July 2004 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2004 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
The Asala Festival
Bishop C. W. Leadbeater wrote in The Masters And The Path, which was first published in 1925, the following account of the Asala Festival.
“Besides the great Wesak Festival there is one other occasion in each year when the members of the Brotherhood all meet together officially. The meeting in this case is usually held in the private house of the Lord Maitreya, situated also in the Himalayas, but on the southern instead of the northern slopes. On this occasion no pilgrims on the physical plane are present, but all astral visitors who know of the celebration are welcome to attend it. It is held on the full moon day of the month of Asala, (in Sanskrit Asâdha), usually corresponding to the English July.
This is the anniversary of the delivery by the Lord Buddha of His first announcement of the great discovery—the sermon which He preached to his five disciples, commonly known as the Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta, which has been poetically translated by Rhys Davids as “The Setting in Motion of the Royal Chariot Wheels of the Kingdom of Righteousness”. It is often more briefly described in Buddhist books as “The Turning of the Wheel of the Law”. It explains for the first time the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, expounding the great middle way of the Buddha—the life of perfect righteousness in the world, which lies midway between the extravagances of asceticism on the one hand and the carelessness of mere worldly life on the other.
In His love for His great predecessor the Lord Maitreya has ordained that, whenever the anniversary of that first preaching comes round, the same sermon shall be recited once more in the presence of the assembled Brotherhood; and He usually adds to it a simple address of His own, expounding and applying it. The recitation of the sermon commences at the moment of full moon, and the reading and the address are usually over in about half an hour. The Lord Maitreya generally takes His place upon the marble seat which is set at the edge of a raised terrace in the lovely garden just in front of His house. The greatest of the Officials sit close about Him, while the rest of the Brotherhood is grouped in the garden a few feet below. On this occasion, as on the other, there is often an opportunity for pleasant converse, and kindly greetings and benedictions are distributed by the Masters among Their pupils and those who aspire to be Their pupils.
One might well think that all that can be said about the sermon has been said already many times over; yet the Lord, with His wonderful eloquence and the way in which He puts it, makes it every year seem something new, and each person feels its message as though it were specially addressed to himself. On that occasion, as in the original preaching, the Pentecostal miracle repeats itself. The Lord speaks in the original sonorous Pâli, but every one present hears Him “in his own tongue wherein he was born,” as is said in the Acts of the Apostles.”
In addition to the account by C. W. Leadbeater we also have the testimonial of Geoffrey Hodson (1886-1983), a renowned theosophist and clairvoyant and also a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church, regarding the Asala Festival. In his occult diary, his wife Sandra Hodson wrote on July 7, 1976, “Geoffrey recorded to me verbally that on one or more occasions he remembered, on awakening, an out-of-the-body experience following the Asala Festival, of attendance at the home and garden of the Lord Maitreya. Geoffrey stated, “As far as my memory goes, not only Adepts, but a considerable number of aspirants to Adeptship—devotees of the Lord Buddha, the Lord Maitreya, and the Masters of the Wisdom—were also present and listened to the discourse. Most of them, in physically influenced memory, were floating in their subtle bodies, as it were, in the air above the Lord’s garden on the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains.”
For those who would like to observe the Asala Festival this year, you may wish to take note that the time of full moon is 7:09 p. m. on Friday, July 2, 2004.
Theosophy in the Home
An extract from Practical Theosophy by C. Jinarājadāsa
What is the family, in the light of Theosophical knowledge? It is a meeting-place of souls to help each other towards perfection, No individual in a family comes there by mere chance. The elders and the youngers, the masters and the servants, the guests, even the domestic animals, are in a family because each is to help and to be helped. There is no such thing as chance in the Divine Plan; each individual in the family comes and goes, is a member of it for a long or a short time, because he can co-operate to further the welfare of all the other members of the family. He has a definite role in the family, and his growth as a soul is by playing that role to the fullness of his capacity. The home is a place for growth, and the ideal home is where the conditions are such as enable each individual member of it to grow swiftest towards his perfection.
There are several aspects of life in the home, and each is affected by the principles of Theosophy, What has Theosophy to say concerning the relation of parent and child, husband and wife, master and servant, host and guest?
First let us take the relation of parent and child. The child has a dual nature, first as a soul and second as a body. It is only the body which the parents provide; the soul of the child lives his life independently, and takes charge of the body provided for him because he hopes to evolve through it. It is only as regards the body of the child that the parents are the elders; but the child, as a soul, is the equal of the parents, and sometimes is wiser, more capable, and more evolved than they.
Therefore the child does not belong to the parents; they are only guardians of his body, so long as the soul cannot fully direct the body during its infancy and youth. The phrase “my child” gives no right over the destiny of the child; it gives only the privilege of helping in the evolution of a brother soul. As the parents evolve by learning to help their fellow men, one such is sent to them as their child.
During the years of infancy, the parent’s duty is to help the soul of the child to take control of his body so as to do his work. That soul comes with many experiences of past lives; he is preparing himself for a vast work in the distant future. He takes birth in a particular family because its environment is both what he deserves and that from which he can get the experiences he needs for his growth. The duty of the parents is to help the child to those experiences.
This is to be done first by surrounding the child with all that makes for a healthy life; it is the duty of parents to know the rules of hygiene and sanitation, so that the physical conditions for the child may be as perfect as possible. Next the parents must provide an emotional and mental atmosphere that helps the child. The soul of the child is not perfect; he comes from his past lives where he has been both good and evil; tendencies of both are in him as he takes his new birth. But the parents can help the child’s growth by recalling to his memory in his early years only the good and helpful experiences and not the evil and vicious. It is true that the soul must eradicate the evil in himself only by his own action; but others can make it easier for him, especially when he begins a new life as a child, by throwing their weight on the side of his good rather than of his evil.
Therefore the parents must understand the invisible power of thought and feeling, how a thought of anger, whether expressed or not expressed, waters the hidden seeds of anger which the child has brought from his past lives, and how equally thoughts of love and affection starve out the germs of evil while they feed the germs of good. A soul with both good and evil in him can start his new experiment with life as a good child rather than as a bad one, if the parents will foster in themselves their good thoughts and feelings rather than the evil.
While the duty of parents is to surround children with all that tends to goodness and beauty, the failure of a child to be good under those circumstances is not necessarily due to the parents. The soul of the child may find the seeds of evil in himself too strong for control; the parents can but attempt to guide him, but if he will not be guided he must go his own way. The soul will learn through his mistakes, and through the suffering resulting to him and to others from them. If the parents do their duty, they have done all the Divine Plan expects of them; they cannot make or unmake the nature of a soul, for the soul himself must work out his salvation. A mistake is not the calamity that it appears to be when we know that the soul has not one life only within which to set right his error, but several lives. The Divine Plan gives the soul as many opportunities as he needs, till he finally grows into strength and virtue. Therefore no parent need blame himself, if he has done his duty, because his child does not respond to ideals of virtue. The opportunities that the child refuses to take will come to him again, though only after he has been taught by pain to grasp them. What the parents must always do under these circumstances is not to think of the soul by his failures, and so increase his weaknesses, but to think of the soul by his virtues, and so strengthen them.
In the training of children, one important question is how to make a child do the right thing and not the wrong. Unfortunately, civilization hitherto has believed that some kind of corporal punishment is inevitable as a part of the method. While parents have the duty of training a child, they have no right whatsoever to force him; the excuse that punishment is good for a child is not really borne out in the light of the fullest facts. It is true that in early years the child body is very largely an animal intelligence overshadowed by the soul nature, and that many of a child’s activities have little or no direct association with the soul; it is not the soul that eats and drinks, is pettish or obstinate, or is made happy with toys, or laughs when tickled. This animal side of the child does indeed often require curbing; but any kind of outward pressure by corporal punishment, while it may achieve the intended result, brings about also a certain coarsening of the child’s vehicles which makes them more obstructive to the spiritualising influences of the Ego.
The higher nature of the child, represented by his latent emotions and thoughts, has in childhood great sensitiveness; if proper care is taken, a fine and happy emotional nature and an open and intuitive mentality can result for the child as he grows up. Harsh treatment of any kind coarsens his finer vehicles, however much it may temporarily check the crudities of the physical; and repeated shocks of this kind finally coarsen and deaden that higher sensitiveness which should be prominent in all men and women as a normal characteristic of human beings. The man who is thankful that he was made to be good by punishment does not realize how much better he might have become, had a more rational system of training been understood by those who had his young vehicles in their charge.
When parents and educationists realize that all the experiences of life have not to be condensed into one brief lifetime; that the soul has an eternity of growth before him; that he has the right to make his own experiments in life, so long as he does not hinder the growth of others; that each individual alone is responsible for the good or evil that he may do; that others are responsible for him only as they are his brothers and fellow men; then we shall have a saner outlook upon this matter of child welfare and training, and there will be little difficulty in arranging methods of child discipline which will curb the child’s animal nature in ways that are not derogatory to his higher nature as a soul.
When we come to the relation in the family as between husband and wife, Theosophy tells us that they are both equal in the responsibilities and privileges which they have in life. What has brought them together in this family relationship is a series of duties and privileges which is called the Law of Karma, or the Law of Action and Reaction. They do not meet for the first time in their age-long existence, they have met many times before and have “made Karma” between themselves; they have also “made Karma” with certain other souls who may come to them as their children and dependants. It is this karma, which they owe to each other and to those that shall surround them in the home, that brings two souls together as husband and wife.
Often this karma brings with it the blossoming of affections and sympathies; in such a case we have the ideal marriage. But it may well happen that, after two people have been brought together, the karma between them produces phases of unhappiness. In both conditions, it is the Divine Purpose that they shall get to know each other in their Divine natures, and discover their common work, which is indeed a part of the great Divine work. For while souls can discover each other through love, yet if they will not through love, life forces them to discover through hate; for hate that repels in the beginning attracts in the end. Men and women discover these mysteries of life outside the marital relationship; but nevertheless that relationship has been planned as one mode of discovery. No relation gives such great opportunities for the discovery of another’s self and also of one’s own self as this; and the man or woman who uses these opportunities, when karma gives them, thereby grows in spirituality and comes nearer the discovery of the great Self of God and all humanity.
When this high spiritual purpose is recognized as underlying family life, family responsibilities and privileges appear in a new light; the trivial duties of the home have shining through them the light of Eternity. The birth of children or their loss, the anxieties and cares of tending them and training them, the joys and the sorrows which they give, are all so many experiences leading to the great Discovery. The family is not a meeting-place of simple travellers who meet for a few brief years, and then go their separate ways in eternity; it is far more a theatre or concert hall where a drama or a composition is being rehearsed, so that all the individuals may learn to perform their parts with beauty and dignity for the delight of man and of God.
Not dissimilar too is the relation in the home between master and servant. Usually where this relation exists, the servant is less evolved than the master; he therefore appears in the family in order that he may be helped to grow by an elder soul. We may engage a servant, but his coming to us is not a matter of chance; we may pay him wages, but our “karmic link” does not cease with the money which we give him. The servant is the master’s brother soul; he is usually the younger brother, but the monetary contract between them should never be allowed to make less real the great fact they are brothers.
Servants come to us to be shown a higher ideal in life than they would normally be aware of, were they not brought into association with their masters. Neatness, method, conscientiousness, generosity, courtesy, fine behaviour and culture are examples of conduct which the master has to place before the consciousness of his younger brother, the servant; but while we present to him our example, we must not ask of him, since he is our younger brother, our standard of achievement. It is our duty as masters to be patient and understanding while we call out the best from our servants through a spirit of willing co-operation. Many a virtue can be learned as a servant which, in a later life of larger opportunities, will lead to great actions; and those of us who are masters, but who have not yet learned such virtues, will need to return to life as servants to learn them.
Who toiled a slave may
come anew a prince,
The domestic animals who form a part of the family are not such unimportant members of it as people usually imagine. The Divine Life that is in man is in the animal too; but it is at an earlier stage and therefore less evolved. But it is to evolve to a higher through contact with man. Man’s duty to his domestic animals is to soften their savage nature and implant in them manlike attributes of thought and affection and devotion. Therefore, while the animal gives us its strength in service, we must use it purposely to train it towards humanity, for the animal will some day grow to man. If we bring out a dog’s intelligence by our training, it should not be used to strengthen his animal attributes, as when we train our dogs to hunt. A domestic cat may be “a good mouser,” but it is not for that reason that God has guided him into the family. If we train horses, it certainly should not be to develop speed for racing or hunting; the service they give us should be rewarded by bringing out of them qualities that more contribute to their evolution towards humanity than speed. The general principle with regard to our relation to our domestic animals is that they are definitely sent to us to have their animal attributes of savagery as far as possible weaned out of them and human attributes implanted in their stead, for what is animal today will some day be man, as man today will some day be a God; and he serves evolution best who helps the Divine Life to move swiftly on its upward way.
Thank You for Your Donations!
We had an unprecedented collection from our donation box in the auditorium, probably from donations made on Wesak Day on 2 June. We found many $10, $50 and even a $1,000 note. In total, we received $1,550 which goes towards our Building Fund. May all of you, generous donors, be blessed by the Great Ones for your meritorious deeds. That you choose to remain anonymous is a wonderful act of noble sincerity, although we would like to know the identity of the $1,000 donor. Would you kindly reveal yourself?