Studies in Occult Philosophy by G. de Purucker
Theosophical University Press Online Edition

Cycles Within Cycles
Rationale of Precipitation of the Masters' Letters and the Hare Brothers' Attack on H. P. B.
Obscurity of Teachers' Lives
Inaction in Deeds of Mercy
Sympathy Through Suffering

Questions and Answers

Cycles Within Cycles

What is the manner in which the great Cycles in the evolution of a Root-Race are repeated on a smaller scale in the development of the various sub-divisions of it? Do they not overlap each other to a considerable extent?

You are asking what may seem to you to be a very simple question, but you yourself will see, after a moment's reflexion, that it is an extremely involved one, because your question calls for an entire elucidation or explaining of the intricacies of Nature's cyclical workings, and how the large includes the small. This is a tremendous order! It would take a volume just to answer your one question, which is a question which has occurred to many, and precisely because it is so involved is one reason why it has always been side-stepped from H. P. B.'s time to our own. It would take literally hundreds of pages to give a complete exposition, and days and days of hard work in dictation.

However, there are always general rules, and until the gods give me a year or two of more time, I am afraid you will have to be satisfied. The general rule is — and it is a wonderful key — that the small repeats the great, that little yugas not only are included in the greater yugas, but repeat them on their own little scales. Example: The present Fifth Root-Race, considered as a whole, and including all its minor sub-races, whether great or small, is now in its Kali-Yuga, which began something over five thousand years ago, at the death of Krishna, and will last into the future for about 427,000 years. Keep in mind that this is the Kali-Yuga of the entire Root-Race, the great Kali-Yuga.

Now, then, all the minor cycles or yugas of this Fifth Root-Race will, some of them, be rising, and some of them be falling, and inter-working with each other, and yet will all be subject to the great Kali-Yuga of the Root-Race, which has just begun. Thus, a minor yuga or race may be in its youth, and rising to its flowering, but yet, because it is included in the great descending Kali-Yuga, will, although having a sharp rise, be nevertheless subject to the general decline of the great Kali-Yuga.

Next, every minor cycle, great or small, included in the Root-Race, in its turn is septenary, and therefore has its own little kali-yuga, and its numerical relations are about the same. Just as the great Kali-Yuga is 432 thousand years long, so a little kali-yuga may be perhaps only 432 years long, or possibly 4,320, or possibly even 43,200. The Hindu or Aryan Race which was one of the very first sub-races of our own Fifth Race, is now in its own racial kali-yuga, in addition to belonging to the Fifth Root-Race, and therefore of course belonging to the great Kali-Yuga of the Root-Race. But it is striving to rise into flowering again, and will do so in the future.

In the small scale, Spain is in its short kali-yuga, as also Portugal. Italy has just ended a short kali-yuga and is striving to rise again.

Unfortunately, our Fifth Root-Race being a very materialistic one, i.e., being heavily sunken in matter due to our Fourth Round, these rises are mostly along the lines of materialisms. Furthermore, our own European general stock of Races, which we may call the European sub-race or family-race perhaps, has been steadily rising since the downfall of the Roman Empire, and will continue to rise, with various smaller shocks and falls and risings again, for some six or seven or possibly eight thousand years more. And then there will be a rapid descent until their kali-yuga is reached, a small kali-yuga, when there will be a great European catastrophe of Nature.

This will be some sixteen or eighteen thousand years from now, possibly fifteen or possibly seventeen thousand years. I have never had time to get any really exact figures. But you can say 'about' 16,000 years hence. This period will see the submersion of the British Isles. Most of France will be under the water, also Holland, some of Spain, a good deal of Italy, and other places. Of course all this won't take place in a night. There will be premonitory signs, such as slow sinkings of the coast, and great earthquakes, etc.

Rationale of Precipitation of the Masters' Letters and the Hare Brothers' Attack on H. P. B.

I have been reading a book only recently issued, WHO WROTE THE MAHATMA LETTERS? by the brothers H. E. Hare and W. L. Hare. The general line of criticism adopted by the authors appears to me most unfair, and yet I myself have often been puzzled in regard, to the fact that certain of these Letters contain expressions similar to H. P. B.'s own expressions. I know of course from what I have read regarding THE MAHATMA LETTERS that some of them were transmitted by H. P. B. Would it be possible for an explanation to be given of this?

All the various idiosyncrasies of speech and of mannerism, all the various Gallicisms on the other hand, and the various imperfections of punctuation, orthography, grammar, and what not, to which the critical Hares point triumphantly as largely originating in H. P. B.'s mind — all these were well understood since H. P. B.'s days as being due to the mental and psychical idiosyncrasies of the amanuenses or chelas, i.e., disciples, through whom most of the Letters of the Mahatmans came.

What else could we expect? A ray of sunlight streaming through stained glass will chequer the wall or the floor upon which the ray falls with the colors of the glass through which it passes; nevertheless the original ray is there.

Let the following facts be understood, as they have been for some forty years or more by thoughtful Theosophists: (a) The Masters themselves on only the very rarest of occasions wrote with their own hands any letters whatsoever, and consequently those that they did so write, if indeed any, can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand; consequently these letters are the fewest of all; (b) almost equally rare, but more numerous than those classified under (a) are what have been popularly called "precipitations," or communications which were "dropped" or found in unexpected places by the recipients thereof; and consequently these are relatively very few likewise; and (c) the great majority of all the letters received from the Masters by individuals in those early days came through different amanuenses or transmitting chelas (disciples), among the number of whom we know perfectly well are to be counted H. P. B. herself, Damodar, Bavaji, Bhavani-Rao in one or two cases, and one or two others, probably not excepting the well known and erudite Hindu Theosophist and scholar Subba-Rao.

Now, the important point to be noticed in this connexion is that all these transmissions of intelligence, in other words all these different letters or communications, including the various notes, chits, etc., etc., passed through the medium of the transmitting minds of the chelas who received them and passed them on to their different destinations, and often by the very prosaic and ordinary means of the postal system.

The Messrs. Hare are extraordinarily behind the times in not being aware of the fact that the many experiments of what it is now popular to call telepathy or thought-transference or mind-reading, conducted by earnest men of unquestionable ability and reputation, have established the fact that such telepathic transmission of intelligence is not only possible but actually of more frequent occurrence than most human beings realize; but in the early days of the Theosophical Society, in the heyday of the materialism of Haeckel and Huxley and Tyndall and Moleschott, and all the other bigwigs of the time, even so common a fact as telaesthesia, or telepathy, or thought-transference or mind-reading, was not only not accepted, but even ridiculed — and this against the common testimony and common experience of mankind for ages; for it is one of the most ordinary facts of human life to experience the wordless or unspoken transmission of human thought.

Now then, such transmission of intelligence from Master to pupil or chela, is more or less precisely what today is called thought-transference or telepathy or mind-reading, if you wish, only in vastly more perfect form because the transmitter is a mahatmic intelligence, and the receiving mind of the chela is a highly trained one; and, indeed, telepathy or thought-transference, etc., are merely minor instances of the general rule. The experiments conducted during the last forty or fifty years in mind-reading or thought-transference have shown clearly that it is ideas which are transmitted and received, but which are almost always distorted or twisted by the untrained mind of the receiver or recipient, and almost invariably more or less colored by the mind or psychological apparatus of the recipient; so that while the essential idea is often received, it is frequently distorted or deformed.

Precisely the same thing, but with less degree of distortion or deformation, must by the nature of the case take place when the transmitting chela receives the essential ideas more or less clearly, and occasionally and sometimes even often in the very language of the transmitter's mind and thought; but coming through the psychological apparatus of the chela, the original ideas are more or less subject to be given forth with marks or with the mental clothing of the chela himself. Thus it would actually have been amazing if there had not been Gallicisms in H. P. B.'s transmission of the essential original idea which was received clearly; but coming through H. P. B.'s mind, with her excellent knowledge of French and her acquaintance with Americanisms, it was almost certain that the message would be transmitted more or less, now and then, here and there, with a French turn of phrase, or with an American spelling to which H. P. B.'s mind had been accustomed.

Similarly so with messages received through and passed on by other chelas — each one gave his own particular "atmosphere" or included more or less of his or her own mental characteristics to the message as handed on; yet the original idea, the essential thought, the fundamental language and intelligent conception, were always there, and this fact accounts for the grandeur and profundity found in such transmitted messages.

This leads us directly to the second of our points, which the critical Hares utterly ignore. This second point is the matter of the characteristic individuality in literary form or matter commonly called literary style. It is extraordinary that not a word in direct or specific allusion is made by the two authors of this book to the immense differences in the literary styles of M. on the one hand, and K. H. on the other hand, and neither of these two in literary style or in literary quality is at all comparable with H. P. B.'s own style when she wrote directly from her own mind. The stamp of literary style alone is so well recognised by every competent scholar and student as to be one of the very best means of judging the authenticity of documents, that the omission by the Hare brothers of any allusion to these immense differences in style, constitutes a defect of the gravest character in their attempted criticism. The style of M. for instance, is outstanding for its directness, its abrupt masculinity, its pungency in aphorism, etc.; whereas the style of K. H., though equally profound in thought with M.'s, is markedly different: flowing in character, smooth and easy in narrative, often semi-humorous in relation, and what has been neatly called "gentle" as compared with what has likewise been called the "rough" style of Master M.

H. P. B. when writing alone never wrote anything which in profundity could compare with the literary material of the two Masters, nor with its strength, however fine and really wonderful her own writings were; and her style is enormously different from theirs, although possessing undoubted charm and attractiveness of its own. One has but to compare the literary style and atmosphere of the two volumes, (a) The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, with (b) The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, to see how forcefully telling this argument of literary style and atmosphere is.

I turn with a final word again to the matter of the messages received from the Masters through their chelas. As stated above, I have called this relatively perfect telepathy or thought-transference or mind-reading — call it by what name you will. It is most important to keep this in mind, because if it be kept in mind, then if the critic be likewise honest, he will see the absurdity as well as the futility of hammering, as upon something new, upon what has been known to Theosophists for the last forty or fifty years, and what has been at the same time proved to be a fact by the independent researches of scientific and other men — thought-transference — which produced the Mahatma Letters as written documents. The trained mind and will of the Master directed his thought, consisting of clear-cut, sharply defined ideas, to the mind and into it of the receiving but trained amanuensis, who received the ideas more or less clearly in accordance with his training or development, and transmitted those ideas as faithfully as he or she was able to; but passing through the amanuensis' mind, the transmitted intelligence was bound to be colored by the mental characteristics of the mediator — the disciple's mind — through which it passed. Hence the presence of Gallicisms when H. P. B. was the transmitting chela, and of an occasional Americanism; and similarly so, mutatis mutandis, when chelas other than H. P. B. were the transmitting mediators.

Obscurity of Teachers' Lives

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.

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.

Inaction in Deeds of Mercy

To what extent should help and healing be rendered another suffering soul without interfering with the necessary experience of that soul?the one who receives help?

It seems to me that your question takes it for granted that it is wrong to come to the aid of one who needs help because he is undergoing a karmic experience which he has brought upon himself, and therefore is learning a lesson that is needed! Now that idea of inaction in deeds of mercy is a false idea. In following a line of thought like that we become hard-hearted. We say, or we would say: "What does it matter to me? He is simply learning the experiences that he has brought upon himself. Let him learn them, and the sooner he has learned the lesson the better for him." Ah! but that is not the real teaching. The teaching is love and compassion, that it is our bounden duty to help each other, and that you cannot grow or evolve yourself without exercising the powers of love and compassion and wisdom that you have innate within you. Hatred gives them no exercise. Indifference gives them no exercise.

We never interfere with the karman of another when we help him. Never! We are simply making good karman for ourselves; and furthermore when we help a man it is obviously his karman to be helped by us. Actions in deeds of mercy do not change Nature's majestic forces of readjustment, because these forces are fundamentally based on harmony and sympathy, which are the very elements of what manifests in man as brotherly love. If you help your brother, it is obviously his karman to have you help him. If the opportunity is offered to you, it is your karman and also his karman that the help is proffered and given and received.

Remember that whatever is, is karman. Whatever is, is karmic consequences. It is one of the links in the chain of causation, that brought the timely help and the supporting hand. In either case, the man who refrains from giving help, or the man who rushes to aid, is acting karmically; and the one who refrains, brings upon himself the consequences of his selfish evil-doing; for inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin, because mercy is ethical, it is equitable, it is harmonious, it restores equilibrium, it makes for peace. Injustice and cruelty are inharmonious. They make for disharmony. New and bad karman is thereby made. Remember the law: Inaction in a deed of mercy becomes an action in a deadly sin.

Sympathy through Suffering

To the ordinary man in the street it sometimes seems strange that man should have to go through all the sorrow he has in order to reach perfection, and that it should have to last such a long time. I should like an answer from you so that I may pass it on.

Why is it that sorrow and suffering are in the world, and that they are so enduring? My answer may seem a little hard, but some things in life at first blush do seem a bit hard; yet when understood we find the 'hardness' is merely the strong hand of the law guiding our footsteps. Here is the explanation: All growth is attended with growing pains; a change of condition is a change of state and of consciousness, and human nature in its weaker parts, such as we human beings possess, is so constituted that it rebels at changes; it likes to remain in the old ruts, to run along the familiar lines which humanity has followed for so many ages. But sorrow, pain, suffering, even sickness, are among our best friends.

Now this seems like a hard saying, a dark saying; but how true it is! Consult your own lives. What is it that has put steel into your characters? What is it that has opened your hearts to compassion, rendered perhaps hard and unkind by prosperity and slothful ease? It is the jars and the knocks of misfortune. It is sorrow that teaches us fellow-feeling, sympathy, pity, compassion, that teaches us to help others, so that we now understand their tribulations, so that we now understand after we ourselves have suffered and sorrowed, what they are going through. It is sorrow and pain and suffering that refine us. We are like the ore cast into the molten furnace, into the melting heat; and sorrow and pain purify us so that we come out bright and glittering gold.

Be not afraid of sorrow; be not afraid of trial. They are our best friends; and see what a manly doctrine this is. It is a doctrine of compassion; it is broad-minded, it is human, it is humane, it is sympathetic, it is full of wisdom and quiet peace. The heart which has never been wrung with sorrow has no fellow-feeling for others. The mind which has never been tormented with sorrow and doubt has a veil before it. Sorrow and doubt awaken us, quicken our intellects, open our hearts, and expand our consciousness; and it is sorrow, suffering, sickness, pain, which are among the gentle agents, the merciful ministers, of the evolutionary process. The man whose heart has never been wrung with sorrow cannot understand the sorrows of others. The man who has never sorrowed, knows no greatness. He is great neither in heart nor in mind. Greatness, ethical majesty, spiritual and intellectual power, spring forth from trial.