[The Vahan, No. 1, August 1891]
Q. Is it well to talk about Occultism to the ordinary enquirer into Theosophy?
W.Q.J.-- It is better not to do so. Ordinary enquirers may be attracted to Theosophy because of its mysterious appearance, but that is no reason for giving them just what they demand. For surely later on they will find that the pursuit of the mysteries and the occult is hedged about with many difficulties and that it demands an acquaintance with every other philosophy that ought to have been offered to them when they first enquired. Furthermore it is not the many who are fitted for Occultism, but rather the few, and those few will soon find their way into the path no matter how they may have approached it. Enquirers will then be directed to this philosophy and the ethics of the Theosophical system, as true Occultism springs from philosophy, and its practice is alone safely possible for those who have a right system of ethics.
[The Vahan, Second Series, August, 1891, #1 pp. 1-6]
W.P. -- I am very much interested in Theosophy and should like to help the Society. What work can I do?
W.Q.J.-- This is a Theosophical business question. Service is rendered in many different ways: by work in the Branches, by spreading literature, by explaining the doctrines and doing away with misconceptions, by contributing money to be used in the work, by constituting oneself a loyal unit if ability and time be lacking; and chiefly, always by acquiring a knowledge of Theosophical doctrines so as to be able to give a clear answer to inquiry. One could also procure some inquiring correspondent and by means of letters answer questions as to Theosophical literature and doctrines. These are all general answers, while the question requires almost a personal examination. Any work that is sincerely done in the Society with good motive and to the best of one's ability is good Theosophical work.
If another by altruistic service benefits one, is not such action vicarious and inconsistent with Karma?
W.Q.J.-- A common error, which arises from incompletely viewing the doctrine of Karma, is the idea that we interfere with Karma when we benefit another. The question is equally applicable to the doing of any injury to another. It cuts both ways; so we might as well ask if it is not inconsistent with the law and vicarious for one to do any evil act which results harmfully to a fellow creature. In neither case is there vicarious atonement or interference. If we can do good to our fellows, that is their good Karma and ours also; if we have the opportunity to thus confer benefits and refuse to do so, then that is our bad Karma in that we neglected a chance to help another. The Masters once wrote that we should not be thinking on our good or bad Karma, but should do our duty on every hand and at every opportunity, unmindful of what may result to us. It is only a curious kind of conceit, which seems to be the product of nineteenth century civilization, that causes us to falsely imagine that we, weak and ignorant human beings, can interfere with Karma or be vicarious atoners for others. We are all bound up together in one coil of Karma and should ever strive by good acts, good thoughts and high aspirations, to lift a little of the world's heavy Karma, of which our own is a part. Indeed, no man has any Karma of his own unshared by others; we share each one in the common Karma, and the sooner we perceive this and act accordingly the better it will be for us and for the world.
What place have mercy and forgiveness in Theosophy, and are they consistent with Karma?
W.Q.J.-- Mercy and forgiveness should have the highest place in that branch of Theosophy which treats of ethics as applied to our conduct. And were it not for the perfect mercifulness of Karma -- which is merciful because it is just -- we ought long ago to have been wiped out of existence. The very fact that the oppressor, the unjust, the wicked, live out their lives is proof of mercy in the great heart of Nature. They are thus given chance after chance to retrieve their errors and climb, if even on the ladder of pain, to the height of perfection. It is true that Karma is just, because it exacts payment to the last farthing, but on the other hand it is eternally merciful, since it unerringly pays out its compensations. Nor is the shielding from necessary pain true mercy, but is indeed the opposite, for sometimes it is only through pain that the soul acquires the precise knowledge and strength it requires. In my view, mercy and justice go hand in hand when Karma issues its decrees, because that law is accurate, faithful, powerful, and not subject to the weakness, the failure in judgment, the ignorance that always accompany the workings of the ordinary human judgment and action.
G.E.L. -- I am a married man, without children, and my wife, who takes no interest in Theosophy, complains that I am neglecting her to attend Theosophical meetings or lectures in the evenings. Should I give up the lectures?
W.Q.J.-- Justice to ourselves and those dependent on us would seem to answer that no wife has the right to demand the whole of a man's time. If she cannot attend a lecture or meeting once a week, she ought to be willing that her husband may. But if she considers herself the "legal owner" of the man she married to the extent that she wishes to eat up his entire attention, then of course dissatisfaction will supervene, unjustly founded and wholly inexcusable. If her complaint of neglect is based upon one night in a week devoted to a Theosophical meeting which she has no taste for, the man who submits is his own taskmaster, who ought not to ask other Theosophists to lay down his duty in daily life. Questions between man and wife ought to be settled in the family forum, and not dragged into the field of Theosophical discussion, where they are utterly out of place.
[The Vahan, Vol. 1, January, 1892, #6, p. 1]
R.M. -- In both Europe and America I have met a good many Theosophists who enquire into and appear to dabble in practical applications of the directions found in some of our literature, in the "Upanishads," and in a little book of one Sabapathi Swamy, respecting psychic development, by means of postures, regulating the breath and the like. What can be said upon this?
W.Q.J.-- These attempts at practical Yoga -- as it is called -- are most dangerous, and in addition presumptuous and foolish. It is well understood in the right circles in India, that the directions found in many of the Upanishads should never be practiced except under the following conditions: (a) a complete knowledge of all, and of the consequences, with a knowledge of correctives to be applied when changes take place; and (b) the possession of a thoroughly competent guide to point out errors, to restrain endeavor and to indicate danger, as well as to cure troubles that ensue. Yet in the face of all this, and of repeated warnings, there are those who will foolhardily begin the practices in complete ignorance. They do not even pursue the ethical regulations that accompany all the others, such as the doing away with all vices, bad habits, uncharitable thoughts and so on; but go in for the practices, merely in the hope of procuring psychic powers. It is time it were stopped, and time that those who give out this literature looked into what they give out to a grasping and stiff-necked generation. That damage has been wrought both to the Society and some of its members cannot be contested, in face of actual experience in all parts of both countries. It is well known that these postures, even when ignorantly used, bring on physiological changes in the body, with great nervous derangements. Further than that the enquiring public is frightened off from our movement by the ill-balanced view of Theosophy and of the Society which these dabblers promulgate. Let us halt before it is too late. Let us give out the ethical and philosophical doctrines for the promulgation of which the Theosophical Society was founded. Thus alone can we accomplish our mission, which is to the world at large and not for the benefit of a few cranky investigators in a field that can only be safely trodden by the thoroughly prepared, the fully armed and the deeply experienced man who has a sound mind and high pure aspirations, joined to a sound body.
P.C.W. -- If animals do not reincarnate, how do they receive a just reparation for the life of suffering which some have to endure?
W.Q.J.-- The answer is easy. They do reincarnate, but that which from them goes forth to reincarnation is not similar to the reincarnating principle of the human being. Were we to suppose that the monads now going through the present animal life were reincarnating in a haphazard way, then surely law disappears, our philosophy tumbles to the ground, and a reign of terror in the scheme of evolution ensues.
F.J.D. -- What is the difference between forms seen in dreams or vision on an astral plane and those seen on a Kama-Manasic plane? And which of the two are considered as having the greater objective reality? If Kama-Manasic forms accompany Devachanic consciousness, how is this connected with the Higher Ego?
W.Q.J.-- Forms seen in dreams and visions are almost always pictures; those on the Kama-Manasic are more often actual forms of that sort of matter. The difference -- when existing -- is that which there is between a photograph of a form and the form itself. The "forms" of Devachanic consciousness are not objective to us, but are to the being in the Devachanic state of consciousness. As the entity is not free -- hence in Devachan -- the mind creates for itself all its surroundings in every detail, and also thereby cultivates departments of the nature which could not be cultivated to the same extent elsewhere. The connection with the Higher Ego, as to which F.J.D.'s ideas are vague, is the same connection as in earth-life, only operating by a different channel.
A.J.W. -- From the occult standpoint is it good to keep vitality in an old person by the use of brandy and other stimulants?
W.Q.J.-- Great heavens! Whence such queries? Is the "occult standpoint" next to be inquired into on the question of what sort of paint is best to be used on the front door? But, if the physician thinks the stimulants are wise and their use does not lead to drunkenness of the old person, then they may be used, one would suppose, uncondemned by occultism or the divulged sciences.
F.G.B. -- How am I to reconcile these two statements? -- (a) The Seven planes of Cosmic Consciousness correspond to the Seven States of consciousness in man. (S.D. I, p. 199.) (b) The Seven States of consciousness in man pertain to quite another question (than the planes of Cosmic Consciousness). (S.D. I, p. 200.)
W.Q.J.-- Quotation (b) does not conflict with (a), as attempted to be shown in the question. On p. 199 the seven planes are said to correspond to the seven states of consciousness in man; the third note on p. 200 says that the reference in the diagram to the fourth plane and above includes -- or refers to -- the four lower planes of cosmic consciousness -- which is a totally different thing from human consciousness -- and that the three higher planes of cosmic consciousness are inaccessible to present human intellect; and that the seven states of human consciousness pertain to another question. Quite so, and quite plain. The querent left out the word "human" in quotation (b), thus making "a totally different question" of the matter, for there is a great difference between saying "human consciousness" and "consciousness in man." The entire seven planes of cosmic consciousness must correspond with, and may yet not be the same as the seven states of our present human consciousness, for there is a radical dissimilarity between a plane and a state, for you may be in a certain state of consciousness and yet function on a plane quite different; as when the drunken man has all his consciousness in a Kamic state and functions with it on the earthly plane. Further, the seven states of human consciousness may perfectly well be our possession and not be developed for the race beyond the first four states of cosmic consciousness, its sevenfold character being potential with its own upper four divisions based on those of the cosmic. The confusion lies in the words plane and state.
[The Vahan, Second Series, Vol. 1, May 1892, No. 10 pp. 1-6]
E.W.B. -- Is it correct for Theosophists to postulate that 'a phase of Idolatry is necessary for the poor in mind?' I made and still make a very strong objection to any phase of Idolatry being necessary.
W.Q.J. -- Common-sense, truth, discrimination and right rules of life all seem to declare that idolatry is not necessary for the Western world; that we cannot judge the mind of the East any more than we can understand why a Western hero-worshipper should indulge in such a practice.
G.W.R. -- The Ego passes through a series of incarnations, in some of which it may inform the body of a man, in others of a woman. Is sex of the vehicle chosen consciously by the spiritual Ego to perfect knowledge, or does it depend upon the Karma engendered in a preceding life? Can any principle be said to preponderate in one sex more than in another?
W.Q.J.-- If masculine quality is the predominate characteristic, the Ego probably will be next in a male body; if not, the other sex. But the whole question is answered by that doctrine of Visishadwaitism which says that "Good Karma is that which is pleasing to Isvara (the Ego) and bad Karma that which is displeasing to it."
[The Vahan, Vol. I, Second Series, June 1, 1892, No. 11 p. 3-4]
M.R. -- Is not the Brahmanical faith the antipodes of universal brotherhood, in that no one who is not born a Brahman can ever be received into their religion?
W.Q.J.-- That faith is not such antipodes, for the Brahmanical faith is not the same as the Brahmanical law of caste, now only a perversion of the actual and eternal divisions among men. Rightly understood and practiced, the real, the pure Brahmanical faith increases universal brotherhood and furnishes for Egos the right stream of heredity for future true progress. But nowadays it is corrupted and hence fulfils not its objects.
[The Vahan, Vol. II, August, 1892, #1, pp. 5-6]
S.C. -- Can anyone explain the following sentence, quoted from H.P.B. in the Path for June: 'Those who fall off from our living human Mahatmas to fall into the Saptarishis -- the Star Rishis -- are no Theosophists'?
William Q. Judge -- This is explained by the fact that there are two classes of beings able to influence mankind at large; the one being the "living human Mahatmas," and the other the non-human beings, who, though not strictly in our stream of evolution, can and sometimes do affect certain human beings. For the purposes of this answer -- but not at all as a full description -- the Saptarishis as meant by H.P.B., are in a very advanced class of elementals, able sometimes to communicate with man, and by their apparent knowledge to make him suppose them to be high spiritual beings regularly evolved from the human stage, but, in fact, they are not human spirits, but of the same character as some of the Devas of the Hindus, and only by accident, as it were, work to the real benefit of the race. That is to say, by communicating with them one is deflected from the normal line of human development. In some cases they have influenced certain mediums, who, being deluded, or rather dazzled, by the extraordinary experiences passed through, do not lean to the human side of spiritual evolution. On the other hand, the "living human Mahatmas" form the direct link with the human spirits of all degrees, who have charge of human spiritual evolution.