Copyright © 2001 by Theosophical University Press (print and PDF eBook versions also available). Electronic ISBN 978-1-55700-172-6. All rights reserved. This edition may be downloaded free of charge for personal use. Except for brief excerpts, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted for commercial or other use in any form without the prior permission of Theosophical University Press. For ease of searching, words are not accented in this version.
Chapter 1: What Is Theosophy?
Chapter 2: Evolution
Chapter 3: The Quickening of Mind
Chapter 4: Reincarnation
Chapter 5: Death: A Doorway to Light
Chapter 6: Remembering and Forgetting Past Lives
Chapter 7: Karma
Chapter 8: Karma and/or Grace
Chapter 9: The Christian Message
Chapter 10: Western Occultism
Chapter 11: Psychism
Chapter 12: The Two Paths
Chapter 13: The Paramitas
Chapter 14: H. P. Blavatsky and The Theosophical Society
Chapter 15: Who Will Save Us?
Chapter 16: The Daily Initiation
Chapter 17: A New Continent of Thought
TUP Online Menu
Theosophical University Press, publishing and distributing quality theosophical literature since 1886: PO Box C, Pasadena, CA 91109-7107 USA; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; voice: (626) 798-3378. Free printed catalog available on request; also online at TUP Catalog.
Following in the footprints of sages of a hundred past generation, I sow the beautiful seed for thousands of years to come. — I-tsing, 7th-century Chinese Buddhist Scholar
Legendary and written tradition testify to the presence throughout time of a brotherhood of men and women scattered over the face of the globe who resonate with the spiritualizing impulses reaching earth from higher regions. Their recognition of one another is not dependent on outer insignia but on inner communion. Such was the case with I-tsing, translator into Chinese of hundreds of Buddhist Sanskrit texts, and his assistant, Cheng-ku. When they met it was as though they had known each other "from former days," and after becoming conversant with the largeness of their mission Cheng-ku said to I-tsing:
When Virtue wishes to meet Virtue, they unite themselves without any medium, and when the time is about ripe, no one can stay it even if they wanted.
Shall I then sincerely propose to propagate our Tripitaka [the "Three Baskets" or major divisions of the Pali Canon] together with you, and to help you in lighting a thousand lamps? — A Record of The Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and The Malay Archipelago (A.D. 671-695) >, I-tsing, p. xxxvi.
When virtue meets virtue — how better describe the experience of intuitive recognition? Perhaps this may explain, in part at least, the global awakening now taking place, where thousands of men and women of varying interests and backgrounds, knowingly or unknowingly, are on the same wavelength: they are fired with the urgency to do all in their power to help turn humanity from senseless self-destruction to thoughtful self-regeneration. They labor for the safeguarding of human dignity and self-worth, for the protection of our planet, and for the building of a new type of civilization founded on the brotherhood of all life and the joyous collaboration of peoples and races for the benefit of the whole of humanity.
At the same time, this is a period of great uncertainty, when all that human beings most value is being weighed in the balance. Will we individually and collectively have the insight and courage to make the transformation from egocentricity to a perspective of planetary and solar dimension? In fact, this is already happening in the quiet, like the seed germinating under the snows of winter. So, rather than concentrate on the ugly and poisonous in human relationships, let us celebrate the joy of life. From the wonder of birth to the still beauty of death — both phases of life — all is transformation, change, flux, ebb, and reflux. The outbreathing of divinity brings worlds, humans, atoms, and suns out of the Unknown into visibility, enabling each to express a little more of its potential. The cycle completed, the inbreathing, inrolling, or withdrawal of the life energy follows, the shedding of forms releasing consciousness once again into realms vastly ethereal.
There is never a poison but nature has an antidote. Just as scientific ingenuity has provided us with the means of race suicide, so current efforts to synthesize Western scientific intuitions with Eastern mystical thought are furnishing us with tools for our emancipation — if we have the heart and the will to utilize them for beneficent ends. Take, for instance, the concept that the physical universe is analogous to a hologram, where the three-dimensional image may be projected from any portion of the negative: this is extremely suggestive, especially if applied to the human being as a spiritual intelligence. Moreover, it is a striking parallel to the wisdom-teaching once held worldwide that every life-spark comprehends the whole.
By various metaphors an ancient Buddhist sutra brings the point home that every being and thing partakes of buddha-essence. In one example, it envisions the Primal Buddha (Adi-Buddha) on a thousand-petaled throne, each petal a universe which comprises a hundred million worlds, each of which in turn has its own suns and moons and minor buddhas of the stature of Gautama, who himself is "a minute portion" of the original essence of Buddha. So likewise every particle of dust contains "Buddhas without number." (Avatamsaka-sutra (Flower Garland Sutra, Kegon-sutra in Japan). Cf. Japanese Buddhism by Sir Charles Eliot, pp. 108-10)
Small wonder that people through the ages have venerated gods as races of beings whose obligations toward their earth children — immature gods — impelled them to remain among the young humanities until they were off to a sound start. Their protection will never cease: karmic links of compassion and responsibility were forged in long-ago world cycles of evolution. We too are bound by unbreakable ties with the kingdoms younger than our own, and in like manner by karmic necessity in future cycles will aid them by stimulus and love.
Pursuing the thought further, we intuit something of what the sacrifice of a Gautama or a Jesus means to us today. The Christian dogma of Vicarious Atonement hides a profound esoteric fact: the divine concern that prompts a bodhisattva or christos to imbody on earth is, in very truth, a continuing benediction. This means that humanity is now, as it ever was, the beneficiary of the ongoing altruistic labor, not only of enlightened ones who periodically imbody among us, but also of the acts of love of unnumbered people who, consciously or unconsciously, inspire others to light their own lamp of compassion.
In every age and among every people are born those to whom matters of the mind and spirit are of paramount importance. Almost from birth they seem guided by an inner compass to search out the hidden, causal springs of human existence and learn how they might effectively help ease the burden of human sorrow. Perhaps they are revivifying a quest anciently begun in former lives. Certainly there is a mystic knowledge that speaks to the soul, a boon granted those who qualify by lives of dedication to truth and to humanity's need. Known by many names in different eras, this god-wisdom has been handed down through the millennia as a sacred trust by generations of sages who through initiatory experience have verified the facts of Being. Pivotal in the current awakening was Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who inspired all who were receptive to "sow the beautiful seed" of theosophic wisdom far and wide for succeeding generations.
At the onset of a new century and a new millennium, this study is offered in profound gratitude to HPB and what her sacrifice and magnificent philosophy have meant to the world and to the writer. — G.F.K.
The Theosophical Society
Pasadena, California, USA
July 11, 2001
Every book represents the efforts of many people, and I wish to express my gratitude to each and every member of the editorial and printing staff. More particularly, I thank Eloise Hart for bringing together the initial material, much of it originally having appeared in Sunrise magazine, Sarah Belle Dougherty for her editorial assistance and for the index, Jean B. Crabbendam for checking the index, Elsa-Brita Titchenell for invaluable help in the revision process, Jim and Ina Belderis for checking the quotations, Randell Grubb for his assistance throughout and for assembling the references, and Will Thackara for his valued critique and for supervising the book's production. — G.F.K.
Aeschylus, Aeschylus: Prometheus Bound (1931), trans. Gilbert Murray, George Allen & Unwin, London, 1952.
Angus, S., The Mystery Religions and Christianity, Charles Scribners' Sons, New York, 1925.
Arnold, Edward Vernon, Roman Stoicism (1911), Arno Press, New York, 1971.
Barborka, Geoffrey A., H. P. Blavatsky, Tibet and Tulku, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1966.
Barker, A. Trevor, comp.:
The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett (1925), Theosophical University Press (TUP), Pasadena, 1973.
The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett (1923), TUP, 1992.
Blavatsky, H. P.:
Collected Writings, vols. i, ix, and xii, ed. Boris de Zirkoff, Theosophical Publishing House, Wheaton, 1962-1980.
H. P. Blavatsky to the American Conventions: 1888-1891, TUP, 1979.
Isis Unveiled (1877), TUP, 1998.
The Key to Theosophy (1889), TUP, 1995.
The Original Programme of the Theosophical Society, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1931.
The Secret Doctrine (1888), TUP, 1999.
The Voice of the Silence (1889), TUP, 1992.
Cheney, Sheldon, Men Who Have Walked with God, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 1946.
Conger, Margaret, Combined Chronology: for use with the Mahatma and Blavatsky Letters to A. P. Sinnett, TUP, 1973.
Cranston, Sylvia, HPB: The Extraordinary Life and Influence of Helena Blavatsky, Founder of the Modern Theosophical Movement, 3rd & rev. ed., Path Publishing House, Santa Barbara, 1993.
The Descent of Man, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1896.
The Origin of Species, D. Appleton and Company, New York, 1896.
Doane, T. W., Bible Myths and Their Parallels in Other Religions (1882), University Books, New York, 1971.
Eckhart, Meister, Meister Eckhart, A Modern Translation, trans. Raymond Bernard Blakney, Harper & Row, New York, 1941.
Eldredge, Niles, and Ian Tattersall, The Myths of Human Evolution, Columbia University Press, New York, 1982.
Eliot, Sir Charles, Japanese Buddhism (1935), Routledge & Kegan Paul, London, 1959.
Encyclopaedia Britannica, Macropaedia, vol. 10, "Kepler, Johannes," William Benton, Chicago, 1974.
Frankl, Viktor E., Man's Search for Meaning, Beacon Press, Boston, 1959.
Green, Elmer and Alyce, "Mind Training, ESP, Hypnosis, and Voluntary Control of Internal States," Menninger Foundation, Special APM Report of Parapsychology and Medicine, 1973.
Guillaumont, A., H.-Ch. Puech, G. Quispel, W. Till, and Yassah `Abd Al Masih, trans., The Gospel according to Thomas, E. J. Brill, Leiden, 1959.
Harrison, Jane, Prolegomena to the Study of Greek Religion (1922), 3rd ed., Meridian Books, New York, 1957.
Harrison, Vernon, H. P. Blavatsky and the SPR: An Examination of the Hodgson Report of 1885, TUP, 1997.
Head, Joseph, and Sylvia Cranston, comps., Reincarnation: The Phoenix Fire Mystery (1977), TUP, 1994.
Hermes Trismegistus, Hermetica: the Ancient Greek and Latin Writings which contain Religious or Philosophic Teachings ascribed to Hermes Trismegistus, ed. and trans. Walter Scott, Oxford University Press, London, 1924.
Hitching, Francis, The Neck of the Giraffe: Where Darwin Went Wrong, Ticknor & Fields, New Haven and New York, 1982.
Hui-Neng, The Sutra of Hui-Neng, trans. Thomas Cleary, Shambhala, Boston & London, 1998.
Huxley, Aldous, The Perennial Philosophy, Harper & Brothers, New York and London, 1945.
Idel, Moshe, Kabbalah: New Perspectives, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 1988.
I-tsing, A Record of The Buddhist Religion as Practised in India and The Malay Archipelago (A.D. 671-695), trans. J. Takakusu, Oxford University Press, London, 1896.
Jinarajadasa, C., The Golden Book of The Theosophical Society: A Brief History of the Society's Growth from 1875-1925, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, 1925.
Judge, William Q.:
Bhagavad-Gita combined with Essays on the Gita (1887-1896), TUP, 1978.
Letters That Have Helped Me (1891, 1905), 2 vols. in one, TUP, 1981.
The Ocean of Theosophy (1893), TUP, 1973.
Knoche, Grace F., The Mystery Schools (1940), TUP, 1999.
Kurten, Bjorn, Not From the Apes, Vintage Books, Random House, New York, 1972.
Law, William, The Spirit of Prayer: or, the Soul Rising out of the Vanity of Time, into the Riches of Eternity, J. Richardson, London, 1758.
Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, trans. Maxwell Staniforth, Penguin Books, Baltimore, 1964.
Muller, F. Max, ed., The Sacred Books of the East, Oxford University Press, London:
Cullavagga, vol. xx, 1885.
Maha-Parinibbana-Sutta, vol. xi, 1881.
The Questions of King Milinda, vol. xxxv, 1890.
Saddharma-pundarika, vol. xxi, 1884.
Myer, Isaac, Qabbalah (1888), Samuel Weiser, New York, 1974.
Olcott, Henry S., Old Diary Leaves (1895), vol. i, Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, 1974.
Pausanias, Description of Greece, trans. W. H. S. Jones, The Loeb Classical Library, vol. iv, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1979.
Plato, The Dialogues of Plato, trans. B. Jowett, Random House, New York, 1937.
Purucker, G. de:
The Esoteric Tradition (1935), TUP, 1973.
Fountain-Source of Occultism, TUP, 1974.
Man in Evolution (1941), TUP, 1977.
The Bhagavadgita, Harper & Row, New York, 1973.
The Principal Upanisads, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1953.
Ryan, Charles J., H. P. Blavatsky and the Theosophical Movement (1937), 2nd & rev. ed., TUP, 1975.
Scholem, Gershom G., Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism, rev. ed., Schocken Books, New York, 1946.
Seneca, Moral Essays, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1963.
Siemon, Jean-Louis, Theosophia in Neo-Platonic and Christian Literature (2nd to 6th Century a.d.), Theosophical History Centre, London, 1988.
Skinner, Ralston, Key to the Hebrew-Egyptian Mystery in the Source of Measures (1875), Wizards Bookshelf, Minneapolis, 1975.
Sperling, Harry, Maurice Simon, and Dr. Paul P. Levertoff, trans., The Zohar, 5 vols., The Soncino Press, London and Bournemouth, 1949.
Stryk, Lucien, ed., World of the Buddha: A Reader, Doubleday, New York, 1969.
Taylor, Thomas, The Mystical Hymns of Orpheus: Translated from the Greek, and demonstrated to be the Invocations which were used in the Eleusinian Mysteries, new ed., Bertram Dobell, London, 1896.
Thomas, Edward J., The Life of Buddha as Legend and History, Kegan Paul, Trench, Trubner & Co., London, 1931.
Thompson, Francis, "The Mistress of Vision," The Hound of Heaven and Other Poems, International Pocket Library, Boston, 1936.
The Gods Await (1926), TUP, 1992.
Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic (1922), TUP, 1995.
Titchenell, Elsa-Brita, The Masks of Odin, TUP, 1985.
Tsong-ka-pa, Compassion in Tibetan Buddhism, ed. and trans. Jeffrey Hopkins, Gabriel/Snow Lion, Valois, New York, 1980.
Verny, Thomas, M.D., with John Kelly, The Secret Life of the Unborn Child, Dell Publishing, New York, 1981.
Willoughby, Harold R., Pagan Regeneration: A Study of Mystery Initiations in the Graeco-Roman World, University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1929.
Wilson, H. H., The Vishnu Purana: A System of Hindu Mythology and Tradition, ed. FitzEdward Hall, Trubner & Co., London, 1864.
ContentsTheosophical Society Homepage