Dec 1, 2020

The Process of Second Birth

 Expanding and Purifying One’s Consciousness

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

 
 
 
The purpose of a daily self-discipline in Theosophy is at least threefold. It includes a practice of self-control, the fulfilment of sacred tasks and the keeping and expanding of the right state of mind.
 
The three dimensions of the purpose are intimately interconnected.
 
Self-control relates to Raja Yoga. It grants the student the moral strength necessary to live up to his ideal of right action, which means sowing good karma. Having self-control the pilgrim is able to develop his spiritual task.
 
One’s daily work - comprising both “spiritual” and “mundane” levels - corresponds to Karma Yoga. All the aspects of the pilgrim’s existence must be acknowledged as sacred as long as he understands that his connection with his higher self depends on having a noble attitude in everything he does.   
 
The pilgrim’s resolution to tread the Path to celestial consciousness makes his daily life potentially sacred. Then hurry and anxiety are left aside regardless of social conditions surrounding him.
 
In one’s study of theosophical literature, due importance must be given to dwelling on the meaning of its fundamental principles and on their consequences in daily life. There can be no hurry in the logical reasoning or intellectual grasping of concepts. Focusing on the verbal and purely mental meaning of a paragraph is probably worse than not reading it at all. One’s state of mind is the decisive factor.
 
There is no real understanding of theosophy except in the right state of mind, in which thought, emotion, intuition and silent awareness are all simultaneously present in one’s consciousness. [1]
 
Let us see an example which refers to one of the deepest Western thinkers in modern times. In the Introduction to the book “De L’Aperception Immédiate”, by Maine de Biran, the editor gives us this testimony:
 
“Reading Maine de Biran demands a specific attitude, a perseverance and a sympathy that meets the requirements imposed by that thinking...”. [2]
 
The rule applies to the writings of every great thinker.
 
In theosophical groups, the childish desire to seem clever in comparison with other students makes it impossible to understand that which is studied. The ambition of obtaining the approval of one’s colleagues is as poisonous as the fear of looking like naive and unintelligent to the eyes of the group or community. Observing the impulse to competition, pride, envy or flattery means studying the movement of the obstacles to real progress in study.
 
In the way we relate to each other, we have something to learn from our brothers the irrational animals. A struggle to see who is “stronger” in the group might be central in the social life of gorillas, monkeys and chimpanzees; but this should have no place among theosophists. On the other hand, one must remember that the law of mutual help and sincere friendship is dominantly present among monkeys and chimpanzees. This simple fact offers a valuable lesson to more than one theosophical association.
 
Any deep love of personal comfort - physical or emotional - is to be avoided. It is worse than useless to complain about anyone or get nervous because of a circumstance. Celebrating favourable facts or short-term victories is something one must do with great moderation. An intellectual grasp of concepts and ideas of the teaching is only important if it is connected with the right kind of emotion, including simplicity of heart, humbleness, gratitude, and the will to help the progress of one’s colleagues - regardless of their help to ourselves.
 
The purpose of studying theosophy and the best works of philosophy of any century is not to inflate feelings of pride or self-importance, disguised or not. It is to be born to a higher level of perception, during the same incarnation and while having good health.
 
Our consciousness must expand and purify itself simultaneously on three levels. First, on the realm of abstract, intuitive intelligence. Second, on the intellectual dimensions of mind. Third, in the world of emotions. The study will have a real foundation if these three levels of perception help and support one another, and are mutually compatible.
 
There is no selfish “understanding” of theosophy.
 
Pride and ambition, however disguised, can offer no more than a merely verbal and void speech about philosophy. Understanding starts when the soul of the individual ceases to be narrow and personal. However, no one who is tortured by selfishness should despair. Progress in the right direction is gradual. Ignorance takes time to be eliminated, and patience and perseverance are of the essence.
 
When the soul ceases to “struggle” in the presence of universal wisdom, one’s lower self attains a higher degree of harmony with the spiritual monad, or Atma-Buddhi. Then the outer imperfections of life are seen as part of the learning process of the universe, which makes progress from within and not from the outside. The pilgrim finds peace as he realizes that the only true temple is present in his own conscience, as it is present (at least potentially so) in the inner consciousness of every other being.
 
Such is the purpose of a daily discipline of the soul in esoteric philosophy.
 
NOTES:
 
[1] See the article “Resistance to Change in Theosophy”.
 
[2] “De L’Aperception Immédiate”, by Maine de Biran, (Mémoire de Berlin, 1807), Le Livre de Poche, Classiques de Poche, Librairie Générale Française, Paris, 2005, Introduction par Anne Devarieux, 288 pp., see p. 11.  
 
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The above article was published in the associated websites on 01 December 2020, being reproduced from the June 2019 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pages 8-10.   
 
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Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.
 
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Nov 25, 2020

Goodness Is Beauty Revealed

 It Is Possible to Enter into the
Inward Being Even of a Rock or Stone

Radha Burnier

Radha Burnier (1923-2013)
 
 
 
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The following text corresponds to chapter 8
of the book “Truth, Beauty and Goodness”,
by Radha Burnier, TPH, India, 1985, 72 pages.
 
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In Plato’s works, Socrates is described as teaching his disciples by questioning them as to the meaning of words of fundamental importance, like love and beauty. As definitions were offered, he critically examined them and pointed out the fallacies in the conceptions leading to the definitions. Such a method and critical evaluation was also adopted by the Buddha and other teachers of ancient times.
 
Most of us, if we were asked to do so, would find it difficult to define such words as beauty and goodness, so as to take in the depth of implication and the true import of the terms. But an attempt along this direction can be extremely rewarding, enabling us to journey into fields of thought till now unknown and into a validity of experience which suffers no contradiction, for it is only meditative experience of the quality in question which makes it possible to give a true definition.
 
We will briefly try to examine what is art and what is the place of beauty in it. One could say that ordinarily art refers to creations by man intended to be beautiful. It is obvious that all that is beautiful is not art, for we do not refer to natural beauties such as the trees and the flowers, the sky and the stars, or the beauty of character in a human being or the loveliness of innocence in a child as art. Art is the creation of man as opposed to the works and wonders of Nature.
 
In the museums of the world, many curious works find a place among objects of art - patches of colour jumbled up, a caricature of the human figure with an eye in the stomach, or a nose at the back of the head, and works of so-called sculpture which are incomprehensibly unattractive to all except the few. There is also music which sounds like noise, or shatters the nerves. In many of these cases, one may find an exhibition of ingenuity or skill and the desire for intellectual or emotional stimulation, resulting in ugliness, not beauty.  A true work of art may show extraordinary skill, but in addition it has to arise from a state of mind which is aware of beauty and is able to communicate it to others. Where the quality of beauty is lacking, although there may be intellectual or moral satisfaction, the pleasure of the emotions, the fulfilment of self-expression or anything else, the activity or creation is not art.
 
Poetry has been described as “lyrical intuition” - lyrical because it is imbued with feeling. Valmiki, the first among poets in the Sanskrit tradition, was able to create his magnificent work of art, the epic Ramayana, when he was moved by a strong feeling for the sorrow of a bird which had lost its mate. The at-one-ment he experienced with the bird led him into a meditation out of which resulted the poem which has inspired and still inspires millions of people all over India. Such an outflow of sympathetic feeling can exist for even the inanimate things of Nature. It is possible in some way to enter into the very being of things.
 
“To imagine things as they are for themselves is tantamount to imagining what they would be if they had an obscure consciousness of their own existence. Now we have only one way of thus imagining things from inside, and that is, to put ourselves inside them.” (Souriau)
 
The possibility of putting ourselves “inside” things and feeling as they do, is not limited to creatures which are akin to us, that is, other human beings. Even birds which sing in flight may seem akin to us, or a tree which grows and expands, enjoys the warmth of the sun or is buffeted by a storm.
 
It is possible to enter into the inward being even of a rock or stone, or the earth as it receives rain after a parched day.
 
“We [can] project ourselves not merely into the forms of the tree, identifying our life with that of the slender shoots which swell and stretch forth, feeling in our soul the delight of the branches which droop and poise deliciously in midair. We extend equally to lifeless things these feelings which lend them meaning. And by such feelings we transform the inert masses of a building into so many limbs of a living body, a body experiencing inner strains which we transport back into ourselves.” (Lao-tze)
 
So the artist has the capacity to feel from the inside. But as we all know he can do this without being a thinker, without understanding what he does, and without manifesting a virtue he portrays. He may sing of a courageous soul, in inspiring tones although “he may not be endowed with great practical courage; he may even betray signs of timidity and cowardice”; but for the time he feels the dignity of courage.
 
This “lyrical intuition” or feeling of oneness is a limited form of goodness. It exists adulterated with a desire for fame or immortality, envy and jealousy, instability and insensitivity, and other traits commonly found in artists. The artistic temperament is well known to be volatile and uncontrolled. It is also a curious thing that an artist who sees and creates beauty in a particular object or field can be totally incapable of responding to beauty in other things or in another field. He can be quite insensitive to the charm of Nature. Even within a particular field, whether it be that of music, painting, or any other art, his response may be limited to a form or style to which he is accustomed.
 
We have to conclude that art arises out of seeing the truth of a thing from the inside, but it is also the product of a conditioned consciousness. The conditioned mind circumscribes or limits itself by identification with various experiences and experience-born desires. It is therefore selective in its approach to things, rejecting or ignoring some things, liking and embracing other things, or in other words reacting for or against according to the desires of the senses.
 
But neither the virtue of goodness, nor the quality of beauty, in the highest sense, are selective. Plotinus says that virtue exists in the soul when the soul tends to unity. Shelley also spoke of this:
 
“Let us recollect our sensations as children. … We less habitually distinguished all that we saw and felt from ourselves. They seemed as it were to constitute one mass (or whole). There are some persons who in this respect are always children. … [they] feel as if their nature were resolved into the surrounding universe or as if the surrounding universe were resolved into their being.”
 
Such a childlike purity of consciousness which does not create barriers around itself, separating itself from others, is alone capable of realizing the universal and enduring quality of Beauty.
 
Separateness is to circumscribe oneself. The circumscribed mind can only see circumscribed beauty. It desires, as Plato said, to express or immortalize itself in many ways, by leaving behind artistic or intellectual progeny, poems, songs or the constitutions of States.
 
But as long as the desire to attain the One Beauty is envisaged as satisfied by the production of entities other than ourselves, there is imperfection, said Plato. For the desire which impels such productions is rooted in the pleasures of the circumscribed self. “Pleasure is the greatest of impostors”, to quote Plato again. The beauty that is known and created by the conditioned and limited mind, which chooses the objects with which it unites itself, has necessarily a perishable quality. The goodness such a mind knows is also limited to the moments of lyrical intuition. It is “Beauty that is appended to folly”, to quote Blake.
 
But the quality of Beauty as such, not merely confined to the products of art, is uncircumscribed and universal in nature. Ruskin said that it stands related to all things.
 
“The new virtue which constitutes a thing beautiful is a certain cosmic quality, or, a power to suggest relation to the whole world, and so lift the object out of a pitiful individuality…. All beauty points at identity.”
 
So Beauty may be described as the passage out of the limitations of individuality, out of the selectiveness of a conditioned self [1], into the vastness of universal sympathy.  Beauty is, therefore, liberty and love. It is to be free of the captivation of the senses and sense objects, and the lure of all perishable things. In such liberty, which is true sympathy for all, not for some selected objects only, there is the goodness which may be called love. Goodness does not choose; it embraces all.
 
“For love and beauty and delight
There is no death, nor change; their might
Exceeds our organs, which endure
No light, being themselves obscure.” (Shelley)
 
“Heaven-born, the soul a heavenward course must hold;
Beyond the visible world she soars to seek
(For what delights the sense is false and weak)
Ideal Form, the universal mould.
The wise man, I affirm, can find no rest
In that which perishes; nor will he lend
His heart to aught that doth on time depend.” (Michelangelo)
 
He who would know beauty may study musical harmony, the blending of colours, the balance of forms, but he must not be under the lure of these perishable forms, or confine himself to them.
 
“The good we get from art… is what we become through it”, said Oscar Wilde. He who does not love beauty in all things does not love it at all. The realization of beauty in all things is itself goodness, for it is the knowing of a universal truth. So Beauty is the constant companion of goodness.
 
“The search for beauty is inseparable from a life of purity, self-control and tenderness”, to quote C. Jinarajadasa.
 
NOTE:
 
[1] Of course, everything in the universe is karmically conditioned. There is nothing “unconditioned”. Even a Universe is conditioned in its Pralayas and Manvantaras, and every Manvantara or Pralaya has a certain Duration according to Karma.  Mahatmas obey Karma and its Law and do not pretend to be “unconditioned”. They transcended the denser levels of Karmic Law operations, the Karma of blindness and ignorance. Radha Burnier here refers (as we would hope) but to the lower levels of conditioning, or the karmic conditions of spiritual ignorance and attachment to the five senses. (CCA)
 
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The above text was published in the associated websites on 25 November 2020.
 
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Tough personally well-intentioned, Mr. Jiddu Krishnamurti taught the false idea that one can become “unconditioned”. On the pseudoesoteric illusion of “transcending Karma”, click to read “Annotations on Karma”, “Immortal Sages Humbly Obey the Law” and “M.C.’s Text on Karma, Annotated”.
 
Read more:
 
* “The Fraud in Adyar Esoteric School”.
 
* “The 2007-2008 Events in Adyar”.
 
* “The Aura of the Theosophical Movement”.
 
* “Whether Truth and Beauty Are Inseparable”.
 
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Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.
 
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Nov 19, 2020

The Lesson of the Sun in Scorpio

Initial Preparations for
the Great Battle of the Year

Carlos Cardoso Aveline

 
 
 
Scorpio, the eighth sign of the zodiac, starts around 23 October and brings about a state of constant transformation and renewal. These two facts, however, are frequently invisible.
 
Scorpio has no attachment to routine or appearance. Far from it. Its general pattern of vibration includes a profound intimacy with the process of sudden change.
 
The influences of this sign are difficult to predict or classify. Scorpio stimulates life or death. It spreads decay or regeneration and provokes various kinds of transmutation according to the Karmic possibilities of circumstances.  
 
This is one of the signs under which a true warrior can be born. Yet a wise warrior must fight for a noble cause. His only enemy is ignorance, mainly his own lack of wisdom, and secondarily the naiveté belonging to others.
 
As one deals with the energy of Scorpio, it is wise to choose brightness rather than its opposite, and to work for the creative renewal of life-structures, not for their demolition. Spiritual law invites Scorpio to prefer sowing rather than reaping, and to promote an intelligent construction of life, instead of the easy yet unfortunate temptation to merely destroy.  
 
Belonging to the Water element, Scorpio has Pluto as its main ruler. Mars, the co-ruler, was the only patron of Scorpio until the small planet Pluto was discovered in 1930.
 
In Scorpio, autumn unfolds in the Northern Hemisphere, and spring gains momentum in the Southern half of the planet. Life has now less physical light, or more light - depending on where you live. But Light governs Life across the twelve months of the year. If you see the world from a deep and accurate point of view, you know that it is enlightened all the time.
 
The light of the Sun is present in every atom. The Law forces Scorpio to transcend outward forms. Sooner or later - in this lifetime or in a future one - the spiritual soul learns to become an agent of healthy changes in life. It does so by working with that inner and spiritual light that never fades. This is one of the secret aspects of the lesson of the Sun in Scorpio.
 
Ultimately, every spiritual soul belongs to the transcendent realm of universal harmony.
 
In the territory of Scorpio, the individual seeks for an experience of total unity with other beings and with the totality of life. But the evolutionary journey will not end here. Several lessons remain unlearned: it takes time to get to the final stage symbolized by Pisces. Imperfect levels of Scorpio are clumsy or careless at times, and prefer sudden explosions to intelligent action. Scorpio is powerfully impulsive as long as it does not have a stable understanding of the universe. Part of its intention in the objective world is invisible. To immature souls, disloyalty is sometimes a temptation.  
 
Anna Maria Costa Ribeiro sees three kinds of Scorpio individuals, or three levels of consciousness, one of which must be more powerful and predominate in each situation or lifetime. This will depend on the knowledge possessed by the soul:
 
* The lower animal Scorpio is marked with vice, cruelty, the habit of manipulation and mediocrity. His poison is always ready to be used any time, everywhere.
 
* The eagle Scorpio is interested in the celestial mysteries. He is aware of his own strength. Nothing defeats him, for he flies above terrestrial problems.
 
* The dove or phoenix Scorpio corresponds to the pure Spirit. He has transcended the world of desire. He is the true mystic, the healer of souls. He was reborn on another level of life. With an iron determination, he burns his impurities in the regenerating fire of truth eternal. [1]
 
Scorpio is the sign of death, of resurrection and rebirth. Hence creativity, struggle, and the occult world have a special, direct relation to it. The sign intensely stimulates the search for truth as it helps the soul prepare itself for the great battle ahead - the life-and-death struggle of winter in the northern hemisphere.
 
The great secret of the future battle is the rebirth of the Sun, the Initiate, or Jesus in the Christian tradition.
 
Winter itself does not appear in Scorpio.  It will be received by a more confident and stable sign, Sagittarius, as the optimist and fiery centaur sign gets ready to transmit the torch of time to Capricorn, in the second half of December.
 
The mission of Scorpio is to harbor life during the first preparatory phase of difficulties in the transition to winter. Facing the obstacles of autumn is like making military exercises before a fierce battle. When things get tougher, Scorpio passes the torch to Sagittarius. Acting under the guidance of Jupiter - the master of Optimism and Compassion - Sagittarius has an absolute confidence in the bright future that is right now waiting for Life. The centaur archer goes firmly ahead and pays scarce attention to obstacles.
 
The highest point of the yearly battle for life is ruled by the old wisdom and stable patience of one of the most careful signs: Capricorn.
 
The days of Capricorn will open the door to the New Year in Christian time. This part of the Zodiac is guided by Saturn, the judge of actions and the master of Time and Karma. Seen from the Earth, the collective spirit of Saturn is the Lord of the Rings, the most Ancient One, the Initiator, the guardian of the inner limits of our solar system.
 
The Key of Firmness
 
Stephen Arroyo highlights the fact that like Pisces and Cancer - the other Water signs -, Scorpio can use the practice of firmness as a tool to overcome its own limitations.
 
“Watery people need to be firm with themselves”, says Arroyo, and he adds that firmness is also the best way for other people to deal with persons of the Water element.[2]
 
The Yoga of Patanjali says in Book II, aphorisms 33-34 that wrong ideas must be replaced by its correct opposites.
 
In Astrology, opposite signs are teachers of one another. The sign opposite to Scorpio is Taurus, which happens to be precisely one of the firmest and most stable of the Zodiac.[3]

The inner dialogue of Taurus and Scorpio establishes a fine symmetrical balance whose results are peace and strength; wisdom and stability; free transcendence and a practical view of life, calmly built on solid ground.
 

NOTES:
 
[1] These general ideas - but not necessarily these exact words - will be found at the book “Conhecimento da Astrologia”, Anna Maria Costa Ribeiro, Novo Milênio Editora, 1996, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 733 pp., see p. 84. See also “Illustrated A-Z of Understanding Star Signs”, general editor Kim Farnell; Flame Tree Publishing, London, Printed in China, 224 pp., 2002, pp. 160-161. 
 
[2] Examine the book “Astrology, Psychology, and the Four Elements”, by Stephen Arroyo, M.A., CRCS Publications, California, EUA, 191 pp., 1975, especially p. 107.
 
[3] Read “The Lesson of the Sun in Taurus”.
 
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The article “The Lesson of the Sun in Scorpio” was published in the associated websites on 19 November 2020, as the Sun was at the 27th degree of Scorpio.  
 
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See in the associated websites  the articles “The Lesson of the Sun in Pisces”, “The Lesson of the Sun in Taurus”, “The Lesson of the Sun in Gemini”, “The Lesson of the Sun in Cancer”, “The Lesson of the Sun in Leo”, “The Lesson of the Sun in Virgo”, and “The Lesson of the Sun in Libra”.
 
A study about the different levels of human action and perception is presented in “The Seven Principles of Consciousness”. 
 
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Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.
 
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Nov 16, 2020

A Lunatic Race?

Nurturing Violence in Any Area Has Effects on
Every Aspect of the World and Human Society

Radha Burnier
 
Ms. Radha Burnier 
 
 
 
What anyone regards as lunacy or madness depends on what that person perceives as reality. In the framework of a particular reality, certain kinds of thought and action are believed to be sane. To people with a different experience of reality, those thoughts and actions may seem mad.
 
The neurotic’s visions appear unreal and abnormal to everybody who does not share his internal experience. And of course, while attaching the label ‘mad’, ‘neurotic’, and so on what the majority of people experience is taken to be proven fact. Therefore, not only the neurotic and the psychologically deranged, but all who are more sensitive and able to respond to finer vibrations are dubbed crazy. Those who can testify to the reality of finer planes of existence are so few that their words either carry no weight, or they are all held to be demented.
 
The word ‘madness’ is sometimes defined in dictionaries as irrationality, presumably of an extreme kind, there being an element of irrationality in almost everyone who is supposed to be sane. But when connections within the mind between one thing and another are too tenuous, the irrationality produces tangible effects and gets classified as abnormality or madness. 
 
As indicated above, the accepted pattern of behaviour is ‘normality’, and behaviour that conspicuously fails to conform to the pattern is suspect. So the genius, the bold reformer and the non-conformist could be and many times are ‘mad’ in the eyes of the mediocre. The word ‘madness’ is relative.
 
Much has been said recently about the mad-cow’s disease, caused by feeding animals on offal and other unnatural substances. The strange behaviour of the cows is induced by the artificial feed, and then people who eat the flesh of these poor creatures also show symptoms of crazy behaviour. ‘Madness’ here is a byproduct of the clever dealings of profit-hungry human beings.
 
Unfortunately, if a sufficient number of people behave in an atrociously irrational manner, because they represent the ‘norm’, their irrationality is no longer identified as ‘madness’. Numbers make the ‘irrational’ and the unrealistic attitudes ‘normal’. As an example we can cite war-mindedness. Talks have been going on for decades about banning nuclear weapons, ever since Einstein and Bertrand Russell asked the question: ‘Shall we put an end to the human race, or shall mankind renounce war?’
 
During all this time, miraculously, wholesale destruction has not rained down on earth. On several different occasions the temptation to start a nuclear war was very great but it did not happen. Hence the world in general chooses not to take note that there is an ominous problem. Everybody is in a state of hypnotic indifference, or satisfied in their belief that a policy of deterrence will avert the ultimate disaster. Deterrence means tit for tat, having as much power as others, or more. So the arms race goes on, nuclear tests poison air and earth, and all nations are vying with each other to get the best of the bargain.
 
Knowing that the more weapons humanity has, the nearer it is to self-destruction, if people go on believing in weapons as the source of their well-being, what sanity is there? The talk about reducing nuclear weapons is always irrational and contradictory, because all nations want to retain a position of power.
 
Those who stand absolutely for peace, wanting to renounce not only nuclear power, but war-making in any form, with nuclear, chemical, biological, laser, psychological or other means - the wholly committed pacifists in the present-day world - are ‘cranks’. They may be put in jail in an emergency, because they are the only sane people. The absolute faith in peace arising from the experience of a different kind of reality - the reality of an unbreakable commonality of origin, destiny and interest - is held to be impractical, contemptible or punishable according to expediency.
 
Violence is Madness
 
Even those who are against war do not necessarily see the insanity of violence in other forms, because it belongs to the contemporary ethos. Indiscriminate sale of weapons, along with the technological knowledge at the disposal of vast numbers, puts power in the hands of the masses, without their having the good sense to know how to use it. This is aggravated by the cultivation of violence through television and other media, the lauding of brutal sports such as hunting and boxing, and encouragement to ruthless competition.
 
In a shocking description of ‘a nation entertaining itself into barbarism’, George F. Will quotes the remarks of onlookers enjoying a boxing match: ‘His tooth went flying out of the ring’, ‘He is going to snap his arm - he did it too!’, and so forth.
 
Six States in the USA, we are told, permit such spectacles, where faces are pounded to pulp, and the flow of blood exhilarates the stupid spectators. The justification is that the contest is between consenting adults. In the crowd, there are even children, brought along, one might think, in order to ensure a future for violence.
 
There are other countries of the world where ‘consenting adults’ chop off the hands or heads of delinquents, also providing ‘entertainment’ to a crowd of men, women and children. Terrorists, audiences at these shows, and millions of adults and children engaged in systematic and cruel handling of animals are part of a culture which deadens the mind until it is utterly unable to see facts.
 
A report in The Washington Post on the abuse of orphaned children in China is indicative of what is gradually becoming commonplace. The photograph shows a child tied to a chair, legs astride, with a basin underneath. This is hardly different, to eyes accustomed to brutality, from keeping animals clamped down by steel for the convenience of the commercial interests. Only a little reasoning power is needed to realize that nurturing violence in any area will result in enormous repercussions on the world in general and on every aspect of human society. Are people who coldly convert pigs into bags of flesh so heavy that they cannot stand on their own feet mad or sane? It is taken for granted that they are sane because gene-transfer technology is commonly used now. The truth is that a cruel, violence-prone mind is more dangerous than nuclear, biological or other weapons. Those who cannot see this fact may pretend that they are sane, but they are part of a culture bent upon turning the world mad.
 
Shadow and Light
 
The pleasing and the not-pleasing are so interwoven that they are indeed like opposite sides of a coin. It is pleasant to lie down in bed after a day’s work, but not for too long; the pleasure becomes pain if it is overdone. Every enjoyment comes to a point where it induces weariness and boredom. Moderation seems to be called for by the way the opposites work.
 
It is a kind of springtime here at Adyar. The Banyans, the Mahoganies and the fragrant Neems are bursting with new life; the tender green of the leaves is enchanting. This is also the time when many other trees are in bloom. The great silk-cotton tree, with large red flowers high above against the blue sky, is a wonderful sight; all over India and at Adyar too, we can see it flowering in this season. Carpets of yellow flowers have been spread out by the many Peltophorums, commonly known as Copper Pod trees. The indigenous Asoka, which has been glorified in many Indian paintings, is covered with yellow flowers (Saraca typengensia), or a profusion of red flowers (Saraca indica). We have been delighting in both. Several other glorious sights greet human eyes, and attract birds. But all this happens while the sun proceeds northwards in order to usher in the hot weather. The heat of summer is the other side of the delight that the season brings.
 
Some people tend to be more conscious of the pleasant and good in the varied situations of life, and are happy. Others concentrate on the not-pleasing and are discontented. Do we see the glass as half full or half empty? Manifestation is the play of opposites. The play is maya. In the Everlasting there are no opposites, there is only supreme good.
 
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Radha Burnier (1923-2013) was the international president of the Adyar Theosophical Society between 1980 and 2013.
 
The above article was published in the associated websites on 16 November 2020, being reproduced from “The Theosophist”, Adyar, Chennai, India, April 1996 edition, pp. 243-245, “On the Watch-Tower”. It can also be found at the October 2019 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pages 8-11.
 
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Helena Blavatsky (photo) wrote these words: “Deserve, then desire”.
 
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Nov 10, 2020

The Circle for the Study of Discipleship

A Tool for Those Who Want to
Improve the Learning of the Soul

Independent Lodge of Theosophists

 
 
 
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After organizing short online correspondence
courses on the search for discipleship, the  Independent
Lodge opens a permanent virtual place to study the topic.
 
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The door for students of theosophy to become formal disciples of the Masters of Wisdom has been closed since the 1890s.
 
However, it is well-known that lay discipleship or the informal learning which occurs by affinity on the realm of the soul is always possible in any time or circumstance, since at least the time of Buddha, Pythagoras, Confucius and Laotse.
 
It is based on this fact that a Circle of Research and Study in Discipleship, CRSD, exists in the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, of which every active associate of the Lodge may take part if he wishes.  
 
The stable practice of selfless work with theosophical tasks gives the interested student the right to participate in the CRSD. The good karma of solidary action is a shield that protects the student from the inevitable tests of the Path.
 
On the other hand, we know that an interest in discipleship does not always arise after someone joins the ILT. In many cases it starts before that. For some, the more meditative practice of getting in tune with the anonymous substance of lay discipleship deserves attention from the first moment of contact with the Lodge. As a result, we have organized in recent years a few open courses on the search for discipleship, lasting 10 weeks.
 
In 2020, the Lodge’s research and investigation into the process of seeking lay discipleship reached the point when such short courses should be replaced by a stable process of study, a Circle in which the seekers of novelty can stay for a few weeks, until they see that nothing spectacular happens, and in which - on the other hand - students who have a real affinity with the teaching can actually prepare themselves for an effective informal learning regarding the work of the Masters.
 
Taking these points into consideration, in November 2020 the Lodge decided to create a new tool for the theosophical work, a group dedicated to the study of discipleship that is open to anyone of our readers. Its name is CSD, or Circle for the Study of Discipleship.
 
What is the difference between the CSD and the other fronts of the public work developed by the Lodge?
 
The priority of the CSD is harmoniously building the inner condition of the soul by which the student - besides knowing the original proposal of the theosophical movement - also comes into personal harmony with it.
 
Such a direct affinity is built through self-purification, self-knowledge, self-control and the practice of silence. 
 
These elements are already present in the different work fronts of the ILT. The Lodge has as its central reference the teachings of Blavatsky and the Letters of the Masters, and this gives us a broad horizon. Everything human interacts with us. Ethical and good-willing thinkers of all times and of every nation, who follow different religions or philosophies, are seen as friends by theosophists who have good sense.
 
We are brothers of the ancients and the moderns.
 
From Confucius to O.S. Marden, from Erich Fromm, Karen Horney or Sigmund Freud to Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius and Musonius Rufus, many are the great thinkers who have something of fundamental importance to tell us. Wen-tzu is our contemporary. Plato belongs to modern times. Cicero has a lot to teach in the 21st century. Pitirim Sorokin is our brother. Ivan A. Il’lin is a significant author in esoteric philosophy, as are Paul Carton and Visconde de Figanière.
 
Only the master key is given by the Letters from the Mahatmas and the writings of HPB.
 
The Circle for the Study of Discipleship is part of the wider tradition of the esoteric schools and the internal studies of the theosophical movement. The daily life of each student is seen as the place for him to correctly understand his own existence and the practical lessons that must be taken from the esoteric literature of all time. The CSD believes that no speech can be stronger than the daily practice from which it emerges.
 
The Letters from the Masters and Mahatmas and the esoteric school created by Blavatsky in 1888 are the central and main reference to the Circle.
 
An unfortunate distortion of the esoteric school began a year or two after Blavatsky’s death. The process of the school is worth studying. One must learn from its original proposal, from its experience, without falling into any bureaucratic or authoritarian scheme, but centering the process on an independent, self-taught and self-responsible effort. Each student has to act as his own master, while being a humble disciple of his own conscience.
 
The work of the CSD is public and open. No formal requirement of secrecy is made.  The great secret of the search for discipleship is not verbal: it is experiential. It is revealed in the soul of each student, as long as he silently understands the teaching - and begins to live in greater harmony with it.
 
The most important things in life do not always attract attention externally. In the CSD no one can find spectacular facts or great novelties that are much different from what is given in E-Theosophy and other fronts of our public work. Yet the topic of discipleship and the experiential process of self-preparation for the learning of that which is eternal will be more directly focused.
 
Those interested in participating in the CSD can write to logindeteosofos@gmail.com, with a copy to indelodge@gmail.com.
 
In his initial message, the student should tell us something about his or her journey so far, saying why he is interested in lay discipleship and what he knows already about the work of the Independent Lodge.
 
The Coordinator
 
Born in Brazil in 1952, the coordinator of the Circle for the Study of Discipleship is a member of the theosophical movement since 1980 and lives in Portugal with his wife.
 
A formal aspirant to discipleship since October 1986, he was the text-editor of the Portuguese language edition of “Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom”, series one and two (Brasília, 1996).  He is the responsible for the editorial work of the two-volume 2001 Brazilian edition of “The Mahatma Letters” (“Cartas dos Mahatmas”, Ed. Teosófica, Brasília).
 
Author of several books, he translated from English to Portuguese and edited classic works such as “Wen-tzu”, “Tao Teh Ching”, “Dhammapada”, and “The Voice of Silence”. The main founder of the CSD is also the general editor of the associated websites. His 2013 work “The Fire and Light of Theosophical Literature” examines the struggle between common sense and ignorance in the history of theosophical literature, from the 19th century to the 21st century.
 
A long-time practitioner of the art of walking meditatively, he is the general editor of “O Teosofista” and “The Aquarian Theosophist”, and maintains a Theosophical blog in “The Times of Israel”.
 
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The above article was published in the associated websites on 10 November 2020. An initial version of it is part of the November 2020 edition of “The Aquarian Theosophist”, pages 14-16.
 
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