Friday, 16 December 2016

Astrology: The Winter Solstice, Wednesday, December 21, 2016 5:44 am

Diplomatic Solutions 
Ancient Sacred Calendars gave a symbolic spiritual importance to equinoxes and solstices, those four dates forming four key moments in the year, a cross within a circle, symbolically. The Neoplatonic philosopher, Porphyry, in his eloquent essay “On the Homeric Caves of the Nymphs” explains that the tropic of Cancer  is related to Summer and the  Moon and is the North gate where the souls descend ; The tropic of Capricorn is related to Winter and Saturn, and is the South gate of ascent. Ascent is related to liberation; for example, the Roman Saturnalia festival is related to the Southern Tropic and features elements of divesting of garments, symbolising the return to pristine felicity, the fountain of life. 
The entrances are said be aligned with the North-South tropic rather than the East-West/Aries-Libra equinoctial axis because Sothis, the Dog-Star is near Cancer and related to the new moon, thus a symbol of generation. The word solstice is derived from the Latin sol (sun) and sistere (to stand still), because at the solstices, the Sun stands still in declination; that is, the seasonal movement of the Sun's path (as seen from Earth) comes to a stop before reversing direction. The winter solstice marks the shortest day and the longest night of the year and, following Ragon, it symbolizes the birth of the sun and thus coincides with the birth of Mithra with the Persians, the birth of Horus with the Egyptians, Dionysios in Grece, Adonis in Phoenicia, Attis in Phrygia, the Sol Invictis in Rome and the birth of Jesus Christ in Christianity.
Cardinal outer planet Pluto – Uranus - Jupiter T-Square
The general background for this year, is the  Cardinal outer planet Pluto – Uranus - Jupiter T-Square (which formed after the earlier Neptune-Jupiter-Saturn T-Square) with the Jupiter-Pluto square going  exact on November 24 and the Jupiter-Uranus opposition going exact on December 24, and can be considered the big configuration for 2017, in effect for the first nine months. (The T-square aspect pattern is formed when points in opposition also form a square with another point. The T-square is characterized by many obstacles that need to  be overcomed, along with the energy and drive to do so. The Cardinal quality is action and identity-oriented but with impulsivity that wastes energy.
This dynamic T-Square is characterized by a need for radical active change, (Uranus in Aries), rigid conservatism (Pluto in Capricorn) and open debate (Jupiter in Libra) which at best, can lead to, productive comprehensive reforms and at worst, to intense but chaotic and unproductive discussions and initiatives. Inner planet Mercury’s conjunction with Pluto intensifies the aspect of discussion and investigation of social problems and realities and the desire for revision and review of existing ideologies and systems. Note that Mercury went retrograde on December 19, which can add confusion, but also bring up underlying, lingering problems and past mistakes that need to be addressed.
Barry Perlman notes that: “Jupiter in Libra holds the promise of enhancing our capacity to weigh both sides of an equation, to advocate for fairness over domination, and to gracefully negotiate win-win solutions where all parties gain something while giving something else up. These are some of Libra's finest qualities, and Jupiter's presence there beckons us to invest greater enthusiasm and broad-sweeping vision in such approaches, as a counterbalance to both impetuous one-sided action in the name of unspecific 'change' (Uranus in Aries) and covert authoritarian dealings which seek to strengthen and secure existing status-quos by any means necessary (Pluto in Capricorn).”

Sun square Moon (in Libra)
We also have a Sun square Moon (in Libra) aspect which can heighten the expansive Jupiter/Uranus vocal ambitions for reforms. Mars opposite the North Node adds to the Uranian individualistic impetus for social protest against Plutonian repressiveness.
Venus-Uranus-Saturn/Sun and Saturn/Sun–Venus–Jupiter Minor Grand Trines
The two other major long-term aspects, Saturn’s trine to Uranus and sextile to Jupiter can help stabilize the volatile T-Square (the Saturn-Uranus trine goes exact on December 24) and for the solstice chart, Venus, and the Sun help form two minor grand trines superposed over the T-Square in a harmonious symmetry.   A grand trine is a planetary pattern composed of three or more planets in a chart located in Trine joined together to form an equilateral triangle.  The grand trine symbolizes earned, special advantages to be enjoyed in this life in the element common to the three planets. A minor Grand Trine, has only one trine, with two sextiles, meaning that the aspect requires more work for the aspects to be beneficial. They are occupying two fire signs (Aries, Sagittarius)  and two air signs (Libra, Aquarius)  Venus is in Aquarius and so allowing one another freedom of expression, and treating others fairly, unselfishly, and impartially, are some of the good qualities here.
The T-Square creates a strong drive for change, but with a volatile conflict between impulsive optimism (Uranian, Jupiterian) and conservative realism (Pluto). These Minor Grand Trine alignments are ideally positioned to give synergy to the T-Square, creating an opportunity where Venus and Saturn are collaborating to give the diplomacy and pragmatism needed to undertake some progressively productive comprehensive reform initiatives, thus taking some of the edge off of the volatile, confused quality of the T-Square.
It would seem that the next quarter, therefore, seems to be favored by the Uranian current of change, individualism and originality, which is benefitted by aspects giving better organization and diplomacy. There is a strong mood for discussion and dialogue of all sorts, with lots of power struggles created by resistance to innovation and polarized ideological, religious views and socio-cultural differences.
 In this age of dynamic information technology, there is a tendency to get lost in a sea of pointless discursiveness, ineffective bureaucratic procedures, and confused information. The winds of change can be positive and stimulating, albeit quite abrupt and difficult, but it would be good to watch for impulsiveness and make sure the planning and organization aspects are solid, the goals and objectives clear and realistic. It could be a favorable time for a re-organisation process built on more efficient methods and more informed ideals and values, ideally in an environment of productive discussion.
On a more mystical note, the geometrical harmony of the two Trines over the T-square form a kind of five-pointed star figure, with the apex at the Mercury/Pluto conjunction at mid-point in the very spiritual sign of Capricorn. Coincidently, the five-pointed star is closely related to the symbolism of Capricorn (see Blavatsky’s Secret Doctrine II, pp. 576-580).
“There is an earthly sun, which is the cause of all heat, and all who are able to see may see the sun; and those who are blind and cannot see him may feel his heat. There is an Eternal Sun, which is the source of all wisdom, and those whose spiritual senses have awakened to life will see that sun and be conscious of His existence; but those who have not attained spiritual consciousness may yet feel His power by an inner faculty which is called Intuition” (Paracelsus, De Fundamento Sapietiae, Hartmann, 145).
Robert Pelletier, Planets in Aspect.
Robert Hand, Horosocope Symbols
Jean-Marie Ragon, La Messe et ses Mystères

Friday, 9 December 2016

Persian and Iranian Wisdom 2 - Sayings from the Javidan Khirad

1-The path of virtue lies in the renunciation of arrogance and pride.

2-Whoso clotheth himself in modesty will conceal his faults.

3-He who is not lowly in his own eyes will not be exalted in the eyes of others.

4-The man who knows not his own worth will never appreciate the worth of others.

5-Whosoever is ashamed of his father and mother, is excluded from Divine guidance.

6-Whosoever cannot forgive wrong done to him can never know the work of good that is done unto him.

7-The slightest provision against a quarrel is better than the stoutest persistence in carrying it on.

8- An easy temper is a good counsellor, and a pleasant tongue is an excellent leader.

9-Good advice to one who will not accept it, arms in the hands of one who knows not how to use them, and gold in the possession of one who benefits not mankind, are things wasted and lost.

10-He who takes advice is secure from falling; but whose is obstinate in his own opinion falleth into the pit of destruction.

11-In prosperity dread misfortune, for unto it thou must return; when anticipation is fairest, then think on tardy fate, for though he be slow yet is he sure.

12- In every blessing think upon its decay, in every misfortune think upon its removal. For such remembrance doth preserve blessing, and keep us from the intoxication of pride, and bringeth more real pleasure with it.

Friday, 2 December 2016

Persian-Iranian Wisdom - The Javidan Khirad

In Blavatsky’s Theosophical Glossary, we have an entry called:

Iranian Morals. The little work called Ancient Iranian and Zoroastrian Morals, compiled by Mr. Dhunjibhoy Jamsetjee Medhora, a Parsi Theosophist of Bombay, is an excellent treatise replete with the highest moral teachings, in English and Gujerati, and will acquaint the student better than many volumes with the ethics of the ancient Iranians.

The text was favorably reviewed in Thomas Moore Johnson’s The Platonist, (January, 1888). This 1887 text can be found at this link:

It was first translated into English as The Javidan Khirad , The Maxims of Hosheng The Student and Intellectual Observer of Science, Literature and Art, Volume 2 p. 176 1869 transl. E. H. Palmer. The title can be translated "Perennial Wisdom". Similar contents can be found in Al-Ghazali’s Nasihat al Muluk and covers wisdom literature from Persian, Hindu, Arab and Greek traditions.

In her Gems from the East, Blavatsky uses some 40-odd sayings from the Javidan Khirad (see months of October-November):

Below are some extracts from: AN APOCRYPHAL WORK: THE "JÂVIDÂN KHIRAD" OF MISKAWAYH - M.S. KHAN - Islamic Studies, Vol. 37, No. 3 (Autumn 1998), pp. 371-380

The Javidda Khirad of Miskawayh (d. 422/1030) was edited and published by 'Abd al-Rahman al-BadawT as al-Hikmah al-Khdlidah in 1952 with an introduction and notes.

The original title is Javidan Khirad. Without an idafat, Javidan can only be considered an adjective; and Khirad is a noun. With the idafat it should have been Khirad-i Jdviddn. Khirad is the modern form of the old Avestan form Khratu which is allied to Kratu of Vedic origin. However, an important question to be asked about Miskawayh's Javidan is in regard to its original author. It has been attributed to Hoshang, or Awshahanj in Arabic, who is a mythological and not a historical king, and it is certain that he could not be the author of this book in which means "wisdom and will" (cf. Datestan-i Meenok-i Khirat).

Regarding its translation, it is stated in the introduction of the Javidan that it consists of the counsels left by Awshahanj (Hoshang) the ruler, as a testament for his successors. It was translated from an ancient language into Persian by Kanjur ibn Isfandiyar, Vizier of the king of Iranshahr, which was translated into Arabic by Hasan ibn Sahl, brother of al-Fadl ibn Sah l26, viziers of Caliph M'amun in 196/812 and it was completed by Ahmad ibn Muhammad Miskawayh.

Strictly speaking, even if it is accepted that this Javidan is an Arabic translation from a Pahlavi book, it should be stated that the actual translation covered only about fourteen printed pages of the Javidan published by Badawi. Miskawayh himself states on the authority of Jahiz that the actual translation ended there.30

Jahiz is considered by some to have been the greatest precursor of the doctrine of Eternal Wisdom which held that "the wisdom of all nations found its way into Arabic literature in a slow process of transmission from nation to nation and from generation to generation".25

The Javidan of Miskawayh and the newly-discovered Khiradndmah belong to Iranian ethico-didactic literature called Andarzndmah or Pandndmah which were written in Pahlavi.31 These may roughly be divided into three main categories (i) religio-theological (ii) politico historical and (iii) socio-ethico-didactic. They also contained anecdotes for entertainment, worldly knowledge, wit erudition and description of virtues. They were compiled for the guidance and training of rulers and princes, statesmen, administrators and for common people for a good life. In these works the rulers were given three general advices: to lead a good and virtuous life, to be always just and administer justice strictly, to strive for the welfare of their subjects, to protect them from oppressors and tyrants and be kind and generous to the poor and the needy.

This substantial material in Pahlavi proves that the Arab-Muslims did not destroy Iranian culture and literature after they had conquered it. (375)

Part 2 

Friday, 25 November 2016

William Q. Judge on Esoteric Theory of Mind

The inner nature has a diet out of our thoughts and motives. If those are low or gross or selfish, it is equivalent to feeding that nature upon gross food. True theosophic diet is therefore not of either meat or wine; it is unselfish thoughts and deeds, untiring devotion to the welfare of “the great orphan Humanity,” absolute abnegation of self, unutterable aspiration to the Divine — the Supreme Soul. Theosophic Diet [The Path, Vol. III, December 1888, pp. 290-2] Echoes of the Orient Vol. I, 100-101

Every thought has with it in its journey all the physical, mental, and moral attributes of the thinker; but the recipient may be able only to perceive one of those attributes, and then, instead of getting the thinker’s thought, he may hear the rate of vibration in the body of the thinker, and all he sees then is a small white star. Stray Memoranda [The Path, Vol. III, February 1889, pp. 350-2] Echoes 109
Although each thought goes on through infinite space, many thoughts sent out from your mind are, so to say, lost on the way; for they meet opposite thoughts or stronger ones which deflect them from the course desired, and they thus fly on to a goal not in the mind of the thinker, or through weakness of impulse they fall easily away from the appointed orbit. Stray Memoranda [The Path, Vol. III, February 1889, pp. 350-2] Echoes 109

At once the motion made and thoughts aroused elicit their own sound, color, motion in ether, amount of etheric light, symbolic picture, disturbance of elemental forces, and so on through the great catalogue.Shall We Teach Clairvoyance?[The Path, Vol. V, December 1890, pp. 272-4] Echoes 178

So also the Manasic, or mind element, with its cosmic and infinite potentialities, is not merely the developed “instinct” of the animal. Mind is the latent or active potentiality of Cosmic Ideation, the essence of every form, the basis of every law, the potency of every principle in the universe. Human thought is the reflection or reproduction in the realm of mans consciousness of these forms, laws, and principles. The Synthesis of Occult Science [The Path, Vol. VI, November 1891, pp. 242-5; February 1892, pp. 350-3; March 1892, pp. 379-82] Echoes 214

But regarding it from the theosophical side, we know that the thoughts of the preceding life are the causes for the troubles and the joys of this, and therefore those troubles are now being exhausted here by the proper channel, the body, and are on the way down and out. Of “Metaphysical Healing”[The Path, Vol. VI, January 1892, pp. 304-7] Echoes 228

As Patanjali put it ages ago, in mind lie planted all seeds with self-reproductive power inherent in them, only waiting for time and circumstances to sprout again. Here are the causes for our diseases. Product of thought truly, but thought long finished and now transformed into cause beyond our present thought. Lying like tigers by the edge of the jungle’s pool ready to spring when the hour arrives, they may come forward accompanied by counteractions due to other causes, or them may come alone. Replanting Diseases for Future Use [The Path, Vol. VII, October, 1892, pp. 225-8]
Echoes 295

The moment we evolve a thought and thus a cause, it must go on producing its effects, all becoming in turn causes for other effects and sweeping down the great evolutionary current in order to rise again. To suppose we can stop this ebb and flow is chimerical in the extreme. Hence the great sages have always said we have to let the Karmic effects roll on while we set new and better causes in motion, and that even the perfect sage has to endure in his bodily frame that which belongs to it through Karma. Replanting Diseases for Future Use [The Path, Vol. VII, October, 1892, pp. 225-8] Echoes 295

Set it down very carefully in the mind, then, that thoughts and ideas make shapes of their own which have the power under certain conditions of affecting our senses in such a way as to seem objective to our waking cognition. Spiritualism [The Path, Vol. VIII, April 1893, pp. 13-21.] Echoes 351-52

Our every thought stirs up and uses these elementals, and the motion of the wind, the rays of the sun, and the fluids of the body, with the motions of the organs, all do the same thing. Spiritualism [The Path, Vol. VIII, April 1893, pp. 13-21.] Echoes 352-53

One theory for use in explaining and prosecuting hypnotic research is about as follows. Man is a soul who lives on thoughts and perceives only thoughts. Every object or subject comes to him as a thought, no matter what the channel or instrument, whether organ of sense or mental center, by which it comes before him. These thoughts may be words, ideas, or pictures. The soul-man has to have an intermediary or connecting link with Nature through and by which he may cognize and experience. This link is an ethereal double or counterpart of his physical body, dwelling in the latter; and the physical body is Nature so far as the soul-man is concerned. In this ethereal double (called astral body) are the sense-organs and centers of perception, the physical outer organs being only the external channels or means for concentrating the physical vibrations so as to transmit them to the astral organs and centers where the soul perceives then as ideas or thoughts. This inner ethereal man is made of the ether which science is now admitting as a necessary part of Nature, but while it is etheric it is none the less substantial. Hypnotism [The Path, Vol. VIII, February 1894, pp. 335-9] Echoes 415

But how is it that the subject can see on a blank card the picture of an object which you have merely willed to be on it? This is because every thought of any one makes a picture; and a thought of a definite image make a definite form in the astral light in which the astral body exists and functions, interpenetrating also every part of the physical body. Having thus imaged the picture on the card, it remains in the astral light or sphere surrounding the card, and is there objective to the astral senses of the hypnotized subject. Hypnotism [The Path, Vol. VIII, February 1894, pp. 335-9] Echoes 416

“Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap.” This is Karma of the Brahman and Buddhist, which teaches that each life is the outcome of a former life or lives, and that every man in his rebirths will have to account for every thought and receive measure for the measure given by him before. Points of Agreement in All Religions* [The Path, Vol. IX, July 1894, pp. 105-11] Echoes 441

Reflect on the fact that some of the very best people on earth were meat-eaters, and that wicked or gross thoughts are more hurtful than the eating of a ton of flesh. Theosophical Don’ts[The Path, Vol. IX, December 1894, pp. 276-7] Echoes 468

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Dr. Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche Sherpa – Buddhist Social Action

On October 20, McGill's School of Religious Studies presented the annual Numata Visiting Professor Public talk, given by Dr. Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche Sherpa.

Rinpoche Sherpa began with the rhetorical question, why does it seem that Buddhism does not do much social work like Chrisitianity, citing Matthew 10:6-8 (Go preach and heal the sick), comparing it with the Buddhist sutra, ‘’ Whoever, monks, would tend to me, he should tend to the sick.” [Mv. 26, 1-3, pp. 431-2.]  He began by responding that this is only apparently so, and that historically, social work has been important, citing the time of King Asoka, where many hospitals were built and how Tibetan monasteries were involved in assisting in resolving community disputes. Also, Kūkai (空海), 774–835, a Japanese Buddhist monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, and artist built irrigation systems and helped outcasts and Ninsho (1217-1303) began ministry to outcasts, beggars, and lepers in Kamakura.

Moreover, he outlined how colonialist and communist intervention in Buddhist countries hindered Buddhist social action, citing such historical examples as the Chinese temple ordinance of 1928 in Hong Kong and the studies of Donald W. Mitchell, Professor, author, editor and leader in Buddhist-Christian dialogue. He then pointed out that Buddhist social action efforts have grown considerably since the 1960s with several national and international organizations dedicated to care for the sick and the poor, the environment, peace, inter-faith dialogue, substance abuse treatment, care for prisoners, animal rights (citing the work of Norm Phelps), etc…

For the second part of the lecture, he went on to specify how social action is an important aspect of Mahayana Buddhist philosophy, following the great medieval Kagyu Buddhist philosopher Dompopa. He stressed the notion of Dana (generosity, charity), and cited such texts as:

\ All these beings strongly desire happiness,
\ And [ordinary] humans cannot be happy without enjoyments [basic enjoyments like food, drink, clothing, and shelter].
\ Knowing that these enjoyments [in this life] come from giving [in former lives],
\ The Able One taught giving first [of the ten paramitas].
Chandrakirti, Madhyamakavatara I, 10

Great blessing arises from continuous yearning for the fields of virtues and kindness, and from an antidote with regard to those who are suffering. (5, 81)
Therefore, when the thought of compassion is impure, one should not sacrifice one's life, but it should be sacrificed when one's thought is unbiased. Thus, life must not be wasted. (Santideva, Bodhicarayavavatara, 5,87)

thinking they are harmless,
because even a small spark
can set fire to a mountain of hay.
Do not disregard small positive acts,
thinking they are without benefit,
because even tiny drops of water
will eventually fill a large container.
—Buddha Shakyamuni, Sutra of the Wise and Foolish

PS –some links about Buddhist Social Action

Friday, 4 November 2016

Through the Gates of Gold, Part 1 - Prologue

Through the Gates of Gold : A Fragment of Thought is a wonderful, profound, eloquent work, the study of which offers many insights and valuable seeds of inspiration… Intimately linked with that well-regarded spiritual classic, Light on the Path, and they are often packaged together; indeed, studying this text in relation to corresponding passages in Light on the Path is recommended, and in general, can be viewed as a good introduction to that more demanding text. We are also indebted to Mabel Collins for a third theosophical classic, The Idyll of the White Lotus, of which T. Subba Row has written a remarkable commentary, nigh indispensable for unlocking the profundities of that fascinating work.

The book opens with this very simple yet interesting and original observation pertaining to the lives of most everyday people. I would think, that because, for a lot of people, this life is their absolute reality; the physical world is, to them, the ideal world – and therefore it is no wonder that people place so much value in it – in their own sincere way, they are striving to realize their own ideal vision, and one can notice how indeed there is often an admirable efficient concreteness in the way people build their lives, possibly because focusing on optimizing the material reality gives a strong singleness of purpose: the here and now.:

“The man of the world is often, unconsciously to himself, a philosopher of the first rank. He deals with his life on principles of the clearest character, and refuses to let his position be shattered by chance disaster. The man of thought and imagination has less certainty, and finds himself continually unable to formulate his ideas on that subject most profoundly interesting to human nature, — human life itself.”

Of course, this work aims at inspiring and provoking thought in other directions; but there's a down-to-earth approach - it begins from the concrete and works its way from there:

“Whether there is any mode of thought or any effort of the mind which will enable a man to grasp the great principles that evidently exist as causes in human life, is a question no ordinary thinker can determine. Yet the dim consciousness that there is cause behind the effects we see, that there is order ruling the chaos and sublime harmony pervading the discords, haunts the eager souls of the earth, and makes them long for vision of the unseen and knowledge of the unknowable.”

Information on Mabel Collins and the possible original author of this work:
The author of this bio on Mabel Collins is a good astrologer with theosophical interests, but please take some aspects of her biography with a grain of salt (and the review by Gary Lachman is from early on in his writing career, he is much better informed about Theosophy now) :

Friday, 28 October 2016

Karma and the Spiritual Path according to the Voice of the Silence

In the caves of Eastern Sibyl, what curious leaves lie hidden, or go whirling in the wind! written over with strange, hieroglyphic characters, not without deep meaning — akin to prophetic, —fragmentary — incomplete — hard to put together, yet furnishing here and there, when the attempt is made, a piece of chance mosaic that engages our attention like the forms in the moss-stone. Such a bundle of Sibylline leaves is the “Voice of the Silence”, of which we propose to put together some torn and ragged fragments pertaining to the mysteries of Karma.

Part I
If freed thou would’st be from the Karmic chains, seek not for thy Guru in those Mâyâvic regions. (the second,  the Hall of Learning, the astral plane)

Desire nothing. Chafe not at Karma, nor at Nature’s changeless laws. But struggle only with the personal, the transitory, the evanescent and the perishable.

Says the same Nâda-Bindu, “A Yogi who bestrides the Hamsa (thus contemplates on Aum) is not affected by Karmic influences or crores of sins.”

This is the fourth “Path” out of the five paths of rebirth which lead and toss all human beings into perpetual states of sorrow and joy. These “paths” are but subdivisions of the One, the Path followed by Karma.

Part 2
The wheel of the good Law moves swiftly on. It grinds by night and day. The worthless husks it drives from out the golden grain, the refuse from the flour. The hand of Karma guides the wheel; the revolutions mark the beatings of the Karmic heart.

Step out from sunlight into shade, to make more room for others. The tears that water the parched soil of pain and sorrow, bring forth the blossoms and the fruits of Karmic retribution. Out of the furnace of man’s life and its black smoke, winged flames arise, flames purified, that soaring onward, ‘neath the Karmic eye, weave in the end the fabric glorified of the three vestures of the Path.

Thou canst create this “day” thy chances for thy “morrow.” In the “Great Journey,” causes sown each hour bear each its harvest of effects, for rigid Justice rules the World. With mighty sweep of never erring action, it brings to mortals lives of weal or woe, the Karmic progeny of all our former thoughts and deeds.

Take then as much as merit hath in store for thee, O thou of patient heart. Be of good cheer and rest content with fate. Such is thy Karma, the Karma of the cycle of thy births, the destiny of those, who, in their pain and sorrow, are born along with thee, rejoice and weep from life to life, chained to thy previous actions.

Follow the wheel of life; follow the wheel of duty to race and kin, to friend and foe, and close thy mind to pleasures as to pain. Exhaust the law of Karmic retribution. Gain Siddhis for thy future birth.

Behold Migmar,* as in his crimson veils his “Eye” sweeps over slumbering Earth. Behold the fiery aura of the “Hand” of Lhagpa† extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Both are now servants to Nyima‡ left in his absence silent watchers in the night. Yet both in Kalpas past were bright Nyimas, and may in future “Days” again become two Suns. Such are the falls and rises of the Karmic Law in nature. (Mars, Mercury, and the Sun are the planets named)

That Secret Path leads the Arhan to mental woe unspeakable; woe for the living Dead, and helpless pity for the men of Karmic sorrow, the fruit of Karma Sages dare not still.

If thou would’st reap sweet peace and rest, Disciple, sow with the seeds of merit the fields of future harvests. Accept the woes of birth.

False learning is rejected by the Wise, and scattered to the Winds by the good Law. Its wheel revolves for all, the humble and the proud. The “Doctrine of the Eye” is for the crowd, the “Doctrine of the Heart,” for the elect. The first repeat in pride: “Behold, I know,” the last, they who in humbleness have garnered, low confess, “thus have I heard”.

Part 3
2. Shîla, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action.

Fear, O disciple, kills the will and stays all action. If lacking in the Śîla virtue, — the pilgrim trips, and Karmic pebbles bruise his feet along the rocky path.

Thou hast to be prepared to answer Dharma, the stern law, whose voice will ask thee at thy first, at thy initial step:
“Hast thou complied with all the rules, O thou of lofty hopes?”
“Hast thou attuned thy heart and mind to the great mind and heart of all mankind? For as the sacred River’s roaring voice whereby all Nature-sounds are echoed back , so must the heart of him ‘who in the stream would enter,’ thrill in response to every sigh and thought of all that lives and breathes.”
Beware, disciple, of that lethal shade. No light that shines from Spirit can dispel the darkness of the nether Soul, unless all selfish thought has fled therefrom, and that the pilgrim saith: “I have renounced this passing frame; I have destroyed the cause: the shadows cast can, as effects, no longer be.”

Friday, 21 October 2016

Seneca's Daily Examination of Conscience

From the great Roman Stoic Philosopher, Seneca; one of the big three, along with Plutarch and Cicero, of Western Moral Philosophy. These three authors were indispensable reading in the West for over a thousand years and did so much to inculcate the refinements of culture and civilisation throughout Europe and America.

All our sense should be educated into strength: they are naturally able to endure much, provided that the spirit forbears to spoil them. The spirit ought to be brought up for examination daily. It was the custom of Sextius when the day was over, and he had betaken himself to rest, to inquire of his spirit: ‘’What bad habit of yours have you cured today? What vice have you checked? In what respect are you better?’’ Anger will cease, and become more gentle, if it knows that every day it will have to appear before the judgment seat.

What can be more admirable than this fashion of discussing the whole of the day’s events? How sweet is the sleep which follows this self-examination? How calm, how sound, and careless is it when our spirit has either received praise or reprimand, and when our secret inquisitor and censor has made his report about our morals? I makes use of this privilege, and daily plead my cause before myself: when the lamp is taken out of my sight, and my wife, who knows my habit, has ceased to talk, I pass the whole day in review before myself and repeat all that I have said and done: I conceal nothing from myself, and omit nothing: for why should I be afraid of any of my shortcomings, when it is in my power to say, ‘’I pardon you this time: see that you never do that anymore?

In that dispute you spoke too contentiously: do not for the future argue with ignorant people: those who have never been taught are unwilling to learn. You reprimanded that man with more freedom than you ought, and consequently you have offended him instead of amending his ways: in dealing with other cases of the kind, you should look carefully, not only to the truth of what you say, but also whether the person to whom you speak can bear to be told the truth.’’ A good man delights in receiving advice: all the worst men are the mort impatient of guidance. (On Anger 3,36)

ps. there is a bit of a Seneca revival these days, check out what all the fuss is about:

Saturday, 15 October 2016

Deepak Chopra - 3rd Global Conference on World Religions September 15 2016

On September 15, 2016, the 3rd Global Conference on World Religions after September 11 took place and a delegate from the Montreal Theosophy Project was duly dispatched to report on this momentous occasion. Despite the fact that scheduled Buddhist speaker Robert Thurman had to cancel as did  Native American speaker Phil Fontaine, all other speakers gave interesting talks and a refreshing theosophical spirit of open, eclectic, tolerant altruism was palpable throughout the day; we will be posting lecture reviews over the next few months...

Deepak Chopra on Science and Spirituality

Deepak Chopra gave a talk comparing and contrasting modern science and Advaita Vedanta philosophy with erudition, charm, wit, and warmth. He began sketching out the field of astrophysics and electro-chemistry, outlining the theories of dark energy and dark matter, particle and wave theory, poetically quoting Rumi:''We come spinning out of nothingness, gathering stars like dust.''

He then proceeded to question these fields by raising questions pertaining to cognitive science and theory of mind, stating that modern scientific fields are still struggling with what he terms the hard problem of consciousness: ''We do not know how we have mental and perceptual experiences'', adding, ''don't let science fool you just because it is very successful in creating technology''.
He then embarked on a summary sketch of the progress of science since the enlightenment period, ending with the quantum theories of Einstein, Bohr, Planck, Schrodinger, Dirac, Heisenberg as well as super-string theory. Musing on the immense progress in our understanding of the infinite expanses of astrophysics and the equally infinite minuteness of micro-chemistry, he wonders how we are to ''reconcile the micro to the macro''.

Making the interesting observation how modern scientific astrophysics theories on the fundamental causes of the formation of the universe seem to resolve into constructs that suspiciously resemble creation myths, he conclues that ''everything I told you doe not explain experience, which is all we have'' and ''we cannot explain consciousness on the basis of biology''.

Changing the focus at this point, he observes that ''if we start to reverse the way we think, if we change our ontological perspective, seeing consciousness as the fundamental experience, then we can begin to solve the problem'' and proceeded to embark on an accessible explanation of Advaita Vedanta philosophy, presenting such notions as ''we don't experience the body, we experience sensations, Tanmatras, in Vedantic terminology''; ''thought is a modification of consciousness''; ''the universe is what absolute consciousness looks like to itself when observed as a perceptual subject''. Quoting another poet, Tagore:''in this playhouse of infinite forms, I caught sight of the formless and so my life is blessed'' and again Rumi: ''Look at your eyes, they are so small and yet they see the whole galaxy''.

He notes that this transcendant reality can be grasped through self-reflection, with practices such as yoga. Returning to science, comparing theories of matter with Advaita notions of Maya,  he observes that ''we are the victims of the superstition of matter - no one has ever shown the existence of a substance called matter''.He pointed  out the limits of language using the example of the Buddhist Flower Sermon. Arriving at the crux of his argument, he observes how modern science balks at explaining the nature of thinking, cognition and consciousness, noting that this entails two possibilities: (either thinking, cognition and consciousness are) a hallucination, and that doesn't seem right; then if not a hallucination then they can't be material; therefore they must be out of space and time''. Hence, (referencing the Baghavad Gita), ''the real you is unborn and cannot die''.

Quoting the Vedic phrase ''Aham Brahmsi'', I am that I am, he later added that we are not the ego that the culture of narcissism  places so much value on and that we tend to sacrifice our souls for the sake of this selfish ego. As a remedy to this he proposes to listen to one's inner being and pay attention to who is listening, ''the presence you feel is the presence of your spirit or soul'', which is not the mind, and ''this presence that you feel is the presence that connects you with God''.

Chopra's lecture admirably succeeded in presenting the intricacies of modern science and ancient Indian philosophy in a contemporary language in a way that was understandable, interesting, and thought-provoking.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Theosophy Basics: Body, Soul, Spirit

Theosophy is known for its emphasis on seven principles; however, this concept can be simplified into a threefold division, often described as body, soul, and spirit. The interesting passage below gives a very theosophical description of this, with the holistic microcosm-macrocosm correspondence and, distinctive to Theosophy, a more modern-sounding scientific concept of spiritual evolution which correlates the Pythagorean Monad with an evolving soul, considered in atomic terms, with a traditional spiritual teleology. Note it is perhaps better not to consider the Paracelsian Three Spirits as identical with the Proclean Intelligible Triad, although of course they are related, the latter Triad corresponding to the later notion of the Triple Logos :

"Three spirits live and actuate man," teaches Paracelsus; "three worlds pour their beams upon him; but all three only as the image and echo of one and the same all-constructing and uniting principle of production.
The first is the spirit of the elements (terrestrial body and vital force in its brute condition);
the second, the spirit of the stars (sidereal or astral body — the soul);
the third is the Divine spirit (Augoeides)."

Our human body, being possessed of "primeval earth-stuff," as Paracelsus calls it, we may readily accept the tendency of modern scientific research "to regard the processes of both animal and vegetable life as simply physical and chemical."
This theory only the more corroborates the assertions of old philosophers and the Mosaic Bible, that from the dust of the ground our bodies were made, and to dust they will return. But we must remember that
" 'Dust thou art, to dust returnest,'
Was not spoken of the soul."

Man is a little world — a microcosm inside the great universe. Like a foetus, he is suspended, by all his three spirits, in the matrix of the macrocosmos;
and while his terrestrial body is in constant sympathy with its parent earth,
his astral soul lives in unison with the sidereal anima mundi. He is in it, as it is in him, for the world-pervading element fills all space, and is space itself, only shoreless and infinite.
As to his third spirit, the divine, what is it but an infinitesimal ray, one of the countless radiations proceeding directly from the Highest Cause — the Spiritual Light of the World?

This is the trinity of organic and inorganic nature — the spiritual and the physical, which are three in one, and of which Proclus says that
"The first monad is the Eternal God;
 the second, eternity;
the third, the paradigm, or pattern of the universe";
 the three constituting the Intelligible Triad.

Everything in this visible universe is the outflow of this Triad, and a microcosmic triad itself.
And thus they move in majestic procession in the fields of eternity, around the spiritual sun, as in the heliocentric system the celestial bodies move round the visible suns. The Pythagorean Monad, which lives "in solitude and darkness," may remain on this earth forever invisible, impalpable, and undemonstrated by experimental science. Still the whole universe will be gravitating around it, as it did from the "beginning of time," and with every second, man and atom approach nearer to that solemn moment in the eternity, when the Invisible Presence will become clear to their spiritual sight.

When every particle of matter, even the most sublimated, has been cast off from the last shape that forms the ultimate link of that chain of double evolution which, throughout millions of ages and successive transformations, has pushed the entity onward; and when it shall find itself reclothed in that primordial essence, identical with that of its Creator, then this once impalpable organic atom will have run its race, and the sons of God will once more "shout for joy" at the return of the pilgrim.
(Isis Unveiled, Vol. I, pp. 212-13)

Monday, 19 September 2016

Astrology : Autumn Equinox – September 22, 2016

The Light that Shines in the Darkness

Capping off the eclipse season six days after the Lunar Eclipse, we arrive at the third cardinal station of the year, the Autumn Equinox, marking the halway point of the astrological year, the begining of the descent into darkness prior to the return of the light at the Vernal Equinox. H. P. Blavatsky, following Skinner and Seyfarth, writes :

“According to solar months (of thirty days, one of the calendars in use among the Hebrews) all remarkable events of the Old Testament happened on the days of the equinoxes and the solstices; for instance, the foundations and the dedications of the temples and altars” (and consecration of the tabernacle). “On the same cardinal days, the most remarkable events of the New Testament happened; for instance, the annunciation, the birth, the resurrection of Christ, and the birth of John the Baptist. And thus we learn that all remarkable epochs of the New Testament were typically sanctified a long time before by the Old Testament, beginning at the day succeeding the end of the Creation, which was the day of the vernal equinox. During the crucifixion, on the 14th day of Nisan, Dionysius Areopagita saw, in Ethiopia, an eclipse of the sun, and he said, Now, the Lord (Jehovah) is suffering something. Then Christ arose from the dead on the 22d March, 17 Nisan, Sunday, the day of the vernal equinox [Seyf., quoting Philo, de Septen]––that is, on Easter, or on the day when the sun gives new life to the earth.'' (Collected Writings, XIV, p. 136) (French Masonic Scholar  Ragon mentions that the traditional Vernal Solar Eclipse Easter symbolism corresponds to the Autumn Lunar Eclipse, La messe, P. 382).

Ragon further explains, regarding the Autumn Equinox, ''on that day, the Sun advances into the Southern Hemisphere and consequently gets farther from us who inhabit the Northern Hemisphere; also, from our standpoint, the days become shorter, the earth no longer produces, and, each day, it loses more of its color.

All these events, as natural as they are necessary, have given rise to different allegories that are very ingenius and spicy. The oldest and most universal is the battle between the Sun and the Prince of Darkness, fixed at the autumn equinox  and in which the latter gains the victory.

It is at the same period that is related the death of Osiris, of Mithra, of Bacchus, of Adonis, of Attis and all of the allegorical represetatives of the Sun, that are made to descend and sojourn in Hell, until their ressurection, fixed at the Spring Equinox. (Ragon, La Messe, p. 382)

Spacey, Argumentative Grand Cross
In the week since the lunar eclipse, most of the cranky, hazy aspects have faded somewhat, the main difference is that the Moon (in Gemini) has moved into an opposition with Saturn (in Sagittarius) neatly forming a Mutable Grand Cross with  Mercury (in Virgo) and Neptune (in Pisces). The Moon can be considered the hot angle in this configuration, giving a very social, trippy, emotional mood challenged by critical, rigid, argumentative issues from the other angles, thereby giving dynamic possibilities for dealing with relationship and social issues. Of course this configuration onlys last for a few hours, but can be quite powerful. Moreover, Mercury stationed direct only one day prior, and so the possibilities for misunderstandings, mishaps and malfunctions are still quite strong.

Old Wounds
Things get complicated though; there are two additionnal oppositions that pump up the intensity even more. There is a Moon/Mars opposition that gives a combative edge to the talkative Moon in Gemini and one can also consider Mars to be at the apex of a T-Square with a Jupiter/Sun conjunction (in Libra/Virgo) and a retrograde Chiron (in Pisces). This can indicate dealing with old wounds and self-esteem issues that will come to the surface around this time, in a very ego-centered manner. (It might be good to have some self-confidence, forgiveness and optimism-boosting strategies on hand, be it a Frank Capra film, a book of Roman Stoic sayings, a Mozart symphony,...whatever works for you.)

Creative, Cooperative Mystic Rectangle
Every cloud has a silver lining, as the saying goes, and amidst all these oppositions, we are graced with a sociable Mystic Rectangle connecting the Venus angle of the Mystical Rectangle to the Grand Cross via the Moon/Mars opposition; the other opposition of the rectangle being Venus/ Uranus (in Aries). This can mean personal relationships can become emotionally conflicted, but with the friendly Moon, Venus, Mars and Uranus Trines and Sextiles forming a favorable safety valve for original, creative, cooperative solutions. (Hopefully, this will allow UN relief efforts to enter Syria and the Peace Efforts to advance:

In about a week after this, the positive Sun, Jupiter and Mercury in Libra vibrations should kick in and the ensuing two months look to be the smoothest period of the year; so the Mystic Rectangle could be seen as an optimistic note for a calmer period prior to a stormier Winter Solstice.

Monday, 12 September 2016

Astrology: Penumbral Lunar Eclipse, September 16, 2016

Tests, Trials, and Tribulations
With three T-Squares with Saturn, Mars, Pluto at the apexes all within 35% of each other, this looks to be a very intense eclipse, like Hercules having to face Cerberus, the three-headed dog before descending into Hades, a step necessary for his spiritual initiation.  The Solar Eclipse was fairly intense, but quite clear and straightforward, whereas this one is similar, but more volatile, fuzzy, and complex. Hot on the heals of Jupiter's boisterous entry into Libra (September 9) and an exact Saturn/Neptune square (September 10), one could consider this period to be the beginning of a shift in the mood of planetary configurations that have marked 2016 so far. The motion of Mars in retrograde has limited its passage to Scorpio and Sagittarius all year and so its move into Capricorn in a few weeks will be another welcome change, although Mars still has important conjunctions with Pluto and Neptune, so combative Mars will continue to be a significant force all of this year.

Intense Intellect

Mercury (in Virgo), with still a week to go in retrograde motion, forms a stellium with the Sun, Jupiter and the North Node and is in opposition to both and Neptune and the Moon (in Pisces) along with squares with Mars and Saturn (in Sagittarius) and a trine to Pluto (in Capricorn). This could make for a very dynamic, talkative, critical, outgoing motivation for rational precision that feels hampered by strong but vague feelings and intuitions. This give a lot of energy for ambitious problem-solving resolutions such as the current Syrian diplomatic strategy and can be successful if excessive zeal is kept in check. (

Sensitive Emotions

Although well-situated in warm, intuitive, sensitive Pisces, the Full Moon does not benefit from any easy aspects and so has to contend with the Jupiter, Sun, Mercury oppositions and Saturn, Mars squares alone, except for a conjunction with a retrograde Chiron, which only adds to the sensitivity factor. The ever-present Neptune in the same sign, with the longstanding trine to Pluto does give an underlying spiritual inspiration to the mix.

Assertive Leadership

Pluto's trines with the Sun and Mercury means that Pluto is giving support in dealing with the five planets in opposition along the Virgo-Pisces axis. This could give something like a strong desire to engage in altruistic service to worthy causes, but with disagreements and conflicts due to power struggles and rigid attitudes. The Pluto, Venus, Uranus T-Square could give some pretty freaky behaviour, or ideally, focused, creative, and cooperative problem-solving.

Although something of a portent of new planetary patterns, this eclipse deals with similar challenges seen during most of the year with the long-standing, recently dissolved Saturn/Neptune/Jupiter T-square and so is quite complementary to the earlier Spring eclipse at the equinox. There seems to be a strongly polarized opposition between an active, critical, rational force and a meditative, sensitive, intuitive force. Achieving a balanced measure between these two energies would be ideal, albeit challenging. And there are the other oppositions of optimism/pessimism, realism/idealism, control/freedom, conservatism/revolution, practical/mystical that involve all of the aspects with the outer planets making this eclipse a critical point in achieving a balance with these issues.

Although the easy aspects are a little sparse here, there is a tremendous amount of energy that can be put to good use. Probably a key strategy would be a balanced handling of the positive Mars and Pluto aspects, which could be a kind of Karma-Yoga approach (placing duty above personal benefit) to a strong, proactive sense of leadership. Therefore qualities of selflessness, inclusiveness, fairness, listening to others in a open, cooperative way could help balance the inherent gung ho tendencies at play here.

It is probably preferable not overextend oneself on this day and the good traditional Asian advice of fasting, chastity and copious bathing/showering at this time would be most beneficial. Peace.

Friday, 2 September 2016

Theosophics Basics: Karma, part 2 of 2

7- Karma operates on three planes (physical, psychical, and spiritual)
Karma is considered to operate on the five lower planes. In simpler terms, it can be considered from three levels: the physical, psychic and spiritual, that is pertaining to the act, the intention and the underlying harmony:
As a necessary consequence of the septenary division of man, it is evident that we are capable of generating force on different planes of existence. The consideration of the working of Karma on all these planes is too complicated to be treated of here, and we shall, for the sake of convenience, adopt the trinitarian division. In this view of the case the Karma of an individual is divisible into three classes, physical, psychical, and spiritual. 

The physical Karma would be the act itself; the psychical Karma, the intention or the mental counterpart of the act; the spiritual Karma has relation to the harmony underlying all Nature. From the law of spiritual dynamics, elsewhere stated, it is clear that this classification is in the order of ascending power. The Karmic value of an act is the resultant of these three sets of forces. (Chatterji/Holloway, Man, Fragments of a Forgotten History, 124)

8- There are three types of Karma
The Theosophical perspective follows Hindu philosophy in dividing Karma into three groups:

First — that which has not begun to produce any effect in our lives owing to the operation on us of some other karmic causes. This is under a law well known to physicists, that two opposing forces tend to neutrality, and that one force may be strong enough to temporarily prevent the operation of another one. This law works on the unseen mental and karmic planes or spheres of being just as it does on the material ones. (Ocean 93)
Second — that karma which we are now making or storing up by our thoughts and acts, and which will operate in the future when the appropriate body, mind, and environment are taken up by the incarnating Ego in some other life, or whenever obstructive karma is removed. (Judge, Ocean of Theosophy ,94)
Third — that karma which has begun to produce results. It is the operating now in this life on us of causes set up in previous lives in company with other Egos. And it is in operation because, being most adapted to the family stock, the individual body, astral body, and race tendencies of the present incarnation, it exhibits itself plainly, while other unexpended karma awaits its regular turn. (Ocean 94)

9- Karma is collective
Like reincarnation, although explained on an individual basis, the law of Karma is based on the idea of non-separateness, hence the idea of the interdependance of humanity. So Karma is considered to be distributive. There is national Karma and global Karma which is composed of the sum total of individual Karma. Each person has a degree of responsibility for the conditions of the environment one lives in and one’s individual Karma cannot account for all the conditions one is born in:

 It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as "Separateness"; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive. (Blavatsky, Key 202)

10- Karma operates through the cycles of nature and human evolution:
It is true, on the other hand, that the exoteric cycles of every nation have been correctly made to be derived from, and depend on, sidereal motions. The latter are inseparably blended with the destinies of nations and men. But in their purely physical sense, Europe knows of no other cycles than the astronomical, and makes its computations accordingly. Nor will it hear of any other than imaginary circles or circuits in the starry heavens that gird them —
“With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb . . .” (Secret Doctrine I, 645)

11-Awareness of Karma is essential for spiritual progress
Karma points to the path of ethics and responsibility and also a spiritual path. By listening to one’s inner voice, one can transform the outer person and avoid being lead astray by the inner astral being and thus elevate oneself to one’s ideal celestial prototype, the choice of one’s orientation is intimately connected with Karma:
 Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in a whirlwind raised by his own actions, and this is — Karma. (Secret Doctrine I, 639)

12- Karma can be improved through human cooperation
This state will last till man’s spiritual intuitions are fully opened, which will not happen before we fairly cast off our thick coats of matter; until we begin acting from within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely, those produced by our physical senses and gross selfish body. Until then the only palliative to the evils of life is union and harmony — a Brotherhood in actu, and altruism not simply in name. The suppression of one single bad cause will suppress not one, but a variety of bad effects. And if a Brotherhood or even a number of Brotherhoods may not be able to prevent nations from occasionally cutting each other’s throats — still unity in thought and action, and philosophical research into the mysteries of being, will always prevent some, while trying to comprehend that which has hitherto remained to them a riddle, from creating additional causes in a world already so full of woe and evil. Knowledge of Karma gives the conviction that if
“. . . . virtue in distress, and vice in triumph
Make atheists of mankind,”*
(Secret Doctrine I, 644)