Sunday, 23 June 2019

Theosophical Basics: Sacred Sound and Mantra

People who appreciate H.P. Blavatsky's The Voice of the Silence, might care to know more about the philosophy behind it. Sacred Sound, in all its metaphysical theory and practical applications, is a fundamental part of the Theosophical teachings, perhaps best summarized as the doctrine of the Logos, equated with the Sabda;  H. P. Blavatsky describes Sabda Brahmam as “The Unmanifested Logos.” The Vedas; “Ethereal Vibrations diffused throughout Space ”. (Theosophical Glossary). In the same she states: ''This is why it is stated in the Purânas that Âkâsa has but one attribute, namely sound, for sound is but the translated symbol of Logos—“Speech” in its mystic sense.'' Her definition of Vach provides a brief general overview.   The classic work in the field is Guy L. Beck, Sonic Theology: Hinduism and Sacred Sound (1993). Blavatsky has also commented on the what is perhaps the best known exposition of the Logos concept, see her Notes on the Gospel of John. Another classic exposition of the concept is AUM! by William Q. Judge. The text below is a solid basic esoteric explanation from Isis Unveiled 2, Chapter 9:
Have the seven prismatic colors of the rainbow seen by Noah no other meaning than that of a covenant between God and man to refresh the memory of the former? To the kabalist, at least, they have a significance inseparable from the seven labors of magic, the seven upper spheres, the seven notes of the musical scale, the seven numerals of Pythagoras, the seven wonders of the world, the seven ages, and even the seven steps of the Masons, which lead to the Holy of Holies, after passing the flights of three and five.
Whence the identity then of these enigmatical, ever-recurring numerals that are found in every page of the Jewish Scriptures, as in every ola and sloka of Buddhistic and Brahmanical books? Whence these numerals that are the soul of the Pythagorean and Platonic thought, and that no unilluminated Orientalist nor biblical student has ever been able to fathom?
And yet they have a key ready in their hand, did they but know how to use it. Nowhere is the mystical value of human language and its effects on human action so perfectly understood as in India, nor any better explained than by the authors of the oldest Brahmanas. Ancient as their epoch is now found to be, they only try to express, in a more concrete form, the abstract metaphysical speculations of their own ancestors.

Such is the respect of the Brahmans for the sacrificial mysteries, that they hold that the world itself sprang into creation as a consequence of a "sacrificial word" pronounced by the First Cause. This word is the "Ineffable name" of the kabalists, fully discussed in the last chapter.

The secret of the Vedas, "Sacred Knowledge" though they may be, is impenetrable without the help of the Brahmanas. Properly speaking, the Vedas (which are written in verse and comprised in four books) constitute that portion called the Mantra, or magical prayer, and the Brahmanas (which are in prose) contain their key. While the Mantra part is alone holy, the Brahmana portion contains all the theological exegesis, and the speculations and explanations of the sacerdotal. Our Orientalists, we repeat, will make no substantial progress toward a comprehension of Vedic literature until they place a proper valuation upon works now despised by them; as, for instance, the Aitareya and Kaushitaki Brahmanas, which belong to the Rig-Veda.

Sarasvati riding a Peacok
Zoroaster was called a Manthran, or speaker of Mantras, and, according to Haug, one of the earliest names for the Sacred Scriptures of the Parsis was Manthra-spenta. The power and significance of the Brahman who acts as the Hotri-priest at the Soma-Sacrifice, consists in his possession and full knowledge of the uses of the sacred word or speechVach. The latter is personified in Sara-isvati, the wife of Brahma, who is the goddess of the sacred or "Secret Knowledge." She is usually depicted as riding upon a peacock with its tail all spread. The eyes upon the feathers of the bird's tail, symbolize the sleepless eyes that see all things. To one who has the ambition of becoming an adept of the "Secret doctrines," they are a reminder that he must have the hundred eyes of Argus to see and comprehend all things.

Agni
And this is why we say that it is not possible to solve fully the deep problems underlying the Brahmanical and Buddhistic sacred books without having a perfect comprehension of the esoteric meaning of the Pythagorean numerals. The greatest power of this Vach, or Sacred Speech, is developed according to the form which is given to the Mantra by the officiating Hotri, and this form consists wholly in the numbers and syllables of the sacred metre. If pronounced slowly and in a certain rhythm, one effect is produced; if quickly and with another rhythm, there is a different result. "Each metre," says Haug, "is the invisible master of something visible in this world; it is, as it were, its exponent and ideal. This great significance of the metrical speech is derived from the number of syllables of which it consists, for each thing has (just as in the Pythagorean system) a certain numerical proportion. All these things, metres (chhandas), stomas, and prishthas, are liable to be as eternal and divine as the words themselves they contain. The earliest Hindu divines did not only believe in a primitive revelation of the words of the sacred texts, but even in that of the various forms. These forms, along with their contents, the everlasting Veda-words, are symbols expressive of things of the invisible world, and in several respects comparable to the Platonic ideas."

This testimony from an unwilling witness shows again the identity between the ancient religions as to their secret doctrine. The Gayatri metre, for example, consists of thrice eight syllables, and is considered the most sacred of metres. It is the metre of Agni, the fire-god, and becomes at times the emblem of Brahma himself, the chief creator, and "fashioner of man" in his own image. Now Pythagoras says that "The number eight, or the Octad, is the first cube, that is to say, squared in all senses, as a die, proceeding from its base two, or even number; so is man four-square or perfect." Of course few, except the Pythagoreans and kabalists, can fully comprehend this idea; but the illustration will assist in pointing out the close kinship of the numerals with the Vedic Mantras. The chief problems of every theology lie concealed beneath this imagery of fire and the varying rhythm of its flames. The burning bush of the Bible, the Zoroastrian and other sacred fires, Plato's universal soul, and the Rosicrucian doctrines of both soul and body of man being evolved out of fire, the reasoning and immortal element which permeates all things, and which, according to Herakleitus, Hippocrates, and Parmenides, is God, have all the same meaning.

Each metre in the Brahmanas corresponds to a number, and as shown by Haug, as it stands in the sacred volumes, is a prototype of some visible form on earth, and its effects are either good or evil. The "sacred speech" can save, but it can kill as well; its many meanings and faculties are well known but to the Dikshita (the adept), who has been initiated into many mysteries, and whose "spiritual birth" is completely achieved; the Vach of the mantra is a spoken power, which awakes another corresponding and still more occult power, each allegorically personified by some god in the world of spirits, and, according as it is used, responded to either by the gods or the Rakshasas (bad spirits). In the Brahmanical and Buddhist ideas, a curse, a blessing, a vow, a desire, an idle thought, can each assume a visible shape and so manifest itself objectively to the eyes of its author, or to him that it concerns.

Every sin becomes incarnated, so to say, and like an avenging fiend persecutes its perpetrator.

There are words which have a destructive quality in their very syllables, as though objective things; for every sound awakens a corresponding one in the invisible world of spirit, and the repercussion produces either a good or bad effect. Harmonious rhythm, a melody vibrating softly in the atmosphere, creates a beneficent and sweet influence around, and acts most powerfully on the psychological as well as physical natures of every living thing on earth; it reacts even on inanimate objects, for matter is still spirit in its essence, invisible as it may seem to our grosser senses.

So with the numerals. Turn wherever we will, from the Prophets to the Apocalypse, and we will see the biblical writers constantly using the numbers three, four, seven, and twelve.

And yet we have known some partisans of the Bible who maintained that the Vedas were copied from the Mosaic books!* The Vedas, which are written in Sanscrit, a language whose grammatical rules and forms, as Max Muller and other scholars confess, were completely established long before the days when the great wave of emigration bore it from Asia all over the Occident, are there to proclaim their parentage of every philosophy, and every religious institution developed later among Semitic peoples. And which of the numerals most frequently occur in the Sanscrit chants, those sublime hymns to creation, to the unity of God, and the countless manifestations of His power? One, three, and seven. Read the hymn by Dirghatamas. (1)

"To Him who represents all the Gods."

"The God here present, our blessed patron, our sacrificer, has a brother who spreads himself in mid-air. There exists a third Brother whom we sprinkle with our libations. . . . It is he whom I have seen master of men and armed with seven rays."†

And again:

"Seven Bridles aid in guiding a car which has but one wheel, and which is drawn by a single horse that shines with seven rays. The wheel has three limbs, an immortal wheel, never-wearying, whence hang all the worlds."

"Sometimes seven horses drag a car of seven wheels, and seven personages mount it, accompanied by seven fecund nymphs of the water."

And the following again, in honor of the fire-god — Agni, who is so clearly shown but a spirit subordinate to the One God.

"Ever one, although having three forms of double nature (androgynous) — he rises! and the priests offer to God, in the act of sacrifice, their prayers which reach the heavens, borne aloft by Agni."

Is this a coincidence, or, rather, as reason tells us, the result of the derivation of many national cults from one primitive, universal religion? A mystery for the uninitiated, the unveiling of the most sublime (because correct and true) psychological and physiological problems for the initiate. Revelations of the personal spirit of man which is divine because that spirit is not only the emanation of the one Supreme God, but is the only God man is able, in his weakness and helplessness, to comprehend — to feel within himself. This truth the Vedic poet clearly confesses, when saying:

"The Lord, Master of the universe and full of wisdom, has entered with me (into me) — weak and ignorant — and has formed me of himself in that place* where the spirits obtain, by the help of Science, the peaceful enjoyment of the fruit, as sweet as ambrosia."

* To avoid discussion we adopt the palaeographical conclusions arrived at by Martin Haug and some other cautious scholars. Personally we credit the statements of the Brahmans and those of Halled, the translator of the "Sastras."

† The god Heptaktis.

The sanctuary of the initiation. 
(1) Blavatsky is referencing the famous Asya Vamasya Hymn from Rig Veda I.164.  See Vedic Origins of the Zodiac: The Hymns of Dirghatamas in the Rig Veda.  She is quoting from the work of German Orientalist Martin Haug.
(Isis Unveiled 2,  408-412)
For a good basic introduction, see Sacred Sound
For information on the practical aspects, see The Practice of Nada Yoga 

Sunday, 16 June 2019

Astrology: Summer Solstice, June 21, 2019

Shake It Up
On the positive side, the Sun  has a sextile to Uranus which can be communicative, outspoken, positive, original, with some defensiveness. Uranus stations direct on this day, at the same time that Neptune stations retrograde. For the second of three times this year, both Jupiter square Neptune, on June 16, and Saturn sextile Neptune, on June 18, go exact.  These are the two main defining aspects of 2019. “While Jupiter square Neptune can test your faith with disappointments, Saturn sextile Neptune gives a healthy dose of reality that lowers the risk of delusion and deception. It also helps you channel your inspiration and enthusiasm into hard work to manifest your hopes and dreams” (Astrology King). Moreover, the Solstice preludes a July 2, total solar eclipse which is a great chance to make a fresh start, followed by a partial lunar eclipse on July 16, with Pluto, can portend intense emotions and compulsive behavior.
The War of the Words 
(Mercury/Mars in Cancer opposite Saturn/Pluto in Capricorn) With Mars conjunct Mercury in Cancer, there is a tendency for intellectual combativeness concerning personal needs and relationships with some moodiness and defensiveness. With Mars/Mercury opposite to Saturn/Pluto, especially in the previous week,  there is a strong conflict with personal desires versus collective rules and responsibilities. Impulsiveness, aggressiveness, harshness can emerge and strong, caustic verbal sparring can result. Revolts against rigid control and oppressive authority/pressures can be significant issues. Power struggles, depression, and low self-esteem issues may emerge. Underlying tensions regarding one’s personal feelings about social roles and responsibilities can reach a boiling point. In some cases it can be very volatile and explosive. At its most intense on June 18-19. Conflict and crisis may emerge and boil over, but strong conciliation energies will manifest themselves as well.
Triangle of Potential 
(Mars/Mercury trine Neptune in Pisces, Saturn/Pluto sextile Neptune) According to Valkyrie Astrology a ‘’Triangle of Potential is another fairly common pattern that comprises a trine, sextile and opposition, in other words two soft aspects and one hard aspect.  In this case, the planet at the apex of the trine and sextile is the key to solving the opposition.  The person will experience struggles, but by utilizing the energy of the trine and sextile will be able to make them work, so to speak.  In many respects the hard aspects are what motivate us.  If life was always easy we'd have a lot less incentive to grow.  A Triangle of Potential will give a person just enough friction to utilize latent talents and abilities that otherwise might lie dormant.’’ (https://www.valkyrieastrology.com/Makeover/aspects.html)
Mercury/Mars trine Neptune brings a sense of balance between intuitive ideas and practical action and realisation., good character judgement, a sense of effective expression and altruism. Saturn/Pluto sextile  Neptune brings a sense of patience and hard work in realizing alternative changes and constructive aims. These two aspects may provide the resources to manage the difficult oppositions in a productive way.
Creative Differences 
(Venus-Jupiter-Neptune T-Square) With Venus in Gemini opposite Jupiter in Sagittarius you can have vanity, moodiness, spoiled behaviour, religious differences. Venus square Neptune can be marked by defensiveness, subterfuge, romantic delusions. Jupiter square Neptune brings exaggeration, confusion, deception, emotional excess, self-indulgence, religious enthusiasm. This T-Square could be an aspect you would find with an opera diva. There is no shortage of drama and moodiness, but there can be strong creative energy as well. Once again, this opposition is linked to some easy aspects that form another triangle of potential. Moon trine Venus brings charm, gentleness, optimism, refinement, secure relations, and creativity. Moon sextile Jupiter brings generosity, emotional sympathy, gratitude, religious idealism, integrity, and sociability. An opera performance under this aspect can be quite an inspired event. It can also be a good opportunity to reflect on the coherence and validity of your spiritual beliefs and values and how they affect your relationships.
Summary
With Mercury conjunct Mars, Venus in Gemini, Sun sextile Uranus, and Moon in Aquarius, we have a healthy level of verbal expressiveness. People will probably not be holding back when it comes to speaking their mind. Compared to recent years, I see 2019 as relatively less dramatic, as a buildup for the closing of the 20-year Saturn-Jupiter cycle next year. This solstice marks one of the more difficult periods of the year (with Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, in opposition to summer sign of Cancer, most summers in recent memory have been rather tense). There can be volatile mishaps and confrontations, with a rather free tendency for outspoken, blunt, excentric expressiveness. People will tend to feel very passionate about their beliefs and opinions. Problems of unrealistic expectations in relationships may emerge, with long-standing frustrations coming to a boil. There is also an undercurrent of patient, compassionate, sympathetic feeling forming two triangles of potential, which makes for an interesting opportunity for overcoming obstacles and effecting lasting reconciliations. Concentration won’t be easy, but look to Neptune for deep reserves of idealistic altruism and the Moon for sympathetic sociability.
Retrograde Periods
Retrograde motion can signify revisiting past experiences that are linked to the planets domain and also revealing elements pertaining to that planet’s energy that were not properly processed, causing a slowing of forward movement.
Jupiter retrograde  (April 10 - August 11)
This year the main theme is romance and intimate relationships.
Saturn Retrograde ( April 29 - September 18) The lessons relate to your thoughts and words. It will be especially challenging if you have a history of teasing or verbally abusing people.
Pluto retrograde (April 24 - October 3) This is a regular cycle lasting five months every year, during the opposition to the Sun; a time of reflection about power and control in your life.
Neptune retrograde (June 21 – November 27). Neptune retrograde in transit is a regular cycle lasting 160 days every year during the opposition to the Sun. It can internalize your fears and anxieties by stripping away the illusions, dreams and false realities that have clouded your vision. (Astrology King)
From the perspective of the 20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycle, one could say that generally, Jupiter marks the first ten years with optimistic, exuberant, often quite naïve, energy, whereas Saturn brings a more serious, realistic, sombre energy. The Saturn phase can be considered as an adjustment, adaptation, analysis phase in relation to the exuberant energies initiated by Jupiter. The 2016-2020 period can be seen as a consolidation of the Saturn phase, marked by an increasing socio-political conservatism which witnessed the rise in right-wing nationalist political movements. Therefore 2020 fittingly will cap off this starker phase with a Saturn-Pluto conjunction in Capricorn, with an intense final quarter marked by a Mars retrograde motion in Aries, often in opposition to Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto.
According to Astrology King : “Saturn conjunct Pluto means hard work and serious business. You will need patience and determination as you face extra responsibilities with less time and resources to get the job done. You may experience loss, hardship or disappointment as you learn what it is that you must let go of or change. Is something is broken you must fix it or throw it out. Immoral or unethical behavior such as lying, manipulation or breaking the law would have serious consequences that would further restrict your options and freedom. This is a time for deliberate, well-considered change. This is a slow, evolutionary process that builds new foundations on which to prosper in coming years.”
The 2021-2025 period marks the start of a new 20-year Jupiter-Saturn cycle in its optimistic, exuberant Jupiter phase, which will see four outer planets shift into new signs, so by 2025 all the components of the 2021-2030 half of the cycle will be in place. One of the main challenges pertains to the information age. The  political re-configurations prompted by a technological revolution that gives us hyper precise up-to-the minute information and knowledge is out-of-sync with social structures that are not equipped to deal with this new paradigm of hyper information. The modern western social structure is still to a large extent based in the more simplistic technological space age optimism and monolithic centralized bureaucratic social structures of the 1960s, which were remarkably short-sighted, in retrospect.
According to Kosmic Mind: “The internet revolution unleashed several social and economic structures from the limitations of physical space. Consider the storage of mass amounts of data and information onto "cloud networks," or how much of our daily life revolves around smartphones and wifi signals. Jupiter and Saturn's conjunction in Aquarius begins the next two centuries of conjunctions solely in the air element and in a sign associated with innovation, ingenuity, and independence, this is likely to begin a revolutionary social and economic shift.” (2020: In the Shadow of Saturn and Pluto, January 11, 2019)
Robert Hand observes: ''One danger of this transit is that Pluto can signify tremendous evolutionary energies, which Saturn restricts. This can lead to an apparent suppression of the Pluto force. When the suppressed force erupts, it may be dangerous, explosive and quite violent. As you are more and more restricted by circumstances and the need to use your resources conservatively, do not simply hold in your energies. Build new structures to correct the problems that you face now, and concentrate all you energy on bringing about necessary evolution in your life. Saturn can give form to Pluto as well as repress it, and then it is much more fruitful.'' (Planets in Transit, 358-59)

Monday, 10 June 2019

The Maitri Upanishad on Taming the Mind

The Maitri Upanishad is the last of what are known as the principal Upanishads. It recommends meditation upon the soul ("atman") and life ("prana"). It says that the body is like a chariot without intelligence but it is driven by an intelligent being, who is pure, tranquil, breathless, selfless, undying, unborn, steadfast, independent and endless. The charioteer is the mind, the reins are the five organs of perception, the horses are the organs of action, and the soul is unmanifest, imperceptible, incomprehensible, selfless, steadfast, stainless and self-abiding.

One of the earliest Upanishads to teach specific yoga meditation practices was the Maitrayaniya Upanishad from the second or third century B.C.E.  This six -fold yoga (raja yoga) path includes controlling the breath (pranayama), withdrawing the senses (pratyahara), meditation (dhyana),concentration (dharana ), contemplation (tarka), and absorption (samadhi). Elementsof this six-fold path expanded somewhat, and would resurface in the second century C.E., in Patanjali's Yoga Sutra.

Just as, without fuel, a fire
Dies down in its own birthplace
On the ceasing of its movements, the mind
Dies down in its own birthplace.

For the mind which, desiring truth,
Has died down in its own birthplace
And is not deluded, the sense objects,
In the power of desire, are false.

Consciousness is samsara:
By effort one should purify it.
As is ones consciousness, so one becomes:
That is the eternal secret.

By the calming of consciousness,
One kills action, both pure and impure:
With self calmed, resting in the self,
One wins unfailing bliss.

If a person’s consciousness
Were as firmly attached to Brahman
As it is to the sense-realm,
Would not all be freed from bonds?

The mind is said to be twofold,
The pure and the impure-
Impure from contact with desire:


When, making the mind thoroughly firm,
Free from laxity and distraction,
One reaches a state without mind,
That is the highest state.

The mind should be kept in check
Until it has dissolved into the heart:
This is both knowledge and liberation.
The rest is multiplication of books/knots.

The bliss that the stainless consciousness, washed by concentration,
May have when it has been brought into the self
Cannot be described by speech:
It is experienced directly through the inner organ.

Water in water, fire in fire
Or space in space cannot be made out:
Just so the one whose mind has gone within
Is completely freed.

For human beings the mind is cause
Of bondage and freedom.
When attached to objects, it brings bondage:
When without object, it brings freedom, so it is recorded
(Maitri Upanishad 4,6)

Translation thanks to Valerie J. Roebuck

Text thanks to http://geocities.ws/metteyyaproject/TheOfficeofTheFourArms/MAITRAYANA.pdf

Monday, 3 June 2019

Karma & Reincarnation: Wealth and Poverty

In the final year of his life, William Q. Judge left us with two more classic articles on Karma and Reincarnation. Theosophy and Capital Punishment, where he takes a rare stand on socio-political issues and Advantages and Disadvantages in Life, which deals with one of the basic questions of ‘’why are we all born in such unequal circumstances?’’, how is that fair? Judge gives some practical, sensible, and useful clues, especially concerning poverty and wealth.

Advantages and Disadvantages in Life

That view of one's Karma which leads to a bewailing of the unkind fate which has kept advantages in life away from us, is a mistaken estimate of what is good and what is not good for the soul. It is quite true that we may often find persons surrounded with great advantages but who make no corresponding use of them or pay but little regard to them. But this very fact in itself goes to show that the so-called advantageous position in life is really not good nor fortunate in the true and inner meaning of those words. The fortunate one has money and teachers, ability, and means to travel and fill the surroundings with works of art, with music and with ease. But these are like the tropical airs that enervate the body; these enervate the character instead of building it up. They do not in themselves tend to the acquirement of any virtue whatever but rather to the opposite by reason of the constant steeping of the senses in the subtle essences of the sensuous world. They are like sweet things which, being swallowed in quantities, turn to acids in the inside of the body. Thus they can be seen to be the opposite of good Karma.
What then is good Karma and what bad? The all embracing and sufficient answer is this:
Good Karma is that kind which the Ego desires and requires; bad, that which the Ego neither desires nor requires.
And in this the Ego, being guided and controlled by law, by justice, by the necessities of upward evolution, and not by fancy or selfishness or revenge or ambition, is sure to choose the earthly habitation that is most likely, out of all possible of selection, to give a Karma for the real advantage in the end. In this light then, even the lazy, indifferent life of one born rich as well as that of one born low and wicked is right.
When we, from this plane, inquire into the matter, we see that the "advantages" which one would seek were he looking for the strengthening of character, the unloosing of soul force and energy, would be called by the selfish and personal world "disadvantages." Struggle is needed for the gaining of strength; buffeting adverse eras is for the gaining of depth; meagre opportunities may be used for acquiring fortitude; poverty should breed generosity.
The middle ground in all this, and not the extreme, is what we speak of. To be born with the disadvantage of drunken, diseased parents, in the criminal portion of the community, is a punishment which constitutes a wait on the road of evolution. It is a necessity generally because the Ego has drawn about itself in a former life some tendencies which cannot be eliminated in any other way. But we should not forget that sometimes, often in the grand total, a pure, powerful Ego incarnates in just such awful surroundings, remaining good and pure all the time, and staying there for the purpose of uplifting and helping others.
But to be born in extreme poverty is not a disadvantage. Jesus said well when, repeating what many a sage had said before, he described the difficulty experienced by the rich man in entering heaven. If we look at life from the narrow point of view of those who say there is but one earth and after it either eternal heaven or hell, then poverty will be regarded as a great disadvantage and something to be avoided. But seeing that we have many lives to live, and that they will give us all needed opportunity for building up character, we must admit that poverty is not, in itself, necessarily bad Karma. Poverty has no natural tendency to engender selfishness, but wealth requires it.

A sojourn for everyone in a body born to all the pains, deprivations and miseries of modern poverty, is good and just. Inasmuch as the present state of civilization with all its horrors of poverty, of crime, of disease, of wrong relations almost everywhere, has grown out of the past, in which we were workers, it is just that we should experience it all at some point in our career. If some person who now pays no heed to the misery of men and women should next life be plunged into one of the slums of our cities for rebirth, it would imprint on the soul the misery of such a situation. This would lead later on to compassion and care for others. For, unless we experience the effects of a state of life we cannot understand or appreciate it from a mere description. The personal part involved in this may not like it as a future prospect, but if the Ego decides that the next personality shall be there then all will be an advantage and not a disadvantage.
If we look at the field of operation in us of the so-called advantages of opportunity, money, travel and teachers we see at once that it all has to do with the brain and nothing else. Languages, archæology, music, satiating sight with beauty, eating the finest food, wearing the best clothes, traveling to many places and thus infinitely varying impressions on ear and eye; all these begin and end in the brain and not in the soul or character. As the brain is a portion of the unstable, fleeting body the whole phantasmagoria disappears from view and use when the note of death sends its awful vibration through the physical form and drives out the inhabitant. The wonderful central master-ganglion disintegrates, and nothing at all is left but some faint aromas here and there depending on the actual love within for any one pursuit or image or sensation. Nothing left of it all but a few tendencies-- skandhas , not of the very best. The advantages then turn out in the end to be disadvantages altogether. But imagine the same brain and body not in places of ease, struggling for a good part of life, doing their duty and not in a position to please the senses: this experience will burn in, stamp upon, carve into the character, more energy, more power and more fortitude. It is thus through the ages that great characters are made. The other mode is the mode of the humdrum average which is nothing after all, as yet, but an animal. 
The Path , July, 1895