The Path of Compassion and the Work of the Theosophical Society.
Man’s Responsibility to the Animals – Bernard Parsons.
Special Report: The Essence of Buddhism:
Sacrifice, Suffering and Compassion – Sally Dougherty.
The Middle Way of Buddhism summarized – Frank Walter.
Life and Panpsychism – Heathclyff St. James Deville.
Book Reviews: The Little Book of the Soul – Ian Lawton.
Little Tyke: The True Story of a Gentle Vegetarian Lioness – Georges
The Deep: the Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss - Claire Nouvain.
From our Readers: Mini Bodhisattvas – Roza Riaikkenen.
Life after death: is it possible? – Paul Murchison.
From a distance – Andrew Rooke.
Echoes of the Orient Vol.1 second edition 2009 by William Quan Judge now available in Australia.
THE PATH OF COMPASSION AND THE WORK OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY
Theosophy and the work of our Theosophical Society especially has as its goal the development of individuals in the Path of Compassion or what the Mahayana Buddhists would call the Boddhisattva Ideal. This means essentially that we recognize from the outset in our studies of the fascinating teachings of theosophy that we are involved in this type of work for the good it can do for others unconcerned about our own spiritual development.
There are many schools of the ‘Pratyeka’ Path that teach various techniques whereby good and compassionate people can escape from the human condition and move on into the comparative bliss of the ‘Nirvana’ or the next stage of human spiritual development albeit ignoring the cries of the billions following on behind. The journey of the Path of Compassion starts with the first steps we make on the Path of learning spiritual knowledge and it is both a ’thousand steps’ and ‘one step’ long in that we have a long way to go on the path, but every step is important in the here and now. We need to constantly remind ourselves why we are undertaking these studies and what our inner motivations may be.
One of our theosophical teachers described the Theosophical Society as the ‘kindergarten of the mystery schools’. This was not meant to denigrate what we are all doing in theosophy, because nothing can be more important than a good kindergarten education which establishes the basis for all our further studies! In short, we need to get our theosophical attitude straightened out at the beginning, and ingrain the habit of living for others as a natural process of being at one with a greater human life-wave. Our responsibility as members and friends of the Theosophical Society currently is to take theosophy home with us and begin to work seriously and self-consciously on building and strengthening ourselves by putting into practice the Inner or Heart Doctrine rather than the Outer, or merely intellectual/ritualistic approach.
In other words - self-conscious, self-directed evolution. If we have this attitude, then we can move on into our theosophical work and the mysteries that await us with the firm knowledge that we will use our abilities in the service of humanity as it struggles forward and not just to benefit ourselves or any power-based ambitions we may have hidden away in the recesses of our Souls. The Masters of Wisdom are interested in developing their servants over a period of lifetimes. If we have a firm grounding in the Path of Compassion, they and we can move on to develop our potentials that will carry from one lifetime to another and enable us to continue our efforts in this type of work in the spirit of helping humanity into future lifetimes of more and more self-conscious effort.
Theosophy speaks of a glorious future for humanity though the road there will be muddy and long as we see everywhere in the state of the world today. We see in the eyes of our children, both the potential to be greater than us, and the responsibility we bear to them to leave them with a pure and stimulating physical and mental environment – and for ourselves too as reincarnating beings. We are custodians of these wonderful teachings as others on whose shoulders we now stand have been before us over the millennia. It is our responsibility to keep these teachings as pure and inspirational as they were on the day when they were handed on by HPB Blavatsky’s teachers 134 years ago, so we in turn can inspire generations yet unborn. There will be times such as this cycle of theosophical activity right now, where we will be challenged to ‘give’ rather than ‘receive’ theosophy so that theosophical knowledge can continue to be transmitted in the spirit of the Path of Compassion, or ‘Inner’ rather than ‘Outer’ theosophy.
The words of G. de Purucker indicate the essence of the purpose of the Theosophical Society:
“[It] was intended to be the spiritual-intellectual nursery from which will be born the great philosophical and religious and scientific systems of future ages – indeed, the heart of the civilizations of the coming cycles.” – from The Fountain Source of Occultism. P.5.
Please see ‘What Theosophy really is all about’ page 1-2 of April 2009 Theosophy Downunder for a discussion of ‘Inner’ and ‘Outer’, ‘Giving’ and ‘Receiving’ Theosophy at http://theosophydownunder.org/australiantsnewsletterapril2009.html
Meetings in Melbourne August through December 2009: all meetings held at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre at 664 Glenhuntly Road, South Caulfied, Melbourne:
Sat. August 1st, 2:30pm: HP Blavatsky and Krishnamurti: the Odd Couple? – Brian Parry.
Sat. September 5th, 2:30pm: What is Ugliness and Beauty in Nature – Healthclyff St. James Deville.
Sat. September 19th, 2:30pm: Nurslings of the Future - George Svengar.
Sat. October 3rd, 2:30pm: The Three Truths – Jennifer Pignataro.
Sat. November 7th, 2:30pm: The Divine Twins: Gemini, Dioscuri and Kabiri – Mandy Rooke.
Sat. December 5th, 2:30pm: When will the Buddha Return? – Andrew Rooke.
…and don’t forget THE WORLD PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS is in Melbourne, Australia on December 3rd through 9th 2009 at the Melbourne Convention Exhibition Centre in Southbank in the centre of the city. More information is available at: http://www.parliamentofreligions.org/index.cfm
Also at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena) Centre throughout 2009 a series of lectures and discussions - BASIC CONCEPTS OF THE ANCIENT WISDOM on Wednesday mornings sponsored by the University of the Third Age and led by Tony Downey. Please contact Tony on 0400942613 if you are interested.
Important new book available from our bookshop: The second edition of William Quan Judge’s collected writings Echoes from the Orient Vol.1 2nd edition 2009 has just been published by our Theosophical University Press and is available from our bookshop at $50 with 10% discount for TS (Pasadena) members, and also in the Melbourne library. Details are on the last page of this issue of our Newsletter.
What’s new on Theosophy Downunder website: our website is at www.theosophydownunder.org New on the website are files of hundreds of book and video reviews, a booklist of metaphysical and imaginative books suitable for children, a compilation of quotations from the world’s wisdom traditions, and recordings of spiritually inspired music old and new. You can suggest new music to be added to our site – just send us an email! New lectures added to the Theosophy Downunder Library on the site include: A Way to the Golden Era by Roza Riaikkenen.
New DVDs in the Melbourne Library: the following new DVDs have been added to our library collection and are available for loan to members and friends:
On Buddhism: one of the Western world’s foremost authorities on Tibetan Buddhism, Robert Thurman speaks about the nature of Buddhism.
The Mystery of the Sphinx: new scientific evidence: Hosted by the late Charlton Heston this programme presents geological evidence that one of the world’s most famous monuments, The Great Sphinx of Egypt, may be thousands of years older than we have been led to think.
The Five People you meet in Heaven: a fantasy film starring Jon Voight and Jeff Daniels about a man recalling five prominent people in his life.
Home: a film about our beautiful Earth filmed from space-craft and high-flying aircraft to give a holistic view ‘from a distance’.
Other films and CDs: Baraka – DVD; As above so Below – DVD; Samsara – DVD; Orlando – DVD; Mythodea by Vangelis – music CD; Recordings from the European School of Theosophy as follows: Michael Gomes 2007, G.A. Farthing: The uniqueness of Theosophy 1983.
Many thanks to friends who have sent us these wonderful films and music recordings.
Compassion shown over the Victorian bushfires: in February 173 people perished in the worst bushfires in Australia’s history in Victoria. This disaster led to an unprecedented outpouring of public compassion for those people who survived the devastation of the fires with in excess of $300 million donated by the public to assist survivors. There are many stories of the bravery of people who perished whilst trying to save loved ones or their animals caught up in the fire storm. People as far away as Papua New Guinea held fund raisers, and someone even set up a cake stall in the Nullabor Plain district of South Australia managing to raise $5 from the few cars passing by in the desert! It goes to show that there are many good people out there in the community who will help out when the going gets tough.
Some interesting statistics and issues on religion in Australia today: some recent statistics from the Australian Institute of Public Safety in Melbourne reflect the religious diversity of Australia. 68% of Australians report themselves as Christian compared to 96% in 1901. 3 million Australians said that they have no religion. In Australia today there are 5 million Catholics (1.2 billion worldwide), 4 million Anglicans, 400,000 Baptists, 62,000 Church of God, 282,000 Muslims (22% of the world’s population is now Muslim), 84,000 Jews, 360,000 Buddhists (350 million world-wide), and 100,000 Hindus. The Institute cites potential conflict issues as religious versus national identity, inter and intra religious conflict, radical and extremist beliefs and practices, the teaching of intelligent design in Australian schools, acceptance of multiculturalism and religious diversity, the ‘cultural defence’ – ie the legal defence against what are seen by most people as criminal actions based on the dictates of one’s culture or religion, and finally secularism versus religious rights. Clearly there is a lot of work for organisations such as the Theosophical Society in promoting the idea of unity in diversity and genuine Universal Brotherhood in the Australia and world of today!
MAN’S RESPONSIBILITY TO THE ANIMALS
When the Theosophical Society was founded the key teaching was and still is, Universal Brotherhood. This teaching is basic to the Society’s philosophy and is no sentimental emotion but a fact in Nature itself. Madam Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, developed the universality of this cornerstone with great brilliance and consistency until she died in 1891. In the subject of today’s study, Man’s relationship with the animals, it is possible to trace very clearly the humanising effect her work has had on the world in many countries if not all. A century ago in our country cockfights and dog fights were common, horses were spurred and whipped cruelly and wanton ill-treatment to animals went unpunished or was tolerated. We can see in the following period a growing swing of community opinion toward a more enlightened view of Man’s responsibilities to his younger brothers, the animals. First let us address this question - if we call animals our younger brothers then what do we have in common in our respective constitutions?
Enshrined within our physical body is an animal soul. These we share with the animals of this world, a body and a conscious soul. This animal soul of ours is the seat of our animal desires, our hunger and thirsts and our instinctive behaviour. Just as the animals show joy, determination and affection as well as dignity, so also do we. Enshrined within our animal soul is a human soul. This is the seat of our awareness of our self and our human desires. Enshrined within our human soul is our spiritual soul. This soul is the seat of our intellect. Enshrined within our spiritual soul is our Buddhic soul. The Buddhic soul is the seat of what is or may develop into our wisdom, our compassion, our intuition, our artistry. Enshrined within this Buddhic soul is the Celestial Buddha or Monad – the ‘Christos’ within us all.
Now how much of this range does the animal world share? All of men and animals have a physical body and a Monad - the same father monad as we do. The animals are in truth, because of this monadic ancestry, our brothers. They are, however, not as fully developed as we are. They are following us up the ladder of life under the impulse and guidance of their own inner god. There are strong links between mankind and his younger brothers. Millions of years ago, according to ancient tradition, when Man’s body was less physical and the human form more or less spherical, the body sweated off seeds or spores of various kinds according to whereabouts on the body these sweat-born offspring exuded. Exudations seeding from what corresponds to our genitalia were true to type human in form. Those exuding from elsewhere on the body showed different characters and from these developed our animal life.
This account ascribes to us not only the role of parenting our animal world; it charges us with a responsibility toward them that is eternal and inescapable. You may object that science says that Man is at the top of the tree of evolution – the “Johnny come lately”. Well, counter to that is the point that the human being is enormously more complex, as his animal nature is now unfolded, than is his animal brother. It is therefore reasonable to suggest that Man is an older member of the evolutionary procession than even the most developed animal.
The relationship is not only one of kinship. Animals share the life forces that ebb and flow through space, appearing now as pure energies and again as units of substance – life atoms. We share these life atoms. They can flow freely and swiftly to wherever they are attracted and to where it is appropriate. The ancients held that animals should be treated with respect. The Jains of India made concern for animal life an important feature of their religious life. In Spartan Greece, a community that went overboard in imposing a fierce code of discipline on its citizens, they would punish a child who was found guilty of cruelty to an animal – characteristically if not wisely – with death. The Hindus teach that even as the humans received the divine fire of knowledge of the difference between right and wrong so many millions of years ago, so in a similarly far distant time some animals will when ready take the next step into human-like self consciousness. In the mean-time animals are our responsibility. We do this best, not by fussing too much over them but most certainly by not taking advantage of them.
I think it is monstrous that today in a country pledged to the ideal of freedom, animals are vivisected cruelly, not for the impersonal advancement of science but so that some researcher might receive praise from his peers for the results of his experiments. On a less horror-filled note, and there is plenty of horror in the subject of vivisection, many instances exist of a special rapport between certain animals and humans and certain sorts of animals and other species. Perhaps you have heard the saying that people grow to look like the pets they keep? Perhaps the link was there before those persons were born. The Aborigines of Australia at a time of initiation into manhood appoint to each candidate a totemic bird or beast. This beast he may not kill or eat, and it is said between the man and his totemic animal a bond of trust grows. There are instances in plenty of animals seeking contact with humans. On the North-West coast of Australia at a little hamlet called Monkey Mia, dolphins have for years come into the shallows to be patted, fed, and to introduce their young to the locals swimming there. A zoologist from England studying the dolphins was packing up his gear while his son was having a last swim in the autumn evening before they left off work for the year. The dolphin the man had been particularly studying came up to the eleven-year old lad, put his head between the boy’s legs and gave him a ride round the boat harbour!
Another marvellous story is that of a farmer who had the care of an eagle that was injured in a storm. The farmer later retired and came to live in South Melbourne. The eagle had come back for short visits at the farm, but one day the farmer found the eagle sitting on the back fence of his South Melbourne home. It had sought him out and found him, from among so many similar dwellings, at such a great distance from their original home.
I was given a strong lesson in good manners by a pointer bitch mothering five pups. As they became ready for weaning she continued to play with them a little but mostly she would jump up to a place out of reach and let the pups tumble over each other ‘til meal time came. At last there was only one pup left and mum set to work to play games with it. She chased the pup and rolled it over and ran away in pretended fright, followed by the enthusiastic pup. I saw this stately old hound doing this and I laughed. She never played with that pup again whilst I was watching and it took me a week to get her to wag when I patted her.
There is the case of swans that mate for life and such is their constancy that should one die the mate joins a group for company but never mates again. There is the case of the sunbird which will build a large oval decorated nest commonly near a house in northern Australia. People hang ropes down in hope the birds will build on them. The birds show little fear of mankind and will fly into the house and out again without showing fear.
Many animals show flashes of almost human quality in their life. Another example is the albatross that breeds near Dunedin in New Zealand, which has a unique courting ritual. Two birds meeting, and not having room to dance on the rocky windswept cliffs where the nests are made, the two birds take to the sky. There they spread their marvellous flexible wings, flying in ever changing harmony, a soundless dance, dipping and weaving until a rapport is established. One wonders if in the misty southern oceans hunting for fish often out of earshot or out of sight, they find each other. Is this the skill they practice in the courting dance? Find each other they do. They, too, mate for life.
Just as we share our life atoms with the animals, let us hope to their advantage, so it is conceivable that we share the life atoms of the gods. It is a brave thought. Remember the saying of Jesus – “In as much as you do it to the least among you so shall it be done to you”. This is the great Law of Karma. It applies to every being in the universe, Gods, men, animals and so on. The Law of Karma is one aspect – the negative, of what Dr. de Purucker calls The Law of Laws of the Universe – Self-forgetfulness, living unto all things, not the doctrine that each species-individual must live for itself in order to develop itself.
Man is no doubt more complex in his intellect and consciousness than our animal brothers – the differences are the degree - correspondingly more responsible. This responsibility is not a matter of sentiment so that we are required by Nature to provide – say –overcoats for wild animals. Far better we do not try to play God. Better still if we become aware of the support they give us, the examples they show us of all sorts of noble behaviour and of how all beings make a complex tapestry where every thread contributes its own special part to the whole loom of life.
Special Report: THE ESSENCE OF BUDDHISM:
SACRIFICE, SUFFERING — AND COMPASSION: We seek to avoid suffering, yet it is through suffering that we so often learn life's lessons and develop compassion.
SUFFERING AND COMPASSION lie at the heart of Buddhism. Born a prince in northern India, Gautama was so disturbed when he witnessed old age, disease, and death that he left his palace to become a wandering holy man, seeking the cause and cure of human suffering. When by his own efforts he became Buddha or "Awakened," instead of immediately entering the bliss of nirvana he chose to remain on earth to share his insights with all who would listen and thus give each of them the means to end suffering. What are the Buddha's core teachings? That the cause of suffering is attachment and the thirst for life, and that people can end suffering by following the Noble Eightfold Path: right (in the sense of best or highest) views or understanding, right belief or insight, right thought or aspiration, right speech, action, and means of livelihood, right effort or exertion, and right contemplation and concentration. In this way we can work toward liberation from ignorance.
The Buddha's self-sacrifice is especially emphasized in Mahayana Buddhism which reveres the Bodhisattvas, beings whose hearts are so moved by suffering and ignorance that they are willing to give up their own spiritual progress and bliss to help others. Their compassionate attitude is expressed in the Kwan-Yin vow: "Never will I seek or receive private, individual salvation; never will I enter into final peace alone, but forever and everywhere will I live and strive for the redemption of every creature throughout the world."
Suffering, compassion, and sacrifice intertwine in other traditions as well. The ancient Greeks told of Prometheus who, out of compassion for human suffering, tricked the gods and stole divine fire. As a result he was chained to a mountain by the gods and tortured for millennia. Finally Hercules, symbolizing the ideal human being, frees Prometheus. In one interpretation this story indicates that eventually our everyday self will evolve to the point where it can liberate our spiritual aspect which, out of compassion, remains chained to material life so that we can grow. This tale is reminiscent of the theosophical myth of the manasaputras or "sons of mind" who sacrificed themselves by incarnating in early mankind in order to bring self-conscious mind into activity. Such stories personify various aspects of ourselves in order to dramatize the nature of human consciousness and how it evolves.
Christianity focuses on God sacrificing Jesus on the cross out of compassion for suffering mankind. Looking at the Garden of Eden story, human suffering was said to arise when Adam and Eve gave up innocence for knowledge of good and evil, that is, awareness of duality and deliberate moral choice. We each go through this process from infancy to adolescence, becoming conscious of ourselves as separate lives and assuming increasing responsibility for our choices. Why in Christianity does the choice of humanity to journey toward spiritual adulthood require the crucifixion of Christ to atone for it? In one sense, Eden was paradise because there was no conscious realization of separateness or distinctions; with knowledge of good and evil (duality), human awareness separated itself from the divine and from other beings. This can be remedied only by at-one-ment, a conscious re-joining with divinity through a compassionate sacrifice on the part of both the spiritual and psychological parts of ourselves.
Christian symbolism draws heavily on animal sacrifice, and many people worldwide continue to use blood sacrifices in rites and imagery. Traditions such as the Buddhist and Jain avoid ritual slaughter as a means or metaphor for sacrifice because of the suffering it causes the victims. On the other hand, people who find ceremonial bloodshed horrifying may have no problem with animals being killed commercially.
A milder metaphor is the seed, which must sacrifice itself and die as a seed if the plant is to be born. This reminds us of Christ saying that if we wish to save our life we must lose it, or the Hindu idea of sacrificing the self to the Self, the limited to the universal. We are often aware of giving up the smallness of ourselves so that we can become something greater through self-transformation. By sacrificing our more restricted aspects to our universal divine self, we transcend personal suffering by becoming at one with the divinity within us, thereby freeing it from the chains of our ignorance and selfish attachments. We will then face the Buddha's decision: to leave terrestrial suffering behind, or to dedicate ourselves to helping other beings end their own suffering.
Reprinted with permission from Theosophy Northwest View, The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 2006 -- Vol. 9 Issue 9 http://www.theosophy-nw.org/theosnw/view/view1106.htm
The Essence of Buddhism: Part 2
THE MIDDLE WAY OF BUDDHISM…summarized:
THE TWO PATHS:
The ESOTERIC - the ‘Heart’ Doctrine
The EXOTERIC - the ‘Eye’ Doctrine
THE FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS:
1. Attachment — causes suffering and heartache.
2. Can be made to cease by:
3. Living the Life – that is, a life in accordance with spiritual principles – ‘Love thy neighbour as thyself’.
4. Through the Exalted Eightfold Path.
THE EXALTED EIGHTFOLD PATH:
THE PARAMITAS or GOLDEN VIRTUES:
The discipline of the Paramitas as H.P.Blavatsky gave them in The Voice of the Silence (pp. 47-8) is as follows:
DANA: the key of charity and love immortal.
SILA: the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.
KSHANTI: patience sweet, which nought can ruffle.
VIRAGA: indifference to pleasure and to pain, illusion conquered, and truth alone perceived.
VIRYA: the dauntless energy that fights its way to the supernal TRUTH, out of the mire of lies terrestrial.
DHYANA: whose golden gate once opened leads the Narjol [Naljor] toward the realm of Sat eternal and its ceaseless contemplation.
PRANA: the key to which makes of a man a god, creating him a Bodhisattva, son of the Dhyanis.
THE THREE GREAT PERFECTIONS: These are the ‘three jewels’ in which a Buddhist takes refuge namely:
The Buddha – meaning the teacher of enlightenment.
The Dharma – meaning the teaching, or the enlightened reality.
The Sangha, or community of beings who are trying to implement the Dharma, and bring about a more enlightened way of living for Humanity.
LIFE AND PANPSYCHISM
Heathclyff St James-Deville
The above expresses in some small measure my own idea of the Inner Life inherent in all things as manifested within Nature, and of which Panpsychism speaks. But just what is this philosophy about? Panpsychism is “the theory according to which all objects in the universe, not only human beings and animals but also plants and even inanimate objects have an ‘inner’ or ‘psychological’ being.” – see the article: Pansychism by Paul Edwards, Editor-in-Chief, in The Encyclopedia of Philosophy (1967)
The German philosopher and psychologist, G.T. Fechner (1801-1887), wrote the following in defence of this philosophical theory: “I stood once on a hot summer’s day beside a pool and contemplated a water-lily which had spread its leaves evenly over the water and with an open blossom was basking in the sun. How exceptionally fortunate, thought I, must this lily be which basks in the sunlight and below is plunged in the water – if only it might be capable of feeling the sun and the bath. And why not? I asked myself. It seemed to me that nature surely would not have built such a creature so beautiful, and so carefully designed for such conditions, merely to be an object of idle observation…I was inclined to think that nature had built it thus in order that all the pleasure which can be derived from bathing at once in sunlight and in water might be enjoyed by one creature in the fullest measure” - Religion of A Scientist. English translation: W. Lowrie, New York, 1946.
The American panpsychist, Josiah Royce (1855-1916) succinctly put it thus: “Where we see inorganic matter Nature seemingly dead, there is, in fact, conscious life, just as surely as there is any Being present in Nature at all” – The World and the Individual, 1901. Whilst German philosopher Rudolf Hermann Lotze (1817-1881 and former teacher of Royce) wrote that “All motion of matter in space may be explained as a natural expression of the Inner States of Being that seek or avoid one another with a feeling of their need…The whole of the world of sense…is but a veil of an infinite realm of mental life” - Microcosmus, 1856-58.
Panpsychism thereby purports that as “The world, or Nature, produces living creatures, [it] accordingly ought to be thought of as Itself an alive and animated organism, literally describable as possessing reason, emotion, and a ‘world-soul.’…Its most intelligible modern version is perhaps the view that for environmental reasons we do well to think as if the world is a complex organism [Gaia] whose unity is as fragile as that of any living thing” – Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, 1994.
As such, Panpsychism can be viewed as a philosophical or theoretical worldview that can literally help to elevate our thinking to the end of saving the planet and all the Nature supplies. As shown below by the example of Sri Sarada Devi, this can be extended to include inanimate objects as well.
Occult philosophy teaches that our world is but a microcosm of the macrocosm – as is the Creature a microcosm of the Macrocosmic Creator. The occult philosopher, Hermes Trismegistus (the Greek name for the Egyptian god Thoth) put it like this in the second rubric of the Emerald Tablet- "That which is Below corresponds to that which is Above, and that which is Above, corresponds to that which is Below, to accomplish the miracles of the One Thing” – The Emerald Tablet: Alchemy for Personal Transformation (1999) by Dennis William Hauck, Penguin Compass If true, then we certainly need to embrace the concept that what we do unto the Earth shall likewise be done unto the Universe as a whole. And, if not physically, at least spiritually. Fechner states that “the earth is a creature,” and is related to our human body as “the whole tree is to the twig,” and likewise is the whole Universe to the earth.
H.P. Blavatsky writes that “Man is a little world – a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus, he is suspended…in the matrix of the macrocosmos; and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth, his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi [or world-soul]” – Isis Unveiled, (1877) Vol.1 Chpt.7. The above words are worthy of repeating here for their meditative value.
In the Book of Manu, an ancient Hindu scripture dating back between 200 BC and AD 200, we are informed that “Plants and vegetation reveal a multitude of forms because of the precedent actions: they are surrounded by darkness, but are nevertheless endowed with an interior soul, and feel equally pleasure and pain.” – Chapter 1:49. Hippocrates, the Greek physician (?c.460-377 or 359 BC) stated that “All knowledge, all arts are to be found in nature…What is nature in operation but the very divinity itself manifesting its presence.”
A beautiful incident that highlights how such views – as those espoused above – is found in the life of Sri Sarada Devi, the Holy Mother (1853-1920), and the wife of Sri Ramakrishna (1836-1886). Once when someone had finished her sweeping, she threw the broom into a corner. The Holy mother said, “How strange, my dear! The work is finished and you throw it [the broom] away carelessly! It takes almost the same time to keep it slowly and carefully as to throw it away. Should you despise a thing just because it is insignificant? ‘Him that you save, saves you in turn, won’t you need it again? Besides, this thing too forms a part of our household. From that point of view it deserves some consideration. You must give each one his due share of honour. Even a broom must be shown some honour. Even the smallest work must be done with reverence.” - Dharma For All (1985 page 148) Sri Ramakrishna Math, Mylapore, Chennai 600 004 India.
Maybe the water-lily was revealing the Divine the day it revealed its Inner Life to Fechner. Surely all things in Nature contain both purpose and an appreciation of their own existence. Think On! And may you perceive the DIVINE emanating throughout ALL LIFE and thereby act accordingly the Peace Profound may Abound.
The Little Book of the Soul by Ian Lawton 2nd ed. Published by Rational Spirituality Press in 2008. Available via the internet from the author at: www.ianlawton.com and free online in text and video on You Tube.
This little book is a treasure-trove full of fascinating accounts of recent research into the possibility of continuing existence after death and the possibility that reincarnation may be real. Ian Lawton is a respected authority on the Inter-Life and his approach is one of looking at rational explanation of research based on hypnotic regressions, childhood experiences, and therapeutic interviews from health professionals and researchers of different types all over the world. He cites cases such as that of James Lenninger of Louisiana who at the age of two in the year 2000, started recounting vivid stories of a previous life as an American fighter pilot shot down in the battle of Iwo Jima in 1945. The little boy’s statements have been thoroughly researched and found to be correct to the tiniest detail. The author analyses the work of pioneering Australian reincarnation and inter-life researcher Peter Ramster who regressed four Sydney housewives into what they said were previous lives and then researched the validity of what they said, took them to Europe to check their claims in person, and made a fascinating documentary film about the whole experience. Lawton says that Ramster’s work especially gives cause to believe that some people indeed do remember the details of previous life experience and this lends credence to the idea of continuing existence after death. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book is the author’s conclusions based on his years of patient research of such cases. His conclusions include: The soul survives independent of the physical body; souls have many lives not just one; our many lives are not linked by a karmic law of action and reaction – this conclusion is in contrast to the teachings of theosophy and most, if not all the world’s great religions; we reincarnate so that we can grow in experience; the only judgement after death comes from ourselves; we are responsible for all aspects of our lives because we plan and choose them during our inter-life experiences; we always have free will to deviate from our life plan; we are all One and all God; perhaps the most significant discovery that soul consciousness is holographic and represents the part and the whole at the same time; the aim of ‘the Source’ is to experience all that is and can be. These conclusions and Lawton’s analysis of them based on actual testimony of people who say they have experience of after-life, and reincarnation, makes fascinating reading and listening too on You Tube where the whole book is available as a series of videos of the author reading his book. Ian Lawton’s ideas are developed further in his other books including: The Wisdom of the Soul, The Big Book of the Soul, and Genesis Univeiled which are all available from his informative website at www.ianlawton.com.
LITTLE TYKE: The True Story of a Gentle Vegetarian Lioness by Georges H Westbeau 1995 (1986 reprint) Quest Books ISBN: 0835606058
This book is an endearing tale of a cub that was saved from a mother that was known to kill her newborn offspring. The cub, dubbed ‘Little Tyke,’ was saved by the zoo keepers and presented to the author. Even when young, Little Tyke was not interested in eating meat and would refuse drinking milk that even one drop of blood had been added to it. As Little Tyke grew, this behaviour stayed with her right to the end of her life when she was 9 years old. Her story has touched the heart of many who knew her.
This Westbeau’s gained much wisdom from this docile animal about issues relating to trust, honesty, gentleness, ‘ahimsa’ (non-violence) and unconditional love – and the oft-times hidden bond that can exist between people and animals. Little Tyke extended these qualities to all the animals that lived with her at ‘Hidden Valley Ranch.’ I could not help making the comparison with the biblical vision of a New Earth as seen by the Prophet and recorded in Isaiah 11:6-9. There is a photo of Little Tyke and a lamb called Becky (see above), each being fed milk from a bottle – again Isaiah comes to mind.
Having re-read this book for Review, I find it to hold my attention and experience, once again, the joy of entering into Little Tyke’s world. It is my belief that this book will become a classic, akin to that of Black Beauty, Greyfriar’s Bobby and suchlike. – Reviewed by Healthclyff St. James Deville.
THE DEEP: The Extraordinary Creatures of the Abyss by Claire Nouvain 2007 University of Chicago Press. ISBN: 0226595668
Once in a while a truly stunning and breathtaking book comes along to take us out of the mundane world – and this coffee-table book delivers just that. It is about the creatures that most of us shall never see. Only 5% of the seafloor has been mapped and scientists are therefore estimating that the number of species yet to be discovered varying between 10-30 million. As such, the photos reproduced here are, alone, worth the purchase of this book. There are many photos of animals that could have come from another planet which, in a way, the hidden depths represent. Some readers may view quite a few of these animals as ugly, but these creatures are made beautiful simply by their array of colours and assortment of ‘lights’ that they display.
I have learnt so much from this book and highly recommend it to anyone that has an interest in biology, ecology, and protection of the fragile oceanic environment. For those of us who simply appreciate the biodiversity of life, this book shall not disappoint. – Reviewed by Heathclyff St. James Deville.
FROM OUR READERS:
Mini Bodhisattvas: Roza Riaikkenen has written recently regarding those people who suffer ‘accelerated karma’ in order to be able to help others in the world:
“…looking also at some other sufferers in the modern world, I think that there can be two completely different causes of suffering: one as an effect of collected individual karma, and another - as a conscious or subconscious choice of an individual - to undertake this suffering in order to voluntarily join the karma of suffering Humanity and to lead the people by example to Light and Liberation. This is a ‘Boddhisattwa-like’ decision, and we in fact may have much more of such ‘Mini-Boddhisattwas’ all over the world than we expect. HPB was evidently one of them, and many more remain unrecognised. It's practically impossible to judge from aside which case we have in any particular situation, or maybe it's a mixture of both cases. What is worrying me for a long enough time, is that for people who are more comfortable in their current life situation, it is a big temptation (and also karma) - to just say to themselves that these "less fortunate" people do deserve their destiny (because of their backwardness, or karma, whatever), and therefore there is no need for compassion towards them, or in assisting and protecting them from their suffering. Unfortunately, too often suffering is inflicted on them by the desires of others, whatever is the karma or personal choice of the sufferer.”
What do you think about this in relation to practical issues facing all Australians such as the arrival of boat people off the coast of Western Australia which seems to be becoming more numerous as conditions in some parts of the world deteriorate?
Life after death: is it possible?: Paul Murchison has written to us recently with comments on this eternal question:
“…I do not believe that a post life existence, of some obscure form, can in any way be disproved. True, given our present scientific knowledge as it relates to the human body and brain, the idea appears to be quite remote; then again, less than one hundred years ago the internet was inconceivable. The science of today will probably be laughable in 200 years time (if the planet exists that long) and two thousand years down the track would further change our enlightenment, scientific knowledge simply being substantive but temporary knowledge, with potentially infinite amount out there, yet to be found…”
The Internet Sacred Text Archive: the largest freely available archive of online books about religion, mythology, folklore and the esoteric on the Internet. The site is dedicated to religious tolerance and scholarship, and includes copies of rare sacred texts from all the world’s religions and many theosophical texts at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/
Karen Armstrong’s Charter for Compassion: Karen Armstrong has dedicated her life to the study of religion — both from inside the walls of a convent during her seven years as a Catholic nun — and as an author of books on the world's faiths from Islam to Buddhism and a best-selling History of God. Her examination of the commonalities of the world's faiths has brought Karen Armstrong to her current project: the Charter for Compassion. The Charter for Compassion is Karen Armstrong's effort to promote the principles of the Golden Rule across the religious and global spectrum. The group effort to build an interfaith 'charter of compassion' is guided by the Council of Sages, a multi-faith, multi-national group of religious thinkers and leaders. The council will guide the writing of the final charter, but the process is open to submissions from anyone, anywhere who has an interest in the founding guidelines laid out below: You can find out more at the Charter for Compassion web site at: http://charterforcompassion.org/
Thoughts affect water crystals: Our thoughts impact everything: our health, relationships, moods, careers — and we now realize, even the world at large is similarly affected by our thoughts—and shows it. This important discovery about the power of thought was confirmed in experiments conducted by IONS senior scientist Dean Radin, on Japanese researcher Dr. Masaru Emoto’s work with water crystals.Dr. Radin concludes: “The hypothesis that water ‘treated’ with intention can affect ice crystals formed from that water was pilot tested under double-blind conditions. A group of approximately 2,000 people in Tokyo focused positive intentions towards water samples located inside an electromagnetically shielded room in California.” … “Results indicated that crystals from the treated water were given higher scores for aesthetic appeal than those from the control water, lending support to the hypothesis.” Why not watch the video and see for yourself: http://theosophywatch.com/2009/04/19/thoughts-that-count/
The Atheist’s Key to Salvation: an interesting article about the nature of God as understood in the context of religion and spirituality has been written by Kim Titchenell of the American Section. Check it out at: http://www.abacus-es.com/journal/?p=165
Inspiring Poem from Greece: why not listen and be inspired by this beautiful poem by Greek poet Konstantinos Kavafys, read by Sean Connery, and with music by Greek composer Vangelis about the fabled island of Ithaca at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nN0bB4Op_Is&feature=related
From South Africa: the latest issue of the South African Section Newsletter ‘Contact’ has a lead article on the importance of ecology at a spiritual as well as the more familiar physical level. Those travelling to South Africa are welcome at monthly meetings in the Gauteng, Durban, and Western Cape areas by contacting the National Secretary, Alice Yetman at: email@example.com
We wish to extend our thanks and appreciation to friends from around the world who send us their newsletters. We encourage you all to read them as they are kept in our library in Melbourne, or photocopies can be sent. They include: Impuls (Netherlands), Contact (South Africa), The 21st Century Path (USA), Theosophy North-West View (USA), Kali Yuga Rag (USA), Compass (England). Theosophy Downunder is issued three times per year in April, August, and November and is edited by Andrew Rooke. We can be contacted at the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), Australasian Section, 664 Glenhuntly Rd., South Caulfield, Melbourne, Victoria 3162, AUSTRALIA. Tel : 0400942613 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org World Wide Web homepage at: http://theosophydownunder.org/ Many of the illustrations included in this newsletter were kindly supplied with permission from the Theosophy Watch website at: http://theosophywatch.com/ Our International Leader is Randell C. Grubb.
Donations needed: our Society is a voluntary organization that operates purely on the generosity of our members and friends. In particular we need donations to help support the purchase of book-stock for our bookshop. Approximately $2,000 per annum is needed to purchase books for the bookshop. Please contact our Treasurer, Paul Rooke, at: email@example.com, or at our address given at the end of this newsletter if you can help, and many thanks to all those friends who have contributed already to the work of our Society.
‘Get things into perspective!’ we often say when faced with life’s challenges. Like an artist seeking the proper balance in his painting, it is necessary to step back from our problems once in a while and view life’s patterns - from a distance. We can thus gain something of the broader context of our present experience, though this can be difficult to achieve in the bustle of modern life.
On a global scale, those few intrepid space explorers who have seen the Earth from afar have been moved by the grandeur of the sight bringing poetry to the lips of the most hardened military men. Typical of the experience of those who have viewed the wholeness of the Earth in this way first-hand, are the following comments by a Saudi Arabian Prince who flew in the space shuttle as the guest of NASA some years ago. He said of his own eternally troubled region of the Middle East: “The first day or so in space, we all pointed to our own countries. The third or fourth day we pointed to our continents. By the fifth day, we were aware of only one Earth”.
We are told by theosophical teachers that there is an immortal aspect of ourselves that watches over the trials and frequent disharmonies of our more familiar personality – from a distance. Detached from the limited insights of our Lower Nature, our Higher Self helps and encourages our faltering footsteps forward on the spiritual path to the extent that we make the self-conscious effort to reach upwards. Theosophical teacher, HP Blavatsky discusses the double consciousness of the human mind. Speaking of the mysteries of the Ego, she says:
“… There is a spiritual consciousness, the Manasic mind illuminated by the light of Buddhi, that which subjectively perceives abstractions; and the sentient consciousness (the lower Manasic light), inseparable from our physical brain and consciousness. This latter consciousness is held in subjection by the brain and physical senses, and, being in its turn equally dependent on them, must of course fade out and finally die with the disappearance of the brain and physical senses. It is only the former kind of consciousness, whose root lies in Eternity, which survives and lives forever, and may, therefore be regarded as immortal. Everything else belongs to passing illusions.” – Key to Theosophy page 179.
How is it possible in practical ways to grow closer to the inspired core of our Being and thus help ourselves and the world towards the deeper perspectives of the Higher Mind? A wise man once advised:
“…The power to know does not come from book-study nor from mere philosophy, but mostly from the actual practice of altruism in deed, word, and thought; for that practice purifies the covers of the soul and permits that light to shine down to the brain mind. As the brain-mind is the receiver in the waking state, it has to be purified from sense perception, and the truest way to do this is by combining philosophy with the highest outward and inward virtue.” – William Quan Judge in The Path magazine of 1894.
NOW AVAILABLE IN AUSTRALIA! CONTACT TONY DOWNEY IN OUR BOOKSHOP IN MELBOURNE – Tel: 0400942613
Echoes are heard in every age of a timeless path that leads to divine wisdom and to knowledge of our purpose in the universal design. Today’s resurgent awareness of our physical and spiritual interdependence affirms those pioneering keynotes set forth in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky. Her task was to re-present the broad panorama of the "anciently universal Wisdom-Religion," to show its underlying expression in the world's myths, legends, and spiritual traditions, and to show its scientific basis — with the overarching goal of furthering the cause of universal brotherhood.
Some people, however, have found her books difficult and ask for something simpler. The writings of William Q. Judge, one of the Theosophical Society's co-founders and a close personal colleague of HPB, help fill this need. His Ocean of Theosophy and Letters That Have Helped Me remain classics in the literature, describing in clear language the fundamental ideas of the wisdom-tradition and its path of spiritual quest. Yet the greater part of Judge's literary output was for decades accessible only to those fortunate enough to have copies of the magazine he started and edited. In character with the themes it dealt with, he named it The Path.
This first volume of Echoes of the Orient comprises about 170 articles from The Path magazine, chronologically arranged and supplemented by his popular "Occult Tales." Also included are a well-documented 50-page biography, numerous illustrations, photographs, and facsimiles, as well as a bibliography and index.
Volumes II and III, comprising Judge's "Hidden Hints in The Secret Doctrine," lectures at the World's Parliament of Religions, articles and replies to questions in other magazines, tracts, pamphlets, and his "Suggestions and Aids" to fellow travellers on the Path, will follow in due course.
Second and Revised Edition