February 2013 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the February 2013 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
New Executive Committee
Our 2012 AGM was held on 29 December 2012. It was attended by 62 members in person, which is more than the required quorum, and 20 through proxies. The following office bearers and members of the new executive committee were elected without contention.
President: Chong Sanne
Vice President: Kam Chai Heng
Secretary: Lily Chong
Asst. Secretary: Tang Kwok Choon
Treasurer: Hauw Tio Hiong
Asst. Treasurer: Tey Ghee Kwan
Librarian: Vivekhananthan M.
Asst. Librarian: Serena M. L. Lee
Nancy Yeo (Book Steward)
Choong Tsui Wei (Asst. Book Steward)
Lee Suit Fun (Accounts)
Choong Chi Pin (Events Coordinator)
N. C. Raghava (co-opted)
Theosophy—Theory or Practice?
Abstract of The Chairman’s Address at the 2012 Annual General Meeting of the Singapore Lodge Theosophical Society
We sometimes hear some members say, if not actually complain about the lack of practical programmes in the Theosophical Society. They lament that theosophy is all theory and no practice and therefore find no motivation to come for lodge meetings any more when they thought they have heard it all and know all that theosophy has to offer. Worse still, some might actually lose interest in the Society and allow their memberships to lapse. To these members, I am not sure what they mean by ‘practice’ or what their expectations might be regarding practical programmes. If they expect to learn how to attain psychic powers, to raise the kundalini, astral travelling, channelling, levitation, production of phenomena, etc., or even the noble intention of becoming a healer, then they must necessarily be disappointed as that is definitely not on the agenda of the Theosophical Society’s programmes. But to say that theosophy is all theory and no practice, they would have sadly missed the crux of theosophical teachings and are oblivious of the very purpose and mission of the Theosophical Society.
The Theosophical Society was founded by the Great Ones for one primary object and that is to give out esoteric knowledge to the world so as to free mankind from superstitions and delusions and to ultimately lift man out of his ignorance which is the root of all suffering. Theosophy teaches that Man has a common origin and destiny. We are exhorted to live our lives in accord with Nature, enlightened with the right knowledge and the right understanding of the Laws of Nature. This would imply introspection and changing oneself and one’s modes of life so as to continually become a better human being. In other words, rightly applying and practising theosophical teachings to aid one’s own evolution and spiritual growth. So, as you can see, quite the opposite, Theosophy is in truth all about practice, as in living a theosophical life. This veritable life-long practice is known by various names such as self-transformation, self-culture and self-regeneration. Knowledge alone without practice indeed has little value. Yet practice is not something experimented in class alone but a conscientious application of theosophical knowledge to one’s daily life. No classes, seminars or workshops can ever provide the practice required for individual advancement than one’s mindful resolve to change for the better throughout one’s waking consciousness.
Integral with the practice of self-transformation is service to humanity. That service to humanity is in itself a persevering practice, a duty incumbent on us. Of service we shall talk more about later. I would like to take this opportunity to recall some of the Words of Wisdom from the Great Ones, beginning with a significant statement from the Mahachohan.
“For our doctrines to practically react on the so-called moral code, or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc., we have to popularize a knowledge of theosophy. It is not the individual and determined purpose of attaining oneself Nirvana which is after all only an exalted and glorious selfishness—but the self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead on the right path our neighbour, to cause as many of our fellow-creatures as we possibly can to benefit by it, which constitutes the true theosophist.” (Letters From the Masters of the Wisdom, First Series Letter 1)
This statement comes from the one and only known letter attributed to the Great One known as the Mahachohan which is regarded by all earnest theosophists as practically a charter for the work and development of the Theosophical Society throughout the ages. Practice and service are the keynote in this statement contained therein. Firstly, as a service to humanity, “we have to popularize a knowledge of theosophy in a self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead on the right path our neighbour”, “to cause as many of our fellow-creatures as we possibly can to benefit by it”. The practical application of theosophical knowledge is clearly stated as it would have its effect and influence “on the so-called moral code, or the ideas of truthfulness, purity, self-denial, charity, etc.” The importance of theosophy and its practice is further elaborated in the following remarks of the Master K. H.
“The truths and mysteries of occultism constitute, indeed, a body of the highest spiritual importance, at once profound and practical for the world at large. Yet, it is not as a mere addition to the tangled mass of theory or speculation in the world of science that they are being given to you, but for their practical bearing on the interests of mankind.” (ML-12)
Theosophical knowledge then is “of the highest spiritual importance, at once profound and practical for the world at large” and has a “practical bearing on the interests of mankind”. In the above quotation the word “practical” appears twice emphasizing practice as a key to human regeneration. This is further accentuated by the Master in the following words.
“The only object to be striven for is the amelioration of the condition of man by the spread of truth suited to the various stages of his development and that of the country he inhabits and belongs to.” (ML-120)
That the condition of man can be improved and his suffering can be alleviated by the spread of truth is clearly stated. In other words, with theosophical knowledge and its practice, by living a life in harmony with nature, man shall be able to better his condition.
So important is the practice of theosophy that we devote two lectures of A Course in Theosophy to it. Lecture 6 on Thought-Forms and Lecture 7 on The Noble Eightfold Path are aspects of theosophical knowledge meant to be assimilated and practiced.
One of the most important aspects of individual endeavour and practice is that of service – service to humanity. As Annie Besant eloquently puts it:
“The Theosophic life must be a life of service. Unless we are serving, we have no right to live. We live by the constant sacrifice of other lives on every side, and we must pay it back; otherwise to use an ancient phrase, we are but thieves and do not repay the gift. Service is the great illuminator. The more we serve the wiser we become, for we learn wisdom not by studying but by living. There is a sense in which the saying is perfectly true: ‘He who doeth the will shall know of the doctrine.’ To live the life of service clears the mental atmosphere of the distorting fogs of prejudice, passion, temperament. Service alone makes the eye single, so that the whole body is full of light, and only those who serve are those who truly live. That Theosophic ideal is one which must permeate the being of every one of us, for on the amount that we give in service to others can we claim the service of Those who are higher than ourselves. They who serve humanity serve in proportion to the services given. They are bound to send out life into pipes that will carry it everywhere and distribute it, and They seek in order that They may serve humanity, those whose lives are one long service to the race.” (Annie Besant – The Theosophic Life)
Theosophy then is pre-eminently a life-long practice to attain spiritual growth of oneself and as part of this practice to serve humanity.
It is because of service to humanity, specifically to the 1.3 billion Chinese people in the world, that we take on the responsibilities of developing and maintaining the Chinese website and the on-going and practically endless task of translating theosophical literature into Chinese for the benefit of enquirers who are only literate in the Chinese language. We earnestly hope that our service in this area would facilitate the popularization of a knowledge of theosophy to the Chinese population. I would like to personally thank Brother Hauw Tio Hiong and his Chinese Project Team for their noble endeavours in this area. May they be blessed and aided in their work.
Abstract of Chairman’s
Address given by Chong Sanne on 29 December 2012
The Nature of Spiritual Awareness
By Geoffrey Hodson
Reprinted from Theosophy in New Zealand, Vol. 24, No.2, 1963
While human potentiality is infinite, it is not yet fully expressed. With a clear poised analysis of what man is we can understand the natural possibilities, and by their study gain knowledge of how to increase them. There is a distinction between man in his bodily Personality,and his deeper self, the Ego, and his spirit-essence, which is one with Spirit Universal. This is the spiritual soul and the source of power, wisdom and intelligence. It is the Universal Spirit focussed into man’s Individuality, as though by a burning-glass.
The spiritual self of man is immortal and to be known as indestructible, invulnerable. It has a vesture of light. The human goal, the actualisation of the knowledge of the Universe-Soul in him, is to become an occult sage, to attain adeptship. This fuller consciousness defies intellectual determination. Attempted descriptions fail, for words tend to falsify spiritual experience. So far only a few among mankind have unfolded that richer consciousness. We ourselves express only a portion of its wealth, but it is obtainable, and its possessor finds its effectiveness, and the realisation of the supreme happiness that is its nature. The Egoic consciousness evolves in man by the dual action of rebirth, and of karma, the inevitability of effects following causes. When we reach to Egoic consciousness, we do not concentrate at the physical level, there is awareness there but the imperious Higher Self uses it and rises beyond.
The fuller consciousness is positive in its nature, thus all that is negative in the Personality has been transcended, the emotions and the analytical mind are transformed. There is no sense of need or of loneliness, for there is consciousness of unity and wholeness. Nor can fear exist. Self-consciousness is not the awkward separative I-ness, it has changed to spiritual self-consciousness, and in it ideals and principles are intensified, and laws are perceived at work. There is no wall round that consciousness, it is universal.
If one tries to describe it, it is at base the experience of being ALL, or it might be said that one is Light in Light, a centre of radiance in a sea of light. That centre is again one of strength that is immeasurable. It is the fire of genius within man. Fear of death has disappeared, being replaced by complete trust in life. Another characteristic is the perception of freedom. The physical time-sense has changed to a concept of duration, or time without limits. Space limitations similarly vanish, as does the necessity for movement, all being here now, and within one. There is a feeling of oneness with the Life Principle in all beings, while an intense happiness, a serene bliss pervades the whole being. These heights have been attained by contemplation expressed in motive and conduct of life, and by meditation upon the supreme truths of life. Periods of mental stillness, high aspirations, and fundamental appreciation and understanding of beauty are guides along the road. When the fullness of this consciousness is reached and entered there is a restful stillness that invades consciousness, and in that spiritual silence a self-declaration of the Inmost Spirit occurs.