Meditation

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“Any Bodhisattva who undertakes the practice of meditation should cherish one thought only: ‘When I attain perfect wisdom, I will liberate all sentient beings in every realm of the universe, and allow them to pass into the eternal peace of Nirvana.’ And yet, when vast, uncountable, unthinkable myriads of beings have been liberated, truly no being has been liberated. Why? Because no Bodhisattva who is a true Bodhisattva entertains such concepts as ‘self’ and ‘other’. Thus there are no sentient beings to be liberated and no self to attain perfect wisdom…The Buddha has no doctrine to convey. The truth is ungraspable and inexpressible. It neither is nor is not … All Bodhisattvas should develop a pure, lucid mind that doesn’t depend on sight, sound, touch, flavor, smell or any thought that arises in it. A Bodhisattva should develop a mind that alights nowhere. The mind should be kept independent of any thoughts that arise within it. If the mind depends upon anything, it has no sure haven…When I attained Absolute, Perfect Enlightenment, I attained absolutely nothing. That is why it is called Absolute, Perfect Enlightenment.”

~ Diamond Sutra

A New Year Resolution That Honors Your Spirit: Break Free From Your Ego – from Alan Watts

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BREAK FREE FROM YOUR EGO

Alan Watts argues with equal parts conviction and compassion that “the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science, nor with experimental philosophy-religions of the East.” He explores the cause and cure of that illusion in a way that flows from profound unease as we confront our cultural conditioning into a deep sense of lightness as we surrender to the comforting mystery and interconnectedness of the universe.  At the heart of the human condition, Watts argues, is a core illusion that fuels our deep-seated sense of loneliness the more we subscribe to the myth of the sole ego, one reflected in the most basic language we use to make sense of the world.  Watts writes:

 

“We suffer from a hallucination, from a false and distorted sensation of our own existence as living organisms.  Most of us have the sensation that ‘I myself’ is a separate center of feeling and action, living inside and bounded by the physical body — a center which ‘confronts’ an ‘external’ world of people and things, making contact through the senses with a universe both alien and strange.  Everyday figures of speech reflect this illusion.  ‘I came into this world.’ ‘You must face reality.’ ‘The conquest of nature.’

“This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences.  We do not ‘come into’ this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.  As the ocean ‘waves,’ the universe ‘peoples.’  Every individual is an express of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.  This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals.  Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated ‘egos’ inside bags of ‘skin’.”

Know the body, don’t say no to the body | Acharya Prashant – Words into Silence

The only way to live as the one beyond the body is to realize the body; is to see that the body is the body. Now, that appears very close to saying the body is the body and I am not the body, but n…

Source: Know the body, don’t say no to the body | Acharya Prashant – Words into Silence

Advice On The Secret To A Loving And Happy Marriage – by Khalil Gibran

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Let there be spaces in your togetherness,
And let the winds of the heavens dance between you.

Love one another but make not a bond of love:
Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.
Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup.
Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.
Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone,
Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.
For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts.
And stand together, yet not too near together:
For the pillars of the temple stand apart,
And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

 

From Khalil Gibran’s classic, The Prophet

On Buddhism and Psychodelics (Parts 1 through 3)

Part 2: http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZyeYH4xKoaY
Part 3: http://youtu.be/pcmwZdHA-iE

Buddhism and Psychedelics: A Community Discussion with Kokyo Henkel and James Fadiman

On Saturday, October 20, 2012, Rev. Kokyo Henkel and James Fadiman, Ph.D., engaged a diverse crowd in Santa Cruz with a discussion about the similarities between psychedelic and Buddhist experiences.

Rev. Kokyo Henkel has been practicing Zen Buddhism since 1990 at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, Green Gulch Farm Zen Center, and Bukkokuji Monastery in Japan. He was ordained as a priest and received Dharma Transmission from Tenshin Anderson Roshi, and is currently the Head Teacher at Santa Cruz Zen Center.

James Fadiman, Ph.D., author of The Psychedelic Explorer’s Guide: Safe, Therapeutic, and Sacred Journeys (2011) has been teaching about, working with and doing research on psychedelic and entheogenic experiences for decades. He has taught at Brandeis, San Francisco State, Stanford, and is now at Sofia University.

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Event co-sponsored by

The Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies
http://maps.org | http://facebook.com/mapsmdma

Council on Spiritual Practices
http://csp.org

Sofia University
http://sofia.edu

A Lecture on Zen – by Alan Watts

Alan-Watts-on-Joining-the-Dance

Once upon a time, there was a Zen student who quoted an old Buddhist poem to his teacher, which says:

 

The voices of torrents are from one great tongue, the lions of the hills are the pure body of Buddha. ‘Isn’t that right?’ he said to the teacher. ‘It is,’ said the teacher, ‘but it’s a pity to say so.’

It would be, of course, much better, if this occasion were celebrated with no

talk at all, and if I addressed you in the manner of the ancient teachers of Zen, I should hit the microphone with my fan and leave. But I somehow have the feeling that since you have contributed to the support of the Zen Center, in expectation of learning something, a few words should be said, even though I warn you, that by explaining these things to you, I shall subject you to a very serious hoax.

 

Because if I allow you to leave here this evening, under the impression that you understand something about Zen, you will have missed the point entirely. Because Zen is a way of life, a state of being, that is not possible to embrace in any concept whatsoever, so that any concepts, any ideas, any words that I shall put across to you this evening will have as their object, showing you the limitations of words and of thinking.

Now then, if one must try to say something about what Zen is, and I want to do this by way of introduction, I must make it emphatic that Zen, in its essence, is not a doctrine. There’s nothing you’re supposed to believe in. It’s not a philosophy in our sense, that is to say a set of ideas, an intellectual net in which one tries to catch the fish of reality. Actually, the fish of reality is more like water–it always slips through the net. And in water you know when you get into it there’s nothing to hang on to. All this universe is like water; it is fluid, it is transient, it is changing. And when you’re thrown into the water after being accustomed to living on the dry land, you’re not used to the idea of swimming. You try to stand on the water, you try to catch hold of it, and as a result you drown. The only way to survive in the water, and this refers particularly to the waters of modern philosophical confusion, where God is dead, metaphysical propositions are meaningless, and there’s really nothing to hang on to, because we’re all just falling apart. And the only thing to do under those circumstances is to learn how to swim. And to swim, you relax, you let go, you give yourself to the water, and you have to know how to breathe in the right way. And then you find that the water holds you up; indeed, in a certain way you become the water. And so in the same way, one might say if one attempted to–again I say misleadingly–to put Zen into any sort of concept, it simply comes down to this:

That in this universe, there is one great energy, and we have no name for it. People have tried various names for it, like God, like *Brahmin, like Tao, but in the West, the word God has got so many funny associations attached to it that most of us are bored with it. When people say ‘God, the father almighty,’ most people feel funny inside. So we like to hear new words, we like to hear about Tao, about Brahmin, about Shinto, and – – , and such strange names from the far East because they don’t carry the same associations of mawkish sanctimony and funny meanings from the past. And actually, some of these words that the Buddhists use for the basic energy of the world really don’t mean anything at all. The word _tathata_, which is translated from the Sanskrit as ‘suchness’ or ‘thusness’ or something like that, really means something more like ‘dadada,’ based on the word _tat_, which in Sanskrit means ‘that,’ and so in Sanskrit it is said _tat lum asi_, ‘that thou art,’ or in modern America, ‘you’re it.’ But ‘da, da’–that’s the first sound a baby makes when it comes into the world, because the baby looks around and says ‘da, da, da, da’ and fathers flatter themselves and think it’s saying ‘DaDa,’ which means ‘Daddy,’ but according to Buddhist philosophy, all this universe is one ‘dadada.’ That means ‘ten thousand functions, ten thousand things, one suchness,’ and we’re all one suchness. And that means that suchess comes and goes like anything else because this whole world is an on-and-off system. As the Chinese say, it’s the _yang_ and the _yin_, and therefore it consists of ‘now you see it, now you don’t, here you are, here you aren’t, here you are,’ because that the nature of energy, to be like waves, and waves have crests and troughs, only we, being under a kind of sleepiness or illusion, imagine that the trough is going to overcome the wave or the crest, the _yin_, or the dark principle, is going to overcome the _yang_, or the light principle, and that ‘off’ is going to finally triumph over ‘on.’ And we, shall I say, bug ourselves by indulging in that illusion.

‘Hey, supposing darkness did win out, wouldn’t that be terrible!’ And so we’re constantly trembling and thinking that it may, because after all, isn’t it odd that anything exists? It’s most peculiar, it requires effort, it requires energy, and it would have been so much easier for there to have been nothing at all. Therefore, we think ‘well, since being, since the ‘is’ side of things is so much effort’ you always give up after a while and you sink back into death. But death is just the other face of energy, and it’s the rest, the not being anything around, that produces something around, just in the same way that you can’t have ‘solid’ without ‘space,’ or ‘space’ without ‘solid.’ When you wake up to this, and realize that the more it changes the more it’s the same thing, as the French say, that you are really a train of this one energy, and there is nothing else but that that is you, but that for you to be always you would be an insufferable bore, and therefore it is arranged that you stop being you after a while and then come back as someone else altogether, and so when you find that out, you become full energy and delight. As Blake said, ‘Energy is eternal delight.’ And you suddenly see through the whole sham thing. You realize you’re That–we won’t put a name on it– you’re That, and you can’t be anything else. So you are relieved of fundamental terror. That doesn’t mean that you’re always going to be a great hero, that you won’t jump when you hear a bang, that you won’t worry occasionally, that you won’t lose your temper. It means, though, that fundamentally deep, deep, deep down within you, you will be able to be human, not a stone Buddha–you know in Zen there is a difference made between a living Buddha and a stone Buddha. If you go up to a stone Buddha and you hit him hard on the head, nothing happens. You break your fist or your stick. But if you hit a living Buddha, he may say ‘ouch,’ and he may feel pain, because if he didn’t feel something, he wouldn’t be a human being. Buddhas are human, they are not devas, they are not gods. They are enlightened men and women. But the point is that they are not afraid to be human, they are not afraid to let themselves participate in the pains, difficulties and struggles that naturally go with human existence.

The only difference is–and it’s almost an undetectable difference–it takes one to know one. As a Zen poem says, ‘when two Zen masters meet each other on the street, they need no introduction. When fiends meet, they recognize one another instantly.’ So a person who is a real cool Zen understands that, does not go around ‘Oh, I understand Zen, I have satori, I have this attainment, I have that attainment, I have the other attainment,’ because if he said that, he wouldn’t understand the first thing about it.

So it is Zen that, if I may put it metaphorically, *Jon-Jo said ‘the perfect man employs his mind as a mirror. It grasps nothing, it refuses nothing. It receives but does not keep.’ And another poem says of wild geese flying over a lake, ‘The wild geese do not intend to cast their reflection, and the water has no mind to retain their image.’ In other words this is to be–to put it very strictly into our modern idiom–this is to live without hang-ups, the word ‘hang- up’ being an almost exact translation of the Japanese _bono_ and the Sanskrit _klesa_, ordinarily translated ‘worldly attachment,’ though that sounds a little bit–you know what I mean–it sounds pious, and in Zen, things that sound pious are said to stink of Zen, but to have no hang-ups, that is to say, to be able to drift like a cloud and flow like water, seeing that all life is a magnificent illusion, a plane of energy, and that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid of. Fundamentally. You will be afraid on the surface. You will be afraid of putting your hand in the fire. You will be afraid of getting sick, etc. But you will not be afraid of fear. Fear will pass over your mind like a black cloud will be reflected in the mirror. But of course, the mirror isn’t quite the right illustration; space would be better. Like a black cloud flows through space without leaving any track. Like the stars don’t leave trails behind them. And so that fundamental–it is called ‘the void’ in Buddhism; it doesn’t mean ‘void’ in the sense that it’s void in the ordinary sense of emptiness. It means void in that is the most real thing there is, but nobody can conceive it. It’s rather the same situation that you get between the speaker, in a radio and all the various sounds which it produces. On the speaker you hear human voices, you hear every kind of musical instrument, honking of horns, the sounds of traffic, the explosions of guns, and yet all that tremendous variety of sounds are the vibrations of one diaphragm, but it never says so. The announcer doesn’t come on first thing in the morning and say ‘Ladies and gentlemen, all the sounds that you will hear subsequently during the day will be the vibration of this diaphragm; don’t take them for real.’ And the radio never mentions its own construction, you see? And in exactly the same way, you are never able, really, to examine, to make an object of your own mind, just as you can’t look directly into your own eyes or bite your own teeth, because you ARE that, and if you try to find it, and make it something to possess, why that’s a great lack of confidence. That shows that you don’t really know your ‘it’. And if you’re ‘it,’ you don’t need to make anything of it. There’s nothing to look for. But the test is, are you still looking? Do you know that? I mean, not as kind of knowledge you possess, not something you’ve learned in school like you’ve got a degree, and ‘you know, I’ve mastered the contents of these books and remembered it.’ In this knowledge, there’s nothing to be remembered; nothing to be formulated. You know it best when you say ‘I don’t know it.’ Because that means, ‘I’m not holding on to it, I’m not trying to cling to it’ in the form of a concept, because there’s absolutely no necessity to do so. That would be, in Zen language, putting legs on a snake or a beard on a eunuch, or as we would say, gilding the lily.

Now you say, ‘Well, that sounds pretty easy. You mean to say all we have to do is relax? We don’t have to go around chasing anything anymore? We abandon religion, we abandon meditations, we abandon this, that, and the other, and just live it up anyhow? Just go on.’  You know, like a father says to his child who keeps asking ‘Why? Why, Why, Why, Why, Why? Why did God make the universe? Who made God? Why are the trees green?’ and so on and so forth, and father says finally, ‘Oh, shut up and eat your bun.’ It isn’t quite like that, because, you see, the thing is this:

All those people who try to realize Zen by doing nothing about it are still trying desperately to find it, and they’re on the wrong track. There is another Zen poem which says, ‘You cannot attain it by thinking, you cannot grasp it by not thinking.’ Or you could say, you cannot catch hold of the meaning of Zen by doing something about it, but equally, you cannot see into its meaning by doing nothing about it, because both are, in their different ways, attempts to move from where you are now, here, to somewhere else, and the point is that we come to an understanding of this, what I call suchness, only through being completely here. And no means are necessary to be completely here. Neither active means on the one hand, nor passive means on the other. Because in both ways, you are trying to move away from the immediate now. But you see, it’s difficult to understand language like that. And to understand what all that is about, there is really one absolutely necessary prerequisite, and this is to stop thinking. Now, I am not saying this in the spirit of being an anti-intellectual, because I think a lot, talk a lot, write a lot of books, and am a sort of half-baked scholar. But you know, if you talk all the time, you will never hear what anybody else has to say, and therefore, all you’ll have to talk about is your own conversation. The same is true for people who think all the time. That means, when I use the word ‘think,’ talking to yourself, sub-vocal conversation, the constant chit-chat of symbols and images and talk and words inside your skull. Now, if you do that all the time, you’ll find that you’ve nothing to think about except thinking, and just as you have to stop talking to hear what I have to say, you have to stop thinking to find out what life is about. And the moment you stop thinking, you come into immediate contact with what Korzybski called, so delightfully, ‘the unspeakable world,’ that is to say, the nonverbal world. Some people would call it the physical world, but these words ‘physical,’ ‘nonverbal,’ are all conceptual, not a concept either, it’s (bangs stick). So when you are awake to that world, you suddenly find that all the so-called differences between self and other, life and death, pleasure and pain, are all conceptual, and they’re not there. They don’t exist at all in that world which is (bangs stick). In other words, if I hit you hard enough, ‘ouch’ doesn’t hurt, if you’re in a state of what is called no-thought. There is a certain experience, you see, but you don’t call it ‘hurt.’ It’s like when you were small children, they banged you about, and you cried, and they said ‘Don’t cry’ because they wanted to make you hurt and not cry at the same time. People are rather curious about the things the do like that. But you see, they really wanted you to cry, the same way if you threw up one day. It’s very good to throw up if you’ve eaten something that isn’t good for you, but your mother said ‘Ugh!’ and made you repress it and feel that throwing up wasn’t a good thing to do. Because then when you saw people die, and everybody around you started weeping and making a fuss, and then you learned from that that dying was terrible. When somebody got sick, everybody else got anxious, and you learned that getting sick was something awful. You learned it from a concept.

So the reason why there is in the practice of Zen, what we did before this lecture began, to practice Za-zen, sitting Zen. Incidentally, there are three other kinds of Zen besides Za-zen. Standing Zen, walking Zen, and lying Zen. In Buddhism, they speak of hte three dignities of man. Walking, standing, sitting, and lying. And they say when you sit, just sit. When you walk, just walk. But whatever you do, don’t wobble. In fact, of course, you can wobble, if you really wobble well. When the old master *Hiakajo was asked ‘What is Zen?’ he said, ‘When hungry, eat, when tired, sleep,’ and they said, ‘Well, isn’t that what everybody does? Aren’t you just like ordinary people?’ ‘Oh no,’ he said, ‘they don’t do anything of the kind. When they’re hungry, they don’t just eat, they think of all sorts of things. When they’re tired, they don’t just sleep, but dream all sorts of dreams.’ I know the Jungians won’t like that, but there comes a time when you just dream yourself out, and no more dreams. You sleep

deeply and breathe from your heels. Now, therefore, Za-zen, or sitting Zen, is a very, very good thing in the Western world. We have been running around far too much. It’s all right; we’ve been active, and our action has achieved a lot of good things. But as Aristotle pointed out long ago–and this is one of the good things about Aristotle. He said ‘the goal of action is contemplation.’ In other words, busy, busy, busy, busy, busy, but what’s it all about? Especially when people are busy because they think they’re GOING somewhere, that they’re going to get something and attain something. There’s quite a good deal of point to action if you know you’re not going anywhere. If you act like you dance, or like you sing or play music, then you’re really not going anywhere, you’re just doing pure action, but if you act with a thought in mind that as a result of action you are eventually going to arrive at someplace where everything will be alright. Then you are on a squirrel cage, hopelessly condemned to what the Buddhists call _samsara_, the round, or rat-race of birth and death, because you think you’re going to go somewhere. You’re already there. And it is only a person who has discovered that he is already there who is capable of action, because he doesn’t act frantically with the thought that he’s going to get somewhere. He acts like he can go into walking meditation at that point, you see, where we walk not because we are in a great, great hurry to get to a destination, but because the walking itself is great. The walking itself is the meditation. And when you watch Zen monks walk, it’s very fascinating. They have a different kind of walk from everybody else in Japan. Most Japanese shuffle along, or if they wear Western clothes, they race and hurry like we do. Zen monks have a peculiar swing when they walk, and you have the feeling they walk rather the same way as a cat. There’s something about it that isn’t hesitant; they’re going along all right, they’re not sort of vagueing around, but they’re walking just to walk. And that’s walking meditation. But the point is that one cannot act creatively, except on the basis of stillness. Of having a mind that is capable from time to time of stopping thinking. And so this practice of sitting may seem very difficult at first, because if you sit in the Buddhist way, it makes your legs ache. Most Westerners start to fidget; they find it very boring to sit for a long time, but the reason they find it boring is that they’re still thinking. If you weren’t thinking, you wouldn’t notice the passage of time, and as a matter of fact, far from being boring, the world when looked at without chatter becomes amazingly interesting. The most ordinary sights and sounds and smells, the texture of shadows on the floor in front of you. All these things, without being named, and saying ‘that’s a shadow, that’s red, that’s brown, that’s somebody’s foot.’ When you don’t name things anymore, you start seeing them. Because say when a person says ‘I see a leaf,’ immediately, one thinks of a spearhead-shaped thing outlined in black and filled in with flat green. No leaf looks like that. No leaves–leaves are not green. That’s why Lao-Tzu said ‘the five colors make a man blind, the five tones make a man deaf,’ because if you can only see five colors, you’re blind, and if you can only hear five tones in music, you’re deaf. You see, if you force sound into five tones, you force color into five colors, you’re blind and deaf. The world of color is infinite, as is the world of sound. And it is only by stopping fixing conceptions on the world of color and the world of sound that you really begin to hear it and see it.

 

So this, should I be so bold as to use the word ‘discipline,’ of meditation or Za-zen lies behind the extraordinary capacity of Zen people to develop such great arts as the gardens, the tea ceremony, the calligraphy, and the grand painting of the Sum Dynasty, and of the Japanese Sumi tradition. And it was because, especially in tea ceremony, which means literally ‘cha-no-yu’ in Japanese, meaning ‘hot water of tea,’ they found in the very simplest of things in everyday life, magic. In the words of the poet *Hokoji, ‘marvelous power and supernatural activity, drawing water, carrying wood.’ And you know how it is sometimes when you say a word and make the word meaningless, you take the word ‘yes’–yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. It becomes funny. That’s why they use the word ‘mu’ in Zen training, which means ‘no.’ Mu. And you get this going for a long time, and the word ceases to mean anything, and it becomes magical. Now, what you have to realize in the further continuance of Za-zen, that as you– Well, let me say first in a preliminary way, the easiest way to stop thinking is first of all to think about something that doesn’t have any meaning. That’s my point in talking about ‘mu’ or ‘yes,’ or counting your breath, or listening to a sound that has no meaning, because that stops you thinking, and you become fascinated in the sound. Then as you get on and you just–the sound only–there comes a point when the sound is taken away, and you’re wide open. Now at that point, there will be a kind of preliminary so-called satori, and you will think ‘wowee, that’s it!’ You’ll be so happy, you’ll be walking on air. When Suzuki Daisetz was asked what was it like to have satori, he said ‘well, it’s like ordinary, everyday experience, except about two inches off the ground.’ But there’s another saying that the student who has obtained satori goes to hell as straight as an arrow. No satori around here, because anybody who has a spiritual experience, whether you get it through Za-zen, or through LSD, or anything, you know, that gives you that experience. If you hold on to it, say ‘now I’ve got it,’ it’s gone out of the window, because the minute you grab the living thing, it’s like catching a handful of water, the harder you clutch, the faster it squirts through your fingers. There’s nothing to get hold of, because you don’t NEED to get hold of anything. You had it from the beginning. Because you can see that, by various methods of meditation, but the trouble is that people come out of that an brag about it, say ‘I’ve seen it.’ Equally intolerable are the people who study Zen and come out and brag to their friends about how much their legs hurt, and how long they sat, and what an awful thing it was. They’re sickening. Because the discipline side of this thing is not meant to be something awful. It’s not done in a masochistic spirit, or a sadistic spirit: suffering builds character, therefore suffering is good for you. When I went to school in England, the basic premise of education was that suffering builds character, and therefore all senior boys were at liberty to bang about the junior ones with a perfectly clear conscience, because they were doing them a favor. It was good for them, it was building their character, and as a result of this attitude, the word ‘discipline’ has begun to stink. It’s been stinking for a long time. But we need a kind of entirely new attitude towards this, because without that quiet, and that non- striving, a life becomes messy. When you let go, finally, because there’s nothing to hold onto, you have to be awfully careful not to turn into loose yogurt. Let me give two opposite illustrations. When you ask most people to lie flat on the floor and relax, you find that they are at full attention, because they don’t really believe that the floor will hold them up, and therefore they’re holding themselves together; they’re uptight. They’re afraid that if they don’t do this, even though the floor is supporting them, they’ll suddenly turn into a gelatinous mass and trickle away in all directions. Then there are other people who when you tell them to relax, they go like a limp rag. But you see, the human organism is a subtle combination of hardness and softness. Of flesh and bones. And the side of Zen which has to do with neither doing nor not doing, but knowing that you are It anyway, and you don’t have to seek it, that’s Zen-flesh. But the side in which you can come back into the world, with this attitude of not seeking, and knowing you’re It, and not fall apart–that requires bones. And one of the most difficult things–this belongs to of course a generation we all know about that was running about some time ago–where they caught on to Zen, and they started anything-goes painting, they started anything-goes sculpture, they started anything-goes way of life. Now I think we’re recovering from that today. At any rate, our painters are beginning once again to return to glory, to marvelous articulateness and vivid color. There’s been nothing like it since the stained glass at Chartre(sp). That’s a good sign. But it requires that there be in our daily use of freedom, and I’m not just talking about political freedom. I’m talking about the freedom which comes when you know that you’re It, forever and ever and ever. And it’ll be so nice when you die, because that’ll be a change, but it’ll come back some other way. When you know that, and you’ve seen through the whole mirage, then watch out, because there may still be in you some seeds of hostility, some seeds of pride, some seeds of wanting to put down other people, or wanting to just defy the normal arrangements of life.

 

So that is why, in the order of a Zen monastery, various duties are assigned. The novices have the light duties, and the more senior you get, the heavy duties. For example, the Roshi very often is the one who cleans out the _benjo_, the toilet. And everything is kept in order. There is a kind of beautiful, almost princely aestheticism, because by reason of that order being kept all of the time, the vast free energy which is contained in the system doesn’t run amok. The understanding of Zen, the understanding of awakening, the understanding of– Well, we’ll call it mystical experiences, one of the most dangerous things in the world. And for a person who cannot contain it, it’s like putting a million volts through your electric shaver. You blow your mind and it stays blown. Now, if you go off in that way, that is what would be called in Buddhism a pratyeka- buddha–‘private buddha’. He is one who goes off into the transcendental world and is never seen again. And he’s made a mistake from the standpoint of Buddhism, because from the standpoint of Buddhism, there is no fundamental difference between the transcendental world and this everyday world. The _bodhisattva_, you see, who doesn’t go off into a nirvana and stay there forever and ever, but comes back and lives ordinary everyday life to help other beings to see through it, too, he doesn’t come back because he feels he has some sort of solemn duty to help mankind and all that kind of pious cant. He comes back because he sees the two worlds are the same. He sees all other beings as buddhas. He sees them, to use a phrase of G.K. Chesterton’s, ‘but now a great thing in the street, seems any human nod, where move in strange democracies the million masks of god.’ And it’s fantastic to look at people and see that they really, deep down, are enlightened. They’re It. They’re faces of the divine. And they look at you, and they say ‘oh no, but I’m not divine. I’m just ordinary little me.’ You look at them in a funny way, and here you see the buddha nature looking out of their eyes, straight at you, and saying it’s not, and saying it quite sincerely. And that’s why, when you get up against a great guru, the Zen master, or whatever, he has a funny look in his eyes. When you say ‘I have a problem, guru. I’m really mixed up, I don’t understand,’ he looks at you in this queer way, and you think ‘oh dear me, he’s reading my most secret thoughts. He’s seeing all the awful things I am, all my cowardice, all my shortcomings.’ He isn’t doing anything of the kind; he isn’t even interested in such things. He’s looking at, if I may use Hindu terminology, he’s looking at Shiva, in you, saying ‘my god, Shiva, won’t you come off it?’

So then, you see, the _bodhisattva_, who is–I’m assuming quite a knowledge of Buddhism in this assembly–but the _bodhisattva_ as distinct from the pratyeka-buddha, bodhisattva doesn’t go off into nirvana, he doesn’t go off into permanent withdrawn ecstasy, he doesn’t go off into a kind of catatonic _samadhi_. That’s all right. There are people who can do that; that’s their vocation. That’s their specialty, just as a long thing is the long body of buddha, and a short thing is the short body of buddha. But if you really understand that Zen, that buddhist idea of enlightenment is not comprehended in the idea of the transcendental, neither is it comprehended in the idea of the ordinary. Not in terms with the infinite, not in terms with the finite. Not in terms of the eternal, not in terms of the temporal, because they’re all concepts. So, let me say again, I am not talking about the ordering of ordinary everyday life in a reasonable and methodical way as being school-teacherish, and saying ‘if you were NICE people, that’s what you would do.’ For heaven’s sake, don’t be nice people. But the thing is, that unless you do have that basic framework of a certain kind of order, and a certain kind of discipline, the force of liberation will blow the world to pieces. It’s too strong a current for the wire. So then, it’s terribly important to see beyond ecstasy. Ecstasy here is the soft and lovable flesh, huggable and kissable, and that’s very good. But beyond ecstasy are bones, what we call hard facts. Hard facts of everyday life, and incidentally, we shouldn’t forget to mention the soft facts; there are many of them. But then the hard fact, it is what we mean, the world as seen in an ordinary, everyday state of consciousness. To find out that that is really no different from the world of supreme ecstasy, well, it’s rather like this:

Let’s suppose, as so often happens, you think of ecstasy as insight, as seeing light. There’s a Zen poem which says,

 

“A sudden crash of thunder. The mind doors burst open, and there sits the ordinary old man.”

 

See? There’s a sudden vision.  Satori!  Breaking!  Wowee!  And the doors of the mind are blown apart, and there sits the ordinary old man. It’s just little you, you know? Lightning flashes, sparks shower. In one blink of your eyes, you’ve missed seeing. Why? Because here is the light. The light, the light, the light, every mystic in the world has ‘seen the light.’ That brilliant, blazing energy, brighter than a thousand suns, it is locked up in everything. Now imagine this. Imagine you’re seeing it. Like you see aureoles around buddhas. Like you see the beatific vision at the end of Dante’s ‘Paradiso.’ Vivid, vivid light, so bright that it is like the clear light of the void in the Tibetan Book of the Dead. It’s beyond light, it’s so bright. And you watch it receding from you. And on the edges, like a great star, there becomes a rim of red. And beyond that, a rim of orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. You see this great mandela appearing this great sun, and beyond the violet, there’s black. Black, like obsidian, not flat black, but transparent black, like lacquer. And again, blazing out of the black, as the _yang_ comes from the _yin_, more light. Going, going, going. And along with this light, there comes sound. There is a sound so tremendous with the white light that you can’t hear it, so piercing that it seems to annihilate the ears. But then along with the colors, the sound goes down the scale in harmonic intervals, down, down, down, down, until it gets to a deep thundering base which is so vibrant that it turns into something solid, and you begin to get the similar spectrum of textures. Now all this time, you’ve been watching a kind of thing radiating out. ‘But,’ it says, ‘you know, this isn’t all I can do,’ and the rays start dancing like this, and the sound starts waving, too, as it comes out, and the textures start varying themselves, and they say, well, you’ve been looking at this this as I’ve been describing it so far in a flat dimension. Let’s add a third dimension; it’s going to come right at you now. And meanwhile, it says, we’re not going to just do like this, we’re going to do little curlicues. And it says, ‘well, that’s just the beginning!’ Making squares and turns, and then suddenly you see in all the little details that become so intense, that all kinds of little subfigures are contained in what you originally thought were the main figures, and the sound starts going all different, amazing complexities if sound all over the place, and this thing’s going, going, going, and you think you’re going to go out of your mind, when suddenly it turns into… Why, us, sitting around here.

Thank you very much.

The Seal of The Theosophical Society

TTS

The seal of The Theosophical Society was adapted from H. P. Blavatsky’s personal seal, used by her before the Society was founded in 1875. The symbols it contains are so ancient that nobody knows when they were first used to express universal ideas. They far antedate any political or other modern applications, and have nothing to do with any social or political movements. They are in fact part of the universal mystery-language that can convey wordlessly to the mind sacred truths of nature.

The Serpent swallowing its tail: A very ancient symbol depict- ing eternity and the continu- ity of cyclic time. Like the biblical serpent of Paradiselost understood mystically, it represents wisdom and, because of its ability to shed its skin, regeneration and rebirth. As a circular symbol it signifies to the Hindus the outbreathing and inbreathing of Brahma ̄ (“expander”), the cosmic creator: when Brahma ̄ breathes out, worlds come into be- ing; when he breathes in, all is reabsorbed into the divine essence.

The descending arc of the serpent’s body signifies worlds descending into matter; the ascending arc, their evolution toward spirit. This spiral circulation is eternal, implying evolution through time. The circle itself represents perfection and the restoration of universal harmony; also the Boundless from which all manifestation springs and to which all will return. The symbol is found also in ancient Egypt, Greece, and West Africa, and among Buddhists and Jains, Gnostics and alchemists.The Swastika: A Sanskrit word meaning “well-being,” “aus- picious” — the perennial sym- bol of good fortune found in the cradle of ancient cultures of India, China, Japan, and the Americas, as well as Greece and Rome (including the early Christians). In Scandinavia it was Thor’s hammer and in India Vishnu’s dis- cus and the Jaina cross. In Buddhism, it ex- presses the “wheel of the Law.” Symbol of evolution and perpetual motion, the swas- tika denotes the ever-churning “mill of the gods,” in whose center is the soul, while the bent arms suggest the ceaseless turning of the wheels of life throughout universal ex- istence. When we look at photos of faraway spiral galaxies, we are wonderstruck to see that they clearly resemble swastikas in their vortical motion.

TTS-logo

The Interlaced Triangles: Known in the Occident as King Solo- mon’s seal or star, it was called in India the seal of Vishnu. The interlaced triangles signifythe bipolarity in nature — spirit and mat- ter, or male and female. The apex of the white triangle represents the divine monad; the apex of the dark triangle, the manifested worlds. The upward triangle suggests spirit, consciousness, and concealed wisdom, which are mirrored in the downward-pointing tri- angle representing matter, receptive space, manifestation, or wisdom revealed. The sides of the dark triangle may stand for form, color, and substance; the three gunas or fun- damental qualities; and the creative, preserv- ing, and destructive/regenerative forces of the Hindu triad, Brahma ̄, Vishnu, and S ́iva.

Together the triangles represent the manifested universe evolved from the central point within the serpent-circle of time and space. They also form the hexagon of six principles, cosmic and human, emanating from and synthesized by the central point, the seventh and highest self of any evolv- ing being. Thus they express the sevenfold structure of the universe. The central cross is the inner person, touching all things from the six sides through the six triangles. The six points of the star reach outward toward the serpent of eternity, growing and evolving through time.The Ansated Cross, Ankh, or Tau: A sacred symbol particu- larly associated with ancient Egypt, it signifies life, regen- eration, and the descent of spirit from inner realms into the worlds of substance. It can denote a universe in em- bryo, the circle representing the cosmic or spiritual germ or egg hovering over the cross of matter which has issued from it; or limit- less, uncreated space.

Astronomically it is the sign of Venus, Earth’s sister-planet and guardian of humanity. Applied to the human race, it may represent the evolution of man-kind into the bipolarity of male and female, as well as the initiate who holds the key to the mysteries when united with his own spiritual intelligence.

These spiritual symbols forming the seal of The Theosophical Society together comprise an entire philosophy of the inner workings of man and universal nature. Taken as a whole, the seal represents the spiritually re- born person, symbolized by the tau/cross in the center, evolving through the six human and cosmic principles and encircled by the serpent of evolution of spirit in and through matter. On the larger scale, it expresses a universe expanding into manifestation from cosmic spirit.The seal used in this leaflet is a replica of the original TS seal, printed in the Society’s first Pre- amble and Bylaws, October 30, 1875.

http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ts/TS-Seal-Brochure.pdf

Paradigm Shift – with Alan Watts: The Rewards of Releasing Control

 

To be individual means complete freedom from all fear.

Surely, as long as the mind is caught in authority, it is not an individual at all. And, to find out what is real, what is God, what is truth, to discover that which is nameless, must one not be completely individual? To be individual means complete freedom from all fear, from all compulsion, from the desire to find a right way of living. That is what we all want, that is the cry in our hearts -to find a right way of action, a right way of conduct, a right method to live happily, to have peace. And, does not that very cry create authority, the authority of a book, of a person, of an idea? We want to be told what to do, how to live, in what manner to overcome the innumerable problems that we have. And, with that desire in our minds and in our hearts, we pursue those who can give us what we are seeking, those who we think will lead us to reality, to happiness, to God.Now, can the mind be free of this whole process and live simply from day to day, understanding life as it arises from moment to moment? After all, that is the timeless, the nameless eternity, when the mind itself is the unknown. At present, the mind is the known; it is the result of time, of yesterday, of accumulated knowledge, experiences, and beliefs. And such a mind can never know the unknown. This is not some vague form of mysticism. Surely, if I want to know something that has never been experienced before, that is not of time, that cannot be put into the frame of authority, my mind must be totally free from the past, which means that it must be free from fear. . . .The mind can never be free of fear as long as it is making an effort to get away from fear. All that it can do is to be aware that it is frightened and be completely passive, without any choice. Then you will see that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet and, in that quietness, the problem of fear can be resolved. In that stillness of mind, authority has wholly vanished. What need have you of authority when, from moment to moment, you are seeing what is true?

Krishnamurti

Discussion – with Alan Watts

 

To be individual means complete freedom from all fear …

Surely, as long as the mind is caught in authority, it is not an individual at all. And, to find out what is real, what is God, what is truth, to discover that which is nameless, must one not be completely individual? To be individual means complete freedom from all fear, from all compulsion, from the desire to find a right way of living. That is what we all want, that is the cry in our hearts -to find a right way of action, a right way of conduct, a right method to live happily, to have peace. And, does not that very cry create authority, the authority of a book, of a person, of an idea? We want to be told what to do, how to live, in what manner to overcome the innumerable problems that we have. And, with that desire in our minds and in our hearts, we pursue those who can give us what we are seeking, those who we think will lead us to reality, to happiness, to God.Now, can the mind be free of this whole process and live simply from day to day, understanding life as it arises from moment to moment? After all, that is the timeless, the nameless eternity, when the mind itself is the unknown. At present, the mind is the known; it is the result of time, of yesterday, of accumulated knowledge, experiences, and beliefs. And such a mind can never know the unknown. This is not some vague form of mysticism. Surely, if I want to know something that has never been experienced before, that is not of time, that cannot be put into the frame of authority, my mind must be totally free from the past, which means that it must be free from fear. . . .The mind can never be free of fear as long as it is making an effort to get away from fear. All that it can do is to be aware that it is frightened and be completely passive, without any choice. Then you will see that the mind becomes extraordinarily quiet and, in that quietness, the problem of fear can be resolved. In that stillness of mind, authority has wholly vanished. What need have you of authority when, from moment to moment, you are seeing what is true?

— Krishnamurti

Theosophy – The Prologue to Esoteric Truth (conclusion), by HP Blavatsky

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CONCLUSION: THE PROLOGUE TO ESOTERIC TRUTH

 

And now to conclude.

We have concerned ourself with the ancient  records of the nations, with the doctrine of chronological and psychic cycles, of which these records are the tangible proof; and with many other subjects, which may, at first sight, seem out of place in this volume.

But they were necessary in truth. In dealing with the secret annals and traditions of so many nations, whose very origins have never been ascertained on more secure grounds than inferential suppositions, in giving out the beliefs and philosophy of more than prehistoric races, it is not quite as easy to deal with the subject matter as it would be if only the philosophy of one special race, and its evolution, were concerned. The Secret Doctrine is the common property of the countless millions of men born under various climates, in times with which History refuses to deal, and to which esoteric teachings assign dates incompatible with the theories of Geology and Anthropology. The birth and evolution of the Sacred Science of the Past are lost in the very night of Time; and that, even, which is historic – i.e., that which is found scattered hither and thither throughout ancient classical literature – is, in almost every case, attributed by modern criticism to lack of observation in the ancient writers, or to superstition born out of the ignorance of antiquity. It is, therefore, impossible to treat this subject as one would the ordinary evolution of an art or science in some well-known historical nation. It is only by bringing before the reader an abundance of proofs all tending to show that in every age, under every condition of civilization and knowledge, the educated classes of every nation made themselves the more or less faithful echoes of one identical system and its fundamental traditions – that he can be made to see that so many streams of the same water must have had a common source from which they started. What was this source? If coming events are said to cast their shadows before, past events cannot fall to leave their impress behind them. It is, then, by those shadows of the hoary Past and their fantastic silhouettes on the external screen of every religion and philosophy, that we can, by checking them as we go along, and comparing them, trace out finally the body that produced them. There must be truth and fact in that which every people of antiquity accepted and made the foundation of its religions and its faith. Moreover, as Haliburton said, “Hear one side, and you will be in the dark; hear both sides, and all will be clear.” The public has hitherto had access to, and heard but one side – or rather the two one-sided views of two diametrically opposed classes of men, whose prima facie propositions or respective premises differ widely, but whose final conclusions are the same – Science and Theology. And now our readers have an opportunity to hear the other – the defendants’ – justification on and learn the nature of our arguments.

Were the public to be left to its old opinions: namely, on one side, that Occultism, Magic, the legends of old, etc., were all the outcome of ignorance and superstition; and on the other, that everything outside the orthodox groove was the work of the devil, what would be the result? In other words, had no theosophical and mystic literature obtained a hearing for the few last years, the present work would have had a poor chance of impartial consideration. It would have been proclaimed – and by many will still be so proclaimed – a fairy tale woven out of abstruse problems, poised in, and based on the air; built of soap bubbles, bursting at the slightest touch of serious reflection, with no foundation, as it would be alleged, to stand upon. Even “the ancient superstitious and credulous classics” have no word of reference to it in clear and unmistakable terms, and the symbols themselves fail to yield a hint at the existence of such a system. Such would be the verdict of all. But when it becomes undeniably proven that the claim of the modern Asiatic nations to a Secret Science and an esoteric history of the world, is based on fact; that, though hitherto unknown to the masses and a veiled mystery even to the learned, (because they never had the key to a right understanding of the abundant hints thrown out by the ancient classics), it is still no fairy tale, but an actuality – then the present work will become but the pioneer of many more such books. The statement that hitherto even the keys discovered by some great scholars have proved too rusty for use, and that they were but the silent witnesses that there do exist mysteries behind the veil which are unreachable without a new key – is borne out by too many proofs to be easily dismissed. An instance may be given as an illustration out of the history of Freemasonry.

In his “Franc-maconnerie Occulte,” rightly or wrongly, Ragon, an illustrious and learned Belgian Mason, reproaches the English Masons with having materialized and dishonoured Masonry, once based upon the Ancient Mysteries, by adopting, owing to a mistaken notion of the origin of the craft, the name of Free Masonry and Free Masons. The mistake is due, he says, to those who connect Masonry with the building of Solomon’s Temple, deriving its origin from it. He derides the idea, and says: . . “The Franc Mason (which is not macon libre, or free masonry) knew well when adopting the title, that it was no question of building a wall, but that of being initiated into the ancient Mysteries veiled under the name of Francmaconnerie (Freemasonry); that his work was only to be the continuation or the renovation of the ancient mysteries, and that he was to become a mason after the manner of Apollo or Amphion. And do not we know that the ancient initiated poets, when speaking of the foundation of a city, meant thereby the establishment of a doctrine? Thus Neptune, the god of reasoning, and Apollo, the god of the hidden things, presented themselves as masons before Laomedon, Priam’s father, to help him to build the city of Troy – that is to say, to establish the Trojan religion.” (Maconnerie Orthodoxe, p. 44.)

Such veiled sentences with double meaning abound in ancient classical writers. Therefore, had an attempt been made to show that, e.g., Laomedon was the founder of a branch of archaic mysteries in which the earth-bound material soul (the fourth principle), was personified in Menelaus’ faithless wife (the fair Helen), if Ragon had not come to corroborate what we asserted, we might be told that no classical author speaks of it, and that Homer shows Laomedon building a city, not an esoteric worship or MYSTERIES! And who are those left now, save a few Initiates, who understand the language and correct meaning of such symbolical terms?

But after having pointed to many a misconceived symbol bearing on our thesis, there still remains more than one difficulty to be overcome. Most important among several such obstacles is that of chronology. But this could hardly be helped.

Wedged in between theological chronology and that of the geologists, backed by all the materialistic Anthropologists who assign dates to man and nature which fit in with their own theories alone – what could the writer do except what is being done? Namely, since theology places the Deluge 2448 B.C., and the World’s Creation only 5890 years ago; and since the accurate researches by the methods of exact Science, have led the geologists and physicists to assign to the incrusted age of our Globe between 10 million and 1,000 million of years 1 (a trifling difference, verily!): and the Anthropologists to vary their divergence of opinion as to the appearance of man – between 25,000 and 500,000 of years – what can one who studies the Occult doctrine do, but come out and bravely present the esoteric calculations before the world?

But to do this, corroboration by even a few “historical” proofs was necessary, though all know the real value of the so-called “historical evidence.” For, whether man had appeared on earth 18,000 or 18,000,000 years ago, can make no difference to profane History, since it begins hardly a couple of thousand years before our era, and since, even then, it grapples hopelessly with the clash and din of contradictory and mutually-destroying opinions around it. Nevertheless, in view of the respect the average reader has been brought up in for exact science, even that short Past would remain meaningless, unless the esoteric teachings were corroborated and supported on the spot – whenever possible – by references to historical names of a so-called historical period. This is the only guide that can be given to the beginner before he is permitted to start among the (to him) unfamiliar windings of that dark labyrinth called the pre-historic ages. This necessity has been complied with. It is only hoped that the desire to do so, which has led the writer to be constantly bringing ancient and modern evidence as a corroboration of the Archaic and quite unhistoric Past, will not bring on her the accusation of having sorely jumbled up without order or method the various and widely-separated periods of history and tradition. But literary form and method had to be sacrificed to the greater clearness of the general exposition.

To accomplish the proposed task, the writer had to resort to the rather unusual means of dividing each volume or Book into three Parts; the first of which only is the consecutive, though very fragmentary, history of the Cosmogony and the Evolution of Man on this globe. But these two volumes had to serve as a PROLOGUE, and prepare the reader’s mind for those which shall now follow. In treating of Cosmogony and then of the Anthropogenesis of mankind, it was necessary to show that no religion, since the very earliest, has ever been entirely based on fiction, as none was the object of special revelation; and that it is dogma alone which has ever been killing primeval truth. Finally, that no human-born doctrine, no creed, however sanctified by custom and antiquity, can compare in sacredness with the religion of Nature. The Key of Wisdom that unlocks the massive gates leading to the arcana of the innermost sanctuaries can be found hidden in her bosom only, and that bosom is in the countries pointed to by the great seer of the past century Emanuel Swedenborg. There lies the heart of nature, that shrine whence issued the early races of primeval Humanity, and which is the cradle of physical man.

Thus far have proceeded the rough outlines of the beliefs and tenets of the archaic, earliest Races contained in their hitherto secret Scriptural records. But our explanations are by no means complete, nor do they pretend to give out the full text, or to have been read by the help of more than three or four keys out of the seven-fold bunch of esoteric interpretation, and even this has only been partially accomplished. The work is too gigantic for any one person to undertake, far more to accomplish. Our main concern was simply to prepare the soil. This, we trust we have done. These two volumes only constitute the work of a pioneer who has forced his way into the well-nigh impenetrable jungle of the virgin forests of the Land of the Occult. A commencement has been made to fell and uproot the deadly upas trees of superstition, prejudice, and conceited ignorance, so that these two volumes should form for the student a fitting prelude for Volumes III and IV. Until the rubbish of the ages is cleared away from the minds of the Theosophists to whom these volumes are dedicated, it is impossible that the more practical teaching contained in the Third Volume should be understood. Consequently, it entirely depends upon the reception with which Volumes I and II will meet at the hands of Theosophists and Mystics, whether these last two volumes will ever be published, though they are almost completed.

Satyat Nasti paro dharmah.

THERE IS NO RELIGION HIGHER THAN TRUTH.

End of Vol. II.

1 Vide Sir W. Thomson and Mr. Huxley.
The Secret Doctrine, ii 794–798
H. P. Blavatsky

Theosophy – Elementals (part 1), by Raghavan Iyer

elemental rock garden

ELEMENTALS – I

 

The universe is worked and guided from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man – the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm – is the living witness to this Universal Law and to the mode of its action. We see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. . . . The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by an almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who – whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels – are “messengers” in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence. . . .
   Man . . . being a compound of the essences of all those celestial Hierarchies may succeed in making himself, as such, superior, in one sense, to any hierarchy or class, or even combination of them.

The metaphysical basis of the doctrine of elementals is essential to understanding the relationship of man to the world. Both Man and Nature are composed of a complex congeries of elemental entities endowed with character and perceptible form by continuous streams of ideation originating in Universal Mind. Virtually everything perceived by man, virtually every faculty of action, is such an aggregate of elementals. All the various modes and modulations of active and passive intelligence in man exist and subsist within these fields of elementals, and no aspect of human life is comprehensible without some grasp of elemental existence. Sensation, for example, which is ordinarily thought of in a purely external way, has another side to it when seen from the standpoint of the immortal soul, and this involves the intimate presence of hosts of elementals composing the very organs of sensation and mind.

The entire quest for enlightenment and self-conscious immortality cannot be understood without careful examination of the relationship of human beings to elementals. It is necessary to know where elementals reside and how their inherent modes of activity relate to the different principles in man. Sometimes people who speculate about the hidden side of Nature and human life, either inspired by folklore or a dabbling in the occult, develop a fascination with elementals and inadequately theorize about them. Usually they do not see any significance to elementals beyond their connection with the prana principle; this, however, is grossly inadequate and unhelpful, if not downright dangerous, particularly when coupled with lower yogic practices or mediumistic tendencies.

An authentic approach to the doctrine of elementals must be motivated by a desire to regenerate oneself on behalf of all. Both wisdom and compassion are needed if one would master the ways in which a human being may work upon elementals and also be acted upon by them. In practice, this is an extremely intimate and detailed enquiry involving all the most basic activities of daily life. The real nature of home and possessions, of eating and sleeping, and of every other aspect of life is bound up with elementals. Naturally, this includes questions of physical and psychological disease and health, with all the fads and fancies, popular and private, that accompany them. Problems of drugs and depression, along with the other ailments of the age for which there are no available remedies, are bound up with the interactions of the human and elemental worlds. No amount of mechanistic manipulation by doctors, therapists, specialists or religious counsellors will be of any avail in curing these ills of individuals and society; all ignore the fundamental nature of human malaise.

Real human welfare and well-being proceed from within without, beginning in the mind and heart and enacted through responsibility in thought and speech before they are reflected in outward action. The collective regeneration of society, therefore, depends upon the efforts of individuals to regenerate themselves fundamentally – first at the level of their basic self-consciousness, and later in relation to their vestures. Working outward from what one thinks of oneself, this regeneration must involve existing elementals in one’s own being and will have definite effects upon everything with which one has contact and relationship. One must do this without falling into increasing self-obsession. One must sustain a universal motive. Merely building a fortress around one’s own virtue is incompatible with teaching elementals and giving them the sort of beneficial impress that makes them a healing force in society. To avoid this moralistic delusion and still carry out the work of self-regeneration, one must insert the effort to overcome one’s own sins and failings into the most universal context of human suffering. One must feel one’s own pain as inseparable from the pain of every atom, every elemental and every human being involved in the collective human pilgrimage. Instead of hiding in fear or withdrawing from it, one must remain sensitive to that universal pain and so become as wide awake as Buddha.

Metaphysically, the doctrine of elementals encompasses the wide range of devas and devatas, gods and demigods, on seven different planes of differentiated cosmic substance. Extending far beyond medieval lore about gnomes, sylphs, salamanders and undines, the true teaching of elementals begins with the root processes by which thought impresses matter with form through fohat. Much of this teaching is secret, but any aspirant seeking aid in the acquisition of self-mastery will find considerable help in the sacred texts of all the authentic spiritual traditions of the world. These, however, must be approached from the standpoint of the philosophy of perfectibility and the science of spirituality, with no quarter given to blind superstition and stale dogmatism. At the most fundamental philosophical level, the doctrine of elementals is indeed magical and mystical, but this magic is noetic and akashic. It has nothing to do with the morass of grey psychic practices that pass for magic among pseudo-occultists. Instead, one must begin with meditation upon the abstract Point and the Zero Principle. (See Hermes, February 1986.) Without a firmer grasp of principles and without a true mental confrontation with fundamental ideas, it is impossible to understand and use the teaching of elementals for the benefit of the world. Without these rigorous basics, one can only fall prey to secondary and tertiary emanations and so become coiled in nefarious practices and sorcery.

A secure beginning can be found in the recognition that a fully self-conscious seven-fold being is unique. Such a being is the crown of creation, the full embodiment of the macrocosm in the microcosm. In a very specific sense man is, at the essential core of his being, a pure and immaculate crystallized ray of light-energy. This light ultimately represents the radiation of universal self-consciousness, the light that brings together all the gods and all the hierarchies. It goes beyond all colours and numbers to the one clear white light, the secondless light hidden in the divine darkness and silence. Thus man is one with the rootless root of the cosmos, a differentiated being compounded of every conceivable element in every one of the kingdoms of Nature. All the seven kingdoms are in a human being. This, of course, involves not only the physical body, but a series of vestures or upadhis on several different planes. In all the vestures of the human being, there is not a single element of any of the kingdoms of Nature, or any of the elemental forces, that is not already present.

This complexity in human nature, spanning the unmanifest and the manifest, is the basis of the paradox that man is both the potential crown of creation and its curse. In the whole of creation, seven-fold man is the unique possessor of the pristine light which precedes, differentiates and integrates, but also transcends, the entire spectrum of colours, sounds, forces, energies and vibrations. At the very core, man is deific and divine. Yet this does not make man sublime or spiritual in a way that stones and animals are not, for the deific breath and the divine afflatus of the One Life is everywhere and in everything. What is crucial about Man is that he is the possessor of self-consciousness through the gift of the Manasas and Agnishvatta Pitris, a particular class of the highest gods involving the second and third of the four classes below the first. Man is thus able to synthesize and transcend all the elementals.

Hermes, April 1987
Raghavan Iyer

Theosophy – Relationship and Solitude (Part 3), by Raghavan Iyer

TTS-logoRELATIONSHIP AND SOLITUDE – III

 

These companions realize that true solitude is not loneliness, but the experience of a more intense fellowship that goes beyond the human kingdom. It is a fellowship not merely with nature seen in terms of its four kingdoms – mineral, vegetable, animal and human – but a fellowship that includes three invisible elemental kingdoms. Even more, it is a fellowship with living forces that are neither remote abstractions nor anthropomorphized entities. Through this fellowship we may experience the thrill of the discovery that within the human body there is a universe intimately bound up with a vast universe which includes many more worlds than what either visually or conceptually we call the cosmos. Deep, steady and regular meditation, supported by the integrity of self-study, becomes after a point as natural as breathing. It becomes continuous with the whole of one’s life, and then a person can never be lonely in the ordinary sense, because one will be unafraid. If there is no limiting conception of oneself which makes one vulnerable, there is nothing to fear.

To explain this in detail would be futile because an explanation would say nothing to someone who does not have some experience of it. The best way to understand it is to focus one’s consciousness, within the solitude of one’s own life, upon those passages in the great devotional texts which give the capacity – within the alembic of one’s purified imagination, the matrix of one’s serene ideation, and the warmth of one’s expanding heart – to tap through meditation the ideation, benevolence and compassion of beings who have gained enlightenment. An infallible test of whether one has truly entered the stream is that one recognizes one’s predecessors, the Tathagatas. People who only attempt meditation for a while, and keep pretending that they have the last word or the final answer, are pitiable failures. The individual who has an authentic inner life feels a profound veneration for a vast brotherhood of beings who have walked that way before. Many people experience a comparable feeling on trips to the mountains, especially when they are alone for a long time. They experience an exhilaration at seeing another human being. There is a comradeship which we can experience but are not ready to verbalize.

We can find in such fruitful encounters preparatory anticipations of the solidarity experienced through the discipline of discipleship, meditating as steadily as a spinning top, while also engaged in creative action. Enjoying comradeship with the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas, the disciple is strengthened by his constant awareness of Their boundless compassion. Simply to think of their infinite sacrificial wisdom fortifies him. This is a profound experience, and anyone can earn it by making the necessary effort. But in the sacred realm no false coins will serve, and there can be no cheating or manipulation. As in Rene Daumal’s Mount Analogue, the only thing that entitles one to go further is being able to extract a particular kind of pearl-like substance that one can only get by risking great danger, coming close to precipitous waterfalls and crashing cascades. Progress is made solely by daring, the willingness to go through repeated trials, and by magnanimity.

Though depicted in different ways by many teachers throughout vast ages, the trials of a disciple are very real. No strength is gained by any who are unwilling to be tested and tried, or who are afraid of trying. This will always be the case, as long as the universe has the integrity necessary to accommodate the continuities between great beings and every person alive. In a universe of law, the only way in which it is possible to go through the journey is step by step. As suggested in the story of Job, one’s burden will never be greater than one can bear. But at any given time, the trial one is undergoing will seem as if it is too much. Jesus exemplified this at his supreme trial when he faced the thought that he might have been forsaken. Even though such thoughts may occur, the disciple can persist. Faith will triumph over doubt, and Kama Manas will finally be sloughed off like the skin of a snake. The new self emerges at that very point where one is willing to let go of the whole assemblage of past limitations. But this cannot be done once and for all. It has to be done repeatedly.

There will be many trials, and, for those who are simply not able to understand what is involved, the warning is given at the outset that this is the Path of Woe. The Rosicrucian motto enjoins: “Know, dare, will,” and, above all, “remain silent.” If candidates are willing to fulfil such precise qualifications, they will be able to travel the whole Path. It is that kind of journey where, if one gains a self-sustaining measure of growth on the Path, a point is reached, earlier than one might think, where there is no more anxiety or concern about one’s own good. When that point is passed, one is truly fortunate, because then it is possible to keep going while seeing beyond the calculus of consequences. A faith can be fostered which is founded in understanding and reinforced from within by a high resolve embodied in the realm of sacrificial action, depicted forcefully in the Bhagavad Gita.Inevitably, one may appear to lose ground at times, but a person who is ambivalent and dithering cannot augment his faith. All despondency has to be cast off. While this cannot be done at the beginning, it will be required as one grows. It can be done provided one always keeps looking ahead to that which is beyond oneself, and which encompasses all other human beings.

One must show a warm gratitude to those pilgrims on the path who, having gone further up, are beckoning to the persons below. This is little understood in the world of inversions or in the language of lower Manas which has tarnished all images of the truths of the spiritual life. We can become ready for more and more, however, by using every increment of authentic experience. It is the constant effort to bring many individuals to this hunger for genuine learning and to give them some meaningful hope, that constitutes the great sacrifice of the Mahatmas. Their ceaseless and magnanimous work is vaster at all times than any individual can comprehend, but at the same time it has precision in relation to the law of cycles. They work with vast cyclic forces and know what can be done in any year in any place at any level in relation to the greatest good of all. One will make marvellous discoveries as one climbs more, finding that the precision, detachment and selflessness needed are truly awe-inspiring. But a person will be proud to have become worthy even to know this much, and if he looks back at what he was a long time ago or sees those still struggling below, he will recognize a profound kinship and want to help in every way.

There is another telling insight in Mount Analogue. Pilgrims find they reach a stage where they cannot take the next step forward, where they have to sit and wait until those who are still struggling below have come up to their level. Those who would not do for others what has been done for them will never make further progress in the spiritual life. The door will be shut. Such persons may build up a pattern where, in their concern to keep going, they forget what they have already been through. They fail to empathize fully with those who are still struggling. A balance must be struck on the Path which can only be genuine and dynamic when produced by a rhythmic alternation between withdrawals and involvements, nivritti and pravritti, meditation and skill in the art of action, solitude and relationship. Disciples can integrate solitude into every week, into every day, and eventually integrate it into themselves so that they are within their spheres all the time and can see in all particular relationships mirrorings of vaster relationships with all living beings. They begin every week by deliberation in regard to what they can do for someone else and by self-study with regard to how they may apply what they have learned from others and how they may correct various sins of omission and commission. A person who regularly undertakes this can carry it out everywhere, even in the simplest relationships.

The most unspoken, intimate relationships reflect the very highest relations, which at the pinnacle of the spiritual life is that of disciple and teacher, but which at the cloud-obscured peak of enlightenment is like that between a child and a mother. The chela directly experiences these sacred relationships, which are inconceivable to human beings as they are. Yet, we can see them mirrored even in the awkward stumblings of ordinary men. Hence, as suggested in the great images given by Plato, those who recognize that the ladder of love extends into the elusive realms of the ineffable, can also see the reflections of that divine magic in its simplest manifestations among ordinary people. When a person can do this, there is no more dichotomy between authentic relationship and inner solitude.

An evolving human being and a developing disciple experience that which seems mysterious – what it is to be of the world and one with it and yet out of it and not in it at all. When we experience this in sufficient measure, we may more readily understand what it means to be a being who can remain awake during pralaya and yet also be uninvolved whilst fully engaged during manifestation in the work of the world. We come to see that for an ascending consciousness there are levels upon levels of negation and affirmation. This pair ultimately become like two poles that are symmetrically related to a higher pole which is beyond because it can never manifest and is unconditioned. This is most meaningful when seen, not as an image or a metaphor, but as a living reality within, pointing to the One beyond and above the Waters of Space, which “breathes breathless.” It is possible to remain in that ground of Being which is Non-Being. It is feasible to understand the vast meshing of karmic causation and at the same time, while standing outside it, to feel no sense of separateness from the most ignorant beings, toiling and hurting themselves and somehow through their stumblings, growing towards a greater freedom than they can recognize while still hiding in the shadows. Those who approach these transcendental recognitions will truly feel it a sacred privilege to “profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent.”

SIMILITUDE

As when with downcast eyes we muse and brood,
And ebb into a former life, or seem
To lapse far back in some confused dream
To states of mystical similitude,
If one but speaks or hems or stirs his chair,
Ever the wonder waxeth more and more,
So that we say, “All this hath been before,
All this hath been, I know not when or where”;
So, friend, when first I look’d upon your face,
Our thought gave answer each to each, so true –
Opposed mirrors each reflecting each –
That, tho’ I knew not in what time or place,
Methought that I had often met with you,
And either lived in either’s heart and speech.

ALFRED LORD TENNYSON

Hermes, June 1977
Raghavan Iyer

Theosophy – Relationship and Solitude (Part 2), by Raghavan Iyer

TTS-logoRELATIONSHIP AND SOLITUDE – II

 

Human beings willing to take their lives into their own hands can acknowledge when they have used a person as a means to their own end, and see this as unworthy. Highly evolved souls who fall into such abuses will go into a period of penance. They will engage in a chosen discipline of thought and action so as to atone for their past misuse. Penance is not to be understood in terms of externals. True tapas touches the core of one’s inward integrity. It fosters a calm reliance upon the great law of universal unity and ethical causation. It is rooted in the wisdom that protects right relationships. The tragedy of the human condition is that when we make moral discoveries we cannot readily go back to those we have wronged and rectify matters. Either it would be too painful or the individuals involved are not accessible. But we can correct our relationships at a higher level of integrity. We could prepare ourselves, in a practical way, to come out of the old and smaller circles of loyalty. We could authentically enter into the family of man and become members of that brotherhood of human beings who do their utmost, in the depths of solitude and self-examination as well as in the gamut of their relationships in daily life, to re-enact in simple situations what at an exalted level is effortlessly exemplified by the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas.

Those who make this heroic effort become pioneers who point to the civilization of the future. They gestate new modes in the realm of pure ideation and bring them down into the region of the visible, laying foundations for a more joyous age in which there will be less defensiveness, fear and strain in the fit between theory and practice. Some want to get there straightaway, but they have never really asked themselves whether they have paid off their debts, or even faced up to the consequences of what they did before. This is a common error, but nonetheless it is insupportable in a cosmos that is a moral order. We cannot erase what went before, though we can make every new beginning count and insert it into a broader context. The great opportunity that the Aquarian Age offers is to gain a sense of proportion in relation to oneself, entering into an invisible brotherhood of comrades who are making similar attempts. Their mutual bonds come alive through their inmost reverence for their teachers, who exemplify in an ideal mode what their disciples strive to make real in their lives through sincere emulation to the best of their knowledge.

We need to function freely in the invisible realm of growth where all formulations can only be initial points of departure, and all interactions may serve as tentative embodiments of ideals. We know today, even in terms of the inverted insights of the lunar psychology now so widely disseminated, that our responses to others are in part truths about ourselves. We are aware that weak people are going to see weakness everywhere, or are going to be threatened by stronger people who remind them only more acutely of their own weakness. In the worst cases, the weak either try to pull down the stronger through image-crippling or try to live off them vampirically. On the opposite side, there are divine equivalents to these demoniac extremes, because evil is merely a privation of the good. Evil is only a shadow cast by a good which is not static: the more we seek it, the more it moves through degrees of relative manifestation extending into the unmanifest realm and beyond into that which cannot be called “good” or “true” or “beautiful” or anything, because it is beyond all appellations and attributes.

There is then a process that is the opposite of vampirization. Instead of subtracting from someone else for our own benefit every time we see something that is strong or admirable, we could try to be silent learners. This is not easy. Very great souls, wherever they are born, reveal themselves as archetypal learners. By learning all the time they readily assimilate the best from those they encounter, and thus rapidly learn in every direction. Light on the Path gives the most comprehensive and precise instruction: “No man is your enemy: no man is your friend. All alike are your teachers.” This mode of learning is a way of drawing from others which enriches all. The archetypal mode is so basic that it cannot remotely resemble institutionalized, routinized, inherited conceptions of learning. One can enact a whole manvantara within a single night if one is serious about learning, simply by sitting quietly in a restaurant and watching people coming and going, working and conversing. Learning is ceaselessly going on everywhere but it can become truly self-conscious only if one is sufficiently humble. It is absurd to insist that there is no alternative to manipulation in human relationships. What makes vampirization possible is a kind of perverted strength, a determined persistence in weakness. An Initiate will see in such sad cases not a weakling, but an old sorcerer playing sick games behind a weak exterior, using the guise of weakness for the sake of sordid traffic in human vulnerability. There is present a reflected ray of the divine, but its strength shows itself demoniacally, inverted through a perverse determination which can only push the person along the inclined slope that culminates in the irreversible utter loneliness, annihilation, and extinction of the vital connection with the Atman. We need to meditate deeply on the opposite to see to the very core of what is happening. We can only do this if we can witness what we see with a commensurate compassion. The self-destructive sorcery of vampirization and manipulation must be met by a tremendous love, such as that of Krishna, Buddha, or Christ, for the faint spark of moral perception in that unfortunate human being desperately needs to be fanned before it is wholly extinguished.

Meditation upon the nature of good and evil also points to a process that is the opposite of the demoniac tendency, through extreme insecurity, of breaking down the images of stronger people. True learners, in contrast to fickle sycophants, are skilled in the enjoyment of excellence. They are willing to worship the imprint of impersonal truths about human nature in the acts and utterances of noble souls, wherever they may be discerned. Diverse individuals may find kinship with exemplars of human excellence in ancient myths, in recorded history, and in the secret fraternity of living sages. If we sit down and calmly reflect upon the best persons we have ever known, upon those we most respect, we may come to see the finer qualities hidden in the creative depths of these beings. Continuous effort generates strength. If we love enough we will readily recognize that we are initially not worthy enough to appreciate all the excellences of higher beings. We need knowledge, self-study, and the companionship of those who are our comrades in the quest for wisdom. Then we become intuitively capable of drawing to that orbit wherein we sense without profanation a sacred dissemination and steady diffusion of ideals that may be incarnated by degrees. This is the only possible strength compatible with a spiritual cosmogony and an emanationist conception of human evolution. Strength is truly that which is compatible with further growth. This is no static notion of strength and there can be no external measure of it. Human beings are the greatest cowards when they will not admit a mistake and when they will not face themselves. The greatest heroes are the ones who show the courage needed for constant self-correction. True strength has nothing to do with indices of power in the visible realm. It shows itself in the inner life of man, in psychological struggles, and in the moral sphere. As we begin to gain a little of this inward strength, we prepare ourselves for more. Then it becomes natural and spontaneous to rejoice in the existence of those stronger than ourselves.

It is possible even now to recover something of that faded memory of the joys which were once experienced in families where one could insert one’s whole conception of oneself into a larger fellowship. We can no longer do this mechanically in Kali Yuga, least of all in a competitive society, and in relation to the family as defined merely in terms of blood ties and physical heredity. We have to re-discover and re-create the small family before we can join the greater family of man. We need to think about humanity as a whole, the human situation, human needs, human sufferings, and the glaring gap between the human predicament and all the expertise in the corridors of power. But we should not presume that we know enough about such matters. It would be better to seek to become effective servants of Those who alone have the wisdom needed to enlighten and elevate the whole of the human race, but who cannot do so without the help of companions. Drawn out of different cultures, they are the global forerunners who are willing to serve as “Fortune’s favoured soldiers” in the Army of the Voice.

Hermes, June 1977
Raghavan Iyer

Where is the church on Monday? Awakening the church to the theology and practice of ministry and mission in the marketplace | Dion Forster – Academia.edu

Recent research by the Call42 group has shown that South African Christians experience that they are not adequately prepared or equipped for Christian living and discipleship in the world of work – here called the marketplace. This article has argued …

Source: Where is the church on Monday? Awakening the church to the theology and practice of ministry and mission in the marketplace | Dion Forster – Academia.edu

An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence – Brain Pickings

“The brain can only assume its proper behavior when consciousness is doing what it is designed for: not writhing and whirling to get out of present experience, but being effortlessly aware of…

Source: An Antidote to the Age of Anxiety: Alan Watts on Happiness and How to Live with Presence – Brain Pickings

Theosophy – Relationship and Solitude, Part 2, by Raghavan Iyer

TTS-logo

RELATIONSHIP AND SOLITUDE – II

 

Human beings willing to take their lives into their own hands can acknowledge when they have used a person as a means to their own end, and see this as unworthy. Highly evolved souls who fall into such abuses will go into a period of penance. They will engage in a chosen discipline of thought and action so as to atone for their past misuse. Penance is not to be understood in terms of externals. True tapas touches the core of one’s inward integrity. It fosters a calm reliance upon the great law of universal unity and ethical causation. It is rooted in the wisdom that protects right relationships. The tragedy of the human condition is that when we make moral discoveries we cannot readily go back to those we have wronged and rectify matters. Either it would be too painful or the individuals involved are not accessible. But we can correct our relationships at a higher level of integrity. We could prepare ourselves, in a practical way, to come out of the old and smaller circles of loyalty. We could authentically enter into the family of man and become members of that brotherhood of human beings who do their utmost, in the depths of solitude and self-examination as well as in the gamut of their relationships in daily life, to re-enact in simple situations what at an exalted level is effortlessly exemplified by the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas.

Those who make this heroic effort become pioneers who point to the civilization of the future. They gestate new modes in the realm of pure ideation and bring them down into the region of the visible, laying foundations for a more joyous age in which there will be less defensiveness, fear and strain in the fit between theory and practice. Some want to get there straightaway, but they have never really asked themselves whether they have paid off their debts, or even faced up to the consequences of what they did before. This is a common error, but nonetheless it is insupportable in a cosmos that is a moral order. We cannot erase what went before, though we can make every new beginning count and insert it into a broader context. The great opportunity that the Aquarian Age offers is to gain a sense of proportion in relation to oneself, entering into an invisible brotherhood of comrades who are making similar attempts. Their mutual bonds come alive through their inmost reverence for their teachers, who exemplify in an ideal mode what their disciples strive to make real in their lives through sincere emulation to the best of their knowledge.

We need to function freely in the invisible realm of growth where all formulations can only be initial points of departure, and all interactions may serve as tentative embodiments of ideals. We know today, even in terms of the inverted insights of the lunar psychology now so widely disseminated, that our responses to others are in part truths about ourselves. We are aware that weak people are going to see weakness everywhere, or are going to be threatened by stronger people who remind them only more acutely of their own weakness. In the worst cases, the weak either try to pull down the stronger through image-crippling or try to live off them vampirically. On the opposite side, there are divine equivalents to these demoniac extremes, because evil is merely a privation of the good. Evil is only a shadow cast by a good which is not static: the more we seek it, the more it moves through degrees of relative manifestation extending into the unmanifest realm and beyond into that which cannot be called “good” or “true” or “beautiful” or anything, because it is beyond all appellations and attributes.

There is then a process that is the opposite of vampirization. Instead of subtracting from someone else for our own benefit every time we see something that is strong or admirable, we could try to be silent learners. This is not easy. Very great souls, wherever they are born, reveal themselves as archetypal learners. By learning all the time they readily assimilate the best from those they encounter, and thus rapidly learn in every direction. Light on the Path gives the most comprehensive and precise instruction: “No man is your enemy: no man is your friend. All alike are your teachers.” This mode of learning is a way of drawing from others which enriches all. The archetypal mode is so basic that it cannot remotely resemble institutionalized, routinized, inherited conceptions of learning. One can enact a whole manvantara within a single night if one is serious about learning, simply by sitting quietly in a restaurant and watching people coming and going, working and conversing. Learning is ceaselessly going on everywhere but it can become truly self-conscious only if one is sufficiently humble. It is absurd to insist that there is no alternative to manipulation in human relationships. What makes vampirization possible is a kind of perverted strength, a determined persistence in weakness. An Initiate will see in such sad cases not a weakling, but an old sorcerer playing sick games behind a weak exterior, using the guise of weakness for the sake of sordid traffic in human vulnerability. There is present a reflected ray of the divine, but its strength shows itself demoniacally, inverted through a perverse determination which can only push the person along the inclined slope that culminates in the irreversible utter loneliness, annihilation, and extinction of the vital connection with the Atman. We need to meditate deeply on the opposite to see to the very core of what is happening. We can only do this if we can witness what we see with a commensurate compassion. The self-destructive sorcery of vampirization and manipulation must be met by a tremendous love, such as that of Krishna, Buddha, or Christ, for the faint spark of moral perception in that unfortunate human being desperately needs to be fanned before it is wholly extinguished.

Meditation upon the nature of good and evil also points to a process that is the opposite of the demoniac tendency, through extreme insecurity, of breaking down the images of stronger people. True learners, in contrast to fickle sycophants, are skilled in the enjoyment of excellence. They are willing to worship the imprint of impersonal truths about human nature in the acts and utterances of noble souls, wherever they may be discerned. Diverse individuals may find kinship with exemplars of human excellence in ancient myths, in recorded history, and in the secret fraternity of living sages. If we sit down and calmly reflect upon the best persons we have ever known, upon those we most respect, we may come to see the finer qualities hidden in the creative depths of these beings. Continuous effort generates strength. If we love enough we will readily recognize that we are initially not worthy enough to appreciate all the excellences of higher beings. We need knowledge, self-study, and the companionship of those who are our comrades in the quest for wisdom. Then we become intuitively capable of drawing to that orbit wherein we sense without profanation a sacred dissemination and steady diffusion of ideals that may be incarnated by degrees. This is the only possible strength compatible with a spiritual cosmogony and an emanationist conception of human evolution. Strength is truly that which is compatible with further growth. This is no static notion of strength and there can be no external measure of it. Human beings are the greatest cowards when they will not admit a mistake and when they will not face themselves. The greatest heroes are the ones who show the courage needed for constant self-correction. True strength has nothing to do with indices of power in the visible realm. It shows itself in the inner life of man, in psychological struggles, and in the moral sphere. As we begin to gain a little of this inward strength, we prepare ourselves for more. Then it becomes natural and spontaneous to rejoice in the existence of those stronger than ourselves.

It is possible even now to recover something of that faded memory of the joys which were once experienced in families where one could insert one’s whole conception of oneself into a larger fellowship. We can no longer do this mechanically in Kali Yuga, least of all in a competitive society, and in relation to the family as defined merely in terms of blood ties and physical heredity. We have to re-discover and re-create the small family before we can join the greater family of man. We need to think about humanity as a whole, the human situation, human needs, human sufferings, and the glaring gap between the human predicament and all the expertise in the corridors of power. But we should not presume that we know enough about such matters. It would be better to seek to become effective servants of Those who alone have the wisdom needed to enlighten and elevate the whole of the human race, but who cannot do so without the help of companions. Drawn out of different cultures, they are the global forerunners who are willing to serve as “Fortune’s favoured soldiers” in the Army of the Voice.

Hermes, June 1977
Raghavan Iyer