Newsletter of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Australasian Section
No: 104 August 2011
Wilpena Pound, Flinders Ranges, South Australia
Who Do You Think You Are? – Andrew Rooke.
Does the Theosophical Society Actually Do Anything? – Some comments from Grace F Knoche on the Purpose of the Mystery Schools.
Character Building – Nivard Vas.
The Gayatri Mantra – Koshish Karunga.
Book Reviews: The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement, by Jean M.
Twenge and W. Keith Campbell.
Occult Glossary, by G de Purucker, 2nd revised ed.
Dhammapada: wisdom of the Buddha, translated by Harischandra
A Tale of Two Seas – John Dorre.
Poetry Corner: An Unexpected Path to Spirit – Anne Hillman.
Two Travelling Angels.
WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?
The famous British comedian, Peter Cook, (of Peter Cook and Dudley Moore fame) used to own a restaurant in London in the closing days of his career on the stage. Everyone who was ‘anybody’ would vie with each other to be seen at his ‘Establishment Club’. So it happened one evening that a well-known celebrity turned up at Peter Cook’s restaurant for dinner without a booking. This did not stop this rather pompous individual from arguing with the head waiter that he should be given a table even without a booking. “Don’t you know who I am?” the frustrated celebrity shouted at the waiter demanding entrance. Peter Cook calmly walked up to the man and said: “Anyone who does not even know who he is cannot come in here!” It set me thinking, how many of us could answer that question – Who do you think you are?
The Establishment Club: London
Theosophy tells us that the key to answering this perplexing problem lies in the study of our true nature and our relation to the universe. It arises from the fact that we are composite entities -- and we should meditate upon what this means in its fullness. Picture the universe as a babbling mountain stream, swirling with millions of tiny eddies and whirlpools as it cascades on its way down the side of a mountain. Then picture men and women as the tiny whirlpools in the stream: individuals, yet integral parts of the stream, made up of its every level, from the muddy stream bed, through the murky waters, to the clear sunlight on the surface. Truly each of us is like a whirlpool of energies drawn from every one of the seven fundamental types of substance-consciousness of the manifest universe. Each is a combination of these seven planes or principles into which the manifest universe may be divided, from the clear sunlight of our spiritual being to the murky stream bed of our physical and astral levels, and every shade of consciousness in between. It is no surprise, then, that, like the man demanding entrance to Peter Cook’s restaurant, we can transit rapidly between these different levels of ourselves according to where we choose to concentrate our energies at any particular moment.
Theosophy pictures the inner constitution of man as follows:
ATMAN: Divine essence.
BUDDHI: Compassionate spiritual nature.
MANAS: Mind principle.
KAMA: Desire principle.
LINGA-SARIRA: Astral double.
STHULA-SARIRA: Physical body.
Let's look very briefly at each principle in turn, starting with the spiritual aspects of our being, the higher triad of atman, buddhi, and the higher aspect of manas:
ATMAN: means "self" in Sanskrit. Every being, no matter how small, is a self derived from the universal self as a flame is derived from a fire or a droplet from the ocean. It is our sense of existence, the "I am" at the heart of us, which is universal. Unlike the ego or mind from which we derive the sense of "I am I," different in every person, the atmic sense of pure selfhood, of being alive and active, is the same in all beings, human or otherwise. Understanding this basic universal selfhood leads to the realization of true spiritual brotherhood and develops all our highest (because spiritual) powers.
BUDDHI: from the Sanskrit root buddh, "to awaken"; hence the word buddha, "the awakened one." It is the first vehicle by which pure spirit "steps down" its energies to the physical plane. It acts to awaken us to our true nature and our responsibilities to a suffering world, manifesting as understanding, judgment, and discrimination. From our human standpoint it is a universal principle, the organ of impersonal love for all creatures, which is divine. This love is expressed by the "awakened ones" who have attained buddhic consciousness and come back to help mankind reach its full potential: Buddha, Christ, Zoroaster, Quetzalcoatl, and the highest teachers of other world religions.
MANAS: means "mind." A supremely important fact for us now is that manas is dual, with its higher aspect linked with buddhi and thus forming the higher immortal triad, and the lower attracted to the principle of desire or kama, forming the personality or everyday self. It is our duty and destiny to raise the lower mind to union with the higher. All our highest thoughts and actions -- compassion, self-forgetfulness, and aspiration -- are those which more rapidly aid us in achieving this spiritual goal. The riddle of the Sphinx is answered in the conquest of animal nature - the lion’s body - by the truly human nature - the human head of the Sphinx, staring stoically across the desert, calling us on to our spiritual destiny.
Much of the foregoing grouping may seem remote from our daily lives and from modern psychology, but the lower quaternary of kama, prana, linga-sarira, and sthula-sarira is more familiar territory:
KAMA: means "desire," the driving force in the human constitution, neither good nor bad. It is the seat of living electric impulses, desires, and aspirations considered in their energetic aspect. We are all painfully familiar with the lower aspects of kama that adorn our newspapers and entertainment. Most of humanity centres its consciousness in the lower manas and uses the powers of kama for selfish motives. By turning kama in this direction, we inevitably create disharmonies based on separateness and incur the suffering we see everywhere. Compare what we know of desire with the desires of Christ and Buddha in their compassionate self-dedication to a better world.
PRANA: meaning "life principle" or vitality is the ocean of universal energy in which we exist, keeping our astral and physical bodies alive during life on earth. We all have a certain grant or portion of this life force given us at the beginning of each lifetime to sustain us and, strangely enough, death is caused principally by the prolonged wearing down of the physical organism by the streams of pranic energy flowing through it.
LINGA-SARIRA: the "model-body" upon which the physical body is formed. This astral body, which we hear so much about, is a mould of near-physical matter into which the atoms of the physical body are built and energized throughout life by prana. Though most people have not developed the capacity to see the astral body, some clairvoyants can perceive its luminous, ever-shifting coils. Like all the cosmic planes, the astral light is sevenfold in nature. Therefore, because someone can see auras or hear astral music doesn't necessarily mean they are highly evolved spiritually. In fact, it is a blessing for most of us that the physical body generally shields us from consciousness of the astral world. This condition will continue until we have developed, through lifetimes of testing, our ethical strength and clear inner sight to the point that an awareness of the astral world and its wonders can be properly and safely appreciated. Imagine, for example, what it would be like to read in their auras others' secret thoughts or state of mental and physical health if we did not have sufficient self-control to make compassionate use -- or no use -- of this knowledge.
STHULA-SARIRA: means "gross body," the word sarira also meaning "foam-like" or "easily dissolved." This is the much maligned physical body, which is like a spacesuit for the higher consciousness, enabling it to act in the lower material worlds. Through it we can function as a complete entity across the entire seven planes of the manifest universe. We have the opportunity during earth-life to learn and progress in a way that is not possible when living solely in our spiritual nature. For this reason highly spiritual beings like Buddha and Christ find enlightenment while in their physical bodies before teaching and guiding others. The physical body is composed of myriads of lesser lives -- cells and atoms -- whose evolution is greatly accelerated by being associated with us, for we are like gods to them. Finally, because the physical body is the offspring of the universe, it gives us the key to the workings of the cosmos. "As above, so below," the old Hermetic sages said. The use of this law of analogy -- in the action of the nervous system, the circulation of the blood, the structure of the cells, and many other facets -- provides a wonderful tool for understanding deeper teachings regarding the structure and operation of invisible causal worlds. To many the body is a gross drag upon spiritual experience, but in fact, when controlled and intelligently used, the body has its own part to play in the drama of evolution.
Considering our composite nature, we can appreciate what the ancient Greeks meant when they carved on their temples "Know Thyself." As a child of the universe, made up of all its planes of being, we each are a key to the universe itself. We begin to understand that universal brotherhood is not a platitude, but a fact in nature. We can realize the importance of centring our consciousness in the higher aspects of our composite nature in helping ourselves and others develop spiritually, for "as a man thinketh in his heart, so is he."
In the TV news every night, we can see the problems that focusing our awareness in the lowest aspects of kama-manas has brought to the world. The wrongful centring of thoughts may also cause disjunctions between the various aspects of our composite nature, leading to some types of mental illnesses. We can begin to appreciate the true mission of religion -- from the Latin word religio, meaning ‘to bring back together that which once was one’ -- as a real mission in life and not just empty ritual. We can do our bit, each in our own separate ways, to attack the causes of suffering by shifting the centre of our consciousness to the far-seeing and compassionate side of human nature, which is the only way to bring enduring peace and harmony to a troubled world. – Andrew Rooke, Melbourne, Victoria.
HP Blavatsky, principle founder of the Theosophical Society, was once asked: “What are the most important things necessary for the study of Theosophy?” She answered, firstly common sense, secondly, a sense of humour, and thirdly, more common sense!
Meetings in Melbourne: August-December 2011: 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. August 6th, 2.30pm: Plato’s Ethics: the Elephant in the Room – Don Shepherd.
Sat. September 3rd, 2.30pm: How ‘Natural’ are Natural Disasters? – Paul Rooke, Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen.
Sat. October 1st, 2.30pm: Why Does the Search for Happiness Cause Suffering? – Stefan Carey.
Sat. November 5th, 2.30pm: Pompeii and Herculaneum: a slide show and discussion of these ancient Roman cities – Jennifer Pignataro.
Sat. December 3rd, 2.30pm: Trinity and Tri-Unity in the Spiritual Worlds – Roza and Margarita Riaikkenen.
University of the Third Age (U3A) classes at our Centre in Melbourne: classes 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... Classes run from July throughout the year on Wednesday mornings from 10.30-12.30 at our Library Centre in Caulfield, Melbourne. Further information is available from Tony Downey on 0400942613.
New on Theosophy Downunder website: New lectures added to our website include: Nivard Vas: Where do we get our characters from?; Jennifer Pignataro: Applying eternal wisdom to the problems of daily life. New in the series, ‘Questions We All Ask’: Questions on Swabhava, by Don Shepherd. Theosophy Downunder website can be found at: http://theosophydownunder.org/
New in the Melbourne Library: Books: Norman Beazly: Mary Baker Eddy: a biography (1963) and also several other books about her by Robert Peel; Bruce and Andrea Leininger: Soul survivor: the reincarnation of a WWII fighter pilot (2009); Stevenson, I: Reincarnation: European cases of the European type (2003); Tucker, JB: Life before life: a scientific investigation of children’s’ memories of previous lives (2005); Thomas, NL: Stonehenge: sacred symbolism: a 6,000 year journey through Britain and Ireland (2007); Tsong Kha Pa: Great Treatise on the Stages on the Path to Enlightenment: 3 volumes (2005) Children’s’ Book – Hirst, R and S: My place in space (1988). DVDs: Brian Cox: Wonders of the Universe; Beyond 2012.
An old friend had some good advice when arguments came up. He would say that there is never a clear-cut answer to most questions. He would say: “The answer is always ‘Yes’ and ‘No’. Even a broken clock tells the right time twice a day!”
DOES THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING?
Some comments on the purpose of the Mystery Schools by Grace F. Knoche.
Many people at our meetings in Melbourne ask questions about the history and purpose of our Theosophical Society. One of the enduring questions is: “You say that the Theosophical Society stands for Universal Brotherhood, Compassion, and for better understanding amongst all peoples, but what are you actually doing about it? The Salvation Army and Greenpeace stand for similar ideals, but it is clear that they are very active in the community. Does the Theosophical Society actually do anything?”
Theosophical teachers tell us that the Theosophical Society is the outer manifestation, or ‘Kindergarten’ if you like, of the ancient ‘Mystery Schools’. Such schools teach suitable candidates the mysteries of the cosmos and human nature, and of the inner communion of man and universal nature. The Mysteries are divided into the Greater and Lesser Mysteries with the Greater being only communicable by direct experience and revelation, so little can be publicly available about what occurs there outside those who are inwardly qualified to receive such instruction. The Lesser Mysteries included dramatic and symbolic representations of these truths, and instruction in the sciences, philosophy, and the humanities suitable for the public generally. There were times in the past when the Mysteries were active in the outer world, such as at various eras of ancient Egypt and Greece, and times, such as the present, when they are outwardly quiet but continue to teach ‘in the silence’.
What then was, and is, the continuing purpose of the Mystery Schools and therefore the ‘raison d’etre’ of our Theosophical Society today and into the future? Former Leader of our TS, Grace Knoche, comments:
“…With enduring consistency the ongoing purpose of the Mysteries has remained threefold in character:
(1) the persistent spiritualization of the thought-life of humanity so that knowledge of things spiritual may penetrate into the heart, and life in time may become a benediction of peace instead of a tragedy of conflict;
(2) seeding grounds of adepts, nurseries for future recruits, who through trial and initiation may become fit to receive the supreme dignity of membership in the great Brotherhood;
(3) the preservation of truth for future races unsullied by human hand; and the polishing of the knowledge of truth through investigation by trained seers of the secrets of nature in worlds visible and invisible.
Columns at the Temple of Apollo now in ruins at Delphi, Greece, which was one of the Mystery Schools of the ancient Mediterranean world.
The first of these aims is fulfilled by the periodic appearance of world teachers, the inspirers of what later became the great religious and philosophical schools: messengers from the Lodge who come forth at cyclic periods to strike anew the "Keynote of Truth." Hence every great religion, every noble philosophy, every fundamental scientific insight was born from the Sanctuary, to become a new religion, a new philosophy, a new science: fresh and new for the age and the people, but ancient beyond time because nurtured in the womb of esoteric antiquity.
All that is good, noble, and grand in human nature, every divine faculty and aspiration, were cultured by the Priest-Philosophers who sought to develop them in their Initiates. Their code of ethics, based on altruism, has become universal. -- "The Origin of the Mysteries," Blavatsky Collected Writings 14:256
The second of these aims is ages-long in accomplishment and deeply occult: to rouse the hidden fire of divinity in the human soul, and through the kindling of that flame burn the dross of imperfection, sloth, and unworthy desire from the heart. One of the impelling aims of such discipline is to restore to humanity inner sight, to free people "from every danger of being enslaved whether by a man or an idea" (Blavatsky Collected Writings 14:251; see also Mahatma Letters, pp. 40-1).
The disciple must become vajradhara ("diamond-bearer"), a title used for Bodhisattva Gautama, whose many-faceted heart was ever merciful in reflecting human sorrow, but whose spiritual essence was like a diamond, unyielding at its core to the subtle disguise of illusion (maya).
The third of these aims is made possible through the selection of new recruits into the Brotherhood, so that (a) truth may be preserved untarnished by human selfishness; and (b) investigation into the arcana of nature may go on unhindered, and the results of such examination by generations of trained seers be checked and rechecked, and only then recorded as occult fact for the benefit of humanity.
Want to read more? Check out Grace F. Knoche’s book ‘The Mystery Schools’ available free online at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/mysterys/mystsch1.htm
I mourn the loss of thousands of precious lives, but I will not rejoice in the death of one, not even an enemy. "Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
‘Know Thyself’: Greek inscription originally above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, Greece.
Modern men are always producing or achieving something of material value that can be measured by the outward senses and passions. These lead them away from their inner selves. They need to learn to develop their minds and discover their souls and consciousness; these are the only things that they can take with them when they die. As the old saying goes, "Shrouds have no pockets." It is not an easy thing to change our habits of character. Only by daily practise can we learn to develop our minds. The importance in character building is the need for a sound foundation that can support the mighty structure of the enlightened mind. Thoughts and ideas are energies. If we use them for evil ends we will only end up by destroying ourselves.
What do we mean by "Man know thyself"? Are we our physical bodies that constantly change as we grow older? Or, are we our minds that keep being led astray by thoughts, emotions and ideas? Can we learn to treat triumph and disaster just the same? By learning to know ourselves, we find that we can't be our physical bodies. These change constantly and then die after growing old, for most of us. I was recently at a burial service of a beloved old lady. It was very clear to me that she was no longer in her body. Her consciousness had left the body that she was so concerned about during her lifetime. This means that we cannot be just the physical bodies that we spend so much time trying to make comfortable during our lifetimes.
When we learn to treat the good and bad things that happen to us in life equally, we begin to lay down a solid foundation to build our characters. The mind is a powerful instrument. We have to use it to get rid of unwanted habits of thoughts and deeds, and replace them by virtuous behaviour. Man is a composite being, formed out body, mind and spirit. He is essentially a centre of creative consciousness. Therefore man is basically Mind. He is not yet highly evolved because of too much attachment to emotions and desires. Above the mind there we find a centre of spiritual intuition, a direct perception for Truth. In this centre we find wisdom, sympathy and compassion. Higher than this we find the Divine Self a spark of Cosmic Divinity.
By focusing on essentials we can learn more about ourselves. For example food and dress are of little importance when we work on spiritual improvement. Although eating healthy food is important. We should learn to cultivate a sense of humour. Try to laugh at ourselves even at our attempts at self-improvement. This way we become less self-deluded at our progress. By developing this mental attitude we become more charitable. We should avoid focusing on our inadequacies. These are a trap because they encourage us to keep feeding them. They will die out when we stop refuelling them.
In the Dhammapada, a Buddhist book of the right path in life we find that, “Hatred ceases not by hatred, hatred cease by love.” Looking at it scientifically, hatred is accumulated energy. As we said earlier, according to scientific discoveries, energy cannot just disappear. It must be transformed to other forms or modes of motion. To control our lower passions we have to lead them to higher goals. Thus love for something vulgar can be transformed by love for something higher.
What method we use is of little importance. The method must always be secondary to the goal. All religions and scriptures as well as schools of self-development are only methods. They are subject to the law of change. They are born, they grow up, they grow old and they die. Truth is our goal. It alone is constant. The methods are only pointers towards Truth. We should use the methods as tools. Like a craftsman uses different tools to create a masterpiece. When they have served their purpose they should be put away. Religions and self-development philosophies point the way. We alone have to walk the path. Enlightenment should come from within. Only we can work out our own salvation. No genuine teacher will allow his followers to worship him. A true teacher has a deep and genuine humility, and a profound will to serve humanity.
As the Master K.H., who was behind the foundation of the Theosophical Society, says in his letter to A. P. Sinnett: “The first and last consideration is whether we can do good to our neighbour, no matter how humble he may be; we do not permit ourselves even to think of the danger of any contumely, abuse or injustice visited upon ourselves. We are ready to be spat upon and crucified — not once — if real good to another can come of it”.
There is wisdom in the world, wisdom that is not apparent to the eyes of men. There is a secret path that leads to that wisdom. It starts in the very root of your own heart. There is a secret method of living which provides the necessary conditions for treading that path. It enables man to reach that hidden wisdom and make it his own. These three: the hidden wisdom to be attained, the path which leads to it, and the method of living — these are the main keynotes of the message of theosophy to the world.
Taking one more look at science. Everything that is alive lives in something greater than itself. Everything that is, is comprised of an infinite number of beings that are on lower scale than itself. The electron, one of the smallest things that we know of, lives and has its consciousness in an atom. An atom lives and has its consciousness in a molecule. A molecule lives and has its consciousness within the cells of our bodies. So do we live and exist, have our consciousness in a greater being — the Earth. The Earth is part of our Solar System. Our Solar System is a part of our universe or Milky Way. Our Milky Way is a part of our Local Group of about 30 galaxies similar to our own, and so on, and on. Everything, having its own inherent character or ‘swabhava’, is ultimately formed by itself. This transcends the boundaries of our imagination and the limited powers of the human mind. The Absolute is beyond all comprehension. Be humble and you will remain whole.
Theosophy has three fundamental propositions:
First: The unity of all life — the oneness of being — the essential unity of all that lives in the boundless universe.
Second: The divine origin and destiny of man — the divine nature of his consciousness.
Third: The path to knowledge and wisdom is through the union of the human consciousness with the divine consciousness at the heart of man himself.
Our characters are amazing when you come to think of it. They are unique, just like our DNA and yet united to the Oneness of all in the Universe. The future and the way we are do not come up from before to meet us; it comes streaming up from behind over our heads. We have an eternity before us. Theosophy teaches a doctrine of hope, with great promises for the future. At every instant in time we have a new choice. In the past we made ourselves to be what we are now. So now we have the opportunity of vision. We can make ourselves to be what we want in the future. We are a reproduction, a cyclic evolutionary reproduction of ourselves. We come from the past, live in the present, and are marching into the future. There is our destiny – Nivard Vas, Netherlands.
The complete version of Nivard’s article ‘Where do we get our characters from?’ is available on our website at: http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-lectures/where-do-we-get-our-characters-from-by-nivard-vas/
Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of the mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and pass by themselves without wondering – Saint Augustine.
Brussels chosen for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014: Brussels - the capital of the Belgians and of 500,000,000 Europeans - has been chosen as the host city of the Parliament of the World’s Religions in 2014. More than 10,000 people from diverse religious, spiritual and convictional traditions will participate in the 2014 Parliament, which will last for 7 days and will comprise more than 500 programs, workshops and dialogues, alongside music, dance, artistic exhibitions and related events hosted by religious communities and cultural institutions. Since the historic 1893 World’s Parliament of Religions was held in Chicago, modern Parliaments have been held in Chicago (1993), Cape Town (1999), Barcelona (2004) and Melbourne (2009). These periodic Parliament events are the world’s oldest and largest inter-religious gatherings.
News from Nigeria: our friends of the Nigerian Section of our Society have just published the first issue of their newsletter, Nigerian TS Contact, with many interesting articles including: The snail and Mt Fuji, Allegory in Igbo myth, and Man’s eternal pilgrimage. A copy is in our Melbourne library or copies can be sent by email to those interested. Congratulations to Coordinator of the Nigerian Section, Igwe Amakulo, and our companions in Nigeria on the production of this new publication from our TS. We look forward to many issues into the future.
HP Blavatsky’s, The Secret Doctrine, lectures online: H.P. Blavatsky's Secret Doctrine is one of the great monuments of modern esotericism. But its 1500 pages can prove daunting. Michael Gomes, whose new abridgement was published by Penguin in 2009 (3 copies are available from our Melbourne library), uses it as a guide through the concepts offered in the book. These two videoed lectures look at the events that shaped the book, presuppositions needed for an understanding of the text, and the methodology that will allow the reader to experience the Secret Doctrine first-hand:
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
You must not lose faith in Humanity. Humanity is like an ocean; if a few drops of ocean are dirty, the ocean does not become dirty – Mahatma Gandhi.
THE GAYATRI MANTRA
The Gayatri mantra or hymn is a verse from the ancient Hindu book, the Rig Veda (III, 62,10). Millions of Hindus say this prayer at least three times every day as it inspires righteous wisdom and its chanting creates specific energies which lead us to greater awareness of our Inner Divinity. Specifically the hymn is to the ‘hidden’ Sun representing the compassionate life-giving forces sustaining our solar system. In the ancient Indian Sanskrit language the Gayatri is chanted like this:
Om bhurbhuvah swah tatsaviturvarenyam bhargo devasya dhimahi dhiyo yo nah prachodayat
Have a listen to it chanted in Sanskrit at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nDnamSM3Z3s
The Sun: source of life in our Solar System
Translated into English the Gayatri is paraphrased as:
O Thou who givest sustenance to the Universe, from whom all proceed, to whom
all must return,
That face of the true sun now hidden by a vase of golden light,
That we may see the truth and do our whole duty on our journey to thy sacred seat.”
But, why have a prayer to the sun, and why to the ‘hidden’ sun?
Ancient peoples around the world revered the sun as the living heart and benign ruler of its family of planets and their myriad lives including humanity. Modern scientific discoveries and theorems speak of forces and wonders befitting the glorious raiments of a solar divinity. In the 21st century most scientists believe the sun to be a self-sustaining nuclear furnace powered by the fusion of hydrogen atoms into helium exactly balanced by the compression of the sun's mass due to gravity. Changes in the sun's magnetic field over 11 and 22-year cycles are believed to create sunspots: gigantic rents or openings through which solar flares arc thousands of miles into space. Many stars, including our sun, pulsate like huge bells, each ringing its own keynote in the "music of the spheres."
In Hinduism and Theosophy the Sun is understood to be a self-sustaining energy source for the visible and invisible kingdoms that teem within its domain. It is at once the living heart and brain of its kingdom, beating in an 11-year cycle, issuing streams of life force through the sunspots via its circulatory system. Confirming ancient myths, theosophy restates that the visible sun is but the reflection of a bright celestial entity or god. This solar divinity pours forth its life forces from the inner planes of its being, sustaining and providing an arena of experience for myriads of evolving entities over vast periods of time. This sacred truth was beautifully epitomized by the bards of ancient India in their Invocation to the Sun, the Gayatri.
Our Higher Self is of the same essence as the Inner Sun, so by saying the Gayatri we remember both the compassionate essence of the Sun and its reflection in ourselves. In this way it can help elevate our thoughts and act as a kind of protection amidst the stresses and ‘downward’ attractions of daily life. The Gayatri is also a potent form of ‘psychic’ self-defence when we feel under attack from others of ill-intent as it can place our thoughts on a higher plane and at a higher vibration than low thoughts of desire, harm, and revenge. Similarly any great and beautiful prayer, such as the ‘Lord’s Prayer’ from the Christian Bible, can have the same beneficial effect. Try remembering the spirit of the words each day as it really helps to put your consciousness at a higher level, even though we may be distracted by the hectic pace of modern life.
Another theosophical translation of the Gayatri which is a bit easier to remember:
“Oh thou golden sun of most excellent splendour, illumine our hearts and fill our minds, so that we, recognising our oneness with the Divinity which is the heart of the universe, may see the pathway before our feet, and tread it to those distant goals of perfection, stimulated by thine own radiant light.” – Koshish Karunga, Melbourne, Victoria.
The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement by Jean M. Twenge and W. Keith Campbell. Free Press, 2009.
In an interesting new book from the USA, cultural psychologists comment on the increasing trend amongst young people to complete self-centredness, or ‘Narcissism’. In The Narcissism Epidemic: Living in the Age of Entitlement (2009) the authors distinguish between self-esteem and narcissism, drawing on scientific research, but focusing on narcissistic personality traits “among the normal population” and cultural narcissism that goes deep into social values. The scourge of widespread selfish behaviour has affected us all—witnesses the Global Financial Crisis with its overblown sense of materialism and entitlement. The authors argue that the Western world, including Australia, needs to recognize this social ‘epidemic’ amongst young people and its negative consequences, and take corrective action. Individuals can start by practicing gratitude, and parents can teach their children friendship skills, with the emphasis on others rather than self. Theosophy always encourages us to live outside of our selfish concerns and that family life is an incredibly important responsibility. Katherine Tingley, former Leader of our TS, particularly emphasized the family aspect of theosophy in her books, and warned of the dire social consequences of ignoring the spiritual aspects of parenting which are now documented in this new book on the ‘Narcissism Epidemic’ currently sweeping the US and Australia.
Occult Glossary: a compendium of oriental and theosophical terms, by G de Purucker. 2nd and revised edition. Theosophical University Press, 1996.
Every branch of study has its special terminology, and theosophy is no exception. Originally published in London in 1933, this Glossary defines some 300 terms most frequently found in the field of metaphysics and explains them in the light of theosophy. An invaluable textbook for the student, the Occult Glossary is a succinct and reliable aid in discerning the occult or "hidden" meaning of many Sanskrit, Greek, and technical terms used in theosophical literature. The Occult Glossary is the condensed version of G de Purucker’s Encyclopedic Theosophical Glossary available online only at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/etgloss/etg-hp.htm
Dhammapada: wisdom of the Buddha, translated by Harischandra Kaviratna. Theosophical University Press, 1980.
The Dhammapada, long perpetuated through oral tradition, is a synthesis of the Buddha's ethical teachings. The present English translation by the noted Sinhalese pandit, Harischandra Kaviratna, with the original Pali text (in roman script) on facing pages, was produced after comparison with Sanskrit, Burmese, and Chinese versions. A glossary of Pali philosophical terms with Sanskrit equivalents and English definitions is included. In his introduction, Dr. Kaviratna discusses the history of the Dhammapada and its place in the Buddhist canon together with its relation to the Vedas and Brahmanical literature.
A TALE OF TWO SEAS
Sitting in the geography class at school, I remember how fascinated I was when we were being taught all about the Dead Sea in Israel. As you probably recall, the Dead Sea is really a lake, not a seat all! It is so high in salt content that the human body can float in it quite easily. You can almost lie down in the water and read a book! The salt content of the Dead Sea is as high as 35% - almost 10 times the amount of normal sea water. And all that saltiness has meant that there is no life at all in the Dead Sea. No fish. No vegetation. No sea creatures. Nothing lives in the Dead Sea. Hence the name: Dead Sea. The salt-encrusted shores of The Dead Sea, Israel
Whilst the Dead Sea has remained etched in my memory, I don’t seem to recall learning about the Sea of Galilee in my school geography lesson. So when I heard about the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea, and the tale of the two seas – I was intrigued.
As it turns out, the Sea of Galilee is just north of the Dead Sea. Both the Sea of Galilee and the Dead Sea receive their water from the River Jordan. And yet they are different, very, very different. Unlike the Dead Sea, the Sea of Galilee is pretty, resplendent with rich, colourful marine life. There are lots of plants and fish too. In fact, the Sea of Galilee is home to over 20 types of fish.
Same region, same source of water, and yet whilst one sea is full of life, the other one is ‘dead’. How come?
The River Jordan flows into the Sea of Galilee and then flows out. The water simply passes through and then out – and that keeps the Sea healthy and vibrant, teeming with marine life. But the Dead Sea is so far below the mean sea level, that it has no outlet. The water flows in from the River Jordan, but does not flow out. There are no outlet streams. It is estimated that over 7 million tons of water evaporate every day from the Dead Sea. Leaving it salty, too full of minerals, and unfit for any marine life. The Dead Sea takes water from the River Jordan, and holds it. It does not give. Result? No Life at all. Think about it.
The living landscape of the Sea of Galilee, Israel
Life is not just about getting. It’s about giving. We all need to be a bit like the Sea of Galilee. We are fortunate to get wealth, Knowledge, Love and Respect. But if we don’t learn to give, we could all end up like the Dead Sea. The love and the respect, the wealth and the knowledge could all evaporate. Like the water in the Dead Sea. If we get the Dead Sea mentality of merely taking in more water, more money, more everything, the results can be disastrous. Good idea then to make sure that in the sea of your own life, you have outlets. Many outlets, for love and wealth – and everything else that you get in your life.
Make sure that you don’t just get, you give too. – kindly sent to us by John Dorre, 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
We look with uncertainty
Beyond the old choices for
To a softer, more permeable aliveness
Which is every moment
At the brink of death;
For something new is being born in us
If we but let it.
We stand at a new doorway,
Awaiting that which comes…
Daring to be human creatures.
Vulnerable to the beauty of existence.
Learning to love.
Two traveling angels stopped to spend the night in the home of a wealthy family. The family was rude and refused to let the angels stay in the mansion's guest room.
Instead the angels were given a small space in the cold basement. As they made their bed on the hard floor, the older angel saw a hole in the wall and repaired it.
When the younger angel asked why, the older angel replied, 'Things aren't always what they seem.' The next night the pair came to rest at the house of a very poor, but very hospitable farmer and his wife.
After sharing what little food they had the couple let the angels sleep in their bed where they could have a good night's rest. When the sun came up the next morning the angels found the farmer and his wife in tears. Their only cow, whose milk had been their sole income, lay dead in the field...
The younger angel was infuriated and asked the older angel how could you have let this happen? The first man had everything, yet you helped him, she accused. The second family had little but was willing to share everything, and you let the cow die.
Things aren't always what they seem,' the older angel replied. 'When we stayed in the basement of the mansion, I noticed there was gold stored in that hole in the wall. Since the owner was so obsessed with greed and unwilling to share his good fortune, I sealed the wall so he wouldn't find it.'
'Then last night as we slept in the farmers bed, the angel of death came for his wife.
I gave him the cow instead. Things aren't always what they seem.'
Sometimes that is exactly what happens when things don't turn out the way they should. If you have faith, you just need to trust that every outcome is always to your advantage. You just might not know it until sometime later. – kindly sent by a friend of our work.