THEOSOPHY DOWNUNDER

Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section

No: 100 April 2010

 

 

Sand dunes in the Simpson desert, Central Australia

 

CONTENTS

 

Everything Else is Just Commentary.

Australian News.

International News.

Report on the World Parliament of Religions, December 2009: Melbourne – Nivard Vas.

Who was Mabel Collins? – compiled by Jennifer Pignataro.

Book Reviews: Autobiography of a Yogi – Paramahansa Yogananda.

                          The Compassionate Mother: The oldest biography of Sri Sarada Devi -  

                          Brahmachari Akshaychaitanya.

                          Sri Ramakrishna in Today’s Violent World - Ramakrishna Math.

The Presence of the ‘Spiritual’ – Andrew Rooke.

Life Never Ends – Roza Riaikkenen.

Obituary: Tom Van Erp.

Two Wolves.

 

 

EVERYTHING ELSE IS JUST COMMENTARY

 

Universal Brotherhood is the major teaching of all the worlds’ great religions. In fact, one of them, Judaism, says it is the most important religious doctrine and all the other complex teachings of any religion are just ‘commentary’ on the principle of Brotherhood! The way the Jewish sacred book, the Talmud, puts it is: "What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." (Talmud: Shabbat 31a)

Perhaps more familiar to us is the ‘Golden Rule’ of Christianity which says: "All things whatsoever ye would that men would do to you, do ye even so to them" – Matthew 7:12.

But how about other less familiar faiths which have exactly the same teaching stated in many different ways? For example:

Buddhism - India: “Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful” – Udana-Varga, 5:18.

Hinduism - India: "This is the sum of duty: do nought unto others which would cause you pain if done to you" – Mahabharata 5:1517.

Islam – Saudi Arabia
: "No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself" – Sunnab.

Jainism - India: “In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self.” – Lord Mahavir 24th Tirthankara.

American Indians – North America: "Respect for all life is the foundation” – The great Law of Peace.

 

Baha'I - Iran: "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself" – Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’ullah. 71.

Sikhism - India: “Don’t create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone.” – Guru Arjan Devji 259. Guru Granth Sahib.

 

Confucianism - China: “Do not do unto others what you would not have them do unto you.” – Analects 15:23.

 

Zoroastrianism - Iran: “That nature only is good when it shall not do unto another whatever is not good for its own self.” – Dadistan-i-Dinik, 94:5.

 

 

Why is it that all the world’s great religions agree that Brotherhood is the basis of their beliefs? Because the principle of Brotherhood recognizes the reality that we all have our basis in the one Source, and from this Source comes our identity with all other people and all Life. As the Hindu Upanishads says, ‘Tat Vam Asi’, meaning ‘That Art Thou’ – we are part of everything else and vice versa.

 

‘But this goes against ‘common-sense’ and besides, I feel different from everyone else’ you say, so how can we literally be our brothers? All great mystics throughout the world agree that at a higher level of self-realization than is available to the ordinary man, it becomes apparent that we are merely aspects of one life energy, ‘dew drops in a shining sea’ of life energy. Therefore the great spiritual teachers who founded the world’s religions say what they know from their own direct experience - we are One. For example, the Buddha was once asked why we should love all people equally. Referring to people as reincarnating entities he said: “Because, in the very numerous and varied life-spans of each man (and woman), every other being has at one time or another been dear to him.” Thus, the founders of the world’s great religions encourage us in their sacred books to treat each other as we would treat ourselves because ‘others’ are aspects of ‘ourselves’ literally.

 

From a scientific point of view, we know that this is true as all matter in the universe is a form of energy (as Einstein famously expressed it, E=mc2) which expresses itself in a myriad of forms, including each one of us! If we were to examine the smallest structures making up the atoms that compose our bodies, we would see that they are made up of universal energy expressed in different combinations which look strikingly like what we would see if we went far enough out into space to see the planets, stars and galaxies as an amalgam of energies in the blackness of space.  Look at the film ‘Powers of 10’ on the internet at http://www.powersof10.com/ and you’ll see what I mean! As this film graphically shows, eventually everything connects. So brotherhood is literally built into the fabric of Nature and not just a nice religious ideal.

 

‘But if other people are giving me a hard time how can I feel brotherly towards them?’ - you might object. The secret lies in simply thinking of our own family life. We don’t always see ‘eye to eye’, or admire every aspect of the behaviour of our own brothers at home, but we still accept them, love them, and work with them where we can knowing one day they might be better than they are now! In the greater human family we can do the same in still realistically recognizing the existing shortcomings of our brothers and ourselves, and working with their potential for the finer aspects of human behaviour. The practical way forward towards this ideal is to simply treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves. This is a kind of enlightened ‘self interest’ if you will, presenting us with a simple ‘rule of thumb’ for everyday life situation which recognizes the reality of Universal Brotherhood. If we sincerely try to live the Brotherhood ideal in our daily lives, eventually we will naturally connect consciously with our universal source and see Universal Brotherhood as a fact in Nature for ourselves, and all the other complicated stuff of religious teaching and philosophy will be just - commentary.

 

 As another Jewish Rabbi once said:

 

"Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself."  Why?  Because every human being has a root in the Unity, and to reject the minutest particle of the Unity is to reject it all.” – Rabbi Israel Baal Shem-Tov.

 

 

 

 

AUSTRALIAN NEWS

 

Meetings in Melbourne - April through August: All meetings are held at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre, 664 Glenhuntly Road, South Caulfield, Melbourne:

Sat. April 10th, 2.30pm: The Inter-Life – what modern research says happens between lifetimes – Andrew Rooke.

Sat. May 1st, 2.30pm: Mystic Christianity – Rev. Chris Skinner.

Sat. June 5th, 2.30pm: Personality Growth: a Prerequisite of Spiritual Growth – Charles Reither.

Sat. July 3rd, 2.30pm: Spiritual Counselling: Part 2 – Heathclyff St. James Deville.

Sat. August 7th, 2.30pm: An introduction to Islam – Nasirah Cavaney.

Queensland contact for our Society: Dorothea Lem di Picardie has recently been appointed as our representative in Queensland. The Society’s library and activities in Queensland will be available from Dorothea’s home in Brisbane. Eric Niemeyer is our contact on the Gold Coast. Please contact Dorothea or Eric via our general contacts at: Tel: 0400942613 or by email at: andrewrooke@hotmail.com and we will pass a message along to them.

 

New in the Library: new items in our Melbourne library include the following DVDs: Tibetan Book of the Dead – narrated by Leonard Cohen; Fractal Creations – the Mandelbot Set; Knowing – science fiction about the end of the world starring Nicholas Cage; Yesterday’s Children – science fiction about one person’s experience of reincarnation memories starring Jane Seymour; The Adept Tradition in Europe: Rosicrucian, Cathar, and Contemporary Adeptic Currents by Stephan Hoeller.

 

New on Theosophy Downunder website: our website is at: www.theosophydownunder.org where you will find a wide range of lectures, books, artworks, and many other items of interest on theosophy and related subjects. An important new service available on our website is a link to the Encyclopedic Theosophic Glossary by G de Purucker which contains a wealth of information on theosophy and esoteric philosophy arranged by subject in easy-to-use alphabetic format. This should be a tremendous boon to students of our University of the Third Age course, and to theosophical students generally.

 

New lectures added to the ‘Theosophy Downunder Library’ on the site include: ‘The Divine Twins: Gemini, Dioscuri, and Kabiri by Amanda Rooke; ‘The Three Truths in Mabel Collins ‘Idyll of the White Lotus’ by Jennifer Pignataro.

 

100 issues of our Newsletter: with this issue we celebrate the 100th issue of our Australian newsletter which has been in continuous publication since April 1983. Thanks to all those who have contributed articles over the years and to you our loyal readers. We look forward to the next 100 issues!

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

 

Volume 2 of Echoes of the Orient now available: Volume II of the second edition of the Echoes of the Orient: The Writings of William Q. Judge is now available.  This 2nd and Revised Edition is 600 pages and available in cloth (hardcover). Work on Volume III will begin shortly, and we expect its publication later next year (2010). As in Volume I, editorial changes have been minimal in this new edition: punctuation, spelling, and foreign terms have been modernized, further references are given where they could be identified, and the type has been reset in a larger size, for which a pagination key has been provided. In addition, the “Faces of Friends” section has been expanded to include all individuals featured under this title in The Path.

 

Introductory Notes on The Secret Doctrine: new on our Headquarters website is a set of comprehensive notes on the classic work of theosophy by HP Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine. Currently notes are available for the Preface and the Introduction to this master-work of HPB’s. Simply move the cursor on your computer over the underlined word or phrase in the text, and a comprehensive note of explanation will appear on the screen. It should make the Secret Doctrine a lot easier to read and understand when this project is complete in the years ahead. Why not have a look at the sections available so far at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sdnotes/sdnotes-hp.htm

Making Theosophy a living power - International Theosophical Conference 2010- The Hague: The International Theosophical Conference (ITC) of 2010 will take place from the 12th to the 15th of August in The Hague, The Netherlands. The theme will be "making Theosophy a living power". Further information can be found on a special ITC 2010 website: www.inttheosconf2010.org.

Blavatsky Studies in Athens, Greece: In an effort to promote and disseminate theosophical teachings, Athens Blavatsky Studies will be conducting for the third consecutive year a 2-day study-meeting; its subject-matter will be The Mystery of Death. Believing that “he who knows the mystery of death holds the key of life”, the study focuses on the phenomenon of death and its causes as explained through the universal laws that govern human evolution. A video about the conference is now available on You Tube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KZPSIIAzPSA

The meeting is going to be held on Saturday, May 29 and Sunday, May 30, 2010, in Athens, Greece, between 10 am and 4.30 pm. Theosophists from many countries and organizations will be participating. The study will concentrate on HP Blavatsky’s writings. E-mail to: aspasia@theosophy.gr  website at: http://www.blavatsky.gr

Belief in Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: a recent survey in the US shows that 87% of all scientists surveyed accepted Darwin’s theory of evolution, however, a similar survey of the general public showed that only 37% fully embraces Darwin’s theory. 22% of the general public believe that evolution has occurred, but that it has been guided by a supreme being, and 31% contend that humans and other living beings have existed in their present form since the beginning of time. A massive 64% of the public in the US said that they would continue to hold what their religion teaches rather than accept a contradictory scientific finding. Theosophy has some interesting and controversial teachings on the theory of evolution summarized in Will Thackara’s booklet Evolution and Creation: a Theosophic synthesis which is available in print from our library or bookshop, or online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/52-02-3/sc-wtst3.htm

A New Theosophical Magazine Now Online: International Theosophy Magazine is a new online theosophical magazine from International Theosophy Conferences, Inc. Check it out by going to: www.theosconf.org and then click on "International Theosophy Magazine," or click on:

http://www.theosconf.org/FLIP%20BOOK/ITC%20MAGazine%20v%202%205%2010flipbook/ITC%20MAGazine%20v%202%205%2010flipbook.html

 

 

“Sow a Thought, Reap an Act;
Sow an Act, Reap a Habit;
Sow a Habit, Reap a Character;
Sow a Character, Reap a Destiny.”

-Upanishads

 

REPORT ON THE PARLIAMENT OF THE WORLD’S RELIGIONS

3-9 DECEMBER 2009 MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA.

 

Nivard Leo Vas,  Vlissingen, Netherlands.

 

 

Here is a short history of the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The first Parliament was held in Chicago, USA in 1893.  A hundred years later the second Parliament was again convened in Chicago, USA in 1993. Since then the Council for the Parliament, a non-profit organisation, has striven to convene a Parliament once every 5 years at various places around the world. In 1999, it was held in Cape Town, South Africa. In 2004 it was held in Barcelona, Spain, and in 2009 it was held in Melbourne, Australia.

 

 

The Parliament of the World’s Religions is the world’s largest global interreligious event. For a week long the people of the host country, invite the international community to participate in inter-faith dialogue. The theme for Melbourne was ― Make a World of Difference: Hearing each other, Healing the earth. By bringing people together from around the world, the spiritual, religious, civic, academic, political and grassroots people, the Council for the Parliament has as its goal, the achievement of peace, and a just, sustainable future for humanity and the environment. Given my interest as a grassroots promoter of spirituality, through the study of theosophy, the Melbourne Parliament was a springboard for me and others like me to make ‘World of difference’. Theosophy is the study of the Universe, its operations, structure, origin, present state and destiny. It is not just a body of philosophic teachings. It is the highest law of conduct based on the divine laws of love and compassion.

 

This was the first time for me to attend the Parliament of the World’s religions. It was a long flight coming from Amsterdam to Melbourne, in fact 20 hours with a break in-between to refuel! Coming from the winter of Europe to the warm climate of Australia I enthusiastically arrived in Melbourne with a whole lot of plans: to make video-recordings, promote the event, and share it with as many people as possible. The overwhelming scale of the event took me by surprise. The organisers had a massive job forming a program for all the various religions, topics and faiths. The daily program started at 8:00 in the morning and ended at 10:30 at night. From the first hour each day there were no less than16 symposia, workshops and seminars to choose from. Then from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. there was a choice of 26 symposia, workshops and seminars. From 11:30 to 1:00 p.m., another huge choice of 29 symposia, workshops and seminars. After lunch, from 2:30 to 4:00 p.m. about 26 symposia, workshops and seminars. From 4:30 to 6:00 about p.m. 16 symposia, workshops and seminars to choose from, and closing the day with a last seminar from 9.00 to 10:30pm. I would like to offer my congratulations to the organizers for doing such an amazing job in making an orderly program from the massive amount of contributors. The program book was as thick as a telephone directory and weighed just as heavy, about 1,5 kilograms! The atmosphere, at the opening of the Parliament was alive and buzzing with creative thoughts and ideas.

 

There were a wide range of choices to be made. From the major sub-themes,

·         Healing the earth with care and concern,

·         Plight of the Indigenous people,

·         Overcoming poverty,

·         Food and water for all people,

·         Building peace through justice,

·         Strengthening our social bonds,

·         Sharing wisdom through developing inner peace.

 

The program clusters were of a diverse nature.

·         Interreligious Movements from global to local,

·         Islam in a global context

·         Women in leadership, (this immediately attracted my attention because women, in my experience, are more knowledgeable in certain fields of life than men! They should take their rightful place in the leadership of human affairs along side their male partners.)

·         Youth

·         Family

·         Media and Religion

·         Interreligious education

·         Human Rights

·         Peace building Nuclear Non-proliferation

·         Disaster relief.

 

As you can imagine I was overwhelmed by the choice of information to absorb. I had to make a choice of seminars that were of interest to me and so I let my intuition guide me. The world as we know it goes from one crisis to the next without solutions for a sustainable future. Wars are being fought without thought of peace by negotiation, environmental issues cannot be agreed upon, and greedy economics have run out of control. Religion as we know it today does not seem to be capable of evolving, just like everything else does under the Sun. It has crystallized and appears incapable of growing or modifying to the surrounding conditions. Science has strayed into a technological labyrinth of things conditional and relative. My choice of seminars or workshops to attend went to the problems of the present, taking the responsibility of ‘hearing each other’ and becoming active in ‘making a difference’ for the future.

 

 

The organizers were expecting 10,000 people. But Melbourne is very far away from the population centres of the world, and with the current World Financial Crisis as well, far less people made the long journey to Melbourne than expected. The Parliament started on the 3rd December with the opening Plenary which was original and dramatic experience for us visitors to Australia. We were welcomed by the Wurundjeri peoples, Aboriginal elder, Prof. Joy Murphy Wadin, and aboriginal dancers and musicians. The keynote address for the first day given by Dr. Sakeena Yacoobi from Afghanistan was very impressive. She gave an enthusiastic speech on the plight of Afghan women, trying to get an education in the male dominated society of Afghanistan. A very sad and touching example of the discrimination against women who need to get an education to acquire jobs for support of their families.

 

The next day, 4th December, the daily programs started of at 8:00 in the morning. I took part in a Silent Ch’an Meditation, guided by the Dharma Master Hsin Tao, trying to develop inner peace. Our purpose in life is to know ourselves. Mediation is a practical way towards this goal. This was a good start for me, although the gaining of self-knowledge is the work of many lives. Hsin Tao instructed us with the aid of an interpreter. We were allowed to ask him questions at the end of the session. After the meditation session, I went to a panel discussion on; Poverty must no longer be with us. This was the real reason why I came all the way to Australia, to address the reality of the daily issues that we humans have to deal with at present. Here the Charter for Compassion was mentioned with emphasis. I will come back to this topic later in my report.

 

The afternoon session really woke me up; Breaking through Patriarchy: New visions for women of Faith. Here it became clear to me that in the 21st century women will be fighting and gaining their rightful place in leadership positions. Historically, women have gained voting rights in Western countries for only about 200 years. At present out of the more than 1.6 billion people living in poverty in the world, more than 60% are women. Conspicuous at this session was the lack of men taking part, but the hall was full, there were people sitting on the floor as well. The panel was comprised of highly qualified women. At the end of the session the women got a little too happy, and were congratulating themselves a little hastily in my view. The struggle for women sharing leadership positions has still to come. Men will not step aside without a struggle, especially in communities where they are the dominating factor. Looking at myself as a man, I have no problem with a woman doing the housekeeping for me! I regretfully thought about my video camera still lying in my hotel room. From this session I gathered enough information to ponder upon for the coming days. 

 

Fortunately there were films with discussions to break the tension. I attended a few interesting ones. The next day, Saturday 5th December, I had unfortunately enough to miss a day at the Parliament. I had an appointment outside the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Australasian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) had a meeting with a lecture; When will the Buddha return again? by Andrew Rooke. It gave me time to make new friends and share experiences in the study and sharing of theosophy.

 

Sunday the 6th December, I attended the Charter for Compassion panel discussion that I mentioned earlier. The hall was crowded; people were sitting on the floor. First there was a video introduction by Karen Armstrong, the famous British author on comparative religion and initiator of the Charter. The Charter calls upon the Jews, Christians and Muslims to draw up a “Charter of Compassion”, to apply shared moral priorities and foster greater global understanding. On the 19th November 2009 it was signed by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama, Archbishop Tutu and former UN Human Rights Commissioner Mary Robinson. The Charter calls for the establishment of alliance of individuals, organizations and communities to advocate global change and to address the critical issues of the day facing the global community. I was happy to see a large number of young people involved with the movement and the enthusiasm of all present to make a better world.

 

I attended a few other interesting discussion groups that afternoon, such as; Has Economics Triumphed over Ethics? A round table panel discussion on what values are needed for a just, peaceful and sustainable future. Next on my list was, The Garden of Forgiveness, which turned out to be the story of a very difficult struggle of a woman, Alexandra Asseily, in the male-dominated society of the civil war-torn Beirut in Lebanon. She initiated a movement promoting forgiveness amidst the senseless destruction and encouraging the citizens to make the city liveable by building a city park and garden, 5,7 acres right in the centre of Beirut. This is a place for calm reflection, gentleness and peace. Her discussion group was centred on forgiveness and construction. Her message was epitomized in The Forgiveness Song, a beautiful song, sung by Michael Stillwater playing his guitar:

 

Forgiveness Song

words & music by Michael Stillwater

 

I forgive myself

And I let love be

The power and the way for me

I will live my life

So my eyes can see

I came to be a blessing

 

1st verse:

 

I was running from life

I was running from love

I was running through the night

I was running from God

I was running out of faith

I was running out of time

I was running out of reasons

 

2nd verse:

 

Now I'm living my life

Now I'm living my love

Now I'm living in the light that I am made of

Now I know I've got faith

Now I know I've got time

I've got a reason

 

The little I was able to attend from one of the major sub themes of the Parliament; Plight of the Indigenous People, was well worth it to me. The African Religions of Brazil informed us that not only the former slaves of Brazil are being oppressed and have had to hide their religious traditions behind Christian doctrines. The indigenous Indians are becoming extinct. We got an insight into the ancient religious traditions of Africa.

 

A seminar given by a Zimbabwean shaman, Mandaza Augustine Kandemwa; Observance on Zimbabwe Shona/Ndebele Spirituality. We were in the presence of an interesting and understanding man here. He discussed the widespread corruption in his country, and how the political leaders are usually singled out as the ones to blame. He wisely pointed out that the economic and political system currently existing in Zimbabwe is corrupt at its roots. It is unfair to blame individual political leaders for being part of this grossly uncontrolled capitalistic system.

 

I attended a film called “Kanyini” with discussion by the Australian aboriginal elder, ‘Uncle’ Bob Randall. He lives by the greatest monolith in the world, ‘Uluru’ (Ayer’s Rock) in Central Australia. In recounting the sad history of aboriginal and white relations since European settlement in 1788, we saw an exceedingly heart rendering story illustrating a terrible example of man’s capacity for inhumanity towards his fellow man. After the film, I asked the question . . . “What are the chances of improvement for the younger generation in the future?” Uncle Bob’s answer was pessimistic ― he felt that there were no chances of improvement in the foreseeable future. I came away with a feeling of extreme sadness. I felt the wish to somehow do something to help end the suffering of the young indigenous people troubled as they are, by drug addiction and all the evils of unemployment and the negative side of Western society.

 

On reflection, and in my opinion, we have to ask the aboriginal elders that have the most responsibility, “what are you doing to stop the suffering of your own young people?” It is my observation that, following the Australian federal government’s intervention in aboriginal settlements in the Northern Territory from 2007 onwards, the Australian government is at last taking emergency action. This is done via the army, police force, and social service organizations to care more effectively for the aboriginal people. The constructive thing to do would be to initiate a dialogue of reconciliation and forgiveness. This would build on the Australian Prime Minister’s official apology to the aboriginal people in the Australian federal parliament in 2008. In my view, there is too much pathetic talk about the ‘white-fella’ being better-off than the aboriginals which is only instigating jealousy and hard feelings amongst non-aboriginal Australians. The leaders and elders of the aboriginals have received billions of dollars in government aid over the years. They should carry the responsibility of educating and modernising their own people. They should make the effort to distribute the government funds equally amongst their communities, in trying to help their youth modernize. In my opinion, they should help non-aboriginal Australians put things right, and stop complaining of the past wrong deeds inflicted on aboriginal peoples by the foreign ‘invaders’ of their lands. It’s time for taking the first tentative steps towards correcting the faults of the past by working together. We can all use the sacred aboriginal ancestral qualities of the ‘Dreamtime’, ‘Altjeringa’ spirituality.

 

Islam and the West was an interesting panel discussion. Dialogue on the possibilities for creating a harmonious accord between Islam and the West is always a constructive endeavour. There are many Muslims living and working in Western countries. They too contribute to the successes of the West. The violence of only a few religious extremists produces the fear in the West. An attempt is being made from many quarters inside and outside of Islam to create better relations between Islam and the West.

 

The most impressive workshop for me was Stop the Traffic, People are not for Sale: Human Trafficking and Slavery in the World Today. Human trafficking is the harsh reality of the modern ‘civilized’ world. Organized crime has discovered that there are untold riches to be made from human trafficking in all its various forms from ‘people smuggling’ to outright old-fashioned slavery. The profits of this illegal trade are on a par with illegal drugs and weapons dealing. The workshop was presented by the Salvation Army and two nuns of the Roman Catholic Church. The discussion was to share ideas in bringing an end to trafficking humans throughout the world. The young Salvation Army mother Danielle Strickland came into the hall with newly born baby. Her speech moved the packed hall to do whatever we can do individually and as organizations to prevent human trafficking.

 

The last day of the Conference was one of the most interesting and instructive. Firstly, after days of free movement through the various conference halls, we were now subject to screening for bombs or weapons. This was due to the presence of the Dali Lama. I attended the last few workshops before the closing plenary. The one that stands out most in my mind was the Poverty Symposium. Poverty and hunger in the Third World can be compared to the story of a child almost drowning in a pond. No one in his right mind would let the child drown, but this is what is happening daily in the Third World. The United Nations Millennium Development Goals signed by many countries in 2000, with the aim of halving hunger in the world by 2015, are a sad  disappointment. The plea is for us to make sure that our governments do what they promised and work realistically to end world poverty.

 

The Closing Plenary had an attendance of about 3000 people, the largest crowd during the whole conference which no doubt would have been due to the presence of the Dalai Lama. We were not allowed to take flash photographs, but when His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama made an appearance on stage, there was no stopping the crowd from madly rushing forward to flash photograph him regardless of the rules. Typical of civil disobedience! His message was that greed, ignorance and short sightedness are the root causes of the world’s social, economic and environmental problems. He pointed out that there is a need for a shift in human consciousness to love, compassion and forgiveness. He called on us to, “pay more attention in implementing the ideas of the Conference. That all religions have an important role to play in dealing with today’s moral crisis.” 

 

As you see, the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne offered an enormous amount of information. I was able to follow only a small part of what was on offer at the Parliament. I am very happy for having been able to be a part of such an enormous effort for dialogue in solving human suffering. My conclusion from the information and impressions that I gathered was that, Humanity is moving in the direction of equality for all human beings. It will take time to break the ‘moulds of the mind’. As the old saying goes, ‘the journey of a 1000 miles starts by taking the first step’. The Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne 2009 has taken the next step in the long journey for equality. Its goal or vision should be the inseparable wholeness of all Life. All men are brothers. All forms of life, visible and invisible are brothers. Can we change our old mental habits and learn to act accordingly, every minute of the day? To experience growth in our lives we have to develop a larger vision, unconstrained by our usual, limited mind.

 

I close with the following words taken from the Hua Hu Ching, from the teachings of the Taoist teacher, Lao Tzu;

 

Most of the world’s religions serve only to strengthen

attachments to false concepts such as self and other,

life and death, heaven and earth, and so on.

Those who become entangled in these false ideas are

prevented from perceiving the Integral Oneness.

 

The highest virtue one can exercise is to accept the

responsibility of discovering and transmitting the whole truth.

Some help others in order to receive blessings and admiration.

This is simply meaningless.

Some cultivate themselves in part to serve others, in part to

serve their own pride.

They will understand, at best, half the truth.

But those who improve themselves for the sake of the world― to these,

the whole truth of the universe will be revealed.

 

So seek this whole truth, practice it in your daily life,

and humbly share it with others.

You will enter the realm of the divine.

 

 

Source references:

 

  • Parliament of the World’s Religions program book,        Council for the Parliament.
  • The search within,                                                             C. Humphreys.
  • Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism,                                     D. T. Suzuki.
  • The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu Hua Hu Ching,       Brian Walker
  • The book of Equanimity,                                                    G. S. Wick.

 

 

 

 

WHO WAS MABEL COLLINS?

 

Compiled by Jennifer Pignataro

 

Most students of theosophy will be familiar with the theosophical classics by Mabel Collins: Light on the Path, Through the Gales of Gold and The Idyll of the White Lotus. However, unlike other famous theosophical writers like HP Blavatsky, William Quan Judge, and G de Purucker, nothing much is known generally about her. Perhaps the following which, I compiled from sources on the Internet, will help provide a little further information on this important writer and fascinating character from the history of the theosophical movement:

 

Mabel Collins (1851 – 1922): “An important but shadowy figure in the Theosophical Society during the latter part of the nineteenth century. Although her influential book Light on the Path (first published anonymously in 1885) is a classic work in the Theosophical movement, Collins has received only scant biographical notice.

 

A daughter of Mortimer Collins, she became a prolific author of novels and other works, including: Prince Clarice: A Story of 1871 (2 vols., 1872), Blacksmith and Scholar (3 vols.,1875), An Innocent Sinner (3 vols.; 1877), In the World (2 vol., 1878) Our Bohemia (3 vols., 1879), Too Red a Dawn (3 vols., 1881) Cobwebs (3 vols., 1882), The Story of Helen Modjeska (1883), In the Flower of her Youth (3 vols., 1883), Violet Fanshawe (2 vols., 1884), The Prettiest Woman in Warsaw (3 vols., 1885), and Lord Vanecourt’s Daughter (3 vols., 1885).Her later books, The Idyll of the White Lotus (1885), Through the Gates of Gold (1887), and The ... Blossom and the Fruit: The True Story of  Black Magician (1888), strongly manifested her growing interest in metaphysics and the occult. ...Collin’s husband, Dr Keningale Cook, was also a writer, author of The Fathers of Jesus: A Study of the Lineage of the Christian Doctrine and Traditions (2 vols., 1886).

 

Collins became an active worker in the movement for the women’s suffrage in Britain and collaborated with suffragette Charlotte Despard on a novel, Outlawed (1908) dealing with the subject of women’s rights. She was an early member of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society, which she joined in 1884. In the same year, she wrote The Idyll of the White Lotus, followed by Light on the Path, subtitled “A Treatise written down by M.C .Fellow  of the Theosophical Society”. In 1887, after publication of Through the Gates of Gold, Collins became co editor with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky of the Society’s journal Lucifer but ceased editing it two years later as a result of a controversy in the movement connected with the authorship of her books. The ambiguous ascription on the title page of The Light on the Path suggested to some that the work was inspired by an adept, and for some time it was implied that the source was Mahatma Koot Hoomi, one of H.P.B’s mysterious “Masters”. After fierce controversy over the source of the book’s inspiration, Collins was expelled from the Society. Later she was permitted to rejoin. Whatever the true source of the book, it seems that Collins sustained a claim to have travelled on the astral plane and encountered inspired teachers. ... 

Source: (www.answers.com/topic/mabel-collins)

 

“Mabel Collins is remembered today, when at all, as being the author of the spiritual work Light on the Path. Few people realise that she was a prolific author, penning at least 46 books. She wrote a number of articles, some of which were to form the basis for her books and was also a fashion correspondent for The World, writing a regular column. Most of Mabel’s novels are romantic sensation fiction. In later years her experiences in the occult and theosophy were used as a basis for her fiction writing.

 

Mabel’s name pops up again and again in theosophical histories. Yet no one knew much about her – in fact I have seen it written that her life was a complete mystery. Like many of these mysteries the information is there as soon as you begin to look. Mabel Collins was an instrumental figure in early theosophy but owing to the disputes she was involved in she has more or less disappeared from the history books. She was an author, a medium, a theosophist, [rumoured] lover of Jack the Ripper, a fashion writer, an anti vivisection campaigner… the list is a lot longer than that of most people’s achievements”.

Source: The Many Lives of Mabel Collins by Kim Farnell The Theosophical History Conference 2003.

 

For more information on Mabel Collins and particularly her classic, The Idyll of the White Lotus, please see Jennifer’s article: The Three Truths: based on Mabel Collins’, The Idyll of the White Lotus, on Theosophy Downunder website at:

 

http://theosophydownunder.org/ifensterl.php?./library/

 

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

Autobiography of a Yogi by Swami Paramahansa  Yogananda published by Self-Realization Fellowship 1946 and numerous editions thereafter.

This book caused a sensation in 1946 when it was originally published as it was the first comprehensive and accessible treatment of yoga and meditation presented in the West. Today it still stands as essential reading for anyone interested in esoteric philosophy and yoga in the sense of union with the higher self and not just a series of tortuous exercises! The book is a unique way of explaining the often difficult and abstruse topics associated with Indian religion by simply telling the story of Yogananda’s life and search for the truth. Unlike most philosophy books which can be rather dry and disconnected from daily life experience, this book graphically illustrates the progress of a seeker on the Path of spiritual understanding giving real-life examples of the disciplines and challenges along the pathway of understanding. Paramahansa Yogananda (1893-1952) describes his search for a guru, and his encounters with leading spiritual figures of his day such as, the German Christian mystic Therese Neumann, the Hindu saint Sri Anandamoyi Ma, politician Mahatma Gandhi, poet Rabindrinath Tagore, Nobel prize-winning scientist Sir C.V.Raman, and noted American plant scientist, Luther Burbank, to whom this book is dedicated. Amazing true stories of spiritual masters still working openly in India are blended with priceless teaching on super-physical states of consciousness and the rigorous requirements of these seeking first-hand experience of such exalted planes of spiritual reality. Often such teaching is hidden away in the extensive footnotes throughout the book that really repay the reader’s close attention as we can often overlook them with the fascinating content of the text. Swami Yogananda himself frequently speaks extensively of the important relationship between spiritual teacher and student often referring to his own spiritual Masters Sri Yukteswar, Lahiri Mahasaya, and the ‘deathless-guru’ Babaji, who all helped to bring the techniques of Kriya Yoga to the world and to the West through the work of the Self-Realization Fellowship in India and in the West:

 

“The characteristic features of Indian culture have long been a search for ultimate verities and the concomitant disciple-guru relationship. My own path led me to a Christlike sage whose beautiful life was chiselled for the ages. He was one of the great masters who are India’s sole remaining wealth. Emerging in every generation, they have bulwarked their land against the fate of Babylon and Egypt.”

 

 Autobiography of a Yogi has been translated into 25 languages and has sold well over one million copies worldwide. In 1999 the book was voted one of the 100 most important spiritual books of the 20th century by a panel of theologians and spiritual luminaries from around the world. It endlessly repays all students of the ancient wisdom reading this warm, compassionate, first-hand account of the spiritual journey we all walk in our own way. reviewed by Andrew Rooke.

 

 

The Compassionate Mother: The oldest biography of Sri Sarada Devi by Brahmachari Akshaychaitanya (2002)  Advaita Ashrama 5 Dehi Entally Road Kolkata 700014 West Bengal, India.

 

This book was first publish back in 1937 and was written in Bengali. The present book, now suitable for an English-speaking audience, is a real gem to have been able to read.

 

Sri Sarada Devi (1853-1920), the wife of Sri Ramakrishna, is affectionately referred to as The Holy Mother for, though she did not bear a child, the world’s people became her children.  As such, she taught her children how to view the world as one in which all are related and each has a responsibility to one another. Her teachings are so very beautiful that this small review cannot do them justice, nor her life story that I believe needs to be told.  The book is extremely interesting and well-written and captures the reader’s attention as Sarada Devi’s life unfolds.  Throughout the pages we are given a glimpse into this remarkable woman by those who live with or came in contact with her.

 

A brief paragraph from the book will show the workings of the Mother’s mind – “The Mother used to say that each person was given what was due to him.  She would not dispose of the peelings and give it to the cattle. No beggar used to be turned out empty handed from her door...The Mother would often repeat the following saying of [Sri Ramakrishna]: Let he who has, give; and let he who does not have, repeat the name of God....”  To this, I feel it appropriate to add Mother’s own poignant insight elucidating that of Sri Ramakrishna’s – “But one thing I tell you – if you want peace, my daughter [or son] don’t find fault with others, but find fault rather with yourself. Learn to make the world your own. Nobody is a stranger, my dear, the world is yours.”  We have our example in Sri Sarada Devi making the world her own, and all people her children. - reviewed by Heathclyff St.James Deville.

 
Sri Ramakrishna in today’s violent world (2009) Ramakrishna Math, Sri Ramakrishna Math, 31, Ramakrishna Math Road, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004, India.
 

This book is comprised of articles originally published in the December 2004 “Special Issue” of the Vedanta Kesari magazine.

Ramakrishna had so much to offer to his devotees when he lived in mid-nineteenth century India. And as this book proves, his message is still relevant, and given the violence, hatred and fear of today, it is high-time that we either revisit his teachings, or become conversant with them. There are a total of 19 articles – each varying in both length and topic.  There are so many gems to be found in this publication. For example, on page 9 is found a reference to the Isha Upanishad (citing verse 6-7) which teaches the peace and understanding is born by seeing the Reality of Oneness of creation instead of a separateness based on a person’s caste, creed etc.  We learn how it is that Religion was developed to unify the world but our distrust causes us to run at each other’s throats and to take on board a stance of a ‘holier than thou’ attitude (p. 19).  Further, we learn that Sri Ramakrishna saw all religions from the point of view of Oneness, but that he did not overlook the uniqueness that each has to offer (p. 93).

 

Each Paper addresses different topics yet convey the same message. Indeed, as you read through the book, you find that the arrangement takes you from one level to another. There is much to be found within the covers - practical lessons on: Anger and Hatred, Violence among Youth, Teachers’ Role in Imparting Education for Love.

 

Famous Indian spiritual teacher Swami Vivekananda’s words sum up the beauty of Sri Ramakrishna’s message to the modern world:

 

“Do not care for the doctrines, do not care for the dogmas, or sects, or churches or temples; they count for little compared with the essence of existence in each man, which is spirituality; and more that is developed in a man, the more powerful is he for good. Earn that first, acquire that, and criticise no one, for all doctrines and creeds have some good in them. Show by your lives that religion does not mean words, or names, or sects, but that it means spiritual realisation. Only those can understand who have felt. Only those that have attained to spirituality can communicate it to others, can be teachers of mankind. They alone are the power of light.” – reviewed by Heathclyff St.James Deville.

 

 

THE PRESENCE OF THE ‘SPIRITUAL’

 

Andrew Rooke

 

Images of the ‘spiritual’ usually give the impression that the influence of spiritual beings and states is far away. In church we are taught that heaven is a remote goal for our life’s endeavours, and similarly, some Eastern traditions present a picture of ‘The Other Shore’ somewhere far across the horizon. I would like to suggest that the presence of the spiritual is close at hand and with us always.

 

Theosophy teaches that the spiritual worlds underlie and interblend with the physical. One would therefore expect the evidence of the spiritual in everything familiar if we have the ‘eyes to see and the ears to hear.’

 

Look carefully at home. Do we see only the semi-chaos of family life, or a glorious history and future for ‘old friends’ working out their destinies together? Look into the night sky. Do we see the stars as dull beacons shining through the city pollution, or the glorious raiments of the solar divinities? It is a matter of perspective which usually becomes more keenly aware to us with the extremes of life. The very young and the very old are more aware of the imminence of the spiritual in everyday circumstances. Look into the eyes of a newborn baby and you can begin to understand what the poet meant when he said that we all come into this world “…trailing clouds of glory…” from our other home in the heaven world. Take time out to talk with the very old who often can see beauty shining through the most mundane situation. Consider those unfortunate people who in this life suffer from congenital mental retardation and one can appreciate the constant presence of the Higher Self in what we call a ‘normal’ person.

 

Our job is to flow with the gentle influence of the Higher Nature and to act as a clearer channel for the spiritual energies sustaining our world in whatever situation we find ourselves. Essentially all that this requires is a change of attitude to recognize the presence of the spiritual amid the demands of our worldly situation, difficult as this so often is with our hectic modern lifestyle.

 

Our former Leader, Katherine Tingley, wrote of these matters in her book The Gods Await. She encourages us to live theosophy and apply its principles in family life and social reform. On the constant presence of spiritual forces guiding and encouraging us to a better life she says:

 

“…It is only our minds which are so confused that they do not feel it: they do not hear its song that permeates the silences: they do not see that which is before them to be seen; and so we sit in the shadows and add ourselves to the aggregations of despair; we drop into inertia, finding nothing for ourselves nor seeking anything for others; we build ourselves worlds of suffering, each in his own selfish way. It is reliance on the brain-mind and purely mental part that holds us away from our greatness. We have fettered and bound our consciousness; we have shut ourselves in and built our dwelling among the shadows, whereas we might have used the large vision of the Gods, and be generous expressions of Universal Life…” – from Katherine Tingley’s, The Gods Await.

 

 

 

LIFE NEVER ENDS

 

Roza Riaikkenen

 

The wind is hot,

And roses die.

But death is not

The winner. Why?

 

Because the bush

Will bloom again.

With water's push

Life comes to reign.

 

In a new turn

The bud will sprout.

And we return -

The baby's out!

 

Eternal life

Will ever grow,

Just make your eye

To see and know.

 

To feel the wind,

To hear the gong,

To spread the wing,

To sing your song.

 

 

OBITUARY: TOM VAN ERP

 

Our dear friend and fellow member of many years, Tom Van Erp, passed to greater light in November 2009. Tom joined our Society in 1949 and was our Queensland representative since 1982. He was well known for his infectious sense of humour and sociable nature, as for his great knowledge and curiosity for the Sacred Knowledge. For many years Tom held theosophical meetings in his own home in Brisbane, and lent theosophical books to enquirers and friends from his extensive library. He combined a fascination with the technical teachings of theosophy with a down-to-earth application of the teachings to daily life. Tom will be sorely missed by his many friends around Australia and internationally. May he rest peacefully amongst the stars.

 

 

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 : andrewrooke@hotmail.com World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/ Many of the illustrations included in this newsletter were kindly supplied with permission from the Theosophy Watch website at: http://theosophywatch.com/   

Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb

 

 

 

 

 

TWO WOLVES

 

 

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, “My son, the battle is between two ‘wolves’ inside us all.

 

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego.

 

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith.

 

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather:

 

“Which wolf wins?”

 

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed”.