The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 2000 Vol. 2 Issue 11
A New Year
I have watched a flower open – a secret or trick of photographic art, but it was like looking in on Nature's workshop. The closed bud, beautiful in itself, the awareness of a strange impelling force that in time would reveal the heart of the flower – with each unfolding petal I was witness to a revelation. Had this been all it would have left a memory not soon forgotten; but there was something else, some fleeting impression that linked this experience to the birth of the year.
How like a flower bud are those first few moments after the old year has departed! Beautiful with hope, mysterious with unguessed possibilities, moved by a like impelling force that will lay bare its inmost secret, petal by petal, day by day. Every living thing is a part of that mighty force, but we humans are linked to it by creative and moral bonds. The blossoming year is tended by us; we share in the perfection or distortion of each petal as it unfolds; we can shed its fragrance all around us, or we can withhold it selfishly.
May the flower that is the New Year unfold graciously for all. – Hazel Minot
The Letters of H. P. Blavatsky to A. P. Sinnett, compiled by A. Trevor Barker, is now available at Theosophical University Press Online (www.theosociety.org/pasadena/tup-onl.htm). Most of the letters were written between when HPB went to live in Europe in 1885 and before she settled permanently in London in 1887. Individual letters are linked in the compiler's order, and chronologically among themselves as well as with The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett. With this book, the full text of all current TUP publications is now online.
The Northwest Branch site has added 19 articles from the H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery series written by G. de Purucker with Katherine Tingley. Originally published in The Theosophical Path in 1929-1930, the articles can be found under the topics: H. P. Blavatsky, Hierarchies, Teachers, Evolution, Reincarnation, and Karma.
Every year, indeed every Epiphany, is another reminder to drop all sense of failure and of fear – fear of others, primarily fear of ourselves – and reclaim what is inherently ours: the courage and the vision of the pioneer who is ever ready to face new trials and to venture into new ways of thinking and action, confident that his strength will be sufficient for the height of his aim.
From"Cycles – The Eternal Impulse of Nature"
A new Messianic cycle of 2,160 years is opening, as the spring equinox moves from Pisces to Aquarius. The result is a corresponding change in the quality of our times and thought-life. It is of great importance for all of us to cooperate and thus help mankind to work with nature once more, while leading individuals back to the sacred sources of their being. We must not only demand human rights, but recognize human duties as a basis for the next millennium and beyond, expressing the timeless, universal wisdom-teachings in modern language and, above all, learning to live them.
The transition from one cycle to the next is always a critical point. When there is a change between day and night, when season follows season, when sleeping and waking blend together – it is only then that the necessary pattern for life, consciousness, recognition, and evolution comes forth. We constantly experience such transitions – but not consciously.
But we feel the effects not only of minor cycles such as the end of a century or millennium, or the precession of the equinoxes. According to theosophy, humanity has reached the most material point of its development, or a minute step beyond, because the earth's life span is half over. We are beginning once more to ascend the luminous arc of evolution: an evolution of spirit and an involution of matter.
The vision before us reveals a majestic path of evolution, ordered by cycles replacing, supplementing, and over-lapping each other. Through them we may learn to handle our smaller daily cycles better; and the changes we see around us, which some interpret as threatening disasters, may actually be necessary and helpful turnings of evolutionary cycles. Let us accept these challenges and make of them what we can. – Armin Zebrowski
Monthly Discussion Group
"Mind, Soul, and Body: Healing Ourselves"is our subject. We will discuss such questions as: Can we use mind-power to heal ourselves? Is illness a result of physical or mental causes, or both? Can spiritual strength counterbalance illness? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
February 10: What Can the Ancient Wisdom Teach Us?
Many people talk about the heroism of self-conquest – something with which we all agree; but I sometimes wonder if our ideas of heroic battling with ourselves are not just a wee bit hysteriac, even foolish! I do not mean the heroism part of it, but this lower self of us, poor little thing! It plays havoc with us all the time, simply because we identify ourselves with it and always try to fight it and make it as big as we are. Is it heroic to fight a ghost of our own making?
How about wise old Lao-tse? If you want to conquer your lower self, make it ashamed of itself, make it look ridiculous. Laugh at it; laugh at yourself. So long as you pay attention to something, you dignify it and put it on your own level; and then when you attempt to fight it you are actually fighting another part of yourself which really could be enormously useful.
I have heard it said: kill out the lower self. Well, suppose we could do that? We should then be most unfortunate beings; in fact, we should not be here. This lower self when kept in order is a good little beastie. It helps us. Our duty is simply to keep it in order. Now when a man has a fractious dog or a horse or a cat, or some other pet, whatever it may be, he does not kick it and beat it and hit it on the head in order to make it good. He would be apt to make it rebellious, cowardly, and vicious; he would be degrading it. Thus the lower self should be neither degraded nor clothed with the false dignity of an adversary erroneously raised to the position of the spiritual self. It should be kept in its place and treated with kindness, consideration, and courtesy, but always with a firm and governing hand. When the lower self begins to presume, then put it in its proper place, but neither by brutality nor by dignifying it nor by fighting it. Ridicule your lower self, and you will soon see the lower self reassuming its proper position because full of temporary shame and loss of dignity – loss of face, as the Chinese say.
I do believe Lao-tse of China was wise in his statement which runs to the effect that one of the best ways of conquering a foe is to make him look ridiculous.
Now that does not work as between man and man, because it is often very harsh and cruel, the two being on the same level. You can hurt a human being horribly and unjustly by placing him in a false position through ridicule. No; but try it on yourself. The next time the lower self wants to tell you what to do, laugh at it; don't dignify it; don't give it position and power and strength by fighting it; on the other hand, do not abuse it or make it weak and vicious and cowardly. Put it in its proper place by ridicule and, indeed at times, a gentle contempt. Learn the greater heroism. Laugh at the thing which bothers you!
The role a sense of humor plays in life, which means in human thought and feeling and consequent conduct, and the role that humor plays in spiritual things is all too often overlooked. We may define a sense of humor as seeing the harmonious relations between apparently incongruous things, the congruities as among incongruities, arousing a sense of the funny in us.
The ability to see humor in what happens to ourselves is a spiritual attribute. After all, humor is at the very root of the universe; and I think that one of the greatest tragedies of individual existence has been the lack of the ability to see the funny side of things when troubles come. When disasters befall you, just try to see the funny side, and you not only save yourself in all likelihood a lot of trouble, but likewise you get a great kick out of it.
There is a great deal of sound science and philosophy in the old Hindu idea that Brahman brought forth the universe in play, in fun. In other words, the bringing forth of all things was not a tragedy; there was beauty in it, there was harmony in it; there was humor in it; and those who are in this universe can see the humor in it if they will.
Look at the religious wars and squabbles that never would have occurred if people had had a sense of humor. If people nowadays would see the funny side of things, then they would begin to live together, to love together, to laugh together, and to take counsel together instead of distrusting each other.