The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 2001 Vol. 4 Issue 9
Everything proceeds from the invisible to the visible, including the human soul, which is on a much grander journey than our limited lifespan on earth would lead us to believe. For ages we have been experiencing a continuum of births, deaths, and rebirths on this planet that has brought us to our present stage. Our true identity is the reincarnating ego or human soul, the creative and perceptive mind which is the immortal pilgrim seeking to become one with our higher self or inner god.
Death has been referred to as a perfect sleep, and sleep as a little or imperfect death. There is one important difference between sleep and death: in sleep the thread of radiance that links all aspects of our being remains intact, allowing the soul to return; but in death, this link is broken, and the body dies. After death we are still ourselves, and the experience is the result of what we have thought, felt, and done on earth, just as our destiny on earth is the result of what we have karmically created in the previous life or lives.
Why do we sleep, and why do we die? Primarily, of course, because we are following the law of all beings, requiring cycles of repose as well as activity – our particular need being to restore equilibrium. If after death we were to incarnate immediately, we would be as one who has gone days without sleep, physically exhausted and in a mental fog. So the length of time required for rest at night, or between lives, is dependent on the needs of the individual.
Why some live to one hundred or more, while babies may die before they have had time to breathe their first breath on this earth, is not readily understood. We die because karmically it is our time to do so, and because the higher self must periodically be freed to come into its own, while the soul needs a respite, with sufficient opportunity to absorb the essence of its experience. The average time required for the different aspects of our nature to be fulfilled in this afterdeath phase is said to be at least several hundred years. On the other hand, when the very young die, they have not created a need for this experience and return to earth very soon.
Many dread the process of dying more than death itself, and understandably so, because often it involves much pain. Knowledge of the law of karma, however, helps one to bear suffering with more equanimity. One friend in particular comes to mind who had an unusually painful form of cancer and faced his suffering courageously and philosophically without complaint. Believing in karma, he was prepared to drink to the last drop what the cup of life had in store for him.
In facing our destiny squarely, we are given various types of opportunities to learn and to bring out latent strengths. Suffering and loss through death of family and friends turn thoughts inward, awakening us to the real causes of life, until gradually we become more responsive to the trials and needs of others, as well as attaining deeper perceptions of our own. Inwardly we are never separated from those we love. Whatever our memories of them, the finest and most meaningful will be experienced after death. Where there have been deep bonds we are bound to be together again and again, for love is eternal.
There is no death, only change in the immortal soul's mansions of experience. As Victor Hugo suggests, the death of the body here on earth "closes on the twilight," but it "opens on the dawn" of greater realization of the spirit, "the eternal spring" in the heart. –Ingrid Van Mater
« « «
Whene'er a noble deed is wrought,
Whene'er is spoken a noble thought,
Our hearts, in glad surprise,
To higher levels arise.
The tidal wave of deeper souls
Into our inmost being rolls,
And lifts us unawares
Out of all meaner cares.–Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
This month "What Is Theosophy?" is our subject. We will be discussing such questions as: Is theosophy a religion? How is the modern theosophical movement related to other religious, ethical, mystical, philosophic, and scientific movements throughout the ages? What about some of the basic theosophical ideas, such as brotherhood, the oneness and universality of life, karma, reincarnation, and the individual's search for truth? Come and share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
The topics for the monthly discussion group for the next few months are:
The seal shown above is a replica of the original TS seal, printed in the Society's first Preamble and Bylaws, October 30, 1875.
The seal of The Theosophical Society was adapted from H. P. Blavatsky's personal seal, used by her before the Society was founded in 1875. The symbols it contains are so ancient that nobody knows when they were first used to express universal ideas. They have nothing to do with any social or political movements. They are in fact part of the universal mystery-language that can convey wordlessly to the mind sacred truths of nature.
The Serpent swallowing its tail: A very ancient symbol depicting eternity and the continuity of cyclic time. As a circular symbol it signifies to the Hindus the outbreathing and inbreathing of Brahma ("expander"), the cosmic creator: when Brahma breathes out, worlds come into being; when he breathes in, all is reabsorbed into the divine essence. The descending arc of the serpent's body signifies worlds descending into matter; the ascending arc, their evolution toward spirit.
The Swastika: A Sanskrit word meaning "well-being," the perennial symbol of good fortune found in the cradle of ancient cultures. Symbol of evolution and perpetual motion, the swastika denotes the ever-churning "mill of the gods," in whose center is the soul, while the bent arms suggest the ceaseless turning of the wheels of life throughout universal existence. It is not associated in any way with the later Nazi perversion of this ancient symbol.
The Interlaced Triangles: The interlaced triangles signify the bipolarity in nature – spirit and matter, or male and female. The apex of the white triangle represents the divine monad; the apex of the dark triangle, the manifested worlds. The upward triangle suggests spirit, consciousness, and concealed wisdom, which are mirrored in the downward pointing triangle representing matter, receptive space, manifestation, or wisdom revealed. Together the triangles represent the manifested universe evolved from the central point within the serpent-circle of time and space. They also form the hexagon of six principles, cosmic and human, emanating from and synthesized by the central point.
The Ansated Cross, Ankh, or Tau: A sacred symbol particularly associated with ancient Egypt, it signifies life, regeneration, and the descent of spirit from inner realms into the worlds of substance. It can denote a universe in embryo, the circle representing the cosmic or spiritual germ or egg hovering over the cross of matter which has issued from it; or limitless, uncreated space.
These spiritual symbols forming the seal of The Theosophical Society together comprise an entire philosophy of the inner workings of man and universal nature. Taken as a whole, the seal represents the spiritually reborn person, symbolized by the tau/cross in the center, evolving through the six human and cosmic principles and encircled by the serpent of evolution of spirit in and through matter. On the larger scale, it expresses a universe expanding into manifestation from cosmic spirit.