The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
July 2006 -- Vol. 9 Issue 5
As the Northwest Branch was chartered ten years ago, we're having a potluck get-together in the meeting room at Newport Way Library on July 29 from 12:30 to 2:30 p.m. You, your family, and friends are welcome to drop by to help us celebrate this milestone with conversation, camaraderie, and whatever food appears.
How did the Branch develop and what have we been doing? In late 1994 two of us began holding a study meeting in private homes; others were involved in work with the theosophical headquarters in Pasadena. In the fall of 1995 five of us began working together as the Eastside-Seattle Theosophical Group, starting the monthly public discussions that continue today. In time we felt our public work would benefit from our becoming an official part the Theosophical Society. Our name represents a larger geographical area since members were scattered over several cities and interested in more than local work. Several had already begun preparing theosophical material for the internet, and once we were a Branch most of us worked actively to convert Theosophical University Press publications, in and out of print, to internet format. Between 1995 and 1999 we readied over eighty books and hundreds of magazine articles that are now online.
Various Branch members also complied a Collation of Theosophical Glossaries and the Children's Booklist (an on-going project; suggestions of books for inclusion are still gratefully received). We hope to continue developing pamphlets, producing this newsletter, and holding meetings and periodic book circles. But what the future holds will depend greatly on input from those who participate in our activities.
In the theosophic view, the fundamental basis of the universe is consciousness which imbodies itself in varying degrees of expression. Life itself is the fundamental aspect of this expression with which we are more readily familiar, for it is evident in our environment, including ourselves. Did it come about via the "accidental" clashing of particles in the night of time, even before or just after the birth of light and other energies? Is indeed light an energy, a wave, a stream of particles Einstein called "photons"? Or is life itself innate in every particle of the "matter" we think we know, and has it always been so, pervading limitless space?
But can we separate life from consciousness? We sense an intelligence directing the action of cellular forces in the growth of an embryo, for example, and surely something similar contributes in the larger arena of the planet itself. We do not perceive the directing influence that guides developments in our planetary environment, but never yet has an organism been found lacking an "organizer" of some sort. Helena Blavatsky symbolized cosmic energy as a steed with "thought" as its rider, implying that consciousness is a faculty with universal applications. As Einstein said: given "that precision I find in the functioning of the cosmos at large, the planets and the sun, and further out the galaxies and other complexities, then I must say all of these are signs of a vast intelligence in operation."
Since our human components are drawn from the cosmic environment, there must be more to the earth and cosmos than its merely physical aspect. Rather than considering life, consciousness, and matter as three isolated phenomena (or two as byproducts of the third), it may be more sound to speak of life-consciousness-substance as a unity of only apparently separate elements -- interdependent, interrelated appearances deriving from one underlying reality beyond our perception.
The key to the origin of life, then, lies in this invisible, nonphysical aspect of the universe. No individual being, whether person or planet, is ever truly "self-contained" because each is intimately joined physically and inwardly to every other aspect of the cosmos. And while the outer forms of living matter are unquestionably subject to scientifically discoverable "universal laws," life itself can no more be understood in its completeness from a purely physical analysis than can so-called inorganic matter. -- I. M. Oderberg
"The Continuum of Life" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: What is life? A fleeting by-product of matter, limited to organic forms? Or a fundamental aspect of the universe itself? How useful for understanding connections among beings are analogies like the web of life, the chain or ladder of being, hierarchies, and holarchies? Where do we as humans fit into the picture? Are we linked to invisible worlds and beings? Is our life destroyed by death, or is death a "birth" into another aspect of life? Are there absolute boundaries, beginnings, and ends, or a continuum of being and consciousness? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
These subjects are currently being considered for the Monthly Discussion group for the rest of the year. As always, those who have a particular topic they would like to have featured are encouraged to contact us.
August 17: How Does Karma Work?
September 21: Earth -- A Living Being
October: Our Spiritual Origin
November: Suffering and Sacrifice
December: Religion and Theosophy
By G. de Purucker
In our inner hunting for "God" we may ask ourselves, where is deity? Vain question! The human mind, because itself a limited thing, always seeks for limits and bounds, and has the greatest difficulty in translating into human words the godlike conceptions of the spirit dwelling in us. There is but one method of understanding the inner nature of the self and its links with the divine: by entering into it.
"Know thyself" was an archaic Greek motto. Why are we so enjoined? Because in looking within, in going farther and farther into the depths of our being, we come ever closer -- but never can we fully attain it -- to the universal life. For the very root of our spiritual nature is the divine itself, our spiritual origin, our impersonal parent, the source of our essence. It is we, and we are it. It is the inmost self living at the core of each of us; at the heart of all that is, of all entities, because fundamentally it is everything. Every smallest spark, every infinitesimal particle which in their aggregate infill the universe -- indeed, are that universe itself -- enshrines a spark of the universal life. Monads are spiritual beings, self-conscious, self-motivated god-sparks, fully self-conscious for this great cycle of planetary life; and such a monad exists at the heart of every infinitesimal, and they are infinite in number.
There is no particle in all space that is not a living being. A god manifests through this spiritual entity, this jiva or "life," to use the Sanskrit term, the monad. On its own plane it is a self-conscious god, a spiritual entity, a spark of the universal life. The monad or cosmic life-center is in the highest reaches of itself, the divine; and in its lowest reaches it is a body ultimately built from its own substance.
As every smallest atom is the offspring of the cosmos, its child and a part of its own being, every atom must have in itself everything that the All contains -- not in bulk, but in capacity of development, sleeping or dormant, in possibility of realization, in principle. Consequently, as we are likewise an intrinsic part of this organism, no more able to free or separate ourselves from it than we can annihilate ourself, we see that in the human heart abide all the issues of life.
Therefore if you want to know what the divine is, if you want to know something of the vastness of the fields of the spiritual spaces, then search earnestly within yourself. Treading these fields of space in thought, you will find that you can reach no ending; and in thus entering within yourself, striving steadily inwards into your own being, you will have set your feet upon the still, ancient, small path which leads directly to the heart of the universe. This is the only pathway by which human consciousness may forever approach the divine, without ever being able to reach it fully of course and without ever being able to understand it in its infinite ranges. But there is an ever-expanding consciousness and compre-hension of ever larger fields of its action, and it is thus that the understanding of it grows ever more and more sublime.
Every one of us, if we will, can enter these sublime spaces of our own inner spiritual being because intrinsically each one is a pathway leading to the heart of the universe, from which flow out all the forces governing the universe and whose effects we are in the phenomenal appearances surrounding us -- varied, manifold, as they are.
When our heart and mind are penetrated with the conception of the fundamental and perfect unity of all things in the vast organism of the cosmos, then we will realize that this cosmos is the field of universal life, of universal consciousness, manifesting in every smallest particle of space; and that it is also the field of an ineffable and boundless love -- not love as human beings understand it, but that intrinsic character of the Inexpressible. It manifests in the atom as attraction. It manifests in the cells and other smaller bodies as the force of coherence and cohesion. It manifests in the framework of the cosmos as that marvelous power which holds the universe in union, all parts in mutual sympathy and harmony, each to each, each to all, all to each; in human beings as spiritual love, and in beings higher than the human as something so beautiful that our human minds can but adumbrate it and call it self-sacrifice for others and for all.
These three, life, consciousness, and love -- the Hindu expresses by his famous phrase, Sat Chit Ananda -- which in reality are but one, may give some idea of the nature of the Inexpressible, the all-encompassing divine origin, destiny, pathway, and final aim of all beings, to which we raise both heart and mind in wordless reverence.