gives us the power to change the world? It is our mind. Ever since its awakening, human beings have been thinking, aspiring, exploring, and changing their lives. To scientists this awakening that happened so long ago remains an "unexplainable wonder."
Before it, we were innocent and irresponsible like preschool children. But when our minds were set aflame with the fires of thought we were able not only to know ourselves and what was "good" and what not, but also to begin consciously to direct our own evolution. Today this wondrous happening is repeated daily. Parents and teachers light fires when they stimulate imagination and start their youngsters asking questions. Although commonplace, isn't it always a wonder when an idea suddenly comes in and illumines a problem we've been pondering?
"Lighting the fires of mind" is an intriguing expression. Lighting implies the inflaming of that which has the potency to be lit. Fire suggests upward movement, change, combustion, transformation, whether this occurs to heat our houses, cook our food, light our study, or change our lives – and we do change our lives when we change our thinking.
Theosophic writers tell of great-hearted manasaputras or "sons of mind" from spiritual realms who incarnated among early mankind and instilled in the minds of those who were receptive thoughts that inflamed their mental faculties and, in degree, awakened their spiritual awareness. Doing this, they not only impregnated individual minds, but impressed the thought-atmosphere of the earth with the archetypal ideas basic to civilized life. These ideas embrace the laws of hygiene and medicine, of agriculture, architecture, celestial navigation, metallurgy, the skills of social and political structure, jurisprudence, philosophy, and religion. From then on, these ideas have been part of our moral and intellectual being, providing us with an instinctive sense of what is just and true in all areas of our lives.
Under the manasaputras' care and instruction the early human races learned much about the wonders of the natural and stellar worlds; learned how to erect cities and lay the foundation of cultured and technological civilizations. Then, when they felt mankind could go on alone, these spiritual teachers withdrew their physical presence, remaining in the wings, as it were, ready to guide with an inspired idea.
What an ingenious way this was to protect their sacred knowledge from the ravages of time that has so mercilessly destroyed all that has been recorded on parchment and stone. The tenuous fabric of our minds endures through lifetimes: storing truths there not only preserves them, but keeps them available to every man and woman.
- This article was published in Theosophy North-West View, November 2008. It is reproduced with the permission of the author.
ACCELERATED KARMA…or…WASHING DIRTY SOCKS!
Why is it that people who are trying their utmost to live a good life according to the ‘Golden Rule’, seem to suffer more than those who have little sense of brotherhood? Spiritual teachers tell us that when a person seriously commences their spiritual journey, it throws outward many of our inner tendencies that otherwise would remain hidden for many lifetimes. This gives us the opportunity to deal with our bad habits built up over many lifetimes in a comparatively short time – though often at the price of outward suffering. Thus such a person can be better fitted in a shorter time to serve humanity by being purified of these habits and having a better understanding of the suffering of others. Buddhist monk, Sogyal Rinpoche, spoke of these matter when he said:
“Sometimes when you enter the spiritual path, when it really touches deeply, it stirs up a lot of things. That’s why I always tell my students that it’s very important to remember this process is a mere purification, and not to give up. I sometimes give the example of when you are taking a shower. When you scrub the dirt out of yourself, it becomes more messy than before. But if you stop in the middle, it becomes worse!
That’s why, when I wash dirty socks, I really love it when the dirt comes up, because I know they are being purified. In the sense that all the suffering is seen, because we (Buddhists) see life not just related to this life but always connected with the life before, whatever we’ve committed in the past, in that karma, or in this life, sometimes the truly powerful teachings stir it up and bring it to the surface.
If you are really able to face and work with that in a meaningful way, actually you can finish with a lot of negative karma which you might otherwise be suffering or experiencing for many lifetimes. We can finish them. We see suffering as an ending of a particular pattern.” – Parabola magazine, Spring 1993, page 95.
Lest we think that the spiritual life is an inherently unhappy one, remember what our theosophical teachers have told us. An honest appeal to our Inner Divinity certainly stirs up negative aspects of ourselves, but it also calls upon the positive forces within to help us through these challenges. Channels are opened by which the joyous influences of the higher planes of our being can flow into everyday life and new strength rewards new effort, new courage comes from each new step forward. Let’s not forget that as well as the crimes of our past, we have a legacy of good deeds from other lives to call upon in our dark moments. Theosophical teacher, William Quan Judge, wisely advises us:
“So take courage, disciple, and hold on your way through the discouragements and successes that beset your earliest steps on the path of probation. Do not stop to mourn over your faults; recognize them and seek to learn from each its lesson. Do not become vain of your success. So shall you gradually attain self-knowledge, and self-knowledge shall develop self-mastery.” – from a circular letter issued in 1890.
More detailed information on this subject can be found in ‘Pledge-fever and the spiritual will’ in G. de Purucker’s Fountain Source of Occultism, pages 20-26.
We contact Theosophy. We feel benefits from it. We join the Theosophical Society. We want to spread our benefits. That is the first object in our Constitution – “To diffuse among men a knowledge of the laws inherent in the Universe”. The second object is - “To promulgate the knowledge of the essential unity of all that is, and to demonstrate that this unity is fundamental in Nature”. Always remember that unity does not mean uniformity.
We achieve these objects by personal contacts, by writing, by speaking; especially public speaking. That is the topic for these suggestions. Nobody is being criticised or “Got At’. It is intended as a passing-on of some experience gained. Speaking publicly will impress our hearers in direct proportion to our sincerity. That sincerity will never leave us time to feel, “That was well said!”
Present your truth as simply as possible. Use basic material. Material you know. Don’t rush at it. Take a deep breath, sit on it, and hold tight.
Now for some don’ts. Don’t wander from your theme. Don’t float off into the clouds and get lost in the exuberance of your own verbosity. Don’t use long words if a short one is there; or strange words, or exotic words; but if you have to use one, briefly explain it. Assume there is a simple person there – nice, but ‘not the sharpest tool in the rack’ – and perhaps even a bit deaf! Think to him. Enunciate words clearly – loud enough to reach the gallery – and NOT TOO FAST.
Keep your head up; don’t mumble into your chest. Use your own words – not long screeds from books – though a short, pithy quote is O.K. Use short sentences – long, involved sentences are confusing, causing interest to wane. Avoid unnecessary adjectives. Don’t be pedantic – or ‘precious’. If you have something to read use moderate speed, put in some expression to avoid deadly monotones. Don’t worry too much about pronunciation, it changes periodically. Words are tools not fixed templates. Meanings also change gradually but your intention will be understood. Avoid ‘and’, ‘n’, ‘er’, and ‘um’ – ‘m’.
Cultivate a cheerful manner. Use humour where possible. Remember this quote from Samuel Butler, “A little levity will save many a heavy thing from sinking”. Look around your audience while speaking. When preparing a talk, state your subject and position first. Build up a middle part with convincing material. Re-state your opening in your conclusion.
Don’t write theses for Doctorates. Try to speak off the top of your head – literally, because you know your stuff and that’s where it comes out. Nervousness is natural and very good. It stops us getting ‘cocky’. If you are afraid of forgetting something in its right order it will give you confidence to have some notes - - - just a word or two, a name, an idea, a reminder of the next logical point. Deal with that point from what is built into your memory. If you don’t know your subject you won’t be able to pass it on.
Finally: No one is going to be able to remember all these ‘do’s and don’ts’ every time they speak. You’re here because you’re interested so TRY. The world-famous Polish pianist, Paderewski, had to first learn his scales before he could perform at Carnegie Hall!
MAYONNAISE JAR AND 2 CUPS OF COFFEE
When things in your lives seem almost too much to handle, when 24 hours in a day are not enough, remember the mayonnaise jar and the 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class and had some items in front of him. When the class began, he wordlessly picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar and proceeded to fill it with golf balls. He then asked the students if the jar was full. They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly. The pebbles rolled into the open areas between
the golf balls. He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar. Of course, the sand filled up everything else. He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with an unanimous "yes."
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar effectively filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
"Now," said the professor as the laughter subsided, "I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life. The golf balls are the important things -your family, your children, your health, your friends and your favourite passions---and if everything else was lost and only they remained, your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, your house and your car.
The sand is everything else---the small stuff. "If you put the sand into the jar first," he continued, "there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same goes for life. If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff you will never have room for the things that are important to you.
"Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness. Play with your children. Take time to get medical checkups. Take your spouse out to dinner. Play another 18. There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal. Take care of the golf balls first---the things that really matter. Set your priorities. The rest is just sand."
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented
The professor smiled. "I'm glad you asked. It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem, there's always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend."
COSMETICS IN ANCIENT EGYPT
“Exfoliants, anti-wrinkle cream, methods for the elimination of stretch-marks, halitosis, unpleasant body odours, even hair extensions! This all sounds pretty modern, doesn’t it? It could perhaps be a list of advertisers from a fashion magazine on the news stand on the street today. Yet all of the above were also concerns and creations of ancient Egypt. In no other country or culture was the concern with beautification and body care so extensive. Their interest in beauty transcends time. Cosmetic implements, particularly eye-makeup palettes, have been discovered in the earliest graves.
Cleopatra VII, last of the Ptolemies, was herself credited with writing a book of beauty secrets, an art that she was universally acknowledged as mastering. Vestiges of the ancient Egyptians’ concerns with beauty and body care linger even today. Modern Egyptian glass perfume vials may be as treasured and coveted today as were the carved alabaster pots of distant ages. Ancient Egyptian concerns with beauty and body care transcend gender lines. Women and men both used cosmetics and body oils. The need for skin protection and moisturizers in a hot, arid climate was perceived as necessary for both genders. Both sexes, of all classes, oiled their bodies regularly.
Many of the ancient formulae remain to us: while some were obviously targeted towards women (there are several suggestions for the removal of stretchmarks following pregnancy), the many formulae suggesting for stimulating hair growth and eliminating bald-spots were probably directed largely towards men. Our extensive knowledge of the Egyptians’ beauty regime can be credited to their burial customs and also to the arid climate which preserves artefacts so well. The earliest graves contain cosmetic implements, not only eye palettes but also tweezers and razors.
An example of the Ancient Egyptian Anti-Wrinkle Cream would use the following ingredients: Anti-Wrinkle Cream: One Teaspoon Sweet Almond Oil, Two Drops of Frankincense essential oil. We are now able to scientifically analyse and catalogue the contents of cosmetic and perfume jars. We know, for instance, that the Egyptians had access to and used some 21 different types of vegetable oils for cosmetic purposes, a vast repertoire even by our standards.” - from www.egyptmonth.com/mag06012000/mag4.htm.
“Egyptians used powdered minerals in their eye makeup. Eyes were either outlined in kohl, made from black Galena (a lead ore), or with green malachite.” …”The ancient Egyptians took a fairly holistic approach to the concept of eye makeup. Not only was it decorative and ornamental, the practice also served medicinal, magical and spiritual practices.” – from www.makeuptalk.com/forums/beauty-throughout-time.
The Egyptians used two types of eye makeup: Udju, was made from green malachite (green ore of copper) from Sinai. Sinai and its mines were considered under the spiritual dominion of Hathor, goddess of beauty, joy, love and women. Mesdemet, a dark grey ore of lead, was derived from either stibnite (antimony sulphide) or, more typically, galena (lead sulphide). Galena was found around Aswan and on the Red Sea Coast. It was among the materials brought back by Pharaoh Hatshepsut’s famed expedition to Punt and was given in tribute by Asiatic nomads.
That the Egyptians decorated their eyes with great aesthetic care is immediately obvious. Eye cosmetics bestowed beauty and style as well as other gifts, perhaps less immediately apparent to modern eyes. Galena possesses disinfectant and fly-deterrent properties. It is believed to offer the eyes protection from intense sun. The medical papyri frequently prescribe mesdemet for assorted complaints of the eye. Eye makeup provided psychic protection as well. The Egyptian word for eye-palette seems to derive from their word for “protect”. An unadorned and thus unprotected eye was believed vulnerable to the Evil Eye. Outlining the eyes thus became a personal protective amulet drawn right upon the skin, an amulet that once applied could not be lost or misplaced.” – from www.touregypy.net/magazine/mag09012000/mag4.
Interestingly, the Egyptians were not only concerned with the external appearance of things – beauty, but also with subtle qualities such as the healing properties of the minerals. Imagine wearing malachite eyeliner as a cosmetic with the following powers according to the mineral experts I consulted with about malachite, they said: “…Noted as the most powerful protective agent in the mineral kingdom, it will protect children from bad dreams when placed under their pillow. Malachite is also thought to guard against undesirable business associates and is said to encourage both practical and responsible business transactions. Although its most important protective quality is the strengthening effect it has on the emotions, it is particularly useful to those who are sensitive to the negative thoughts and vibrations of others; it will stop the wearer from carrying other peoples’ problems. Recognised as the stone of travellers, it has the unique ability to warn of impending danger by breaking itself into pieces. Essentially malachite represents truth, hope and inner peace, but is also thought to embody infinite wisdom and focus. It will enhance meditation and elevate the spiritual and psychic. Practically, malachite will assist one to look deep within, and will make apparent any emotional factors which may be contributing to illness. It will further help to release any unresolved issues and can be used to assist in the process of hypnosis when mental blocks due to trauma are found. It regulates the bloodstream, increasing circulation and will sooth swollen joints.
Malachite has been recognised to speed up the healing process when a muscle is torn. It works well when used to strengthen the immune system, and can offer assistance when cancer manifests externally as a growth or tumour. It has been used to treat asthma and because of its large copper content, it is believed to offer some relief from arthritis.” - from Qi 743 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne.
For me, the most beautiful aspect of all of the powers of this mineral is that of the qualities of Maat, these being: truth and balance. Red ochre mixed with fat or gum resin was thought to be used as a lipstick or face paint. Mixtures of chalk and oil were possibly used as cleansing creams. Henna was used as hair dye and is still in use today. Tattooing was known and practiced. Mummies of dancers and concubines, from the Middle Kingdom, have geometric designs tattooed on their chests, shoulders and arms. In the New Kingdom, tattoos of the god Bes could be found on the thighs of dancers, musicians and servant girls. – from www.mnsu.edu/emuseum/prehistory/egypt/dailylife/beautyaids.
“Hair was a special problem. It was hot, hard to keep clean and easily infested with lice. Many solved the problem by shaving their heads and wearing a wig. The wig could be raised on small pads to allow a flow of air between the scalp and the hair and, of course, they never turned grey or bald. Women who kept their hair were told they could enhance its natural colour by rubbing in a mixture of oil and the boiled blood of a black cat or bull. It was the fashion at parties for men and women to wear a perfume on the tops of their heads. The cone was usually made of ox tallow and as time passed, melted and released a pleasant scent.” - from www.womenintheancientworld.com/women’s%20clothing.htm
In a recent article in the National Geographic entitled Nile Style, this is what it says about the ancient Egyptian penchant for cosmetics: “Egyptian eyes are back in fashion with celebrities lining their lids a la Cleopatra. Then as now, the desired effect was to make the eyes pop. In ancient Egypt, though, enhancing one’s appearance had spiritual aspects as well. A luxurious wig stiffened with beeswax, for instance, was a potent sexual symbol that linked the wearer to Hathor, the Goddess of beauty. Green eye paint or wadju may have invoked Hathor’s protection. In death, cosmetics created a youthful, fertile look deemed essential for rebirth in the hereafter. Used by both men and women, makeup may also have had earthly benefits. Black eyeliner – known as mesdemet in antiquity, and kohl from the Arabic, today-reportedly kept away flies, cut the sun’s glare and contained lead sulphide and chlorine, which acted as disinfectants. No evidence survives of any toxic results from the lead. Oils and creams, often scented, kept skin moist in the dry climate; some were even given as wages.” - from Williams, A.R., National Geographic, July 2008, p.32.
For the full version of this article which covers several aspects of beauty in ancient Egypt including gardens, perfumes, religion, and food, please see Theosophy Downunder website at: www.theosophydownunder.org under ‘Theosophy Downunder Library’ menu item.
‘MINOR INITIATIONS’ OF DAILY LIFE: A TRUE STORY FROM POINT LOMA DAYS
When I joined the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in 1938, it was as a member of a group of college students. Because we were just beginning to learn to use our minds, we regarded theosophy as just another intellectual study. One of our group had written to our then headquarters at Point Loma near San Diego in California, USA, and they had sent him the address of an old member who lived in our town. The three of us went to visit him.
Far from being highly educated, this man had possibly not even had the opportunity to graduate from high school. These were the days of a separate Esoteric Section (E.S.) in our Society, and he had not even been allowed to join the E.S. But the kindliness and purity of soul that emanated from him was unmistakable.
He had joined the Theosophical Society in the early days of Katherine Tingley’s Leadership (in the 1890s) and had helped in the construction of the Academy and other buildings at the then headquarters of our Society at Point Loma. Katherine Tingley had told him to go back to Oregon, so he had spent most of his life near Portland going back once or twice a year to visit his spiritual home at Point Loma.
The other boys looked down on him because of his lack of a formal education, but I found something in him that made Theosophy real for me and no longer mere theory. I hoped that by the time I grew as old as he, that my eyes would reflect the same peace of soul and kindliness that his did. This never happened, but I have never quit trying!
It was his idea that any sincere theosophical student could and would go through what he called ‘minor initiations’. He told me that sometimes you would not know whether you would ‘sink or swim’, but he implied that faith in the law of Karma would sustain you through the most difficult trial. He also said that after these ‘initiations’ had been experienced, that an understanding of our own and other people’s lives and our sense of compassion, would be increased.
Of course, these ‘minor initiations’ are not limited to theosophical students, and, it depends on the attitude of the individual as to whether he or she will regard the experience as merely a disagreeable episode, or an opportunity to grow.
From Space: There is a magnetic bridge between the Earth and the Sun: Theosophy teaches that there are intimate connections of life energies between the Earth and the Sun. Space research has recently found that on the dayside of Earth (the side closest to the sun), Earth's magnetic field presses against the sun's magnetic field. Approximately every eight minutes, the two fields briefly merge or "reconnect," forming a portal through which particles can flow. The portal takes the form of a magnetic cylinder about as wide as Earth. The European Space Agency's fleet of four Cluster spacecraft and NASA's five THEMIS probes have flown through and surrounded these cylinders, measuring their dimensions and sensing the particles that shoot through. The cylindrical portals tend to form above Earth's equator and then roll over Earth's winter pole. In December, FTEs roll over the north pole; in July they roll over the south pole. For those interested in theosophical teachings regarding the Sun, please see: The Sun: Powerhouse and Father/Mother/Elder Brother at: http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/science/sc-rook3.htm
From the USA: New on Headquarters Website: Introductory Notes on the Secret Doctrine is a new addition on the HQ website at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sdnotes/sdnotes-hp.htm or check out the homepage and find the link next to last on the menu. HQ librarian, Jim Belderis, has put together notes on terms in the Preface and the Introduction to The Secret Doctrine. The Secret Doctrine has been put in PDF format and words with notes are underlined and are revealed by moving the cursor over the word(s) or clicking on the word(s). We understand that this is an ongoing project, so check back from time to time for more additions to this very useful aid to using The Secret Doctrine.
Theosophy Watch website: This website is dedicated to providing a contemporary theosophical view of developments in science and technology. It includes a very interesting film on what the nature of genius or what we call ‘Savants’, ie. when a seemingly ordinary, or even intellectually backward person, has outstanding abilities in one area of life. Could it be that ‘Savants’ in reality have the ability to use multiple centers of consciousness throughout the human body? A dramatic example is seen in a short clip from the British documentary film about the savant, Daniel Tammet.
From England: and interesting new website with many fascinating and well illustrated articles on theosophical subjects from the Philaletheians, a new group organized in 2005 to disseminate theosophical teachings based on HP Blavatsky. Their website is at:
From Greece: Psychic Phenomena Workshop in Athens: Psychic powers and attendant phenomena such as telekinetics, meteorism, clairvoyance, mediumship, astral contacts, channeling, spiritualistic communications, akasic records, dreams and prophecies, materializations and phantoms, communication with the invisible and unknown world together with the answers provided by science on them will be the subject-matter of a 2-day-meeting to be organized by Blavatsky Studies in Athens on Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31, 2009 from 10 am to 6 pm Please contact: email@example.com
Muhammad: The Prophet of Islam by Prof. Fazl Ahmed (2007) Published by Idara Isha’at-E-Diniyat P/L INDIA www.idara.com
This is an extremely short book of 112 pages, yet it ideally encapsulates the life of Prophet Muhammad and a few important aspects of his teachings. The Prophet Muhammad was born in Makkah in 570 AD, and died at the age of 63 in Madinah. I found this book easy to read and gained a greater insight into Islam (an Arabic word meaning ‘surrender’ or ‘submission’).
I initially took up this book for study as I believe one to be in a better position to make a judgment on Islam by learning about the founder. However, Muslims believe Adam to have first brought Islam to humanity. Muhammad’s was a life devoted to Allah from a young age and his life displayed much love and humility.
There are far more detailed biographies on the Prophet but this one should certainly whet the reader’s appetite for immersing themselves in things pertaining to Islam – Reviewed by Heathclyff St James Deville.
Who is this God? by Paul Murchison (2007) Zeus Publications ISBN: 978-1-921240-27-0
This is a short book of 100 pages by one of the friends of our work who attends our meetings in Melbourne. In it Paul Murchison succinctly summarizes arguments against traditional views of the Christian God in particular, and the craziness of many aspects of ritualistic ‘religion’ generally. Many subjects are tackled in an incisive, open, and cutting fashion which challenges us to think for ourselves instead of just believing on faith, and offers the opportunity for open discussion of important issues such as: Monotheism, Reincarnation, Pain and Suffering, Emotion, Moral Issues, New Ages teachings, and many other subjects of interest to students of theosophy. Paul’s position is essentially atheistic, but one of a sincere searcher encouraging other searchers to join with him to discover the true nature of divinity outside the often contradictory and illogical statements associated with many religious systems.
FROM OUR READERS:
The Eye doctrine versus the Heart doctrine: following up from our last issue which featured an article by Stefan Carey on the Pratyeka and Boddhisattva paths to spiritual knowledge, the following comments bring up another important aspect of the spiritual journey:
“…Indeed, the Voice of the Silence describes two primary access routes to knowledge– the brain or “Eye Doctrine,” and the “Heart Doctrine.” Robert Crosbie, Founder of the United Lodge of Theosophists, describes a technique for using these routes simultaneously. Our perceptions come not only from the brain, he says, but also “from the impressions of the organs or cells of the body.” Robert Crosbie’s book, The Friendly Philosopher, continues:
“…The Doctrine of the Eye is that of the brain consciousness, composed largely of external impressions. The Doctrine of the Heart is of the spiritual consciousness of the Ego - not perceived by the brain consciousness until right thought, and right action which sooner or later follows it, attune certain centres in the brain in accord with the spiritual vibration…”
Where do these “spiritual vibrations” originate? And how does right thought and action attune the brain to these subtle vibrations? Do the ‘intellectual’ and the ‘feeling’ approach to our spiritual work have to be eternally at war? – What do you think?
QUESTIONS WE ALL ASK: What are the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy?:
In her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, HP Blavatsky sets forth three ‘fundamental propositions’ of theosophy as follows:
1/ There is an ‘Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable PRINCIPLE on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception…” This Infinity – referred to as Space, the great Void or Fullness – contains, and indeed is, everything which exists, past, present, and future. It cannot be described or limited in any way or it would no longer be infinite.
2/ This boundless space is the field for the cyclic appearance and disappearance of numberless worlds, “like the regular tidal ebb, flux, and reflux,” pointing to duality and periodicity as fundamental in nature.
3/ All beings originate from the same divine source and are in essence identical with it. Further, each of these sparks of divinity evolves by embodying, according to cyclic and karmic law, in every “form of the phenomenal world”, developing its individuality at first instinctively and later by its own efforts till it has “passed through all the degrees of intelligence, from the lowest to the highest” – through sub-mineral, mineral, plant, human and beyond. This last axiom indicates that the universe is an organism composed of countless lesser organisms, all evolving towards divinity.
WILLY WONKA AND THE WORLD FINANCIAL CRISIS
Sitting around over morning coffee at work, the conversation naturally turned to the current state of the world and how it is affecting everybody individually. The usual catalogue of problems raised their ugly heads from job retrenchment, marriage break-ups, defaulting on mortgage payments, and now bushfires added into the mix! It was enough to curdle one’s ‘caffe latte’ and certainly not a good way to start the day’s mundane problems related to the working life. Seeing the rather depressing tone of the morning coffee discussion, one of our group decided to change the topic of conversation to favourite movies.
Inevitably the classic 1971 children’s movie, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, came up and everyone started happily talking about chocolates, movies, popcorn and the World Financial Crisis seemed to fade slowly into the background. We spoke of memorable quotes from our favourite movies and the usual quotable lines came up like, “Here’s looking at you kid” and “Feeling lucky today…” etc… when our friend the Willy Wonka fan reminded us of the immortal scene in the movie when the boy hero Charlie, in an act of supreme honesty and self-sacrifice, gives Willy Wonka back his prized invention, the ‘Everlasting Gobstopper’. Everlasting Gobstoppers were designed by Willy Wonka, the owner of a massive chocolate factory, for children with "very little pocket-money", and were purported to last forever, as the name suggests. Just when Charlie and his Grandfather had given up hope of winning the competition that forms the whole story of the film, Willy Wonka says to Charlie as he hands back the prized Everlasting Gobstopper: “So shines a good deed in a weary world”. Joyfully Willy Wonka tells Charlie and Grandpa Joe, that he has won the main prize, and that a glorious future as the owner of the chocolate factory awaits Charlie!
Sitting there at morning coffee, it was clear to me how a kind word and a light mood at the right time and in the right place can have a massive affect on people’s mood and future direction for the working day. Everybody left the coffee room strengthened, laughing and joking about favourite movies – there shone a ‘bright deed’ indeed! The depressing side of modern life retreated for this now happy group of coffee drinkers, for a while at least. If we as theosophists and men/women of goodwill can be the purveyors of shining good deeds in an increasingly weary world, surely we’ll be doing our bit to provide a ‘Golden Ticket’ to a better future for our children and the generations to come.
We wish to extend our thanks and appreciation to friends from around the world who send us their newsletters. 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), Compass (England).
Theosophy Downunder 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, AUSTRALIA. Tel : 0400942613 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/
Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb.
I am a Ship,
Far from any shore,
Riding the seas,
aimlessly, like a gull in midflight.
See the dawn,
Feel the light;
Life flows and washes over my decks,
The winds of change fill my sails,
as I go ever forwards
across the mighty waves
of mother sea.
And now like a fresh wind,
and a new day,
under a clear blue sky,
it is time to change our course.
Turn the mighty
towards the Sun.