THEOSOPHY DOWNUNDER

Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section

No: 106 April 2012

Surfing competition at Lorne, south-eastern Australia. Photo courtesy of Stefan Carey.

 

CONTENTS

The Riddle of the Sphinx – Andrew Rooke.

2012: What Does It All Mean? – Marilyn O’Day and Sarah B. Dougherty.

Australian News.

What is the Inner God? – Andrew Rooke.

International News.

Questions and Answers on Reincarnation – Andrew Rooke.

Book Reviews: The Man Who Didn’t Die: a spiritual novel - Ian Lawton.

                          Did St Paul Get Jesus Right? - David Wenham.

                          Celestial Strings 1 and 2 – by Inna Palcovskaja-Chabaniuk.

Applying Theosophy – Clive Bellgrove.

Letters to the Editor: Another Perspective on Happiness - Charles Reither.

                                    The Recipe for Sweet Happiness - Sotoria Galanopoulou.

The Four Aims of Life: The Purusarthas – Koshish Karunga.

 

THE RIDDLE OF THE SPHINX - Andrew Rooke

 

For untold centuries, the Great Sphinx at Giza outside of Cairo in Egypt, has stared Eastwards with stony gaze greeting the rising sun. Known in ancient days as ‘Horemakhet’ – ‘Horus of the Horizon’, the Sphinx stands guard before a complex of pyramids and temples including the mysterious Great Pyramid, itself known in ancient Egypt as the ‘Horizon of Heaven’. To the weary traveller of ancient times through to jostling busloads of tourists today, she seems to ask a riddle of all those who pass by “…Who am I, Why am I here, What mysteries do I represent?” In Greek mythology the Sphinx of Thebes was said to demand of such travellers the answer to a riddle: ‘What goes on four legs in the morning, on two legs at noon and on three legs in the evening?” What would be your answer to this riddle?

 

Sculpted from soft sandstone, many believe that the Great Sphinx would have disappeared ages ago if it had not been buried in the desert sands for so many long periods of its lifetime. The body of a lion is 60 metres (200 feet) long and 20 metres (65 feet) tall. Its human face is 4 metres (13 feet) wide with eyes measuring 2 metres (6 feet) high. There is much debate amongst historians and scientists about the age of the Great Sphinx. Conventional science tells us that the Sphinx was built by the Pharoah Khafre, the builder of the second pyramid at Giza, around 2,500 BC. A thousand years later, the Pharoah Thutmose 4th (1401-1388 BC) installed a carved stone between its front paws, describing how when he was a young prince, he had gone hunting and fallen asleep in the shade of the Sphinx’s head. Thutmose had a dream where Ra Hor-Akhty the Sun God, talking through the Sphinx, spoke to him, telling the young prince to clear away the sand because the Sphinx was choking on it. The Sphinx promised him he would become Pharoah if he did this. Thutmose cleared away the sand covering the Sphinx and after two years he became king of Egypt.

 

There is practically no archaeological evidence at all to show that Pharoah Khafre, and certainly king Thutmose, did anything but restore what was already an ancient monument buried for long ages in the hot desert sands when they found it. Recent research on the Sphinx’s body and surrounding enclosure tends to bear out this contention. Geological research from the 1990s onwards indicates that the Sphinx has been eroded extensively by rain water for thousands of years. Yet it hasn’t rained much in that area of Egypt for perhaps 10,000 years! Some, including theosophical writers and the American visionary Edgar Cayce, believed that the Great Sphinx was built by colonists fleeing the destruction of Atlantis and it is therefore even much more ancient. Edgar Cayce said that there is a secret chamber under the front feet of the Sphinx which contains the historical records of Atlantis. Indeed, scientific surveys of the area beneath the Sphinx using a variety of instruments from the 1970s onwards indicate that there are as yet undiscovered chambers, and perhaps even a passageway linking the Sphinx with the Great Pyramid.

 

But what about that riddle? In Greek mythology the solution was – Man: who crawls on all fours as a baby, walks on two legs as an adult, and walks with a cane in old age.  Of course morning, noon, and night in the riddle, are metaphors for times in a persons life. If the answer is Man, then perhaps the Sphinx was intended by its builders to tell future generations that the secret of true Humanhood is symbolized in the great statue itself. The man’s head on the lion’s body indicating the transcendence of the animal aspects of the human condition by the thinking and spiritual qualities of man symbolized in the human head. The secret of overcoming much of the suffering in the world and advancing our spiritual condition is for people individually to attempt to overcome the power of the human Ego (Lower Self) which acts endlessly to retard our spiritual progress and ensure its own animal survival. Consequently we see the general trend in our world today of using human intelligence and ingenuity in the service of the Ego. Thus we see our modern society generally dedicated to earning money and worldly power, rather than using the same divine human potentialities in the service of our spiritual self (Higher Self) for compassionately and selflessly helping others. The difference between these two paths is paper thin, and simply one of attitude. Do we remain tempted by the illusions of the Ego for the bigger house, car, etc.? Or do we take what we need, and use a little time each day thinking and working for others in whatever way is suitable to our situation?

 

The Sphinx was known in ancient times as the Guardian of Knowledge, and The Sentinel of the Opening of the Door to Higher Knowledge, which according to theosophy occurred in ancient days in the initiation chambers of the Great Pyramid. Simply put, this initiation process was the overcoming of the illusions of the Ego and living in the realities of the Higher Self. In a minor way we can all respond to the riddle of the Sphinx in our own lives by outgrowing our individual illusions so that they are no attraction to us at all, and moving on spiritually. This is not at all an easy process as these illusions change ‘Proteus-like’ with our progress on the spiritual path.

 

The nearest analogy to this process that I can imagine is of a person wandering through a crowded hotel or casino where hundreds of people are enslaved to gambling machines pursuing the illusive dream of quick riches. But this dream is no attraction to our hypothetical wanderer whatsoever, and he simply walks on. By changing our attitude to what are commonly taken to be major temptations, we spiritually grow, and gradually transform/incorporate the Lower Self into the Higher Self, turning the energies of selfishness to the service of the Higher Self – as theosophy expresses it - Kama Manas (Desire Mind) to Buddhi Manas (Buddhi Manas).

 

Theosophical writer, Dr G de Purucker puts it this way:

 

“…Some people imagine that the path of spiritual attainment is far away over the mountains of the future, almost unreachable, when in reality there is a relatively narrow frontier between ordinary life and that followed by the neophyte or ‘chela’ [ie: a ‘chela’ is the Sanskrit term for a serious student of the ancient wisdom]. Essentially the difference is one of outlook, and not of metaphysical distance. It is the same distance that exists between the one who falls under the sway of temptation and thereafter becomes its bond-slave and the other who successfully resists the temptation and thereafter becomes its master. Anyone can enter upon the path, if his will, his devotion and yearnings are directed towards being of greater service to others. The only thing that prevents him from taking that most beautiful step is his convictions, his psychological and mental prejudices which distort his perspective…..” – Fountain-Source of Occultism, p.14.

 

For most of us, the initiation of daily life is the progressive overcoming of such worldly illusions and earnestly searching for the Inner Sun of our Higher Self. The Great Sphinx of Egypt, as the voice of the Sun God, Ra Hor-Akhty, stands silent witness to the centuries calling us on to this ultimate challenge of true Humanhood. – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

Further information on spiritual initiation in ancient Egypt is available in ‘Humility and the Horizon of Heaven’ – December 2010 issue of Theosophy Downunder at: http://theosophydownunder.org/ifensterl.php?australiantsnewsletterdecember2010.html)

 

With every effort of will toward purification and unity with that `Self-god,' one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supercedes the first, until, from ray to ray, the inner man is drawn into the one and highest beam of the Parent-Sun. – HP Blavatsky.

2012: WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN? - Marilyn O’Day and Sally Dougherty

For the last several years there has been a lot of interest in the date December 21, 2012, and here we are at last in the year 2012!  This date is claimed to mark the end of a period of time found in the Mayan Calendar, called the Great Cycle.  This Mayan era is believed by some to have started in August 11 (or 12), 3112 BC, and to last about 5125 years, meaning that its end occurs on December 21, 2012.  Some New Age writers in the 80's  noticed that the end date of the Mayan cycle was coming soon and speculated that it would be the time of a "harmonic convergence," ushering in a new age of enhanced spiritual development.  Other writers predicted that this date would bring about the end of the world. Still others say the interest in this date is a lot of ‘hoopla’ put forward by popular researchers to sell their books.

Regardless of the conclusions one draws about this question, there is no doubt that the interest in this date draws attention to many other fascinating topics, including the spiritual beliefs of the Mayans and other Amerindians, the commonality of beliefs held by the Mayans and peoples such as the Hindus, living in vastly different times and locations, and the effect of cycles, large and small, on the life of earth's inhabitants.

Just click on the following links to articles from the newsletter published by our friends in the Northwest Branch of the American Section of the TS (Pasadena), Theosophy Northwest View, which discuss: What started the interest in the 2012 date and its correlation to the Mayan calendar?  Did this date really have meaning for the ancient Mayans?  For that matter, does the date have meaning for the modern Mayans?  What do some archaeologists say about the end of the Mayan Great Cycle? Is this cycle really 5125 years long or is that up for interpretation?

The Mayan Great Cycle and 2012 by Marilyn O'Day

What's Behind 2012? by Sally Dougherty

Articles on Cycles and the effects they have on mankind and evolution:

Cyclic Impression and Return by William Q. Judge

Cycles: An Introduction by Lydia Ross

- Marilyn O’Day and Sally Dougherty, Seattle, USA.

 

AUSTRALIAN NEWS

Meetings Melbourne April through August 2012: Meetings all held at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne (Tel: 0400942613) on Saturdays commencing at 2.30pm. The Centre is open by 2pm the day of the meeting:

 

Sat. April 21st, 2.30pm: Theosophy: Writings of the Leaders – 3: William Quan Judge – Don Shepherd.

Sat. May 5th, 2.30pm:  The Dweller on the Threshold - Charles Reither.

Sat. May 19th, 2.30pm: Theosophy: Writings of the Leaders - 4: Katherine Tingley. This session will feature pictures of Point Loma theosophical community – Don Shepherd.

Sat. June 2nd, 2.30pm: Prosperity Without Growth: New Economics for a Finite Planet – Paul Rooke.

Sat. June 16th, 2.30pm: Theosophy: Writings of the Leaders – 5: Dr G. de Purucker – Don Shepherd.

Sat. July 7th, 2.30pm: The Stanzas of Dzyan: the source of HP Blavatsky’s theosophical classic, The Secret Doctrine – Don Shepherd.

Sat. July 21st, 2.30pm: Theosophy: Writings of the Leaders – 6: Col. Arthur Conger and James A. Long – Don Shepherd.

Sat. August 4th, 2.30pm: The Mysterious Origins of Man: video and discussion – Paul Rooke.

Sat. August 18th, 2.30pm: Theosophy: Writings of the Leaders – 7: Grace F. Knoche – Don Shepherd.

 

WEDNESDAY DISCUSSION GROUP: commencing on Wednesday April 11th and running throughout the year, in association with The University of the Third Age (U3A), a series of lectures and discussions concentrating on comparative study of the religions and philosophies of India and Asia and Basic Concepts of the Ancient Wisdom including Universal Brotherhood; After-Death – What?; Dreams and the Astral World; Reincarnation; Karma; etc. Each Wednesday morning: 10.30-12.30. Further information is available from Tony Downey on 0400942613.

 

The first necessity for obtaining Self-knowledge is to become profoundly conscious of ignorance; to feel with every fibre of the heart that one is ceaselessly self-deceived.
The second requisite is the still deeper conviction that such knowledge - such intuitive and certain knowledge - can be obtained by effort.
The third and most important is an indomitable determination to obtain and face that knowledge.
Self-knowledge of this kind is unattainable by what men usually call 'self-analysis.' It is not reached by reasoning or any brain process; for it is the awakening to consciousness of the Divine nature of man.
To obtain this knowledge is a greater achievement than to command the elements or to know the future – HP Blavatsky.

 

 

 

WHAT IS THE INNER GOD? - Andrew Rooke

 

In theosophical discussions we often take it for granted that there are such things as an ‘Inner God’, a ‘Higher Self’, and a ‘Lower Self’ – but how often do we pause to reflect on what we really mean by these terms? Let’s look at what we could possibly mean by the ‘Inner God’ or ‘Higher Self’ which we, as students of theosophy, try so hard to manifest in our daily lives.

 

The Inner God – easy to say, but hard to define! I would say that it means the very highest and enlightened part of our composite nature as human beings. It would manifest in our behaviour when we are exercising what are generally recognized as the finest human qualities of tolerance, love, understanding and compassion. Its full expression in daily life is the ultimate extension of human spiritual evolution, the result of lifetimes of self-sacrifice, harmony and balance.

 

Called by various names in different religions throughout the ages – in Buddhism called the ‘Living Buddha’; in Hinduism it is spoken of as ‘Brahma’ in his ‘Brahmapura’ or ‘Brahma- City’, meaning our inner human constitution. In India it is also spoken of as ‘Iswara’, or the Cosmic Spirit in the human being. In the Bible it is the ‘I AM’, and amongst some Christian sects as the ‘Immanent Christ’.

 

Theosophical teacher, Dr G de Purucker, says of the Inner God:

 

“Mystics of all ages have united in teaching this fact of the existence and ever-present power of an individual god in each human being, as the first principle or primordial energy governing the progress of man out of the material life into the spiritual…The Inner God in man, man’s own inner essential divinity, is the root of him, whence flow forth in inspiring streams into the psychological apparatus of his constitution all the aspirations of genius, all the urgings to betterment.” – Occult Glossary, pages 66-67.

 

OK, you say – but what exactly is it? We often speak of an ‘Eternal Soul’ within us that remains after we die and reincarnates again and again to learn the lessons of life. This Essence of each one of us is an inexhaustible font of life, intelligence and consciousness. It existed in previous lifetimes of the Universe when it gained experience in every possible form of life available in those former Universes, becoming a ‘God’ or ‘Dhyani Chohan’ (Lord of Meditation) as theosophy would call it, at the end of the lifetime of those Universes. After a long period of rest whilst the Universe was not manifest as it is now, this Essence rested in a blissful state of ‘Paranirvana’ for aeons.

 

When the time came for the Universe to manifest once again in the material worlds, this Essence issued forth again as a ‘god-spark’ in a new and higher stage of life. Such a Dhyani Chohan, the crowning achievement of the preceding lifetime of the Universe (the Maha-Manvantara) is what we now call the Inner God. It is relatively perfect compared to us who compose the various ‘vehicles’ by which it is learning in this Universe.

 

Conversely, as we provide the means for it to learn, the Inner God provides the means for us lesser beings to develop and grow towards it. As Dr de Purucker further says:

 

“We are it, yet different from it. We sprang from it as a new seed of individualized life in the beginning of the present Maha-Manvantara; and it is the destiny of each one of us to become an Inner God for some future psychological monad, issuing from the heart of that Inner God, the core of that Inner God, in the next cosmic Manvantara. Marvellous thought! I am my Inner God, and, yet, different. It is my ‘Father in Heaven’” I am one with it, and yet I am its child.” – Esoteric Teachings – V.6, page 98.

 

As we ponder the true meaning of the Inner God and its connection to the One Universal Life, it makes us realise even more the wisdom of the ancient Greeks whose Temple of Apollo at Delphi exhorted all seekers after truth – “Man Know Thyself”. – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

News from the USA: a new and revised edition of G de Purucker’s classic, The Esoteric Tradition, has just been published online by our international Headquarters. The 3rd and revised edition of the Esoteric Tradition is available now at:

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/et/et-hp.htm Eventually a new one-volume print version of the ET will be available. The Theosophical Society, Pasadena, has a comprehensive website, where an extensive selection of full text publications is available online – www.theosociety.org. The website of the American Section is www.americansection.us Further literature can be ordered online through the Wizards Bookshelf. For all editions of Theosophy Northwest View, go to www.theosophy-nw.org. Articles posted on the website are clearly collated according to topic for easy referencing. Links to selected sites of theosophical interest are also available.

 

News from Britain: The website of the British Section of our TS can be viewed at www.theosophical.org.uk. Articles and lectures given by TS members are available and collated according to topic. Links to further resources are posted, including issues 18 to 26 of the Compass newsletter, information regarding public meetings held in the UK, and correspondence courses. Book reviews which featured in the Sunrise magazine are also available.

 

News from Holland: The website of the Dutch Section of the Theosophical Society, Pasadena, has recently been recognized by the National Library of the Netherlands as providing a representation of Dutch culture, history and society and will be archived for the benefit of present and future generations of researchers. Something similar was done recently also for Theosophy Downunder website by the National Library of Australia. Since its inception the website has become the chief instrument for spreading theosophical ideas from the Dutch Section. The complete text of 35 books in Dutch is available online and can be downloaded free of charge. Many titles are available as pdf files and can be read in an e-reader. There are 15 complete volumes of Sunrise available online; earlier volumes are available in part; a selection of articles from Impuls, the Dutch section newsletter, and other sources are also online. For our Dutch-speaking readers, the Netherlands Section’s website has a wide selection of translated, online publications, where articles are collated according to topic at www.theosofie.net for easy referencing. The Impuls newsletter can be viewed at www.theosofie.net/impuls/index.html Articles are listed according to authors.

 

Recent discoveries of ancient cities: In 1994 a shepherd grazing his sheep at Gobekli Tepi in South Eastern Turkey noticed a large carved stone sticking out of the ground. On digging around it he found the top portion of what turned out to be a 4 meter pillar of an enormous ancient structure covering the hilltop but buried long ago. Now, after 20 years of archaeological excavation we now know that this pillar was a small part of an entire city buried underground for 12,000 years. This discovery proves that humans could build sophisticated structures long before this was thought to be possible and provides archaeological evidence for an ancient civilization such as is mentioned in many flood stories around the world and in theosophy as the lost continent of Atlantis and its colonies. The site is vaguely reminiscent of Stonehenge, except that Göbekli Tepe was built much earlier and is made not from roughly hewn blocks but from cleanly carved limestone pillars splashed with bas-reliefs of animals—a cavalcade of gazelles, snakes, foxes, scorpions, and ferocious wild boars (see picture of reconstruction above). The assemblage was built some 11,600 years ago, seven millennia before the Great Pyramid of Giza. It contains the oldest known temple. Indeed, Göbekli Tepe is the oldest known example of monumental architecture—the first known structure human beings put together that was bigger and more complicated than a hut. When these pillars were erected, so far as we know, nothing of comparable scale existed in the world.

More information on this remarkable discovery is available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xo0ZkgqM1TE&feature=related

From Greece comes the news of another underwater city, Pavlopetri, Originally discovered in 1967 and surveyed with modern technology in 2011, Pavlopetri seems to be a late Bronze Age port city dating from 2,800 BC which is now totally inundated. Streets, buildings, and graves are clearly identifiable in a well-planned lay-out indicating a high level of urban planning. These recent underwater archaeological discoveries may encourage a new view of mankind’s early history. A video of underwater photographs of the city is available at: http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xfnsxp_pavlopetri-underwater-town-in-laconia-greece-coast_tech#rel-page-7

 

Earth-Size Exoplanets Found: in December 2011 NASA's Kepler mission discovered the first Earth-size planets orbiting a sun-like star outside our solar system. The planets, called Kepler-20e and Kepler-20f, are too close to their star to be in the so-called habitable zone where liquid water could exist on a planet's surface, but they are the smallest exoplanets ever confirmed around a star like our sun. The discovery marks the next important milestone in the ultimate search for planets like Earth. The new planets are thought to be rocky. Kepler-20e is slightly smaller than Venus, measuring 0.87 times the radius of Earth. Kepler-20f is a bit larger than Earth, measuring 1.03 times its radius. Both planets reside in a five-planet system called Kepler-20, approximately 1,000 light-years away in the constellation Lyra.

 

  At the year's beginning, in reviewing the scenes of one's life, there may seem little to report, and certainly nothing spectacular.  Yet after all, events in themselves are not as important as the inner attitude with which we meet them. To meet ourselves in each experience as it occurs, fearlessly, honestly, and with such truth as is in us — this is what leaves its impress on our hearts.
        In the present cycle of man's development, the individual is of supreme importance, because each one has a job which no other being in all infinity can do, and that is to lift himself. This is our contribution to life: meeting ourselves and overcoming, at every step of the way.  Yet every truth has its heart rooted in paradox; and a balanced outlook is essential if one is to keep the larger perspective.  In a world sharply divided between freedom and despotism, one may indeed count it a blessing to be able to experience the warm interchange of thought among neighbours, friends, and fellow workers — in which differences of outlook, far from disrupting, can serve to draw us closer together.
        Each one of us, whoever we are, has received help — from others as well as from the living spiritual principles that are the foundation of man's religious recline — help that has not been given for our personal benefit, but that we as humanity might ride the cyclic flood tide.  But unless we pull our own weight, we may be left high and dry, and the help so unselfishly given for millennia will not avail us”
- Muriel Vickridge, Mebourne, Victoria.

 

 

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ON REINCARNATION – Andrew Rooke

 

Is reincarnation true? : According to theosophy, yes. We are repeatedly reborn on Earth taking up another life, using another body of either sex, and with a different ‘personality’.

 

How long do we have between lives?: This period varies according to the circumstances of a person’s death, and how attached or otherwise they are to the material world. Typically for the mass of humanity, theosophy tells us that the time of rest between lives is 1,000 to 1,500 years. It may be much shorter for children who die young, those who die from accidents or in wars, those who are strongly attached to the material world, and, at the other extreme, those committed to service and the cause of spiritual truth may return earlier to speed the spiritual development of humanity. Those not attached to the worldly life may stay away a lot longer.

 

Are we ever reborn as an animal?: No, that is a common misconception of many religions probably based on the esoteric truth that animals use various ‘life atoms’ of dead human beings. Once an individual has reached the level of complexity of a human being, he or she must reincarnate as a human being to continue to work out the relationships of the past and to develop and grow in an environment of suitable complexity. There are of, course rare exceptions to this general rule. In the case of irretrievably evil human beings, especially ‘black magicians’, they may possibly in rare cases sink to the level of incarnating in animal bodies.

 

Why don’t I remember previous lives?: It was a different physical brain that recorded details for each of your previous lives, so details are not normally remembered by the ‘new’ brain of this life in detail. It is also the compassion of nature that we don’t remember, as we were presumably at a lower state of spiritual evolution in our former lives, so our deeds then, if remembered in detail, might have a traumatic and damaging effect on our progress in this life. The influences, abilities developed, character, and spiritual lessons learnt of the previous lives remain and, in fact, are the ‘you’ of this life. However, at the moment of our physical death, and later in the after-death states, we will see past life details and as we progress along on our individual path of spiritual evolution, we come to be able to remember the past lives that we have now forgotten.

 

What exactly is it that is reborn?: A “higher” spiritual part of us is reborn. Theosophy says the ‘personality’ was left behind at a previous death. Certain of that personalities tendencies, lessons learned, character and pure spirit are assimilated from the previous life and remain with the ‘individual’ to be reborn again. The important distinction is between the ‘personality’ and the ‘individual’. Over the course of many lives, the individuality increases and the personality becomes of less importance. Theosophical books have much more detailed information on this subject. Strictly speaking, we should not say we ‘have’ a soul. Rather, we are a soul and the soul has a body it has acquired and is working through. Part of our task is to become aware of this truth.

 

Does reincarnation ever stop?: Yes and no! From our relative point of view, we are aiming for perfection as human beings. This will take many more incarnations. At a very advanced stage of human spiritual evolution, we may choose to take a well-earned rest, or to return to Earth as a, ‘Bodhisattva’, in order to help suffering humanity trailing along in our evolutionary ‘wake’. But then the cycle simply continues at a higher level. In the largest sense, there is no end to the cycle and no end to increasing perfection.

 

What is the point of reincarnation?: Our souls are all part of one soul. At root we are one. Brotherhood is an actual fact in nature when we look at underlying reality. Each of these seemingly separate individualities gains experiences learns lesson, and ultimately, the consciousness of the Universe gains increasing experience, increases in relative perfection, and increases in self-consciousness.

 

How do you know all this is true?: We can observe the cycle of ebb and flow, activity and rest everywhere in nature. Do you think human beings are any exception? Several researchers have conducted ‘past life regression’ through hypnosis and found people speaking of former lives, and there are many famous cases of where the details of such alleged former lives have been found to be accurate. Similarly there are many published studies, most famously by Professors Ian Sevenson and Jim Tucker, where children who remember past lives have been interviewed and their information found later to be accurate. The recent research on near-death and interlife experience is best summarized by Ian Lawton in his two books, the Big and Little Book of the Soul available from our library in Melbourne (also see the review of Ian’s latest book, The Man Who Didn’t Die, a novel on interlife experience, below). Much of theosophical teaching is based on the learning of the Masters of Wisdom who have ventured self-consciously into the after-death states and taught us ordinary people what they have observed to be true there. - Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

Want to read more about reincarnation? Then why not read ‘Reincarnation: a lost chord in modern thought’ in our library in Melbourne, or online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/gdpmanu/rein-wr/rein-1.htm

 

BOOK REVIEWS

 

The Man Who Didn’t Die – by Ian Lawton, Rational Spirituality Press, 2011: a new spiritual novel by the author of The Big and Little Books of the Soul which we use extensively in our University of the Third Age classes in Melbourne. The book is in the format of a story about Michael who is a rich and outwardly successful luxury car salesman who loses his wife and is wheel-chair bound after a terrible car accident. The book is based on research into after-death states and puts it in a unique and dramatic style that makes this research a lot easier to understand. Themes include:

 

- Detailed, realistic discussions about Near Death Experience and reincarnation evidence between a believer and a sceptic.

- Real life examples of the way the tests in different sets of lives can be interwoven.

- Real life examples of interlife review and planning, including the humorous interactions between a soul group and their spirit guide, as well as other more unusual interlife adventures.

- If you get the chance everyone should read ‘Aya’s Scroll’ from the new book which contains some good advice based on Interlife research.

 

Ian Lawton’s new book is available from our Library or, if you wish to buy a copy, try Amazon.com, Lightening Source, or direct from: www.ianlawton.com The copies in our library are under the title of, Dead Man Talking, and have a different cover from the one pictured here.- reviewed by Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

 

 

Did St Paul Get Jesus Right?: The Gospel According to St Paul – by David Wenham: Lion Hudson, 2010: St Paul is an incredibly important influence on the foundation of the Christian religion. Martin Luther, one of the principle founders of the Protestant churches, even advised all his followers to read St Paul’s letter to the Romans every day, and to memorize it all if possible! Most of the basic ideas of Protestantism, such as salvation by faith alone; predestination of the ‘Elect’; puritanical ideas about sex, marriage and homosexuality; a legalistic view of God as a judge; and the imminent second coming of Christ; all arguably come from St Paul rather than from Jesus.  St Paul actually wrote one quarter of the content of the New Testament and some authors have contended that whilst Jesus was a great spiritual teacher who exemplified kindness and tolerance, St Paul invented the idea that Jesus was God, and therefore radically changed Jesus’ message, resulting in the monumental Christian Church we see today. This theory has found its way into academia, churches, newspapers and the hugely popular novels and films by author Dan Brown. This book is a thorough examination of this important question by a Christian scholar and theologian who is sympathetic to St Paul as a true representative of Jesus’ original teachings. However, after reading this book, I still think that the best advice that anyone could have about Christianity is to read the Bible for yourself and make up your own mind! This question of the creation of a religion from a genuine spiritual Master’s teaching is especially important for theosophists as it points to the possibility of a religion being made from the information made available by the Masters of Wisdom expressed in theosophical books. The theosophical Masters said pointedly that they did not want to encourage any more ‘priests for a priest-ridden world’ and that it was up to each individual to seek their salvation thorough their own self-directed efforts and individual relationship with divinity rather than the intervention of a church or religious system established on the basis of theosophical information. This appears to be what happened with the Christian dispensation 2,000 years ago due to the influence of great disseminators of Christianity such as St. Paul. Will we as theosophists today consciously or unconsciously encourage this to happen again? – reviewed by Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

Celestial Strings 1 and 2 – by Inna Palcovskaja-Chabaniuk, 2011 – in Russian language. Inna Palcovskaja-Chabaniuk lives in the town of Elizovo on the Kamchatka Peninsula, in remote north-eastern Siberia in Russia. From the early years of her life she has experienced spiritual inspiration for her paintings (see opposite), music, poems and prose, each in their own way giving spiritual information and instruction. She has published two books called Celestial Strings 1 and 2 - one with poems, and another with instructions and information in prose. These books also contain photos of some of her pictures. Her DVD, which we also have now in the library, contains her pictures, some music and writings, as poetry, as prose. Also, her website www.celestial-string.ru has some new information that hadn't been included in her books. All her texts are in Russian language, although even a person who is unable to read Russian may be interested and receive some understanding and spiritual insights from her paintings and music. Copies of her books and DVD are in our Melbourne library – reviewed by Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

APPLYING THEOSOPHY TO EVERYDAY LIFE - Clive Bellgrove

 

Let’s face it, we’ve got to earn our living, we’ve got to do our job right here in the everyday world. There are people who will teach you meditation, yoga and various self-help techniques, as palliatives, or as the way to force things ahead on the spiritual path. Worse still, there are those who will encourage you to take drugs to get wider and greater experiences. The all-important thing is: “Do your Duty (Dharma)”. One’s first duty is to one’s family and all the other things that we can do for the world come after that. If you can work for these other things after your duty to your family, then go ahead and do what you can. But remember this, when you go home, and you see your family around you, you have been associated with them not once but dozens, maybe hundreds of times in the past in other lives. If you think about it closely, you soon realise that your family members have mostly got on well together in past lives and there is the genuine basis of true love between them. But it isn’t only love that brings people together from one life to another, but sometimes the polar opposite - hatred. People who dislike one another have eventually got to learn to get along with one another because humanity is a real brotherhood.

 

The end result of studying, understanding, and applying Theosophy in one’s life is the application of ethics as a real basis of daily living. What does this mean to people in the ‘rough and tumble’ of the business world? In the most practical manner, don’t mislead other people, in contracts, or in selling them things they don’t want, or doing things for them which might lead them up ‘the wrong path’. Rather, be honourable with them and try to help them if you can. If you can’t help, then say so and be finished with it! But try and do your best under any circumstances whatever, and the end result is that you might not make a pile of money, but do you really want to be ‘the richest man in the graveyard’ anyway?! Rather, by building the habit of doing the right thing in your daily life, you build a whole atmosphere around yourself of ‘contentment’. In that attitude of ‘contentment’, which is not necessarily synonymous with ‘happiness’ as commonly defined; with such an attitude of inner contentment knowing that you have done, or at least, tried to do the right thing, you can face any problem, any difficulty in life, and see it through. – by Clive Bellgrove, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

This is a short extract from a lecture by Clive Bellgrove to a group of young businessmen: ‘What is Theosophy?’ The full lecture is on the Theosophy Downunder website at:

http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-lectures/what-is-theosophy-by-clive-bellgrove/

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Please write with your ideas on theosophy or any related subject to the Editor at the address below. Two of our readers were moved to write to us having read articles on ‘Happiness’ in the December 2011 issue of our newsletter:

 

Another Perspective on Happiness from Charles Reither: “…Happiness is one of the pairs of opposites that constitutes the primary reason which inhibits our spiritual development and progress.  We must learn to balance the pairs of opposites, i.e. heat/cold, pleasure/pain, happiness/unhappiness, and etc... For example, if we respond emotionally to happiness, then we will be affected to the same degree with unhappiness.  The balancing of the 'pairs of opposites' constitutes the primary work of the aspirant/disciple in overcoming the control of the Desire Mind.  We must strive to reach that state where our emotions, with respect to any of the pairs of opposites, do not unduly affect our mental equilibrium. Because these uncontrolled opposites constitute the grey matter of the astral body, preventing the light of our higher nature from manifesting on the physical plane.

 

Many aspirants think that this form of detachment and/or impersonality, constitutes a withdrawal of the emotions, but this is not the case.  There are three levels of emotions - Pure Emotions which respond to mass thought; Subjective Emotions referred to as the pairs of opposites; and Altruistic Emotions which accommodates issues such as compassion.  We should be striving to attain the latter…”   [This is described in detail on Page 324 – 326 of Charles Reither’s book, From Religion to Spirituality, available from our Melbourne library – Ed]. Charles Reither, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

 

The Recipe for Sweet Happiness from Sotoria Galanopoulou: “...I was reading the articles about Happiness in the last issue of Theosophy Downunder, and I remembered the recipe my grandmother gave to all her grandchildren just before she died. She was a school teacher, a very religious person, very humble, and always with the smile on her face. She really cared for people, poor, prisoners, unhappy, children etc. I remember her giving things and time to people she knew had serious problems. Many times she left food or something else people needed outside of their door and no-one knew who did it. She used also to do the same thing with prisoners including giving them many books. She taught me to love reading as the gifts she gave me were invariably books. She gave me my first fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen,Thumbelina, which is still one of my favorite books. My grandmother Maria got cancer and passed away in January 1977 at the age of 75, and her recipe for Sweet Happiness was the legacy she left to all of us:

 

Ingredients: A pound of simple heart; Two pounds of tranquil conscience; A pound of happy face; A pound of love; Two cups of laughter; Three spoons of countryside.

Method: Put your inner world into the pot, tranquil conscience and simple heart. Beat thoroughly to fill the pot. Then add sweet love and you will get a nice red color. Then add a smiley face and laughter. At the time you mix the ingredients, be aware of the ingredients because a simple frown can spoil the cake. Add now the countryside. Put the cake in the pan of your soul, blend with the spoon of spiritual will, and bake in the oven of patience. Before serving, sprinkle with trust in God. Those who tasted this sweet confess that the main characteristic taste was of happiness and tranquility…”
- Sotoria Galanopoulou, Athens, Greece.

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 : andrewrooke@hotmail.com World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/ 

Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb

THE FOUR AIMS OF LIFE: THE ‘PURUSARTHAS’ - Koshish Karunga

 

At some time in life we all ask ourselves and other people some big questions: ‘Why am I here’, ‘What’s it all about?’ ‘How can I best live my life?’ These are eternal questions, and all the great religions and philosophies of the world have addressed themselves to them at some stage throughout history. The answers they have given have often determined the way millions of people have lived out their lives.

These questions are especially important for people on the spiritual quest as we seek to reorientate our lives to more consciously to live sincerely in harmony with our chosen religion or philosophy.

 

Sometimes at the beginning of our commitment to the spiritual quest, we become exaggerated in our promises to ourselves and others about what we can do. We make great promises about saving the world, giving away all our possessions to the poor, being kind and loving to everyone we meet. But it often turns out that other lesser well-intentioned people see all these promises as signs of our weakness, and they proceed to walk all over us and our fine intentions! So how are we to handle these very real problems of human life and challenges for sincere pilgrims on the spiritual path?

 

Let’s have a quick look at what Hinduism says about the aims of existence. The ancient religion of Hinduism has had vast ages to refine its understanding of all possible shades of human experience in relation to the spiritual quest. It always advocates a common-sense and balanced approach to life based on a realistic view of the different stages of life. Hinduism recognizes four stages of life: the Student Stage (Brahmacharya), the Householder Stage (Grihasta), Retirement (Vanaprastha), and Renunciation of material life in old age (Sannyasa). Most people are in the ‘Householder’ stage throughout the whole of their adult lives. Most of us are rushing around trying to make a living, raise a family, trying to find Mr or Ms ‘Right’, to sustain personal relationships, and pay off mortgages, so many of the ideals of the spiritual life seem to be difficult/impossible for ordinary people to uphold.

 

Hinduism recognizes this and says that there are four aims of human existence it calls the ‘Purusarthas’ and at various times in our lives one or other of them is more important to us, but we should strive for a balance whilst living our stressful lives in the world as it is.

The four aims of life in Hinduism are:

 

  • Dharma: religious, social and/or moral righteousness, both spiritual and ritual.
  • Artha: material and/or financial prosperity as well as the pursuit of meaning.
  • Kama: material pleasure and desire.
  • Moksha: spiritual liberation or renunciation as well as detachment.

 

It is our duty to try and establish a proper and sensible balance between these four principle aims of life as we busy about the daily business of making our way in the world.

 

This can be complicated when we reach the stage of consciously searching on the spiritual path. For example, many people allow others to exploit them thinking that they must give up on the demands of material life and self-preservation because of their understanding of their religion. Hinduism says ‘no’, it is your duty not to forget about ‘artha’ or material welfare. If we give up on looking after ourselves and our families then we become someone else’s problem. We should maintain a constant eye to the ideal of human spiritual evolution, do what we can within our life situation to assist humanity’s progress forward on the spiritual path, but always remember to be sensible and balanced about how we seek to deal with the evils afflicting humanity. In this way we can more realistically and sustainably contribute to positive efforts to alleviate the causes of suffering in the world. The time will come, perhaps far off in the future for most of us, to experience ‘Moksha’ or spiritual liberation, but not until we have helped others deal with the many problems that now face most of us living in this hectic world.

 

Consideration of the Hindu approach to the aims of life puts me in mind of what the great theosophist HP Blavatsky once said about the three most important requirements of a theosophist on the spiritual path. She said: First, Common-Sense, second, a Sense of Humour, and thirdly, more Common-Sense!” – Koshish Karunga, Melbourne, Victoria.

 

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen.