Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
No: 103 April 2011
Westgate Bridge at sunset, Melbourne, Victoria, southern Australia – Photo kindness of Stefan Carey
Why Can’t We Change? – Andrew Rooke.
Gift of the Latkes – Golda Schoenbaum.
Australian Aboriginal Traditional Religion: perspectives from Theosophy – Bernard S. Parsons.
Wolf’s Howl – Elizabeth Riaikkenen.
Applying Eternal Wisdom to the Problems of Daily Life: lessons learned from the 1951 European Tour Report of James A. Long – Jennifer Pignataro.
Finding the Field: an adventure of body, mind and spirit by Michael Brown.
The Wisdom of the Heart: Katherine Tingley Speaks – compiled by W.E. Small.
The Roads of Osiris and Horus – Andrew Rooke.
The Value of Reading the Bhagavad Gita – Koshish Korunga.
Yes - We Can Change: some thoughts from G de Purucker.
Just for Today.
WHY CAN’T WE CHANGE? by Andrew Rooke
How many times have you said to yourself when struggling with life’s problems: “Why can’t we just change?”…“Why does the world have to continue on this way” Thousands of years of human history and we still seem to be making the same old mistakes of warfare, exploitation, and now global climate change brought on by our inability to live more harmoniously with Nature. At an individual level we may on occasion ask ourselves this question as we inevitably stumble and fall along the spiritual Path. Then the more immediate question comes, “Why can’t I change?”
Both individually, and collectively as the human family, we are deeply conditioned psychologically by our past habits and have built ‘mental prisons’ from which we are reluctant to escape! We are comfortable in our ‘misery’ and don’t really want to take the necessary steps towards breaking the ‘moulds of mind’ to find a more harmonious life. As spiritual seekers we can spend a lot of time talking about spiritual awareness, but are we prepared to make the necessary changes in our lives to make it a reality for us?
This dilemma is a bit like a man standing outside a restaurant reading the menu and saying how nice it would be to eat the food. The only way to find out what the food is like is to go in and eat it!
Place yourself in the ‘spiritual shoes’ of the man standing outside the restaurant window. Are we ready to enter the restaurant and order? Do we really want to make the changes that are necessary for the ‘spiritual life’? We are told by theosophical teachers that human beings have free will and the power of conscious choice. Further, they tell us that there is an open doorway at anytime we decide to start the long journey to the next level of higher spiritual awareness. In theosophical terms this doorway is the gateway to the ‘Dhyan-Chohanic kingdom for those who can make the grade, or as Katherine Tingley titled one of her books, ‘The Gods Await’. We are told by our theosophical Leaders that any man or woman who would undertake to ‘Live the Life’ can eventually pass through that door, which is the ‘Ring-Pass-Not’ for most people because we simply chose not to do it! Photo kindness of Stefan Carey
Being aware that the door to the ‘restaurant’ is always open, how do we make a start towards qualifying ourselves to enter and eat? Our former Leader James A. Long made the following illuminating comments on taking this momentous decision based on his own life experience which perhaps we theosophical students should consider each in our own way:
“…What is theosophy anyway? We have heard various attempts at definition, and it actually cannot be defined. But I like to consider theosophy as a system of character building. I have thought of it as that for a number of years. And the first time I thought of it as such was immediately after I had struggled and struggled with what I had filed in my mind to solve the problems of my life, and suddenly realized that I had to face myself and use something other than those facts that I had filed away…I faced myself and assumed the full responsibility of my circumstances and made that determination — and then the gods did stoop down to help, at unexpected times, through unexpected persons, and in unexpected ways. It is a beautiful experience. It was then that I realized what theosophy was to me. It was a system of character building, with a purpose — not that I might be a better man so that I could say, I am better than this fellow or that or some other fellow, but a better man and thus better qualified to serve my fellowmen….” – James A. Long - European Tour – 1951 – Munich.
Andrew Rooke – Melbourne, Victoria.
“It is the duty of every [person] who is capable of an unselfish impulse to do something, however little, for humanity’s welfare.” – Mahatma Letter no. 15
GIFT OF THE LATKES by Golda Schoenbaum.
When I tell people that I live in the Melbourne inner suburb of Caulfield, people often say: “Oh, the ‘bagel belt’. Full of Jews isn’t it?” Yes, lots of Jews live in Caulfield, but let me tell you about my ethnically diverse neighbourhood.
I live in a block of eight units. I am Jewish (Russian born). Next to my unit lives a Sri Lankan family, then there is a couple from China, a lady of Polish Jewish parentage, students from Vietnam, a Russian couple, an Italian/New Zealand couple, and finally a family from Serbia. It surely is a microcosm of Australia’s multicultural society.
Last week Seeta, my Sri Lankan neighbour, spotted me on the driveway. “Where are you off to in such a hurry?” she laughed. “Going to celebrate Chanukah”, I said, as I rushed to my car clutching my casserole full of just fried ‘latkes’.
Two days later I was sitting at my window in my office and I heard Seeta asking Maria (my Serbian neighbour), “What is Chanukah?” “Golda, what is Chanukah?” Maria yelled up to me. “Just a minute, I’ll come down”. I shut off my computer and went downstairs and joined my neighbours. “Chanukah is the Festival of Lights. We light colourful candles and eat latkes.” What are latkes?” asked Seeta. “Potato cakes, if I had the ingredients I would make you some.” “Potatoes, onions, eggs, flour and oil.” “I have onions”, said Seeta. “I have lots of potatoes and eggs”, said Maria.
It was getting late. I’d already had a hard day and didn’t really feel like grating onions which make my eyes sting for hours, and potatoes which make my hands ache for hours, and smoking up my kitchen with frying latkes. But then again, there was nothing to watch on television, and it was much too early for bed. “Alright, bring them around. I’ll light the candles, we’ll eat latkes, and I’ll tell you more about Chanukah. And Maria, please bring a grater.”
They rushed off giggling like schoolgirls about to embark on a mischievous escapade and within minutes came bursting into my kitchen. “Seeta, you can grate the onion, Maria, you can grate the potatoes. Both need to be grated very finely.” I said. Maria looked horrified. “I’ve got an electric gadget that grates; I’ll go and get it.” “Does it grate finely?” I asked. “No but it grates very quickly.” She replied. “No”, I said “This one time when it has to be done the old-fashioned way: grated fine by hand. If you don’t scrape your knuckles on the grater, the latkes won’t taste right!”
Our little working-bee started each to her allotted task. Then Seeta and Maria gathered round me and watched as I squeezed the moisture out of the potatoes, separated and beat the eggs, and mixed all the ingredients like an alchemist, stirring till I got just the right consistency in the batter. I felt like I was conducting a ‘latke-making master-class!’ I got out my heavy frying pan and the oil and proceeded to fry the latkes, getting the rhythm right of dropping the batter in the oil, flipping the latkes making sure they were browned but not burnt, and draining them on paper towels.
“Well Maria, your turn”, I said, “Who or what do you believe in?” “I am a Christian but Eastern Orthodox.” So now Seeta and I listened as Maria told us about the many denominations of Christianity, and how hers differed from the others. The Chanukah candles were getting smaller and smaller until there was nothing left but little wicks valiantly flashing their dying flames. I licked the last few stray crumbs off the emptied Chanukah platter.
“Wow, Multiculturalism at work”, we said in one voice, and laughed. We disbanded with a warm group hug. I said, “May the lights of Chanukah always shine brightly in your life.” Seeta said, “May you always follow the right path and have only good Karmas in your life.” And Maria said, “Hope that you have a Merry Christmas.”
I cleared the table and tidied my kitchen, inhaling the lingering smell of fried potatoes and onions. In the years to come I will think back on this night when three women came together in my kitchen, cooking, eating, and giggling our way through this spontaneous symposium on comparative religions. I will think back, grateful for the enriching experience of living in a multicultural community. – Golda Schoenbaum, Melbourne, Victoria.
Meetings in Melbourne: April through August 2011: Meetings all held at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne on Saturdays commencing at 2.30pm. The Centre is open by 2pm the day of the meeting.
Sat. April 2nd, 2.30pm: HP Blavatsky’s Diagram of Meditation – Brian Parry.
Sat. May 7th, 2.30pm: Dealing with Difficult Spiritual Customers - Tony Downey.
Sat. June 4th, 2.30pm: The Real ‘Avatar’: Avatars, Tulkus and other high spiritual teachers – lecture written by Clive Bellgrove.
Sat. July 2nd, 2.30pm: Shambahla: the fascinating truth behind the myth of Shangri-La – Victoria Le Page.
Sat. August 6th, 2.30pm: Plato’s Ethics: the Elephant in the Room – Don Shepherd.
University of Third Age (U3A) classes at 664 Glenhuntly Road: A series of lectures and discussions concentrating on comparative study of Asian philosophies, and some basic concepts of the Ancient Wisdom every Wednesday morning from 10.30am till 1pm throughout the year. This course will not be commencing until June. Further information is available from Tony Downey on 0400942613.
New on Theosophy Downunder website: our website can be found at www.theosophydownunder.org and there you will find a host of information on theosophy and related subjects. New lectures and articles on the site include: The Doctrine of Swabhava – Don Shepherd; Applying Ancient Wisdom to Daily Life – Jennifer Pignataro; What is Theosophy really all about? – Andrew Rooke; Hinduism: perspectives from Theosophy – Koshish Karunga. Also featured are galleries of artists’ work that have been inspired by Theosophy for those interested in the arts.
New DVDs in the Melbourne Library: Journey to the Hollow Earth - the history, mythology and folklore that the earth has a hollow realm: Joseph Campbel; Sukhavati: a mythic journey – famous mythologist Joseph Campbell takes us on a journey through the mythological symbols and sagas left by our ancient forebears; Itzhak Bentov: Stalking the Wild Pendulum an explanation of the nature of vibrations in the universe, creation, and many other subjects for the scientifically-minded; Arunchala Shiva: Teachings of Ramana Maharshi – teachings of an Indian spiritual guru; Siddhartha – dramatic reconstruction of the life of the Buddha; The Last Station – a movie about the life of the great Russian writer and mystic, Leo Tolstoy; Timewave 2013 – discussions with many of the world’s experts on mythology, astrology, anthropology and ancient history about the world beyond the prophecies for 2012; H.H. Dalai Lama discusses the Six Paramitas: a guide to freedom, wisdom, joy, and harmony in life – a discussion by the Dalai Lama of the six Buddhist ‘Paramitas’ or ‘Virtues’ of: Generosity; Ethical Discipline; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; and Wisdom – what they are, and how to practically implement them in daily life; What the Bleep!? And Down the Rabbit Hole – this is the ‘Quantum Edition’ of the famous film explaining quantum mechanics and the theory of relativity, including interviews with leading scientists giving a first-hand look at the fascinating links between contemporary science and spirituality in our everyday lives; Royal Atlantis: the legend of Atlantis and its relation to modern times.
New Efforts to Preserve Australian Aboriginal Wisdom: When the British flag was raised at Sydney Cove in 1788 there were 250 separate Aboriginal languages and 600 dialects being spoken in Australia. Today less than 100 of these languages are spoken, some by only one or two people. Of these, 50 are considered strong, that is, all generations of the community are speaking the language. On average, two of Australia’s indigenous languages disappear each year. Some linguists suggest that by 2050 there may only be a handful of these languages being spoken. In a heartening development Monash University in Melbourne is currently working with indigenous communities to help preserve the communities’ languages, stories and narratives using digital 3D animations to teach young people the traditional stories and narratives of their people – the Monash Country Lines Archive established in January 2011.
“Nature gives up her innermost secrets and imparts true wisdom only to him who seeks truth for its own sake, and who craves knowledge in order to confer benefits on others, not on his own unimportant personality.” - HPB: Lucifer September 1890
Sand dunes in the Simpson Desert, Central Australia, traditional home of the
Wangkangurru Aboriginal people.
AUSTRALIAN ABORIGINAL TRADITIONAL RELIGION: perspectives from Theosophy by Bernard S. Parsons.
Australian Aboriginal peoples have the world’s oldest continuous culture stretching back into the mists of time at least 40,000 years on the archaeological record, and, according to Theosophy, very much longer. Unlike the modern world with its many conflicting religions, the Australian Aboriginal peoples in traditional times did not have any ‘religion’ separate from everyday life. There were no ‘churches’ or ‘temples’ outside of sacred natural places. Their whole life was geared to their understanding of Nature as a living being and therefore every daily routine was ‘religious’ observance in this highest sense. Prof. A.P.Elkin, author of Aboriginal Men of High Degree, a wonderful book about Aboriginal traditional religion, put it well when he wrote of the Aboriginal people:
“The bond between a person and his (or her) country is not merely geographical or fortuitous, but living, spiritual and sacred. His country…is the symbol of, and gateway to, the great unseen world of heroes, ancestors and life-giving powers which avail for man and nature.”
However, if we speak in terms more familiar to modern Australian people who are used to separating ‘religion’ from ‘normal’ life, then when you listen traditional Aboriginal stories, you can hear evidence of highly sophisticated philosophical concepts indicating their intimate knowledge of the ancient wisdom, or what we would call Theosophy today. In Aboriginal tradition there are High and Low Gods, or what are called in some Western occult traditions, ‘Architects’ and ‘Builders’. There is repeated mention of the cyclical nature of life, even disguised references to what we would call Reincarnation.
The question that occurs to us theosophical students is: How much do the Australian Aboriginal peoples teach of the spiritual Path that is so beautifully set out in the Bhagavad-Gita and the Middle Way (Eightfold Path) of the Buddha? If your thoughts whilst reading this have a theme or trend in a particular direction, I would suggest it is this. Most of the Aborigines were deprived of their ancient sacred trails and holy places when the last of their initiates died, and now many of them may feel that all is lost. The old Path is gone for ever. My suggestion is that the true Path remains one of many levels. As the Aboriginal people believed, and illustrated in their practical and ritual travels around various parts of Australia (called by them ‘walk-about’), there is a spiritual way, as well as the Path set out on mother earth. If you ask the question…“Were the Australian Aborigines aware of the spiritual significance of the Rainbow Serpent (the mythical creator being central to the traditions of many Aboriginal peoples) whose pathway they used to ceremoniously follow at the appointed times?”, I can only say that they taught that at death man dissolved into the constituent parts of his being both physical and spiritual. The life and atoms of his body became the life atoms of his totem animal; the life atoms of his soul go to his tribal totem, his spirit goes to its home. It meets the male and female aspects of a god and is tested. The male tries to make him laugh. If the spirit under test can maintain its equanimity it goes on home to father sun. If not the spirit goes no further. This story, it seems to me, suggests that hints of deep understanding are there in the Aboriginal tradition.
Picture opposite: Wangkangurru tribesman before all of his people left the Simpson
Desert in central Australia in 1901 to live on a mission settlement.
There would be, I suggest, tremendous value for the Aboriginal peoples today to realize that their ancient tradition is a noble one of vast antiquity. It is akin to the major religions of the world. It has, as we theosophists do, a belief in a continuum of life and spirit. The universe is a wonderful infinite living organism – a brotherhood. It shares belief in the four elements with Buddhism and the Greeks. It has a very ethical tradition. At the time of initiation, the young man was instructed in his obligations by an old member of the tribe, man or woman. Dr. Donald Thompson listed these instructions: 1. Do not be greedy, 2. Share. 3. Do not steal. 4. Respect old people. 5. Respect strangers. 6. Respect women. 7. Do not stare at them. 8. Keep a clean mouth – Do not lie or swear. 9. Have courage. Indicating the extent to which these basic principals of ethics were accepted, intertribal warfare was almost unknown as it was considered a type of suicide. The Aborigines were formerly patronised for a long time for what was seen as their ‘primitive’ beliefs. I suggest that far from being ‘Primitive’ they are very often close to the truth as we understand it from our theosophical teachings.
An extract from, H.C Coombs, the famous Australian economist public servant, and advocate of the Aboriginal peoples, gives a good summary of the Aboriginal philosophy of life:
…“In his own world the Aboriginal did not see Man as one thing and Nature as another; he was of Nature. He saw the Earth itself, plants, animals and men, the clouds and the stars, indeed all natural phenomena, as a living system of social life. It was not just a scientific or philosophical system, but one with which, and by which, Man must live consciously and reverently.
Long before Terrance said “nothing concerning Man can be alien to me,” the Aboriginal was asserting and living by the faith that nothing in all Nature can be alien to me.
It is true but inadequate to say of Aboriginal life that it was in harmony with Nature. The harmony came from Man being in thought, word and deed of Nature itself. Over at least 40,000 years Aboriginal society was instinct with the understanding that its highest, most religious purpose was to help Nature be itself, to be unchanging, to replenish it. From this replenishment, Man himself was nurtured, and his kind perpetuated as successive generations inherited an environment as rich, as beautiful and as spiritually alive as that of their ancestors. To this purpose were dedicated the great ceremonies in all their richness.
Their life, it is true by our material standards may seem to have been excessively simple and in some respects, poor, but it was not unduly arduous, and there was time for the less immediate but more fundamental purposes of human existence”... “ also there was time for games, stories, song and dance, drama, and the great ceremonies, sacred and profane. Almost every day was one of journeying, sometimes only for hunting and food gathering, sometimes to visit a neighbouring group to share good things, sometimes to come together with other related groups to share the experience of ceremonial life. Indeed, it was in these shared experiences that much of the purpose, justification, and fulfilment of life itself were founded.
There was within the social groups a complex pattern of relationships which was both source of support and of mutual obligation. The outcome of the hunt and the food gathered were shared in accordance with firm tradition. No person was uncared for or unsupported when care or support was needed and no-one was without obligations to others. This pattern of complex mutual relationships with a strong sense of personal, as well as social obligations, gave to their care for children and for the aged, a warmth by comparison with which the impersonal social service benefits of our society seem poor indeed.” – Bernard S. Parsons, Melbourne, Victoria.
More information on Australian Aboriginal religion including some of their traditional sacred stories is available in the full version of Bernie Parson’s lecture on our website at: http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-lectures/australian-aboriginal-religion-perspectives-from-theosophy-by-bernard-parsons/
“Man is a spiritual being - a soul, in other words – and that this soul takes on different bodies from life to life on earth to order at last to arrive at such perfect knowledge, through repeated experience, as to enable one to assume a body fit to be the dwelling-place of a Mahatma or developed soul. Then, they say, that particular soul becomes a spiritual helper to mankind.” – W.Q.Judge Echoes of the Orient, p.7
New from Theosophical University Press - Pasadena: Volume 3 of Echoes of the Orient 2nd revised edition: our press in Pasadena has just published volume 3 of the second revised edition of the collected writings of William Quan Judge. Echoes of the Orient Vol.3 contains tracts and pamphlets, newspaper and journal articles, miscellaneous articles and extracts, and “Suggestions and Aids” to fellow travellers on the spiritual Path. Tausend lichter entzunden: ein theosophische vision: Our friends of the German Section have translated Grace Knoche’s To Light a Thousand Lamps into German language. Please contact Tony Downey in our bookshop if you wish to order copies of these new books.
Most of the Universe is unseen: Thirteen years ago, astronomers studying distant exploding stars made a discovery that irrevocably altered humankind’s view of the universe. Most scientists had assumed that the universe’s expansion, which conventional theory says began during the Big Bang, had steadily slowed due to gravity. But the astronomers found that the cosmos was instead expanding faster; gravity had somehow transformed from a cosmic ‘pull’ to a cosmic ‘push’. The unseen stuff supplying this mysterious ‘push’ has come to be called ‘Dark Energy’. Together ‘Dark Energy’ and ‘Dark Matter’, the invisible material that scientists say must exist to explain galaxy formation, make up most of the universe – current theory suggests approximately 72% of the Universe is filled with Dark Energy and 24% is made composed of Dark Matter. Left over is a measly 4% to form everything else, like stars, planets, and people! Imagine that! Only 4% of the Universe can be observed and measured, including the hundreds of billions of galaxies that emit light and radio frequencies. So when we look out the window at night, we are looking at only 4% of what is really there! Yet many people deny the existence of what they cannot see!
New Micro-Organism found which lives on Arsenic: NASA-supported researchers have discovered the first known micro-organism on Earth able to thrive and reproduce using the toxic chemical arsenic. The micro-organism (GFAJ-1), which lives in California's Mono Lake, substitutes arsenic for phosphorus in the backbone of its DNA and other cellular components. "The definition of life has just expanded," said Ed Weiler, NASA's associate administrator for the Science Mission Directorate at the agency's Headquarters in Washington. "As we pursue our efforts to seek signs of life in the solar system, we have to think more broadly, more diversely and consider life as we do not know it." This finding of an alternative biochemistry makeup will alter biology textbooks and expand the scope of the search for life beyond Earth.
News from South Africa: the December issue of the South African Section Newsletter ‘Contact’ includes a fascinating article by Grace F. Knoche on the inner meaning of Christmas and spiritual initiation generally written in the form of a letter to a 12 year old enquirer which is certainly worth reading. Meetings are held monthly in the Guateng area, in Durban and the Western Cape. Please contact Alice and Jim Yetman for further information at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
News from Greece: friends in Athens report the creation of a new Theosophy website on You Tube, the internet video access channel. Several videos of interest to theosophical students are already available there, and they are always open to suggestions to add more videos. Please check the videos at: http://www.youtube.com/TheTheosophia in particular, readers may be interested in a new video on William Quan Judge at: http://www.youtube.com/user/TheTheosophia?feature=mhum#p/a/u/0/MH-Llh2LvJE
News from England: the latest ‘Compass’ newsletter from the UK Section features articles on the esoteric significance of Christmas including a detailed article from Nancy Coker of our HQ staff on the significance of the Cross, and the Solstice sacred season. Copies of Compass newsletter and news of the activities of our TS in England are available at: www.theosophical.org.uk
News from Holland: the latest ‘Impuls’ newsletter from our active Dutch Section features many interesting articles translated into English and also in Dutch for our Dutch-speaking friends. Of particular interest is an article by Bas Rijken Van Olst on ‘Isis Unveiled – a goldmine of ageless wisdom’ which gives in-depth discussion on a book by HPB which is often passed over in order to study her more famous: ‘Secret Doctrine’.
Visit World Art Galleries with your Computer: explore museums from around the world, discover and view hundreds of artworks at incredible zoom levels, and even create and share your own collection of masterpieces: http://www.googleartproject.com/
Microphilanthropy: 'You don't have to be rich and famous to make a little bit
of good, and that good will have a ripple effect', says Carlo Garcia, a
Chicago-based blogger, who is challenging himself to donate to 365
charities in 365 days. Each day, Garcia provides a donation to a different non-profit
organization, giving anywhere from $5 to $200. He often gets suggestions for
which charities to give to from the roughly 5,000 followers he has amassed on
his Blog, Facebook and Twitter. Garcia estimates that so far, he's given away about $2,500 and his followers $3,400. While those amounts may be modest, Garcia says, those
contributions will pay dividends as asking a lot of people for little amounts of money adds up financially and in terms of good will. Garcia has given to more than 200 charities that range from local to international with causes that are just as varied. While he has no particular focus, many of his picks serve children, including the Urban Arts Partnership, which brings art to underserved public schools; Warm Blankets Orphan Care, which helps children around the world who have lost their families because of war or natural disaster; and the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, which funds research, prevention and treatment of AIDS. To find out more about Microphilanthropy and/or join with Carlo Garcia's efforts visit his web Blog: Living Philanthropic: http://livingphilanthropic.tumblr.com/
All Newsletters from our Sections around the world are available in print from our Melbourne Library, or copies can be sent upon request to the editor: email@example.com
Grant yourself a moment of peace and you will understand how foolishly you have scurried about. Learn to be silent, and you will notice that you have talked too much. Be kind and you will realise that your judgment of others was too severe. - Ancient Chinese Proverb
APPLYING ETERNAL WISDOM TO THE PROBLEMS OF DAILY LIFE: lessons learned from the 1951 European Tour Reports of James A. Long by
This is a summary of the essential points gleaned from James A. Long’s 1951 European Tour Report, which formed part of a lecture given in November last year to the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) in Melbourne.
While the Report is six decades old, unquestionably, the information is relevant and indeed I’m sure you’ll agree, inspirational.
The full text of James A. Long’s 1951 European Tour Report is certainly worth reading, and is freely available online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/jal-1951/jaltour-hp.htm
Jim Long’s best-known book.
The whole Report may be viewed as a ‘roadmap’, if you like, of how an aspiring spiritual student, in search of Truth, beauty, and love may follow the path of the ‘Buddhic Light’. There are six main elements which I believe are useful ‘signposts’ for a relevant and useful life:
1. Live by the ‘Golden Rule’- ‘Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you’: Jim Long speaks long and hard about attempting to live by the Golden Rule. If a spiritual seeker were to do nothing else but attempt to live by the basic principle of: “…do unto others, as you would have others do unto you”, to shine as a beacon to his/her fellow humans, how much more peaceful and considerate would the world be! If every single person on the planet were to live by this principle there would be no more wars, weapons industry, crippling poverty, ill health, illiteracy, global pollution or animal/human cruelty.
2. Select the path of right versus wrong, not because one seeks praise but because it is the correct route, regardless of the consequences: every individual is responsible for oneself. Every thought, word or deed, carries within it the seeds of future karma. Therefore, one’s Inner God, Higher Self or Inner Voice, whatever you wish to call it, knows what is right and what is wrong. This sense of justice is ‘known’ to us, we can not ultimately hide from ourselves what is right and what is wrong. One must endeavour to follow the correct route, as Long suggests, regardless of the consequences. Following such a path may become difficult, especially when it may mean losing friends or even family members. He elaborates on this issue when describing how one must never be tempted to compromise truth for keeping family and friends.
3. One’s essential duty is to get his/her individual consciousness in order: as Jim Long states: “…the Masters [of Wisdom or ‘Mahatmas’] are interested in the development of helpers over many lifetimes…they are thinking of that reincarnating element that will come back again and again…That is what they want to develop so that they might have more and more useful instruments for their use in the work they are so interested in – their responsibility as guardians of humanity.”
4. One can develop one’s Divinity via daily experience and daily initiation in one’s own life: through daily interaction with people in our lives; our family, co-workers, fellow shoppers, road users, etc, one can ‘hone’ one’s initiatory experiences. One does not have to live an ascetic life on a lofty mountain peak removed from the daily toils and worries of ordinary folk. What good is such an existence when no opportunities are followed to offer service to those most needing sympathy and practical assistance?
5. One must follow the Truth and not be tempted to compromise it: as stated earlier, ultimately we cannot tell untruths to our Inner Self. Our Inner Voice or Higher Self knows right from wrong. While it is always easier to follow the path of least resistance, we must not be tempted to compromise with the Truth, no matter what the consequences, for in the end, one always lives to regret such an action. This is another ‘hard’ spiritual lesson for students on the spiritual path to abide.
6. The spiritual work of character-building is a solitary, silent, inner-directed process: of all Jim Long’s observations, for me the most eloquent and thought-provoking, is the analogy he makes concerning the fact that as in nature, all spiritual growth happens in a solitary, silent way. He draws the correlation between spiritual growth and the growth that occurs in nature as one of character-building, and that it is vitally an ‘inner-directed’ process. Hence, spiritual growth for all spiritual neophytes is a slow, continuous, private affair; one where initiatory experiences of daily life are powerful and effective. In time, this ‘incubation period’ moulds and shapes an emerging beacon of ‘Buddhic Light’ to illuminate a seemingly dark, and at times hostile, cold world, to offer hope, warmth and fellowship to our compatriot humans on their journey here on planet Earth. – Jennifer Pignataro, Melbourne, Victoria.
WOLF’S HOWL by Elizabeth Riaikkenen.
A note of the song is spoken,
A howl of pleasure, joyful,
A song of sorrow, sadness,
A song with no lie, untruth,
Joining at a point,
Then gaps follow, airy
But in your ears it’s still
- Elizabeth Riaikkenen, Melbourne, Victoria.
“When the pupil is ready, the teacher will be found waiting”, says an Eastern maxim. The masters do not have to hunt up recruits in special-shire lodges, nor drill them through mystical non-commissioned officers: time and space are no barriers between them and the aspirant,; where thought can pass they can come. – HPB: Collected Writings, Vol. 10, p.127
Finding the Field: an adventure of Body, Mind, & Spirit, by Michael Brown.
An unusual pairing of Jack, an old man whose brain injury allows him to bend the universe to his will, and Matthew, a young desperado, to whom the old man resembles his hated father. Fate brings them together, making Matthew the apparent heir to Jack’s discoveries of the ultimate Truth to life and the Universe. Jack is disturbed by Matthew’s inner turbulence, and turns for advice to Siobhan, his mysterious Muse. The tale may make one question one’s own fitness to use those esoteric truths discovered in life’s journey, and to treat them with respect, and use them with the most altruistic of conscience. – Amanda Rooke, TS (Pasadena) Library, Melbourne, Victoria.
The Wisdom of the Heart: Katherine Tingley speaks, compiled by W. Emmett Small,
Published for the 50th anniversary of KT’s death, her main ideals are revealed – reverence for nature, pacifism, education, historical recollections, and of course wonderful esoteric insights and inspirations into Theosophy, to the student of Life, outlining the basic tenets of Theosophy, on our journey of learning as we make our way along life’s Path. – Amanda Rooke, TS (Pasadena) Library, Melbourne, Victoria.
THE ROADS OF OSIRIS AND HORUS by Andrew Rooke.
In our last Newsletter we featured an article on the Great Pyramid in Egypt suggesting that its purpose in ancient times may have been as a centre for spiritual initiation of suitable people into higher consciousness; rather than primarily as a Pharaoh’s tomb. Several readers asked for more information on genuine spiritual initiations and specifically on ancient Egyptian teachings on this subject called by them the Roads of Osiris and Horus…
In ancient Egypt, the process of spiritual growth was often pictured as the adventures of the soul in the after-life. One of these stories tells of a soul travelling down a road and reaching a fork offering two paths called “The Two Paths of Liberation”. Whilst each path leads to the abode of the ‘Gods’, each involves different experiences. One path, passing over land and water, is that of the Egyptian God Osiris who represents cyclic nature and this path involves many incarnations. The other way leads through fire in a direct and shortened passage along the road of the God Horus, who in many texts symbolizes the divine spark in the heart.
The God Horus
Many other cultures speak of a pathway to a blessed, or heightened state of spiritual understanding, though such a pathway is usually for ‘warriors’, or the brave at heart, eg. The American Indians speak of the ‘Red Path’ in similar terms. In Egypt, such a brave soul if successful in his journey along the Road of Horus became an initiate of the mysteries and was called an Akhu (the ‘Blessed’) – a name for the Gods, and also for successful initiates. For the rest of mankind travelling the Road of Osiris, the way is slower, progressing certainly, but more gradually, through the challenges of daily life through many incarnations. The ultimate achievement is the same, to radiate the highest qualities of the spiritual element locked within the aspiring soul. So how, and why, should people aspiring to spiritual understanding make the considerable effort even to set foot on the Road of Horus?
Why? Because the world desperately needs all the assistance it can get from people who are working in every way to uplift human consciousness. In particular, people who are prepared to attack the root causes of suffering in our world are few and far between, and recruits to their ranks are needed in all fields of endeavour. How do we take the first tentative steps towards the Road of Horus?
By taking charge of your life and trying to self-direct our evolution instead of being driven along by external circumstances. I recently heard two superb pieces of practical advice on taking control of your life from the writings of Dr Edward Bach, the discoverer of the famous Bach Flower Remedies, available in most chemist shops around Australia. Dr Bach called upon his own soul adventures to offer these signposts for us to the Road of Horus.
Firstly he said it is necessary to ‘Know Yourself’:
“…Have courage to think for yourself. Trust your own convictions, take only from teaching courses and other people’s opinions what you feel within is true. For what is true for others may not be so for you, or what is true for you may not be so for others. Know yourself. That is the way you learn, that is the way you exercise your gift of free will. Choose between what is right and wrong for you. To choose through this gift of free will determine how you will face all the external conditions, experiences, and stresses that come your way. Whether you take them with cheerfulness, with interest, learning from them how to deal with another such experience. Or whether you let them get you down, cause you fear, worry, depression, strain. Yours is the choice.”
And secondly, on his basis of his experiences as a medical doctor, he advised ‘Looking Forward’:
“…many sick people find it very difficult to allow themselves to become free from past mistakes. Self condemnation is as much a stumbling block to recovery as self pity, pessimism, and other such negative forms of outlook. It does not matter how serious or trivial the error. The fact that you recognize a mistake, and then work to avoid making the same mistake again is forgiveness itself. It is recognition, the lesson learnt, that is the all important aspect to consider. Once you can accept that all mistakes occur for our own benefit. That all experiences whether good or bad are equally important in our development, then we are in true perspective. Life’s problems and setbacks are not periods of bad luck. They are purposeful tests offering exciting challenges. If we can then recognize the true value of these lessons we will emerge so much the wiser and prepared for whatever life has in store for us unshackled from the past.” - Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.
– Dr Bach is quoted here from a lecture on his life and work presented by Dr Alan Gudenswager in Brisbane in 1995. Further information on the ancient Egyptian teaching on the two paths is available in The Ancient Egyptian Book of Two Ways translated by Leonard H. Lesko, 1972. See also I.M.Oderberg’s article ‘Light from Ancient Egypt’ on the internet at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/sunrise/34-84-5/re-imo2.htm from Sunrise Magazine for April/May 1985, pages 124-128 for more information on the Road of Horus.
“We come back to earth because on it and with the beings upon it our deeds were performed…because here is the only natural spot in which to continue the struggle towards perfection.” – W.Q.Judge: The Ocean of Theosophy, p.84
THE VALUE OF READING THE BHAGAVAD GITA by Koshish Karunga.
It is really very confusing! A world full of books on ‘spirituality’ with a bewildering variety of different opinions on all sides – and now the internet! Thousands of years ago, perhaps the most eloquent statement on the human condition was written which endlessly repays the reader with new spiritual insights. The Bhagavad-Gita, or the ‘Lord’s Song’, is a tiny section of the great epic of ancient India, The Mahabharata. You might say that it was written so long ago and is based on a war between two rival clans at that distant time – how can it be relevant to me today? The writers of this epic used the situation of a war between two related clans to depict the war raging within each one of us - our tendency to evil and good. The main players are Arjuna, representing Humanity, and Krishna, his charioteer, representing Divinity.
Arjuna and Krishna sit in a most uncomfortable position between two opposing armies about to engage in battle, and argue the case for Arjuna to enter into the battle. He is reluctant to enter the fray, as he can see all his relatives on the other side and the last thing he wants to do is to inflict death and destruction upon them. He throws down his weapons and refuses to fight. Krishna then spends the rest of the Bhagavad-Gita explaining why it is necessary to enter this battle. All of us, who are on the spiritual Path, are right there in the chariot with Arjuna, reluctant to attack our old habits of identity with the ‘Ego’ evolved over lifetimes. These negative habits of the ‘lower self’ keep us individually, and Humanity generally, from progressing on the spiritual Path and locked into an endless cycle of suffering which we see as the general condition of Humanity today. The great value of the Bhagavad-Gita is that Krishna explains the various ways in which we as spiritual seekers can progress in various ways along the spiritual Path. We must valiantly attack various aspects of our lower behaviour so that individually and collectively we can progress towards our inner potential as compassionate godlike beings, and not remain as cunningly intelligent animals as seems to be mostly depicted as the desirable aim of human life these days!
The beauty of the Bhagavad-Gita is that it addresses a variety of practical ways we can begin to attack and then transcend our lower self. These various ways include the intellectual path favoured by many theosophists, the way of faith and devotion which is more characteristic of Christianity, the way of good works pursued by many good people who work for charities, the contemplative path of those who meditate and live the austere monastic life, the discrimination between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ people, and many others. These Paths are compared, with their strengths and weaknesses stated so that we can learn about our own particular path.
In the end Krishna says that identity with the ‘All’ is the most important thing, or from our perspective as ordinary human beings, living a good life in conformity with our highest ideals. For the highest in each and every person is commensurate with the ‘Godhead’ of the Universe. We gradually come to realize this and have many other spontaneous spiritual insights as we attempt to make our ethical and moral beliefs a reality in our everyday behaviour. The Buddhists put this beautifully when they say: “It is necessary to ‘Live the Life, to Understand the Doctrine’.
Reading the Bhagavad-Gita is endlessly rewarding. Like all great books, you will see something new each time you read it. The version translated by William Quan Judge with commentary by him, and another commentary by the Hindu teacher T. Subba Row are available from our Melbourne library and bookshop, or free online from the Theosophical University Press at:
Bhagavad-Gita: Recension by William Quan Judge combined with his Essays on the Gita: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita/bg-eg-hp.htm
T.Subba Row: Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gita-sr/nbg-hp.htm
- Koshish Karunga, Melbourne, Victoria.
Theosophy Downunder is issued three times per year in April, August, and December 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
“Life is built up of the sacrifice of the individual to the whole. Each cell in the living body must sacrifice itself to the perfection of the whole; when it is otherwise, disease and death enforce the lesson.” – HPB: Collected Writings, Vol.8, p.14
YES - WE CAN CHANGE: some thoughts from G de Purucker
‘Why Can’t We Change?’ was the question we started with in this issue. I guess the answer in short is that we don’t want to change! But when we finally do make that momentous decision, what then, how do we change?
Theosophical writer, G de Purucker expressed the actual mechanism of changing the orientation of our lives beautifully when he said:
“When a human being centres or focuses his consciousness in the higher part of his constitution, then obviously the elements of his constitution which in the average man attract him to these lower spheres are inactive in the sense of no longer dominating him. They lie asleep, at least relatively so; and consequently he then is in the bliss and enjoys the illuminated vision of the higher part of his being….we should follow the Path that all the Buddhas have taught: to know ourselves, our spiritual selves, and to live in the spiritual Self, that is in the higher part of our composite constitution. When this is done, one becomes a co-worker or collaborator with spiritual Nature, becomes an active agent of Nature’s spiritual laws; and hence does naught that is in contravention of those fundamental spiritual laws…” – from G de Purucker Dialogues Vol.3, pages391-393.
A few thoughts for us to get started right now … today:
JUST FOR TODAY…
Just for today do not anger
Just for today do not worry
Just for today count your many blessings
Just for today do your work with integrity
Just for today be kind to every living creature
Just for Today….