The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
February 2005 Vol. 7 Issue 12
Here is a list of the topics currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group for the coming year:
March 17: How Free Is Our Will?
April: Healing Methods: How Can We Choose?
May: Visions and Dreams
June: Right Livelihood
July: Death: A Change of Consciousness
August: The Mysteries of Time
September: Overcoming Fear
October: Mind - Trickster, Transformer
November: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom
December: The Inner Nativity
These are proposed topics only. If you wish to suggest a topic of special interest to you, please contact us.
Lotuses of many colors grow in Asia, Egypt, the Americas, and Australia, and in all these places it has been used as a symbol. Theosophical writers often interpret this symbolism as alluding to the unfoldment of the inner divine potential, as well as to parallels between spiritual and physical planes and between cosmic creation and spiritual rebirth. Because its seed already has within it perfectly formed embryo leaves and whole plantlets - even to the flowers - the water lily symbolizes the recalling of the universe from the Eternal at the beginning of a great solar cycle. It also hints at the concealment of the ideal world within the mundane, and the ability to access the former through the latter. The lotus is called "the child of the Universe bearing the likeness of its mother in its bosom," Helena Blavatsky here emphasizing that "spiritual prototypes of all things exist in the immaterial world before those things become materialised on Earth . . ." Moreover, because it has buds, blossoms, and seed pods simultaneously on the same plant, it has symbolized the past, present, and future.
The ancient Egyptians and Indians noticed that the lotus responds to the presence or absence of light and warmth, submerging itself by night and rising from the water at dawn, symbolically "worshiping the sun." This sun-loving habit made it a symbol for Horus, the Egyptian Christ/Krishna figure, born of the waters of creation. The sun god Ra rises from the blue lotus, as in the primordial cosmogony when he rose from the abyss of chaos. The sun disk of Ra/Horus was hidden by the lotus's enclosing petals; when they opened, the sun rose and flew out in the form of a child wearing the solar disk on his head. The Papyrus of Ani describes the deceased actually turning into a lotus in order to be like Ra and Horus, with a renewed body to enter "heaven" day after day.
The lotus also models many-faceted man reaching up to the divine, with its roots in the mud of material life, a stalk passing through the waters of existence in the astral world, and with its florescence occurring on the water looking up to the spiritual realms of the sky. Earth, water, and air may also stand for the material, intellectual, and spiritual worlds. The lotus relates to creation, regeneration, and the state of the initiate and higher beings, all of whom travel through life's vicissitudes and trials to become at one with the creative source of life in order to return and spread its light to other receptive souls. - Amanda F. Rooke
No one is so busy or so poor that he cannot create a noble ideal and follow it. Why then hesitate in clearing a path towards this ideal, through all obstacles, over every stumbling-block, every petty hindrance of social life, in order to march straight forward until the goal is reached? - H. P. Blavatsky
Thursday, February 3rd, we will continue reading and discussing the Tao Teh Ching by Lao-tzu, starting with verse 35. Feel free to drop in at any meeting!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
Following meetings (at Newport Way Library):
Thursdays, March 3 and April 7, 2005
Our topic is: "Is There Truth in All Religions?" We will be discussing such questions as: Why are there so many religions? Where do their teachings come from? Are differences superficial or fundamental? In what sense is truth found in any religion, and how can we know what is true? What about contradictions among the various faiths, and claims of superiority or having a monopoly on truth? What is the purpose of religions? Are they a force for good in the world? Are they necessary? Can we find truth without a religion? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.
[Delivered in April 1894 at the Parliament of Religions, San Francisco, CA ]
If we compare Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism together on the points of ritual, dogmas, and doctrines, we find not only agreement but a marvelous similarity as well, which looks like an imitation on the part of the younger Christianity. Did the more modern copy the ancient? It would seem probable. And some of the early Christian Fathers were in the habit of saying, as we find in their writings, that Christianity brought nothing new into the world, that it existed from all time.
If we turn to ritual, so fully exemplified in the Roman Catholic Church, we find the same practices and even similar clothing and altar arrangements in Buddhism, while many of the prescribed rules for the altar and approaching or leaving it are mentioned very plainly in far more ancient directions governing the Brahman when acting as priest. As to stations of the cross, or the rosary, confession, convents, and the like; all these are in the older religions. The rosary was long and anciently used in Japan, where they had over 172 sorts. And an examination of the mummies of old Egypt reveals rosaries placed with them in the grave, many varieties being used.
Turning to doctrines, Heaven and Hell are common to Christianity, Buddhism, and Brahmanism. The Brahman calls it Svarga; the Buddhist, Devachan; and we, Heaven. Its opposite is Naraka and Avichi. But names apart, the descriptions are the same. Indeed, the hells of the Buddhists are very terrible, long in duration and awful in effect. The difference is that the heaven and hell of the Christian are eternal, while the others are not. The others come to an end when the forces which cause them are exhausted. In teaching of more than one heaven there is the same likeness, for St. Paul spoke of more than a single heaven to one of which he was rapt away, and the Buddhist tells of many, each being a grade above or below some other. Brahman and Buddhist agree in saying that when heaven or hell is ended for the soul, it descends again to rebirth. And that was taught by the Jews. They held that the soul was originally pure, but sinned and had to wander through rebirth until purified and fit to return to its source.
In priesthood and priestcraft there is a perfect agreement among all religions, save that the Brahman instead of being ordained a priest is so by birth. Buddha's priesthood began with those who were his friends and disciples. After his death they met in council, and subsequently many councils were held, all being attended by priests. Similar questions arose among them as with the Christians, and identical splits occurred, so that now there are Northern and Southern Buddhism and the twelve sects of Japan. The power of the Brahman and Buddhist priests is considerable, and they demand as great privileges and rights as the Christian ones.
The great doctrine of a Savior who is the son of God - God himself - is not an original one with Christianity. It is the same as the extremely ancient one of the Hindus called the doctrine of the Avatara. An Avatara is one who comes down to earth to save man. He is God incarnate. Such was Krishna, and such even the Hindus admit was Buddha, for he is one of the great ten Avataras.
Descending to every-day-life doctrines, we find that of karma., or that we must account and receive for every act. This is the great explainer of human life. It was taught by Jesus, Matthew and St. Paul. The latter explicitly said:
"Brethren, be not deceived; God is not mocked; for whatsoever a man soweth, that also shall he reap."
This is karma of the Brahman and Buddhist, which teaches that each life is the outcome of a former life or lives, and that every man in his rebirths will have to account for every thought and receive measure for the measure given by him.
In ethics all these religions are the same, and no new ethic is given by any. Jesus was the same as his predecessor Buddha, and both taught the law of love and forgiveness. A consideration of the religions of the past and today from a theosophical standpoint will support and confirm ethics. We therefore cannot introduce a new code, but we strive by looking into all religions to find a firm basis, not due to fear, favor, or injustice, for the ethics common to all. This is what Theosophy is for and what it will do. It is the reformer of religion, the unifier of diverse systems, the restorer of justice to our theory of the universe.