The Theosophical Forum – July 1936


Question 310. Why is it so difficult for us to get authentic records of the lives of the great Teachers and Philosophers of the world? There always seems to be so much obscurity and uncertainty about them. P. — Let me ask whether the very obscurity that surrounds the life and work of these men such as Cagliostro, Apollonius of Tyana, Saint-Germain, and Jesus, of whom no authentic records whatsoever exist, does not itself prove, in view of the tremendous interest, fascination, that their lives have aroused, that they were men beyond the ordinary? They come, no one knows whence. They live and do their work, no one knows how. They succeed, and they disappear from among men, and no one knows when or where they die. The same can be said of all four men I have mentioned.

What, after all, is of value in the lives of such great men? The place of their birth or the place of their passing? The record of their lives such as we have it? What makes the story of Jesus so dear to the human heart? It is not the fact that he is supposed to have been born and to have lived in one place, and supposed to have died elsewhere. It is not even the so-called historic record of his life as we have it — in a most unhistoric way! embroidered with legend — but what he taught, what he did, the life of the man as it appears, as it has made its appeal to human hearts.

Personally I think that there is something intentional in all this. You know, among the early Christians there was a sect who were called by their opponents the Docetists, in other words "believers in appearances," who taught that it really was not the authentic Jesus who died on the Cross as one crucified, but an appearance. "Heretics" the orthodox called them. Yet I wonder!

Of course it would be perfectly lovely to know all about Saint-Germain and Cagliostro and Jesus and Apollonius of Tyana, but the trouble is that the records are not there. That is the point. I do not mean to say that it is wrong to want to know these personal things, but they do not exist on record; they have been hid or withdrawn. Consequently they cannot be found; and any history purporting to be a record of their lives in my judgment is largely fabrication.

Question 311. In the Theosophical philosophy we often read about the Monadic Essence; and on the other hand we often read about Atma-Buddhi. What is the relation between the Monadic Essence and the principles which H. P. B. mentions: Atma-Buddhi? (From The Hague Club)

G. de P. — Atman and Buddhi together form what we Theosophists call the Monad. When the Manasic fruitage of past lives is "added" to it, then we have what is called the Reincarnating Ego. Atman means "self; and, as a spark comes from a fire, so likewise is the Atman which inspirits a man, a spark from the Fire of Universal Consciousness — the Paramatman or Brahmatman to use Sanskrit terms; and that Essence which works within the Monad, i. e., Atma-Buddhi, is the Monadic Essence, the heart of the Monad. To put the matter in other words: Atman is the Self; but even though it belongs to the divine part of the constitution of a human being, nevertheless because this human entity is a manifested entity — however great the manifestation is — the Atman is, as it were, limited and therefore is not absolute infinity. But that Essence which is in Atman and which is the essential being of the Atman, is the kosmic Paramatman. The Monadic Essence is, as it were, a divine Atom or divine particle of the Paramatman. Therefore the Monadic Essence is the heart of Atman, the core of it.

Question 312. What attitude does the Theosophical Society take in regard to the taking of alcohol and intoxicating beverages? Are members of the T. S. required to make any declaration regarding this? And does membership in the T. S. depend upon such attitude?

J. H. Fussell — First it should be stated that the sole prerequisite of membership in the Theosophical Society is an acceptance of the principle of universal brotherhood. Any law-abiding man or woman who accepts this fundamental principle may apply and may be admitted into our ranks. Nor do we issue any questionnaire as to the belief or attitude on the question above referred to, or indeed on any questions, whether political, social, or otherwise. It may be said, however, that, generally speaking, Theosophists take no alcoholic beverages; and this is true in general of the members of the Theosophical Society throughout the world. No inquiry, as stated, is made of anyone as to whether he takes this attitude or not, but it is found that as one studies Theosophy and comes to learn something about the composite nature of man, he comes to have no desire for alcohol, and indeed to see that it is harmful, and a deterrent in respect to true spiritual growth.

It may be said furthermore that while we have great respect and indeed admiration for the efforts of noble men and women to lessen and as far as possible remove the evils that are so much in vogue today, the position that is taken in the Theosophical Society is a basic one, namely, that the most effective work is to get at the very roots of the causes; and that means that the hearts and minds of men must be changed, which can be accomplished only by presenting to them a true philosophy of life such as is contained in the religion-philosophy-science of Theosophy.

Question 313. In a review of "The Esoteric Tradition" in "The 0. E. Library Critic," February, 1936, I see a criticism of the statement that "'the lower mammalia are the offspring of men." Why does Dr. Stokes consider this a "bizarre theory"?

C. J. Ryan — There is nothing bizarre to well-informed students of Theosophy in the statement that "the lower mammalia are the offspring of men" or which, as Dr. Stokes thinks, will discourage really worth-while Theosophy among people who have some knowledge of science, etc. It looks as if he would suppress one of H. P. Blavatsky's important teachings for fear that Mrs. Grundy, in the guise of a Darwinian scientist, would not approve. He speaks of the "cathartic effect" produced on him by this "bizarre theory" which, he says "Dr. de Purucker, like some others" believes. The uninformed reader would naturally suppose that the "others" were of little account, and might be surprised to learn the fact that they include H. P. Blavatsky and her Masters who together wrote the book in which this teaching occurs — The Secret Doctrine. See Volume II, pages 81, 168, 197, 693, 712-4, etc.

The authoritative position of The Secret Doctrine has been emphasized by The O. E. Library Critic for many years when defending Theosophy against alleged perversions and suppressions (see many "deadly double-columns'), and it is certain that the mammalia "heresy" is not being foisted on the readers of The Esoteric Tradition by any unauthorized person who might be regarded as speaking independently "as the voice of God," but that it is based on the same high authority as the other teachings of Theosophy. It is not a "pipe-dream," and it is not "overdone." It is an integral part of the philosophy, and it explains some of the great enigmas that face modern biology. Those who cannot understand it are perfectly at liberty to let it alone, and confine their attention to other departments of Theosophy: they will be the only losers. As for the more materially inclined biologists, nothing we can say will affect them one way or the other. The appeal of Theosophy is to those who are beginning to realize that there is an "occult" side to Nature, and that the superficial, mechanistic hypotheses, however plausible and ingenious, are unsatisfactory. No one teaches the absurdity that man, as he is today, gave birth to animals such as whales, tigers, and rats! The mammalian problem requires for its solution an understanding of the enormous evolutionary changes that "man" has undergone during the previous "Rounds" of development as well as during the earlier, more or less ethereal, races of this Fourth Round. Scientists are very slowly beginning to discover the existence of the astral plane, and when they establish it to their own satisfaction they will have no difficulty in comprehending the importance of the evolutionary teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. We decline, however, to obscure the teachings for which intuitive minds are waiting, in order to please anyone, however learned in the ephemeral hypotheses of the day.

In regard to this matter it will be instructive to learn William Q. Judge's views. He turns out to be one of the "others" with whom Dr. Stokes associates Dr. de Purucker — a pretty good company it would seem. In Mr. Judge's Theosophical Forum, No. 45, March 1893, he writes at considerable length in answer to a question as to how man can have "appeared before the animals," the problem we are now discussing. We can quote only a few lines, and hope that they will not shock our scientific friends. He says:

. . . in this round all the lower kingdoms in respect to their outer covering or materiality get all that coating from what man casts off. This is also clearly taught and not an inference of mine. . . . Let those of us who accept the statements of the Masters remember that they have certified in writing that The Secret Doctrine is the triple production of those two great beings and H. P. Blavatsky. Such a certificate they have given of no other book. Their certificate will not be accepted by outsiders nor by that small class of Theosophists who loudly proclaim they will accept nothing that does not accord with their reason; but one is puzzled to know how their reason can work in respect to matters such as these about which the Adepts alone can know the truth. As for myself, I find the teaching quite consistent with the whole of the philosophy and explanatory of natural facts; for the rest I am willing to believe all the parts I cannot yet verify and to wait a little longer.

From that and many other passages by W. Q. Judge — a most level-headed man — - we glean that he was not afraid of the impression that such a "bizarre" hypothesis might make on inquirers!

Question 314. When the inevitable changes peculiar to the New Cycle now dawning come upon us, will they cause chaos only to the extent that we fail to prepare ourselves for their advent, or as we oppose them?

Alice D. Peirce — This question seems to imply that changes concomitant with the New Era upon which humanity is entering, are yet to come upon us. The fact is that very great psychic, mental, and spiritual changes are now in progress and have been increasingly evident for several decades past. Cycles do not terminate abruptly, one giving place to another at an exact point of time. Nature works less mechanically. As twilight intervenes between the darkness of night and full day, so with all cyclic processes there is a period of overlapping, and a gradual changing of the old order to give place to the new.

Times of transition are critical periods, accompanied by unrest, uncertainty, and chaos more or less pronounced. Down the centuries cyclic changes can be traced in every nation, some of minor effect restricted to a limited area, others far-reaching and of cataclysmic proportions. The distressing symptoms of our present transition-era bear out the prophetic forecast of H. P. Blavatsky that one of the major crises in human events would accompany the closing of several important cycles near the end of last century, resulting in world-wide disturbances in this century.

Assuredly, the chaos now confronting us would have been greatly mitigated had men and women been better prepared to meet the crisis understandingly. Except in the teachings of Theosophy, introduced by H. P. Blavatsky, there was little in the religious, scientific, or scholastic training of last century to provide adequate preparation for the new conditions to be met. Difficult and bewildering as a transition-period such as ours seems, encouragement lies in the fact that it offers greatly increased opportunity for growth in knowledge and understanding. To oppose the on-sweep of evolutionary progress is folly indeed. To best prepare for the new conditions of our changing world, we are taught to unfetter the imagination, to visualize a saner and more spiritual way of life, and above all, to put into practice in everyday affairs the old, familiar Golden Rule given by every World-Teacher without exception, as the essential panacea for the ills with which mankind has been afflicted in all ages in which it has been neglected — conspicuously in our own.

Question 315. If we are all god-sparks, what is it that engenders the differentiation of minds in the first place, the differentiation of environment;that which caused one man to choose right and another wrong in the first steps of his earth-life?

Irene Ponsonby. — Do you not think that the answer lies in an understanding of the tenets: "All things are composite," and "No two blades of grass are identical"? The center of being of every part of the composite man is a god-spark, but the manifested man is an individualized egoic expression of all his unified selves, and since no two composites are identical we find differentiation in their manifestation.

One can readily imagine, how, even were it possible to eliminate the physical and psychological vehicles, and to limit man to four conjoined egoic centers, there would still "be war in heaven," for each center is evolving, which means growing and learning on its own, while it functions as part of the composite entity it forms. Thus a man takes poison: even his mind may not endorse his action, but in spite of the objection it and his body manifest, the poison is swallowed and they are destroyed; but, to close the circle, the man's future choice and environment will be largely affected by the resulting damage to his mental, moral and physical life-atoms.

Immediately the god-spark enters manifestation it uses the life-atoms on all planes of being which belonged to it in a past life. These have received his imprint, the molding of his will and desire, and reacting to that impress, form his being on all the planes, visible and invisible for the present incarnation — hence his present choice and environment.

Going still further back, which is possibly what the querist means — to the choice before reincarnation made by the Reincarnating Ego; that choice must likewise be the individual god-spark's response to the stimuli of the forces of attraction and repulsion of past lives, for is not each Ego an individualized expression of its Monad?

F. M. Dadd. — While it is true that we are all one in essence, that every "mind" is a ray of the Cosmic Mind, yet differentiation is one of the laws of being. Each ray or god-spark contains within itself its own essential characteristic, its own individuality or swabhava, that which makes it different from all other god-sparks. At no time in evolution are they all exactly alike. Indeed the purpose of the great Life-cycle known as life and death and again life and death repeatedly, in different bodies, is to unroll or express by means of the inner urge at the heart of each entity that which is latent within it, this same essential individuality.

At the close of a Mahamanvantara, when each ray, with its added experience of self-consciousness, is indrawn again to its parent Monad, this individuality is not lost or annihilated, but merely sinks into latency in the larger consciousness of the greater being of which the ray is a part. And when the life-urge awakens again, forth will come that same ray again into manifestation, still itself, still essentially one with, yet different from, all other selves.

As regards our choice of right and wrong — this is a matter partly of karman, of the seeds of action we have sown into our character in the past, thus building step by step, act by act, a propensity to choose "right" or "wrong." But it is also a matter of freewill, for no matter what trend of action we find ourselves enmeshed in, through karmic threads woven in the past, we have the free-will at any moment, not to change outward conditions, but to choose as to how we will meet them, thus setting in motion new karmic trends. So that the key to the answer to this question rests for each one within himself.

The Theosophical Forum