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Eastern School of Theosophy (03)

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(Echoes of the Orient p. 293-302)

Eastern School of Theosophy

Suggestions and Aids


Suggestions and Aids 293

Q Are the present Instructions to be considered as practical in the strict sense of the word, and are we expected to go into the practice of Occultism?

What is the present object of the Head of the Section as far as we ought to be informed of it?

W.Q.J. — The Instructions are intended to give us the clue for arriving at an accurate knowledge of the philosophy and metaphysics of the true esoteric system, for it is known that so long as one does not understand the philosophy he cannot ever arrive at right conclusions. It is also known that there are some members in the Section who have said in their hearts: “O, I wish there was a little less of dry philosophy in these and a little more of the practical.” That is, they suppose they know what is practical and the absolutely necessary in this school. But they should bear in mind that if the mind is directed in the wrong direction it will never see the truth, for the sight of the mind is not the same as that of the eye, and the mind finds its bars to knowledge in the errors it makes in philosophical basis.

Now, if the sort of information that these members call “practical” were given out, they would not be able to make any use of it, in the first place, and if by accident they did hit on some applications of it they would do more harm than good, unless they were fully versed in the rationale and at the same time somewhat perfected in the practice of true ethics. The Head of the Section has no wish to aid us in becoming black magicians, which might happen were she, before we were ready, to give us dangerous knowledge. This does not mean that any of us wish to fall in that pit, but we are as yet ignorant of the mysterious depths of our own nature, and it is only to those who are thoroughly tried and trained can this knowledge be given. Meanwhile she is preparing us for that time, and is anxiously watching to see those in our ranks who are giving some evidence in life and action that they are likely soon or late to rise higher and higher on the road to true devotion, to true altruism. We are indeed watched every day, and the watching is being done by those who know how to do it without our being aware of it; and we are helped, too, for already many testimonies have been given by certain ones that they have received such assistance.

One object H.P.B. has is intimated in the Instructions, where she says that we must try to gain a little of that spiritual knowledge, or intuition, or power to see under the lines, which is so necessary in this and all branches of the esoteric study, and be careful not to materialize spiritual things. This is a matter of practice, and with those who have not yet gotten out of the ruts made by materialistic education and religious dogmatism it is an essential prerequisite to progress.

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E. S. T. S.

Criticisms and Remarks

by the head of the section concerning answers to EXAMINATION PAPER NO . 1

Question No. 1 — What are the Pitṛis?

Answer — In the Hindu Scripture, the term “Pitṛi” is used in a very loose manner, but in Esoteric Philosophy it has a distinct meaning. The Pitṛis are the “ancestors” of Humanity, and are divided into two main classes: (a) the Agnishvātta, or Solar, and (b) the Barhiṣad, or Lunar Pitṛis. These again are sub-divided into seven classes. As stated in The Secret Doctrine (I:181), there are “three separate schemes of evolution, which in our system are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point. These are the monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual, and the physical evolutions. These three are the finite aspects or the reflections on the field of Cosmic Illusion of Ātma, the seventh, the One Reality.

“1. The Monadic is, as the name implies, concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the Monad1 in conjunction with —

“2. The Intellectual, represented by the Mānasa-Dhyānis (the Solar Devas, or the Agnishvātta Pitṛis), the ‘givers of intelligence and consciousness’ to man, and —

“3. The Physical, represented by the Chāyās of the Lunar Pitṛis, around which Nature has concreted the present physical body. This body serves as the vehicle for the ‘growth’ (to use a misleading word) and the transformations through Manas and — owing to the accumulations of experiences — of the finite into the Infinite, of the transient into the Eternal and Absolute.”

(a) The Agnishvātta Pitṛis are mentioned in The Secret Doctrine under many names. They are the “Virgin Youths,” the mysterious Kumāras, or Mānasa-Putras, “Sons of Mind.” In other words, they are our reincarnating Egos, the fashioners of our “Inner Man.” There are seven Hierarchies of these Mind-Born Sons of Mahat, the Great Principle, the Mahā-manvantaric “Mind of the Universe.”

Suggestions and Aids 295

(b) The Barhishad Pitṛis, on the other hand, are those which are possessed of the physical creative fire, with which they fashion the physical man. These lower Prajāpati are no more than the “fathers” of the models or types of the physical man, “made in their image” (Secret Doctrine I:459). They are the Elohīm of Genesis, the seven creative Forces of Nature, and are generally spoken of as the Lunar Ancestors. During the first three Rounds “their function is to pass through the whole triple cycle of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms in their most ethereal, filmy, and rudimentary forms in order to clothe themselves in, and assimilate, the nature of the newly-formed chain.” At the beginning of the fourth Round they evolve their chāyās or shadows for the second classes or those who come after them (Secret Doctrine I:174). Therefore, as the Higher Pitṛis or Dhyānis had no hand in primeval man’s physical creation, we find him issued from the Barhishads — spiritually fireless — and described as “aeriform, devoid of compactness, and mindless.”

Note. — This question was — with rare exceptions — very badly answered. A large number of Esotericists simply replied, “I do not know,’ or, “I am not very clear” — a confession of ignorance which no one, after a year of study, should have been obliged to make. An Esotericist has the duty of right-thinking as well as right-living, and a lamentable want of study is shown in most of the papers. It is wholly impossible to give more advanced teaching to those who are not even familiar with the broad outlines of the doctrines given to the world in The Secret Doctrine. Even the Notes on the Secret Doctrine, given monthly in Lucifer, would have enabled Esotericists to answer this question.

Q (2) — What is Kāma-Rūpa?

A — Kāma-Rūpa, the body of desire, is a word used loosely in exoteric writings to denote the fourth principle, the passional nature, with its animal and sensual desires. It is the latest developed aspect of the lower quaternary, and is found in animals as well as in man. The word “Rūpa,” however, is a misnomer. Kāma has no rūpa during life (vide Third Instructions). After death the rūpa is formed of the dregs of the Auric Envelope, and these dregs, with the animal passions and emotions, are the Kāma-Rūpa. This survives in Kāma-Loka a longer or shorter time, according to the strength of these elements in the late personality; if drawn into the current of a medium, and obtaining from him a faint reflection of intelligence, it becomes the “spook

296 Echoes of the Orient

of the seance-room;” in case of separation from the Higher Self, it reincarnates on earth, forming the worse type of human being. The Esotericist must distinguish clearly between the Kāmic principle in the personality, and the Kāma-Rūpa which is the embodiment of that principle after death.

Note. — Many students answered this question by merely translating Kāma-Rūpa into “body of desire” — an answer that could have been given by any outsider who had picked up a Theosophical publication dealing with the seven principles. Only a very small minority stated that the Rūpa was formed after death — a fact which seems to imply that a great majority of Esotericists have not taken the trouble to read the Third Instructions. Such gross ignorance as the confounding of Kāma-Rūpa with Kāma-Loka is also shown in some of the answers. The mistake in some cases was probably due to the acceptation by the students of Mr. Sinnett’s classification, without any analysis. Kāma-Rūpa must be included in the classification, because potentially it exists, although it is not concentrated or collected into a definite form until death breaks up the body. This may be understood in the same way as when we say that in such-and-such a man’s body there are so many ounces of carbon, which, however, we know will not reveal themselves as carbon until released from the other elements.

Q (3) — What is the difference between the Higher and the Lower Self? A — The Higher Self is a spark of the Universal Spirit, Ātma, manifesting in man through Buddhi as its vehicle. It must not be confounded with the Higher Ego, the Individuality, the reincarnating Ego — all terms for the Mānasic Entity. The latter only becomes part of the Higher Self by rising to it, and assimilating with it, and thus completing the Trinity, which yet is the One. Ātma-Buddhi is universal, eternal, but senseless on this plane. Manas is the self-consciousness. Buddhi passes on from mahā-manvantara to mahā-manvantara. Manas is limited to one mahā-manvantara.

The Lower Self is the personal Ego, Kāma-Manas, the impermanent personality, the root of “I-am-ship,” and therefore of separateness. It is the animal soul, “of the earth, earthy,” the continual enemy of spiritual progress, the tempter, the center of selfish desires and personal ambitions. The Kāmic element is the lowest point of materiality, correlative to the fourth Round and the fourth Globe, the turning-point of the arc, the furthest descent of spirit into matter. The Mānasic Suggestions and Aids 297 element, the Lower Manas in union with Kāma, is the beginning of the reascent: hence Kāma-Manas is the battle-ground of this stage of earth-life.

Note. — Scarcely any avoided a confusion between the Higher Self and the Higher Ego. Some fell into the most hopeless blunders, showing that they had no clear ideas of the septenary constitution of man. Serious mistakes were also made as to the meaning of the “Lower Self;” one wild guess identifying it with the Auric Egg. Yet every Esotericist has invoked the Higher Self, and ought surely to have taken the trouble to make clear to himself what it was he invoked.

Q (4) — What is the Astral Light?

A — The Astral Light of the solar system is the Liṅga-Śarīra of our globe: as the Astral body of Man is the molder of the Physical, so does the Astral Light serve primarily as the matrix of the earth, but it is now largely composed of the emanations of our earth. It is the lowest of the seven divisions in the sixth differentiation of Ākāśa, and is the offscourings of Ākāśa polluted with earthly emanations. In this are reflected, in reverse, images from above and from below: hence the confused visions of the clairvoyant, who uses psychic sight which does not pierce beyond the Astral plane.

In this light are preserved those images, which thus form a record of all that is said, thought, and done. Good and evil thoughts charge it with influences which react on living humanity. Hence the description of it by the Kabbalists as Satan, the malign influences overpowering the good.

Note. — That the Astral Light contains the record of earth was generally stated, although one student informed his surprised teacher that the Astral Light was the divine spark within us. This particular student is required to study more and think more. Few, however, understood the relation of the Astral Light to the earth as its Liṅga Śarīra.

Q (5) — Give reasons for joining the E.S.

Note. — This question was, on the whole, very well answered, the replies showing earnestness and sincerity.

298 Echoes of the Orient

Q (6) — What Theosophical book do you consider has most helped you? Note. — If the books named are carefully studied, knowledge will be rapidly acquired.

Q (7) — What is Occultism, and what do you consider to be Practical Occultism?

A — Occultism is the science of the relation of the mind of man to the Mind of the Universe. As all Planes of Consciousness and all the Principles of man are root-differentiations of Mahat, the “Great Principle” or Mind of the Universe (the Third Logos of The Secret Doctrine), Practical Occultism is the obtaining of a right knowledge of the correspondences between the Microcosmic Principles and the Macrocosmic Planes, and of the use of the natural powers to which such knowledge gives the right and direction. As such occult knowledge (Gnōsis or Gupta-Vidyā) teaches Man to rightly comprehend the “root-idea” of this Divine Mind and hence the supreme reason of each individual’s apparently separate existence from the rest, the true Occultist can never use such powers against the Law unless at the same time consciously condemning himself to perdition: on the contrary, he will seek to prove by every thought, word, and deed, that he lives for service to others alone, and that he has closed his ears forever to the “dire heresy”of separateness.

Note. — Badly answered. Hardly anyone had caught the central idea of Occultism.

G. R. S. Mead

London, August 27, 1890 Secretary E.S.

Approved. H. P. Blavatsky

A true copy from original in my hands.

William Q. Judge New York, Sept. 14, 1890 Secretary to H.P.B.

Suggestions and Aids 299

Series A 4.

Oct. 29, 1890.


These papers were first intended for members not in Groups, as it was supposed that group members would have enough assistance in their own studies with the Group, but experience has shown two things:

(a) That the members as a whole are not advanced enough to be able to quickly grasp the Instructions so far given out by H.P.B., whether studying alone or in Groups, and (b) That all need encouragement and assistance from others who have been engaged in theosophical studies.

For the above reasons these Suggestions and Aids are now being sent to all members of the Section. No back numbers can be supplied. N.B. — The attention of all is directed to the fact that everyone is asked to send his or her questions or suggestions to the undersigned for use in this Department, because the answer to any question will always be found to apply to queries which arise in the minds of others. And all those who write hereon must first define clearly in their own minds what the question or doubt is about which reply is asked, as the time at the disposal of the workers is limited and must not be wasted in disentangling confused expressions of confused thoughts sent to this office.

William Q. Judge

Secretary to H.P.B.

300 Echoes of the Orient


Some of the members have lost or mislaid their Instructions through carelessness, and it is well that all the rest should take care on this point. It is not necessary that members should have their papers at Group meetings, as one or two copies are enough for the Group, and the transit of the copies of all will result in loss, as when they were picked from the coat pocket of a member, read by the thief, and a reward demanded for their return. Others keep the papers in places where anyone can see them, as in one case they were left in a book and seen for a moment by one who was not a member.


It is well known to the Head of the Section that many of the members have spoken quite frequently with non-members about the Section and about coming into it. This is certainly not well, nor wise, nor exactly according to the rules. It is not advisable that people should rush into this Section, as they seem to be doing in some places as if the only object in coming into the T.S. was to get into the E.S. How can a man who has never paid much attention to the ideas of Theosophy be a fit member of the E.S., where the most abstruse doctrines are given out; and if the newcomer has not mastered the exoteric teaching that has been coming out for years, will he be able to do anything with the teachings of this Section? The examination has shown the Head of the Section that the members in the mass have only the most faint idea of what Theosophy is — to say nothing of the E.S. teachings. This means, of course, the general mass, as there are some who have made good progress; and it is believed by many of the Council in the east that the Instructions Nos. I, II, and III are enough for many a long month.


From J.J.H. — What can be said about methods of study both for Groups and individuals in the E.S.? Ans. — These methods must often vary. But the peculiarities of the ancient Occult Schools require that one should study by topics, which

Suggestions and Aids 301

is similar to the special studies of postgraduates of our present colleges. After reading the Instructions through several times, the different topics treated should be taken up for special careful attention. Discussions upon such matters as Parabrahman, the nature of Spirit, the Absolute, and the like, are to be avoided for the present. Nothing as yet can be understood about them. In Groups there can be no real study of use to members unless everyone pays attention to the Instructions and devotes thought to the whole subject. Some investigation has shown that a great deal of apathy prevails, leading to members allowing others to fill their mental mouths, so to say, while they, themselves, remain inert.

In Group —— one member was selected as reader. He reads the Instructions slowly, pausing at each sentence or paragraph so that those who do not understand or have doubts thereupon may ask questions or propound their doubts. Often only a few paragraphs have been covered in one evening, for the method pursued disclosed sometimes wide divergence of views which had to be adjusted. Members of this Group also bring in views upon parts of the Instructions under discussion for the benefit of all or for their own clearing up. This method was pursued at first straight through the series, and then they began to take up topics for special study. No irrelevant talk or gossip is indulged in, and when they come together the affairs of the world are dropped for the whole evening. This last course of action is in one of the rules and should be observed by all.

The Reason for the Above

Meeting at a regular time and never permitting other and worldly affairs to intervene are needed because there is a current established between each Group and the unseen Helpers. If other matters than those of the Section are brought up among the members while waiting for the Group to assemble or after it has assembled, then there is a tendency to prevent the current and withdraw from all the little inspiration which is possible for us.

Other Obstructions to Progress

Among them may be prominently mentioned inattention, poor memory, and ill feelings one to another.

The first two are intermixed because poor memories arise from poor attention. But no matter how excellent the memory and atten

302 Echoes of the Orient

tion are, the last defect will raise a cloud on the entire mental plane of the Group which will defeat the whole object in view. Next will stand the personal self-assertion so natural to us all. This is a prime defect that must be overcome as much valuable time will be wasted by it. It is much wiser and more conducive to progress to listen carefully to what others say than to be in a hurry to overbear their views and let everyone hear you talk. Very often apparent divergence of opinion is due to the hearers not giving enough attention to discover that the speaker is only expressing their views in different language.


From M.S.H. — Does the Esoteric Section discountenance marriage?

Ans. — Most certainly not. It is not intended to make celibates of us, and the question of marrying or not is purely personal for each one to decide for himself. True Theosophy imposes the obligation of so doing your duty if married as that your domestic hearth shall be a good example, and as the world must go on, there is no prohibition against marriage. As a matter of fact several excellent members who were unmarried have entered into the relation since joining the Section.


From A.R.O. — Is the idea conveyed by the explanation of the “Antaḥkaraṇa” the same as an esoteric student might get from the story of “Jacob’s Ladder” of the Old Testament, (and which is symbolically adopted in Freemasonry); also, by the expression, “I am the way,” found in the New Testament, which might have been used figuratively by an “Initiate,” or “twice-born,” or one who knew the Pathway between the lower and Higher Self?

Ans. — It seems that the explanation given in the papers of the Section by H.P.B. is quite clear in itself, and any other way of explaining it will not tend to make the matter more clear. The explanation given by her is as to a fact in our constitution and was made very plain by the illustration of the candle [631-2]. Very possibly Jesus — if he ever existed — may have had that in his mind when he used the expression referred to, but at the same time he may not, and if we take him as representing the Higher Self then he will only refer to the Self as a whole and not to the bridge such as the Antaḥkaraṇa is known to be. Further,

  1. Atma-Buddhi. []
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