Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Theosophy Basics: The Doctrine of Cycles, part 1

The Doctrine of Cycles is an important aspect of the Theosophical world view and was introduced as early as chapter one, volume one of Isis Unveiled. Blavatsky’s theory of cyclical history is one of the more sophisticated ones to emerge in modern times and is beginning to  elicit more serious attention; for a more academic exposition on essentialists concepts of history, the classic work in the field remains Mircea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return – Cosmos and History, 1954
What follows is a brief outline of Isis Unveiled, V. I, Chap. 1:

There is a dual, interactive process of spiritual and material evolution that functions according to cycles.
The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect — the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one. (34)

Civilizations rise and fall according to these cycles, with each new phase gradually bringing a new element of progress.
Thus we see in history a regular alternation of ebb and flow in the tide of human progress. The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascended; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. (34)

The ancient concept of the four ages indicates that civilizations go through a dual phase of unconscious inspired productivity followed by a phase of critical analysis.
The division of the history of mankind into Golden, Silver, Copper and Iron Ages, is not a fiction. We see the same thing in the literature of peoples. An age of great inspiration and unconscious productiveness is invariably followed by an age of criticism and consciousness. The one affords material for the analyzing and critical intellect of the other. (34)

Historical evolution is based on archetypal principles which are continually reflected in historical events.
Thus, all those great characters who tower like giants in the history of mankind, like Buddha-Siddartha, and Jesus, in the realm of spiritual, and Alexander the Macedonian and Napoleon the Great, in the realm of physical conquests, were but reflexed images of human types which had existed ten thousand years before, in the preceding decimillennium, reproduced by the mysterious powers controlling the destinies of our world.
There is no prominent character in all the annals of sacred or profane history whose prototype we cannot find in the half-fictitious and half-real traditions of bygone religions and mythologies. As the star, glimmering at an immeasurable distance above our heads, in the boundless immensity of the sky, reflects itself in the smooth waters of a lake, so does the imagery of men of the antediluvian ages reflect itself in the periods we can embrace in an historical retrospect.
“As above, so it is below. That which has been, will return again. As in heaven, so on earth.” (34)

There are many different smaller cycles contained in larger ones, as the diurnal cycle is a miniature reflection of the annual cycle.
As our planet revolves once every year around the sun and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros. (34)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Ravi Shankar – World Peace - 3rd Global Conference on World's Religions after September 11

Ravi Shankar is a humanitarian leader, a spiritual teacher, and an ambassador of peace. He is a spiritual leader and founder of the Art of Living Foundation created in 1981, which aims to relieve individual stress, societal problems, and violence. In 1997, he established a Geneva-based charity, the International Association for Human Values, an NGO that engages in relief work and rural development and aims to foster shared global values. His talk featured a video highlighting his work with Colombian guerillas, prison meditation programs, environmental cleaning and multi-cultural events. The following is a paraphrase of a talk given on September 15, 2016 at the 3rd Global Conference on World's Religions after September 11.
The problem with terrorists are their beliefs that:

  1. that they’re doing the work of god
  2. they’re doing something right – soldiers of god
  3. terrorism is caused by poverty

Countries spend billions in defences, but only 1% in peace education. We need to be calm, get rid of negative emotions. If you can’t be friendly to 500 people in your school, how can we live on a planet of billions? We need to encourage a multi-religious education, to teach a little about all the great religions of the world, so children can grow with an inclusive attitude. The heart and head go together.

There are three main prejudices:  race, gender, social status. Only by getting rid of them can we have a healthy society. We should be together is a spirit of interconnectivity to effect a change in the thought process, we can make a big difference. Five suggestions:

  1. keep balance in mind
  2. accepting people as they are
  3. not be individualistic, but compassionate
  4. not see intention behind others –
  5. love in the present moment
It is good to combine breathing and meditations. Religions want to do good. From time to time, it is good to have an intercultural festival. 3.7 million people participated in world cultural festival a celebration of diversity in 155 countries. Soul is like space, it is everywhere and nowhere – we need to look into god – hope can be kindled.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Through the Gates of Gold, Chapter 1, part 3

Part 3
By looking at history, one can consider the mutability of human existence, the ever-recurring rise and fall of civilisations and see that the problems of pain and decay are perennial. But one can consider what lies beyond these ever-changing appearances:
“Yet there is now and then one brave enough to gaze fixedly on this glittering, and to decipher something of the shape within it. Poets and philosophers, thinkers and teachers, — all those who are the “elder brothers of the race,” — have beheld this sight from time to time, and some among them have recognized in the bewildering glitter the outlines of the Gates of Gold.

Those Gates admit us to the sanctuary of man’s own nature, to the place whence his life-power comes, and where he is priest of the shrine of life. That it is possible to enter here, to pass through those Gates, some one or two have shown us.

Plato, Shakespeare, and a few other strong ones have gone through and spoken to us in veiled language on the near side of the Gates. When the strong man has crossed the threshold he speaks no more to those at the other side. And even the words he utters when he is outside are so full of mystery, so veiled and profound, that only those who follow in his steps can see the light within them.”

Some related passages from Light on the Path:

What then will be the value of the knowledge of its laws acquired by industry and observation? I pray that no reader or critic will imagine that by what I have said I intend to depreciate or disparage acquired knowledge, or the work of scientists. On the contrary, I hold that scientific men are the pioneers of modern thought. The days of literature and of art, when poets and sculptors saw the divine light, and put it into their own great language — these days lie buried in the long past with the ante-Phidian sculptors and the pre-Homeric poets. The mysteries no longer rule the world of thought and beauty; human life is the governing power, not that which lies beyond it. But the scientific workers are progressing, not so much by their own will as by sheer force of circumstances, towards the far line which divides things interpretable from things uninterpretable. Every fresh discovery drives them a step onward. Therefore do I very highly esteem the knowledge obtained by work and experiment. (Comment 2)

He stands always in advance of himself, if such a contradiction can be understood. It is the men who adhere to this position, who believe in their innate power of progress, and that of the whole race, who are the elder brothers, the pioneers. Each man has to accomplish the great leap for himself and without aid; yet it is something of a staff to lean on to know that others have gone on that road. It is possible that they have been lost in the abyss; no matter, they have had the courage to enter it. Why I say that it is possible they have been lost in the abyss is because of this fact, that one who has passed through is unrecognizable until the other and altogether new condition is attained by both. (Comment 2)

This statement, I feel, will appear involved; but in reality it is quite simple. Man, when he has reached his fruition, and civilization is at its height, stands between two fires. Could he but claim his great inheritance, the encumbrance of the mere animal life would fall away from him without difficulty. But he does not do this, and so the races of men flower and then droop and die and decay off the face of the earth, however splendid the bloom may have been. And it is left to the individual to make this great effort; to refuse to be terrified by his greater nature, to refuse to be drawn back by his lesser or more material self. Every individual who accomplishes this is a redeemer of the race. He may not blazon forth his deeds, he may dwell in secret and silence; but it is a fact that he forms a link between man and his divine part; between the known and the unknown; between the stir of the market place and the stillness of the snow-capped Himalayas.(Comment 2)

Friday, 5 May 2017

The Kabbalah and Reincarnation 5/5

William Q. Judge on Gilgul

The Zohar is a work of great weight and authority among the Jews. In II, 199 b, it says that "all souls are subject to revolutions". This is metempsychosis or a'leen b'gilgoola; but it declares that "men do not know the way they have been judged in all time". That is, in their "revolutions" they lose a complete memory of the acts that have led to judgment. This is precisely the Theosophical doctrine. The Kether Malkuth says, "If she, the soul, be pure, then she shall obtain favor . . . but if she hath been defiled, then she shall wander for a time in pain and despair . . . until the days of her purification". If the soul be pure and if she comes at once from God at birth, how could she be defiled? And where is she to wander if not on this or some other world until the days of her purification? The Rabbis always explained it as meaning she wandered down from Paradise through many revolutions or births until purity was regained.

Under the name of "Din Gilgol Neshomes" the doctrine of reincarnation is constantly spoken of in the Talmud. The term means "the judgment of the revolutions of the souls". And Rabbi Manassa, son of Israel, one of the most revered, says in his book Nishmath Hayem: "The belief or the doctrine of the transmigration of souls is a firm and infallible dogma accepted by the whole assemblage of our church with one accord, so that there is none to be found who would dare to deny it . . . Indeed, there is a great number of sages in Israel who hold firm to this doctrine so that they made it a dogma, a fundamental point of our religion. We are therefore in duty bound to obey and to accept this dogma with acclamation . . . as the truth of it has been incontestably demonstrated by the Zohar and all books of the Kabalists."

These demonstrations hold, as do the traditions of the old Jews, that the soul of Adam reincarnated in David, and that on account of the sin of David against Uriah it will have to come again in the expected Messiah. And out of the three letters ADM, being the name of the first man, the Talmudists always made the names Adam, David, and Messiah. Hence this in the Old Testament: "And they will serve Jhvh their God and David their king whom I shall reawaken for them." That is, David reincarnates again for the people. Taking the judgment of God on Adam "for dust thou art and unto dust thou shalt return", the Hebrew interpreters said that since Adam had sinned it was necessary for him to reincarnate on earth in order to make good the evil committed in his first existence; so he comes as David, and later is to come as Messiah. The same doctrine was always applied by the Jews to Moses, Seth, and Abel, the latter spelt Habel. Habel was killed by Cain, and then to supply the loss the Lord gave Seth to Adam; he died, and later on Moses is his reincarnation as the guide of the people, and Seth was said by Adam to be the reincarnation of Habel. Cain died and reincarnated as Yethrokorah, who died, the soul waiting till the time when Habel came back as Moses and then incarnated as the Egyptian who was killed by Moses; so in this case Habel comes back as Moses, meets Cain in the person of the Egyptian, and kills the latter. Similarly it was held that Bileam, Laban, and Nabal were reincarnations of the one soul or individuality. And of Job it was said that he was the same person once known as Thara, the father of Abraham; by which they explained the verse of Job (ix, 21 ), "Though I were perfect, yet would I not know my own soul", to mean that he would not recognize himself as Thara.
(Reincarnation in Judaism and the Bible - The Path – February 1894)
see also:
“Qabbalah, the Theos-Sophia of the Jews:”Jewish Theosophists and their Perceptionsof Kabbalah