Compass Newsletter Winter 2004 No.2

 

Editorial
Ethics Based on Nature’s Laws
Man is a Religious Being
Is Chaos the Order of the Day?
Turning Point
Conflicting Desires
Defending God
Nobody is a Beginner
Working with the Grain of Nature
Soul Keepers
Intuition
Book Ordering and Contact

Editorial

 

Amidst the clamour of analysis and reaction to current world troubles there is a groundswell of voices that urge a better understanding of other beliefs. The problem is that there is not a wholly satisfactory understanding of our Christian religion. A lot of minds are looking elsewhere for truth; maybe they are cynical or baffled because church dogma does not provide answers to life’s ultimate questions. Why does a loving God appear impotent and indifferent to the terrible sufferings and injustices of this world? Why are sins forgiven because Jesus Christ died on the cross? Why do we expect to spend an eternity in heaven on the basis of one imperfect life time ? The sad fact is that the keys explaining the inner meaning of these doctrines have been mislaid and forgotten. One wonders, for example, if any clergy now realise or acknowledge that reincarnation, taken for granted in pagan times, was also part of early Christianity taught by the early Church Fathers? An ecclesiastical anathema under Emperor Justinian in 553 AD banned and condemned teachings about reincarnation thus tearing down a foundation pillar of Christianity. Tragic as the consequences proved, the Laws of Universal Nature transcend human bigotry and ignorance. Rebirth of the soul in order to learn and grow is of course an integral part of Theosophy which has been succinctly and beautifully described as:

“…wisdom concerning life from the stand point of the divine consciousness which informs the universe. As a rich and encompassing system of thought, this ancient and universally honoured stream of wisdom harmonises the facts of nature with our highest spiritual intuitions, and forms the basis of the world’s great religious and philosophical traditions…”*

Theosophy’s comprehensive and compassionate perspectives dissolve the barriers between beliefs thus revealing the common essentials. Deity is the paramount commonality by whatever name. Theosophy teaches:

“…that back of the material visible world there is an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Unchanging principle; a Divine Life, that is the unseen cause of the visible universe and all life in it.” **

A Divine Intelligence pervading over infinite universes is beyond the limit of our imagination and language and may even appear cold, remote and devoid of personal comfort. This is because in our western perception, a vital link has been overlooked. From time immemorial and in every part of the world there has existed the teaching that man in his most innermost spiritual nature is a god spark from the fountain source of all. Indeed every aspect of the universe from star to atom is infused with a ray or spark from the central fire. This gives clarity to the familiar phrases: “God is in all things,” “One in all” and “All in one.” Our shared parental Divinity provides the basis and raison d’etre for the universal axiom Theosophy’s fundamental principle that Brotherhood is indeed a fact in Nature. This in turn engenders care, kindness and tolerance towards our fellowman whoever he is and whatever his belief.

* From the fly leaf of The Theosophical Society
** The Secret Doctrine Vol 1, pp.14-17

Ethics Based on Nature’s Laws

 

In his effort to determine the validity or truth of a doctrine man has three methods by which he can investigate the subject. These are religion, philosophy, and science and each of these reveals a different phase of the subject under consideration. If a doctrine is true it must have an explanation that is satisfactory from all three of these viewpoints.

In it’s religious aspect the doctrine must satisfy man’s moral intuitions, his aspirations and longings for a higher, nobler life; it must teach him how to adjust his life in harmony with his fellow men. But religion alone, without philosophy and science can lead to dogmatism and superstition.

In its philosophic aspect the doctrine must satisfy man’s reason and logic. But the philosophy without religion and science can lead to cold and barren intellectualism remote from human understanding and sympathy.

In it’s scientific aspect the doctrine must harmonise with established facts and laws of Nature, but unless it also satisfies man’s religious aspirations, his reason and logic, it’s presentation is incomplete and may lead to irresponsible materialism.

“There is no religion higher than the Truth” says the Ancient Wisdom and adds that there can be no conflict between true religion, true philosophy or true science. A doctrine that fails to satisfy all three methods of investigation is either erroneous or incomplete in it’s presentation

When we seek to determine why ethical teachings have not had greater influence on man’s behaviour than they have, we find that they have been presented from the religious viewpoint only. What is lacking is a philosophy that shows why man should practice ethics and a science to demonstrate that this philosophy is based on the facts of Nature.

The doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation give the philosophic basis on which the ethics rest. These doctrines in their turn are based on Nature, for science has demonstrated that the material side of Nature is governed by law, and reason and logic tell us that this law must apply everywhere in the universe.

– From Life’s Riddle by Nils Amneus, p.249-250

Man is a Religious Being

 

It was through the crystallisation of ideas around a sublime core that the dogmatic religions were born. Some great primal truth, or body of verities, coming from the sublime Brotherhood of the great Seers and Sages of the ages is given forth at cyclical times in human history, and a new religion is then and there begun; and as long as the original promulgator with his magnificent mind and highly intuitional faculty is there to direct and to guide the works and channels of the movement, it prospers well; but when he passes on, vanishes from the sight of men, then come smaller men on the scene: less intuitive, less profound in their views, less piercing in their vision, and often ambitious and self-seeking; and they also teach, and add accretions of their own imaginings to the primal spiritual verities; and their teachings are not grand and inspiring as were those of the original Promulgator. The consequence is ecclesiastical or religious dogma in the modern sense; and therefore ultimate disappointment and heartbreaking sorrow ensue to the faithful; for man clings very closely to his religious ideas, because fundamentally he is a religious being, since his own innermost nature is not only linked by unbreakable bonds with the Cosmic Spirit, but is a ray of that Cosmic Spirit itself. It is man’s instinct to be impersonally religious; but it is not instinctual in him to be religious in the dogmatic sense. All ecclesiastical dogmas are the offspring of the minds of men far inferior to the Great Seer who inaugurated such or such other of the great World-Philosophies or World-Religions.

The Esoteric Tradition by G. de Purucker, Vol., p.17

Whilst the world looks on in horror at the brutality carried out world-wide in the name of freedom, where are the finer virtues of mankind so often idealised in the name of religion? Whose religion? One condemns the other with total disregard for the Brotherhood of Man extolled by all the great thinkers and seers of all religions. Is it not time to re-examine ourselves and, through that examination, see more clearly the light which should, and could, shine in the world for the greater benefit of humanity.

– Richard Walker

Is Chaos the Order of the Day?

 

The civilized world is at a transition period of racial growth where the material forces that threaten to master it must be mastered and utilized in ways that are worthy of a truly civilized humanity. Was there ever a time in recorded history when the earth was explored from pole to pole, when material sources were so abundant and when inventions discounted time and space, when average intelligence was so high, when there was so much freedom of thought and speech, and such developed techniques in social, industrial and commercial organisations ? Yet, with all this equipment, chaos is the order of the day, financially, industrially, politically and socially. With everything needed to run a first-class earth as it should be run, we lack only the co-ordinating spirit of human brotherhood. The world need but listen to the haunting echoes of the primeval ideal life, and need but let its heart enter into plans for the general welfare, and orderly peace and plenty and progress will follow naturally and inevitably.

These echoes of the keynote of ideal realities of life that awakened us in the dawn of time still encircle the earth. And, unconsciously, our unfolding psychic senses are tuning in on them. So, when these echoes blend with the harmony of good music, or vibrate in any ideal human effort, the soul recalls its happy childhood with divine Guardians and Instructors.

Now that we are at the turning of the racial road where the Sphinx challenges us with the riddle of selfhood, we understand Mme. Blavatsky’s purpose in founding the Theosophical Society over half a century ago. Clearly she foresaw what the years would bring home to us. Clearly she foreknew how sophisticated and daring and unwise and confused we would be; and, finally, how those who had suffered enough with the heart-hunger for real Selfhood, would welcome the universal, satisfying truths of Theosophy.

– The Path, 1931

How do you see the above relating to the present day?

Turning Point

 

Evolution from the material standpoint has been rapidly approaching a cyclic zenith, but now there is a new evolutionary impulse trying to manifest which will have to come to light through the very medium that is tending to hold it back. It is to the strength of the divine seed growing within the hard shell of materiality, to the surge of spiritual and moral force in the relationship of men, that we turn our eyes in these critical days.

We have indeed reached a turning point, beyond which we dare no longer submit to the rigidity of dogma. The increasing number of laymen who are reading the world’s religious and philosophic classics are refusing to accept any one faith as the final word of truth or the only avenue of salvation. Colleges and universities likewise are encouraging a more universal approach and, in an effort to discover the unifying thread of wisdom, are offering regular courses in comparative religion.

Just as the physical sun reveals different phases of solar activity, depending on which of the various wavelengths is used to photograph it, so every one of the sacred scriptures contains several levels of inspiration. We may read the parables and legends that surround a teacher as a historic account of his birth, accomplishments and teaching; or, using another wavelength, we may see him as a Saviour, flashing across the horizon of human experience as a solar god, to leave a light and hope for millennia; or, still again, we may in the simple practice of his precepts find courage for daily living.

It should be obvious, then, that this wisdom-religion comprises the most profound reaches of knowledge as well as the purest ethics. The keystone thought in the arch is that at the heart of all is divinity – within, without, above, below – divinity seeking expression that it might illumine the environment into which its influence is born. The tragedy is that for many, many centuries we have been wont to consider, not by choice but by miseducation, that we are worms of the dust. We have not been taught that as potential gods we must rediscover for ourselves the ways and means to become, in time, self-conscious co-workers with nature. It is a beautiful and strengthening vision, for through the delicate and just balancing of cause and effect the cycles of activity and rest in turn allow for the ever-unfolding growth of the godlike qualities within each one of us.

But we shall find ourselves marooned in the shallows if we become involved solely in the intricacies of technical doctrine. We can be assured that the Protectors of the race would not have taken so great pains to preserve in seed form – in myth, legend, symbol and stone – a knowledge of these traditions merely to fascinate the intellect. This wisdom has been reiterated from age to age, because behind every phase of teaching is an ethical concept that must be recognised and exemplified. The whole effort springs from a compassionate urge to give us fresh hope and to keep alive man’s flaming intuition.

– Introduction to Expanding Horizons by James Long

Conflicting Desires

 

The desires that motivate man’s will come from various sources within his complex nature and are of many different kinds. Some come from the organs of the body; others from the emotional nature or the mind. These are more or less connected with the comforts and pleasures of the Personality. Still others come to man from his Higher Nature. These concern his responsibilities and duties towards others and are of a broader, more altruistic type. These two types of desire naturally conflict with one another.

The active, experiencing entity, the Human Ego, stands midway between the higher and lower principles of the human constitution and feels the contrasting impulses to action from these two sides of its nature. The same individual at one time experiences a certain desire and at another time one of an opposite nature; sometimes he experiences both simultaneously.

When the Ego repeatedly yields to a lower impulse, this grows ever stronger and eventually becomes habitual. Due to lack of self analysis the Ego has identified itself with the impulse and temporarily surrendered its power of control. When this point is reached the Ego automatically yields to the desire whenever this presents itself. The desire then uses the will to accomplish its purpose and the Ego negatively submits.

When the Ego has come to a realisation that it is not identical with its thoughts and desires, it will no longer yield automatically to every thought or desire that presents itself. When confronted with conflicting desires it will instead examine them and weigh and pass judgement on them before choosing.

Life’s Riddle by A. Nils Amnéus

Defending God

 

There are always those who take it upon themselves to defend God, as if Ultimate Reality, as if the sustaining frame of existence, were something weak and helpless. These people walk by a widow deformed by leprosy begging for a few paise, walk by children dressed in rags living in the street, and they think, “Business as usual.” But if they perceive a slight against God, it is a different story. Their faces go red, their chests heave mightily, they splutter angry words. The degree of their indignation is astonishing. Their resolve is frightening.

These people fail to realise that it is on the inside that God must be defended, not on the outside. They should direct their anger at themselves. For evil in the open is but evil from within that has been let out. The main battlefield for good is not the open ground of the public arena but the small clearing of each heart. Meanwhile, the lot of the widows and homeless children is very hard, and it is to their defence, not God’s, that the self-righteous should rush.

– From Life of Pi by Yann Martel – Winner of The Man Booker Prize 2002

Nobody is a Beginner

(Extract from a talk in Malvern 1995)

 

Correspondents often class themselves as ‘beginners’ or ‘not beginners.’
Intrinsically nobody is a beginner but rather drawn to the truth as steel filings to a magnet. Each in our own way and time has been stirred by a glimmer or flash of realisation that we are much more than just personality, intellect, body, senses and emotions. Perhaps we have been moved by an imperative and overwhelming need to know – a longing to glean or try to fathom a meaning beyond life’s wonderful, happy, tragic and seemingly unjust appearances. Is it not a yearning for Truth that has attracted each of us towards this lodestone called Theosophy. As with a magnet, the attraction can only operate with an identical metal. The analogy is obvious. Divine wisdom or Truth is already innately imbedded in the deepest part of our being – our attraction occurs through recognition; our highest intuition is drawn to its natural touchstone. It is not arrogant or fanciful to experience a feeling of familiarity that we somehow already know even if it’s just the faintest gleam. We do. Why ?

Traditions round the world all give hints of humanities golden age of innocence when the gods or higher beings impressed our minds with primal truths about ourselves. K.H. one of H.P. Blavatsky’s teachers speaks of the highest Planetary Spirits appearing on earth at the origin of every new human kind ; And they remain with man no longer than the time required for the eternal truths they teach to impress themselves so forcibly upon the plastic minds of the new races as to warrant them from being lost or entirely forgotten in ages hereafter, by the forthcoming generations. The mission of the planetary Spirit is but to strike the KEY NOTE OF TRUTH ……..the vibrations of the Primitive Truth are what your philosophers name “innate ideas.”

From the vantage point of our more or less free thinking climate of the present day, try to imagine what it must have been like in Victorian times in the 19th century when fortress dogma lorded by the church and science still dominated and overawed the thought atmosphere. A very strong character was needed to challenge the prejudiced racial, social and religious boundaries and break down the high, dark, thick walls of materialism. The time was ripe for an individual of unique calibre to come to the fore. That individual was a noble born Russian woman, Helena Petrovna Blavatsky. Her combination of courage, compassion and rare intellect was equal to the colossal task. She was the warrior pioneer and sage chosen and charged to lead and awaken the modern western and eastern world to the rediscovery of our divine lineage and natural birthright

Minds over a century on are still being stretched, satisfied, fascinated, inspired and encouraged by H.P.B ‘s teachings. In 1988 an international conference week in Pasadena celebrated the centenary of The Secret Doctrine. This anniversary was also marked in various countries around the world. These volumes have been translated into many languages and continue to be printed together with other more modern publications faithfully continuing H.P Blavatsky’s example of emphasising the philosophy of wisdom religion and its practical application to everyday living. The refrain appears repeatedly in the writings and lectures of her successors and followers.

e.g. … think of Theosophy as the highest law of conduct… one must live the life if one would know the law.

In H.P.B’s Key to Theosophy we read: “The Society is a philanthropic and scientific body for the propagation of the ideas of brotherhood on practical instead of theoretical lines.”

Enthusiasm with our rediscovery of these truths should never lose hold of H.P.B’s cardinal message that “altruism is the keynote of Theosophy and the cure for all ills;”

– Renée Hall

Working with the Grain of Nature

 

Is there anybody out there who doesn’t, in quiet moments, feel in his or her heart that the future lies in working with the grain of nature? We are creatures. We may live in concrete burrows, and cover ourselves in a million different ways, and talk about our command over all we survey. Yet nothing can disguise the fact that we are part of nature, indivisible from it.

This quote is from an article written by Dr Tony Kendle, one of the founders of the Eden Project. What is the Eden Project? “Eden is the stage on which we explore our interdependence with plants… It is not a theme park, it is about serious issues. “It is intended to be optimistic, celebrating what is good and positive about possible futures inspiring us to examine the world afresh.”

The Eden Project is near St. Austell in Cornwall and occupies what was once a disused china clay pit. An ugly scar on the landscape which has now acquired a new and beautiful life. The floor of this big hole in the ground is occupied by two gigantic biodomes in which are created rain forest, temperate and cold conditions. Within the climate zones are plants and trees appropriate to those regions whilst outside the landscape is planted with a range of trees, shrubs and vegetables. The temperature and humidity within the biodomes are controlled using natural energy. There is an integrated pest management system using biological control through birds, frogs, lizards and beneficial insects.

As we wander through the forests and plantations the interrelationship between plants and ourselves becomes obvious. We start to realise for example how from the Andes, home of the potato, which comes in black, orange, dark red, striped, knobbly and smooth forms is still being used today in breeding programmes to produce disease-resistant crops , and are being made into crisps and chips, helping to bring income and economic stability to local people.

Take coffee or cacao – did we realise that these crops need shade and by growing them, under trees such as Prunus Africana,are used to treat prostate cancer, a tiered production system. As the trees grow bigger the garden once more becomes a productive crop forest, good for the local people, the economy and the land. Nearer to home in the temperate biodome we can find the sunflower; possibly the only major domestic crop to have originated in North America, where they provide food, fuel and pigment. We associate sunflowers with the Mediterranean but large scale commercial growing is principally in the Argentine, Ukraine, and Russia where their oil was first commercially exploited. The seeds provide protein-rich food and margarine, as well as having uses in paint manufacture, medicines, cosmetics and plastics. The remaining seed meal feeds livestock, and the husks and stems can be use to fuel the oil extraction.

But it does not stop there. Eden is not a world in isolation. It is deeply rooted in the local community. It aims to bring people together and “encourage us to think that idealistic need not be the same as naive.” This fascinating project shows us clearly that we are part of a whole, governed by the same Laws of Nature, and that our future is assured so long as we are prepared to be co-workers with nature.

Soul Keepers

 

“Can you make my soul better?” asks eight year old Maggie, before confronting me with an even more difficult question; “Do animals have souls?”.

My interest in children’s fascination with souls was aroused when I attended a birthday party for a group of energetic seven year olds. In the middle of the proceedings a debate broke out about whether or not you can talk to, or instruct your soul. None of the children was in any doubt about the soul’s importance; they were simply divided about how it worked.

Awareness of the soul does not only give a child a sense of belonging but also opens his or her eyes to new possibilities. Through the soul, the imaginative potential of a child can be developed in all kinds of unexpected directions. The multiple realities of thought, reflection, dream and fantasy are harnessed in a semi-conscious search for meaning if we let them embark on this journey of discovery.

…….Fortunately, children are not dominated by a sense of loss or disappointment that often shapes the imagination of adults. They have a weaker sense of the past and are less concerned about the future than grown-ups. They are able to live in the present and are relatively relaxed about moving between conscious and semi-conscious behaviour. Consequently, intuition, fantasy, desire and experience all provide resources through which they engage with the world creatively.

Children do not need to search for their authentic self. What they need are opportunities to develop their imagination in order to find answers and explanation about a world from which they are not yet estranged. That is why it is good to talk to kids about the mystery of their souls.

Whereas adults regard having a soul as an individual personal trait, children can make sense of it as binding them to something much larger than themselves. It does not have to be a god. In the musical The Lion King, there is a part where the young lion, Simba, sees his dead father. When children read the story they readily take on board the idea that death does not stop the soul from living on and continuing to influence the lives of others. Often they do not see death as an irreversible process that will cut them off for ever from those they love.

For parents, conversations about souls provide an opportunity to discuss what families are about. Expounding on what family members believe and achieve helps children to develop a sense of roots and context within which they can develop their narrative of the self. Such conversations provide them with sentiments and feelings that bind them to others as they are exploring the mysteries of life. Through talking about the soul, parents can also inspire those noble feelings – love, compassion, fortitude, honesty – that we admire in others.

The mysteries of human life can be complicated or confused by ready-made-off-the-shelf answers, or its exploration can be encouraged by parents who are prepared to tackle a subject that grown-ups normally find difficult.

Helping a child to acquire the ability to imaginatively take-off and fly is one of the best gifts that we can give. And after all, that is what the search for the soul is all about.

– Soul Keepers by Professor Frank Furedi (The Times 30.10.2004)

Intuition

 

Intuition, be it active or relatively inactive, is the source of all human understanding of truth. It lives in the heart of man, i.e., in the core of his being; and it is the working of this intuition which gives to him all his highest and best ideas regarding the nature of man and the universe. Doubtless everyone has at sometime thought; in the name of all that is holy, is there no truth in the universe that a thinking man can find and understand? Is there in fact nothing but uncertainty and vague surmises, and speculations without number, all based upon a mere researching, all be it faithful enough, among natural facts? The answer comes like the “still small voice” saying; there must be, in a cosmos of order, in a universe regulated by the rule of “law” and consequence, some means of arriving at a fully satisfying explanation of that universe, because it is One, and therefore wholly and throughout consistent with itself. Where then may be found the truth about the Universe – in other words some satisfactory explanation of THINGS AS THEY ARE? There can be but one Truth, and if we can find a formulation of that truth in logical, coherent, and consistent form, obviously we then can understand it, or at any rate comprehend portions of it equal to our capacity of comprehension. It is the Esoteric Tradition, today called Theosophy which may prove to be this formulation of truth – formulated in our present age according to the spiritual-intellectual fashion and manners of the time, it is true , but nevertheless conveying the age-old Message of Wisdom and cosmic Reality.

The Esoteric Tradition Vol.1, page 31 by G de Purucker

The “Wisdom Religion” is the inheritance of all the nations, the world over……

….the Esoteric philosophy is alone calculated to withstand, in this age of crass and illogical materialism, the repeated attacks on all and everything man holds most dear and sacred in his inner spiritual life….Moreover, Esoteric philosophy reconciles all religions, strips everyone of its outward, human garments, and shows the root of each to be identical with that of every other great religion. It proves the necessity of an absolute Divine Principle in nature…

The Secret Doctrine Volume 1, Introduction