The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
November 1998 Vol. 1 Issue 9
The Northwest Branch Website has added two works by novelist Talbot Mundy at www.theosophy-nw.org/ theosnw/books/books-hp.htm:
Theosophical University Press offers several introductory manuals online at www.theosociety.org/pasadena/tup-onl.htm -- new editions of those written under G. de Purucker in the 1930s and '40s. The Mystery Schools by Grace F. Knoche, Karma by Gertrude van Pelt, and Mahatmas and Chelas by Leoline L. Wright have been available for some time. New this month are:
This month our subject is "What Is Theosophy?" We will be discussing such questions as: Is there an ancient wisdom tradition? What is the relationship between the modern theosophical movement and other religious, ethical, mystical, and scientific movements through the ages? What are some of the basic theosophical ideas? What beliefs do theosophists accept? Why is each person's untrammeled search for truth so important? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge.
December 10: Can We Reach Perfection?
January: What Is the Origin of Life?
He in whom the soul is ever manifest -- he is the true mystic, and to him theosophy is no system of sterile thought but a light, a teacher, a companion, ever calling to compassionate action, ever urging to higher things.
Were you to be told that just outside the door great minds were waiting to give you the secret of acquiring fabulous wealth, you would not stop for anything. Yet that which you would hope to gain belongs but to the perishable, fleeting, material side of life. Why not make as great an effort for the knowledge that will give you the secret of right living, reveal to you the mysteries of life?
How wonderfully farseeing was that old teacher who left us this injunction: MAN, KNOW THYSELF! Let man take the first step boldly in honest self-examination, with a daring that stops before nothing, and he will find very soon that he has the key to wisdom and to the power which redeems. Discovered through his own efforts, this key will open before him the chambers of the self. For when a man has the courage to analyze himself -- his purposes, his motives, his very life; when he dares to compare the wrong things in his life with the right ones, he will find the secret of living. We are ever being challenged by the better side of our natures to stand face to face with ourselves, to reach out in recognition to the divinity within. -- Katherine Tingley
We are most familiar with the physical world, but are composed of more than physical matter: all beings, as well as the cosmos itself, are composed of seven main components or principles:
Cosmos------ Man --------- Description
Brahman ------- Âtman ------- Pure consciousness, self
Pradhâna ------- Buddhî ------- Spiritual consciousness
Mahat ----------- Manas ------- Mind
Cosmic Kâma -- Kâma ------- Desire
Cosmic Jîva ---- Prâna -------- Life-force
Astral Light ---- Astral body -- Model-body
Sthûla-sarîra --- Sthûla-sarîra - Physical body
The principles at the top of the chart are the most spiritual and ethereal, and those at the bottom the most densely material. They coexist in every being, blending seamlessly one into the other. Thus, a man, fish, or even planet has all seven principles in its constitution, but manifests them in different ways and to different degrees.
The astral principle is present in cosmic as well as human beings. The astral light is to a celestial being what the astral body is to us. Though we generally cannot see the astral realm, it permeates our visible world, and effects us -- and we, it -- more than we realize.
An important attribute of the astral principle is that it provides a means by which the principles above it can act on the physical plane. The immensely energetic and ethereal higher principles are unable to work directly through the physical plane. They need the lower ones to serve as "transformers" to step down their energy so that they can work through a physical body. Thus, the astral body provides a vehicle or "field of action" through which higher principles such as mind and life-energy can work directly through the physical body.
The astral principle also provides a pattern or mold about which the physical atoms of the body are consolidated or built. The pattern of a physical entity exists first in the astral plane, then the physical atoms concrete around it. This occurs both for a human child growing in the womb, and for a planet forming in a solar system. The shape of the astral pattern is the result of thoughts and actions in past lives, as well as astral "prototypes." H. P. Blavatsky explains these prototypes thus: "In the Absolute or Divine Thought everything exists and there has been no time when it did not exist . . . The prototypes or ideas of things exist first on the plane of Divine eternal Consciousness and thence become reflected and reversed in the Astral Light, which also reflects on its lower individual plane the life of our Earth . . . " (H. P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, 10:360-361). The astral pattern is needed because the atoms in a physical body are in a great state of flux, and need a permanent framework around which to form in order to give the body a lasting shape. When the physical body dies, the astral body dissipates as the corpse disintegrates. These disembodied astral shells are the spooks and ghosts of legend and seances, and reside in the astral light until they fully disintegrate.
The astral body is made of substance which "is of very fine texture as compared with the visible body, and has great tensile strength, so that it changes but little during a lifetime, while the physical alters every moment." (Ocean of Theosophy, by William Q. Judge, p. 39) Additionally, this "astral substance" seems to be sensitive to all types of vibrations, since all thoughts, sounds, pictures and emotional and psychical impulses are recorded in its medium. Our astral body registers and reflects our thoughts and actions, while the astral light records, retains, and reflects pictures of everything that ever happened to anyone on our globe, as well as in our solar system. The higher, more ethereal and spiritual parts of the astral light record the noblest, most spiritual thoughts, while its lower parts record the more evil and vile thoughts and actions. Images from the astral light wash over us constantly throughout our lifetime, and can influence us subconsciously if we allow them to. According to G. de Purucker, "Every thought that passes through the human brain: good, bad or indifferent, high or low, strong or weak: the imaginings of the lunatic, the spiritual vision of the seer . . . all come by way of and through the Astral Light . . . For the Astral Light is a picture-gallery through which our human minds wander constantly so to speak and which thus, when sympathetic contact with astral records has been made, transport or bring over such record or picture into the brain; and, furthermore, each such astral picture or 'vision' of necessity receives the added energic impulse or characteristic impress or embroidery made on it by the brain through which it passes." (The Esoteric Tradition, p. 1013) A weak or wicked individual is susceptible to the evil thoughts and images in the astral light, and can be subdued by them, often not realizing that they are influencing his mind. Morally strong individuals cannot be effected by these evil images in the astral light, and instead allow more spiritual thoughts and actions recorded there to influence their lives. Thus, we can control, with the power of our spiritual self and moral instincts, how much the astral effects us, and how in what ways we effect the astral.