July 2015 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2015 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
Welcome To New Members
From The International President, Mr Tim Boyd
Brothers and Sisters,
As a long time member of the Theosophical Society, I can remember the feeling of enthusiasm and the upwelIing of aspiration I felt when I first joined. Inwardly I knew I had taken an important step. We all have various reasons for joining. For some it is because our parents were members. We grew up in a home where the value of the work that this organization is undertaking and its approach to Truth played upon us constantly. It was not something we had to think about or analyze. Theosophy pervaded the atmosphere of our home, and became part of the fiber of our being. There are others who came upon the Society’s teachings later in life and found in it a powerful conceptual structure, rich in information about the planes of Nature, the meaning of spiritual evolution, and a history of great people who have associated themselves with this wisdom and with the movement of the Perennial Wisdom throughout time. There are others who encountered the teachings through some person who was alive with a profound connection to these truths and found that something moved them. Something inside of them responded to the life that flowed through that individual.
Once we join the actual work begins. Nobody who finds their way to the Theosophical Society is a young soul. In order to have an appreciation for this there must have been many lifetimes of effort towards unfoldment. We do not get here by accident. Many join with the idea that now they find themselves among a group of holy people who have overcome the shackles of the world and can be looked to for faultless guidance on the spiritual path. Instead they find themselves among people just like us, people who have had an experience that confirms a deeply sensed Truth, but who are far from perfect.
In joining the TS we are saying ‘Yes’ to something: ‘Yes, there is an abiding, overarching, ever-present Truth, ‘yes’ I believe I can link myself to that truth and express it in my life. And, yes, the three Objects of the Theosophical Society ring true to my inner consciousness.’ Even if two out of three of the Objects do not yet ring true, it suffices as long as the first one does: that this Society came into being to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without regard to any of the humanly created separations along lines of race, creed, gender, caste, or color. We refer only to a small number of distinctions in the first Object of the TS, but we all know that the levels of discrimination and limitation in our thinking are endless. So we say ‘Yes, this Universal Brotherhood is a possibility’ and that it is also possible to shape our life in such a way that it can express this great Truth, first in ourselves, then in our homes, and then in the world.
This is not an other-worldly teaching demanding that we abandon our family and friends, and go off to some secluded place. Ours is a much more difficult approach to Truth than merely walking away to a cave. What it demands from each one of us is that we find some measure of realization right where we are. In the middle of all the conflicts and strife that every normal life involves. Truth is not absent from ‘normal life’. It is not a retreat from the world. The great challenge for us is that this path demands that we learn to embrace the world with all of its imperfections. That is a much more demanding and difficult task. The beauty of it is that we say ‘Yes’ knowingly to all of this.
‘Yes’ is a powerful word. What we find is that this word is an expression of a state of consciousness that can be described as a state of openness. It means that we are willing to recognize that it is part of our condition as human beings that there are fears we encounter, and that, in the normal course of the world, fear is the predominant underlying emotion that seems to keep us apart from one another. It also means that there is a commitment to recognize, and in that recognition, to dissipate these false idols of fears, discriminations, and hatreds that seem to be the normal fare of this world.
The TS is a powerful organization and its power is not solely in its members. It came into being from a much more profound source. The Masters of the Wisdom, the Mahatmas, the Elder Brothers---these are the real founders of this movement. We, its members, are certainly imperfect. In our work within the TS it is helpful to remember that we will always find imperfections and difficulties with the various personalities encountered within this organization, but behind every person that joins something greater is standing. If we can train ourselves to look for it, we will certainly see the signs of a guiding presence — the awakening Higher Self.
When I joined the TS the step I was taking was described as forming another link in a golden chain. It is a chain that extends from the very low to the highest heights of consciousness, from a distant past to an unimaginable future. Our recognition of this inner call is necessarily heard, and the appropriate response comes to us continually. It is life itself that responds, presenting us with the necessary guidance in each moment. Our work is to listen, to remove the scales and see with newly opened eyes. We embrace the work of awakening, like from a sleep, and deepening our awareness. This work will grace us over the course of our lifetime and will be a source of blessing to us, to the people close to us, and to this world. As new members of the Theosophical Society, this is an important step that you are taking. I salute you for the step, for your courage and for your willingness. In any way this Brotherhood that you have become a part of can be of help, you should not hesitate to call upon it both outwardly and inwardly.
I close this letter with a prayer, the Universal Prayer written by Annie Besant, which as new members you may be saying often as time goes by.
O hidden life vibrant in every atom,
O hidden light shining in every creature,
O hidden love embracing all in oneness,
May each who feels himself as one with thee,
Know he is therefore one with every other.
Peace and Blessings
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.”