Wednesday, 31 January 2018

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!"*

Friday, 26 January 2018

The top 12 posts of 2017

The most viewed that is. The astrology articles have not been included. Had they been included, they would have placed 1 to 4. The readers have spoken.

1- The 12 Most Important Ethical-Moral Philosophy Writings of All-Time
2- Dimensions of Sacred Geography
3- The Golden Rule in 20 World Religions
4- Jean-Marie Ragon on Universal Masonry and Brother/Sisterhood
5- Franz Hartmann on Scepticism and Credulity
6- Through the Gates of Gold, Chapter 1, The Search for Pleasure, part 7
7- Tibetan Mindfulness of Death Meditation 2
8- The Great American Eclipse, Baseball's World Series, and the number 9
9- Divine Madness: Plato on Sex and Love, part 2
10- Blavatsky on Shamanism
11- Blavatsky's translation of Leo Tolstoy's The Imp and the Crust (1889)
12- The Kabbalah on Reincarnation 1/5

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Through the Gates of Gold - Chapter 2 – The Mystery of Threshold - Part 3

Part 3 presents some basic considerations that demonstrate that the Gates of Gold are a reality that exist within the plan of nature, and so ends chapter 2:
”When once one has considered the meaning of those Gates, it is evident that there is no other way out of this form of life except through them. They only can admit man to the place where he becomes the fruit of which manhood is the blossom.”
”Nature is the kindest of mothers to those who need her; she never wearies of her children or desires them to lessen in multitude. Her friendly arms open wide to the vast throng who desire birth and to dwell in forms; and while they continue to desire it, she continues to smile a welcome. Why, then, should she shut her doors on any? When one life in her heart has not worn out a hundredth part of the soul’s longing for sensation such as it finds there, what reason can there be for its departure to any other place? Surely the seeds of desire spring up where the sower has sown them”

”On the mental steps of a million men Buddha passed through the Gates of Gold; and because a great crowd pressed about the threshold he was able to leave behind him words which prove that those Gates will open.”

Relevant passages from Light on the Path:

This raising of himself into an individual power does in reality identify him with the nobler forces of life and make him one with them. For they stand beyond the powers of this earth and the laws of this universe. Here lies man's only hope of success in the great effort; to leap right away from his present standpoint to his next and at once become an intrinsic part of the divine power as he has been an intrinsic part of the intellectual power, of the great nature to which he belongs.(Comment 2)

Sunday, 7 January 2018

Moses Cordovero's Kabbalistic Eightfold Path (The Palm Tree of Deborah)

Tomer Devorah (The Palm Tree of Deborah) by Moses Cordovero
trans. Louis Jacobs, New York Sepher-Hermon Press, 1960
Moses ben Jacob Cordovero, aka the Ramak, one of the most profound and systematic exponents of the teachings of the Zohar and a leading figure in the circle of mystics for which sixteenthcentury Safed in Palestine was renowned. The Ramak was born in 1522 and died at the age of 48, in 1570. First published in Venice in 1588, the little book Tomer Devorah is an ethical commentary on the ten sefirots in a true theosophical spirit.

Chapter II: Attaining the Qualities of Keter
For man to resemble his Creator according to the secret of the Supernal Crown he must possess, too, many of the chief qualities of the divine providence.

I) The quality of humility includes all qualities, for it belongs to the Crown, which is the highest attribute. It does not raise nor exalt itself upwards; on the contrary, it descends to look downwards at all times. For this there are two reasons. The first is that it is ashamed to gaze at its Source[1], but the Cause of its emanation looks continually into it to give goodness to it while it looks down to those beneath. So, too, man should be ashamed to gaze proudly upwards, but he should ever look downwards in order to abase himself as much as possible. This quality depends chiefly on the head, for the proud man lifts his head upwards while the poor man lowers his head. Behold, there is none so patient and so humble as our God in His quality of Crown. For there is perfect mercy before which there can enter no flaw, sin, judgment nor any other quality to prevent it providing and flowing with goodness at all times. So, too, should man behave, that no cause whatsoever prevent him doing good to others and any sin or the misdeeds of unworthy persons be barred entrance in order to prevent him doing good to all who need it at all times and in every moment. As He provides from the horned buffalo[2] to the brood of vermin despising no creature (for if He were to despise His creatures because of their insignifigance they could not exist even for one moment), showing mercy to them all, so man should be good to all creatures, despising none, that even the most insignifigant assumes importance in his eyes and he be concerned with it. And he should do good to all in need of his goodness. This quality depends on the Crown according to the secret of the head as a whole[3].

II His thoughts should resemble the thoughts of the Crown. Just as wisdom never ceases from thinking good thoughts, not allowing evil to enter, for it is perfect mercy and there is no judgment and nothing at all harsh there, so, too, man's mind should be free from every ugly thing. And just as it accords with the secret of the Supernal Wisdom, the Pre-existent Torah[4], and no secret of Torah is lacking there, so man should not turn his mind to any thoughts apart from those of Torah and the contemplation of God's majesty and goodness and the way to do good and so forth. In short: nothing strange nor negative should be present in his thoughts. This was the elevated state pf R. Simeon and his group. Behold how R. Simeon rebuked R. Jose (as recorded in the Zohar[5], section Vayakhel) when the latter separated his thought in some small measure from the Torah.

III His forehead should have no hardness whatsoever but should resemble at all times the forehead of the Will and he should be pleased to accept everyone. Even when he meets with provokers he should appease them and quiet them with good will. For the forehead of the Will constantly accepts and appeases the divine powers and perfects them. So man, too, should appease those whose anger prevails and he should lead them on in good will, drawing on great wisdom to weaken their anger that it does not overstep its boundaries and cause harm, God forfend. He should behave as the Supernal Will, which proceeds from the wonderful wisdom in the forehead of the Ancient One[6] which accepts all creatures. He should derive, too, the power to be pleasant to all creatures. For if in some respect his character is harsh to men he will not succeed in the quality of acceptance. This is the reason for the teaching of the Mishnah[7] that he in whom the spirit of his fellows takes delight the spirit of the All-Present takes delight.

IV That his ears be ever open to hear good but an evil or ugly report be barred from entering them, according to the secret of Supernal Listening; for no cry of judgment nor the flaw of evil talk is allowed entry there. So he, too, should listen only to good and useful things; and other things which cause anger to prevail should recieve no hearing whatsoever. Just as the serpent, his words and his speech have no entry above so no ugly thing should be allowed to enter man's ear. This is the meaning of 'Thou shalt not bear[8] a false report'; how much more other ugly things. These should in no way enter his ear, which should listen only to good things.

V His eyes should not gaze at any ugly thing. They should, however, be ever open to notice and show mercy to sufferers as much as possible. He should in no way close his eyes when he sees the sufferings of the poor but give as much thought to their predicament as lies in his power and awaken the pity of Heaven and of humans upon them. He should be far removed from noticing evil, just as the Supernal Eye is ever open to look immediately at the good.

VI As for his nose[9], there should be no anger in him whatsoever. But there should be at all times vitality, good will and great patience even to the unworthy. He should desire at all times to fulfil everyone's desires, to grant every request, and to revive every sufferer. From his nose there should proceed forgiveness of sin and pardon of iniquity. He should not be angry with those who offend him but he should be constantly willing to be appeased and desire to do kindness so as to please all.

VII His face should shine constantly, so to welcome all men with good countenance. For with regard to the Supernal Crown it is said: 'In the light[10] of the king's countenance is life.' Neither redness[11] nor any judgment enters there. So, too, the light of his face find there only joy and good humour; and no cause should in any way disturb him in this.

VIII His mouth should produce nothing but good, his spoken word should be constantly Torah and the fulfillment of good will. He should never allow an ugly thing nor a curse nor anger nor frivolous talk escape from his mouth. His should resemble that Supernal Mouth which is never closed, never being silent from sounding the good at all times. He should, therefore, speak well of all and constantly make of his words goodness and blessing.

Behold, these are eight good qualities, all of them under the banner of humility, all of which are in the higher worlds in the Crown among the Supernal Limbs. Whenever man wishes to draw near to the higher worlds to resemble Him so as to open the heavenly sources of blessing to those beneath it is necessary for him to be well-versed in these two chapters. Of course, we know that it is impossible to conduct oneself in obedience to these qualities continually for there are other qualities in which a man has to be well-versed, namely the lower qualities of Power, as we shall explain. But there are days when the Powers do not function and when men have no need of them, for in these days Crown reigns, or it is a time when Crown is required. Then it is necessary to resort to all the qualities we have mentioned.
1. its Source 'En Soph.
2. the horned buffalo A reference to the Talmudic saying that God feeds the whole world from the horned buffalo to the brood of vermin, A.Z. 3b
3. the head as a whole i.e., as distinct from the organs of the head, the eye, ear and so forth, to be described later.
4. The Pre-existant Torah The Rabbinic teaching that the Torah preceded the creation of the world (Gen. R. VIII) is mystically interpreted as referring to the Sephirah of Wisdom, the secret source of the Torah, v. Zohar I, 15b, II, 200a
5. In the Zohar 'At this point R. Simeon noticed R. Jose meditating worldly matters. Said he: "Jose, arise and complete your image, inasmuch as you are short of one letter." R. Jose then rose up and joyously absorbed himself in the expositions of the Torah. R. Simeon then looked at him again, and said: "R. Jose, now you are whole before the Ancient of Days, and your image is complete,"' II, 217b
6. the Ancient One. The appellation of Crown
7. the teaching of the Mishnah. 'Aboth III, 11.
8. Thou shalt not bear Rabbinic interpretation of Ex. XXIII. 1, v. Pes. 118a.
9. nose 'Anger' in Hebrew is harah 'aph, lit. 'snorting with the nose,' hence the nose symbolises anger and its opposite good will.
10. In the light Prov. XVI. 15, cf. 'Aboth I, 15.
11. redness In Kabbalistic symbolism the color of judgment (Gevurah)
Part 2