Reflection for February, 1, 2021: Theurgy in Platonism

Prayers and Reflections

“Theurgy, on the other hand was a theion ergon, a ‘work of the gods’ capable of transforming man to divine status. Although the term theourgia, originated with second century Platonists to describe the deifying power of the Chaldean rituals–some if which were believed to be transmitted by the soul of Plato himself–it was Iamblichus who provided a scientific rationale for the performance of these rites and ensured that Theurgy would become an internal part of the Platonic vocabulary.”

Theurgy and the soul, the neoplatonism of Iamblichus by Gregory Shaw

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Embarking on the Mysteries | The Secret Teachings Of All Ages (Manly P. Hall)

Join me LIVE as we read “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” by Manly P. Hall and understand what only a miniscule fragment of humanity has glimpsed. I hope you all are as excited as I am to be reading the Secret Teachings of All Ages. Today we finish up the introduction and explore the thinkers who shaped modern philosophy. This will give us the necessary information to embark on the mysteries and begin exploring the hidden symbolism of secret societies, occult doctrines, and esoteric philosophies.

NOTE: This book is in the Public Domain

1,600 Occult Books Now Digitized & Put Online, Thanks to the Ritman Library and Da Vinci Code Author Dan Brown

Back in December we brought you some exciting news. Thanks to a generous donation from Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Amsterdam’s Ritman Library—a sizable collection of pre-1900 books on alchemy, astrology, magic, and other occult subjects—has been digitizing thousands of its rare texts under a digital education project cheekily called “Hermetically Open.” We are now pleased to report, less than two months later, that the first 1,617 books from the Ritman project have come available in their online reading room. The site is still in beta, so to speak; in their Facebook announcement, the Ritman admits they are “still improving the whole presentation,” which is a bit clunky at the moment. But for fans and students of this literature, a little inconvenience is a small price to pay for full access to hundreds of rare occult texts.  […]


Theosophy | THE VERBUM – I, by Raghavan Iyer

   When our Soul (mind) evokes a thought, the representative sign of that thought is self-engraved upon the astral fluid, which is the receptacle and, so to say, the mirror of all the manifestations of being.
The sign expresses the thing: the thing is the (hidden or occult) virtue of the sign.
To pronounce a word is to evoke a thought, and make it present: the magnetic potency of the human speech is the commencement of every manifestation in the Occult World. To utter a Name is not only to define a Being (an Entity), but to place it under and condemn it through the emission of the Word 
(Verbum), to the influence of one or more Occult potencies. Things are, for every one of us, that which it (the Word) makes them while naming them. The Word (Verbum) or the speech of every man is, quite unconsciously to himself, a BLESSING or a CURSE; this is why our present ignorance about the properties or attributes of the IDEA as well as about the attributes and properties of MATTER, is often fatal to us.
Yes, names (and words) are either 
BENEFICENT or MALEFICENT; they are, in a certain sense, either venomous or health-giving, according to the hidden influences attached by Supreme Wisdom to their elements, that is to say, to the LETTERS which compose them, and the NUMBERS correlative to these letters.

The Secret Doctrine, i 93-94

Those who have had the resplendent karma of receiving this sacred teaching should move rapidly from the state of irresponsibility into the realm of responsibility in the gestation of sound associated with thought. This is a practical teaching that can be used even if one has yet to acquire a detailed knowledge of the hidden properties of matter on subtle planes of existence. Anyone may make a true beginning by trying to conserve speech-energy, by becoming more deliberate and careful in the choice of thoughts and words. Calmly sitting down in the privacy of one’s own solitude to read aloud The Voice of the Silence, or excerpts from The Secret Doctrine, one can make a radical change in one’s magnetic field. Infusing this endeavour with a profound sense of the sacred, a vital depth is touched in one’s daily awareness of the invisible centres of consciousness and in one’s capacity to direct benevolently different groupings of life-atoms, to purify and render them worthy of the divine temple of the human form in which there burns the flame of self-consciousness kindled by the Sons of Fire. The priceless gift of noetic self-awareness can be brought to bear upon each of the different centres of consciousness. Even though in its spiritual essence Manas is entirely disconnected from the discordant sensorium, it effectively can, through the pristine radiation of its own potent light, magnetize, consecrate and intensify as well as make precise and benevolent the organs of perception. Those who value this immense privilege seriously enough to carry out a series of initial experiments with truth within themselves will gain a greater awareness through deliberation of the dignity and the divinity of being human. They will discover what it means to reverse the current of negative thought, centered upon the sense of futility of the personal self, and they will lighten the load of dead-weight elementals impressed with past pretences, desperation and despair.

The orbit of the sacred is revolutionary; it is subversive to the status quo of one’s previous somnambulic existence. Lest one cultivate the fatal craft of becoming schizoid, one must assiduously practise the arcane teaching of the Verbum by consciously choosing and assuming full responsibility for one’s thought-currents. Instead of excusing one’s passive tendencies, one must learn to direct one’s attention to what one deliberately intends, to sublime themes that elevate the mind, to daily exercises in spiritual alchemy. Individuals must think to the core the quintessential prerogative of being human. Rather than irresponsibly pretending that the whole of life is episodic, they must acknowledge that days make up weeks, weeks make up months, months make up years, years make up decades in a lifetime, and each incarnation is an integral part of a long series of lives. In a universe where sowing and reaping are inextricably interwoven, human beings have to do what agriculturists know and gardeners practise: preparing the soil, pulling out weeds, planting at the right time and patiently cooperating with the seasons and cycles of nature. If some are afraid to do this, it is because they mistakenly believe that they are infallible experts on the subject of themselves. This is a fundamental error. When a person gains glimpses of self-knowledge, a sure sign of growth is the increased willingness to breathe the refreshing air of agnosticism. One is ready to recognize that there is a profound mystery to every human being, that the last person one knows is oneself. Not until the bonds of personality are loosened can that self be truly known. The soul abides in the Silence, and when the restless mind ceases from thoughts and words, it may be merged into the inmost shrine of the heart, so that when one opens the eyes and utters a sound, one feels it is a sacred privilege to breathe as the votary of the Logos, of Brahma Vach.

If a person ventured to make daily experiments with truth, it would be helpful to formulate some working rules which make due allowance for the plastic potency of one’s own vestures. After all, different people have different propensities. Some are very vocal on worldly matters but they are utterly unable to speak about the spiritual. Others speak endlessly about the spiritual until words lose all meaning. Still others speak as if they already know what they have only remotely glimpsed. Others mix vibrations, speaking of the sacred and then lapsing into the profane. Sacred language cannot be properly enunciated if one inserts into it a sense of the separative ‘I’ because the kamamanasic ‘I’ has to vacate its false authority within the human being so that the immortal individuality may affirm spiritual truths through an invulnerable personality. The metaphysical basis of this process lies in the fact that the more indivisible the mental energy involved in universal, abstract, impersonal ideas, the more rarefied and homogeneous is the matter within which these ideas clothe themselves. As divine ideation draws the mind to a still centre, through deep meditation upon boundless duration, abstract space and pure being, one approaches a plane of consciousness where matter is radically different from what is normally understood. Matter becomes light-energy. It is cool Akashic fire which has a distinctive texture, a peculiar tensility and volatility, ethereal properties for which there are no adequate analogues on the physical plane.

A person sitting for long hours by a log fire may start to see behind and around the flames a noumenal light and may begin to have an inkling of the invisible fire behind the veil of the visible. It is possible for any person to arouse the subtler senses by reaching towards universal ideas, and through intense ideation one may become conscious of noumenal matter. This arcane teaching rests upon the presupposition that what is called knowing or interacting is an imperfect experience of consubstantiality. One only knows what is on the grosser planes through the grossness in oneself. Any suggestion that it is outside is misleading, for if it were not in oneself it could not be seen. A highly evolved being may be able to take the most mundane of subjects and see it from the standpoint of the subtlest abstraction, thus elevating the entire field. On the other hand, most human beings only too often do the opposite. They may even take a sublime conception and drag it down to the densest plane of sensory awareness.

Control of thought and speech is an essential ingredient of soul etiquette and spiritual discrimination. It represents good taste at the highest level, where one may enrich a spontaneous longing for Brahma Vach, the Agathon, the Ineffable Good. Out of repeated meditation one must gain such a strong, lively and self-perpetuating sense of the Ineffable Good at the core of the Divine Darkness behind the shimmering veils of the universe, that one is securely anchored in that state of spiritual awareness. And therefore, as Plato suggested in the Allegory of the Cave, when seemingly descending into the world of heterogeneity, one is able to use wisely one’s eyes and ears and above all, one’s tongue, so that one is acutely conscious of every available opportunity to give a forward impulse to human evolution. Where one encounters anything meretricious on the lower planes, it will roll off like water off a duck’s back. It simply will not inhere because of the intense activation and vigilant preservation of one’s noetic awareness. The importance of this mental discipline will soon become evident to those who are courageous enough to become steadfast in its practice, not for their protection, but for the sake of universal enlightenment. Not only can they begin to discharge their debt to the sacred Teaching by converting it into what they could use, but they could actively contribute to the generation of the magnetic field in which spiritual instruction could be integrated into new modes of secular monasticism.

Hermes, June 1980
Raghavan Iyer

Esotericism | What Is It

Esotericism as a way of life is an art. It is the art of living from the inner reaches of one’s being. As art it is based on sensitive, intuitive perception, open to inspiration. And as true art it is a creative way of being, expressive of true universality. But it is also a science — a science of the soul of things […]

Source: Esotericism What Is It

Seven Sacred Flames Meditation | Second Ray Temple, The Illumination Temple in Telos


The Flame of Illumination and Wisdom. Embark on a journey and allow your consciousness to take you to The IlluminationTemple in Telos, Lemurian City of Light, beneath Mount Shasta, CA, guided by Lord Lanto and Adama, High Priest of Telos.

Immerse yourself in the Second Ray energies and the guides that greet you there. Healing, connecting to the mind of God. Peaceful. A Rejuvenating meditation assisting you on your spiritual journey back to yourself.

Theosophy | Drawing The Larger Circle – 1, by Raghavan Iyer

The 1975 cycle will continue to precipitate momentous choices for individuals and societies. What are the vital elements in this decisive choosing, and what will be the chief consequences? There is in the life of every human being a series of minor choices which add up to a crucial choice, but often it is made with incomplete knowledge of its critical nature. To grow and to age is to recognize with increasing clarity that all events in the past have had their irreversible consequences. Therefore, within any shallow philosophy centered essentially on the physical body and premised upon a single incarnation, a personal sense of futility and fatalism looms large as one comes closer to the moment of death. As with individuals, so with civilizations. Civilizations are apt to conduct the deepest reflection upon their storied past in times of depression, either out of self-indulgent nostalgia or sheer bewilderment at their bygone glory. This has shadowed every great civilization in its hour of decline, and today we are witnessing this in Western Europe and in the nostalgic mood which is intermittent in the United States. Civilizations seek to cling to something of the past, and perceptive chroniclers like Toynbee in England or Jaspers in Switzerland sense that something went wrong as early as before 1914, that the seeds of today’s malaise lay far back in the past. When we look back to that past we surmise that a lot could have been avoided, that there were viable alternatives and missed opportunities. This is the sad state of societies as well as individuals who, because of narrowness of perspective and myopia in relation to the future, impose upon their lives a delusive dependence upon their own edited versions of a truncated past. But whenever human beings are willing to rethink their basic assumptions about themselves, about their shrouded past and about their cloudy future, then they do not need to edit. They do not have to limit unduly the horizon of their gaze.

This is difficult to understand initially. One might think in terms of the extreme example of a person with Promethean foresight who can discern in the cycles of this century long-term factors that go back a thousand years into the past and will go forward a thousand years into the future. In the Victorian Age, T.H. Huxley observed that in the myriad worlds around us there is no reason why there cannot be beings with an intelligence as far beyond our present level as ours is beyond that of the black beetle, and with a control over nature as far beyond our own as ours is beyond that of the snail. He also suggested that even ordinary human beings can look back and forward over a millennium and make broad projections. It is, in principle, possible for there to be beings in the universe who can see all pasts and all futures. The power of choice is partly a function of the scope of perspective. With wider perspectives our choices become more intelligent, but as they become more informed, we readily recognize that there are many factors that are constant. One cannot wish away causes generated over a long cycle. The more clearly a person sees what he cannot alter right now in this incarnation, the more effectively he can use his energies to alter what he can. All this requires a measure of balance, but most human beings are unable to choose wisely by clearly facing the alternatives before them. All too often they vainly hope that by proceeding in one direction, everything else will automatically come to them. Energy cannot move in all directions at once, and though there are many planes of matter, it is always the case that everything adds up in a mathematical universe. One’s capacity to choose is a function of one’s knowledge, not merely of particular causal chains but also of what is at the very core of the phenomenal process of becoming: breathing in and breathing out. Ideally, if one could comprehend the meaning of a single day, one would by analogy be able to understand what is enacted over a lifetime.

It has been taught that for the truly wise, each day is like a new incarnation. In small space they see the subtle motions of unbounded space. In a single moment they can grasp quintessentially the infinite possibilities that are spread out in eternal duration. They can retain in consciousness the freedom that belongs to those who are not rushing to manifest, while displaying a shrewd awareness of what it is possible to manifest with a due respect for the feelings of others, for collective strengths and weaknesses, for the limits and possibilities of the current cycle. Theosophical teaching offers the vast perspective of eighteen million years of human history and also of the sixth sub-race which will emerge far in the future but which must clearly have some relationship to the fifth sub-race – now visibly on the decline – that flowered forth in Europe and partly in America. At this point of time there is, by analogy and correspondence, a critical moment of choice bearing upon the alternatives that confront our intelligence. The ratiocinative mind has become adept, because of modern upbringing and so-called education, because of so much dichotomous thinking since Aristotle, at rationalizing its wants, desires and limitations. Now we find at a global level the logical limit of this rationalizing mind, which insists there is not enough room or food on earth for all human beings on our globe. This no-exit barrier in thinking arises because of assumptions that were too limited from the start. It hinges upon a view of the universe which is incompatible with the vast resources of the creative imagination, with the inventiveness displayed in the last three centuries in building up the structures of applied science and sophisticated civilization. Even this is merely a recent example of the immense resourcefulness of the human race over many millennia. The type of thinking which is inductive, inferential and dichotomous, functioning within the perspective of a closed universe or of a one-life system, has become sterile and has no real answers to the awesome problems of our time.

Hermes, August 1978
Raghavan Iyer

Theosophy | The Crest Jewel – 2, by Raghavan Iyer

   Against this, however, we have the tremendous affirmation through the supreme negation of Sri Shankaracharya.

The individual who knows that at the root is the persisting illusion of separateness, is vaster than the universe, and can dissolve it instantly by breaking down at will the baseless, insubstantial fabric of his imagination. Anyone who can do that has begun to wake up. There are people who will not wake up voluntarily because they repeatedly fell asleep during eighteen million years and are now frightened to settle accounts. They are themselves negated by suffering which comes as healing compassion, and are negated by others in the course of intolerable inhuman encounter. Self-negation is shown by the timeless religion of responsibility and the hidden science of divine wisdom. The invisible sun in every man as the Atman, the spectator, ever radiates endless energy for the sake of all. According to this teaching, darkness is prior to what we call light; glamour or unwisdom is beginningless. It is what the ancients called ChaosGaia, or Mahamaya. There is a chaos prior to any cosmos. There are many myriads of systems, galaxies and galactic clusters in the vast spaces of the heavens, but if there were no primordial chaos one would be forever trapped within the same universe. Before Adam was Chaos, the primordial matter, in which is hidden the light that is the soundless sound. In the beginning was the Word. Primordial chaos is necessary for the universe, but whether we think it necessary or not, we have no choice. We are caught. We can get out, because we have in us the light that was hidden in the darkness, which lighteth up every man who comes into the world.

The Crest Jewel of Wisdom speaks only to those who are prepared to negate the world of appearances:

   Gaining at length human life, hard to win, and manhood, and an understanding of the revealed teachings, he who strives not for liberation in the Divine Self, deluded in heart, self-destroying, slays himself through grasping at the unreal. who, then, is the very self of folly but he who, deluded, follows selfish purposes, after he had gained a human body and manhood hard to win? Even though they recite the scriptures, and sacrifice to the gods, and fulfill all works, and worship the divinities – without awakening to the unity of the Divine Self, liberation is not attained even in a hundred aeons.

   From the standpoint of the sage, the innumerable ways in which human beings are enmeshed in the Mahamaya are not very interesting. The sage can recognize anyone who is fully awake behind a semi-sleepy projection. Those who really want to emerge from behind the false personal mask will receive what they deserve in mathematically exact proportion. This is a truth about consciousness on all planes. One must deserve to go beyond all the external forms and modes and, through the eternal soul-memory now awakened of the soundless sound behind the great vibrations of the universe, to light up in the lower mind a self-conscious reflection of the invisible sun that overbroods the egg.

Albert Einstein said there are no hitching posts in the universe. There are no boundaries except arbitrary and conventional ones assigned by human beings who happen to think that they occupy a fixed point of space and time, when in fact space is curved and time is relative. They do not understand the inner meaning of spatial coordinates and of clocktime. Although there are no hitching posts, there are innumerable hooking points. When people really begin to enjoy the thought that at any point of space-time they could break out of the boundedness of the universe, they can experience through self-knowledge what they have forgotten. The ancients taught that God is a circle with its centre everywhere and circumference nowhere. Human beings can find in the inmost depths of abstract meditation an active centre of intense, motionless, joyous consciousness. Abiding in universal welfare and doing nothing, as beings of light they enjoy pure unmoving spiritual will in, through and independently of, all material vestures. Even if we somewhat understand all of this, it is still very difficult to light the lamp of discernment. The moment we think, “Let me do this,” “May I be that,” we only create karma and imprison ourselves. But the moment we say, “Let me begin,” and also recognize that there is a chaos we cannot explain and that there are no hitching posts, then we begin like true pilgrims to walk along the Path. It leads to invisible summits lost in glorious Nirvanic light which may be glimpsed from foothills and mountains arduously climbed in cheerful enjoyment, although one is aware of the many pitfalls on the way. The only hooking points are found within. They form the seven-knotted bamboo staff of the ascetic. If you were a montagnard you would cherish the serene strength of the individual and know what the communards forget, that communities are doomed to fail from the start when men are afraid to be alone. At the same time, if a human being in distress came for help, the montagnard will take care of him and then return to solitude.

The soul is ensnared through the power of misidentification in the chaos of primordial matter. If we enjoy narcissistically the illusions of the ever-changing reflective soul, then we forget the light of divine discernment, the Sleeping Beauty in the castle. She can only be awakened by Prince Charming, the androgynous manas, the power of noetic thought, ideation and imagination. Real thinking has a self-sustaining quality determined by the grasp, the vision, the scope and the strength of the universal ideas that provide mental nourishment. When one truly begins to walk the inner Path, one does not need any reference point in external space and time, and can see the moment of birth as if it were this morning’s dawn and can see the moment of death as if it were this evening’s twilight. Thousands of previous lives seem like twinkling stars in the sky.

The real Gurus who truly know teach just by being themselves. They are self-existing, self-manifesting embodiments of the wisdom of compassion, crowned with the Crest Jewel of pure insight. Their very existence is testimony. Shankara spoke to disciples who were already free from the delusion of the personal “I” but who were stuck in the illusion of the individual “I.” His teaching is not about the hereafter, not about the now and then, not about the always and everywhere, but about That. The supreme affirmation is TAT TVAM ASI – That Thou Art. That is the oldest teaching which Shankara explained by reference to reason, to experience, to states of consciousness, to vestures of matter in the five-fold classification, and also by references to madmen, yogis and free men. Universal self-awareness is the potential privilege and birthright of every human being, but no one can attain to it except by fulfilling the qualifications, embodying the conditions that approximate the posture and the position of a true learner.

The Crest Jewel could be in your hands. Use it, Shankara says, because by use you make it sufficiently your own to recognize that the greatest lies are “I” and “thou.” All amounts to an “it” and “it” equals That. That equals zero. Your sphere becomes luminous when you wholly adopt the standpoint of the Logos in the cosmos, the God in man, and then enjoy the universe through every pair of eyes. Heal yourself, and others through yourself, by luminous thoughts and adamantine compassion.

Hermes, August 1977
Raghavan Iyer

Theosophy | The Crest Jewel – 1, by Raghavan Iyer

To affirm is to deny. It is obvious that we do this always, but we periodically forget because of narrowing our focus to what we affirm in the language of perceived objects and in terms of the illusive independent existence of a particular set of subjects who see those objects. We fashion a pseudo-system. The universe is boundless, birthless and partless. Both within and beyond visible space and in eternal motion within endless duration, going through apparent vicissitudes like the waxing and waning of the moon or the rise and fall of the tides, through cyclical and cosmically precise changes, human beings have the privilege of exercising the deific power of creative imagination. At the highest level conceivable to a finite mind caught up within the prison of the personality, imagination is ceaselessly enjoying the universe, for example, the play of light and shade upon the green leaves of summer. If we say that there is also continuous negation, we are correct because chlorophyll is gradually negated, and thereby the leaves turn yellow. Thus we know that spring and summer must be followed by autumn. Human beings, however, sometimes forsake these primal facts because they prefer convenient fictions which involve false affirmations.

There is the false affirmation that a whole lot of bodies are in existence today. Do the bodies say so, and if so, how do they know? Apparently they are supposed to have minds, but what is a mind and what is the evidence that bodies have minds? We entertain opinions about these matters, but are opinions the same as ideas and are ideas the efflux of fluctuating moods? Is that the same as thinking, the activity of a Thoreau in the woods and an Emerson in his study? Questions of this kind are deeply troublesome and difficult. Therefore, Sri Shankaracharya states that before you can begin to deserve the Crest Jewel, which is in the crest above the forehead of the human body, the regal gem of pure discernment and spiritual wakefulness, and before you can benefit by it in the three states of consciousness – waking, dreaming and dreamlessness – you must recognize that at the root you have made a false identification. Without knowing it, you have engaged in falsehoods to which you were invulnerable before you learned to walk, before you learned to identify with the body that stumbles and before you learned to talk, to repeat sounds associated by other people with sense-objects. You started to slip into a stupor, and began to live an increasingly unreal existence, mostly reinforcing your sense of unreality but insisting it was the only reality – thereby showing that it was not real to you – against other people’s conceptions of reality. Therefore, that compassionate teacher Sri Shankaracharya states that we must get to the root and core of illusion.

What is the root? We are told that the Crest Jewel is that which causes all our problems but which also is their cure. The Crest Jewel represents the fundamental affirmation that two habitual negatives make a higher-order affirmation. On the one hand, there is a false negation in the notion of reality attached to the apparent freedom of all seemingly separate subjects, and the resulting glamour of the false shadow-play created by supposedly separate selves. On the other hand, there is also the notion of a plurality of separate objects, constituting a false negation of the one homogeneous substance or root-matter which is of the quality of pure primordial light and remains undivided and untransformed. All the various collocations of atoms, in seemingly fortuitous movement, whirl and revolve around invisible centres which are seemingly separate points in one homogeneous universal region, giving rise to the falsehood that there are separate objects. These two false negations have been marked out in the great teaching of the Guru.

Sri Shankara begins the text by saying there are three things extremely difficult to have. One is manhood. The second is the longing for liberation. The third is access to Masters. Without the second the third is impossible and the first is useless. If one wants access to Masters, one has to long sufficiently for liberation. One has to want sufficiently, with the whole of one’s being, to become free from the massive burden of inane repetitions that we call life and the impossibility of making it meaningful with the help of borrowed, lifeless and bloodless categories that wear masks and don caps and engage in a perpetual pantomime play called living. Shankara says that there is nothing new under the sun, that it is all the same old story. One might say it began with thinking man, but it really began when man stopped thinking. As a result, a huge rigamarole emerged which men then packaged and called recorded history.

History represents in recent centuries a harsh but also a necessary negation of the absurdities, errors and illusions of the past. When that happens with so many minds, when so many wills are blunted, hearts hurt and human beings lamed and crippled, suddenly we know that springtime is near. The Golden Age is next door. Suddenly we realize what we always might have known – that there are children in this world, that other people exist, that while ten men are gloomy there are another hundred who are happy. Those who are engrossed in being happy do not go around certifying their happiness to the gloomy. The gloomy want certainty, but there is no certitude to be attained anywhere in the realm of differentiation. This is a philosophical truth which everyone knew as a little child. The intuitive negation of childhood, a beautiful sharing with no “mine” and “thine,” was followed by cruel adolescent affirmations which are intensely ugly especially to others and sometimes to oneself. Then came the prolonged adolescence of those who are petrified that they might actually have to assume minimal responsibilities. But when men will not negate, Nature negates. Nature’s power of negation is vaster than the collective power of negation of history, and both seem more awesome and decisive than the capacity of an individual to negate.

Hermes, August 1977
Raghavan Iyer

The Eternal City | by Brendan Heard, Contributing Writer, Classical Wisdom

The succession of the Ptolemaic Dynasty, from Ptolemy to Cleopatra.

The Ptolemaic Dynasty of Egypt is a unique reference point in classical history. Most notably, our very notion of classical wisdom itself largely depends on this period, insofar as it played a role in  the documentation, preservation, and accumulation of the wisdom of the Greek world. It was a singular cultural epoch that sprang up into its own golden age, flourishing for a time, followed by rapid decline and acquiescence to Rome. Egypt was ruled for roughly three hundred years under Ptolemies (from 323 BC to 30 BC), ending with the death of Cleopatra.

As a civilization it was a relatively rare example of a largely tranquil symbiosis; where the philosophical ideas of a Greek ruling class took fertile root in an Egyptian culture—a culture already at that time considered impossibly ancient. The particular Ptolemaic world view which rooted and ripened in that immortal Nile valley soil gave classical history three hundred years of highly innovative, self-actuated, archaic-romantic civilization. The Greek rulers were as much influenced and altered by that eldritch land of ancient gods as the land was by them.

Most notably, this vibrant community led to the creation of the most important place of learning and wisdom in the ancient world. Perhaps ever. The much celebrated and lamented Library of Alexandria.

Its history began with the god-like Macedonian conqueror Alexander The Great, who overtook Egypt in 332 BC. He was regarded there as a liberator from the Persian oppression of the Achaemenid Empire (Artaxerxes III). Alexander was afterward crowned Pharaoh. To the Egyptians, pharaohs were the divine link between gods and men, who ascended to godhood in death. The Great Alexander, in turn, secured his own Egyptian godhood by consulting the Oracle of Siwa Oasis, who declared him a son of the god Ammon. From that point on, Alexander considered and referred to himself the son of Zeus-Ammon.

It is reported that Alexander, while dreaming, asked Ammon what he was to do. The god responded to him saying that his destiny in Egypt was to found an illustrious city at the site of the island of Pharos. This the great conqueror set forth to do, and this was henceforth to be named after him: the city of Alexandria.

But Alexander left Egypt before the city was built and never had a chance to return, dying soon after in 323 BC.

After his death, one of Alexander’s somatophylakes, the historian Ptolemy, was appointed satrap of Egypt. Soon after he declared himself pharaoh Ptolemy Soter I (soter meaning saviour). Ptolemy and his descendants adopted Egyptian customs, including religion, and had themselves portrayed sculpturally in Egyptian style. They built magnificent new temples in honor of ancient Egyptian deities and adopted the monarchic system of dynastic pharaohs. This was not unusual, as the Greeks from the onset had revered Egypt and it’s magnificent longevity, and within a hundred years they had developed a new Greco-Egyptian educated middle class.


Alexander the Great founding Alexandria, Placido Costanzi (Italy, 1702-1759)

Ptolemy I Soter also went so far as to create new gods in order to unite his plural populace. Serapis was one such God, a combination of two Egyptian gods: Apis and Osiris. Additionally, Serapis combined elements of the main Greek gods: Zeus, Hades, Asklepios, Dionysos, and Helios, as well as influence from many other cults. Serapis had powers over fertility, the sun, funerary rites, and medicine, and included the worship of the new Ptolemaic line of pharaohs. To him they built the enormous Serapeum of Alexandria. Ptolemy I also promoted the cult of the deified Alexander, who became the state god of the Ptolemaic kingdom. This was a time when mortal men of sufficient influence really could become gods. Also in homage to the aims of Alexander, Ptolemy soon proclaimed the port city of Alexandria as the new capital of Egypt.

A map of Alexandria at the end of Cleopatra’s reign.

Fortunately, Ptolemy’s desire was to continue the work of his former master, which was to spread Hellenistic culture and Greek wisdom concepts throughout the known world. Where the Greeks had conquered, gymnasiums and libraries were erected. And libraries in particular enhanced a city’s reputation, attracted scholars, and augmented the available intellectual assets of a kingdom.

Any kingdom or nation faces threats to its existence. For Ptolemy the primary hazard came from his former comrades, the somatophylakes of Alexander who themselves had been granted rulers of surrounding satrapies. Each new kingdom which sprung up in the wake of one of the world’s greatest conquerors were thus set in competition against one other.

Coin of Balacrus, somatophylakes of Alexander, as Satrap of Cilicia, with letter “B” next to the shield, standing for B[AΛAKPOI],

Luckily for us, this rivalry often manifested itself in competitive feats of wealth and grandeur, of which exhibition of genuine culture was a token of magnificence. A kind of cold-war high-culture-race was underway: to have the largest or most impressive edifice, the most athletic and intellectual populace, to produce the greatest genius, artist, or astronomer, the most ground breaking scientific theory or understanding of archaic mystic philosophy. These were the conditions under which the Greek Pharaoh Ptolemy sought to make Alexandria an unrivaled center of knowledge and learning, and began plans (actual construction was likely begun under Ptolemy II) of the great Library. The construction of which was possibly managed by Demetrius of Phalerum, a student of Aristotle. Ptolemy sought nothing less than a repository of all knowledge, and his library would prove to be unprecedented in scope and scale, one that has gone unrivaled over the ages.
The library was not merely the largest collection of books (scrolls) in antiquity, but was also a kind of think tank, a research institution lavishly funded by the pharaoh. The actual library was housed within a larger building, known as the Mouseion (origin of our word museum), dedicated to the nine Greek goddesses of the arts, the Muses. Written research was officially conducted in both Egyptian and Greek. Scholars from across the Greek world and beyond were sought after and invited to live at the library, to practice their science, to teach, and to learn from each other, without domestic distractions. The first-century BC Greek geographer Strabo wrote that scholars were provided with a large salary, free food, lodging, and exemption from taxes.
It was a state-funded elite study group, only with the added advantage of not being invested in consolidating state power. The Greek scholars made no contribution to the economy. The aim of the library was nothing less than the virtuous pursuit of knowledge for its own sake. A place where scholars could come together and exchange ideas. Isolationist Egyptian temples had historically contained libraries but the books were kept largely secret from the public. Yet the combination of the Greek attitude toward philosophy and the impossibly ancient and staid nature of Egypt, served to abet the pursuit of new knowledge.

Artistic Rendering of the Library of Alexandria, based on some archaeological evidence.

In characteristically Greek fashion, the collecting of scrolls itself became an idealized vocation, a paramount obsession. Visitors to Alexandria arrived with their versions of famous literary texts, while agents were sent abroad collecting everything they could find. Books became a kind of currency, and in terms of this wealth, the library of Alexandria became the largest collection in antiquity. Some estimates suggest the number was as high as 700,000 scrolls, which were not just stored but used for reference and research by the active scholars. These scholars then spent time copying and spreading this accumulated knowledge further across the Greek world and beyond, and it is to this effect that we can thank our own surviving awareness of Classical wisdom. Because of this, Alexandria became the symbolic brain of a scattered and oppositional ancient world.
The feats of scholarship soon began to gain notoriety and, as visitors increased, so did reputation.  There may have been up to fifty learned men in the community, teaching and interacting at one time. Completely free from daily material burdens to indulge their intellectual pursuits. There were lecture halls, dormitories, and cafeterias, all enmeshed and linked in a manner to encourage the various experts of different disciplines to interact. There was a large communal dining hall, meeting rooms, reading rooms, gardens, lecture halls, and a great hall for the scrolls known as bibliothekai. It is speculated that the Mouseion may have also had a zoo for exotic animals. There was certainly a medical school where animals were used in the research of human anatomy (using human bodies was forbidden in the wider Greek world). Later, the library scholar Herophalus performed medical exams on dead human bodies, elevating the science of anatomy. Herophalus’ sacrilege was tolerated because the Egyptian embalming tradition gradually influenced Ptolemaic Greeks towards a more relaxed view regarding human dissection. Again, we note the creative virility of the symbiotic relationship of two quite different cultures, existing stably, mutually influencing one another.
Of the many poets who resided at the library, there were three of great fame for masters of Hellenistic verse: Callimachus, Apollonius of Rhodes, and Theocritus. Of astronomers there is Hipparchus, who figured out the path of stars, and length of solar years while in Alexandria. Eratosthanes figured out the circumference of the earth while studying there, by examining the length of cast shadows at certain times of day about sun-drenched Alexandria. He calculated this to an accuracy within 200 miles. The astronomer Aristarchus devised the first heliocentric model of the solar system (the known universe). Later, the Mouseion-educated mathematician and astronomer, Claudius Ptolemy (no relation), wrote his three influential treatises on astronomy, geography and astrology. Developing what we famously know today as the Ptolemaic system of astronomy.

An illustration of Ptolemy holding a cross-staff, published in Les vrais portraits et vies des hommes illustres (1584). Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS.

Overall, Alexandrian research was strongly centered towards mathematics. Among mathematicians under Ptolemaic patronage the most famous was the inventor Archimedes (inventor of the Archimedes screw), the polymath Eratosthenes, and the greatest geometer of all time, Euclid. After studying at the library of Alexandria, Euclid published his great text, The Elements, that immediately surpassed all previous geometric literature to that date and remains the foundation of that science today. It was Euclid’s access to the bibliothekai that allowed him to codify the collected results of basic theorems postulated by others through the centuries. Legend has it that when Euclid showed his work to the pharaoh, he was asked if there was any shortcut to understanding his work, to which Euclid replied, “there is no royal road to geometry.”
Along with poetry and mathematics, matters of philosophy and religion were treated with equal reverence, study, and proselytism. Many ancient texts became at this point translated into Greek, including the Septuagint translation of the bible, which made the story accessible to others. This is the primary Greek translation of the Old Testament, also known as the Greek Old Testament. Again, this work was done purely out of intellectual interest…to catalogue, examine, and learn from all available ancient sources.
In this sense the pagan world view had its advantages, in its ability to honestly assess other religions without offending its own dogmas, in a way that monotheism historically has not. These combined efforts to know all things in a spiritual context of understanding, united disciplines such as poetic literature and mathematics in common purpose, which we today might find unusual. They did not seem to share our quandary over the division of physical and metaphysical, or materialistic and spiritual. Astronomy and astrology were equally venerated, even if the latter was more open to interpretation, or understood to be spiritually speculative. Very seldom, if at all, in the ancient world do we see overt supplications to atheism or hard materialism. And that is despite it being a world where the gods changed with the generations, and the good ones became evil, and vice versa, and new kings invented new gods altogether.
All the studied disciplines at Alexandria, from anatomy to Platonism to topography, were interwoven in a tapestry of mutually educative striving, beneath the hierarchy of the Pharaonic society. The monarchic system itself, quite alien to us now, was also woven into this mesh as the unquestionable order, the foundational bedrock supporting the pursuit of high culture. We are reminded of these more esoteric and archaic foundations in the name Alexandria itself. For let us not forget, the city was named after and founded by the great god-king Alexander, and all that followed was based on his vision for it.

Artist’s Impression of Ancient Alexandria.

Concerning philosophy and mysticism more specifically, Alexandria nourished Neo-Pythagoreanism, Middle Platonism, NeoplatonismTheurgy, and Gnosticism, which all flourished and were studied and transcribed by busy scholars under patronage of the Ptolemies over the centuries. In the name of these mystic and rational philosophies, and to the copying of scribes, and to the boundless ideas therein represented, we may also pay our respects to the memory of this golden classical city.
Abstractly speaking, the library, acting as a storehouse of philosophy, religions, history, and science, secured beyond its finite physical existence its sacred purpose: the dissemination and preservation of knowledge across distance and time. Many manuscripts that were ancient in Ptolemy’s day survive down to us thanks to the care of the various scholars that visited and lived in Alexandria. In this way the historic reverberations of the library issue about recorded history like ripples upon the surface of water—reaching ever outward.
The decline and fall of this institution was synonymous with that of the Ptolemies themselves. The precise cause of destruction is lost to time amid conflicting reports, and is often a controversial subject, beginning with the rise of Rome in that region.
Roman interest in Egypt was typically due to the reliable delivery of grain to the city of Rome. To this end the Roman administration made no essential change to the Ptolemaic system of government, however they were in all but name subjugated before the powerful new empire. The Romans, like the Ptolemies, respected and protected Egyptian religion and customs, although the cult of the Roman state and of the Emperor was gradually introduced. The great library was at least in part burned accidentally by Julius Caesar in 48 BC. But there are accounts of its existence by notable visitors who accessed its resources around 20 BC. However, overall, it dwindled during the roman period, and suffered from a lack of funding after the Ptolemaic dynasty ended with the death of Cleopatra.

The Death of Cleopatra by Reginald Arthur, 1892. (Public Domain).

Around 270 AD the library may have been destroyed further in a rebellion. By 400 AD paganism was outlawed and the Serapeum was demolished by Christians under orders from pope Theophilus of Alexandria. However, it may not have housed many books at that time, and was primarily a meeting place for Neo-Platonist philosophers following Iamblichus. In 616 AD the Persians conquered, and this was followed in the same century by Arab conquest, and whatever remained then of the library was finally destroyed for good in their sacking of the city by the order of Caliph Omar.
Whatever had remained of the collection at that point was no doubt finally lost. But as all things that exist for a time, there is a portion that belongs to the infinite (at least according to the Neo-Platonists thought).
The life of the mind, that epitome of Plato’s teaching—which the library of Alexandria embodied—was preserved in that eternal city, leaving traces of itself for us to cherish today.
The Eternal City was Written by Brendan Heard, Author of the Decline and Fall of Western Art 

Theosophy | METAPHYSICS AND ETHICS – II, by Raghavan Iyer

Tat tvam asi

   Despite its contempt for metaphysics and for ontology, materialistic science is honeycombed with metaphysical and contradictory implications, and even its “atoms” are “entified abstractions”. “To make of Science an integral whole necessitates, indeed, the study of spiritual and psychic, as well as physical Nature.” But although real science is inadmissible without metaphysics, and those scientists who trespass on the forbidden grounds of metaphysics, who lift the veil of matter and strain their eyes to see beyond, are “wise in their generation”, H.P. Blavatsky declared towards the end of The Secret Doctrine that the man of exact science must realize that

   he has no right to trespass on the grounds of metaphysics and psychology. His duty is to verify and to rectify all the facts that fall under his direct observation; to profit by the experiences and mistakes of the Past in endeavouring to trace the working of a certain concatenation of cause and effects, which, but only by its constant and unvarying repetition, may be called A LAW. . . . Any sideway path from this royal road becomes speculation.

The Secret Doctrine, ii 664

   It is a sign of advance that scientists today are less given than their predecessors in the latter half of the nineteenth century to “metaphysical flights of fancy”. Bad metaphysics is clearly worse than none. On the other hand, as modern psychology becomes less materialistic and as race evolution proceeds, a greater appreciation of the higher intuitive and cognitive capacities will emerge and may enable the most intuitive scientists to venture more effectively into metaphysics.

It is, therefore, necessary for students of Theosophy to see the fundamental difference between what goes by the name of metaphysics and has rightly become suspect today, and the “metaphysics, pure and simple”, with which The Secret Doctrine is concerned. We cannot, however, grasp the metaphysics given in Theosophical teachings unless we perceive its close and inseparable connection with Theosophical ethics. We are told in The Secret Doctrine that the “highly philosophical and metaphysical Aryans” were the authors of “the most perfect philosophical systems of transcendental psychology” and of “a moral code (Buddhism), proclaimed by Max Müller the most perfect on earth”. Without a proper understanding of Theosophical psychology and the teachings regarding the nature and constitution of man and the working of karmic law, we cannot appreciate the metaphysical basis of Theosophical ethics or the ethical significance of Theosophical metaphysics. Hence the importance of a careful study and application, from the first, of the Ten Items from Isis Unveiled or the Propositions of Oriental Psychology, and of the Aphorisms on Karma by W.Q. Judge. Until this is done, we cannot begin to see the ethical import of the statements in The Secret Doctrine or the metaphysical basis of the statements in The Voice of the Silence and Light on the Path.

We are told explicitly in The Secret Doctrine that “to make the workings of Karma, in the periodical renovations of the Universe, more evident and intelligible to the student when he arrives at the origin and evolution of man, he has now to examine with us the esoteric bearing of the Karmic Cycles upon Universal Ethics”. Our ethical progress depends on an increasing awareness of the “cycles of matter” and the “cycles of spiritual evolution”, and of racial, national and individual cycles. The kernel of Theosophical ethics is contained in the statement that “there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions, and it is in our power to follow either of the two”. This contains a great metaphysical and psychological truth, which is illuminated by the seminal article on “Psychic and Noetic Action”, written, late in life, by H.P. Blavatsky, the Magus-Teacher of the 1875 cycle.

Theosophical ethics is in the end no easier to understand properly than Theosophical metaphysics. It can no more be grasped by the mentally lazy than Theosophical metaphysics can be comprehended by the morally obtuse. There is nothing namby-pamby about Theosophical ethics and it is as fundamentally different from conventional ethics as Theosophical metaphysics is from conventional metaphysics. Just as modern metaphysics is a shadowy distortion of archaic metaphysics, modern ethics is a sad vulgarization of the archaic ethics taught by the early religious Teachers of humanity. It is to be welcomed that more and more questioning people today are less and less prepared to accept blindly conventional ethical codes merely because they are traced back to so-called scriptural revelations, just as they have little use for the metaphysical speculations of even the formidable minds of the past. If the ethical nihilism of today is even more repugnant to the Theosophist than sterile positivism, he would do well to regard both as the karmic price we have to pay for the moral and metaphysical dogmatism of the past.

Although we may talk of Theosophical metaphysics and Theosophical ethics, and classify texts broadly under these heads, we must get beyond the conventional distinction between metaphysical and ethical statements and grasp central concepts, such as Dharma and Karma, which are protean in scope and profound in content, and incapable of being regarded as purely metaphysical or exclusively ethical. It is significant that the supposedly anti-metaphysical and superbly moral teaching of the Buddha was centred in the complex concept of Dharma rather than in Brahman or moksha, in the stern law of moral compensation and universal causality, rather than in a conception of infinite Deity constructed by the finite mind of man or in any notion of salvation or redemption which caters to the spiritual selfishness of the individual.

In the European tradition, a natural reaction to theocentric systems of thought was the Cartesian affirmation of the autonomy of the individual in relation to knowledge and the later Kantian proclamation of the autonomy of the individual in relation to morality. The Theosophist, however, holds to the Pythagorean and ancient Eastern maxim that man is the mirror and microcosm of the macrocosm. It is in this context that he must evolve from egoism to egoity, from personal self-love to individual self-consciousness, which is impossible without a heart-understanding of the Law of Universal Unity and Moral Retribution. The close connection between metaphysics and ethics in Theosophy is ultimately based on the workings of Universal Law, which affects the exact and occult correspondences between the constituents of man and of the cosmos. This ancient doctrine of correspondences has been ignored by modern metaphysicians and moralists, but it was known to modern mystics and poets from Boehme to Swedenborg, Blake to Baudelaire.

Hermes, May 1975
Raghavan Iyer

Theosophy | Metaphysics & Ethics – 1, by Raghavan Iyer

Tat tvam asi

It is natural for us to make a firm distinction between our study and our application of Theosophy, between theory and practice. As a result, we contrast the capacities of the head and the heart, and assume that we seek and secure different kinds of nourishment from The Secret Doctrine and The Voice of the Silence. At the same time, we also know that Theosophy is essentially the Heart Doctrine, distinct from the head-learning with which our world abounds. What is more, the whole purpose of Theosophical discipline is to blend the head and the heart, to broaden our mental sympathies and to awaken and direct the intelligence of the heart. Does this simply mean that we need for conceptual clarity the dualistic view of the spiritual life as long as we remain as inwardly divided as we are, and that this dichotomy is made only so that it may be destroyed as we become rooted in the holiness that reflects an inner wholeness? It is certainly convenient to regard all conceptual distinctions and classifications as mere scaffoldings and to choose the best available at any particular stage of our growth. But in order to appreciate the distinctive significance of Theosophical classifications, we cannot merely regard them like the maps of early mariners, whose explorations needed as well as corrected their initial cartographical knowledge. We need, in fact, to acquire an entirely new and original view of the relation between true metaphysics and enduring ethics and to appreciate the profound epistemological nature and the peculiar therapeutic value of Theosophical statements as indicated in the First Item of The Secret Doctrine.

Metaphysics, as normally understood, is speculative rather than gnostic and is often the product of the propensity to subsume existing knowledge under a complete system, an imposing pattern that is then ascribed to reality with a dogmatism that pretends to a certainty that it cannot possibly possess. It is in accord with cyclic law that this kind of metaphysical system- building is suspect today and has even led to an extremist and naively positivistic reaction among die-hard empiricists. Similarly, ethics, in the everyday sense, consists of injunctions and imperatives that are rarely susceptible of rational enquiry and are either endowed with spurious absoluteness or are regarded as relativist and subjectivist preferences, from which we choose as from a menu. Given the pretentious nature of ordinary metaphysics and conventional ethics, we can understand the insistence of Hume, the sceptical Scot of the eighteenth century, that metaphysical statements are a priori assertions that are incapable of verification, that we cannot logically derive any ethical imperatives either from them or from statements of fact, and that our ethical preferences cannot possess certainty or universality or freedom from arbitrariness. The metaphysical assertion that “X is true or must be true” cannot help us to answer the question “Why ought I to do Y?” It is indeed not surprising that the speculations of most metaphysicians do not give us a basis for moral conduct and moral growth, and that the injunctions of many conventional ethical codes do not have their basis in the moral and spiritual order of our law-governed cosmos.

In Theosophical literature, however, every metaphysical statement has an ethical corollary and connotation, and every ethical injunction has a distinct metaphysical basis. It is impossible to grasp the force of any of the seven paramitas of The Voice of the Silence without a comprehension of the Three Fundamental Propositions regarding God, Nature and Man that underlie the order of reality intimated by the Stanzas of the Book of Dzyan, on which The Secret Doctrine is closely based. Theosophical literature assumes, as shown especially by Light on the Path, the truth and validity of the Socratic axiom “Knowledge is virtue.” For example, to know, with the heart as well as the head, and to be fully aware that the sin and the shame of the world are verily our own must totally transform our actions as well as our attitudes in relation to all our fellow men and also to our own sins and lower self. We cannot rely on that which is not real, in an ultimate and philosophical sense. Theosophical ethics teaches the only possible reliance — on the Divine Ground of all Being and beyond — that is available to those who become aware of the degrees of reality in an ever-evolving universe that is itself only a relatively real emanation from the Eternal Reality. Our conduct consists of emanations that cannot but harm us and others if they are not emanated in the creative and impersonal manner and with the conscious control that marks the ceaseless process of cosmic emanations from a single source — Life of our life, Force of our force. Until we are free from the dire heresy of separateness (attavada), we cannot claim to have grasped the doctrine of samvriti or of the nidanas that teaches us about the origins of delusions and chains of causation. To know is to become, and to become is truly to know.

In an illuminating passage in The Secret Doctrine on the Causes of Existence” and on the Buddhist concept of nidana and the Hindu concept of maya, H.P. Blavatsky said that …

   science and religion, in trying to trace back the chain of causes and effects, jump to a condition of mental blankness much more quickly than is necessary, for they ignore the metaphysical abstractions which are the only conceivable cause of physical concretions. These abstractions become more and more concrete as they approach our plane of existence, until finally they phenomenalise in the form of the material Universe, by a process of conversion of metaphysics into physics.

The Secret Doctrine, i 45

If we consider this even as a logical possibility, then clearly the knowledge of these metaphysical abstractions gained and given by trained Initiates is epistemologically prior to the external order of reality in the material universe. Such metaphysics, the product of intuitive apprehension and capable of patient verification by the extrasensory experiences of independently acting individuals, is different in kind from the speculative metaphysics of the ordinary variety and is more analogous to the methods of investigation of the greatest natural scientists. This is why we are told that   it is difficult to find a single speculation in Western metaphysics which has not been anticipated by Archaic Eastern philosophy. From Kant to Herbert Spencer, it is all a more or less distorted echo of the Dwaita, Adwaita, and Vedantic doctrines generally.

The Secret Doctrine, i 79

The very nature of Theosophical metaphysics is such that we cannot approach it merely with the head, independently of the heart. The purely ratiocinative and intellectualist approach to ordinary metaphysics is itself the result of “the inadequate distinctions made by the Jews, and now by our Western metaphysicians”, so that “the philosophy of psychic, spiritual, and mental relations with man’s physical functions is in almost. inextricable confusion”. Our metaphysical conceptions are clearly conditioned by our own mental development and cannot have the absolute validity that we claim for them. This is especially true of the evolution of the GOD-IDEA. Hence, says Theosophy, for every thinker there will be a “Thus far shalt thou go and no farther”, mapped out by his intellectual capacity.   Outside of initiation, the ideals of contemporary religious thought must always have their wings clipped and remain unable to soar higher; for idealistic as well as realistic thinkers, and even free-thinkers, are but the outcome and the natural product of their respective environments and periods.

The Secret Doctrine, i 326

Not merely does modern metaphysics fall far short of the truth, but even its basic concepts and usages of terms like “Absolute”, “Nature” and “matter” are shallower and cruder than their corresponding concepts propounded by the Theosophical Adepts. Initiation into Theosophical metaphysics is more than an intellectual or moral enterprise; it is a continuous spiritual exercise in the development of intuitive and cognitive capacities that are the highest available to men, a process that includes from the first a blending of the head and the heart through the interaction of viveka and vairagya, discrimination and detachment. Even our initial apprehension of a statement of Theosophical metaphysics involves an ethical as well as mental effort, just as even the smallest application of a Theosophical injunction to our moral life requires some degree of mental control and the deeper awareness, universal and impersonal in nature, that comes from our higher cognitive capacities. Moral growth, for a Theosophist, presupposes the silent worship of abstract or noumenal Nature, the only divine manifestation”, that is “the one ennobling religion of Humanity.”

Hermes, May 1975
Raghavan Iyer

The High Priest of Lemuria – Lord Zeniel Melchizedek

Sancta Rosa

The land of Lemuria is right here on Earth and I have felt it’s vibrations and that of its High Priests and Priestesses for a very long time if not all of my life. There are many humans throughout history who have been drawn to the enigma of this ancient place and people and who have tried and succeeded in connecting with the frequencies of Mu. I am also one of those people yet what I have learned during my meetings with the Lemurians does not come from any book or what someone has told be but what they have taught me themselves.

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   Let us beware of creating a darkness at noonday for ourselves by gazing, so to say, direct at the sun . . . , as though we could hope to attain adequate vision and perception of Wisdom with mortal eyes. It will be the safer course to turn our gaze on an image of the object of our quest.

The Athenian Stranger

Every year more than three hundred and fifty Catholic and Protestant sects observe Easter Sunday, celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God who called himself the Son of Man. So too do the Russian and Greek Orthodox churches, but on a separate calendar. Such is the schism between East and West within Christendom regarding this day, which always falls on the ancient Sabbath, once consecrated to the Invisible Sun, the sole source of all life, light and energy. If we wish to understand the permanent possibility of spiritual resurrection taught by the Man of Sorrows, we must come to see both the man and his teaching from the pristine perspective of Brahma Vach, the timeless oral utterance behind and beyond all religions, philosophies and sciences throughout the long history of mankind.

The Gospel According to St. John is the only canonical gospel with a metaphysical instead of an historical preamble. We are referred to that which was in the beginning. In the New English Bible, the recent revision of the authorized version produced for the court of King James, we are told: Before all things were made was the Word. In the immemorial, majestic and poetic English of the King James version, In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. This is a bija sutra, a seminal maxim, marking the inception of the first of twenty-one chapters of the gospel, and conveying the sum and substance of the message of Jesus. John, according to Josephus, was at one time an Essene and his account accords closely with the Qumran Manual of Discipline. The gospel attributed to John derives from the same oral tradition as the Synoptics, but it shows strong connections with the Pauline epistles as well as with the Jewish apocalyptic tradition. It is much more a mystical treatise than a biographical narrative.

Theosophically, there is no point or possibility for any man to anthropomorphize the Godhead, even though this may be very touching in terms of filial devotion to one’s own physical father. The Godhead is unthinkable and unspeakable, extending boundlessly beyond the range and reach of thought. There is no supreme father figure in the universe. In the beginning was the Word, the Verbum, the Shabdabrahman, the eternal radiance that is like a veil upon the attributeless Absolute. If all things derive, as St. John explains, from that One Source, then all beings and all the sons of men are forever included. Metaphysically, every human being has more than one father, but on the physical plane each has only one. Over a thousand years or thirty generations, everyone has more ancestors than there are souls presently incarnated on earth. Each one participates in the ancestry of all mankind. While always true, this is more evident in a nation with mixed ancestries. Therefore it is appropriate here that we think of him who preached before Jesus, the Buddha, who taught that we ask not of a man’s descent but of his conduct. By their fruits they shall he known,say the gospels.

There is another meaning of the ‘Father’ which is relevant to the opportunity open to every human being to take a decision to devote his or her entire life to the service of the entire human family. The ancient Jews held that from the illimitable Ain-Soph there came a reflection, which could never be more than a partial participation in that illimitable light which transcends manifestation. This reflection exists in the world as archetypal humanity – Adam Kadmon. Every human being belongs to one single humanity, and that collectivity stands in relation to the Ain-Soph as any one human being to his or her own father. It is no wonder that Pythagoras – Pitar Guru, ‘father and teacher,’ as he was known among the ancient Hindus – came to Krotona to sound the keynote of a long cycle now being reaffirmed for an equally long period in the future. He taught his disciples to honour their father and their mother, and to take a sacred oath to the Holy Fathers of the human race, the ‘Ancestors of the Arhats.’

We are told in the fourth Stanza of Dzyan that the Fathers are the Sons of Fire, descended from a primordial host of Logoi. They are self-existing rays streaming forth from a single, central, universal Mahatic fire which is within the cosmic egg, just as differentiated matter is outside and around it. There are seven sub-divisions within Mahat – the cosmic mind, as it was called by the Greeks – as well as seven dimensions of matter outside the egg, giving a total of fourteen planes, fourteen worlds. Where we are told by John that Jesus said, In my Father’s house are many mansions, H.P. Blavatsky states that this refers to the seven mansions of the central Logos, supremely revered in all religions as the Solar Creative Fire. Any human being who has a true wakefulness and thereby a sincere spirit of obeisance to the divine demiurgic intelligence in the universe, of which he is a trustee even while encased within the lethargic carcass of matter, can show that he is a man to the extent to which he exhibits divine manliness through profound gratitude, a constant recognition and continual awareness of the One Source. All the great Teachers of humanity point to a single source beyond themselves. Many are called but few are chosen by self-election. Spiritual Teachers always point upwards for each and every man and woman alive, not for just a few. They work not only in the visible realm for those immediately before them, but, as John reminds us, they come from above and work for all. They continually think of and love every being that lives and breathes, mirroring “the One that breathes breathless” in ceaseless contemplation, overbrooding the Golden Egg of the universe, the Hiranyagarbha.

Such beautiful ideas enshrined in magnificent myths are provocative to the ratiocinative mind and suggestive to the latent divine discernment of Buddhic intuition. The only way anyone can come closer to the Father in Heaven – let alone come closer to Him on earth Who is as He is in Heaven – is by that light to which John refers in the first chapter of the Gospel. It is the light that lighteth every man who cometh into the world, which the darkness comprehendeth not. Human beings are involved in the darkness of illusion, of self-forgetfulness, and forgetfulness of their divine ancestry. The whole of humanity may be regarded as a garden of gods but all men and women are fallen angels or gods tarnished by forgetfulness of their true eternal and universal mission. Every man or woman is born for a purpose. Every person has a divine destiny. Every individual has a unique contribution to make, to enrich the lives of others, but no one can say what this is for anyone else. Each one has to find it, first by arousing and kindling and then by sustaining and nourishing the little lamp within the heart. There alone may be lit the true Akashic fire upon the altar in the hidden temple of the God which lives and breathes within. This is the sacred fire of true awareness which enables a man to come closer to the one universal divine consciousness which, in its very brooding upon manifestation, is the father-spirit. In the realm of matter it may be compared to the wind that bloweth where it listeth. Any human being could become a self-conscious and living instrument of that universal divine consciousness of which he, as much as every other man or woman, is an effulgent ray.

This view of man is totally different from that which has, alas, been preached in the name of Jesus. Origen spoke of the constant crucifixion of Jesus, declaring that there is not a day on earth when he is not reviled. But equally there is not a time when others do not speak of him with awe. He came with a divine protection provided by a secret bond which he never revealed except by indirect intonation. Whenever the Logos becomes flesh, there is sacred testimony to the Great Sacrifice and the Great Renunciation – of all Avatars, all Divine Incarnations. This Brotherhood of Blessed Teachers is ever behind every attempt to enlighten human minds, to summon the latent love in human hearts for all humanity, to fan the sparks of true compassion in human beings into the fires of Initiation. The mark of the Avatar is that in him the Paraclete, the Spirit of Eternal Truth, manifests so that even the blind may see, the deaf may hear, the lame may walk, the unregenerate may gain confidence in the possibility and the promise of Self-redemption.

In one of the most beautiful passages penned on this subject, the profound essay entitled “The Roots of Ritualism in Church and Masonry,” published in 1889, H.P. Blavatsky declared:

   Most of us believe in the survival of the Spiritual Ego, in Planetary Spirits and Nirmanakayas, those great Adepts of the past ages, who, renouncing their right to Nirvana, remain in our spheres of being, not as ‘spirits’ but as complete spiritual human Beings. Save their corporeal, visible envelope, which they leave behind, they remain as they were, in order to help poor humanity, as far as can he done without sinning against Karmic Law. This is the ‘Great Renunciation,’ indeed; an incessant, conscious self-sacrifice throughout aeons and ages till that day when the eyes of blind mankind will open and, instead of the few, all will see the universal truth. These Beings may well be regarded as God and Gods – if they would but allow the fire in our hearts, at the thought of that purest of all sacrifices, to be fanned into the flame of adoration, or the smallest altar in their honour. But they will not. Verily, ‘the secret heart is fair Devotion’s (only) temple,’ and any other, in this case, would be no better than profane ostentation.

Let a man be without external show such as the Pharisees favoured, without inscriptions such as the Scribes specialized in, and without arrogant and ignorant self-destructive denial such as that of the Sadducees. Such a man, whether he be of any religion or none, of whatever race or nation or creed, once he recognizes the existence of a Fraternity of Divine Beings, a Brotherhood of BuddhasBodhisattvas and Christs, an Invisible Church (in St. Augustine’s phrase) of living human beings ever ready to help any honest and sincere seeker, he will thereafter cherish the discovery within himself. He will guard it with great reticence and grateful reverence, scarcely speaking of his feeling to strangers or even to friends. When he can do this and maintain it, and above all, as John says in the Gospel, be true to it and live by it, then he may make it for himself, as Jesus taught, the way, the truth and the light. While he may not be self-manifested as the Logos came to be through Jesus – the Son of God become the Son of Man – he could still sustain and protect himself in times of trial. No man dare ask for more. No man could do with less.

Jesus knew that his own time of trial had come – the time for the consummation of his vision – on the Day of Passover. Philo Judaeus, who was an Aquarian in the Age of Pisces, gave an intellectual interpretation to what other men saw literally, pointing out that the spiritual passover had to do with passing over earthly passions. Jesus, when he knew the hour had come for the completion of his work and the glorification of his father to whom he ever clung, withdrew with the few into the Garden of Gethsemane. He did not choose them, he said. They chose him. He withdrew with them and there they all used the time for true prayer to the God within. Jesus had taught, Go into thy closet and pray to thy father who is in secret, and that, The Kingdom of God is within you. This was the mode of prayer which he revealed and exemplified to those who were ready for initiation into the Mysteries. Many tried but only few stayed with it. Even among those few there was a Peter, who would thrice deny Jesus. There was the traitor, Judas, who had already left the last supper that evening, having been told, That thou doest, do quickly. Some among the faithful spent their time in purification. Were they, at that point, engaged in self-purification for their own benefit? What had Jesus taught them? Could one man separate himself from any other? He had told those who wanted to stone the adulteress,Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. He had told them not to judge anyone else, but to wait for true judgment. Because they had received a sublime privilege, about which other men subsequently argued for centuries and produced myriad heresies and sects, in their case the judgment involved their compassionate concern to do the sacred Work of the Father for the sake of all. The Garden of Gethsemane is always here. It is a place very different from the Wailing Wall where people gnash their teeth and weep for themselves or their tribal ancestors. The Garden of Gethsemane is wherever on earth men and women want to cleanse themselves for the sake of being more humane in their relations with others.

Nor was the crucifixion only true of Jesus and those two thieves, one of whom wanted to have a miracle on his behalf while the other accepted the justice of the law of the day, receiving punishment for offences that he acknowledged openly. Every man participates in that crucifixion. This much may be learnt from the great mystics and inspired poets across two thousand years. Christos is being daily, hourly, every moment crucified within the cross of every human being. There are too few on earth who are living up to the highest possibility of human god-like wisdom, love and compassion, let alone who can say that in them the spirit of Truth, the Paraclete, manifests. Who has the courage to chase the money-changers of petty thoughts and paltry desires from the Temple of the universal Spirit, not through hatred of the money-changers, but through a love in his heart for the Restoration of the Temple? Who has the courage to say openly what all men recognize inwardly when convenient, or when drunk, or when among friends whom they think they trust? Who is truly a man? How many men are there heroically suffering? Not only do we know that God is not mocked and that as we sow, so shall we reap, but we also realize that the Garden of Gethsemane is difficult to reach. Nonetheless, it may be sought by any and every person who wants to avoid the dire tragedy of self-annihilation. Indeed, there are many such people all around who barely survive from day to day because of their own self-hatred, self-contempt and despair, and who tremble on the brink of moral death. We live in terribly tragic times, and therefore there is no one who cannot afford to take a little pause for the sake of making the burden of one’s presence easier for one’s wife or husband, for one’s children, or for one’s neighbours. Each needs a time of re-examination, a time for true repentance, a time for Christ-like resolve. The Garden of Gethsemane is present wherever there is genuineness, determination and honesty. Above all, it is where there is the joyous recognition that, quite apart from yesterday and tomorrow, right now a person can create so strong a current of thought that it radically affects the future. He could begin now, and acquire in time a self-sustaining momentum. But this cannot be done without overcoming the karmic gravity of all the self-destructive murders of human beings that he has participated in on the plane of thought, on the plane of feeling, especially on the plane of words, and also, indirectly, on the plane of outward action.

If the Garden of Gethsemane did not exist, no persecuting Saul could ever become a Paul. Such is the great hope and the glad tiding. As Origen said, Saul had to be killed before Paul could be born. The Francis who was a simple crusader had to die before the Saint of Assisi could be born. Because all men have free will, no man can transform himself without honest and sincere effort. Hence, after setting out the nature of the Gods, the Fathers of the human race, H.P. Blavatsky, in the same article quoted, spoke of the conditions of probation of incarnated souls seeking resurrection:

   . . . every true Theosophist holds that the divine HIGHER SELF of every mortal man is of the same essence as the essence of these Gods. Being, moreover, endowed with free-will, hence having, more than they, responsibility, we regard the incarnated EGO as far superior to, if not more divine than, any spiritual INTELLIGENCE still awaiting incarnation. Philosophically, the reason for this is obvious, and every metaphysician of the Eastern school will understand it. The incarnated EGO has odds against it which do not exist in the case of a pure divine Essence unconnected with matter; the latter has no personal merit, whereas the former is on his way to final perfection through the trials of existence, of pain and suffering.

It is up to each one to decide whether to make this suffering constructive, these trials meaningful, these tribulations a golden opportunity for self-transformation and spiritual resurrection.

If this decision is not made voluntarily during life, it is thrust upon each ego at death. Every human being has to pass at the moment of death, according to the wisdom of the ancients, to a purgatorial condition in which there is a separation of the immortal individuality. It is like a light which is imprisoned during waking life, a life which is a form of sleep within the serpent coils of matter. This god within is clouded over by the fog of fear, superstition and confusion, and all but the pure in heart obscure the inner light by their demonic deceits and their ignorant denial of the true heart. Every human being needs to cast out this shadow, just as he would throw away an old garment, says Krishna, or just as he would dump into a junkyard an utterly unredeemable vehicle. Any and every human being has to do the same on the psychological plane. Each is in the same position. He has to discard the remnants, but the period for this varies according to each person. This involves what is called ‘the mathematics of the soul.’ Figures are given to those with ears to hear, and there is a great deal of detailed application to be made.

Was Jesus exempt from this? He wanted no exception. He had taken the cross. He had become one with other men, constantly taking on their limitations, exchanging his finer life-atoms for their gross life-atoms – the concealed thoughts, the unconscious hostilities, the chaotic feelings, the ambivalences, the ambiguities, the limitations of all. He once said, My virtue has gone out of me,when the hem of his garment was touched by a woman seeking help, but does this mean that he was exposed only when he physically encountered other human beings? The Gospel according to John makes it crisply clear, since it is the most mystical and today the most meaningful of the four gospels, that this was taking place all the time. It not only applies to Jesus. It takes place all the time for every person, often unknown to oneself. But when it is fully self-conscious, the pain is greater, such as when a magnanimous Adept makes a direct descent from his true divine estate, leaving behind his finest elements, like Surya the sun in the myth who cuts off his lustre for the sake of entering into a marriage with Sanjna, coming into the world, and taking on the limitations of all. The Initiator needs the three days in the tomb, but these three days are metaphorical. They refer to what is known in the East as a necessary gestation state when the transformation could be made more smoothly from the discarded vehicle which had been crucified.

People tend to fasten upon the wounds and the blood, even though, as Titian’s painting portrays clearly, the tragedy of Jesus was not in the bleeding wounds but in the ignorance and self-limitation of the disciples. He had promised redemption to anyone and everyone who was true to him, which meant, he said, to love each other. He had washed the feet of the disciples, drawn them together, given them every opportunity so that they would do the same for each other. He told them that they need only follow this one commandment. We know how difficult it is for most people today to love one another, to work together, to pull together, to cooperate and not compete, to add and not subtract, to multiply and serve, not divide and rule. This seems very difficult especially in a hypocritical society filled with deceit and lies. What are children to say when their parents ask them to tell the truth and they find themselves surrounded by so many lies? In the current cycle the challenge is most pointed and poignant. More honesty is needed, more courage, more toughness – this time for the sake of all mankind. One cannot leave it to a future moment for some pundits in theological apologetics and theosophical hermeneutics to say this cycle was only for some chosen people. Every single part of the world has to be included and involved.

The teaching of Jesus was a hallowed communication of insights, a series of sacred glimpses, rather than a codification of doctrine. He presented not asumma theologica or ethica, but the seminal basis from which an endless series of summae could be conceived. He initiated a spiritual current of sacred dialogue, individual exploration and communal experiment in the quest for divine wisdom. He taught the beauty of acquiescence and the dignity of acceptance of suffering – a mode appropriate to the Piscean Age. He showed salvation – through love, sacrifice and faith – of the regenerated psyche that cleaves to the light of no us. He excelled in being all things to all men while remaining utterly true to himself and to his ‘Father in Heaven.’ He showed a higher respect for the Temple than its own custodians. At the same time he came to found a new kind of kingdom and to bring a message of joy and hope. He came to bear witness to the Kingdom of Heaven during life’s probationary ordeal on earth. He vivified by his own luminous sacrifice the universal human possibility of divine self-consecration, the beauty of beatific devotion to the Transcendental Source of Divine Wisdom – the Word Made Flesh celebrating the Verbum In the Beginning.

Above all, there was the central paradox that his mission had to be vindicated by its failure, causing bewilderment among many of his disciples, while intuitively understood only by the very few who were pure in heart and strong in devotion, blessed by the vision of the Ascension. After three days in the tomb, Jesus, in the guise of a gardener, said to a poor, disconsolate Mary Magdalene,Mary! At once she looked back because she recognized the voice, and she said,Rabboni – “My Master” – and fell at his feet. Then he said, Touch me not. Here is a clue to his three days in the tomb. The work of permanent transmutation of life-atoms, of transfiguration of vehicles, was virtually complete. He then said,Go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God. Subsequently he appeared three times to his disciples.

Jesus gave the greatest possible confidence to all his disciples by ever paying them the most sacred compliment, telling them that they were children of God. But, still, if a person thinks that he is nothing, or thinks that he is the greatest sinner on earth, how can the compassion and praise of Jesus have meaning for him? Each person has to begin to see himself undramatically as one of many sinners and say, “My sins are no different from those of anyone else.” The flesh is weak but pneuma, the spirit, is willing. And pneuma has to do with breath. The whole of the Gospel according to John is saturated with the elixir of the breathing-in and breathing-out by Jesus of the life-infusing current that gives every man a credible faith in his promise and possibility, and, above all, a living awareness of his immortality, which he can self-consciously realize when freed from mis-identification with his mortal frame.

The possibility of resurrection has to do with identification and mis-identification. This is the issue not for just a few but for all human beings who, in forgetfulness, tend to think that they are what their enemies think, or that they are what their friends want them to be. At one time men talked of the imago Christi. We now live in a society that constantly deals in diabolical images and the cynical corruption of image-making, a nefarious practice unfamiliar in simpler societies which still enjoy innocent psychic health. Even more, people now engage in image-crippling – the most heinous of crimes. At one time men did it openly, with misguided courage. They pulled down statues and defaced idols. They paid for it and are still paying. Perhaps those people were reborn in this society. That is sad because they are condemning themselves to something worse than hell – not only the hell of loneliness and despair – but much worse. The light is going out for many a human being. The Mahatmas have always been with us. They have always abundantly sent forth benedictory vibrations. They are here on earth where they have always had their asylums and their ashrams. Under cyclic law they are able to use precisely prepared forums and opportunities to re-erect or resurrect the mystery temples of the future. Thus, at this time, everybody is stirred up by the crucial issue of identity – which involves the choice between the living and the dead, between entelechy and self-destruction.

The central problem in the Gospel according to John, which Paul had to confront in giving his sermon on the resurrection, has to do with life and with death. What is life for one man is not life to another. Every man or woman today has to raise the question, “What does it mean for me to be alive, to breathe, to live for the sake of others, to live within the law which protects all but no one in particular?” Whoever truly identifies with the limitless and unconditional love of Jesus and with the secret work of Jesus which he veiled in wordless silence, is lit up. Being lit up, one is able to see the divine Buddha-nature, the light vesture of the Buddha. The disciples in the days of the Buddha, and so again in the days of Jesus, were able to see the divine raiment made of the most homogeneous pure essence of universal Buddhi. Immaculately conceived and unbegotten, it isdaiviprakriti, the light of the Logos. Every man at all times has such a garment, but it is covered over. Therefore, each must sift and select the gold from the dross. The more a person does this truly and honestly, the more the events of what we call life can add up before the moment of death. They can have a beneficent impact upon the mood and the state of mind in which one departs. A person who is wise in this generation will so prepare his meditation that at the moment of death he may read or have read out those passages in the Bhagavad Gita, The Voice of the Silence, or The Gospel According to St. John, that are exactly relevant to what is needed. Then he will be able to intone the Word, which involves the whole of one’s being and breathing, at the moment when he may joyously discard his mortal garment. It has been done, and it is being done. It can be done, and it will be done. Anyone can do it, but in these matters there is no room for chance or deception, for we live in a universe of law. Religion can be supported now by science, and to bring the two together in the psychology of self-transformation one needs true philosophy, the unconditional love of wisdom.

The crucifixion of Jesus and his subsequent resurrection had little reference to himself, any more than any breath he took during his life. Thus, in the Gospel, we read that Jesus promises that when he will be gone from the world, he will send the Paraclete. This archaic concept has exercised the pens of many scholars. What is the Paraclete? What does it mean? ‘Comforter’? ‘The Spirit of Truth’? Scholars still do not claim to know. The progress made in this century is in the honest recognition that they do not know, whereas in the nineteenth century they quarrelled, hurled epithets at each other out of arrogance, with a false confidence that did not impress anyone for long. The times have changed, and this is no moment for going back to the pseudo-complacency of scholasticism, because today it would be false, though at one time it might have had some understandable basis. Once it might have seemed a sign of health and could have been a pardonable and protective illusion. Today it would be a sign of sickness because it would involve insulting the intelligence of many young people, men and women, Christian, Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, but also Buddhist, Hindu, Moslem, Sikh, and every other kind of denomination. No one wants to settle for the absurdities of the past, but all nonetheless want a hope by which they may live and inherit the future, not only for themselves or their descendants, but for all living beings.

This, then, is a moment when people must ask what would comfort the whole of mankind. What did Jesus think would be a way of comforting all? Archetypally, the Gospel according to John is speaking in this connection of the mystery temple, where later all the sad failures of Christianity took place. This is the light and the fire that must be kept alive for the sake of all. Who, we may ask, will joyously and silently maintain it intact? Who will be able to say, as the dying Latimer said in Oxford in 1555“We shall this day light such a candle . . . as I trust shall never be put out.” Jesus was confident that among his disciples there were those who had been set afire by the flames that streamed through him. He was the Hotri, ‘the indispensable agent’ for the universal alkahest, the elixir of life and immortality. He was the fig tree that would bear fruit, but he predicted that there would be fig trees that would bear no fruit. He was referring to the churches that have nothing to say, nothing real to offer, and above all, do not care that much for the lost Word or the world’s proletariat, or the predicament and destiny of the majority of mankind.

His confidence was that which came to him, like everything in his life, from the Father, the Paraguru, the Lord of Libations, who, with boundless love for all, sustains in secret the eternal contemplation, together with the twoBodhisattvas – one whose eye sweeps over slumbering earth, and the other whose hand is extended in protecting love over the heads of his ascetics. Jesus spoke in the name of the Great Sacrifice. He spoke of the joy in the knowledge that there were a few who had become potentially like the leaven that could lift the whole lump, who had become true Guardians of the Eternal Fires. These are the vestal fires of the mystery temple which had disappeared in Egypt, from which the exodus took place. They had disappeared from Greece, though periodically there were attempts to revive them, such as those by Pythagoras at Delphi. They were then being poured into a new city called Jerusalem. In a sense, the new Comforter was the New Jerusalem, but it was not just a single city nor was it merely for people of one tribe or race.

Exoterically, the temple of Jerusalem was destroyed in 63 B.C. by Pompey and was rebuilt. Later it was razed to the ground again in 70 A.D. Since the thirteenth century no temple has been in existence there at all because that city has been for these past seven hundred years entirely in the hands of those who razed the old buildings and erected minarets and mosques. Now, people wonder if there really ever was a true Jerusalem, for everywhere is found the Babylon of confusion. Today it is not Origen who speaks to us, but Celsus, on behalf of all Epicureans. Everyone is tempted, like Lot’s wife, to be turned into salt by fixing their attention upon the relics and memories of the past long after they have vanished into the limbo of dissolution and decay.

Anyone, however, who has an authentic soul-vision is El Mirador. Jesus knew that the vision, entrusted to the safekeeping of a few, would inspire them to lay the basis of what would continue, because of what they did, despite all the corruption and the ceaseless crucifixion. Even today, two thousand years later, when we hear of the miracle of the limitless love of Jesus, when we hear the words he spoke, when we read about and find comfort in what he did, we are deeply stirred. We are abundantly grateful because in us is lit the chela-light of true reverential devotion to the Christos within. This helps us to see all the Christs of history, unknown as well as renowned, as embodiments of the One and Only – the One without a Second, in the cryptic language of the Upanishads. When this revelation takes place and is enjoyed inwardly, there are glad tidings, because it is on the invisible plane that the real work is done. Most people are fixated on the visible and want to wait for fruits from trees planted by other men. There are a few, however, who have realized the comfort to be derived in the true fellowship of those who seek the kingdom of God within themselves, who wish to become the better able to help and teach others, and who will be true in their faith from now until the twenty-first century. Some already have been using a forty-year calendar.

There have been such persons before us. Pythagoras called them Heroes. The Buddha called them Shravakas, true listeners, and Shramanas, true learners. Then there were some who became Srotapattis, ‘those who enter the stream,’ and among them were a few Anagamin, ‘those who need never return on earth again involuntarily.’ There were also those who were Arhans of boundless vision, Perfected Men, Bodhisattvas, endlessly willing to re-enter the cave, having taken the pledge of Kwan-Yin to redeem every human being and all sentient life.    Nothing less than such a vow can resurrect the world today. These times are very different from the world at the time of John because in this age outward forms are going to give no clues in relation to the work of the formless. Mankind has to grow up. We find Origen saying this in the early part of the third century and Philo saying the same even in the first century. Philo, who was a Jewish scholar and a student of Plato, was an intuitive intellectual, while Origen, who had studied the Gnostics and considered various philosophical standpoints, was perhaps more of a mystic or even an ecstatic. Both knew that the Christoscould only be seen by the eye of the mind. If therefore thine eye be single, Jesus said, thy whole body shall be full of Light. Those responding with the eyes of the body could never believe anything because, as Heraclitus said, “Eyes are bad witnesses to the soul.” The eyes of the body must be tutored by the eye of the mind. Gupta Vidya also speaks of the eye of the heart and the eye in the forehead – the eye of Wisdom-Compassion. Through it, by one’s own love, one will know the greater love. By one’s own compassion one will know the greater compassion. By one’s own ignorance one will recognize the ignorance around and seek the privilege of recognition of the Paraclete. Then, when the eye becomes single in its concentration upon the welfare of all, the body will become full of the light of the Christos. Once unveiled at the fundamental level of causality, it makes a man or woman an eternal witness to the true resurrection of the Son of Man into the highest mansions of the Father.

Hermes, April 1977
Raghavan Iyer

Men of the Mountain: Secret Masters and Theosophical Masons

What were the historical origins of Helena Blavatsky’s Theosophical ‘Secret Masters’? In the following paper we discuss how it may well have been the long-established heritage of high-grade continental masonry that gave birth to the particular spiritual and historical context in which the Theosophical movement was able to promote its ideas of ‘Secret Masters’ – ideas which ultimately tied in with fantastical beliefs surrounding a secret occult hierarchy supervising spiritual evolution on Earth, known as the ‘Great White Brotherhood’. Blavatsky portrayed these ‘Masters’ of the Great White Brotherhood or ‘Mahatmas’, as living in the remote mountains of the Himalayas, often materializing to the Theosophers in person, or communicating with them by ‘letters transmitted by occult means’… but were their origins actually much closer to home? […]


Food for Thought …

“Those who represent an ideal beyond the comprehension of the masses must face the persecution of the unthinking multitude who are without that divine idealism which inspires progress and those rational faculties which unerringly sift truth from falsehood. The lot of the Initiate-Teacher is therefore almost invariably an unhappy one.

Pythagoras, crucified and his university burned; Hypatia, torn from her chariot and rended limb from limb; Jacques de Molay, whose memory survives the consuming flame; Savonarola, burned in the square of Florence; Galileo, forced to recant upon bended knee; Giordano Bruno, burned by the Inquisition; Roger Bacon, compelled to carry on his experiments in the secrecy of his cell and leave his knowledge hidden under cipher; Dante Alighieri, dying in exile from his beloved city; Francis Bacon, patient. under the burden of persecution; Cagliostro, the most vilified man of modern times–all this illustrious line bear unending witness of man’s inhumanity to man. The world has ever been prone to heap plaudits upon its fools and calumny upon its thinkers.

As is so often the case with genius, Pythagoras by his outspokenness incurred both political and personal enmity. Among those who came for initiation was one who, because Pythagoras refused to admit him, determined to destroy both the man and his philosophy. By means of false propaganda, this disgruntled one turned the minds of the common people against the philosopher. Without warning, a band of murderers descended upon the little group of buildings where the great teacher and his disciples dwelt, burned the structures and killed Pythagoras.”

– Manly P. Hall, The Secret Teachings of all Ages