Thursday, 15 March 2018

Astrology: Spring Equinox, March 20 2018

Earth, Water, Fire
One striking thing about the Spring Equinox chart, coming just three days after the new moon, is that there are no planets in air signs; Venus and Mercury are in impulsive, blunt Aries, with Mercury going retrograde on March 22. Therefore, it could be that communication will be difficult or choppy (or minimal) in this period. Moreover, this chart has seven planets in two signs: four (Uranus, Venus, Mercury, Sun) in fiery Aries and three (Pluto, Saturn, Mars) in earthy Capricorn and all four Aries planets are in difficult (square) aspects to one of the three in Capricorn, which provides the tension in this chart.
Dark Aries-Capricorn Face-Off
Highly charged Mars is still on the energized cusp of Capricorn, having arrived on the New Moon of March 17 and is in exaltation, bringing some dynamic Spring energy, and its passage through Capricorn as it joins Saturn and Pluto should fire up that already well-furnished house. The Sun squares a wide Mars/Saturn conjunction, bringing depressive, frustrated, harsh, rigid tendencies with some volatile and impulsive energy as well. There is also a Venus/Mercury/Uranus conjunction squaring Mars/Saturn/Pluto in a powerful face-off. I see this as a rather frustrated, clouded, unstable, resentful, vengeful, conflictual impulse that basically serves to amplify the powerful long-standing Pluto/Uranus square. This is probably one of the last big rebellious, revolutionary Uranian offensives (bolstered by a Mars/Uranus trine) before Uranus moves into Taurus in May. According to Bill Herbst: The Uranus–Pluto alignment is far and away the most important astrological factor for the entire decade of the 2010s— .” He briefly describes it as:” the Uranian impulse toward sudden and revolutionary change is combined with the Plutonian tendency toward radical, ruthless, and extreme use of power.”
Bright Moon and Jupiter Sextiles
The Moon and Jupiter, situated in the Taurus-Scorpio axis respectively, bookends the other planets in a six-house hemisphere with some easy trines and sextiles. The sensitive, serene Moon earth trines to Mars and Saturn should help temper the fiery Aries/Capricorn squares and the confident, ambitious Jupiter/Pluto sextile should do the same. Moreover, there is a dreamy, imaginative Moon/Neptune sextile which should enhance the mystical Piscean energy.
Positive Jupiter Trines with Sun/Chiron/Neptune
A key aspect is the Sun/Chiron conjunction trine to Jupiter. Chiron’s lengthy stay near the equinoctial axis continues to provide intriguing Christ-on-the-cross, Easter death/resurrection connections. Sun conjunct Chiron can deepen one’s sense of identity and purpose. In general, Spring symbolizes the rebirth of nature and the beginning of the period of victory of light over darkness and so on a personal level overcoming one’s insecurities and healing the wounds that the spear-like Mars/Saturn-Chiron square is driving home, Mars here serving to briefly revive the Chiron/Saturn square covered in last year’s posts. Some themes of Chiron square Saturn are: “Avoiding responsibility, agonizing over old hurts, letting resentment brew, self-punishing behavior, over-sensitivity, escapism to avoid pain, martyrdom.“ Some themes of Jupiter trine Chiron are: “Recognizing the need to heal, no-nonsense attitudes toward self-care, letting go of the past, taking appropriate responsibility, taking an objective view of one’s challenges, volunteering, mentoring”(Dena DeCastro).
The Sun/Chiron - Jupiter trine should help cut through the dark clouds in Aries and Capricorn and galvanise the solar-powered spring renewal process. Robert Hand writes of the Sun/Jupiter trine:
This is one of the most positive transits. Unless there is some powerful negative influence operating at the same time, this transit assures a day of good feeling, peace and harmony with other. But you should try to use this energy to accomplish something good and useful for yourself… The enthusiasm, optimism and buoyancy associated with this transit will enable you to project energies into the environment that will help your affairs work out as you want… You should used this ability to see your life as a whole and to take stock of what you are doing and to see how it fits your real needs. Because you are in a positive frame of mind, you can make changes in any area of your life without feeling a great sense of loss. So often in our unhappiness, we cling to something we really don’t need because we feel insecure. (Planets in Transit 73-74)
Jupiter’s retrograde motion in Scorpio could help one to dig deeper to connect with one’s inner being setting up a strong archetypal configuration for a fruitful spiritual regeneration. As H. P. Blavatsky writes: “Christ — the true esoteric SAVIOR — is no man, but the DIVINE PRINCIPLE in every human being. He who strives to resurrect the Spirit crucified in him by his own terrestrial passions, and buried deep in the "sepulcher" of his sinful flesh; he who has the strength to roll back the stone of matter from the door of his own inner sanctuary, he has the risen Christ in him. The "Son of Man" is no child of the bond-woman — flesh, but verily of the free-woman — Spirit, the child of man's own deeds, and the fruit of his own spiritual labor. " (The Esoteric Character of the Gospels, part I, Lucifer, Nov. 1887)
As noted in the previous astrology post, the Winter Solstice ushered in a less conflictual planetary configuration but the winter season experienced it’s share of turmoil, especially with the two rather powerful eclipses, (January 31/ February 15 – a 5-planet conjunction in difficult aspects with 5 other planets) marked by the tragic February 14 Florida high-school shooting. This was possibly partially due to residual energies remaining from previous eclipses and consequences of many prior difficult aspects, so we should witness a certain stabilization after Uranus leaves Aries setting us up for a six-month period of fairly smooth sailing with the Jupiter/Pluto sextile and Jupiter/Neptune trine.  With Jupiter now in Scorpio, Jupiter and Scorpio are both ambitious and intense; this could give a deep, generous altruism with possible harsh reprisals and a certain freakiness, the most obvious manifestation being the recent and numerous revelations (Jupiter extraversion) of the plague that is sexual harassment (Scorpio passion). Jupiter sextile Pluto gives a very dynamic, ambitious, self-confident outlook (with domineering tendencies). Jupiter / Neptune trine, a water (emotion) aspect, brings good intuitive, optimistic, idealistic, humanitarian and spiritual energy (with a tendency for over-optimism and risky gambling). Saturn in Capricorn is all about realism, responsibility, hard work, and conventional, conservative values.
In the previous phase, I observed that it could be a good period to consolidate all the changes and upheavals that previous phases of dissolution brought and begin to roll up one’s sleeves and work at building new structures and projects for the new directions that have hopefully emerged. This cycle would then be a good period to solidify and clarify the rebuilding, renewal projects begun in the previous cycle and raise the sails for the new life directions that circumstances have indicated, which could flourish in a nicely productive summer period.
Robert Hand, Planets in Transit

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Introduction to Gnosticism: The Pistis Sophia, part 3

Next follows a description of the Light-powers which should be closely compared with the description of the 3 Vestures in the opening pages of the Codex. Then while SOPHIA pours forth hymns of joy, the Power becomes a Crown to her head, and her Hyle or material propensities begin to be purified, while the spiritual or Light-powers which she has still retained, join themselves with the “Vesture of Light” which has descended upon her. Then was the Statute fulfilled, and the First Mystery, in its turn, sent forth a great Power of Light, which joined with the first Power emanated by the “Light,” and became a great Stream of Light, this Power was the First Mystery itself Looking-without (Buddhi-Manas) on its own plane and the “glorified” Initiate in this terrestrial sphere.

It came forth from the First Mystery Looking-within (Atma-Buddhi) or “the Father.” When this is accomplished, PISTIS-SOPHIA, the Lower Manas, is purified again, and her Light-powers are strengthened and filled with Light, by their own co-partner of Light that Syzygy, without whom PISTIS-SOPHIA in the beginning thought she could reach the Light of Lights, and so fell into error. Still she is not even yet entirely freed from the bonds of Matter, for the higher she rises, the stronger are the Powers of Projections sent against her, who proceed to change their shapes, so that she now has to struggle against still greater foes which are emanated and directed by the strongest and subtlest Powers of Matter. Thereupon, PISTIS-SOPHIA is surrounded entirely with the Stream of Light and further supported on either hand by Michael and Gabriel, the “Sun” and “Moon.” The “Wings” of the “Great Bird” flutter, the “Winged Globe” unfolds its pinions, preparatory to its flight. For is not the Infinitude of Space “the Nest of the Eternal Bird, the flutter of whose wings produces life”? (S.D., II, 293).

Thus the last great battle commences. The First Mystery Looking-without, directs its attack against the “cruel crafty powers, passions incarnate” and causes PISTIS-SOPHIA to tread underfoot the Basilisk with the seven heads, destroying its Hyle, “So that no seed could arise from it henceforth,” and casting down the rest of the opposing host.* Thereupon PISTIS-SOPHIA sings Hymns of Praise on her being loosed from the bonds of Chaos. Thus was she set free and remembered. Yet the Great Self-willed One and Adamas, the Tyrant, were not yet entirely subdued, for the command had not yet come from the First Mystery, Looking-within, the Father.

Therefore does the First Mystery, Looking-without, seal their regions and those of their Rulers until 3 times are completed. That is until the completion of the 7th Round (for we are now in the 4th) when humanity will pass into the interplanetary Nirvana. This Nirvana however, is a state outside of space and time, as we know them, and therefore can be reached now and within, by very holy men; Naljors and Arhats, who can attain to the highest degree of the mystical contemplation, called in the East Samadhi. For then shall the “Gates of the Treasure of the Great Light” be opened, as described in our text, and the Nirvanic heights be crossed by the “Pilgrim.” (cf. pp. 169-181) (CW 60-62)

Though the careful student of this stupendous system may sense the unity of the scheme which underlies such manifold multiplicity, yet it is exceedingly difficult, without being excessively prolix, to point out all the correspondences. To all below it the Treasure of Light is a unity; and its Orders, Projections, etc., in other words its Hierarchies have but one influence. Therefore, when the contents of the Treasure are mentioned at an earlier period of instruction, as on page 18, they are simply stated without order. But now, a further veil is withdrawn, and the Treasure becomes the Inheritance of Light; this will be when the Evolution of Cosmos is completed, and by analogy at the end of a Round, or of seven Rounds, or again in Initiation when the plane of consciousness called the Treasure is reached by the neophyte. Then, just as Jesus in his passage to the Height, (pages 25 to 37) turned six of the Aeons to the Right and six to the Left, so will the Initiated enter into the Treasure and with their higher consciousness perceive its differences; thus will there be a Right and Left even in that which was previously supposed to be beyond such division. (Blavatsky, CW 13, p. 64)

[PS 239] “. . . And when they shall have brought him to the Virgin of Light (1), the Virgin of Light shall see the Sign of the Mystery of the Kingdom of the Ineffable, which is with him . . . . .”
1) The Virgin of Light. In the Chaldean cosmogony, Ana signifies the “invisible heaven”, the Heavenly Mother of the terrestrial sea: or esoterically, Akasa the mother of the Astral Light. Now Anaitis is one of the names of Kali, the female aspect. Sakti or Syzygy of Siva. She is also called the Annapãrna and Kanya, the Virgin. Her mystery name is Uma-Kanya, the “Virgin of Light.” (The Secret Doctrine I,91, 92.) In the Egyptian and other cosmogonies, the first septenary group of emanating potencies is called the “Virgins of Light” and is represented collectively by the six-pointed star; this star “refers to the six Forces or Powers of Nature. the six planes, principles, etc., etc., all synthesized by the seventh, or the central point in the Star.” (The Secret Doctrine, I, 125).

On reference to Table VI in the Commentary, it will be seen that there are seven Virgins of Light, all aspects of the one Virgin. Now there are, as of everything else, seven aspects, planes or principles of virgin matter, corresponding to the seven principles of man, from the pure, divine Akasa, to the terrestrial Astral Light, the sin-laden atmosphere of our earth. These are the septenary leaves of the Book of the Recording Angel, Le Livre de la Conscience, whither are instantly transferred the deeds, words and THOUGHTS of every minute of our lives, the Karmic record of each imprisoned soul. In the early portion of our text, we learned how the Initiate donned the spotless Vesture of Light containing the Five Words of Glory, and how they were potent to open all the portals and traverse all the Regions of the Rulers.
So also with every man. Each has his own vesture, reflecting his Karmic record, and “uttering the words” that will acquit or condemn him before the jealous guardians of nature’s inmost realms. Yes; each of us has a vesture woven by his own hands, but few are they who are clad in a “wedding garment” and fit to join in the Marriage Feast, when the King’s Son is united to his Heavenly Bride; in other words, to join that holy Brotherhood where each, to gain admittance, must be at one with the Christos within him. He who seeks admission in sin-soiled robes must, like the man in the parable (Matt., xxii) be cast forth into the “outer darkness” of earth-life, until he has learnt by the experience of suffering to weave for himself a garment worthy of the “Church (Assembly) of the Mystic Christ.”

Thus, then, the Souls of the Dead have to present, each severally, their Defences., Denials, and Tokens, as the text has it, and the nature of their after-death experiences and their subsequent return to earth-life will depend upon which of the seven Virgins they have to face in the “Hall of Judgment.” Thrice blessed is he who, clad in the Vesture of Glory, can pass by the Guardians of every threshold.

The above will throw much light on the Mysteries of the Osirified and the fate of the “defunct” that play so conspicuous a part in the “Wisdom of the Egyptians.” To give one instance out of a multitude: “In the book called by Champollion La Manifestation à la Lumière, there is a chapter on the Ritual which is full of mysterious dialogues, with addresses to various ‘Powers’ by the soul. Among these dialogues there is one which is more than expressive of the potentiality of the Word. The scene is laid in the ‘Hall of the Two Truths.’ The ‘Door,’ the ‘Hall of Truth,’ and even the various parts of the gate, address the soul which presents itself for admission. They all forbid it entrance unless it tells them their mystery, or mystic names.” (Isis Unveiled, II, 369.) (Blavatsky, CW 13, p. 76)

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Introduction to Gnosticism: The Pistis Sophia, part 2

The Name, which is no name, but a Sound or rather Motion. The mystery of the Logos, Verbum and Vâch has ever been concealed in the mystery of Names. These Names, in whatever tongue, or among whatever people, all represent permutations of the “Ineffable Name.”In this connection, the following passage from the Pistis-Sophia (page 378, 379) is of great interest. Jesus, in explaining the Mystery of the Light of his Father, the Baptisms of Smoke and of the Spirit of the Holy Light, and the Spiritual Anointing, to his Disciples, continues:

“Nothing, then, is more excellent than these Mysteries, into which ye inquire, unless it be the Mystery of the Seven Voices, and their Nine-and-forty Powers and Numberings (ps‘phôn), nor is any name more excellent than all of them, the Name, in which are all Names, and all Lights and all Powers. He therefore, who shall depart out of the Body of Hyle (Note: not necessarily at death only, but during Samâdhi, or mystic trance) knowing that Name, no Smoke (Note: i.e. no theological delusion) nor Authority, nor Ruler of the Sphere of Fate, nor Angel, nor Archangel, nor Power, shall be able to prevent that Soul; nay, if on quitting the World, a man shall speak that Name to the Fire, it shall be extinguished, and the Mist shall withdraw. And if he shall speak it to the Daemons and the Receivers of the Outer Mist (Darkness), and to its Rulers, Authorities, and Powers, all shall perish, so that their Flame is consumed, and they cry out, ‘Thou art hallowed, the sanctified one, thou blessed one, of all them who are holy.’ And if they shall speak that Name to the Receivers of Evil Condemnation, and their Authorities and all their powers, and also to Barbelo and the Invisible Deity, and the Three Triple-Powers, forthwith all will collapse in those regions, so that they shall be compelled to dissolve and perish, and cry out: ‘O Light of every Light, which is in the infinite Light, remember us also, and cleanse us’.”
With regard to this passage, it is remarked in The Secret Doctrine, II, 570: “It is easy to see who this Light and Name are: the light of Initiation and the name of the ‘Fire Self,’ which is no name, no action, but a Spiritual, ever-living Power, higher even than the ‘Invisible God, as this Power is ITSELF. (Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 13, pp. 42)
The 13 Repentences of Pistis Sophia

With page 181 of the Codex [Schwartze’s transcription], we come to the conclusion of the incident of the repentant Sophia. The 139 pages which deal with the subject demand the closest attention of the student of Esotericism, for not only have we here a history of the “pilgrimage” of the Soul, but also a description of the degrees of Initiation which correspond both to the natural degrees or states of consciousness, and to the cycles of human evolution. We will now endeavour to review this Pilgrimage of PISTIS-SOPHIA, following the path of her “transgression” or desire for Light, through her 13 Repentances, or Changes of Mind (Metanoiae, changes of the Nous or Manas), until her restoration to the Thirteenth Aeon, her proper region or plane.
To attain to the knowledge of Light, or the Logos, the soul has to descend into Matter or Hyle. Hence PISTIS-SOPHIA, desiring the Light, descends towards its Reflection from the Thirteenth Aeon, through the Twelve Aeons, into the depths of Chaos, where she is in danger of entirely losing her own innate Light or Spirit, of which she is continually deprived by the Powers of Matter. Having descended to the lowest depths of Chaos, she at length reaches the limit, and the path of her pilgrimage begins to lead upward to Spirit again. Thus she reaches the Balance; and still yearning for the Light, rounds the turning-point of the cycle, and changing the tendency of her thought or mind, recites her penitential hymns or Repentances.
Her chief enemy who, with his false Light, has drawn her down into Chaos, is Ialdabaoth, the Power with the appearance of a Lion, the Kama “principle”, the false “Light`’ in Chaos, which is assisted by the 24 Hylic or Material Projections, or Emanations, the reflections of the 24 Supernal Projections, the co-partners of PISTIS-SOPHIA, 48 in all, which together with that power or aspect from which the whole may at any time be viewed, make 49.*
* Compare the list of 25 Tattvas (24 + 1 or from another aspect 5 x 5) in the article entitled “The Hindu Theory of Vibration as the Producer of Sounds, Forms and Colors,” The Theosophist, Vol. XII, October and November, 1880, written by C. Kotyya, F.T.S.

Thus then she first utters 7 Repentances. At the 4th of these, the turning-point of a sub-cycle, she prays that the Image of Light may not be turned from her, for the time was come when the Repentance of “those who turn in the Lowest Regions” should be regarded, “the mystery which is made the Type of the Race.” (4th Round.) At the 6th the Light (Upper Manas) remits her transgression, in that she quitted her own Region and fell into Chaos; but the command had not yet come from the First Mystery (Buddhi) to free her entirely from Chaos. Therefore at the conclusion of her 7th Repentance, where she pleads that she has done it in ignorance through her love for the Light, Jesus, the Initiate on the objective plane and the Light on the subjective plane, without the command of the First Mystery (i.e., the power of Manas alone without Buddhi), raises her up to a slightly less confined region in Chaos, but SOPHIA still knew not by whom it was done.
At the 9th Repentance the First Mystery partly accepted her prayer and sent Jesus, the Light, to help her secretly, that is, without the powers of the Aeons knowing it; then did PISTIS-SOPHIA recognize the Light. Her next 4 Hymns are sung knowingly to the Light, and are of the nature of thanksgiving, and of declaration that Karmic Justice shall shortly overtake her oppressors, while she prays to be delivered from her “transgression,” viz., the Kamic Power with the appearance of a Lion. After the 13th Repentance, Jesus again, of himself, without the First Mystery, emanated a brilliant Power of Light from himself, and sent it to aid SOPHIA, to rais her higher still in Chaos, until the command should come to free her entirely.†

† There are, therefore, 3 degrees of Chaos. (Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 13, pp. 60-61)

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Introduction to Gnosticism: The Pistis Sophia, part 1

Blavatsky is well-known as a pioneer in the study of Jewish and Christian Gnosticism and towards the end of her life, delivered a masterful set of lectures on the Pistis Sophia, the great mystical classic of Christian Gnosticism.  (with the able assistance of Hermetic/Gnostic scholar G.R.S. Mead) Her comments can be quite complex and intricate; however, the passages presented in the next series of posts give a satisfying explanation of some of the general concepts underlying this great work.

The reader should carefully study the recital of the “Fall” of Sophia, as told in the Philosophumena (p. 107) and compare it with the allegorical drama of the text which follows. It will be noticed that the first and last of the female Aeôns of the Dodecad, are respectively PISTIS and SOPHIA. The Soul was the one subject, and the knowledge of the Soul the one object of all the ancient Mysteries. In the “Fall” of PISTIS-SOPHIA, and her rescue by her Syzygy, JESUS, we see the ever-enacted drama of the suffering and ignorant Personality, which can only be saved by the immortal Individuality, or rather by its own yearning towards IT. In reading this portion of the Pistis-Sophia, the mysterious Duality of the Manas should always be remembered, and this key applied to every line.

As Wisdom was the end of the Gnôsis, so the pivot of the whole Gnostic teaching was the so-called “Sophia-Mythus.” For whether we interpret the allegory from the macro- or from the micro-cosmic standpoint, it is always the evolution of MIND, that the Initiates of old have sought to teach us. The emanation and evolution of Mahat in cosmogenesis, and of Manas in anthropogenesis, was ever the study of the One Science. The dwelling of Sophia was in the Midst, between the Upper and Lower Worlds, in the Ogdoad. Below was the Hebdomad or Seven Spheres, governed by seven Hierarchies of Rulers. Truly hath “Wisdom built for herself a House, and rested it on Seven Pillars” (Proverbs ix, 1 and again: “She is on the lofty Heights; she stands in the midst of the Paths, for she taketh her seat by the Gates of the Powerful Ones (the Rulers), she tarrieth at the Entrances” (Ibid., viii, 2).

Moreover, Sophia was the Mediatrix between the Upper and Lower Region, and at the same time projected the Types or Ideas of the Plerôma into the Universe. Now, why should Sophia, who was originally of a Pneumatic or Spiritual Essence, be in the Middle Space, an exile from her true Dwelling? Such was the great mystery which the Gnôsis endeavoured to solve. Seeing again that this “Fall of the Soul” from its original purity involved it in suffering and misery, the object that the Gnostic teachers had ever before them, was identical with the problem of “Sorrow,” which Gautama Sâkyamuni set himself to resolve. Moreover, the solution of the two systems was identical in that they traced the Cause of Sorrow to Ignorance, and to remove this, pointed out the Path to Self-knowledge. The Mind was to instruct the Mind: “self-analyzing reflection” was to be the Way. The Material Mind (Kâma-Manas) was to be purified and so become one with the Spiritual Mind (Buddhi-Manas). In the nomenclature of the Gnosis, this was expressed by the Redemption of Sophia by the Christos, who delivered her from her ignorance (agnoia) and sufferings. It is not then surprising that we should find Sophia, whether regarded as a unity, or as a duality, or again as cosmic mind, possessed of many names.

Among these may be mentioned the Mother, or All-Mother, Mother of the Living or Shining Mother; the Power Above; the Holy Spirit (all from the macrocosmic standpoint); and again She of the Left-hand, as opposed to Christos, He of the Right-hand; the Man-woman; Prounikos or the Lustful-one; Matrix; Paradise; Eden; Achamôth; the Virgin; Barbelo; Daughter of Light; Merciful Mother; Consort of the Masculine One; Revelant of the Perfect Mysteries; Perfect Mercy; Revelant of the Mysteries of the whole Magnitude; Hidden Mother; She who knows the Mysteries of the Elect; the Holy Dove, which has given birth to the two Twins; Ennoia; Ruler; and The Lost or Wandering Sheep, Helena. In the Valentinian System, Sophia gives birth to the Christoswith a Shadow.”

The above terms are taken from Smith and Wace’s Dictionary of Christian Biography, art. “Sophia,” where we read: “In the Syriac text of the Acts published by Dr. Wright (Apocryphal Acts of Apostles, pp. 238-245) we find the beautiful Hymn of the Soul, which has been sent down from her heavenly home to fetch the pearl guarded by the serpent, but has forgotten here below her heavenly mission till she is reminded of it by a letter from ‘the father, the mother, and the brother,’ performs her task, receives back again her glorious dress, and returns to her old home.” (Blavatsky, Collected Writings, vol. 13, pp. 40-41)

Wednesday, 21 February 2018

Through the Gates of Gold - Chapter 3 – The Initial Effort - Part 1

The first part deals with the transcendent, universal nature of the spiritual dimension, and the
paradoxical way in which one can encounter it, often when one least expects it:
But that there is no one pathway to it is immediately perceived from the fact that this soul must from its very nature be universal. The Gates of Gold do not admit to any special place; what they do is to open for egress from a special place. Man passes through them when he casts off his limitation. He may burst the shell that holds him in darkness, tear the veil that hides him from the eternal, at any point where it is easiest for him to do so; and most often this point will be where he least expects to find it.
It is observed how religion, philosophy and ascetic practices can lead to narrow-minded, dogmatic attitudes that can ultimately limit one’s progress:
Men go in search of escape with the help of their minds, and lay down arbitrary and limited laws as to how to attain the, to them, unattainable.”

It is hard to express what the nature of the spiritual world is without materializing it in some way; the following, I think succeeds in avoiding this pitfall:
“Spirit is not a gas created by matter, and we cannot create our future by forcibly using one material agent and leaving out the rest. Spirit is the great life on which matter rests, as does the rocky world on the free and fluid ether; whenever we can break our limitations we find ourselves on that marvelous shore where Wordsworth once saw the gleam of the gold. When we enter there all the present must disappear alike, — virtue and vice, thought and sense.”
The importance of having an inner fire that overcomes obstacles is stressed:
“The man who lifts the latch of the Golden Gate must do so with his own strong hand, must be absolutely positive. This we can see by analogy. In everything else in life, in every new step or development, it is necessary for a man to exercise his most dominant will in order to obtain it fully. Indeed in many cases, though he has every advantage and though he use his will to some extent, he will fail utterly of obtaining what he desires from lack of the final and unconquerable resolution. No education in the world will make a man an intellectual glory to his age, even if his powers are great; for unless he positively desires to seize the flower of perfection, he will be but a dry scholar, a dealer in words, a proficient in mechanical thought, and a mere wheel of memory. And the man who has this positive quality in him will rise in spite of adverse circumstances, will recognize and seize upon the tide of thought which is his natural food, and will stand as a giant at last in the place he willed to reach. We see this practically every day in all walks of life.”
The difficulty of developing a free, open, flexible mind while remaining focused and decisive is explained:
“Undoubtedly it is the hardest task we have yet seen set us in life, that which we are now talking of, — to free a man of all prejudice, of all crystallized thought or feeling, of all limitations, yet develop within him the positive will. It seems too much of a miracle; for in ordinary life positive will is always associated with crystallized ideas. But many things which have appeared to be too much of a miracle for accomplishment have yet been done, even in the narrow experience of life given to our present humanity. All the past shows us that difficulty is no excuse for dejection, much less for despair; else the world would have been without the many wonders of civilization.”
The analogy of the creative act to described the spiritual path is often used:
“Every inventor fastens his interest firmly on the unseen; and it entirely depends on the firmness of that attachment whether he is successful or whether he fails. The poet who looks on to his moment of creation as that for which he lives, sees that which is invisible and hears that which is soundless.”

Thursday, 8 February 2018

Mose Cordovero's Ethics of the 10 Sefirot (Tomer Devorah)

From The Palm-Tree of Deborah
For Keter, see:
Tomer Devorah, part I
Chapter III: Attaining the Qualities of Chokmah
How should a man train himself to possess the quality of Wisdom? Behold, Supernal Wisdom, though it is hidden and exceedingly exalted, is spread over all creatures. Concerning this it is said: 'How manifold[1] are Thy works, O Lord! In wisdom Thou has made them all.' So, too, it is proper for man that his wisdom be ready to benefit all. He should be an effective teacher of men, to each according to his powers, influencing each as much as he possibly can without in any way preventing him. Behold, Wisdom has two faces. The higher face turns toward the Crown, it does not gaze downwards but recieves from above. The second face, the lower one, turns downwards to control the Sephiroth, emanating of its wisdom to them. So, too, man should have two faces: the one, his solitude with his Creator in order to add to his wisdom which the Holy One, Blessed is He, has poured upon him.

Chapter IV: Attaining the Qualities of Binah

How shall a man train himself to acquire the quality of Understanding? It is to be acquired by returning in perfect repentance[1], than which nothing is more important, for it rectifies every flaw. Just as it is the function of Understanding to sweeten all judgments and to neutralize their bitterness so man should repent and rectify every flaw. He who thinks of repentance all his days causes the Supernal Understanding to illumine all his days so that all his days are in repentance, that is to be included in Understanding which is Repentance, and the days of his life will be crowned according to the secret of the Supernal Repentance. 

Chapter V: Attaining the Qualities of Chesed

How shall a man train himself to acquire the quality of Lovingkindness? The main way in which man can enter into the secret of Lovingkindness is to love God with perfect love so as not to forsake His service for any reason whatsoever for nothing has any value at all for him compared with the Blessed One's love. Therefore, he should primarily attend to the requirements of God's service and the rest of his time may be for other needs. This love should be firmly fixed in his heart whether he recieves good at the hands of the Holy One, Blessed is He, or whether he recieves sufferings and rebukes. These latter, too, he should look upon as tokens of God's love. As it is written: 'Faithful are the wounds of a friend[1] .'

Chapter VI: Attaining the Qualities of Gevurah

How should man train himself to acquire the quality of Power? Know that all actions which excite the evil inclination actually stir up the strong Powers. Therefore, man should not excite the evil inclination, so as not to awaken the Powers. The reason is that man is created with two inclinations, good and bad: the one belongs to Lovingkindness, the other to Power. However in the Zohar to the first section of Genesis[1] it is stated that the good inclination was created from the sake of man himself, the evil inclination for the sake of his wife. See how sweet are his words. Behold Beauty, the merciful quality[2], turns to the Right and all its conduct is with the Right, the good inclination. But the Female[3] is of the Left and Her conduct is with Power. It is, therefore, proper not to bestir the evil inclination for man's own sake because this bestirs the Power in Supernal Man and so destroys the world. Hence, every excitement of man towards Power and the evil inclination makes a flaw in Supernal Man. From which one can observe how ugly is anger and such-like, for it causes the strong Powers to prevail. In truth the evil inclination should be bound and tied down so that it is not incited to any bodily act whatsoever, not for the desire of cohabitation, not the desire of money, nor towards anger, nor towards honor in any way.

Chapter VII: Attaining the Qualities of Tiferet

How should a man train himself to acquire the quality of Beauty? There is no doubt that the quality of Beauty is to be found in the study of the Torah[1]. However, great care must be taken that man does not exalt himself in pride because of the words of the Torah, in order that he does not cause great evil. For just as he elevates himself in pride he causes the quality of Beauty, which is the Torah, to elevate itself and remove itself upwards, God forend. But he who abases himself over words of Torah causes Beauty to descend and lower itself to pour out its influence upon those beneath. Now behold, there are four Sephiroth[2], embracing three qualities, below Beauty. First, he who proudly exalts himself over his pupils causes Beauty to raise itself and be exalted over Endurance and Majesty, for they are those learned of the Lord[3], the pupils of Beauty. But he who lowers himself to teach in love causes Beauty to lower itself to the Pupils and give of its influence to them. Therefore, a man should be pleasantly disposed towards his pupils, to teach them as much as they can absorb and, in his merit, Beauty will pour its flow into the Pupils according their capacities, in fit measure. 

Chapter VIII: Attaining the Qualities of Netzach, Hod, and Yesod

How should a man train himself to acquire the qualities of Endurance, Majesty, and Foundation? With regard to the Tikkunim of Endurance and Majesty some of the qualities apply to both of them together, others to each one distinctively. Behold, first of all it is necessary to help students of the Torah and to support them either with money or deeds, so as to provide them with the things they require for their work, to prepare their food, and to fulfill all their desires, so that they do not cease in the study of the Torah. He should take care not to disparage their learning so that they do not weaken in their study of the Torah, but should honor them and praise their good deeds in order to encourage them in their work. And he should provide them with books with which to work and with a house of study. All such aid and support to those who study the Torah depends on these qualites; each person should do all he can, whether little or much. In short, whatever he does to honor the Torah and to strengthen it with speech, which his bodily actions and with his wealth, and to arouse people's hearts to the torah that they engage in its study, all this is firmly held and rooted in these two Sephiroth for they are known as 'them that lay hold upon her' and 'that holdeth her fast'[1]. 

However, how should man train himself to acquire the quality of Foundation? A man must be on his guard against the kind of speech which brings to thoughts of sin, so that he should not be visited by a seminal emission. Needless to say, he should not speak obscenities but he should take care not to utter even clean words if they give rise to sexual thoughts. And this is contained in a careful examination of the verse: 'Suffer not[6] thy mouth to bring thy flesh unto guilt,' this is, take care not to suffer the mouth to give speech which can bring sin to the holy flesh, the sign of the covenant[7], with seminal emission.

Chapter IX: Attaining the Qualities of Malkuth

How should a man train himself to acquire the quality of Sovereignty? First and foremost he should not be proud in his heart[1] because of all that is his, but he should behave constantly like a beggar, standing before his Creator as a poor man begging and offering supplication. Even if he is wealthy he can train himself to behave in this way by considering that none of his possesions are attached to him and that he is forsaken requiring the mercies of Heaven at all times, for all he has is the bread he eats, and he should humble his heart and afflict himself. Especially at the time of prayer[2], for this is a wonderful aid. Of the opposite it is said: "Then thy heart[3] be lifted up, and thou forget..' For the forgetting belonging to the Outside Ones[4] is found there. David behaved in this way to great extent when he said: "For I am solitary[5] and afflicted." For all the people of his household have themselves to consider. What are they all to him? What can even his wife and children do for him when he is judged before the Creator or when his soul departs? Can they accompany him beyond the grave? Of what use are they to him from the entrance of the grave and onwards? He should therefore humble himself and perfect himself according to the secret of this quality. A second method is explained in the Zohar[6] and it is very important. He should exile himself from place to place for the sake of Heaven and in this way he will become a chariot to the Exiled Shekinah. He should imagine: 'Behold I have gone into exile but, behold, my utensils go with me. What shall be with the honor of the Most High seeing that the Shekinah is in exile without Her utensils which are lacking as a result of the Exile?' Because of this he should be satisfied with as little as possible, as it is written 'Prepare thee stuff for exile'[7] and he should humble his heart in exile and bind himself to the Torah and then the Shekinah will be with him.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

William Q Judge on Karma and Life Circumstances

After his seminal article ''Karma'' in 1886, his article, ''Environment'' from The Path, February, 1887, follows suit with his typical practical approach, in a monistic Advaita Vedanta spirit. It is a 'right here, right now' philosophy - whatever circumstance and situation you are in is just right for your spiritual development - any daily experience can potentially serve as a step for spiritual progress if taken with the right attitude. The first part of the article perceptively deals with the problems of theosophy in the modern world.

What then of environment and what of its power over us?
Is environment Karma or is it Reincarnation? The LAW is Karma, reincarnation is only an incident. It is one of the means which The Law uses to bring us at last to the true light. The wheel of rebirths is turned over and over again by us in obedience to this law, so that we may at last come to place our entire reliance upon Karma. Nor is our environment Karma itself, for Karma is the subtle power which works in that environment.

There is nothing but the SELF--using the word as Max Müller does to designate the Supreme Soul and its environment...So that there is only this Self and the various sheaths by which it is clothed, beginning with the most intangible and coming down to the body, while outside of that and common to all is what is commonly known as environment, whereas the word should be held to include all that is not The Self.

How unphilosophical therefore it is to quarrel with our surroundings, and to desire to escape them? We only escape one kind to immediately fall into another. And even did we come into the society of the wisest devotees we would still carry the environment of the Self in our own bodies, which will always be our enemy so long as we do not know what it is in all its smallest details. Coming down then to the particular person, it is plain that that part of the environment which consists in the circumstances of life and personal surroundings is only an incident, and that the real environment to be understood and cared about is that in which Karma itself inheres in us.

Thus we see that it is a mistake to say as we often hear it said--"If he only had a fair chance; if his surroundings were more favorable he would do better," since he really could not be in any other circumstances at that time, for if he were it would not be he but some one else. It must be necessary for him to pass through those identical trials and disadvantages to perfect the Self; and it is only because we see but an infinitesimal part of the long series that any apparent confusion or difficulty arises. So our strife will be, not to escape from anything, but to realize that these Kosams, or sheaths, are an integral portion of ourselves, which we must fully understand before we can change the abhorred surroundings. This is done by acknowledging the unity of spirit, by knowing that everything, good and bad alike, is the Supreme. We then come into harmony with the Supreme Soul, with the whole universe, and no environment is detrimental.

The very first step is to rise from considering the mere outside delusive environment, knowing it to be the result of past lives, the fruition of Karma done, and say with Uddalaka in speaking to his son:
"All this Universe has the Deity for its life. That Deity is the Truth. He is the Universal soul. He Thou art, O Svetaketu!"*