October 2005 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the October 2005 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
An Occult Story
by C. Jinarājadāsa
An extract from
As I have a connection with this book, as the amanuensis who copied the manuscript for the printer, I can describe how the work came to be written. At the period of its writing in 1894, C. W. Leadbeater was the secretary of the London Lodge of the Theosophical Society; Mr. A. P. Sinnett was president of the Lodge. The Lodge did no public propaganda, and had no open meetings; but three or four times a year a meeting was held at the house of Mr. Sinnett, and cards of invitation were sent out to the Lodge members and to those few of the “upper classes” whom Mr. Sinnett thought were likely to be interested in Theosophy. Mr. Sinnett desired that Mr. Leadbeater should deliver an address to the Lodge. Our author selected as his topic “The Astral Plane”.
At the time that the lecture for the London Lodge was being prepared, I was residing with Mr. Leadbeater, and attending classes for examinations. It was a habit of Bishop Leadbeater never to throw away the envelopes in which he received letters. He cut them open at the sides, and used their insides for writing memoranda. This habit remained with him even to the last year of his life. After delivering the lecture from notes on November 21, 1894, his next task was to write it out for publication as Transaction No. 24 of the London Lodge. He began writing a little at a time, on scraps of paper which were the opened envelopes. It was my task then to write from these scraps into the unwritten pages of an old foolscap-size diary. The manuscript therefore was in my handwriting. The writing took three or four weeks, as he was occupied in various kinds of work for his livelihood, and so could write only when time was available for writing.
When the printer’s proofs of the London Lodge Transaction came to Bishop Leadbeater, the manuscript (which was in my handwriting) was of course returned also. As happens when a manuscript is returned by the printer, this manuscript showed the thumb marks of the compositor and proofreader, and the clean whiteness of the pages had disappeared in the process of handling. This would not have mattered, as once a manuscript is in print it is thrown into the waste-paper basket.
But now happened an unusual and unexpected incident which distinctly flustered Bishop Leadbeater. One morning he informed me that the Master K. H. had asked for the manuscript, as He desired to deposit it in the Museum of Records of the Great White Brotherhood. The Master explained that The Astral Plane was an unusual production and a landmark in the intellectual history of humanity. The Master explained that hitherto, even in such a great civilization as that of Atlantis, the sages of the occult schools had approached the facts of Nature not from the modern scientific standpoint, but from a different angle. The occult teachers of the past had sought more the inner significance of facts, what might be termed the “life side” of Nature, and less the “form side” of Nature, such as characterizes the scientific method of today. While a great body of knowledge concerning Nature’s mysteries had been gathered by the Adepts of past civilizations, that knowledge had hitherto been synthesized not after a detailed scientific analysis, but from the reactions of consciousness to the “life side”. On the other hand, for the first time among occultists, a detailed investigation had been made of the Astral Plane as a whole, in a manner similar to that in which a botanist in an Amazonian jungle would set to work in order to classify its trees, plants and shrubs, and so write a botanical history of the jungle.
For this reason the little book, The Astral Plane, was definitely a landmark, and the Master as Keeper of the Records desired to place its manuscript in the great Museum. This Museum contains a careful selection of various objects of historical importance to the Masters and Their pupils in connection with their higher studies, and it is especially a record of the progress of humanity in various fields of activity. It contains, for instance, globes modelled to show the configuration of the Earth at various epochs of time; it was from these globes that Bishop Leadbeater drew the maps which were published in another transaction of the London Lodge, that on Atlantis by W. Scott-Elliot. The Museum contains among other significant objects a piece of solid Mercury, which is an isotope. It contains various old texts relating to extinct and present religions, and other material useful for an understanding of the work of the “Life Wave” on this globe, our Earth.
About the only occasion that I can recall when one could describe Bishop Leadbeater as being “flustered” was on receiving this request of the Master for the manuscript of his little book, for the manuscript was soiled—it could well be described as “grubby”—after the handling by the printer. Nevertheless, the Master’s request had to be carried out. The question then arose how the manuscript was to be transported to Tibet. This, however, did not bother him because Bishop Leadbeater had certain occult powers which he did not reveal to others, though I have observed them on certain occasions.
The manuscript was to be transported by dematerialization, and to be rematerialized in Tibet.
I happened to have a piece of a yellow silk ribbon three inches broad, and folding the manuscript into four I put the ribbon round it, and stitched it to make a band. I was excited, as here was a remarkable opportunity to get proof of a “phenomenon”. If the manuscript were locked in some box and the key was with me all the time, and the manuscript were found to have disappeared, I should have a splendid phenomenon to narrate.
But strangely as it happened, among Bishop Leadbeater’s possessions and mine at the time we had nothing that would lock properly. There was an old cowhide trunk but its lock was broken. We had very few bags at the time, but all had defective locks, and absolutely there was nothing with a serviceable lock. There was a small wooden box with inlaid tortoise shell, which was the work-box of his mother; but its key had been lost long ago.
There remained nothing to be done except to put the manuscript inside this box and pile a heap of books on it faute de mieux. Next morning on waking, and on removing the pile of books and looking inside the work-box, the manuscript was not there. My chagrin at losing the opportunity to prove a phenomenon was not consoled by being told that I myself had taken astrally the manuscript to the Master.
It may here be interesting to quote what I wrote elsewhere, on this subject of the impossibility of finding an instance of the action of superphysical powers that the sceptical scientific mind could consider “watertight” against criticism.
Whenever we might have given an instance of proof, with regard to occult facts, without any possible challenge, always something happened to prevent the finality in the proof. It is well known that, in the early days of Spiritualism, many striking objects were transported from distances, showing that the spirits were able to use extraordinary powers. But in each instance there was just one final link in the chain missing. There was always a loophole for doubt. Similarly, in the phenomena done by the Adepts in connection with Madame Blavatsky’s work at Simla, it would have been the easiest thing for Them to have transported the London Times of the day to Simla, as was once suggested. But in all cases of phenomena, there was the omission, through oversight, or for some other reason, of some important evidential fact.
When the Adepts were asked on this matter, we were informed that They purposely prevented any phenomenon which would be absolutely “watertight” in the matter of proof. It is Their plan that, while humanity is at the present stage, where a large number of powerful minds lack an adequate moral development, no opportunity shall be given to these unscrupulous minds to have a complete trust in the existence of occult powers. So long as there is scepticism on the matter, mankind is protected from exploitation by the unscrupulous. We know already how mankind has been exploited economically and industrially by selfish minds, controlling the resources of Nature. How great a calamity might occur, if these selfish minds were to use occult powers also for exploitation, is not difficult for anyone with a little imagination to conceive.
This, in brief, is the story of the writing of this small but precious manual, The Astral Plane.
In Memory of Annie Besant
Annie Besant was born on October 1, 1847 and passed away on September 20, 1933. She was described as a ‘Diamond Soul’, for she had many brilliant facets to her character. She joined the Theosophical Society on May 10, 1889 and was elected the President in June 1907 after the death of Col. H. S. Olcott, as instructed by their Master, and held the office until her own passing in 1933. As an occultist and teacher she inspired thousands of men and women all over the world in their spiritual lives. She was one of the outstanding orators of her time, a champion of human freedom, an educationist, a journalist and an author. She had more than three hundred books and pamphlets to her credit.
The one silver thread that ran through all her varied activities was her unswerving loyalty to the dictates of Truth as she saw it. To quote her own words, “She (Truth) may lead me into the wilderness, yet I must follow her; she may strip me of all love, yet I must pursue her; though she may slay me, yet will I trust in her; and I ask no other epitaph on my tomb but ‘She tried to follow Truth’”.
Dr. N. C. Ramanujachary will give a talk on Annie Besant on 1 October (her birthday) at 5 p.m. to commemorate her.
Esoteric School of
In the postscript of her welcome letter to new members which you have all received, you would recall our International President, Mrs. Radha Burnier, mentioning the Esoteric School of Theosophy (E.S.T.).
There is a great deal of confusion with regards to what the E.S. is, what it does and what its relation is to the Theosophical Society. Many members have never heard of it, while others see it as an elitist group that tries to run the Theosophical Society. Still others see it as some sort of secret society full of rituals and arcane knowledge. Some think or are made to believe that it offers volumes of secret knowledge, which are not available to non-E.S. members. In reality it is none of these things, being simply a small group of Theosophical Society members who share a common interest to lead an exemplary and truly spiritual life. Truth be known that much of what H.P.B. taught the E.S. members before her death is available in the fifth volume of the Adyar edition of the Secret Doctrine and in her Collected Writings.
On Saturday, 1 October 2005 at 3 p.m. in a special session for members only, Dr. N. C. Ramanujachary will demystify some of the impressions that are held by non-E.S. members, answer FAQ and introduce this school to those who have not heard of the E. S. T.