July 2007 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2007 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
“So far -- WE KNOW. Within and to the utmost limit, to the very edge of the cosmic veil we know the fact to be correct -- owing to personal experience; for the information gathered as to what takes place beyond we are indebted to the Planetary Spirits, to our blessed Lord Buddha. This of course may be regarded as secondhand information. There are those who, rather than yield to the evidence of fact will prefer regarding even the planetary gods as “erring” disembodied philosophers if not actually liars. Be it so. “Everyone is master of his own wisdom” -- says a Tibetan proverb, and he is at liberty either to honour or degrade his slave. However, I will go on for the benefit of those who may yet seize my explanation of the problem and understand the nature of the solution.”
A Master of the Wisdom
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.
It may be useful to give some account of the ceremony, and of what is usually said at these Festivals, though it is, of course, utterly impossible to reproduce the wonder and the beauty and the eloquence of the words of the Lord Maitreya on such occasions. The account which follows does not attempt to report any single discourse; it is a combination of, I fear, very imperfectly remembered fragments, some of which have already appeared elsewhere; but it will give to those who have not previously heard of it some idea of the line generally taken.
That great sermon is wonderfully simple, and its points are repeated over and over again. There was no shorthand in those days, so that it might be taken down and read by every one afterwards; His disciples had to remember His words by the impression made on them at the time. So He made them simple, and He repeated them again and again like a refrain, so that the people might be sure of them. One may readily see in reading it that it is constructed for this special purpose—that it may be easily remembered. Its points are arranged categorically, so that when it has once been heard each point reminds one of the next, as though it were a kind of mnemonic, and to the Buddhist each of these separate and easily remembered words suggests a whole body of related ideas, so that the sermon, short and simple as it is, contains an explanation and a rule of life.
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.”
An Invitation to the TS Indo-Pacific Conference
Dear fellow theosophist,
We are pleased to invite you to the next Indo-Pacific Conference of the Theosophical Society to be held in Manila, Philippines, on November 2-5, 2007. In addition to leaders, speakers and members from the Indo-Pacific area, our speakers also include Diane Dunningham Chapotin, International TOS Secretary, and Terezinha Kind, President of the Inter-American Theosophical Federation. We have also invited the Chief Justice of the Philippines, Justice Reynato Puno, as our guest speaker. The theme is "Live to Benefit Humanity." The members of the Federation come from Australia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Myanmar, New Zealand, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, and Sri Lanka. It will certainly be a rare opportunity to interact with our fellow members in Asia and Pacific region.
We look forward to seeing you in Manila in November!
With warm fraternal regards,
An Inconvenient Truth
An Inconvenient Truth is an Academy Award-winning documentary film about climate change, specifically global warming, presented by former United States Vice President Al Gore and directed by Davis Guggenheim.
An Inconvenient Truth focuses on Al Gore's travels in support of his efforts to educate the public about the severity of the climate crisis. Looking back at his earlier failed efforts, Gore says, “I’ve been trying to tell this story for a long time and I feel as I’ve failed to get the message across.” The film follows a Keynote presentation (dubbed “the slideshow”) that Gore presented throughout the world. It intersperses Gore's exploration of data and predictions regarding climate change and its potential for disaster with Gore's life story. It weaves in events that changed his worldview, including his college education with early climate expert Roger Revelle at Harvard University, his sister's death from lung cancer, his young son's near-fatal car accident and his loss in the close 2000 Presidential Election.
In the slideshow Gore reviews the scientific opinion on climate change, discusses the politics and economics of global warming, and describes the consequences he believes global climate change will produce if the amount of human-generated greenhouse gases is not significantly reduced in the very near future.
The film includes many segments intended to refute critics who say that global warming is insignificant or unproven. For example, Gore discusses the risk of the collapse of a major ice sheet in Greenland or in West Antarctica, either of which could raise global sea levels by approximately 20 feet (6m), flooding coastal areas and producing 100 million refugees. Meltwater from Greenland, because of its lower salinity, could halt the Gulf Stream current and quickly trigger dramatic local cooling in Northern Europe.
The film examines annual temperature and CO2 levels for the past 650,000 years in Antarctic ice core samples.
The documentary ends with Gore noting that if appropriate action is taken soon, the effects of global warming can be successfully reversed by releasing less carbon dioxide and growing more plants or trees. Gore calls upon viewers to learn how they can help in this initiative.
Gore’s book of the same title was published concurrently with the theatrical release of the documentary. The book contains additional information, scientific analysis, and Gore’s commentary on the issues presented in the documentary. A 2007 documentary entitled An Update with Former Vice President Al Gore features Gore discussing additional information that came to light after the film was completed, such as Hurricane Katrina.
Come and watch this 96 mins. documentary on 14 July 2007 at 5 pm. You could make a difference.