all who seek to discover through personal vision the secrets in human nature must follow the golden rule of true spiritual science. This golden rule is as follows: For every one step that you take in the pursuit of higher knowledge, take three steps in the perfection of your own character.
Hermetic Library Fellow T Polyphilus reviews The Masters Revealed: Madame Blavatsky And The Myth Of The Great White Lodge [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher, Local Library] by K. Paul Johnson, part of the SUNY series in Western Esoteric Traditions series.
If Koot Hoomi is Batman, who is Bruce Wayne? K. Paul Johnson’s treatment of the secret identities of the Theosophical Mahatmas is a fascinating piece of sleuth work, and terrifically useful for students of occult history–both in his particular findings and in the acuity of his premises.
I picked up this book supposing it to offer a Theosophical perspective on angels and fairies. It turns out that while those topics are mentioned in passing, the focus of the book is on the charitable work allegedly undertaken by living humans in their “astral” vehicles. It was first published in 1896, but my copy is a reprint of the 1928 third (a.k.a. “First Adyar”) edition, which was expanded with much additional material. It appears that the original edition was very much a promotional tract for the Theosophical Society, describing esoteric ways in which Theosophists benefit humanity, and offering a sketch of the system of attainment engaged by practitioners. The added material expands the range of anecdotes about “invisible helpers,” including much concerning “the war” — which is presumably World War I.
Leadbeater is surprisingly forgiving of Spiritualism, although he points out its “dangers” from a Theosophical perspective (74, 148). He has no similar softness toward Protestantism, which he repeatedly and appropriately condemns (12, 135-6). One of the most interesting portions is Chapter XVI “Work Among the Dead,” which offers a quasi-scientific theory of the post-mortem state, coming close to a redux of a hypothetical Theosophical Book of the Dead.
Chapters XIX-XXII offer the overview of the initiatory process, which is a reasonably sober treatment, compared to some of Leadbeater’s other writings on the topic. It should not be entirely without value to Thelemites and other esotericists. The fact that there are twenty-two chapters suggests a possible correspondence with qabalistic paths or Tarot trumps in the structure of the text, but such suspicions are not supported by the actual contents.
Deeply hidden characteristics in other souls can be perceived by this organ, but their truth depends on the attainment of immunity from the above-mentioned illusions. For this purpose it is necessary that the student should control and dominate everything that seeks to influence him from outside. He should reach the point of really receiving no impressions beyond those he wishes to receive. This can only be achieved by the development of a powerful inner life; by an effort of the will he only allows such things to impress him to which his attention is directed, and he actually evades all impressions to which he does not voluntarily respond. If he sees something it is because he wills to see it, and if he does not voluntarily take notice of something it is actually non-existent for him.
For in penetrating to the higher mysteries he will see things which are concealed from ordinary humanity by the illusion of the senses. If the physical senses do not allow us to perceive the higher truth, they are for this very reason our benefactors. Things are thereby hidden from us which, if realized without due preparation, would throw us into unutterable consternation, and the sight of which would be unendurable.
To live in the sense of these great cosmogonies means to work for the attainment of personal spiritual perfection. Only by so doing can man become a servant of the world and of humanity. Self-perfection is by no means self-seeking, for the imperfect man is an imperfect servant of the world and of humanity. The more perfect a man is, the better does he serve the world. “If the rose adorns itself, it adorns the garden.”
The next task now confronting him is to grow, as it were, into this higher self, that is, really to regard it as his own true self and to act accordingly. He realizes ever more clearly and intensely that his physical body and what he hitherto called his “I” are merely the instruments of his higher self. He adopts an attitude toward his lower self such as a person limited to the world of the senses adopts toward some instrument or vehicle that serves him.
Rudolf Steiner, How to Know Higher Worlds: A Modern Path of Initiation [Amazon, Bookshop, Publisher]
An unhealthy life of thought and feeling will not fail to obstruct the path to higher knowledge. Clear, calm thinking, with stability of feeling and emotion, form here the basis of all work. Nothing should be further removed from the student than an inclination toward a fantastical, excitable life, toward nervousness, exaggeration, and fanaticism.
one precaution is necessary, failing which it were better to leave untrodden all steps on the path to higher knowledge. It is necessary that the student should lose none of his qualities as a good and noble man, or his receptivity for all physical reality. Indeed, throughout his training he must continually increase his moral strength, his inner purity, and his power of observation.