December 2012 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the December 2012 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
Chinese Name for Theosophy
& The Theosophical Society
On 17th November 2012, the 137th Anniversary of the founding of The Theosophical Society, our Chinese Project Team decided to preserve the legacy of the great Chinese statesman Dr. Wu Ting-Fang (伍廷芳), who formed the first Chinese Lodge of The Theosophical Society in 1922 in Shanghai. (See our July 2012 and September 2012 Newsletters.) We have decided to propagate the Chinese name he and other pioneers of theosophy in China selected — 证道学 (Zhengdaoxue), as the official name for Theosophy and 证道学会 (Zhengdaoxuehui) for The Theosophical Society. Dr. Wu and other Chinese scholars deliberated on the choice of an appropriate name, going through a number of changes before deciding on the official name. The rationale for the choice of the final name was given by Dr. Wu and his colleagues and this will be posted in our Chinese website. It would be an honour to preserve the legacy and propagate the official Chinese name. Searches on 神智学 (Shenzhixue) will still be linked to our website at chinesetheosophy.org even as the official name takes root.
A Talk on Suicide
Is Suicide a Crime? This was a question posed to Madame H. P. Blavatsky by an Inquirer. She gave a rather illuminating reply that was published together with the poser in The Theosophist, Vol. IV, No. 2, November, 1882, pp. 31-32 which was reproduced in our June 2009 Newsletter. A partial extract of her reply follows:
“ ‘Inquirer’ is not an Occultist, hence his assertion that in some cases suicide “is not only justifiable, but also morally desirable.” No more than murder, is it ever justifiable, however desirable it may sometimes appear. The Occultist, who looks at the origin and the ultimate end of things, teaches that the individual, who affirms that any man, under whatsoever circumstances, is called to put an end to his life, is guilty of as great an offence and of as pernicious a piece of sophistry, as the nation that assumes a right to kill in war thousands of innocent people under the pretext of avenging the wrong done to one. All such reasonings are the fruits of Avidya mistaken for philosophy and wisdom.
...No man, we repeat, has a right to put an end to his existence simply because it is useless. As well argue the necessity of inciting to suicide all the incurable invalids and cripples who are a constant source of misery to their families; and preach the moral beauty of that law among some of the savage tribes of the South Sea Islanders, in obedience to which they put to death, with warlike honours, their old men and women.
...The result, in one sense, is certainly invariable; and there is but one general law or rule for all suicides. But, it is just because “the afterstates” vary ad infinitum, that it is erroneous to infer that this variation consists only in the degree of punishment. If the result will be in every case the necessity of living out the appointed period of sentient existence, we do not see whence ‘Inquirer’ has derived his notion that “the result is invariably bad.’ ”
Religions generally condemn suicide, although attempts have been made to justify it under certain circumstances. JUDAISM does not permit a full Jewish burial for a person who commits suicide. This tradition has also been adopted among Christians. In BUDDHISM, self-destruction is similarly frowned upon, although some believe that it is implied in the Nikāyas that among Arhats, they may have the power to choose whether to retain their bodies or not. ISLAM similarly disapproves of suicide. Although the Qur’ān does not refer to it, several Hadiths or traditions explicitly condemn suicide. Hinduism also condemns it with the possible exception of the practice of prayopaveśa, or fasting to death, which is allowed only under certain conditions.
Suicide is a tragedy that must be prevented at all costs. On Saturday, 8 December 2012, at 5 p.m., Chong Sanne will be giving a talk on Suicide for the second time. Suicides, who sadly and mistakenly tried to escape their suffering, only find themselves still alive and conscious without a physical body, regretting their actions, and thus suffer with intensity. To quote an Adept:
“The suicides, who, foolishly hoping to escape life, found themselves still alive, have suffering enough in store for them from that very life. Their punishment is in the intensity of the latter.”
The grave consequences of suicide will be discussed with references to statements made by those who know. We shall also discuss the circumstances driving one to suicide and what options are available to those who are suicidal, suicide clearly not being one of them.
This talk which was last given in June 2009 is open to non-members. You should bring along anyone, including children, who are likely to benefit from it. Knowledge of the grave consequences of suicide and its futility might well deter those who are suicidal from planning such a tragedy.
All students of Theosophy know that The Secret Doctrine is the magnum opus of Madame H. P. Blavatsky. Published in 1888, it comes in two volumes and examines the entire history and mythology of the creation and evolution of the universe and mankind. She was given the plan for The Secret Doctrine in 1885. It was to follow the verses or stanzas of the ancient Book of Dzyan. However, the knowledge is largely inaccessible to many people especially those outside the Theosophical Society, for the language and construction of her lengthy commentary are very complex.
Several people have written popularized versions of The Secret Doctrine without much commentary in order to spread its knowledge. One of them is O Lanoo! written by Harvey Tordoff. Lanoo is old Sanskrit word for student, and since the Book of Dzyan is written as if by a teacher for a student, Harvey Tordoff has retained this word and the format including the poetical style but avoiding words that would be unfamiliar to the average reader, and addressed the reader as ‘Lanoo’. Bro. T. H. Hauw will give a series of talks based on O Lanoo! commencing with the first installment on 22 December 2012 at 5 p.m. In these talks he will also share some findings from the Bible and Buddhist Sutras which seem to support the teachings in the Book of Dzyan.