A Personal Impact

By I. M. Oderberg

In my midteens I visited the vast reference section of the Public Library in Melbourne, Australia, with its millions of books, many of them rare. I was not in search of anything in particular, and at a distance I noticed a title: Isis Unveiled. It still amazes me that the title could be seen so many feet from where I was standing. There were three different editions on the shelf, and the middle one appealed. Upon opening it, a notice stated that it was the "Donation of Katherine Tingley, Point Loma, California." From 1:30 p.m. onward I became a different person from what I had been until then — in another world, so to speak. Glancing at the clock and expecting only the passage of an hour, I was astonished to find it had become 7:20! Gathering notes together, writing down the name and address of the donor, I dashed off to catch the tram home, where anxiety had reigned because of my nonappearance. After things had calmed down, a hastily worded note was readied for mailing to the donor of the book.

Subsequent visits to the library enabled me to become acquainted with another extraordinary work by the same author, H. P. Blavatsky: The Secret Doctrine. I felt this book was different from any other, a catalyst enabling entry into the reader's consciousness of vast themes. It seemed not intended as an academic text; immersion in its concepts, ideas, analogies, was forever proof of an inherent vitality still evident today, fostering its own kind of interior "discussion" in the reader.

H. P. Blavatsky, c. 1877

My continuing returns to the texts by Blavatsky were enhanced by acquaintance with the works of the donor herself: Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic, The Gods Await, The Wine of Life, The Voice of the Soul, and The Travail of the Soul. In addition, published addresses delivered in many countries and articles in periodicals all indicated what could be done with application of the essence of the larger volumes to meet practical needs such as prison reform, modification of educational methods so that an all-round character resulted, as well as the introduction to each individual of a "storehouse" of data of various kinds. This is the way theosophical ideals are disseminated, for only by being embodied in practice can ideals be spread far and wide.

One of the concepts to which I was introduced was that of the bond linking all the creatures of earth, for, like a mother, it channels the one cosmic life-force from which every one of the planet's creatures draws its sustenance. The idea that the relationship between each individual member of the planet was that which pertains to members of a universe-spanning brotherhood is very appealing to me. It was an idea present at the beginning of the theosophical endeavor launched last century and carried forward in a practical way at KT's centers at Point Loma and elsewhere.

Katherine Tingley must have been in herself the embodiment of a catalyst, to have achieved so great an impact upon others. My own testimony is a small one, but it is a "Thank you!" — something I have wanted to express for so long.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1998. Copyright © 1998 by Theosophical University Press.)

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