Charles Webster Leadbeater

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Charles Webster Leadbeater in 1914

Charles Webster Leadbeater (16 February 18541 March 1934) was a member of the Theosophical Society, Co-Freemasonry, author on occult subjects and co-initiator with J. I. Wedgwood of the Liberal Catholic Church. Originally a priest of the Church of England, his interest in spiritualism caused him to end his affiliation with Anglicanism in favour of the Theosophical Society, where he became a pupil of Helena Petrovna Blavatsky and an associate of Annie Besant. He became a high-ranking officer of the Society and remained one of its leading members until his death in 1934, writing over 60 books and pamphlets and maintaining regular speaking engagements.

  • See also:
The Masters and the Path (1903)
The Other Side of Death (1925)
We often speak of Theosophy as not in itself a religion, but the truth which lies behind all religions alike. That is so; yet, from another point of view, we may surely say that it is at once a philosophy, a religion and a science.
Let us set ourselves to try, each in our own small circle, to bring nearer that bright time of peace and love which is the dream and the earnest desire of every true-hearted and thinking man. At least we ought surely to be willing... to help the world onward towards that glorious future
To comprehend the plan of the battle of life we must withdraw our selves from it for the time, and in thought look down upon it from above
Put shortly, and in the language of the man of the street, this means that God is good, that man is immortal, and that as we sow so we must reap.
It is perfectly possible to learn to know about all these things instead of accepting beliefs blindly at second-hand, as most people do; and knowledge means power, security and happiness.



Dreams: What They Are and How They Are Caused (1898)


(Full text online pdf)

  • The most convenient method in which we can arrange the various branches of our subject will perhaps be the following: first, to consider rather carefully the mechanism — physical, etheric and astral — by means of which impressions are conveyed to our consciousness; secondly, to see how the consciousness in its turn affects and uses this mechanism; thirdly, to note the condition both of the consciousness and its mechanism during sleep; and fourthly, to enquire how the various kinds of dreams which men experience are thereby produced. Chapter 1: Introductory
  • As I am writing in the main for students of theosophy, I shall feel myself at liberty to use, without detailed explanation, the ordinary theosophical terms, with which I may safely assume them to be familiar, since otherwise my little book would far exceed its allotted limits. Should it, however, fall into the hands of any to whom the occasional use of such terms constitutes a difficulty, I can only apologize to them, and refer them for these preliminary explanations to any elementary theosophical work, such as Mrs Besant's "The Ancient Wisdom", or "Man and his Bodies". Chapter 1: Introductory
  • Physical. First, then, as to the physical part of the mechanism. We have in our bodies a great central axis of nervous matter, ending in the brain, and from this a network of nerve-threads radiates in every direction through the body. It is these nerve-threads, according to modern scientific theory, which by their vibrations convey all impressions from without to the brain, and the latter, upon receipts of these impressions, translates them into sensations or perceptions; so that if I put my hand upon some object and find it to be hot, it is really not my hand that feels, but my brain, which is acting upon information transmitted to it by the vibrations running along its telegraph wires, the nerve-threads. Chapter 2
  • Etheric. It is not alone through the brain to which we have hitherto been referring, however, that impressions may be received by the man. Almost exactly co-extensive with and interpenetrating its visible form is his etheric double (formerly called in theosophical literature the linga sharira), and that also has a brain which is really no less physical than the other, though composed of matter in a condition finer than the gaseous. Chapter 2
  • Astral. Still another mechanism that we have to take into account is the astral body, often called the desire-body. As its name implies, this vehicle is composed exclusively of astral matter, and is, in fact, the expression of the man on the astral plane, just as his physical body is the expression of him on the lower levels of the physical plane. Chapter 2
  • All these different portions of the mechanism are in reality merely instruments of the ego [higher self/soul], though his control of them is as yet often very imperfect; for it must always be remembered that the ego is himself a developing entity, and that in the case of most of us he is scarcely more than a germ of what he is to be one day. Chapter 3
  • A stanza in the Book of Dzyan tells us: 'Those who received but a spark remained destitute of knowledge: the spark burned low'; and Madame Blavatsky explains that 'those who receive but a spark constitute the average humanity which have to acquire their intellectuality during the present manvantaric evolution'. ( The Secret Doctrine, ii, 167, 1979 ed.). In the case of most of them that spark is still smouldering, and it will be many an age before its slow increase brings it to the stage of steady and brilliant flame. Chapter 3
  • Clairvoyant observation bears abundant testimony to the fact that when a man falls into a deep slumber the higher principles in their astral vehicle almost invariably withdraw from the body and hover in its immediate neighbourhood. Indeed, it is the process of this withdrawal which we commonly call 'going to sleep'. Chapter 4
  • I do not wish here to discuss the question, intensely interesting though it be, as to whether time can be said really to exist, or whether it is but a limitation of this lower consciousness, and all that we call time — past, present and future alike — is 'but one eternal Now'; I wish only to show that when the ego is freed from physical trammels, either during sleep, trance or death, he appears to employ some transcendental measure of time which has nothing in common with our ordinary physiological one. A hundred stories might be told to prove this fact... Chapter 4
  • It seems that in the Koran there is a wonderful narrative concerning a visit paid one morning by the prophet Mohammed to heaven, during which he saw many different regions there, had them all very fully explained to him, and also had numerous lengthy conferences with various angels; yet when he returned to his body, the bed from which he had risen was still warm, and he found that but a few seconds had passed — in fact, I believe the water had not yet all run out from a jug which he had accidentally overturned as he started on the expedition! Chapter 4
  • The teacher... and credited with miraculous powers, undertook to prove... to the doubting monarch that the story was, at any rate, not impossible. He had... the sultan just to dip his head into the water and... and to his intense surprise found himself at once in a place entirely unknown to him — on a lonely shore, near the foot of a great mountain... time passed on; he began to get hungry... After wandering about for some time, he found some men at work felling trees in a wood, and applied to them for assistance. They... eventually took him with them to the town where they lived. Here he resided and worked for some years, gradually amassing money, and at length contrived to marry a rich wife... he spent many happy years... bringing up a family of no less than fourteen children... One day, walking by the sea-side, he... plunged into the sea for a bath; and as he raised his head and shook the water from his eyes, he was astounded to find himself standing among his old courtiers, with his teacher of long ago at his side, and a basin of water before him. It was long... before he could be brought to believe that all those years of incident and adventure had been nothing but one moment's dream, caused by the hypnotic suggestion of his teacher, and that really he had done nothing but dip his head quickly into the basin of water... Chapter 4
  • The Prophetic Dream... Often the prophecy is evidently intended as a warning, and instances are not wanting in which that warning has been taken, and so the dreamer has been saved from injury or death. In most cases the hint is neglected, or its true signification not understood until the fulfillment comes. In others an attempt is made to act upon the suggestion, but nevertheless circumstances over which the dreamer has no control bring him in spite of himself into the position foretold. Stories of such prophetic dreams are so common that the reader may easily find some in almost any of the books on such subjects. Chapter 5
  • The Confused Dream... by far the commonest of all, may be caused... in various ways. It may be simply a more or less perfect recollection of a series of the disconnected pictures and impossible transformations produced by the senseless automatic action of the lower physical brain; it may be a reproduction of the stream of casual thought which has been pouring through the etheric part of the brain; if sensual images of any kind enter into it, it is due to the ever-restless tide of earthly desire, probably stimulated by some unholy influence of the astral world; it may be due to an imperfect attempt at dramatization on the part of an undeveloped ego; or it may be (and most often is) due to an inextricable mingling of several or all of these influences. Chapter 5
  • Surely these experiments show very clearly how the remembrance of our dreams becomes so chaotic and inconsequent as it frequently is. Incidentally they also explain why some people — in whom the ego is undeveloped and earthly desires of various kinds are strong — never dream at all, and why many others are only now and then, under a collocation of favourable circumstances, able to bring back a confused memory of nocturnal adventure; and we see, further, from them that if a man wishes to reap in his waking consciousness the benefit of what his ego [higher self/soul] may learn during sleep, it is absolutely necessary for him to acquire control over his thoughts, to subdue all lower passions, and to attune his mind to higher things. Chapter 7

The Other Side of Death (1903)

(See also: The Other Side of Death for larger collection of quotes)
  • Death is a subject which cannot but be of the deepest interest to every one, since the one thing which is absolutely certain in the future biography of all men alike is that one day they must die, still more since there is hardly anyone, except the very young, from whose kin death has not already removed some dearly loved one. Yet though this is thus a question of such universal interest, there is perhaps none about which the misconceptions current in the popular mind are so many and so serious.
  • It is impossible for us to calculate the vast amount of utterly unnecessary sorrow and terror and misery which mankind in the aggregate has suffered simply from its ignorance and superstition with regard to this one most important matter.
  • Things of real worth, such as the mental life of the ant or the crab, fill psychological and scientific literature; but such a thing as death, which involves the whole human race more intimately than anything else possibly can - since all must die - is regarded as hardly worthy of serious discussion!
  • The first and most fatal of all misconceptions about death is the idea that it is the end of all things; that there is nothing in man which survives it. Many people seem to be under the impression that this gross form of materialism has almost died out from among us; that it was a mental disease of the earlier part of the last century, and that the race has now outgrown it. It is much to be wished that this view represented the facts of the case, but I fear a careful student of contemporary thought can hardly endorse it.
  • It is happily true that this noxious weed of materialism no longer - rears its, head in high places with the confidence of yore, for the men whose opinion is worthy of attention have by this time learnt better than that. But there is still an immense mass of blank ignorance in the world, and, worse still, there is much of that most objectionable of all\ forms of ignorance which, having picked up a few scientific catch-words, inflates itself with aggressive self-conceit and believes itself in possession of the wisdom of the ages. Among the unfortunate beings who are suffering under that variety of mental thraldom there is even yet much of the crudest materialism.

Clairvoyance (1903)

Full text online
  • Chapter One
  • Clairvoyance means literally nothing more than "clear-seeing,"... It has been called "spiritual vision," but no rendering could well be more misleading than that, for in the vast majority of cases there is no faculty connected with it which has the slightest claim to be honoured by so lofty a name.
  • For the purpose of this treatise we may, perhaps, define it as the power to see what is hidden from ordinary physical sight. It will be as well to premise that it is very frequently (though by no means always) accompanied by what is called clairaudience, or the power to hear what would be inaudible to the ordinary physical ear; and we will for the nonce take our title as covering this faculty also, in order to avoid the clumsiness of perpetually using two long words where one will suffice.
  • I am not writing for those who do not believe that there is such a thing as clairvoyance, nor am I seeking to convince those who are in doubt about the matter... I am addressing myself to the better-instructed class who know that clairvoyance exists, and are sufficiently interested in the subject to be glad of information as to its methods and possibilities; and I would assure them that what I write is the result of much careful study and experiment.
  • I am writing in the main for students of Theosophy, I shall feel myself at liberty sometimes to use, for brevity's sake and with out detailed explanation, the ordinary Theosophical terms with which I may safely assume them to be familiar.
  • Should this little book fall into the hands of any to whom the occasional use of such terms constitutes a difficulty, I can only apologize to them and refer them for these preliminary explanations to any elementary Theosophical work, such as Mrs. Besant's Ancient Wisdom or Man and His Bodies. The truth is that the whole Theosophical system hangs together so closely, and its various parts are so interdependent, that to give a full explanation of every term used would necessitate an exhaustive treatise on Theosophy as a preface even to this short account of clairvoyance.
  • Clairvoyance, like so many other things in nature, is mainly a question of vibrations, and is in fact nothing but an extension of powers which we are all using every day of our lives. We are living all the while surrounded by a vast sea of mingled air and ether, the latter inter-penetrating the former, as it does all physical matter; and it is chiefly by means of vibrations in that vast sea of matter that impressions reach us from the outside. This much we all know, but it may perhaps never have occurred to many of us that the number of these vibrations to which we are capable of responding is in reality quite infinitesimal.
In the future... the glories of the heaven world will also be open to his sight, and he will realize that man needs only a development of faculty in order to place him at once, here and now, in the midst of all the bliss that that wondrous life can give.

Some Glimpses of Occultism: Ancient and Modern, (1903)

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  • This course of lectures was designed to put before the public in broad outline some of the principal teachings of Theosophy, and also to help men to realize something of its scope and comprehensiveness by showing how wonderfully all else is included in it — how it is the mighty truth underlying all systems of religious thought, even those which differ as much on the physical plane as do Buddhism, Christianity and the Ancient Mysteries, and how also it offers the only rational and coherent explanation of the phenomena connected with clairvoyance, telepathy, mesmerism, spiritualism, dreams and apparitions. The titles of the lectures were as follows...
  • The course of lectures as a whole offered a popular and necessarily somewhat superficial exposition from the Theosophical standpoint of most of the manifestations of occultism known to the Western world at the present day, and it gave also a few glimpses into the fuller and more perfect manifestations which were current two thousand years ago. It seems to me, therefore, that these lectures may perhaps be of some use to our members, as offering them a -starting point for their thought along all these various lines, and it is with that hope that I am putting them before our Society in this form.
  • Many persons who feel themselves attracted towards Theosophy, whose interest is aroused by its reasonableness and by the manner in which it accounts for many things which otherwise seem inexplicable, yet hesitate to take up its study more deeply, lest they should presently find it contradicting the faith in which they have been brought up — lest, as they often put it, it should take away from them their religion. How, if a religion be true, the study of another truth can take it away, is not very clear; but, however illogical the fear may be, there is no doubt that it exists It is nevertheless entirely unwarranted
  • Theosophy neither attacks nor opposes any form of religion; on the contrary, it explains and harmonizes all. It holds that all religions alike are attempts to state the same great underlying truths— differing in external form and in nomenclature, because they were delivered by different teachers, at different periods of the world’s history, and to widely different races of men; but always agreeing in fundamentals, and giving identical instruction upon every subject of real importance. We* hold in Theosophy that this truth which lies at the back of all these faiths alike is itself within the reach of man, and indeed it is to that very truth that we give the name Theosophy, or Divine Wisdom, and it is that which we are trying to study.
  • No man need fear that we shall attack his religion, but we may help him to understand it better than he did before There is nothing in Theosophy which is many way in opposition to true primitive Christianity, though it may not always be possible to agree with the interpretations put upon that truth by modern dogmatic theology, which is quite another matter.
  • If we come down to the other end of this great gamut, to very slow vibrations, we shall find a certain number so slow as to affect the heavy matter of the atmosphere to strike upon the tympanum of our ear and reach us as sound there may be, and there must be, an infinity of sounds which are too high or too low for the human ear to respond to them; and to all such sounds, of which there must be millions and millions, the human ear is absolutely deaf. If there be vibrations so slow that they appear to vs as sound, and other exceedingly rapid ones which appear as light, what are all the others? Assuredly there are vibrations of all intermediate rates We have them as electrical phenomena of various kinds; we have them as the Rontgen rays. In fact, the whole secret of the Rontgen rays, or X-rays, is simply the bringing within the capacity of our eyes and within the field of our vision a few more rays, a few of the finer rates of vibration, which normally would be out of our reach
  • Vegetables contain more nutriment than an equal amount of dead flesh. This will sound a surprising and incredible statement to many people, because they have been brought up to believe that thev cannot exist unless they defile themselves with flesh, and this delusion is so widely spread that it is very difficult to awaken the average man from it. It must be clearly understood that this is not a question of habit, or of sentiment, or of prejudice; it is simply a question of plain fact, and as to the facts there is not and there never has been the slightest question. There are four elements necessary in food, all of them essential to the repair and the upbuilding of the body...
  • If we know of certain defects or vices in a man’s character, let us send to him strong thoughts of the contrary virtues, so that these may by degrees be built into his character. Never under any circumstances should we dwell upon that which is evil in him, for m that case our thought would tend to intensify that evil. That is the horrible wickedness of gossip and of scandal, for there we have a number of people fixing their thought upon the evil qualities of another, calling attention of others who might perhaps not have observed it and in this way, if the evil already exists, their folly distinctly acts to increase it, and if, as often the case, it does not exist... p. 247
  • Assuredly when we reach a more enlightened state of society people will learn to focus their connected thought upon others for good instead of for evil; they will endeavour to realize very strongly the opposite virtue, and then send out waves of thought toward the man who needs their help; they will think of his good points and try by concentrating attention upon them to strengthen him and help him through them; their criticism will be of that happy kind which grasps at a pearl as eagerly as our modem criticism pounces upon an imaginary flaw. p. 247
  • The use of flesh foods, by the excitation that it exercises on the nervous system, prepares the way for habits of intemperance in everything; and the more flesh is consumed, the more serious is the danger of confirmed alcoholism... The lower part of man’s nature is undoubtedly intensified by the habit of feeding upon corpses. Even after eating a full meal of such horrible material, a man still feels unsatisfied, for he is still conscious of a vague, uncomfortable sense of want, and consequently he suffers greatly from nervous strain. This craving is the hunger of the bodily tissues, which cannot be renewed by the poor stuff offered to them as food. To satisfy this vague craving, or rather to appease these restless nerves so that it will no longer be felt, recourse is often had to stimulants. Sometimes alcoholic beverages are taken; sometimes an attempt is made to allay these feelings with black coffee, and at other times strong tobacco is used in the endeavor to soothe the irritated, exhausted nerves. Here we have the beginning of intemperance, for in the majority of cases intemperance began in the attempt to allay with alcoholic stimulants the vague, uncomfortable sense of want which follows the eating of impoverished food—food that does not feed. There is no doubt that drunkenness, and all the poverty, wretchedness, disease and crime associated with it, may frequently be traced to errors of feeding. p. 272
In the present ignorance of men there is a very real and imminent danger... which threatens us. The only thing that can prevent it is the diffusion of knowledge, so that men shall understand what is really best for them and shall realize that nothing can ever be good for one which is against the interests of the whole.

Chapter XII, The Future of Humanity

  • The subject of the future that lies before humanity may obviously be treated in various ways; perhaps the simplest division which we can make is to speak first of the immediate future, then of the remoter future, then of the final goal. Both the immediate and the remoter future may be to some extent a matter of speculation, or perhaps ue should rather say of calculation; but the final goal we know with absolute certainty, and that is the only thing which is really of importance. Still it is well that we should try to look forward a little, so that we who are units m this great mass of humanity may be able to take our part intelligently in the evolution which we see to be progressing all round us.
  • The conditions of the near future must naturally develop from those which we see today; and I think that as we look about us, unless we are terribly prejudiced, we must admit that in spite of our boasted civilization there is very much which is highly unsatisfactory. p. 324
  • Then the great question of government is also in an unsatisfactorv condition; for I think all will agree that there is no country in the world which is governed, as every country in the world ought to be, solely with regard to the interests and advancement of the people who are governed. On the contrary we find everywhere personal and party considerations, and matters are in such condition that even the wisest and the best of our statesmen cannot do many things which they wish to do, and find themselves forced into many actions of which in truth they do not approve. p. 326
  • All of these difficulties arise from ignorance and selfishness. If men understood the plan of evolution, instead of working each for his own personal ends they would all join together as a community and work harmoniously for the good of all with mutual tolerance and forbearance. It is obvious that if this were done all of these evils would almost immediately cease or at any rate could very shortly be removed. p. 326
  • Every day a greater number of people are beginning to understand to some extent and to strive towards a better and more rational condition of affairs. There are many societies and associations which have for their object the amelioration of the condition of humanity Some of them begin at one end and some at the other, each approaches it from his own point of view and with his own set of remedies, but at least they are striving towards that development of unselfishness which is the only true solution of all our difficulties.
  • Our own Theosophical Society... is striving to help humanity It has no connection with any form of politics, and it is not trying to act directly in any way with regard to social conditions, its effort is rather to dispel ignorance, to put before men the truth about life and death, to show them why they are here and what lessons they have to learn and so to bring them to understand and to realize the great truth of the brotherhood of man.
  • Never was there a greater need for the diffusion of knowledge, for in the present ignorance of men there is a very real and imminent danger. We have in the immediate future the possibility of serious struggle; we have all the elements of a possible social upheaval, and we have no religion with sufficient hold upon the people to check what may develop into a wild and dangerous movement. As yet philosophy is the study of the very few only, and the science which has done so much for us, and has achieved so many triumphs, cannot stay the danger which threatens us. The only thing that can prevent it is the diffusion of knowledge, so that men shall understand what is really best for them and shall realize that nothing can ever be good for one which is against the interests of the whole. p. 333
  • Our religious friends argue much about heaven and hell and are terribly afraid of the latter indeed it would sometimes almost seem as though they were afraid of the former as well, from the manner in which they exert themselves to avoid going there/ In the future no questions or disputes about these conditions will be possible, because man will see for himself that there is no hell, though he will also see very clearly that those who live an evil life are by that fact storing up for themselves very undesirable results and a very unpleasant time in the astral life. The glories of the heaven world will also be open to his sight, and he will realize that man needs only a development of faculty in order to place him at once, here and now, in the midst of all the bliss that that wondrous life can give.
  • What a change will come over our conceptions of art and music also for the artist of that day there will be many more colors and many more shades of color than those of which we now know, for the knowledge of the higher planes brings as one of its earliest results the power of appreciating all these different hues. The music of that day will be accompanied by color, just as the color studies will be accompanied by harmonious sound; for sound and color are simply two aspects of every ordered motion, so that a magnificent piece played upon the organ will be accompanied by a splendid display of glowing color, and thus another interest will be added to the delight of glorious music, and an additional advantage will in this way be enjoyed by the students of music and art. p. 344
  • A great change too will come over the power side of man’s development; the whole question of government and organization will stand upon a different basis. Men will see then vividly and clearly the effect upon the astral plane of many of their actions upon the physical, and thus much that is now done thoughtlessly will become an absolute impossibility There could be no possibility of the slaughter of animals for food, for example, if only men were able to see the results upon the astral plane which that slaughter produces. The crime which men call sport would be utterly abolished if they were able to see what it is that they are really doing. It needs so slight a development to change the whole face of this which we call civilization, and to change it very much for the better. p. 345

Chapter XIV. The Gospel of Wisdom

  • The word gospel is usually associated with one particular form of faith only, with one particular story of never-failing interest; so you may perhaps think its use in Theosophical teaching somewhat strange. I think if you will remember the real meaning of the word you will realize that it should not be so monopolized, for after all the gospel is simply the “good spell,” or the good news. p.380
  • Theosophy also has its good news to bring you; not the good news of salvation, indeed, but the still greater good news that there is nothing to be “saved” from except your own error and ignorance that there is no Divine wrath from which you must escape, but that the whole world is moving on in one mighty and glorious order towards an end greater than the mind of man can conceive. This is not a poetic dream, not a mere flight of the imagination, but a certainty which can be seen and known, which can be examined scientifically by those who will take the trouble to prepare themselves for such an investigation. That is one piece of the good news or the gospel which Theosophy has to bring you.
  • There is very truly a gospel in all this teaching us never to forget that though the outer side of life may seem so dull and heavy, there is yet always the Divine fire glowing within, remember that 'the soul of things is sweet, the heart of being is celestial rest, stronger than woe is Will, that which is good doth pass to better, best.'
  • So this celestial bliss, that lies beyond the sorrow and the suffering shall become for you the ever present reality, until you learn to look through the misery and see its cause — and not only to see the cause but (far beyond that) the exhaustion of that evil through this temporary suffering, and the glory that is to come the magnificent qualities which all this is developing in the man. So this gospel will become a living reality to you. So, although you sympathize ever more and more deeply, you will find that you have within you the power to help, to comfort and to save, because you know, because you have this gospel in your hearts, and so you can communicate its light to others. So you will say to them once more, in the words of the greatest of Indian teachers: "Do not complain, and cry and pray, but open your eyes and see; the light is all about you, if you will only remove the bandage from your eyes and look; it is always with you, so wonderful, so glorious, so far bond anything that man has ever dreamt of or prayed for, and it is forever and forever.” p. 392
The existence of Perfected Men, and the possibility of coming into touch with Them and being taught by Them, are prominent among the great new truths which Theosophy brings to the western world. ~ C.W.Leadbeater

A Textbook of Theosophy (1912)

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  • We often speak of Theosophy as not in itself a religion, but the truth which lies behind all religions alike. That is so; yet, from another point of view, we may surely say that it is at once a philosophy, a religion and a science. It is a philosophy, because it puts plainly before us an explanation of the scheme of evolution of both the souls and the bodies contained in our solar system.
  • It is a religion in so far as, having shown us the course of ordinary evolution, it also puts before us and advises a method of shortening that course, so that by conscious effort we may progress more directly towards the goal.
  • It is a science, because it treats both these subjects as matters not of theological belief but of direct knowledge obtainable by study and investigation. It asserts that man has no need to trust to blind faith, because he has within him latent powers which, when aroused, enable him to see and examine for himself, and it proceeds to prove its case by showing how those powers may be awakened. It is itself a result of the awakening of such powers by men, for the teachings which it puts before us are founded upon direct observations made in the past, and rendered possible only by such development. Chapter I
  • As a philosophy, it explains to us that the solar system is a carefully-ordered mechanism, a manifestation of a magnificent life, of which man is but a small part. Nevertheless, it takes up that small part which immediately concerns us, and treats it exhaustively under three heads--present, past and future. Chapter I
  • It deals with the present by describing what man really is, as seen by means of developed faculties. It is customary to speak of man as having a soul. Theosophy, as the result of direct investigation, reverses that dictum, and states that man is a soul, and has a body -- in fact several bodies, which are his vehicles and instruments in various worlds. These worlds are not separate in space; they are simultaneously present with us, here and now, and can be examined; they are the divisions of the material side of Nature--different degrees of density in the aggregation of matter, as will presently be explained in detail. Man has an existence in several of these, but is normally conscious only of the lowest, though sometimes in dreams and trances he has glimpses of some of the others.
  • What is called death is the laying aside of the vehicle belonging to this lowest world, but the soul or real man in a higher world is no more changed or affected by this than the physical man is changed or affected when he removes his overcoat. All this is a matter, not of speculation, but of observation and experiment. Chapter I
  • One of the most striking advantages of Theosophy is that the light which it brings to us at once solves many of our problems, clears away many difficulties, accounts for the apparent injustices of life, and in all directions brings order out of seeming chaos. Thus, while some of its teaching is based upon the observation of forces whose direct working is somewhat beyond the ken of the ordinary man of the world, if the latter will accept it as a hypothesis he will very soon come to see that it must be a correct one, because it, and it alone, furnishes a coherent and reasonable explanation of the drama of life which is being played before him. Chapter I
  • The existence of Perfected Men, and the possibility of coming into touch with Them and being taught by Them, are prominent among the great new truths which Theosophy brings to the western world. Another of them is the stupendous fact that the world is not drifting blindly into anarchy, but that its progress is under the control of a perfectly organized Hierarchy, so that final failure even for the tiniest of its units is of all impossibilities the most impossible. A glimpse of the working of that Hierarchy inevitably engenders the desire to co-operate with it, to serve under it, in however humble a capacity, and some time in the far-distant future to be worthy to join the outer fringes of its ranks. Chapter I
  • In its capacity as a religion, too, Theosophy gives its followers a rule of life, based not on alleged commands delivered at some remote period of the past, but on plain common sense as indicated by observed facts. The attitude of the student of Theosophy towards the rules which it prescribes resembles rather that which we adopt to hygienic regulations than obedience to religious commandments. We may say, if we wish, that this thing or that is in accordance with the divine Will, for the divine Will is expressed in what we know as the laws of Nature. Because that Will wisely ordereth all things, to infringe its laws means to disturb the smooth working of the scheme, to hold back for a moment that fragment or tiny part of evolution, and consequently to bring discomfort upon ourselves and others. It is for that reason that the wise man avoids infringing them -- not to escape the imaginary wrath of some offended deity. Ch I
  • But if from a certain point of view we may think of Theosophy as a religion, we must note two great points of difference between it and what is ordinarily called religion in the West. First, it neither demands belief from its followers, nor does it even speak of belief in the sense in which that word is usually employed. The student of occult science either knows a thing or suspends his judgment about it; there is no place in his scheme for blind faith. Naturally, beginners in the study cannot yet know for themselves, so they are asked to read the results of the various observations and to deal with them as probable hypotheses--provisionally to accept and act upon them, until such time as they can prove them for themselves. Ch I
  • Secondly, Theosophy never endeavours to convert any man from whatever religion he already holds. On the contrary, it explains his religion to him, and enables him to see in it deeper meanings than he has ever known before. It teaches him to understand it and live it better than he did, and in many cases it gives back to him, on a higher and more intelligent level, the faith in it which he had previously all but lost. Ch. I
  • Put shortly, and in the language of the man of the street, this means that God is good, that man is immortal, and that as we sow so we must reap. There is a definite scheme of things; it is under intelligent direction and works under immutable laws. Man has his place in this scheme and is living under these laws. If he understands them and co-operates with them, he will advance rapidly and will be happy; if he does not understand them--if, wittingly or unwittingly, he breaks them, he will delay his progress and be miserable. These are not theories, but proved facts. Let him who doubts read on, and he will see. Ch. I
  • Of the Absolute, the Infinite, the All-embracing, we can at our present stage know nothing, except that It is; we can say nothing that is not a limitation, and therefore inaccurate. Ch. II
  • In It are innumerable universes; in each universe countless solar systems. Each solar system is the expression of a mighty Being, whom we call the LOGOS, the Word of God, the Solar Deity. He is to it all that men mean by God. He permeates it; there is nothing in it which is not He; it is the manifestation of Him in such matter as we can see. Yet He exists above it and outside it, living a stupendous life of His own among His Peers. As is said in an Eastern Scripture: "Having permeated this whole universe with one fragment of Myself I remain." Ch. II
  • Of that higher life of His we can know nothing. But of the fragment of His life which energises His system we may know something in the lower levels of its manifestation. We may not see Him, but we may see His power at work. No one who is clairvoyant can be atheistic; the evidence is too tremendous. Ch. II
Of that higher life of His we can know nothing. But of the fragment of His life which energises His system we may know something in the lower levels of its manifestation. We may not see Him, but we may see His power at work. No one who is clairvoyant can be atheistic; the evidence is too tremendous.
  • This is a school in which no pupil ever fails; every one must go on to the end. He has no choice as to that; but the length of time which he will take in qualifying himself for the higher examinations is left entirely to his own discretion. The wise pupil, seeing that school-life is not a thing in itself, but only a preparation... endeavours to comprehend as fully as possible the rules of his school, and shapes his life in accordance with them as closely as he can, so that no time may be lost in the learning of whatever lessons are necessary... Theosophy explains to us the laws under which this school-life must be lived, and in that way gives a great advantage to its students. The first great law is that of evolution. Every man has to become a perfect man, to unfold to the fullest degree the divine possibilities which lie latent within him, for that unfoldment is the object of the entire scheme so far as he is concerned. Chapter VII
  • Theosophy explains to us the laws under which this school-life must be lived, and in that way gives a great advantage to its students. The first great law is that of evolution... The second great law under which this evolution is taking place is the law of cause and effect. There can be no effect without its cause, and every cause must produce its effect. They are in fact not two but one, for the effect is really part of the cause, and he who sets one in motion sets the other also. There is in Nature no such idea as that of reward or punishment, but only of cause and effect. Anyone can see this in connection with mechanics or chemistry... Chapter VII
  • According to which the man who sends out a good thought or does a good action receives good in return, while the man who sends out an evil thought or does an evil action, receives evil in return with equal accuracy—once more, not in the least a reward or punishment administered by some external will, but simply as the definite and mechanical result of his own activity. The action of this law affords the explanation of a number of the problems of ordinary life. It accounts for the different destinies imposed upon people, and also for the differences in the people themselves. If one man is clever in a certain direction and another is stupid, it is because in a previous life the clever man has devoted much effort to practise in that particular direction, while the stupid man is trying it for the first time. Chapter VII
  • Another most valuable result of his Theosophical study is the absence of fear. Many people are constantly anxious or worried about something or other; they are fearing lest this or that should happen to them, lest this or that combination may fail, and so all the while they are in a condition of unrest; and most serious of all for many is the fear of death... He realizes the great truth of reincarnation. He knows that he has often before laid aside physical bodies, and so he sees that death is no more than sleep—that just as sleep comes in between our days of work and gives us rest and refreshment, so between these days of labour here on earth, which we call lives, there comes a long night... Chapter VII
At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant... The light... poured forth impartially upon all, the just and the unjust, the believers and the scoffers.

The Hidden Side of things (1913)


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  • Much of what is written here has appeared in the form of articles in The Theosophist and elsewhere; but all has been revised, and considerable additions have been made. I trust that it may help some brothers to realise the importance of that far larger part of life which is beyond our physical sight to understand that, as the Lord Buddha Himself has taught us: The unseen side of things are more.
    • Forward
  • The term ‘occultism’ is one which has been much misunderstood. In the mind of the ignorant it was, even recently, synonymous with magic, and its students were supposed to be practitioners of the black art, veiled in flowing robes of scarlet covered with cabalistic signs, sitting amidst uncanny surrounding's with a black cat as a familiar, compounding unholy decoctions by the aid of Satanic evocations. Even now, and among those whom education has raised above such superstition as this, there still remains a good deal of misapprehension. For them its derivation from the Latin word occultus ought to explain at once that it is the science of the hidden; but they often regard it contemptuously as nonsensical and unpractical, as connected with dreams and fortune-telling, with hysteria and necromancy, with the search for the elixir of life and the philosopher’s stone. p. 3/4
  • Students, who should know better, perpetually speak as though the hidden side of things were intentionally concealed, as though knowledge with regard to it ought to be in the hands of all men, but was being deliberately withheld by the caprice or selfishness of a few; whereas the fact is that nothing is or can be hidden from us except by our own limitations, and that for every man as he evolves the world grows wider and wider, because he is able to see more and more of its grandeur and its loveliness.
    • Chapter I
  • When we look upon the world around us, we cannot hide from ourselves the existence of a vast amount of sorrow and suffering... It often seems as though evil triumphs, as though justice fails in the midst of the storm and stress of the roaring confusion of life, and because of this many despair of the ultimate result, and doubt whether there is in truth any plan of definite progress behind all this bewildering chaos. It is all a question of the point of view the man who is himself in the thick of the fight cannot judge of the plan of the general or the progress of the conflict. To understand the battle as a whole, one must withdraw from the tumult and look down upon the field from above. In exactly the same way, to comprehend the plan of the battle of life we must withdraw our selves from it for the time, and in thought look down upon it from above — from the point of view not of the body which perishes but of the soul which lives for ever. We must take into account' not, only the small part of life which our physical eyes can see, but the vast totality of which at present so much is invisible to us.
    • Chapter II
  • Perhaps the greatest of the many fundamental changes which are inevitable for the man who studies the facts of life is that which is produced in his attitude towards death. This matter has been fully treated elsewhere; here I need state only that the knowledge of the truth about death robs it of all its terror and much of its sorrow, and enables us to see it in its true proportion and to understand its place in the scheme of our evolution. It is perfectly possible to learn to know about all these things instead of accepting beliefs blindly at second-hand, as most people do; and knowledge means power, security and happiness.
    • Chapter II
  • There are sacred rivers also — the Ganges, for example. The idea is that some great person of old has magnetised the source of the river with such powder that all the water that henceforth flows out from that source is in a true sense holy water, bearing with it his influence and his blessing. This is not an impossibility, though it would require either a great reserve of power in the beginning or some arrangement for a frequent repetition. The process is simple and comprehensible... what would be beyond the power of the ordinary man might possibly be quite easy to some one at a much higher level.
    • Chapter VII
  • My attention was first called to this by watching the effect produced by the celebration of the Mass in a Roman Catholic church in a little village in Sicily. Those who know that most beautiful of islands will understand that one does not meet with the Roman Catholic Church there in its most intellectual form, and neither the priest nor the people could be described as especially highly developed; yet the quite ordinary celebration of the Mass was a magnificent display of the application of occult, force.... At the moment of consecration the Host glowed with the most dazzling brightness it became in fact a veritable sun to the eye of the clairvoyant, and as the priest lifted it above the heads of the people I noticed that two distinct varieties of spiritual force poured forth from it, which might perhaps be taken as roughly corresponding to the light of the sun and the streamers of his corona. The first rayed out impartially in all directions upon all the people in the church; indeed, it penetrated the walls of the church as though they were not there, and influenced a considerable section of the surrounding country.
    • Chapter VIII
  • I said that there was a second effect, which I compared to the streamers of the sun’s corona. The light which I have just described poured forth impartially upon all, the just and the unjust, the believers and the scoffers. But this second force was called into activity only in response to a strong feeling of devotion on the part of an individual. At the elevation of the Host all members of the congregation duly prostrated themselves— some apparently as a mere matter of habit, but some also with a strong feeling of deep devotional feeling. The effect as seen by clairvoyant sight was most striking and profoundly impressive, for to each of these latter there darted from the uplifted Host a ray of fire, which set the higher part of the astral body of the recipient glowing with the most intense ecstasy.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Clearly one of the great objects, perhaps the principal object, of the daily celebration of the Mass is that everyone within reach of it shall receive at least once each day one of these electric shocks which are so well calculated to promote any growth of which he is capable. Such an outpouring of force brings to each person whatever he has made himself capable of receiving; but even the quite undeveloped and ignorant cannot but be somewhat the better for the passing touch of a noble emotion, while for the few more advanced it means a spiritual uplifting the value of which it would be difficult to exaggerate.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Naturally, having watched all this, I then proceeded to make further investigations as to how far this outflowing of force was affected by the character, the knowledge or the intention of the priest. I may sum up briefly the results of the examination of a large number of cases in the form of two or three axioms, which will no doubt at first sight seem surprising to many of my readers. Ordination ...only those priests who have been lawfully ordained, and have the apostolic succession, can produce this effect at all. Other men, not being part of this definite organisation, cannot perform this feat, no matter how devoted or good or saintly they may be. Secondly, neither the character of the priest, nor his knowledge, nor ignorance as to what he is really doing, affects the result in any way whatever.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Having myself been a priest of the Church of England, and knowing... the disputes as to whether that Church really has the apostolic succession or not, I was naturally interested in discovering whether its priests possessed this power. I was much pleased to find that they did... I soon found by examination that ministers of what are commonly called dissenting sects did not possess this power, no matter how good and - earnest they might be. Their goodness and earnestness produced plenty of other effects which I shall presently describe, but their efforts did not draw upon the particular reservoir to which I have referred... When the priest is earnest and devoted, his whole feeling radiates out upon his people and calls forth similar feelings in such of them as are capable of expressing them. Also his devotion calls down its inevitable response, as shown in the illustration in ThoughtForms and the downpouring of force thus evoked benefits his congregation as well as himself; so that a priest who throws his heart and soul into the work which he does may be said to bring a double blessing upon his people, though the second class of influence can scarcely be considered as being of the same order of magnitude as the first. Ch. 8
    • Chapter VIII
  • The ringing of bells has a distinct part in the scheme of the 'Church, which in these days seems but little understood... those who know the delights of the proper performance of a triple-bob-major or a grandsire-bob-cater will perhaps be prepared to hear how singularly perfect and magnificent are the forms which are made by them. This then was one of the effects which the ordered ringing of the bells was intended to produce. It was to throw out a stream of musical forms repeated over and over again, in precisely the same way, and for precisely the same purpose, as the Christian monk repeats hundreds of Ave Marias or the northern Buddhist spends much of his life in reiterating the mystic syllables Om Mani Padme Hum, or many a Hindu makes a background to his life by reciting the name Sita Ram.
    • Chapter VIII
  • If these bells are, to begin with, strongly charged with a certain type of magnetism, every form made by them will bear with it something of that influence. It is as though the wind which wafts to us snatches of music should at the same time bear with it a subtle perfume- So the bishop who blesses the bells charges them with much the same intent as he would bless holy water—with the intention that, wherever this sound shall go, all evil thought and feeling shall be banished and harmony and devotion shall prevail—a real exercise of magic, and quite effective when the magician does his work properly.
    • Chapter VIII
  • The bell which is often rung in Hindu or Buddhist temples has yet another intention. The original thought here was a beautiful and altruistic one. When someone had just uttered an act of devotion or made an offering, there came down in reply to that a certain outpouring of spiritual force. This charged the bell among other objects, and the idea of, the man who struck it was that by so doing he would spread abroad, as far as the sound of the bell could reach, the vibration of this higher influence while it was still fresh and strong.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Incense. The same idea carried out in a different way shows itself to us in the blessing of the incense before it is burned. For the incense has always a dual significance. It ascends before God as a symbol of the prayers of the people; but also it spreads through the church as a symbol of the sweet savour of the blessing of God, and so once more the priest pours into it a holy influence with the idea that wherever its scent may penetrate, wherever the smallest particle of that which has been blessed may pass, it shall bear with it a feeling of peace and of purity, and shall chase away all inharmonious thoughts and sensations.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Services for the Dead. What I have said in the earlier part of this chapter will explain a feature which is often misunderstood by those who ridicule the Church—the offering of a Mass with a certain intention, or on behalf of a certain dead person. The idea is that that person shall benefit by the downpouring of force which comes on that particular occasion, and undoubtedly he does so benefit, for the strong thought about him cannot but attract his attention, and when he is in that way drawn to the church he takes part in the ceremony and enjoys a large share of its result. Even if he is still in a condition of unconsciousness, as sometimes happens to the newly-dead, the exertion of the priest’s will (or his earnest prayer, which is the same thing) directs the stream of force towards the person for whom it is intended. Such an effort is a perfectly legitimate act of invocatory magic; unfortunately an entirely illegitimate and evil element is often imported into the transaction by the exaction of a fee for the exercise of this occult power—a thing which is always inadmissible.
    • Chapter VIII
  • Perhaps the greatest and most disastrous of all the taboos that we erect for ourselves is the fear of what our neighbours will say. There are many men and women who appear to live only in order that they may be talked about; at least that is what one must infer from the way in which they bring everything to this as to a touchstone. The one and only criterion which they apply with regard to any course of action is the impression which it will make upon their neighbours. They never ask themselves, “ Is it right or wrong for me to do this?” but “What will Mrs. Jones say if I do this?” This is perhaps the most terrible form of slavery under which a human being can suffer, and yet to obtain freedom from it it is only necessary to assert it. What other people say can make to us only such difference as we ourselves choose to allow it to make. We have but to realise within ourselves that it does not in the least matter what anybody says, and at once we are perfectly free. This is a lesson which the occultist must learn
    • Chapter X

Vegetarianism and Occultism (1913)

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  • For the moment we will put aside the consideration of the effect upon others — which is so infinitely more important — and think only of the results for the man himself. It is necessary to do this because one of the objections frequently brought against vegetarianism is that it is a beautiful theory, but one the working of which is impracticable, since it is supposed that a man cannot live without devouring dead flesh. That objection is irrational, and is founded upon ignorance or perversion of facts. I am myself an example of its falsity; for I have lived without the pollution of flesh food — without meat, fish or fowl — for the last thirty-eight years, and I not only still survive, but have been during all that time in remarkably good health. Nor am I in any way peculiar in this, for I know some thousands of others who have done the same thing. I know some younger ones who have been so happy as to be unpolluted by the eating of flesh during the whole of their lives; and they are distinctly freer from disease than those who partake of such things.
  • The destruction of life is always a crime. There may be certain cases in which it is the lesser of two evils; but here it is needless and without a shadow of justification, for it happens only because of the selfish unscrupulous greed of those who coin money out of the agonies of the animal kingdom in order to pander to the perverted tastes of those who are sufficiently depraved to desire such loathsome aliment. Remember that it is not only those who do the obscene work, but those who by feeding upon this dead flesh encourage them and make their crime remunerative, who are guilty...of this awful thing. Every person who partakes of this unclean food has his share in the indescribable guilt and suffering by which it has been obtained.
  • Would the delicate ladies who devour sanguinary beef-steaks like to see their sons working as slaughtermen? If not, then they have no right to put this task upon some other woman's son. We have no right to impose upon a fellow-citizen work which we ourselves should decline to do. It may be said that we force no one to undertake this abominable means of livelihood; but that is a mere tergiversation, for in eating this horrible food we are making a demand that some one shall brutalize himself, that some one shall degrade himself below the level of humanity.
  • Beyond all question the future is with the vegetarian. It seems certain that in the future — and I hope it may be in the near future — we shall be looking back upon this time with disgust and with horror. In spite of all its wonderful discoveries, in spite of its marvellous machinery, in spite of the enormous fortunes that have been made in it, I am certain that our descendants will look back upon this age as one of only partial civilisation, and in fact but little removed from savagery.
  • The Better Time to Come. We might all be freed from it very soon if men and women would only think; for the average man is not after all a brute, but means to be kind if he only knew how. He does not think; he goes on from day to day, and does not realise that he is taking part all the time in an awful crime. But facts are facts, and there is no escape from them; every one who is partaking of this abomination is helping to make this appalling thing a possibility, and undoubtedly shares the responsibility for it.
  • Let us at least make the experiment; let us free ourselves from complicity in these awful crimes, let us set ourselves to try, each in our own small circle, to bring nearer that bright time of peace and love which is the dream and the earnest desire of every true-hearted and thinking man. At least we ought surely to be willing to do so small a thing as this to help the world onward towards that glorious future; we ought to make ourselves pure, our thoughts and our actions as well as our food, so that by example as well as by precept we may be doing all that in us lies to spread the gospel of love and of compassion, to put an end to the reign of brutality and terror, and to bring nearer the dawn of the great kingdom of righteousness and love when the will of our Father shall be done upon earth as it is in heaven.

Invisible Helpers (1915)

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In the East the existence of the invisible helpers has always been recognized, though the names given and the characteristics attributed to them naturally vary in different countries
  • It is one of the most beautiful characteristics of Theosophy that it gives back to people in a more rational form everything which was really useful and helpful to them in the religions which they have outgrown... in this teaching as to the immortality of the soul and the life after death, Theosophy...does not put forward these great truths merely on the authority of some sacred book of long ago; in speaking of these subjects it is not dealing with pious opinions , or metaphysical speculations, but with solid, definite facts, as real and as close to us as the air we breathe or the houses we live in - facts of which many among us have constant experience - facts among which lies the daily work of some of our students, as will presently be seen.
    • Ch. 1
  • In the East the existence of the invisible helpers has always been recognized, though the names given and the characteristics attributed to them naturally vary in different countries; and even in Europe we have had the old Greek stories of the constant interference of the gods in human affairs, and the Roman legend that Castor and Pollux led the legions of the infant republic in the battle of Lake Regillus. Nor did such a conception die out when the classical period ended, for these stories have their legitimate successors in medieval tales of saints who appeared at critical moments... or of guardian angels who sometimes stepped in and saved a pious traveler from what would otherwise have been certain destruction.
    • Ch. 1
  • Not long ago the little daughter of one of our English bishops was out walking with her mother in the town where they lived, and in running heedlessly across a street the child was knocked down by the horses of a carriage which came quickly upon her round a corner. Seeing her among the horses’ feet, the mother rushed forward, expecting to find her very badly injured, but she sprang up quite merrily, saying, “Oh, mamma, I am not at all hurt, for something all in white kept the horses from treading upon me, and told me not to be afraid.
    • Ch. 2
  • To anyone who has even a faint idea of what the powers at the command of an adept really are, it will be at once obvious that for him to work upon the astral plane would be a far greater waste of energy than for our leading physicians or scientists to spend their time in breaking stones upon the road. The work of the adept lies in higher regions... where he may direct his energies to the influencing of the true individuality of man, and not the mere personality which is all that can be reached in the astral or physical world. The strength which he puts forth in that more exalted realm produces results greater, more far-reaching and more lasting than any which can be attained by the expenditure of even ten times the force down here; and the work up there is such as he alone can fully accomplish, while that on lower planes may be at any rate to some extent achieved by whose feet are yet upon the earlier steps of the great stairway which will one day lead them to the position where he stands.
    • Ch. 4
  • The cases in which assistance is given to mankind by nature-spirits are few. The majority of such creatures shun the haunts of man, and retire before him, disliking his emanations and the perpetual bustle and unrest which he creates all around him.
    • Ch. 4
  • Although instances of apparitions shortly after death are by no means uncommon, it is rare to find one in which the departed person has really done anything useful, or succeeded in impressing what he wished upon the friend or relation whom he visited... but little help is usually given by the dead - indeed, as will presently be explained, it is far more common for them to be themselves in need of assistance than to be able to accord it to others... the main bulk of the work which has to be done along these lines falls to the share of those living persons who are able to function consciously on the astral plane.
    • Ch. 4
  • It is one of the many evils resulting from the absurdly erroneous teaching as to conditions after death which is unfortunately current in our western world, that those who have recently shaken off this mortal coil are usually much puzzled and often very seriously frightened at finding everything so different from what their religion had led them to expect. The mental attitude of a large number of such people was pithily voiced the other day by an English general, who three days after his death met one of the band of helpers whom he had known in physical life. After expressing his great relief that he had at last found someone with whom he was able to communicate, his first remark was: “But if I am dead, where am I? For if this is heaven I don’t think much of it; and if it is hell, it is better than I expected.”
    • Ch. 12
  • Many of the dead very considerably retard the process of dissolution by clinging passionately to the earth which they have left; they simply will not turn their thoughts and desires upward, but spend their time in struggling with all their might to keep in full touch with the physical plane, thus causing great trouble to any one who may be trying to help them. Earthly matters are the only ones in which they have had any living interest, and they cling to them with desperate tenacity even after death. Naturally as time passes on they find it increasingly difficult to keep hold of things down here, but instead of welcoming and encouraging this process of gradual refinement and spiritualization they resist it vigorously by every means in their power... thereby not only causing themselves a vast amount of entirely unnecessary pain and sorrow, but also very seriously delaying their upward progress and prolonging their stay in astral regions to an almost indefinite extent. In convincing them that this ignorant and disastrous opposition to the cosmic will is contrary to the laws of nature, and persuading them to adopt an attitude of mind which is the exact reversal of it, lies a great part of the work of those who are trying to help.
    • Ch. 12
  • How, it may be asked, are we to make ourselves capable of sharing in this great work? Well, there is no mystery as to the qualifications which are needed by one who aspires to be a helper; the difficulty is not in learning what they are, but in developing them in oneself. To some extent they have been already incidentally described, but it is nevertheless as well that they should be set out fully and categorically. Single-mindedness... Perfect self-control... Calmness. This is another most important point - the absence of all worry and depression. Much of the work consists in soothing those who are disturbed, and cheering those who are in sorrow; and how can a helper do that work if his own aura is vibrating with constant fuss and worry, or grey with the deadly gloom that comes from perpetual depression? Nothing is more hopelessly fatal to occult progress or usefulness than our nineteenth century habit of ceaselessly worrying over trifles - of eternally making mountains out of molehills.... Knowledge....while the slightest taint of selfishness remains in a man, he is not yet fit to be entrusted........
    • Ch. 14
  • In hearing of these different possibilities, people sometimes exclaim rashly that there could of course be no thought in a Master’s mind of choosing any but that course which most helps humanity - a remark which greater knowledge would have prevented them from making. We should never forget that there are other evolutions in the solar system besides our own, and no doubt it is necessary for the carrying out of the vast plan of the Logos that there should be adepts working on all the seven lines to which we have referred. Surely the choice of the Master would be to go wherever his work was most needed - to place his services with absolute selflessness at the disposal of the Powers in charge of this part of the great scheme of evolution.
    • Ch. 17
  • Although this path may at first seem hard and toilsome, yet ever as we rise our footing becomes firmer and our outlook wider, and thus we find ourselves better able to help those who are climbing beside us.
    • Ch. 17
  • Let no man.. despair because he thinks the task too great for him; what man has done man can do, and just in proportion as we extend our aid to those whom we can help, so will those who have already attained be able in their turn to help us. So from the lowest to the highest we who are treading the steps of the path are bound together by one long chain of mutual service, and none need feel neglected or alone, for though sometimes the lower flights of the great staircase may be wreathed in mist, we know that it leads up to happier regions and purer air, where the light is always shining.
    • Ch. 17
Let no man... despair because he thinks the task too great for him; what man has done man can do, and just in proportion as we extend our aid to those whom we can help, so will those who have already attained be able in their turn to help us.
So from the lowest to the highest we who are treading the steps of the path are bound together by one long chain of mutual service, and none need feel neglected or alone,
for though sometimes the lower flights of the great staircase may be wreathed in mist, we know that it leads up to happier regions and purer air, where the light is always shining.
The Existence of Perfected Men is one of the most important of the many new facts which Theosophy puts before us.

The Inner Life (1917)


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  • Nowhere else in the world at this present moment is there such a centre of influence—a centre constantly visited by the Great Ones, and therefore bathed in their wonderful magnetism. The vibrations here are marvellously stimulating, and all of us who live here are therefore under a constant strain of a very peculiar kind, a strain which brings out whatever is in us... To live at Adyar is the most glorious of all opportunities for those who are able to take advantage of it, but its effect on those who are constitutionally unable to harmonize with its vibrations may be dangerous rather than helpful. If a student can bear it he may advance rapidly; if he cannot bear it he is better away. (Introduction)
  • That our thought on the subject may be clear, let us first of all try to define exactly what we mean by the term “Master.” We mean by it always one who is a member of the Great White Brotherhood—a member at such a level that He is able to take pupils. Now the Great White Brotherhood is an organization unlike any other in the world, and for that reason it has often been misunderstood. It has sometimes been described as the Himalayan or the Tibetan Brotherhood, and the idea has been conveyed of a body of Indian ascetics residing together in a monastery in some inaccessible mountain fastness.
  • Most of our students are familiar with the thought of the four stages of the Path of Holiness, and are aware that a man who has passed through them and attained to the level of the Asekha has achieved the task set before humanity during this chain-period, and is consequently free from the necessity of reincarnation on this planet or on any other. Before him then open seven ways among which he must choose. Most of them take him away from this earth into wider spheres of activity, probably connected with the solar system as a whole, so that the great majority of those members of our humanity who had already reached this goal have passed entirely out of our ken.
  • The limited number who are still working directly for us may be divided into two classes—those who retain physical bodies, and those who do not. The latter are frequently spoken of under the name of Nirmanakayas. They hold themselves suspended as it were between this world and nirvana, and They devote the whole of Their time and energy to the generation of spiritual force for the benefit of mankind... He has chosen to remain upon lower planes in order to help those who still suffer. It is quite true that to come back from the higher life into this world is like going down from the fresh air and glorious sunlight into a dark and evil-smelling dungeon; but the man who does this to help some one out of that dungeon is not miserable and wretched while there, but full of the joy of helping, notwithstanding the greatness of the contrast and the terrible feeling of bondage and compression. Indeed, a man who refused such an opportunity of giving aid when it came to him would certainly feel far more woe afterwards, in the shape of remorse. When we have once really seen the spiritual misery of the world, and the condition of those who need such help, we can never again be careless or indifferent about it, as are those who have not seen.
  • Fortunately those of us who have seen and realized this have ever at our command a means whereby we can quite really and definitely help. Tiny though our efforts may be as compared with the splendid outpouring of force of the Nirmanakaya, we also can add our little drops to the great store of force in that reservoir. Every outpouring of affection or devotion produces a double result—one upon the being to whom it is sent, and another upon ourselves, who sent it forth. But if the devotion or affection be utterly without the slightest thought of self, it brings in its train a third result also. Ordinary affection or devotion, even of a high kind, moves in a closed curve, however large that curve may be, and the result of it comes back upon the sender. But the devotion or affection of the truly unselfish man moves in an open curve, and though some of its affects inevitably react upon the sender, the grandest and noblest part of its force ascends to the Logos Himself, and the response, the magnificent response of benediction which instantly pours forth from Him, falls into that reservoir for the helping of mankind. So that it is within the power of every one of us, even the weakest and the poorest, to help the world in this most beautiful manner.
  • The still more limited number of adepts who retain physical bodies remain in even closer touch with us, in order to fill certain offices, and to do certain work necessary for our evolution; and it is to the latter that the names of the Great White Brotherhood and the Occult Hierarchy have sometimes been given. They are, then, a very small number of highly advanced men belonging not to any one nation, but to the world as a whole... They do not live together, though They are of course in continual communication on higher planes. Since They are beyond the necessity of rebirth, when one body wears out They can choose another wherever it may be most convenient for the work They wish to do, so that we need not attach any special importance to the nationality of the bodies which They happen to be wearing at any particular time. Just now, several of those bodies are Indian, one is Tibetan, one is Chinese, two at least are English, one is Italian, one Hungarian, and one Syrian, while one was born in the island of Cyprus. As I have said, the nationality of these bodies is not a matter of importance, but I mention these in order to show that it would be a mistake to think of the ruling Hierarchy as belonging exclusively to one race.
  • The deep reverence and the strong affection felt for the Lord Gautama all over the East are due to two facts. One of these is that He was the first of our humanity to attain to the stupendous height of Buddhahood, and so He may be very truly described as the first-fruits and the leader of our race. (All previous Buddhas had belonged to other humanities, which had matured upon earlier chains.) The second fact is that for the sake of hastening the progress of humanity, He took upon Himself certain additional labours of the most stupendous character...
  • When the time came at which it was expected that humanity would be able to provide for itself some one who was ready to fill this important office, no one could be found who was fully capable of doing so. But few of our earthly race had then reached the higher stages of adeptship, and the foremost of these were two friends and brothers whose development was equal. These two were the mighty Egos now known to us as the Lord Gautama and the Lord Maitreya, and in His great love for mankind the former at once volunteered to make the tremendous additional exertion necessary to qualify Him to do the work required, while His friend and brother decided to follow Him as the next holder of that office thousands of years later.
  • In those far-off times it was the Lord Gautama who ruled the world of religion and education; but now He has yielded that high office to the Lord Maitreya, whom western people call the Christ—who took the body of the disciple Jesus during the last three years of its life on the physical plane; and those who know tell us that it will not be long before He descends among us once again, to found another faith. Anyone whose mind is broad enough to grasp this magnificent conception of the splendid reality of things will see instantly how worse than futile it is to set up in one’s mind one religion as in opposition to another, to try to convert any person from one to another, or to compare depreciatingly the founder of one with the founder of another.
  • They may for the time be putting forward different aspects of the truth to suit the needs of those to whom They speak... The teaching is always fundamentally the same, though its presentation may vary widely.
  • The Lord Maitreya had taken various births before He came into the office which He now holds, but even in these earlier days He seems always to have been a teacher or high-priest.
  • One of the main objects of the foundation of the Theosophical Society was that these two Masters might gather round Them a number of men who would be intelligent and willing co-operators in this mighty work. Round Them will be grouped others who are now Their pupils, but will by that time have attained the level of adeptship.
  • It has often been said that the characteristic of one is power, and of the other love and compassion, and this is perfectly true, though, if it is not rightly understood, it may very easily prove misleading. One of the Masters concerned has been a ruler in many incarnations, and was so even in the earlier part of this one, and unquestionably royal power shows forth in His every gesture and in the very look of His eyes, just as surely as the face of His brother adept beams ever with overflowing love and compassion. They are of different rays or types, having risen to Their present level along different lines, and this fact cannot but show itself ; yet we should mistake sadly if we thought of the first as in any degree less loving and compassionate than His brother, or of the second as lacking anything of the power possessed by the first.
  • It is probable that even the Masters who are by name best known to you are not so real, not so clear, not so well-defined to you as They are to those of us who have had the privilege of meeting Them face to face and seeing Them constantly in the course of our work. Yet you should endeavour by reading and thinking of Them to gain this realization, so that the Masters shall become to you not vague ideals but living men—men exactly as we are, though so enormously more advanced in every respect.
  • The man who stands before one of Them cannot but feel the deepest humility, because of the greatness of the contrast between himself and the Master. Yet with all this humility he yet feels a firm confidence in himself, for since the Master, who is also man, has achieved, that achievement is clearly possible even for him.
  • In His presence everything seems possible and even easy, and one looks back with wonder on the troubles of yesterday, unable now to comprehend why they should have caused agitation or dismay. Now at least, the man feels, there can never again be trouble, since he has seen the right proportion of things. Now he will never again forget that, however dark the clouds may be, the sun is ever shining behind them.
  • The vibrations of the Masters are so strong that only those qualities in you which harmonize with them are called out, so that you will feel the uttermost confidence and love, and the desire to be always in His presence.
  • You ask about the Great One whom we call the Christ, the Lord Maitreya, and about His work in the past and in the future... there is what we may call a department of the inner government of the world which is devoted to religious instruction—the founding and inspiring of religions, and so on. It is the Christ who is in charge of that department; sometimes He Himself appears on earth to found a great religion and sometimes He entrusts such work to one of His more advanced assistants. We must regard Him as exercising a kind of steady pressure from behind all the time, so that the power employed will flow as though automatically into every channel anywhere and of any sort which is open to its passage; so that He is working simultaneously through every religion, and utilizing all that is good in the way of devotion and self-sacrifice in each. The fact that these religions may be wasting their strength in abusing one another upon the physical plane is of course lamentable, but it does not make much difference to the fact that whatever is good in each of them is being simultaneously utilized from behind by the same great Power. p. 19
  • What is desired in order to promote the work of the great plan is that all these races should be drawn into much closer sympathy. This has already been achieved to a great extent in the case of England and America; it is very much to be regretted that it cannot be done in the case of Germany also, but for the present that great country seems disposed to hold aloof from the desired coalition, and to stand out for what it considers its own private interests. It is much to be hoped that this difficulty may be overcome. The great purpose of this drawing together is to prepare the way for the coming of the new Messiah, or, as we should say in Theosophical circles, the next advent of the Lord Maitreya, as a great spiritual teacher, bringing a new religion. The time is rapidly approaching when this shall be launched—a teaching which shall unify the other religions, and compared with them shall stand upon a broader basis and keep its purity longer. But before this can come about we must have got rid of the incubus of war, which at present is always hanging over our heads like a great spectre, paralyzing the best intellects of all countries as regards social experiments, making it impossible for our statesmen to try new plans and methods on a large scale. Therefore one essential towards carrying out the scheme is a period of universal peace. p. 151

Occult Chemistry, Clairvoyant Observations on the Chemical Elements, by Annie Besant and Charles W. Leadbeater (1919)


(Full text online, multiple formats)

  • The occultist has the satisfaction of knowing that the great Russian chemist, Mendeleef, preferred the atomic theory. In Sir William Tilden's recent book entitled "Chemical Discovery and Invention in the Twentieth Century," I read that Mendeleef, "disregarding conventional views," supposed the ether to have a molecular or atomic structure, and in time all physicists must come to recognise that the Electron is not, as so many suppose at present, an atom of electricity, but an atom of ether carrying a definite unit charge of electricity. (Chapter I)
  • Long before the discovery of radium led to the recognition of the electron as the common constituent of all the bodies previously described as chemical elements, the minute particles of matter in question had been identified with the cathode rays observed in Sir William Crookes' vacuum tubes. When an electric current is passed through a tube from which the air (or other gas it may contain) has been almost entirely exhausted, a luminous glow pervades the tube manifestly emanating from the cathode or negative pole of the circuit. This effect was studied by Sir William Crookes very profoundly. Among other characteristics it was found that, if a minute windmill was set up in the tube before it was exhausted, the cathode ray caused the vanes to revolve, thus suggesting the idea that they consisted of actual particles driven against the vanes; the ray being thus evidently something more than a mere luminous effect. Here was a mechanical energy to be explained, and at the first glance it seemed difficult to reconcile the facts observed with the idea creeping into favour, that the particles, already invested with the name "electron," were atoms of electricity pure and simple. Electricity was found, or certain eminent physicists thought they had found, that electricity per se had inertia. So the windmills in the Crookes' vacuum tubes were supposed to be moved by the impact of electric atoms.
  • In the progress of ordinary research the discovery of radium by Madame Curie in the year 1902 put an entirely new face upon the subject of electrons. The beta particles emanating from radium were soon identified with the electrons of the cathode ray. Then followed the discovery that the gas helium, previously treated as a separate element, evolved itself as one consequence of the disintegration of radium. Transmutation, till then laughed at as a superstition of the alchemist, passed quietly into the region of accepted natural phenomena, and the chemical elements were seen to be bodies built up of electrons in varying number and probably in varying arrangements. So at last ordinary science had reached one important result of the occult research carried on seven years earlier. It has not yet reached the finer results of the occult research—the structure of the hydrogen atom with its eighteen etheric atoms and the way in which the atomic weights of all elements are explained by the number of etheric atoms entering into their constitution.
  • The first difficulty that faced us was the identification of the forms seen on focusing the sight on gases. We could only proceed tentatively. Thus, a very common form in the air had a sort of dumb-bell shape (see Plate I); we examined this, comparing our rough sketches, and counted its atoms; these, divided by 18—the number of ultimate atoms in hydrogen—gave us 23.22 as atomic weight, and this offered the presumption that it was sodium. We then took various substances—common salt, etc.—in which we knew sodium was present, and found the dumb-bell form in all. In other cases, we took small fragments of metals, as iron, tin, zinc, silver, gold; in others, again, pieces of ore, mineral waters, etc., etc.... In all, 57 chemical elements were examined, out of the 78 recognized by modern chemistry. In addition to these, we found 3 chemical waifs: an unrecognized stranger between hydrogen and helium which we named occultum, for purposes of reference, and 2 varieties of one element, which we named kalon and meta-kalon, between xenon and osmium... Thus we have tabulated in all 65 chemical elements, or chemical atoms, completing three of Sir William Crookes' lemniscates, sufficient for some amount of generalization. (Chapter III. The Later Researches)
  • Here, for the first time, we find ourselves a little at issue with the accepted system of chemistry. Fluorine stands at the head of a group—called the inter-periodic—whereof the remaining members are (see Crookes' table, p. 28), manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel; ruthenium, rhodium, palladium; osmium, iridium, platinum. If we take all these as group V, we find that fluorine and manganese are violently forced into company with which they have hardly any points of relationship, and that they intrude into an otherwise very harmonious group of closely similar composition. (Chapter III. The Later Researches, Part V.—The Bars Groups)

Talks on At the Feet of the Master (1922)


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  • You have all heard very often about the qualifications for the Path—too often, I dare say, some of you think But it IS never too often, unless you have achieved, until you have succeeded in putting into practice everything that is written in the books on the subject. There is no mystery about the matter. There is no difficulty in knowing exactly what ought to be done, but of course there is a difficulty in doing it. But the difficulty is all in ourselves, there is no obstacle in your path which is not of your own making. Nevertheless only comparatively few people do succeed in following the directions that are given Why is it that more do not succeed, when so many are really earnestly trying. The reason is that each of us has a powerful personality, and that this personality very often, sadly often, gets in the way. (First Talk)
  • We have to learn to apply, each one of us to himself, what IS written in these books I cannot do that for you, I can tell you what you ought to do, I can try to explain, I can illustrate in various ways, but each person must do the actual work for himself. It is like physical culture, like training for a race or some effort of that sort, there may be a trainer who can give useful hints and can tell you what to do, but the candidate himself must exercise his own muscles, and nobody can by any possibility do that for him. (First Talk)
  • People apparently do not grasp the fact that by occultism we mean exactly what we say. It is like science If a scientific professor tells you to do certain things, to compound certain chemicals, and so on, to get certain results, you know that, if you follow his directions, you must obtain these results. If you vary the proportions, you will not only not get the results, but you may produce something undesirable—an explosion or something of that sort. In religious matters people seem to think a kind of vague approximation to the directions given is quite sufficient. Occultism must be taken not as religion, but as science, and although you all have heard so often about these qualifications, I yet hope that if we go through them carefully and really try to understand what is required, and to do it, we may after all achieve the result. (First Talk)
  • Everywhere there are people who think they are so busy and so wise... And yet the truth IS that all of these are working in the unreal and the outer, they have not, most of them, even realised that there is an inner and spiritual world which is of enormously more importance, of far greater value in every way, than this which is external. (First Talk)
  • The only thing which IS necessary is that you should do your duty. The past is past, there is no use worrying about it. Try, in bearing your karma, to develop in yourselves courage, endurance and various other good qualities and then let it go. Fulfil all the duties that are cast upon you m this strange play of life, and you will be doing all that is required of you. This, at least, is of infinite importance, since upon it depends your future. Now you have to get into that point of view. It IS not easy, because around us are people by the thousand who are taking the play seriously and thinking of it as the real life It is not so much what they say to you and do to you (although that counts) that causes the difficulty, it is the immense, the incessant pressure of public opinion.
  • One of the superstitions condemned by the Master, you will remember, is that man needs flesh for food. That IS, of course, a superstition, because there are many thousands of people who exist in perfect health without it. There are probably some few people who, owing to bad heredity, and of course to their own karma, are really unable to make their bodies digest the purer forms of food, but they are very few. I have myself known of some two instances, I think, among the great many thousands of Theosophists, and others—who, after really trying for a long time to adopt vegetarian diet, found that they were absolutely unable to do it, but all the rest, after a certain amount of difficulty just at first, were able to settle down to vegetarian food. It is unquestionably proved that people (all but a very few) can exist perfectly well without saddling themselves with the crime of taking part in the slaughter of animals. (Thirty-second Talk)
  • You have, I hope, the Love, surely you have the Will, although it seems sometimes as though that will flagged. But we must remember that those three are the manifestations of the Divine, and that we, who wish to work with... and for... , must possess within ourselves those attributes of God. (Thirty-second Talk)

The Masters and the Path (1925)

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Also see The Masters and the Path for a larger collection of quotations from this book.
For those who wish to know more and to draw nearer, the Path is open. But the man who aspires to approach the Masters can reach them only by making himself unselfish as they are unselfish, by learning to forget the personal self, and by devoting himself wholly to the service of humanity as they do.
  • The rapid changes in the world of thought, arising from the nearness of the Coming of the World-Teacher, render useful some information as to a part of the world in which he lives, information which may, perhaps, to some extent prepare the public mind for his teachings.
    Be that as it may, I desire to associate myself with the statements made in this book, for the accuracy of nearly all of which I can personally vouch; and also to say on behalf of my colleague as well of myself, that the book is issued as a record of observations carefully made and carefully recorded, but not claiming any authority, nor making any demand for acceptance. It makes no claim to inspiration, but is only an honest account of things seen by the writer.
  • The Existence of Perfected Men is one of the most important of the many new facts which Theosophy puts before us. It follows logically from the other great Theosophical teachings of karma and evolution by reincarnation. As we look round us we see men obviously at all stages of their evolution—many far below ourselves in development, and others who in one way or another are distinctly in advance of us. Since that is so, there may well be others who are very much further advanced; indeed, if men are steadily growing better and better through a long series of successive lives, tending towards a definite goal, there should certainly be some who have already reached that goal. Some of us in the process of that development have already succeeded in unfolding some of those higher senses which are latent in every man, and will be the heritage of all in the future; and by means of those senses we are enabled to see the ladder of evolution extending far above us as well as far below us, and we can also see that there are men standing upon every rung of that ladder. There is a considerable amount of direct testimony to the existence of these Perfected Men whom we call Masters, but I think that the first step which each one of us should take is to make certain that there must be such men...
    • Ch. 1
  • The historical records of every nation are full of the doings of men of genius in all the different departments of human activity, men who in their special lines of work and ability have stood far above the rest— indeed, so far that at times (and probably more often than we know) their ideals were utterly beyond the comprehension of the people, so that not only the work that they may have done has been lost to mankind, but their very names even have not been preserved. It has been said that the history of every nation could be written in the biography of a few individuals, and that it is always the few, towering above the rest, who initiate the great forward steps in art, music, literature, science, philosophy, philanthropy, statecraft, and religion. They stand high sometimes in love of God and their fellow-men, as great saints and philanthropists; sometimes in understanding of man and Nature, as great philosophers, sages and scientists; sometimes in work for humanity, as great liberators and reformers.
    • Ch. 1
  • Looking at these men, and realizing how high they stand among humanity, how far they have gone in human evolution, is it not logical to say that we cannot see the bounds of human attainment, and that there may well have been, and even now may be, men far further developed even than they, men great in spirituality as well as knowledge or artistic power, men complete as regards human perfections—men precisely such as the Adepts or Supermen whom some of us have had the inestimable privilege to encounter? This galaxy of human genius that enriches and beautifies the pages of history is at the same time the glory and the hope of all mankind, for we know that these Greater Ones are the forerunners of the rest, and that they flash out as beacons, as veritable light-bearers to show us the path which we must tread if we wish to reach the glory which shall presently be revealed.
    • Ch. 1
  • We have long accepted the doctrine of the evolution of the forms in which dwells the Divine Life; here is the complementary and far greater idea of the evolution of that Life itself, showing that the very reason for that wondrous development of higher and higher forms is that the ever-swelling Life needs them in order to express itself. Forms are born and die, forms grow, decay and break; but the Spirit grows on eternally, ensouling those forms, and developing by means of experience gained in and through them, and as each form has served its turn and is outgrown, it is cast aside that another and better form may take its place.
    • Ch. 1
  • There is no one physical characteristic by which an Adept can be infallibly distinguished from other men, but he always appears impressive, noble, dignified, holy and serene, and anyone meeting him could hardly fail to recognize that he was in the presence of a remarkable man. He is the strong but silent man, speaking only when he has a definite object in view, to encourage, to help or to warn, yet he is wonderfully benevolent and full of a keen sense of humour— humour always of a kindly order, used never to wound, but always to lighten the troubles of life. The Master Morya once said that it is impossible to make progress on the occult Path without a sense of humour, and certainly all the Adepts whom I have seen have possessed that qualification.
    • Ch. 2
  • To know that a certain man is an Adept it would be necessary to see his causal body, for in that his development would show by its greatly increased size, and by a special arrangement of its colours into concentric spheres, such as is indicated to some extent in the illustration of the causal body of an Arhat (Plate xxvi) in Man, Visible and Invisible.
    • Ch. 2
  • There are some who cannot make anything much of meditation, and when they try to study they find it very hard. They ought to continue to try both these things, because we must develop all sides of our nature, but most of all they should throw themselves into the work, and do something for their fellow-men.
    • Ch.3
  • The Effect of Meditation. Remember also that every one who meditates upon the Master makes a definite connection with him, which shows itself to clairvoyant vision as a kind of line of light. The Master always subconsciously feels the impinging of such a line, and sends out in response a steady stream of magnetism which continues to play long after the meditation is over. The methodical practice of such meditation and concentration is thus of the utmost help to the aspirant, and regularity is one of the most important factors in producing the result. It should be undertaken daily at the same hour, and we should steadily persevere with it, even though no obvious effect may be produced. When no result appears we must be especially careful to avoid depression, because that makes it more difficult for a Master’s influence to act upon us, and it also shows that we are thinking of ourselves more than of him.
    • Ch.4
  • In beginning this practice of meditation it is desirable to watch closely its physical effects. Methods prescribed by those who understand the matter ought never to cause headache or any other pain, yet such results do sometimes occur in particular cases. It is true that meditation strains the thought and attention a little further than its customary point in any individual, but that should be so carefully done, so free from any kind of excess, as not to cause any physical ill-effects. Sometimes a person takes it up too strenuously and for too long at a time, or when the body is not in a fit state of health, and the consequence is a certain amount of suffering. It is fatally easy to press one’s physical brain just a little too far, and when that happens it is often difficult to recover equilibrium. Sometimes a condition may be produced in a few days which it will take years to set right; so anyone who begins to feel any unpleasant effects should at once stop the practice for a while and attend to his physical health, and if possible consult someone who knows more than he does about the subject.
    • Ch.4
  • There has always been a Brotherhood of Adepts, the Great White Brotherhood; there have always been those who knew, those who possessed this inner wisdom, and our Masters are among the present representatives of that mighty line of Seers and Sages. Part of the knowledge which they have garnered during countless aeons is available to every one on the physical plane under the name of Theosophy. But there is far more behind.
    • Ch. 4
  • The Master Kuthumi himself once said smilingly, when some one spoke of the enormous change that the Theosophical knowledge had made in our lives, and of the wonderful comprehensiveness of the doctrine of reincarnation: “Yes, but we have lifted only a very small corner of the veil as yet.” When we have thoroughly assimilated the knowledge given us, and are all living up to its teaching, the Brotherhood will be ready to lift the veil further; but only when we have complied with those conditions.
    • Ch. 4
  • For those who wish to know more and to draw nearer, the Path is open. But the man who aspires to approach the Masters can reach them only by making himself unselfish as they are unselfish, by learning to forget the personal self, and by devoting himself wholly to the service of humanity as they do.
    • Ch. 4
  • The Wesak Festival. The occasion selected for this wonderful outpouring is the full moon day of the Indian month of Vaisakh (called in Ceylon Wesak, and usually corresponding to the English May), the anniversary of...[Gautama Buddha's] birth, his attainment of Buddhahood, and his departure from the physical body... An exoteric ceremony is performed on the physical plane at which the Lord actually shows himself in the presence of a crowd of ordinary pilgrims. Whether he shows himself to pilgrims I am not certain; they all prostrate themselves at the moment when he appears, but that may be only in imitation of the prostration of the Adepts and their pupils, who do see the Lord Gautama. It seems probable that some at least of the pilgrims have seen him for themselves, for the existence of the ceremony is widely known among the Buddhists of central Asia, and it is spoken of as the appearance of the Shadow or Reflection of the Buddha, the description given of it in such traditional accounts being as a rule fairly accurate. So far as we can see there appears to be no reason why any person whatever who happens to be in the neighbourhood at the time may not be present at the ceremony; no apparent effort is made to restrict the number of spectators; though it is true that one hears stories of parties of pilgrims who have wandered for years without being able to find the spot. (p. 286)
    • Ch. 14

Quotes about C.W. Leadbeater

  • Mr. Leadbeater was then staying at my house, and his clairvoyant faculties were frequently exercised for the benefit of myself... I had discovered that these faculties, exercised in the appropriate direction, were ultra-microscopic in their power. It occurred to me once to ask Mr. Leadbeater if he thought he could actually see a molecule of physical matter. He was quite willing to try, and I suggested a molecule of gold as one which he might try to observe. He made the appropriate effort, and emerged from it saying the molecule in question was far too elaborate a structure to be described. It evidently consisted of an enormous number of some smaller atoms, quite too many to count; quite too complicated in their arrangement to be comprehended... I suggested an atom of hydrogen as possibly more manageable. Mr. Leadbeater accepted the suggestion and tried again. This time he found the atom of hydrogen to be far simpler than the other, so that the minor atoms constituting the hydrogen atom were countable. They were arranged on a definite plan, which will be rendered intelligible by diagrams later on, and were eighteen in number.
  • In The Masters and the Path, C. W. Leadbeater has an interesting discussion of the three 'fetters' which the first degree initiate must 'cast off' before he is prepared for the Baptism initiation. The first of these fetters is the delusion of the separate self. This has to be replaced by the realization of oneness in the true Self.
  • His clairvoyant investigations went on to produce books of wide ranging appeal which brought many thousands of people in contact with the uplifting teachings of Theosophy. They include The Astral Plane, Thought-Forms (with Annie Besant), Man, Visible and Invisible, The Science of the Sacraments, The Masters and the Path, Hidden Life in Freemasonry, The Inner Life, The Chakras and The Hidden Side of Things, among several others.
  • CWL came to Adyar with no expectations whatever of occult advancement. He came in attitude of true dedication, hoping to find some work to do here. I think he had the idea that probably he would have to stick stamps on envelopes or sweep the rooms. In those days Theosophists had very little money and Adyar did not have such a staff of sweepers and servants as at present. He anticipated quite a humble role as a worker here; expecting nothing, he gained all. That is a very wonderful and significant point.
  • Perhaps HPB was not wrong about what she said to the young CWL when she first met him in London, in 1884, after he had written a letter to the spiritualistic journal Light in defense of Theosophy: ‘I don’t think much of the clergy, for I find most of them hypocritical, bigoted and stupid; but that was a brave action, and I thank you for it. You have made a good beginning; perhaps you may do something yet.’
  • Another important development during CWL’s journey to India happened in Colombo, Ceylon, on 17 December 1884, as Col. Olcott describes: While the party were in Colombo, en route for Madras, an interesting episode occurred. The Rev. Mr. Leadbeater, with H.P.B. and myself acting as sponsors, “took Pansil” from the High Priest Sumangala and Rev. Amaramoli, in the presence of a crowded audience. This was the first instance of a Christian clergyman having publicly declared himself a follower of the Lord Buddha, and the sensation caused by it may be easily imagined.

See also


Theosophical Teachers

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