Monday, 9 December 2019

Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine 2/3

The second major principle to consider, as the first differentiation of Parabrahm, is Mulaprakriti, a Sanskrit terms which means Root-Nature, defined as Unmanifested Primordial Matter, corresponding to the notion of primal matter in ancient philosophy.
Mûlaprakriti (Sk.). The Parabrahmic root, the abstract deific feminine principle—undifferentiated substance. Akâsa. Literally, “the root of Nature” (Prakriti) or Matter (Theosophical Glossary).
“In contradistinction to the manifested universe of matter, the term Mulaprakriti (from Mula, “the root,” and prakriti, “nature”), or the unmanifested primordial matter — called by Western alchemists Adam’s Earth — is applied by the Vedantins to Parabrahmam. Matter is dual in religious metaphysics, and septenary in esoteric teachings, like everything else in the universe. As Mulaprakriti, it is undifferentiated and eternal; as Vyakta, it becomes differentiated and conditioned, according to Svetasvatara Upanishad, I. 8, and Devi Bhagavata Purana” (SDI, 10)
A-Primordial Substance
a- A traditional query into the nature of matter, that can be considered a substantialist or hylozoic view of matter, is posited:
In short, it is the “upadhi,” or vehicle, of every possible phenomenon, whether physical, mental, or psychic (SD I, 330).
b-As such, matter can be viewed as pure objectivity, underlying all phenomena, the basis a dynamic septenary process with a  cyclical view of evolution, using the Indian notions of Manvantara and Pralaya, making it is possible to conceive of matter in a primary state of dissolution (SD I, 327-28).
c-The distinction between substance and matter is made. Substance being an essence of matter as manifested phenomena with primordial substance and divine thought as a highly spiritual nature, not separate to substance. To our perceptions, matter is purely subjective (SD I, 329).
This highly abstract spiritual aspect of matter has many terms according to its diverse states of differentiation on the septenary planes. The basic explanations gives at least six terms, with many nuances and subtleties hinted at:
a-The term Chaos, derived from various creation myths, especially the biblical concept of the spirit of God that hovers over the faces of the waters, is seen as Primordial Substance when it is in an early manifestation phase (SD I, 330).
b-The compound term ‘’Primordial Chaos’’ is also used, being a somewhat more active potential than Chaos simple (SD I, 332).
c-In Ancient Cosmogonies, Chaos is akin to a deep ocean, primordial waters and becomes the Soul of the World (SD I, 343-44)
2- Space (was used to define Spirit-Matter and can be applied Primordial Substance as well).
a-Space is defined as Primordial Substance or Chaos in its pre-cosmic state, and is considered as the ever unseen and unknowable deity (SD I, 336).
b- It can be considered the container and body of the Universe, with its seven levels of being (the Seven-Skinned Eternal Father-Mother) (SD I, 342).
3- Aditi
The Sanskrit term Aditi, especially when referring to cosmic substance in terms of a goddess, the celestial virgin and mother, can also be used (SD I, 333).
Âditi (Sk.). The Vedic name for the Mûlaprakriti of the Vedantists; the abstract aspect of Parabrahman, though both unmanifested and unknowable. In the Vedas Âditi is the “Mother-Goddess”, her terrestrial symbol being infinite and shoreless space (Theosophical Glossary).
4- Akasa
a-A prominent term for primordial substance is Akasha, the vehicle of divine thought with Ether or Astral Light being an expression of Akasha on lower planes of manifestation (SD I, 326).
Akâsa (Sk.). The subtle, supersensuous spiritual essence which pervades all space; the primordial substance erroneously identified with Ether. But it is to Ether what Spirit is to Matter, or Âtmâ to Kâma-rûpa.  It is, in fact, the Universal Space in which lies inherent the eternal Ideation of the Universe in its ever-changing aspects on the planes of matter and objectivity, and from which radiates the First Logos, or expressed thought (Theosophical Glossary).[1]
b-Adi-Sakti in her Akashic form of Universal Soul is considered a radiation of Mulaprakriti. Hence Akasha is considered as the first differenciation of Primordial Substance (SD I, 9-10).
c- In various traditions, the Universal Soul is symbolized by a feminine deity, a Mother-Godess or Heavenly Virgin figure, Sophia, Sephira, Saraswati/Vach, the Holy Ghost, etc. (SD I, 353)
5- Ether
a-Ether is the grossest form of Akasha, Akasha being considered the fifth cosmic principle.
Whatever the views of physical Science upon the subject, Occult Science has been teaching for ages that A’kasa — of which Ether is the grossest form — the fifth universal Cosmic Principle (to which corresponds and from which proceeds human Manas) is, cosmically, a radiant, cool, diathermanous plastic matter, creative in its physical nature, correlative in its grossest aspects and portions, immutable in its higher principles. In the former condition it is called the Sub-Root; and in conjunction with radiant heat, it recalls “dead worlds to life.” In its higher aspect it is the Soul of the World; in its lower — the destroyer (SD I, 13)
b-Furthermore, Ether is defined as one of seven states of Akasha, and can itself be divided into seven states (SDI, 331).
c- Ether is the fifth element of ancient Greek philosophy, the synthesis of the first four, to be distinguished from Aether and modern Ether (SD I, 342-43)
6- Aether
Another important term, Aether, also derived from ancient Graeco-Roman tradition, not to be confused with modern designations, is also synomous with Primordial Substance
Æther (Gr.). With the ancients the divine luminiferous substance which pervades the whole universe, the “garment” of the Supreme Deity, Zeus, or Jupiter. With the moderns, Ether, for the meaning of which in physics and chemistry see Webster’s Dictionary or any other. In esotericism  Æther is the third principle of the Kosmic Septenary; the Earth being the lowest, then the Astral light, Ether and Âkâsa (phonetically Âkâsha) the highest (Theosophical Glossary).
a-Aether is a substance that as mysterious properties related to the primordial state of creation (SD I, 333).
b-Ancient Aether was regarded as the medium plane between this life and the next (SD I, 343).
c-Aether and Chaos, in ancient philosophy, can be considered as Mind and Matter (SD I, 343).
There are roughly a dozen terms used in the Secret Doctrine to denote Primordial Substance, and it is important to understand that these are all essentially designating the same idea. However, the diversity of terms to serve to designate different aspects of Primordial Substance in the complex unfolding of cosmic evolution, which can be gleaned from the context of a given passage. Based on various passages, the following rough outline of the seven levels of primordial substance is proposed:
1-Earth; 2-Astral Light; 3-4-Aether; 5-Akasha/Ether; 6- Mulaprakriti 7-Parabrahm
D-Three, four and seven principles
Certain notions regarding the sevenfold principles at the cosmic level are explained in relation to primordial substance.
a- Chaos, Theos, Kosmos
1-Three of the terms presented can form a trinity of Chaos, Theos, and Kosmos . Theos (the Architects who pertain to both spirit and matter) fashion the primordial Chaos into the Kosmos.
In the cosmogonies of all the nations it is the "Architects" synthesized by Demiurgos (in the Bible the "Elohim"), who fashion Kosmos out of Chaos, and who are the collective Theos, "male-female," Spirit and matter" (SD I, 346).
2-- When in a pralaya state, this trinity becomes the unknowable Deity (i.e. unrevealed or hidden Deity. (SD I, 347).
3- This trinity can be synthesized as Space (SD I, 344).
b-There are seven  major elements in nature, related to the seven levels of Primordial Substance. These seven elements are manifested according to the evolution of the seven planetary rounds (SD I, 12-13).
c- All souls, Buddhis, the sixth, principle, are fundamentally identical with the Universal Over-Soul, an aspect of the Unknow Root. The soul must go through a pilgrimage through all planes to fully realize this (SD I, 18).
d- The oriental concept of Maya is adopted. All manifested life is considered illusory because finite and a differentiated aspects of the one reality, the seventh principle. (SD I, 11 fn) (SD I, 18)
E-Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti
These two principles form the basis of a duality that is present throughout all aspects of manifestation and are generally termed Pre-cosmic ideation, pre-cosmic root substance in its pre-manifestation phase and cosmic ideation and cosmic substance at the level of manifestation.
a-From the highest perspective, Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are the aspects of the unconditioned, eternal One Principle.
“In its absoluteness, the One Principle under its two aspects (of Parabrahmam and Mulaprakriti) is sexless, unconditioned and eternal. Its periodical (manvantaric) emanation — or primal radiation — is also One, androgynous and phenomenally finite. When the radiation radiates in its turn, all its radiations are also androgynous, to become male and female principles in their lower aspects. After Pralaya, whether the great or the minor Pralaya (the latter leaving the worlds in statu quo*), the first that re-awakes to active life is the plastic A’kasa, Father-Mother, the Spirit and Soul of Ether, or the plane on the surface of the Circle. Space is called the “Mother” before its Cosmic activity, and Father-Mother at the first stage of re-awakening” (SD I, 18).
b- Just as pre-Cosmic Ideation is the root of all individual consciousness, so pre-Cosmic Substance is the substratum of matter in the various grades of its differentiation (SD I, 15).
“But just as the opposite poles of subject and object, spirit and matter, are but aspects of the One Unity in which they are synthesized, so, in the manifested Universe, there is “that” which links spirit to matter, subject to object” (SD I, 16).
c-On a more basic level the duality of spirit-matter and subject-object can be used. Note that Consciousness is a term often used to describe Spirit. Strictly speaking these terms are considered two aspects of Parabrahm only.
“Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective” (SD I, 16).
d-With the trinity of Space, Motion and the Great Breath, the Great Breath introduces us to the notion of Cosmic Ideation or Divine Thought (SD I, 15).
See Part 1

[1] The doctrine of the Logos is an important aspect of Theosophical metaphysics and will be reserved for a separate presentation. A brief outline can be glimpsed in the following outline: “ (1.) The ABSOLUTE; the Parabrahm of the Vedantins or the one Reality, SAT, which is, as Hegel says, both Absolute Being and Non-Being.
(2.) The first manifestation, the impersonal, and, in philosophy, unmanifested Logos, the precursor of the "manifested." This is the "First Cause," the "Unconscious" of European Pantheists.
(3.) Spirit-matter, LIFE; the "Spirit of the Universe," the Purusha and Prakriti, or the second Logos” (SD I, 16).

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

Cicero on Friendship

On Friendship  is presented as a personal reminiscence of a conversation that Marcus Tullius Cicero (106-43 bc) had witnessed between Laelius and his two son-in-laws, Fannius and Scaevola, concerning the latter’s friendship with the recently deceased Scipio. Cicero’s account begins on the occasion of Scipio’s death and the question of how to deal with the loss of a friend.
At one level, the text can simply be construed as an eloquent exposition of the value of friendship. Yet on a closer reading, one can also sense a series of underlying principles that are inherent to Cicero’s notions of a humanistic philosophy. According to Hunt, one can discern in all of Cicero’s philosophical works:
a coherent system and it deserves the name of humanism because it was concerned with man first and foremost and with other things only in so far as they were relevant to man’s position in the world. First it inquired into man’s nature, the validity of his perception, the nature of his highest virtue, the condition of his happiness, the degree of his freedom and his relation to the forces which control the world; it ended by asserting a theory of freedom and a rule of conduct enjoining the highest respect for man and systematically based on the theory of human nature. [Hunt, H.A.K., [1954],  The Humanism of Cicero, Victoria, Melbourne University Press]

Cicero begins by presenting friendship as a rare, exceptional moral achievement:
Well, in the first place I feel that friendship can exist only among the good; but I do not press this statement too far, as those do who go with more subtlety into these matters, perhaps correctly, but with little result for the general good; for they say that no one is good, except the wise man. (5, 18)
He also specifies that friendship exists according to a concept of natural law:
as those who were whom I have just mentioned--let us hold that these, even as they have been thought good, also ought to be called good, on the ground that, so far as men can, they follow Nature, the best guide to living well.(5, 19)
Fundamentally, he defines friendship as the sharing of a common value system and considers it to be the greatest of human achievements:
Now friendship is nothing else than perfect agreement on all divine and human things, joined to kindliness and affection; and than this, wisdom alone being excepted, I am inclined to think that no better gift has been given to man by the immortal gods. (5, 20)
According to Cicero, friendship is founded on a moral and ethical base, and there is a complementary interdependent relationship between virtue and friendship. Virtue is essential for friendship and friendship helps in maintaining virtue:
Those however who place the greatest good in virtue make an admirable decision; but this very virtue both creates and maintains friendship, nor can friendship by any means exist without virtue. (5, 20)
Friendship has been given by Nature as a handmaid of the virtues, not as a companion of the vices, in order that, since virtue could not unaided arrive at the highest perfection, it might arrive thither when united and associated with another. (22, 83)
Moreover, friendship becomes a fundamental source of happiness and comfort:
Nor am I now speaking of common or ordinary friendship, which nevertheless is both delightful and beneficial, but of true and flawless friendship, such as was that of those few men whose names are proverbial. For friendship makes prosperity more bright, and adversity, by dividing and sharing it, more supportable. (6,22)
Now while friendship comprises very many and very great advantages, in one point she certainly surpasses everything else, inasmuch as she sends forth the light of a good hope for the future, and does not suffer the spirits to be weakened or to sink. (7, 23)
Friendship is seen as being essentially inspired by love: 
For love, from which friendship received its name, is the chief means to the formation of the bond of kindly feeling. For advantages indeed are often received from those who under the pretence of friendship are courted and have attention paid them as occasion demands; but in friendship there is neither feigning nor pretence, and whatever feeling exists is real and sincere. (8, 26)
Since however a man contracts a friendship, as I have said above, if any sign of virtue shines forth in another to which a like disposition may incline and attach itself; when this happens, love must needs arise. (13, 48)
Although Cicero shows a certain aristocratic attitude towards friendship, he nonetheless acknowledges its compatibility with democratic values:
I think, there is between good men and good men a necessary feeling of kindliness, and this has been appointed by Nature as the fountain-head of friendship. But the kindliness also extends to the multitude. For virtue is not unfeeling or unserviceable or haughty, since she is wont to protect even whole nations, and consult their interests in the best manner, which she assuredly would not do if she shrank from kindness towards the common people. (14, 50)
Finally, he considers a strong sense of empathy towards one’s friends to be an essential characteristic of friendship:
Thus they are destitute of that very lovely and exquisitely natural friendship, which is an object of desire in itself and for itself, nor can they learn from themselves how valuable and powerful such a friendship is. For each man loves himself, not that he may get from himself some reward for his own affection, but because each one is of himself dear to himself. And unless this same feeling be transferred to friendship, a true friend will never be found; for a true friend is one who is, as it were, a second self. (21, 80)
After proposing  a general definition of friendship, Cicero elaborates several practical principles. Briefly stated, he maintains that one should choose one’s friends carefully, choosing men of good character. One should moreover freely share all of one’s concerns, plans, and aims with one’s friends. Friendship should be based on steadfastness, loyalty and trust, with no deception or hypocrisy.  Absolute honesty is thus essential for friendship, and one should be congenial and show pleasant manners to friends, treating them as equals, and being generous and helpful to them. One should also encourage one’s friends in developing virtue, reprimanding them in a tactful, gentle manner if necessary, and accepting reprimand with forbearance.
He gives further practical advice such as one should always behave respectfully to one’s friends, maintaining particular respect for friends of long standing. He stresses that the excessive pursuit of wealth and power is detrimental to friendship. One can make concessions to friends by agreeing to do improper things if these do not damage our reputation; however, one should not do fundamentally wrong acts on account of friendship. He points out that one should not have unrealistic expectations or be too demanding towards one’s friends nor should one engage in behaviour of a flattering or sycophantic nature. One need not give more help to a friend than one is able nor is one obliged to place pleasing a friend above matters of duty. He allows that friendships can be ended if the friend behaves badly or if common interests change. In that case, one should strive to end the friendship gradually and quietly.

Monday, 25 November 2019

Introduction to the Metaphysics of the Secret Doctrine 1/3

Parabrahm, Kosmos, Be-Ness, Space, Motion, The Great Breath
The Secret Doctrine presents an extensive scheme of spiritual evolution, from the universe to the planet earth, including humanity and all life on it. The metaphysical aspect, Cosmogenesis, is particularly intricate. The following posts aim to give a basic presentation of the basic concepts derived from the introductory chapters.

One could begin by positing a cosmological presentation in terms of a basic duality of Spirit and Matter, Heaven and Earth in mythology, Purusha and Prakriti in Indian terms.
For instance, this duality is elaborated in at least five basic ways:

Absolute Divine Spirit
Absolute Divine Substance
Divine Thought
Primordial Substance
Cosmic Ideation
Cosmic Substance

Moreover, certain complexities emerge rather quickly, this spirit-matter duality takes on subtle distinctions as all forms of primordial substance are of a quite spiritual, abstract nature in themselves and are never conceived as separate from divine thought. And as we shall see, the form of primal matter has at least five different aspects. Moreover, the presentation aims at being dynamic and holistic and so we are given some basic sketches of the interaction of spirit and matter in the transformation and creation process of the universe.
Therefore, pains are taken to avoid a hard dualism, therefore the paradoxical unity of the two principles are stressed regularly. The unity of Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti and the corresponding unity of Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance are fundamental paradoxical notions: ‘’The manifested Spirit; Absolute, Divine Spirit is one with absolute Divine Substance: Parabrahm and Mulaprakriti are one in essence. Therefore, Cosmic Ideation and Cosmic Substance in their primal character are one also’’ (Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine I, 337).
Hence, we get a glimpse of matter and spirit dynamically interacting in a sevenfold process where matter is perceived as various forms of energy. A fundamental point that we need to keep in mind, and which is often pointed out, is that Cosmic Substance and Cosmic Ideation are two facets of the one Absolute Existence: ‘’In modern language, the latter would be better named cosmic ideation — Spirit; the former, cosmic substance, the latter. These, the Alpha and the Omega of Being, are but the two facets of the one Absolute Existence’’ (SD I, 326).
Since the SD aims to explain the creation and evolution of the universe and solar system, various terms are presented to explain Parabrahm from the perspective of a manifesting universe; and so despite being an ineffable, abstract principle, paradoxical, beyond comprehension  and yet encompasses everything, much effort is spent on attempting to explain the concept and so various terms are proposed to explain different aspects. In dealing in metaphysics, the terms are very fluid and intuitive. We’ll try to present the essential terms and explanations in order of ontological priority.
A short definition is given as follows :
Parabrahm (Sk.). “Beyond Brahmâ”, literally. The Supreme Infinite Brahma, “Absolute”—the attributeless, the secondless reality. The impersonal and nameless universal Principle (Theosophical Glossary).
The Hidden Deity or Unrevealed Deity:
In various traditions, there is a notion of a Hidden Deity; Tsi-Tai (China), Great Extreme (Confucious), Anu (Near East), En-Soph (Kabbalah) are some examples (SD I, 356-57).
A- Kosmos
a- The collective, infinite, eternal Kosmos in its totality
Parabrahm is, in short, the collective aggregate of Kosmos in its infinity and eternity, the “that” and “this” to which distributive aggregates can not be applied.* (SD I, 6)
Kosmos (Gr.). The Universe, as distinguished from the world, which may mean our globe or earth (Theosophical Glossary).
b- All-inclusive Kosmos, infinite cosmic space in its highest spiritual sense (SD I, 6).
Be-ness. as the term Sat is applied solely to the absolute Principle, the universal, unknown, and ever unknowable Presence, which philosophical Pantheism postulates in Kosmos, calling it the basic root of Kosmos. It is, as said, absolute Be-ness, not Being, the one secondless, undivided, and indivisible All—the root of all Nature visible and invisible, objective and subjective, to be sensed by the highest spiritual intuition, but’ never to be fully comprehended (Theosophical Glossary).
a- The term Be-Ness is coined to denote the nature of pure abstraction, a rootless root, with no relation to finite being.  (SD I, 14).
b- From Be-Ness, the metaphysical concepts of Space, Motion and the Great breath follow from this (SD I, 14).
a-As the Absolute All, the description for this term is similar to that of Kosmos.
Space is neither a “limitless void,” nor a “conditioned fulness,” but both: being, on the plane of absolute abstraction, the ever-incognisable Deity, which is void only to finite minds,* and on that of mayavic perception, the Plenum, the absolute Container of all that is, whether manifested or unmanifested: it is, therefore, that absolute all (SDI, 8)
b- Space is called the Seven-Skinned Eternal Mother-Father: To denote the holistic, multi-modal nature of Parabrahm as Space as the One Reality present in seven levels of being (SD I, 9).
c-Space can be included in a trinity of terms (similar to the trinity of  Space, Motion, Great Breath) along with the Germ in the Root and the Great Breath, what ever was, ever is, and ever will be (SD I, 9).
a-In terms of positing an abstract absolute principle from manifestation, motion is considered to be the next highest principle. It is important to note that these explanations deal with an Abstract concept as well as a corresponding manifested concept, Noumenal and Phenomenal.
Intra-Cosmic motion is eternal and ceaseless; cosmic motion (the visible, or that which is subject to perception) is finite and periodical. As an eternal abstraction it is the EVER-PRESENT; (SD I, 3).
b-The principle of universal motion as an expression of the Unrevealed Deity is considered  as a living Fire with Light, Heat, Moisture as the cause of all natural phenomena (SD I, 3).
E-Great Breath
From this principle of simple motion, the binary notion of the Great breath, as found, for example, in the simple aspect of breathing, becomes the third aspect of Parabrahm.
a-The second principle of the Secret Doctrine describes it as the universal law of periodicity as found in the alternation of day and night, life and death, sleeping and waking (SD I, 17).
b-It is described as one absolute attribute of Kosmos, Space and Motion (SD I, 2).
c-The idea of a cosmic out-breathing and inhalation correspond to the Indian concepts of Manvatara and Pralaya, considered as a macrocosmic in-breathing and out-breathing process (SD I, 4).
d- The Second Principle of the Secret Doctrine describes this notion in the context of the eternity of the Universe, with recurrent periods of creation and destruction (SD I, 4).
“With regard to its body or Cosmic organization, though it cannot be said that it had a first, or will ever have a last construction, yet at each new Manvantara, its organization may be regarded as the first and the last of its kind, as it evolutes every time on a higher plane . . . . “ (SD I, 3).
F-Various Other Terms
Various other terms are used to describe it, such as the One-unknown ever present God in Nature to try and explain its abstract nature.
a- Some terminology from western philosophy are evoked: The Unknowable, the Causeles Cause, the Eternal, the Unknowable (SD I, 4).
b- Other terms are given to distinguish it from a concept of First Cause: Abstract All, the “Causeless One Cause,” the “Rootless Root, the One Reality, the one life (2) (SD I, 15).

Monday, 18 November 2019

Geshe Langri Tangpa’s Eight Verses of Training the Mind

One of Tibetan Buddhism’s most original practices aimed at developing empathy, altruism, compassion and equanimity is known as lojong, or mind training. It’s simple and practical bodhicitta nature has made it a popular teaching among students in Western cultures.  

Lojong mind training practice was developed over a 300-year period between 900 and 1200 CE, as part of the Mahāyāna school of Buddhism. Atiśa (982–1054 CE), a Bengali meditation master, is generally regarded as the originator of the practice. The fundamental work is a set of 59 aphorisms formulated in Tibet in the 12th century by Chekawa Yeshe Dorje entitled the "7 Points of Lojong".  

The Eight Verses for Training the Mind is one of the most important texts from the lojong canon, written by Geshe Langri Tangpa (1054–1123), an important figure in the lineage of the Kadampa and Gelug schools of Tibetan Buddhism and disciple of Potowa Rinchen Sal. His Holiness the Dalai Lama refers to this work as one of the main sources of his own inspiration and includes it in his daily meditations.  

1.       By thinking of all sentient beings
As more precious than a wish-fulfilling jewel
For accomplishing the highest aim,
I will always hold them dear.

2.      Whenever I’m in the company of others,
I will regard myself as the lowest among all,
And from the depths of my heart
Cherish others as supreme.

3.      In my every action, I will watch my mind,
And the moment destructive emotions arise,
I will confront them strongly and avert them,
Since they will hurt both me and others.

4.      Whenever I see ill-natured beings,
Or those overwhelmed by heavy misdeeds or suffering,
I will cherish them as something rare,
As though I’d found a priceless treasure.

5.      Whenever someone out of envy
Does me wrong by attacking or belittling me,
I will take defeat upon myself,
And give the victory to others.

6.      Even when someone I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes
Mistreats me very unjustly,
I will view that person as a true spiritual teacher.

7.      In brief, directly or indirectly,
I will offer help and happiness to all my mothers,*
And secretly take upon myself
All their hurt and suffering.

8.     I will learn to keep all these practices
Untainted by thoughts of the eight worldly concerns.
May I recognize all things as like illusions,
And, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.

*The term mother is based on the notion that since all sentient beings have been through the reincarnation process countless times, everyone has effectively been the mother of everyone else, and so should regard each other accordingly.

Monday, 11 November 2019

The Mahatma Letters on Tolerance

Who are these mysterious Mahatmas, Adepts, Brothers, Sisters...Much creative speculation has been written about them and they have many imitators - why not read the original texts? One thing that can be said, is that tolerance seems to be a primary concern of theirs (thanks to Katherine Beechey):

1-We refuse no one. ‘’Spheres of usefulness’’ can be found everywhere. (Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom, Series 2, p.125)

2-Ever turn away your gaze from the imperfections of your neighbour and centre rather your attention upon your own shortcomings in order to correct them and become wiser. (LMW, 2, p. 158)

3-Show not the disparity between claim and action in another man but, whether he be brother or neighbour, rather help him in his arduous walk in life. (LMW, 2, p. 158)

4-Do not be too severe on the merits of demerits of one who seeks admission among your ranks, as the truth about the actual state of the inner man can only be known to and dealt with justly by KARMA alone. (LMW, 2, p. 159)

5-Do not indulge in unbrotherly comparisons between the task accomplished by yourself and the work left undone by your neighbour or brother, in the field of Theosophy, as none is held to weed out a larger plot of ground than his strength and capacity will permit him. (LMW, 2, p. 159)

6-Those who try in their walk of life, to follow their inner light, will never be found judging far less condemning those weaker than themselves. (Some Words on Daily Life, Blavatsky, CW 7, pp. 173-175)

7-Make Theosophy a living force in your lives and through your example those class and caste distinctions, which for so long have bred hatred and misery, shall at no distant time come to be but distinctions of function in the common service of the nation-family and of the World-Brotherhood. (Blavatsky, CW 7, pp. 173-175)

8-Theosophy has to fight intolerance, prejudice, ignorance and selfishness, hidden under the mantle of hypocrisy. It has to throw all the light it can from the torch of Truth, with which its servants are entrusted. It must do this without fear or hesitation, dreading neither reproof nor condemnation. (Blavatsky, CW 7, pp. 173-175)

9-Theosophy, therefore, expects and demands from the Fellows of the Society a great mutual toleration and charity for each other’s shortcomings, ungrudging mutual help in the search for truths in every department of nature-moral and physical. And this ethical standard must be unflinchingly applied to daily life. (Blavatsky, CW 7, pp. 173-175)

10-In such a great work as this movement no one should expect to find his associates all congenial, intuitive, prudent or courageous. One of the first proofs of self-mastery is when one shows that he can be kind and forbearing and genial with companions of the most dissimilar characters and temperaments. One of the strongest signs of retrogression when one shows that he expects others to like what he likes and act as he acts.  (Letter to Hartmann, #10, Blavatsky CW 8 p, 449)

11-Europe is a large place but the world is bigger yet. The sun of Theosophy must shine for all, not for a part. There is more of this movement that you have yet had an inkling of, and the work of the T.S. is linked in with similar work that is secretly going on in all parts of the world. (Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett, Barker, L. 47)

12-As it was our wish then, to signify to you that one could be both an active and useful member of the Society without inscribing himself our follower or co-religionist, so it is now. (ML, L. 87)