Copyright © 1979 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
It is easy to become a Theosophist. Any person of average intellectual capacities, and a leaning toward the meta-physical; of pure, unselfish life, who finds more joy in helping his neighbour than in receiving help himself; one who is ever ready to sacrifice his own pleasures for the sake of other people; and who loves Truth, Goodness and Wisdom for their own sake, not for the benefit they may confer — is a Theosophist.
But it is quite another matter to put oneself upon the path which leads to the knowledge of what is good to do, as to the right discrimination of good from evil; a path which also leads a man to that power through which he can do the good he desires, often without even apparently lifting a finger. — H. P. Blavatsky, "Practical Occultism," Lucifer, II, 150
Occultism is not the acquirement of powers, whether psychic or intellectual, though both are its servants. Neither is Occultism the pursuit of happiness, as men understand the word; for the first step is sacrifice, the second, renunciation. — Lucifer, I, 7
Our philosophy of life is one grand whole, every part necessary and fitting into every other part. Every one of its doctrines can and must be carried to its ultimate conclusion. Its ethical application must proceed similarly. If it conflict with old opinions those must be cast off. It can never conflict with true morality. . . . The spirit of Theosophy must be sought for; a sincere application of its principles to life and act should be made. Thus mechanical Theosophy, which inevitably leads — as in many cases it already has — to a negation of brotherhood, will be impossible, and instead there will be a living, actual Theosophy. — William Q. Judge, The Path, X, 235
. . . Tcharaka, a Hindu physician, who is said to have lived 5,000 years B.C., in his treatise on the origin of things, . . . thus beautifully expresses himself: "Our Earth is, like all the luminous bodies that surround us, one of the atoms of the immense Whole of which we show a slight conception by terming it — the Infinite." — Isis Unveiled, I, 560
OCCULTISM, as the Masters and H. P. Blavatsky have told us, is that sublime wisdom delivered to the early races of mankind by exalted beings from other lokas; and while in our modern times to this wisdom has been given the name of occultism, that is the science of things which are secret or hid, and while that name has its correspondence in other languages, as in the Sanskrit gupta-vidya, in the form in which it has been presented to the public in our age, it is called theosophy. One may ask oneself: Is there any intrinsic difference between occultism and theosophy? I think we may say very fairly and justly that there is not, that fundamentally the two are one, two names for one thing. But H. P. Blavatsky very wisely made a distinction, superficial if you like, but convenient, between occultism and theosophy, and this distinction was thought of in connection with the three kinds of members of the Theosophical Movement: first, the members of the Theosophical Society who are neither theosophists nor occultists necessarily, but who are those who so greatly admire our broad and universal platform, who are so much in sympathy with the ideals which theosophy sets forth, that they have thrown in their lot with us, and work with us. The second class comprises those who are more than mere members of the Theosophical Society; they are those who study the particular and certain doctrines which in our time have been called theosophical, and which represent the eye doctrine, as Gautama the Buddha called it; in other words, the publication for the public weal of certain chosen and specified doctrines of occultism, fit for public dissemination in our age. Lastly, those who have given themselves in a larger, in a deeper, and in a more heartful degree than the other two classes have done, to that sublime wisdom which has come down to us from immemorial time as the revelation, if we may use that word, of the truths of the kosmos, and of course of man as a part thereof.
This, then, is the distinction, such as it is, between theosophy and occultism. The theosophical doctrines are more generally for the public, yet they are chosen from the doctrines of occultism; they are the doctrines which are most fit for public dissemination in our age, as already said.
Now the unfortunate part of this matter is the following: everything that is of human nature, or which springs from the heart or brain of mankind, is de facto subject to imitation or even to degeneration; and consequently this name occultism, a truly noble name in its real meaning, is often greatly, even vilely, misused and misunderstood; it is bandied about in the newspapers, and passes from mouth to mouth as signifying little more than the so-called psychistic or wonderment-doctrines on which the public feeds so avidly. That use is a degradation of the original sense. All things which really satisfy the heart and mind of man must be of necessity true in degree, otherwise they could not so satisfy; but, as we all know, men's minds and hearts sometimes feed on mere husks, as it is expressed in the Christian New Testament — feed on husks which the swine eat. You know what the symbolic expression swine means. We have spoken of it before, so we need not now allude to it again. But the point which I wish to impress upon our minds in this connection is, that occultism is the exposition of the very essence, the quintessence, of truth, of reality. It cannot be studied by the higher mind alone, nor can it be studied alone by those other faculties in man which he classes under the generic heading of "feelings." But it must be studied as a complete whole, and it answers fully to all demands of man's entire spiritual and psychological composition, and is therefore entirely and utterly satisfactory. It provides man not merely with a basis for the noblest system of ethics the world knows, but describes to him what those ethics are, and on what they are founded, and what the due and perfect practice of them will lead to. And that leading, we are told, is along that old, small path, of which the Upanishads speak — for those who follow it finally come into direct connection and into confabulation with the all-wise and calm-eyed gods, for that path leads us directly to the heart of the universe — the "heart" in the mystical and esoteric sense: into those places, into those spiritual, superspiritual, and divine, regions where is the core of the being of each one of us.
The various great religions of the present and of the past times have sprung forth from the doctrines of occultism; each one of such religions in its germinal stage, in its beginning, was the spiritual offspring of some great and noble man, one of the Masters, indeed, who taught publicly during the particular period when he appeared among men openly for the salvation of his fellows, giving forth anew, once again, the age-old truths or, perchance, but a newer version of the ancient light to them, elucidating the great problems concerning the kosmos and man, which to those who have not received such light, so harass the human heart and, it may be, the human intellect, with an urgency demanding solution. Such a movement was started in our time by our great-souled Brother, H. P. Blavatsky. It depends upon us almost wholly at the present time, and will in the future so depend very largely, whether that effort is to fail as all religions in the past, save one, have failed, more or less; or whether it is to go forward successfully, doing the work it was intended to do, planting the seeds of right thinking and right action, of human brotherhood, and of universal kindliness, in the hearts of all who follow it; or whether, following the left-hand path, the path of matter, it is to go down and possibly become even an instrument of the Brothers of the Shadows.
Our Teachers have told us plainly that the study of occultism involves a great moral responsibility: that it places such a responsibility upon the shoulders of him or of her who studies it, because it awakens the inner man; it awakens his hid powers. And, furthermore, precisely proportionate to a man's earnestness is its study productive of good or, it may be, of the reverse. OCCULTISM CANNOT BE TRIFLED WITH. It deals with direct and original things, if you understand these terms, not with reflected truths. Hence, unless a man's heart be absolutely pure — I mean by that, clean of all personal selfishness — he never is safe. There can be no trifling with it. It calls out of a man all he is inwardly, and brooks no halfway loyalty.
The two paths lie always at our feet; at every step they diverge, one to the right and one to the left; and one single act may induce a habit, which will make a character, in time, by repetition; and that character is you or I, for it is the exercise of knowledge (or half-knowledge) and will.
It is for these reasons that time and again we refer to the necessity of understanding clearly what we mean by morals, and that there is the utmost need for their practice by each one of us, by you and by me, every moment of our lives. Such practice does not mean merely the hypocritical assent of the mentality, with a mental reservation that "finally I shall do as I please." That field of mental reservations is precisely where the Brothers of the Shadows make their conquests of the hearts of men, on just such lines as those. I tell you, with all solemnity, that the warning should be, must be, heeded.
Now, let us open our study tonight by reminding ourselves of the fact that the lokas and the talas of which we have spoken at our several last meetings, as concerns the earth, are its seven principles and its seven elements respectively — and as concerns the kosmos precisely the same may be said; furthermore, that the seven kosmical lokas and seven kosmical talas comprise the entirety, the totality, of all that is in our solar system, which is the kosmic atom. In other words, they comprise the totality of the Egg of Brahma. You know the meaning of that fine old Brahmanical symbol, the egg, a symbol which is found likewise in other religions, such as the Orphic system in Greece, and the Egyptian system; and we know from the representations we have of the earth-mounds, that anciently it was equally well recognized in North America.
When we speak of the kosmic atom — when we speak of the Egg of Brahma, which is another way of saying the same thing — when we speak of it as being the solar system, please know that we do not mean the planets together, or the sun alone, or the sun and planets together, which last form merely the outward rind or shell, as it were (or, if we may use a physiological term, the nerve centers, the ganglia, of the physiological operations), of this Egg of Brahma. When we speak of the kosmic atom, and inferentially of the atom of matter as we know it on this earth, we mean the vital-astral entity behind it, that particular entity considered as a unity, which gives it its life, its swabhava, that is, its particular or individual characteristic, that which differentiates it from other similar kosmic eggs or kosmic atoms. We may also speak of our earth as Brahma's Egg, but this is by analogy; the real Egg of Brahma is the solar system.
We have said before that the lokas and talas are the seven principles and the seven elements of our globe, our globe Terra; but there are other seven lokas and other seven talas which are respectively the seven principles and the seven elements of each one of the other six globes of our planetary chain, seven of each, to each. One may ask oneself, if one has not studied occultism, why there should be so much of the sevening process in our studies; why our doctrines should continually run in sevenfold aggregates. The answer of occultism is, because nature has so builded her structures. Outside of such obvious things as the seven principal colors of the light spectrum and the seven rays of the sun (which is almost the same thing), and the seven notes of the diatonic scale in music, and the fact known to students of physiology that many diseases run in cycles of seven days or multiples thereof — leaving these things aside, we find in studying the ancient literatures as showing forth the religions, philosophies, and sciences of the past times, that while they all state the fact under different forms undoubtedly, they all agree more or less unanimously in ascribing to the structural framework of the universe and of man the same system of seven component parts.
This question of numeration is one which we have laid no foundation for at present, and therefore we postpone it for longer consideration to a future time. Suffice it then for the present to accept it as a proposition for study. You yourselves can prove what has been said. The literatures of the world lie open before you. Read them and study them, and you will be convinced as all other sincere students have been convinced who have done it. Study therefore the evidences and prove the facts.
Now the gods, monads, and atoms work through the kosmic egg inwards and outwards, that is, they work through the lokas and talas. As H. P. Blavatsky says in the first volume of The Secret Doctrine, on page 619:
"God, Monad, and Atom are the correspondences of Spirit, Mind, and Body (Atma, Manas, and Sthula Sarira) in man." In their septenary aggregation they are the "Heavenly Man" (see Kabala for the latter term); thus, terrestrial man is the provisional reflection of the Heavenly. . . . "The Monads (Jivas) are the Souls of the Atoms, both are the fabric in which the Chohans (Dhyanis, gods) clothe themselves when a form is needed."
They so clothe themselves, in order, as pointed out in our former studies of the gods, monads, souls, and atoms, to evolve forth the universe; as the Upanishad puts it, as a spider spins a web. That is a beautiful symbol. From out of themselves, from their own substance, they weave the geometrical pattern of the kosmos and therein work.
The study of the structure or framework of our kosmic atom is a vast, profound, and intricate subject, and before we can properly do it justice, it would seem better first to undertake at least a cursory examination — for at this point we have now arrived in our studies — of the building of our own globe, as a part of the planetary chain in which it is one of the seven links. Indeed, let us go a little farther than that, and study the working of the life-waves of and in our planetary chain. Our planetary chain, as said before, may itself be considered the Egg of Brahma, the kosmic egg, the fruit of its parent, i.e., the planetary chain of the preceding manvantara; and it itself is to be the parent of its own future offspring, the planetary chain to come when we in our own chain shall have run our cyclical evolutionary course and sunk into our long and well-earned pralaya, or rest — in other words, after we have rejoined those superspiritual spheres from within which we came in the very beginning of things — to remain there in peace and in bliss ineffable, until the seeds latent in us, the fruitage of our present and future acts and thoughts, shall spring into activity in due time. For all things move in regular courses and according to order, which shall bring us down, in far-distant aeons into the fabrication of the planetary chain to be.
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