The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
January 1999 Vol. 1 Issue 11
This month "What Is the Origin of Life?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What is life, and how do scientific and theosophic concepts of it compare? How does it relate to consciousness and matter? To human psychological and spiritual elements? How did terrestrial and human life arise? What does it mean to consider the earth as a "living" being? Is there life elsewhere in the universe? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
February 11: Psychic Powers -- Dangerous or Beneficial?
March 11: Have We Lived Before?
In a large city in Alabama in 1945, some of us "war widows" set up a canteen for officers in one of the city's hotels. One afternoon a General came in for coffee, music, and perhaps a game of bridge. He was a big man -- tall, greying, and full of confidence. The younger officers seemed to gravitate to him, as if drawn by a magnet, for his strength was most compelling. After a while they drifted off to dance and I got a chance to speak with him. He had a wonderfully direct way of looking at you, an easy sense of humor, and a contagious chuckle. We discussed war, with all its horrors, its rigid discipline, and so on, and I asked him how he had come through it all and still kept his humor and wits about him. Almost shyly he took out a well-worn slip of paper from his uniform pocket and handed it to me. "This," he said, "has pulled me though quite a few seemingly insurmountable problems." I read the little poem -- almost a prayer -- and then reread it. This huge man, leader of many men, lived in war and in peace by these simple words:
I am the place where God shines through,
For He and I are one, not two.
He wants me where, and as I am,
I need not fret, nor fear, nor plan.
If I will be relaxed and free
He'll carry out his work through me.
Now I could understand his clear, direct gaze, his confident bearing, and the magnetism the junior officers felt when he entered. I never saw the General again, but had I been fighting in a war I should have liked to have had him as my commanding officer. -- Jane Bartlett Walter
Theosophical University Press has added several more titles to its website at www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ tup-onl.htm:
plus three more introductory theosophical manuals: Hierarchies: The Ladder of Life and Rounds and Races: Our Divine Parentage and Destiny, both by Gertrude van Pelt, and The Astral Light by Henry T. Edge
We would like to give special thanks to Australian theosophist Gladney Oakley for his help in identifying errors in the online version of The Secret Doctrine and several other TUP books, as well as in the Collation of Theosophical Glossaries on the Northwest Branch website.
Listen to the Salutation of the Dawn.
Look to this Day, for it is Life,
The very Life of Life.
In its brief course lie all the possibilities
and realities of your existence.
The Bliss of Growth --
The Glory of Action --
The Splendor of Beauty --
For yesterday is already a dream and
tomorrow is only a vision:
but today well-lived
makes every yesterday a dream of happiness
and every tomorrow a vision of hope.
Look well therefore to this day.
Such is the Salutation of the dawn. -- from the Sanskrit
By G. de Purucker
Life is intelligent substantial spiritual force manifesting in myriad forms as the various forms of energy. Corporately considered it is the intelligent, ever-active, inherently vital forces of any being. Life is an ethereal vital fluid, therefore it is also substance, but ethereal substance; and life is inherently active on each and every one of the planes or worlds, visible and invisible, which in their aggregate compose the universe -- and in fact are the universe. Indeed, both force and substance are themselves essential phases of the underlying universal reality, which is the cosmic background of being: the everlasting cosmic life-substance-intelligence.
Life, whether considered as an entity or a process, is therefore no mysterious thing: it is in fact the most familiar thing in the world, the most familiar in the universe; because, if we consider the matter in its fundamentals we become immediately sensible that life is all that is, because it is the root or essence of all that is. And this root or basis has neither imaginable beginning nor conceivable end. What is it that gives its "life" to any one entity? It is the vital electricity in the entity itself or, to turn our vision to more ethereal and causal parts of the entity's composite constitution, we could more truly call the life of such an entity the spiritual electricity of its monad, which is but another name for the vital characteristic or individuality of the monad, which flows forth from the monad and in so doing unwraps or unfolds itself, and thus produces the individual characteristics of such an entity, whether that entity be apple tree, banana palm, beast, mineral, human, celestial body, god or what not. Life, therefore, is in one sense spirit-substance.
Life furthermore is the carrier of consciousness. Life may truly be called the crystallization or condensation of consciousness, which is not an abstract and vague something: for consciousness, precisely like life, is what science, seeing but its manifestation in the physical universe, calls energy in all its myriad forms. Consciousness and life are really one -- not twain. Consciousness is the originant, and this originant by its own inherent powers and energies, faculties and attributes, produces life out of itself: not at any one time specifically, but continuously forever, and coincidentally with its own existing duration. Consciousness and life together originate and produce from themselves the manifestations of force or energy, which in its turn deposits or lays down the substances of the universe, much as wine will deposit its lees. We must be exceedingly careful never to imagine that consciousness is a separate thing from life, and therefore can exist apart from it; or equivalently that life is a separate thing from force or energy and therefore can exist apart from it; or that matter is a separate thing from force or energy and therefore can exist apart from it. All these entities or elements are but names or counters used to differentiate and thereby more accurately to express the all-various forms of unceasing activity of the primordial basis of kosmic being -- indeed, cosmic or entitative as applicable to individuals composing the various hierarchies, as the case may be.
This primordial basis of being we may thus otherwise call the kosmic life, or the kosmic consciousness: infinite, boundless, without frontiers, the carrier and the bearer of all the nobler and higher parts of the cosmic entity which holds the cosmic figure in equilibrium and perpetual existence throughout endless duration. Yet cosmic entity is but a generalizing expression, and is not God in the sense in which that word has been misunderstood in Occidental countries. It is rather the aggregate, the sum-total, the vast cosmic ocean composed of all the individual droplets of life, the innumerable cosmic lives or individual entities which in their incomprehensible totality make and indeed are the universe. It is not however in any wise denied that this cosmic aggregate can have an individuality of its own, for indeed it has such; but even so, when compared with the boundless infinitude, immense and vast in magnitude as the cosmic aggregate is, it is but a cosmic speck lost in the ocean of infinity and is only one of countless other multitudes, incomputable hosts, of others similar.
Man in his own smaller makeup is but a little world, a microcosm of the great world or macrocosm. The basis of his individual being as a human being is the background or heart of his individual monad. This essential self of each of us, the source of the life and consciousness and intelligence within us, and the functioning of our inherent moral sense, our inner god, is stepped down through the intermediate planes of increasing substantiality belonging to our inner and invisible constitution; and therefore (cosmically speaking) also through the inner and invisible worlds of boundless nature, until that descending current of consciousness-intelligence-life-energy reaches our physical plane -- up to then non-existent -- and produces from its own substance or being the physical world in which we live and have our conscious existence as individuals -- flowers of the indwelling and ever-enduring monadic essence.