The Singapore Lodge Theosophical Society
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2021 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.”
The Doctrine of Cycles &
The Lost Continents of
Theosophy teaches us that the scheme of evolution of which our Earth forms a part is not the only one in our solar system, for ten separate chains of globes exist in that system which are all of them theatres of somewhat similar progress. Each of these schemes of evolution is taking place upon a chain of globes, and in the course of each scheme, its chain of globes goes through seven incarnations. The plan, alike of each scheme as a whole and of the successive incarnations of its chain of globes, is to dip step by step more deeply into matter, and then to rise step by step out of it again.
Each chain consists of seven globes, and both globes and chains observe the rule of descending into matter and then rising out of it again. Furthermore, in each incarnation of a chain (commonly called a chain-period) the wave of divine Life moves seven times round the chain of seven planets, and each such movement is spoken of as a round. The time that the life-wave stays upon each planet is known as a world-period, and in the course of a world-period there are seven great root-races. These are subdivided into sub-races, and those again into branch-races. All this must be awfully confusing for new students. In order to help the student understand a little better, Chong Sanne will conduct two special lectures for members. One will be on the fundamentals of the Doctrine of Cycles and the other, some glimpses of the lost continents of Lemuria and Atlantis based on clairvoyant investigations. Don’t miss the these two lectures on 17 and 24 July 2021 at 3:30 p.m.
What Theosophy Is
By C. W. Leadbeater
For many a year men have been discussing, arguing, enquiring about certain great basic truths—about the existence and the nature of God, about His relation to man, and about the past and future of humanity. So radically have they differed upon these points, and so bitterly have they assailed and ridiculed one another’s beliefs, that there has come to be a firmly-rooted popular opinion that with regard to all these matters there is no certainty available—nothing but vague speculation amid a cloud of unsound deductions drawn from ill-established premises. And this in spite of the very definite, though frequently incredible, assertions made on these subjects on behalf of the various religions.
This popular opinion, though not unnatural under the circumstances, is entirely untrue. There are definite facts available—plenty of them. Theosophy gives them to us; but it offers them not (as the religions do) as matters of faith, but as subjects for study. It is not itself a religion, but it bears to the religions the same relation as did the ancient philosophies. It does not contradict them, but explains them. Whatever in any of them is unreasonable, it rejects as necessarily unworthy of the Deity and derogatory to Him; whatever is reasonable in each and all of them it takes up, explains and emphasizes, and thus combines all into one harmonious whole.
It holds that truth on all these most important points is attainable—that there is a great body of knowledge about them already existing. It considers all the various religions as statements of that truth from different points of view; since, though they differ much as to nomenclature and as to articles of belief, they all agree as to the only matters which are of real importance—the kind of life which a good man should lead, the qualities which he must develop, the vices which he must avoid. On these practical points the teaching is identical in Hinduism and Buddhism, in Zoroastrianism and Muhammadanism, in Judaism and Christianity.
Theosophy may be described to the outside world as an intelligent theory of the universe. Yet for those who have studied it, it is not theory, but fact; for it is a definite science, capable of being studied, and its teachings are verifiable by investigation and experiment for those who are willing to take the trouble to qualify themselves for such enquiry. It is a statement of the great facts of nature so far as they are known—an outline of the scheme of our corner of the universe.
An extract from An Outline of Theosophy by C. W. Leadbeater