July 2020 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2020 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
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.”
A Call to Save the Human Race
An Adept’s communication with Geoffrey Hodson in March 1978 — An extract from Light of the Sanctuary
The central problem with which, in many countries, the Theosophical Society is confronted consists of the continuing diversification of the interests of members and the apparently permissible widening of the interests and regions of study and enquiry, as a consequence of extensions of knowledge now being attained in many intellectual, psychological, and psychic fields. These inevitably distract the attention of members away from the original central scheme of thought and group of ideas - theoretical and practical - which the T.S. was designed to present.
Admittedly, all members are free and must so remain, but a “voice” is needed, giving warning of the danger to the effectiveness of the Theosophical movement in preventing and solving those evils that have occurred, the grave disadvantages by which humanity is becoming increasingly threatened.
The central Theosophical teachings, the basic Theosophical truths which the Society was founded to advance, are in danger of falling into the background, displaced by what may appear to some to be modern and so more interesting concepts. This is an error.
Actually, none of them is new, although scientific and psychological and psychic developments reaching the public mind demand careful study, careful planning, and careful outworking of the ways in which they can be practically applied to the solution of the dangerously threatening developments occurring in some countries and groups. These need to be listed and the many solutions to them which Theosophy makes available should be applied - very realistically applied, of course.
Should you possibly have both time and energy I would gladly suggest both urgently pressing modern problems and dangers and their immediate and long-term solutions to be answered in the light of Theosophy.
Would an article in your national magazine produce a group willing to work under your direction or that of another, do you think? In addition, and more important, however, would be the same Call to members as a whole through The Theosophist and, do you not think, all Section magazines?
The basic issue - especially acute at this time - is the threat of war and the way to assure permanent world peace. This is accentuated by the latest scientific discoveries of the leading countries in the production of ever more deadly weapons and other means of both widespread and individual destruction. In other words, what is really needed - very urgently, We believe - is what might be called a confraternity of the peoples of all nations, especially those with selfless motives.
The members of the human race must at this time increasingly collaborate in the meeting of this danger and the unshakeable foundation of organized international effort for world peace. United Nations is not capable of achieving this and for many reasons, one of the chief being the necessity for avoiding the withdrawal and non-co-operation of nations who are in disagreement - those seeking world domination, for example.
Has not the time arrived when the thousands of millions of people themselves must - perceiving these dangers - combine in an international effort which might be called “A CALL TO SAVE THE HUMAN RACE FROM THE DANGER OF MUTUAL EXTINCTION”?
Another grave problem consists, as you know only too well, of the insensate increase of cruelty throughout the world, man to man and man to animals. The chief forms should be listed and the call to their solution formulated.
A third problem is the planetary sharing of food so that the deaths of millions and the miseries of millions more resulting from starvation may cease. Behind and within all these is the thirst for superior power, financial superiority, and national technical advances ahead of other nations in both weapons of war and industrial developments and exports.
The call, then, is perhaps in better language: “HUMAN BEINGS ON EARTH MUST UNITE”. Love must replace both direct hatred and the absence of love in the deliberate infliction of cruelties both within countries and beyond them.
Then your ten statements and the accentuation of the inescapable function and operation of the Law of Cause and Effect which operates nationally, upon groups and, of course, individuals - beneficially where love and harmlessness reign, and most destructively where their opposites are accepted and used in obtaining benefits.
Had you not better call upon your friends as a whole for collaboration with you in this activity, drawing all others willing to collaborate and capable of doing so effectively?
First, perhaps, Geoffrey, an article for your Section magazine, with the bare statement of the above and calling for collaboration in spreading the message throughout the world. At the same time, The Theosophist should be called on and the General Council Section magazines everywhere, hoping for a response corresponding to, but much greater than, THE CALL TO HUMANENESS.
Whilst you might be responsible for the initiation of such a movement, others should, as it were, take over from you if you succeed, thereby leaving you free for our literary work - also most important.