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) :