Friday, 24 May 2019

Jane Addams on Universal Brotherhood/Sisterhood

Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935), known as the mother of social work, was a pioneer American settlement activist/reformer, social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, public administrator, protester, author, and leader in women's suffrage and world peace. She co-founded Chicago's Hull House, one of America's most famous settlement houses. In 1920, she was a co-founder for the ACLU.  In 1931, she became the first American woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, and is recognized as the founder of the social work profession in the United States. She is increasingly being recognized as a member of the American pragmatist school of philosophy, and is known by many as the first woman "public philosopher in the history of the United States".

Fascinated by the early Christians and  Leo Tolstoy's book My Religion, she was baptized a Christian in the Cedarville Presbyterian Church, in the summer of 1886.  Reading Giuseppe Mazzini's Duties of Man, she began to be inspired by the idea of democracy as a social ideal. Yet she felt confused about her role as a woman. John Stuart Mill's The Subjection of Women made her question the social pressures on a woman to marry and devote her life to family. 

This paper is an attempt to analyze the motives which underlie a movement based, not only upon conviction, but upon genuine emotion, wherever educated young people are seeking an outlet for that sentiment for universal brotherhood, which the best spirit of our times is forcing from an emotion into a motive. These young people accomplish little toward the solution of this social problem, and bear the brunt of being cultivated into unnourished, oversensitive lives. They have been shut off from the common labor by which they live which is a great source of moral and physical health. They feel a fatal want of harmony between their theory and their lives, a lack of coordination between thought and action. I think it is hard for us to realize how seriously many of them are taking to the notion of human brotherhood, how eagerly they long to give tangible expression to the democratic ideal.

These young men and women, longing to socialize their democracy, are animated by certain hopes which may be thus loosely formulated; that if in a democratic country nothing can be permanently achieved save through the masses of the people, it will be impossible to establish a higher political life than the people themselves crave; that it is difficult to see how the notion of a higher civic life can be fostered save through common intercourse; that the blessings which we associate with a life of refinement and cultivation can be made universal and must be made universal if they are to be permanent; that the good we secure for ourselves is precarious and uncertain, is floating in mid-air, until it is secured for all of us and incorporated into our common life. It is easier to state these hopes than to formulate the line of motives, which I believe to constitute the trend of the subjective pressure toward the Settlement.

There is something primordial about these motives, but I am perhaps overbold in designating them as a great desire to share the race life. We all bear traces of the starvation struggle which for so long made up the life of the race. Our very organism holds memories and glimpses of that long life of our ancestors, which still goes on among so many of our contemporaries. Nothing so deadens the sympathies and shrivels the power of enjoyment as the persistent keeping away from the great opportunities for helpfulness and a continual ignoring of the starvation struggle which makes up the life of at least half the race. To shut one's self away from that half of the race life is to shut one's self away from the most vital part of it; it is to live out but half the humanity to which we have been born heir and to use but half our faculties. We have all had longings for a fuller life which should include the use of these faculties. These longings are the physical complement of the "Intimations of Immortality," on which no ode has yet been written. To portray these would be the work of a poet, and it is hazardous for any but a poet to attempt it. (Twenty Years at Hull-House with Autobiographical Notes. by Jane Addams. New York: The MacMillan Company, 1912 (c.1910) pp. 116-17)
New Ideals of Peace, aka Address to the Ethical Cultural Society (excerpt)
They are inspired with that enlarged morality that accepts all men as brothers and live up to an ideal that is both local and international. Most of us like to think of all little children as our brothers and sisters in the abstract, but when brought face to face with the knowledge that the educational facilities in our large cities are inadequate we too often evade our plain duty by speaking of high rates of taxation or the overburdened school boards. We know that helpless childhood and equally helpless old age are confined to unsanitary sweatshops, yet do we ever inquire, when we put on a garment, the wages paid  the tired fingers that created it?

In international brotherhood the same conditions prevail. As an example, let us take China. That is far enough removed from present complications to be safe in discussing. (Laughter.) Let us grant, for a moment, that the commerce of Europe and the United States demands a government in China stable enough to see that commercial contracts can be carried out and that this government must be planned and executed by foreigners. Now, who shall say what race had developed a class of diplomats noble enough to see that when these ports are opened in the sacred name of commerce that the natives of China shall be protected against the various tricks of trade that we have in our midst? Who shall tell a native to consider when he is being imposed upon by a trickster, or when he is buying an article that was put together by a suffering human being in another clime? Not the military, surely, for soldiers always learn, as did the Roman legions, that is easier to subdue other races and carry away plunder than to create wealth. It is only by learning to embrace all men as brothers that one people can do justice to others. ("Jane Addams Preaches Universal Brotherhood," The Times (Philadelphia, PA), March 31, 1902, p. 8.)

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Theosophy Basics: The Siddhis

In The Theosophical Glossary, we have: "Siddhis (Sk.). Lit., “attributes of perfection”; phenomenal powers acquired through holiness by Yogis".
The passage below is from a series of three articles beginning with the very first issue of The Theosophist (October 1879), entitled Yoga-Vidya and was later reprinted in the first two Theosophical editions of Patajanli, The Yoga Philosophy: Being the Text of Patanjali, Tookaram Tatya(1885) :

‘’The student of Yoga will observe a great difference in Siddhis (‘Superhuman faculties,' this is rendered; but not correctly, unless we agree that ' human' shall only mean that which pertains to physical man. 'Psychic faculties' would convey the idea much better : man can do nothing superhuman) that are said to be attainable by Yoga. There is one group which exacts a high training, of the spiritual powers ; and another group which concerns the lower and coarser psychic and mental energies. In the Shrimad Baghavata, Krishna says : " He who is engaged in the performance of Yoga, who has subdued his senses, and who has concentrated his mind in me (Krishna)such Yogis  [all] the Siddhis stand ready to serve.’’

Then Uddhava asks : "Oh, Achyuta (Infallible One) since' thou art the bestower of [all] the Siddhis on the Yogis, pray tell me by what dharana* and how, is a Siddhi attained and how many Siddhis there are. Bhaghavan replies : "Those who have transcended the dharana and yog» say that there are eighteen Siddhis, eight of which contemplate me as the chief object of attainment (or are attainable through me), and the [remaining] ten are derivable from the gunas;" — the commentator explains — from the preponderance of satva guna. These eight superior Siddhis are : Anima, Mahima, Laghima [of the body], Prapti (attainment by the senses), Prakashya,  Ishita, Vashita and an eighth which enables one to attain his every wish.* These," said Krishna, " are my Siddhis." [1]

The Siddhis of Krishna may be thus defined:
1. Anima — the power to atomize " the body;’’to make it become smallest of the smallest.

2. Mahima,  — the power to magnify one's body to any dimensions,.

3. Laghima — the power to become lightest of the lightest.

Let the reader observe that here are two Siddhis (anima and mahima); which can only refer to conditions of the astral body, and a third which may be applicable to either the astral or physical body of the ascetic.

*Dharana – The intense and perfect concentration of the mind upon one interior object; - accompanied by complete abstraction from things of the external world.’’

The ten secondary siddhis are as follows:
  • anūrmimattvam: Being undisturbed by hunger, thirst, and other bodily appetites
  • dūraśravaṇa: Hearing things far away
  • dūradarśanam: Seeing things far away
  • manojavah: Moving the body wherever thought goes (teleportation/astral projection)
  • kāmarūpam: Assuming any form desired
  • parakāya praveśanam: Entering the bodies of others
  • svachanda mṛtyuh: Dying when one desires
  • devānām saha krīḍā anudarśanam: Witnessing and participating in the pastimes of the gods
  • yathā sańkalpa saḿsiddhiḥ: Perfect accomplishment of one's determination
  • ājñāpratihatā gatiḥ: Orders or commands being unimpeded
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras contains another listing of Siddhis:
III.16, Knowledge of the past, present, and the future; III.17. Knowledge of the meaning of sounds produced by all beings; III.18. Knowledge of previous births and arising of future births; III.21. Disappearance of the body from view; III.22. Foreknowledge of birth, harm, or death; III.23. Loving- kindness in all; III.24. Extraordinary strength; III.25. Knowledge at a distance; III.26. Knowledge of the outer universe; III.27–28. Knowledge of the inner universe; III.29. Knowledge of the composition and coordination of bodily energies; III.30. Liberation from hunger and thirst; III.31. Exceptional stability, balance, or health; III.32–36. Vision of higher beings, knowledge of everything that is knowable, knowing of the origins of all things, knowledge of the true self; III.38. Influencing others; III.39, III.40. Blazing radiance; III.41. Clairaudience; III.42. Levitation,  III.43. Freedom from bodily awareness and temporal attachments; III.44–45. Mastery over the elements; III.46. Perfection of the body.

From Buddhaghosa’s Visuddhimagga (XII, XIII), there is the following (known as the six Abhijnā):
1) iddhi (comprising all kinds of marvelous powers, but being characteristic of a lower type of magic);
a.       Having been one he becomes many; having been many he becomes one.
b.      He appears. He vanishes.
c.       He goes unimpeded through walls, ramparts, & mountains as if through space.
d.      He dives in and out of the earth as if it were water.
e.       He walks on water without sinking as if it were dry land.
f.       Sitting crosslegged he flies through the air like a winged bird.
g.      With his hand he touches & strokes even the sun & moon, so mighty & powerful.
h.      He exercises influence with his body even as far as the Brahma worlds.
2) “divine hearing” (= “deva-hearing”), clairaudience, hearing human and divine voices from a distance (and understanding their meaning);
3) perception of the thoughts of others;
4) remembering past lives;
5) “divine sight or eye” (= the deva-sight), clairvoyance, which knows the cycles of rebirth of all beings according to the rules of Karma;
6) realizing the state of liberation by means of the extinction of the vagaries caused by desire and ignorance.

Additonally the Samkhya texts give eight Siddhis (Samkhyakarika and Tattvasamasa,), and Sikh texts give another eight Siddhis (the Mul Mantar in the Guru Granth Sahib).

The texts cited above generally agree that these powers should not be actively pursued for their own sake and warn of the inherent dangers (as does the Jnaneshwari). According to Lalla Buttun Chund: ‘’Siddhis, i.e. psychic powers, which are certain to attend more or less every Yogi, should never be moving cause to induce one to pursue this science; for desires other than that one of realizing OM in the soul, are to be abandoned at the onset (Hints to the Student of Yoga Vidya, The Theosophist, November 1879, 46); and as Blavatsky writes: "Arcane knowledge if misapplied, is sorcery; beneficently used, it is true magic or WISDOM" (Isis Unveiled, Vol. ΙΙ, 590). More specifically, ''Let him aspire to no higher than he feels able to accomplish. Let him not take a burden upon himself too heavy for him to carry. Without ever becoming a "Mahatma," a Buddha or a Great Saint, let him study the philosophy and the "Science of Soul," and he can become one of the modest benefactors of humanity, without any superhuman powers. Siddhis (or the Arhat powers) are only for those who are able to "lead the life," to comply with the terrible sacrifices required for such a training, and to comply with them to the very letter''(Occultism Versus the Occult Arts, C.W. IX, p. 249).

[1] The quote is from the Baghavata Purana (11,15).  For a modern translation see