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Exploring the evolved and emergent features of a holistic perception of change

Anthony P. Berriman

Karina Library Press The immensity of life: in words, images and sound. φ Ojai,

Karina Library Press

The immensity of life: in words, images and sound.


Ojai, California


Of Time and the Timeless:

Exploring the evolved and emergent features of a holistic perception of change.

by Anthony P. Berriman

Library of Congress LCCN: 2011933404

ISBN-13: 978-0-9824491-3-4

To Margaret


We would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their invaluable support and assistance in making this present work possible.

Michael Lommel.

Margaret Berriman, Sara Cloud and Stephen Smith for their editorial assistance. Andrea Berriman for book layout design and Carol Goehausen for her proof reading skills.

The late Dorothy Simmons for the invitation to participate in dialogue and small group seminars with J Krishnamurti and Professor David Bohm. The late Lillian Storey and Colyn Boyce for their support & archive assistance at the London Headquarters of the Theosophical Society. Suprio Tagore for an invitation to visit Shantiniketan in West Bengal. Joan West and her late husband Sam for their encouragement and support. Margo Singer for the timely gift of a well thumbed first edition of Dr. Annie Besant’s Autobiography (published in 1893). Richard Fahey, former member of staat Meditation Mount, Ojai. Lola Rae (Trustee) and Mimi Rich (former Director) of The Ojai Foundation, for archive assistance & an invitation to participate in the Foundation’s ‘Council’ process.

The Krishnamurti Foundation of America Archive and Library, Ojai; The Krishnamurti Trust, England; Meditation Mount, Ojai; The Lucis Trust, London; The Ojai Retreat; The Ojai City Council; The Theosophical Society Adyar, Chennai, India; and the Krotona Institute, Ojai California for a scholarship to pursue further research into the life and work of Dr. Annie Besant. The Dartington Hall Trust for a bursary to participate in the Dartington Spring Conference 1979 ‘Education and the Idea of the Self’.

Dr. John Nasse. Jon and Paul Dieges and the late Margaret Dieges. Lorenz K. Schaller. Holly Roberts and Richard Handley together with all those who have embraced the Ojai ethos.

Many thanks to Christina Pages and Ulrich Brugger for their kind support in providing facilities for the following events, which were conceived by the author in association with Michael Lommel and Lazlo Farkas respectively.

Spring Symposium 1997. ‘The Emergence of a New Culture: the reservoir and the source.’ Speakers: Michael Lommel. Daniel T. O’Neil. Lorenz K Schaller. Tony Gwilliam. Robert Wolfe. Sara Cloud. Gabriele Blackburn. Juan Agola. Michael Mendizza. Anthony Berriman.

Spring Symposium 2000. ‘Emergent Culture: exploring the nature of truth, process and confluent meaning in science, art and the religious mind.’ Speakers: Laszlo Farkas. Eddie Bilimoria. Daniel Doherty. Moon Chauhan. Christina Pages. Anthony Berriman.

Text Note

Once the identity of the people most frequently mentioned in the text is estab- lished, we have used their initials with the exception of Dr Annie Besant who we refer to by her first name and Helena Petrovna Blavatsky who we address as Mme Blavatsky.

The personages known as the Masters Kuthumi, Morya and Djwhal Khul, are referred to as K.H., M. and D.K. respectively.

Jiddu Krishnamurti is referred to simply as K.

Quotations from original source material are printed in italic. The material con- cerned with the earlier life and work of Dr Besant in Part 1 is largely drawn from ‘Annie Besant, An Autobography’ unless otherwise stated.

The revised chronological order number of the Mahatma letters are provided in square brackets in footnotes.

Sanskrit terms related to thematic content are printed in italic. Some of the more frequently used are given more detailed coverage together with other key terms in the Glossary. Their inclusion is not intended to endorse any particular school of Asiatic philosophy or indeed their modern hybrids. Rather, they serve simply as a sprngboard for further inquiry into an inner dimension of change which can trans- form the whole field of experience.







A quest for authenticity with a personal note en route







Presaging culture: Emergent factors in the life and work of

Dr Annie Besant (1847-1933)


The domestic crucible


The social reformer


Crossing the threshold


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky


Masters of Wisdom


Pathways to an open space




Grecian Mysteries; a theatre of insight


Know Thyself


The Gnostic muse


A new cycle begins


An ancient manuscript


Manvantara: the cosmic journey


Inner vocation



A timeless order of perception


The psychological dimension


Tradition and transformation


Legends in the landscape




Cradle for a New Civilization’


‘The World Teacher is here’


Distant thunder


‘Truth is a pathless land’


Aquarian emissary


Krishnamurti and the inner springs of culture


Ojai today




The loom of language


Emergent intelligence within the unitary eld


Of Life and Mind


Perception with and without the mediation of thought


Portals within the luminous eld



question of culture; the reservoir and the source




Social adaptation and emergent intelligence


To be of one mind




Further reading



Photographs & Prints

View of glacial lakes over the Tundra


Harold Cartwright


Annie Besant (Photograph by courtesy of the Theosophical Society, Adyar)


Family portrait of Annie with her mother


Over London by Rail from the suite of prints London, a Pilgrimage by Gustave Doré


The social reformer


Frontispiece to the rst edition of Annie Besants’ autobiography published in 1893


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, New York 1878 (Photograph by courtesy of the Theosophical Society, Adyar)


Classical Frieze from the temple precincts of Eleusis


The School of Athens, fresco by Raphael


Maheshtrimurti, Elephanta rock sculpture


Annie Besant at the time she was elected president of the International Theosophical Society in 1907 (Photograph courtesy of the Theosophical Society, Adyar)


Jiddu Krishnamurti, Adyar 1911 (Photograph courtesy of the Theosophical Society, Adyar)


Star membership graph (Star Bulletin) 1926


Chumash pictograph


Jiddu Krishnamurti Ommen 1927 (Photograph courtesy of the Krishnamurti Foundation England)


Dr Annie Besant boarding an aircraft in 1927 on a lecture tour of 12 European countries, which she accomplished in just eighteen days


Keever Council Chamber, Ojai foundation (Photograph by the author)


The Ojai valley looking east from the Krotona rose garden (Photograph by the author)


Libbey Park Fountain, Ojai (Photograph by the author)


Einstein and Tagore in conversation


Werner Heisenberg commemorative postage stamp


This is not a pipe (Painting by René Magritte)


Author’s Artwork & Diagrams

Beneath the stars


Matrix (diagram)


Cyclic Crisis (diagram)




Human attributes (diagram)


Mind as a local aspect of the unitary eld (diagram)


Cognitive horizon (diagram)


Unitary eld (diagram)


A sevenfold order


Meditation (Illustration with poem)


Semantic loop


Unitary eld


Yoga eld


Quiet observation


Holistic symbol ensemble 1


Holistic symbol ensemble 2


Holistic symbol ensemble 3


Variation on a Zeno paradox


Landscapes of whole movement




The electromagnetic spectrum


Cover artwork by the author


T he presence in the world of a barely emergent but nonetheless burgeoning

culture of holistic values may as yet have little significance for a world caught

up in a confusion of conflicting viewpoints. Yet, however life has shaped us,

the challenge is always for each and everyone to live wholly and perceptively. This has led many of those interested in personal and cultural transformation to the threshold of a fertile mystery locked in consciousness itself, a place where concepts of self, time and causality can take on an entirely new meaning. Exploring the significance of causality and change has never been the exclu- sive province of science or philosophy. Our perception of change is, after all, pivotal to peace of mind, so there is no one more qualified than oneself to question its significance. Unfortunately, more often than not our capacity to initiate or assimi- late change occupies our thoughts and feelings to such an extent that present reali- ties and future possibilities usually hinge on personal hopes and fears rather than on perceptive insight. When we are driven like this, the meaning we invest in life is likely to become as mutable as the mood swings that constantly frustrate our search for satisfaction. Despite the bruising we may receive on our journey through life, there is a quality that is both austere and nurturing underlying all change. Causality may appear to be the absolute rule in this process, but on closer inspection, the natural order and complexity we see in nature is subject to other more convulsive and unpredictable movements. Such deviations from what we might expect have pro- duced startling new conditions in the evolution of life and form on this planet. Indeed, they permeate every level of existence and are deeply imprinted in our biological nature. When we lose our sensitivity to this, the experience of being suspended between chaos and order becomes deeply disturbing. Understanding the nature of chaos really demands a deeper sense of order. When we begin to realize this we are perhaps ready to leave our fears and confusion behind. Notwithstanding the present widespread abuse of the natural world, nature’s unbounded propensity to unfold in new and surprising ways will no doubt continue with or without us. Obviously, an understanding of causality is a vital factor in our desire for physical continuity. However, evidence suggests that older cultures that had formed a closer bond with natural processes held acausal aspects of the natu- ral world to be essential to an understanding of life as a whole. Chaos and order were seen to form the braided dynamics of an unfolding arc that spanned time and eternity. To some ancient peoples, this formed the numinous component to the more visible features of growth and change. Whenever the sense of this was lost, propitiation of the gods of earth and sky replaced veneration for life as a whole. In more recent times it is plain to see that our predilection for a more strictly causal

reality, has framed life in much more measured and material terms. Yet the more nature has been scrutinized in this way the more profoundly complex both she and her would be suitors have become. Fortunately, the resulting anomalies have encouraged a much more thorough examination of causal reality and a deeper exploration of what place less determined epiphenomenal and emergent factors play in the evolution of both form and consciousness. It is possible to explore such questions without the elaborate methods and tools of science or academic learning. Acquired skill in causal reasoning oers no rem- edy for the self-obfuscation, which has its roots in an underlying crisis in conscious- ness itself. Our present notions of change have become dangerously defective components, if not terminal symptoms of an outmoded worldview. Without a bet- ter understanding our eorts to initiate change within or in the world around us, will only succeed in adding more confusion in human aairs. Heavy investment in progressive change has produced an endemic insecurity against which the delibera- tions of thought seem to have little or no eect. Would we be more responsive and fulfilled as individuals if the causal factors operating in our lives were governed by a far less utilitarian order of change? Thought may frame the question, but can it bring about such a radical change in its own structure? Putting aside far less attractive solutions based on some form of genetic engineering, we feel it is cer- tainly a question worth exploring. Secular values, traditional systems of belief and the prejudices by which we live, are the familiar props of a troubled continuity evident in the development of this present civilization. Having seen this, many expect a dim future in hopes pinned on an ever-expanding database designed to solve all problems that origi- nate in what technocrats coldly refer to as wrong thinking. There is a chronic and disabling spiritual deficit in the midst of so much cerebral juggling, due in part to the limitations of language itself and the self-conscious entity at the centre of it all. So from the outset we will not speak of self-improvement or preparation for better times to come. Rather, we will address that which is no more distant than what our own blind striving has made it, knowing that even the brightest thought can darken the mind. Thought may be active every moment of the day or night, yet for all its indus- try and enchantment, the loom of language has not given it omniscience. The perception of ourselves as conscious agents appears to be defined almost entirely by the subject-verb-object self-defining factors of consciousness that we are all familiar with. Yet despite the sense of continuity this might give us, the syntax of language is riddled with inherent discontinuities. Discontinuity also occurs at the most subtle level of energy exchange within the synaptic structure of the brain itself. It is quite extraordinary how the array of cognitive sensibilities we all enjoy are able to bridge these gaps at the very threshold of perception. Significantly, the perceptive freedom that springs from a meditative mind implies that this threshold is dissolved, rather than bridged. To authenticate this, it is important to ask our- selves if there is a perceptive movement beyond the habitual frame of causal rea-

soning and the haphazard play of the epiphenomena, which can infuse consciousness with such a timeless quality? Unrelated to the meaning and value that thought invests in memory, this quality of perception would be clearly of a dierent order to that which governs the cerebral processes we normally employ in thinking. If there is such a quality capable of both ordering and transcending the field of thought, we trust that it will become clear that it cannot be explored or indeed exploited simply as an adjunct to causal thinking. So how do we begin to approach it? A perceptive insight that illuminates both the heart and mind can render words superfluous. Yet, out of the stillness and composure that it confers, like a lark ascending on the morning air, we may find a voice that resonates with silence. This silence always brings with it the intimation of a timeless axis at the core of one’s being which can swifly unravel the complexities of each moment of the hour, the day, and even a lifetime. No amount of thought can emulate its consummate simplicity yet it appears vital to the healthy functioning of the thought process itself. Of course some would argue this is merely wishful thinking, no more than a by-product of the brains own complexity. We draw no conclusions here and hope to engage the reader more in a process of inquiry to see how far we can take it. While we felt it was important to provide some personal narrative and histori-

cal precedents to the present work, the inner coordinates which have given it form are rooted in qualities that manifest in the process of inquiry itself. Following this route has revealed three principal orders of change which order the world and the way we perceive it. These include all that evolves or is evolving, the epiphenomenal and the spiritually emergent. My search for a deeper understanding of their rela- tionship has found its most natural extension in dialogue with people interested in

a holistic approach to living. It has been a source of constant surprise and delight to find how eortlessly habitual boundaries can be dissolved by a deeper more playful perception of ‘whole movement’ in relation to causality and change. When this occurs life always responds from somewhere beyond the narrow boundary of self-concern opening inquiry to an entirely new level. If we have come to regard the shifting evaluations of thought as indicative of

a general confusion of meaning and value in today’s world, then clarity of both the heart and mind naturally becomes our deepest concern. To explore this without falling prey to a vicarious use of language has in my own case depended on several factors, the investigation of which I hope will engage readers about to begin or already embarked on their own journey of discovery. Doubt has been a good companion so far and in the following chapters we trust its presence will serve to convey much more than the ruminations of a mind unsure of its own foundation.


H uman aairs can appear insignificant when set against the awesome depth of the night sky. Yet the cosmic drama we see unfolding in the birth and death of stars and the distant evolution of countless worlds is deeply rooted

within us. In an age distinguished as much by fear as by the extraordinary advance

of science and technology, a momentous conjunction of the irreconcilable has now

settled on human aairs. We reach for the stars and turn our backs on those who can barely scratch a living. Haunted by dark forecasts of environmental catastro-

phe, few would doubt that the last waves of progressive optimism that followed in

the wake of the Industrial Revolution are all but spent in the harsh realities of today's world. Rich or poor or just getting by, we are haunted by a largely subcon- scious background of fear and insecurity, which has so far proved resistant to the rational constraints we attempt to impose on them. Though maintaining a sem- blance of order, such measures have only served to keep mankind inwardly brutal,

if outwardly civilized and technologically sophisticated. Not being separate from

all this, we ask where, in a world in which peace is forever bargained for and cul- ture has become a mere commodity, can we begin to establish a truly authentic response to life, one that has a sense of the sacred firmly rooted in the present? Can something new, fresh and innocent bring peace and prosperity to the emerg- ing global community? Alas, peace and culture and the spiritual emancipation of mankind have remained the issue of conflicting ideologies and the source of much confusion to a disconsolate humanity hungry to secure meaning in a rapidly chang- ing world. If consummation in ideals and freedom sought in the passage of time cannot satisfy this hunger, what, if anything will? If we personally feel that we have lost, never had, or only dreamt of what is truly sacred in life, then the awesome diculties of our time serve well to remind us how hidebound we have become to a profane and materialistic concept of living. For those who retain the privilege of choice, life has become a sophisticated confu- sion of needs and wants. Their capacity to assimilate or indeed initiate change has led to many unforeseen and dangerous consequences for the planet as a whole. Revolutions in the social, scientific and artistic fields have challenged and in many ways transformed the way we perceive ourselves and the world about us. Yet they have given us no real insight into the widespread material, psychological and religious fragmentation that has so far confounded the creative resources on which

our technological civilization is based. A strong and pervasive belief in the primacy

of the objective, three-dimensional world, has encouraged most of us to approach

life almost entirely in material terms. This poverty of spirit with its inculcation of

a bogus sense of individuality has resulted in perception being almost entirely

conditioned by the contextual realities of thought and self-centredness. Caught between what we perceive as the pressures of an inward subjective limitation and

the objective world around us, busy thought and self-centered imperatives con- stantly dissipate our energy, leaving little space for the mind to be quiet. In this condition most of us, it seems, are as yet unable to perceive our own shallowness or the infinite depth that lies beyond it. During a recent conversation a friend questioned whether a clear perception of both the movement and content of our busy thoughts could bring about a signifi- cant change in consciousness. In the course of the conversation it was agreed that thought was a process on which we could normally exercise only a degree of control by regarding it as ‘my thinking’ as distinct from the thoughts of another or indeed

a collective stream of consciousness. However, we both felt that meditation and

the free play of inquiry which can sometimes be achieved in dialogue oered the possibility of opening the circle we consciously or unconsciously draw around our- selves. Add to this the certain kind of epiphenomena, which naturally occurs when complex interactions take place and an interesting situation often emerges. A question came up during our ensuing dialogue concerning the personal nar- rative we construct in thinking. Could what we take to be exclusively our own mind be more fully explored in relation to the evolution of consciousness itself? Was it possible to learn more of ourselves in the light of the recurrent patterns evident in the cyclic ebb and flow of civilization that have occurred throughout time? All civilizations appear to have evolved from a matrix of meaning and value unique to a particular time and place. Yet they all shared a recurrent pattern of seeding, growth and decay, which eventually proved terminal. What if, my friend asked, one could find a place where one could observe the currents that make his- tory what it is? Perhaps, he suggested, we would gain some insight into the chal- lenges we face in today’s world. To his great amusement I settled back in my chair, closed my eyes and entered the stream until my mind’s eye found a place on the river’s bank. Gazing down into the torrent one saw the shadows of a great civiliza- tion emerge from the depths. I looked closer and saw it was crumbling and in the final phase of its decline. The sickly people who filled its congested streets no longer venerated the natural world or indeed each other. Clever and inventive but

filled with self loathing, people had turned to the unbridled pursuit of pleasure in

a vain attempt to escape a desperate sense of vacuity and dissatisfaction, which

nothing within the reach of their restless minds could assuage. They were dying from within and knew it but could find nothing to restore their lives. Their plight was just one more cycle in the great experiment that had begun with the emergence of life on earth. Transfixed, my gaze was drawn more deeply into the stream and its constantly shifting drama of light and shade in which images would materialize and then disappear in vortices within its vast, turbid movement. Heavy with the mute cries of countless unfulfilled lives, these vortices gave birth to myriad transient life forms, which swept over the ever-changing natural contours of the earth, only to crumble and become the wrecks of time. Ages passed in an instant, and following the twists and turns in the current one

saw man’s origin in ancient ancestors who emerged from primeval forests to slowly wrap themselves in the strange reflected light of self-consciousness. Though blessed with a unique proclivity for language and a full 360 degrees of spatial freedom this fledgling humanity found its self caught in an endless cycle of birth, fugitive pleasures, suering and death. Gradually, mankind learned to bend elemental forces somewhat to its will but grew uneasy with the nature that had nurtured it. Subject to the fears and inse- curity of a fledgling consciousness, mans will was always to dominate, for he had not yet learned to live without the spur of pain and fear acquired in the ancient struggle for survival. Despite the collective ingenuity that had enabled humankind to master the challenges encountered in the forests, hills and plains, with civiliza- tion, came new self-generated dangers, and man found himself in constant conflict with himself and his neighbours. Reason and imagination, which had once been the flower of culture, were now twisted into spectacular emblems of self-advance, national pride, and the weaponry of mutually assured destruction. Caught within the closed circle of his convoluted thought, a sense of beauty, which had been so immediate at every turn, was gradually replaced by a fierce and insatiable craving for novelty. An unshakable boredom had settled over each new generation and the fragile optimism and dreams of youth gave way to an enduring bitterness. Watching the dark river grow more turbid as it flowed within and before me, I saw a faint but persistent light reach into the confines of mankind’s ancient sense of self-isolation. A small group of figures emerged from the darkness who began to harness the brain’s capacity to question itself in a way that could penetrate the self-obfuscating ignorance that had gripped each generation. But the native intel- ligence of the organism was so corrupted that their quest to liberate consciousness from this dreadful malaise failed and failed again repeatedly. Yet the few who persisted and mastered their own despair found a perceptive freedom, which finally liberated them from the pain and distortion of self-centeredness. This took place against the immense drama of planetary evolution, though in essence it was beyond time and history. Having dissolved the boundary between life and death, these few bore witness as silent watchers to the rise and fall of countless civilizations. Some- became teachers among the multitude. Others, largely unnoticed like great primor- dial Buddhas, brought to bear subtle and far reaching changes in the sickly planetary ethos. I could see there were others less accomplished, perhaps, who nevertheless remained relatively untouched by the conceits and excesses of their epoch. Like the wise ones before them, they too sought the source of that great river within them- selves while living on the banks of time. At this point the vision began to fade. And I returned blinking to the here and now to find that only a few moments had passed as the dancing light on the river flowed into the present. My companion greeted me with a smile “It looks like the wheel has turned full cycle, welcome back to the world as it is!” and we both burst into laughter.

No less turbulent and risky in this day and age, the likelihood of losing one’s inner bearing on that ghostly river as it bends into an uncertain future is still very much with us. One need not be a visionary to see that nothing of this drama we have made of living endures for long, including the consciousness that continually sees life begin only to come to an abrupt end. Those of us who are painfully con- scious of their brief passage through this transient world and yet still seek a sense of purpose with the help of gods, high ideals, or in the cold light of unadorned reason, may now at least pause and look again. Given man’s capacity for self-deception, no more evident than when faced with a crisis of our own making, it is clear that no matter what the eye has seen, or thought has appropriated to itself, we have remained dangerously conflicted as a species. Having outstripped the creatures of the wild, we are still engaged in a lifelong struggle with a highly competitive world, like countless generations have been before us. Modern man has added a new dimension to the pitiless scramble for survival we see at work in nature, where flesh is torn from flesh and bone in the relentless struggle for life. As if caught up and running in a dream, with an ever receding horizon, we have become slaves to a fulfillment that is always pitched someway ahead. Not surprisingly, life has now become a complex and deeply para- doxical aair, habituated, as we are to a sense of ourselves bound to time with profit and loss being the only measure of who we are. A few years ago there was a popular saying which rang true then and is still a challenge to some. It originated I think on the west coast (California), and pro- claimed that in changing ourselves we can change the world. So how does one really take that seriously and work with it? Could changing the way we observe and perceive ourselves really bring about a transformation in a world that we our- selves have created? How, in fact, does the way we personally draw meaning and value from experience, build both a self and world image in the day-to-day recla- mation of our own memory and experience? When society and the world at large clearly mirrors that image, whatever thoughts we may personally string together must always be relative to the movement of consciousness as a whole. Being caught up in thought is like being totally immersed in a movie. When we are so absorbed with what is taking place on the screen, we are usually quite oblivious of the mechanism which projects the twenty-four flickering frames per second that creates the illusion of reality. Being unaware in this way doesn’t really aect our enjoyment even though we are completely absorbed by an illusion. Unless of course the projector is faulty or breaks down! Let’s pursue this a little further. If we become such willing accomplices of an entertaining illusion, why do we so often lose all sense of what is actually occurring when we are lost in our own thoughts? Evidently, thought, and the strong sense of movement it engenders can absorb our attention to such a degree that we lose all sense of what is generating it. That is unless of course we say ‘I’ the thinker is creating, organizing and steer- ing the whole show.

The mind’s awareness of itself as a self-conscious enity is largely defined by our cognitive capacity to assimilate experience and commit it to memory, both on a personal and collective level. As an evolved species, it is generally accepted that we are the result of an infinitely complex sequence of causal events and epiphenom- enal or random mutations, which have occurred during the course of our evolution from the most primitive percipience. Since each one of us embodies this extraordi- nary process, it is possible to observe for ourselves how changes in our mental, emotional and physical state bear the imprint of both evolving and epiphenomenal orders of change and a third spiritually emergent order which embraces life as a unitary field. To examine this more closely, an important distinction must be made between what we term spiritually emergent perception, and change which is the result of causality and the epiphenomenal aspects of what the cognitive mind perceives as complexity. This distinction will enable us to approach a perception of change which embraces both the integrative functions of the autonomic and cognitive levels of mind with something that we suggest is of a higher order than thought. Normally, the experience we assimilate as per- sonal content is not clearly perceived as an aspect or modification of collective memory, unless one has observed the landscape of the psyche first hand. Or, as we all see it displayed in some form of art or technological media. Such forms reflect the way in which the cognitive faculty assimilates experience as a causal sequence unfolding in time and space as distinct from the movement of per- ceptive insight, which we suggest, is born of a timeless unitary movement rather than a temporal sequence of one state changing to another. The two integrators; that is, the cognitive and emergent orders of perception are, like the organ- ism itself, essentially indivisible. However, since each precipitates a dierent order of change within the unitary field, we suggest that it is possible to bypass the hoary dualities of the mind-matter equation in which the cognitive is dominant and address perception itself as the agent of change. Throughout history those who have been receptive to this kind of perceptive intelligence have described it as ‘waking up’ to what is actually taking place within and around them. The quest, however, has remained no less dicult for their example, not least because we have persistently obscured the simplicity of a uni- tary movement in our complicated lives. Whether we are driven by discontent or impressed by the perceptive beauty of a mind free of its tether, there is little point in dwelling on the accomplishments of others in the vain hope of embracing some-

of its tether, there is little point in dwelling on the accomplishments of others in the

thing, which in reality is much closer to home. And even if we have been momen- tarily touched by something extraordinary in the past, has it really helped us to live more fully in the present? If it has not, then its significance may perhaps be more fully appreciated by the degree of distraction we now seek to appease our failure to do so. In a world of distraction, doubt and uncertainty, those who have sought satis- faction in the compulsive enthusiasms of a bogus sense of self, may find in the following pages a place where doubt, born of dissatisfaction, need not feed on itself. After all, to doubt is to be open and to be open is to doubt what thought has designated as secure and safe. Doubt is not only the fine, cutting edge of reason but also springs from a deeper disequilibrium at the core of self-consciousness. If we could observe the isolating factors of fear and discontent that cloud our thoughts with unease, then pain need not be the only spur to re-examine one’s life. To be no longer completely bound by discontent or beguiled by fallacious optimism, chances are we might begin to discover an enduring sense of security and well-being. However, in a world of accelerated change, gaining partial insight into old and habitual patterns of thought can lead to even more confusion. How tedious to dis- cover that yesterday’s insight has become today’s cliché and meaning and value are once again rendered mutable. Rather than be discouraged by this constantly shifting ground, let it alert a false sense of security gained at the expense of a more liberating and flexible spirit of inquiry. In an age when we are more able to define, if no longer to divine, the nature of reality, many have come to accept an image of man stripped bare of anything that cannot be sanctioned by reason alone. Free of former, more fanciful notions of our place in the scheme of things, the current scientific perspective encourages us to believe material processes are the only defining factors that make us what we are. While this kind of modeling stops short of reducing human beings to the a set of preprogrammed genetic codes, the relative freedom it admits in terms of the contextual complexities of the program itself fail to acknowledge a dimension of life which is free of behavioral and causal factors. While this tends to reinforce the view that we are simply the product of material processes in a finite universe sustained within a closed circle of cause and eect, the nature of the mind that perceives this remains much more ambiguous. For something to be accepted as an objective truth in science, it must first be demonstrable by reasoned analysis and experimental proof. The veracity of this method has enabled scientists to construct a consensus worldview governed by commonly perceived physical laws. While these core principles have remained con- stant since their inception, with the passage of time what has been accepted as law has periodically given way to new levels of understanding. This has not necessarily invalidated what had been previously established as fact, but more often renders former principles subordinate to new and more inclusive frames of reference. It

makes good sense to always heed the provisional nature of all modeling and be alert to the more serendipitous aspects of the mind-matter equation. This enables us to look beyond axiomatic constraints to a realm where boundaries are not so distinct. Despite holding widely divergent views on the origin and nature of life and mind, modern science and the older forms of natural philosophy which include metaphysics, are founded on the principle that there is a comprehensible order in the cosmos, which can be understood in terms of the causal relations of its con- stituent parts. However, while in modern science an objective frame of reference has promoted an extraordinary array of intellectual skill and instrumentation, the metaphysician sought to understand the world in terms of a more subtle relation- ship between mind, matter and energy. While both the objective and metaphysical traditions provide frames of reference in which the orders of life and mind are predicated by the cognitive faculty, they radically diverge on its place in the overall scheme of things. While scientists are very good at analyzing and manipulating natural forces, the metaphysical aspirations of some philosophers have inspired a more participative spirit with greater sensitivity to life as a whole. Having recently found an immediate and practical application in the science of ecology and complimentary medicine, the metaphysical principle of holism sug- gests that complex living systems can only be fully understood by once again tak- ing such things into consideration. The earth itself and our relation to it serve as a good example. By accentuating the participatory rather than a somewhat detached objective relationship with our world, holism points to a deeper more inclusive approach to inquiry and the nature of truth. One need not approach them as mutually exclusive since together they provide an extended view of the human organism in which materially evolving, epiphenomenal and a spiritually emergent potential can be seen to form an essentially indivisible multidimensional field. This represents an extraordinary challenge to existing values and ideas. Nowadays metaphysics has acquired the dubious status of a ‘fringe’ science, which investigates the paranormal phenomena that orthodox religion and science finds dicult to address. However, a wider, more ancient view held that metaphys- ics was the cornerstone of all inquiry. It was once held that all specialized fields of inquiry could only find their true value and significance when considered in rela- tion to the whole of life. Though many people widely separated in time and geo- graphical location have regarded this as a principle of wholeness which cannot be fully comprehended by thought, few it seems have realized it as the most vital fac- tor in their lives. In our own time, we appear to have little diculty in forming an idea of wholeness, but fail to see the conceptual relativity we employ in thinking about it. Indeed, to lose site of this would no doubt sink the present work to the level of a mere intellectual exercise. Evidence suggests that the evolution of life on earth has always favoured the development of what is strong, pliant and sustainable in nature. Cruel as this

might first appear, we should not forget that nature is always active and at play in the formation and transformation of what is tried and tested. The ascent of man as the dominant species on this planet sprang from his ‘adaptive’ ability to find creative solutions to many of the challenges encountered as hunter-gatherers, farm- ers, and as members of increasingly complex urban communities. In the past, this extraordinary adaptability has not only ensured survival, but also enabled us to develop an array of sensibilities, which continue to unfold in new and sometimes dangerously unpredictable ways. Gifted with an extraordinary proclivity for lan- guage, it seems curious that the gifts that have placed us on a higher rung of this planet’s evolutionary ladder should have so far failed to significantly reshape our inner landscape. Consequently, we more often feel pressed to adapt rather than deal intelligently with the pressures brought upon us in an environment more and more dominated by the products of thought. All this suggests that we can longer be focused in simply bending nature or ourselves to an increasingly sophisticated manmade environment. Though we are accomplished and so well endowed in the stratagems of thought, few would deny this has led to a major crisis in human aairs. In failing to understand our own nature, mankind has reached a point where nature herself is no longer able to tolerate our abuse. While technology has enhanced our capacity to adapt to most challenges in both the manmade and natural environment, we now face a serious problem with adaptability itself. Over the past few decades, mankind’s ability to manipulate and successfully adapt to changing conditions is now seriously challenged by an assortment of self-induced hazards, common not just to urban living, but everywhere, and to everyone on the planet. This need not define a bleak future, if we begin to approach life as some- thing much more than a problem of logistics. For those who have the honesty to begin with themselves, the question natu- rally arises as to how we might better educate ourselves to become creative agents of change. Since our common experience of change finds its ultimate expression in death, the meaning of change itself, both within the mind and in the world around us, is dicult to fully assimilate. The energy we have invested in material change does little to hide the yawning vacuity of many of the social structures we have so assiduously built to facilitate it. Fortunately, facile solutions for an ailing techno- logical civilization have not entirely negated a sense of what is sacred to life. The complex and barely manageable changes we face today have shown that natural and spiritual resources cannot be utilized and abused with so much prof- ligacy and naiveté as they have in the past. Progress will continue to remain an ambiguous term unless it emanates from an entirely dierent perception of causal- ity and change. The wonders of nature and increasing complexity of man-made structures can no longer be defined within the terms of a progressive set of values based on a homocentric view of linear causality. If we are to escape falling victim to the progressive dream of a technological utopia, a ‘brave new world’ or its nem-

esis in an Orwellian nightmare, it is clear that we need to see the limitations of a strictly causal view of life before we can look beyond it. For me, as for many people, the habit of associating the word ‘culture’ with the exclusive province of a few gifted people had discouraged me from exploring its meaning more thoroughly. However, when approached in the light of an emergent spirituality, culture took on an entirely new significance, which has challenged most, if not all of my previous assumptions. I soon realized that to embark on such

a project would be far too grand a narrative without an introduction drawn from

personal experience. Consequently when it became clear that emergents act as radical contingencies in the development of both the mind and the organism as a whole it suggested a whole new level of inquiry. Emergent qualities in perception always breach our commonly held notions of causality and change, and opens the door to a quest that lies at the very heart of culture in its widest sense. As I write, the scientific community is poised to radically alter and remodel the structure of matter and organic life on this planet. Before long this could open up the possibility of complete control over evolution. Unfortunately, technological ingenuity in the service of competitive ideologies is turning this into a nightmare of possibilities, which points to a fundamental flaw in our present worldview. Despite the overwhelming evidence for this we are, it seems, as yet unlikely to cor- rect the error of our ways for reasons more to do with the inherent limitations in the thought process itself rather than for want of trying. Our growing capacity to order and reorder a fundamentally indeterminate world has made previous ideo- logical and utilitarian purposes look no less brash and flimsy. Having taken objec-

tive reasoning and investigation to levels of complexity undreamt of in the past, it is clear that the science of our time is about to entirely redefine our relationship with nature, with machines and with each other. Fortunately, at this pivotal point in history such extravagance has not entirely crushed other human propensities, which may range far wider than objective reasoning would presently have it. To explore such things, however, must require much more than intellectual prowess; that is, if we are to venture into new realms without corrupting them. So we speak here of an inner dimension of change without which we will always be inclined towards a narrowly determined and mechanistic view of life. Culture, I would say, springs naturally from the distillation of meaning and value from the chaos of experience. Reaching this point of understanding, even on

a conceptual level, highlights two propositions concerning our relationship with the

world and each other, which have an important bearing on our present inquiry. The first, and perhaps most familiar, proposes that the ‘whole‘ is greater or of a dierent order than what can be deduced from the sum of its observable parts. The second aspect concerns our relationship to life itself as both a participant and observer and the degree to which the two can be perceived as one undivided move- ment. These two features of the holism are essential to spiritual authenticity. They

have always been intrinsic to great art and have in recent decades found a surpris- ing echo in modern physics. On one level, our ability to reduce everything to a set of component parts has immense practical value. However, without the perceptive insight to see the limits of reductionism we have placed ourselves in grave danger. Thanks to the extraor- dinary insights of physicists such as Werner Heisenberg, Albert Einstein and David Bohm, a wider view can now be seen to encompass rather than negate Classical Newtonian concepts which are based on strict causality. Replacing a material absolute to a relative condition has opened an entirely new approach to inquiry. Having built an astonishing picture of the world in terms of a complex organi- zation of discrete component parts and their causal relations, one wonders what the next step will be. A holistic view of the same world proposes that living sys- tems can only be understood in terms of a unitary field. Although holism has its roots in the spiritual and metaphysical philosophies of older cultures, its recent rise to prominence as a viable alternative to a materialistic worldview nevertheless owes much to the science of our time. Paradoxically, this has come from the world of physics, which is the most exacting of physical sciences. Well-established scien- tific models of reality based on a deeply rooted conviction of the primacy of matter have been seriously challenged of late. Some physicists have evolved their own model of a holographic universe while pursuing the philosophical implications of the mind-matter-energy equation. At the subatomic quantum level of reality, the subtle equation of mind, matter and energy is now seen by many to form a multi- dimensional field of infinite potential which permeates the cerebral synapses of the brain itself. Common sense reality no longer holds at a level where thoughts appear to rise and disappear on the edge of a space-time threshold. Where once our think- ing ‘objective’ selves could readlily divide the world into separate parts, a fertile mystery has begun to unfold. So if indeed culture is defined by all that is excellent in science, the arts and the religious mind, can their present capacity to engage, move and nourish us move to a deeper level? The answer must depend on our own ability to distinguish residual thought from the active distillation of meaning and value in our lives. There is no real vitality in a culture that is largely dependent on the repetition of tradition or the insights of few gifted people. We are surely doomed to always become mere passive spectators of a living process if we continue to confuse the ancient with the timeless and the reservoir with the source. Meeting such a challenge has always signaled a potential turning point in the evolution of our species in giving us the strength and pliancy to not only survive but also discover a living and vibrant sense of the sacred firmly rooted in the present. It would be sad indeed if having now reached a point where the natural stress and strain of biological evolution is no longer perceived to be an important factor in human development, the creative leap required to take us to a new level of is abandoned to technological wizardry.

To have sought happiness and yet remain unfulfilled brings many of us to a point were we can no longer pursue peace in a way that turns life into such a bruis- ing aair. The intimation of the timeless, which forms the hub of this present work is, we suggest, as vital to today’s world as one imagines it has been for all time and in all places. With this in mind, we do not seek so much to reason or compare what may or may not be an emergent spirituality in the twenty-first century, but more to authenticate and realize it. I trust the present work will readily engage the reader in a way that ventures some way beyond the realm of mere speculation to a place where inner freedom grows naturally in the light of inquiry.


A quest for authenticity with a personal note en route

T he elderly man sitting beside me had fallen asleep with his head resting on

my shoulder. It was one of those long transatlantic flights bound for Los

Angeles with a final destination in the Topa Topa range of mountains, some

eighty miles north of the city. Like most fellow passengers, young and old alike, I had lapsed into shallow bouts of sleep as the flight attendants passed quietly to and fro down the aisles. We had been airborne for several hours before the first light of dawn caught the rim of the portal by my seat and slowly the cabin began to stir to the cold splendour of a new day. Our course had taken us in a great arc high above the Arctic tundra, which was barely visible beneath a dense swathe of clouds. It was early May and the spring warming of the Northern Hemisphere had begun to transform the snowbound wilderness below into a marbled glory of melt- ing ice and glacial flow that stretched far beyond the distant contours of the earth. The rising sun pierced the morning clouds and burnished the still frozen surface of a vast lake, which shone beneath us with the dark lustre of an antique mirror. For a few moments everything yielded to the first glorious rays of that sunrise. It streamed through the frosted portals, illuminating the cabin with an intense fleet- ing beauty that lingered on the edge of consciousness until it eventually faded in the bustle of a new day. Brooding over the vast expanse of the north Atlantic had turned my thoughts to the countless numbers who had crossed that great sea, some seeking freedom and a new way of life, while others were bound in chains. Uprooted, willing or enslaved, they all had shared in the birth of a nation, which had promised a life free of all the old tyrannies that had haunted civilization for millennia. As a latter day cultural dissident in poor health, I felt a wave of anticipation, which must have echoed the hopes and fears of that nameless multitude. Maybe their poverty and the aspirations, which had led to such a confusion of wealth and broken dreams,

If you have enjoyed reading Of Time & the Timeless and are interested in further exploration of the content, Antony has created an online supplement to the book where readers can put questions to the author, participate in extended dialogue with other readers, view a gallery of related artwork and much more besides.

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Glossary and Further Notes

A complex nomenclature has grown around many of the concepts associated with

holistic philosophy, especially those borrowed from the older philosophies of the

East. However, among the few ancient languages that have retained their vitality

in the modern world, Sanskrit remains unsurpassed in its ability to express con-

ceptual depth and subtlety of meaning.

Sanskrit terms

Akasa: akas (to be visible, to shine); spirit-substance implicit in all dierentiated forms which bear the imprint of natures evolutionary processes.

Antakarana: antar (between or within) and karana (to act); in esoteric science the intermediary or bridge between the higher and lower Manas. In The Voice of the Silence it is referred to as, ‘that path that lies between thy spirit and thy self’ The path is dissolved in the light of direct unmediated perception.

Ashram: A place where group intelligence is nurtured through spiritual anity.

Atman: at (eternal movement) and an (to breathe); the innermost essence. ‘The Self beyond mind and body, Supreme Self…’ (Yoga, Ernest Wood)

Atma: ‘The higher self is neither your spirit nor mine, but like sunlight shines on all. It is the universally diused divine principle and is inseparable from its one ’

(The Key

and absolute meta-spirit, as the sun beam is inseparable from sunlight to Theosophy, H.P.B.)

Avatar: ava (descent) and the verbal root tri (to cross over); the divine manifested

in life form.

Bindu: mark of the anusvara (drop); insignificant spot or dot whose eects spread like oil on water.


Buddhi: from the verbal root budh (to awaken, enlighten, to know); the light of intelligence.

Buddhi Manas: The sixth principle or vehicle of Atman. Consciousness on this level is formed from the union of Buddhic spirit and the distillates of Manasic experience of the fifth principle. “Buddhi Manas is the divine individual soul, infilled with the light of the ray form the Atman, and hence includes human intellect and egoic self-consciousness, in addition to all the spiritual faculties and ”

powers inherent in the ray itself

(Encyclopedia of Theosophy)

Chakra: from cakra (wheel); A whirling disc or circle; a symbol of both wholeness and succession in time. In esoteric teaching the vital or etheric body which envelopes the physical organism is considered the true substantial form from which the physical body is modeled and regulated. The subtle anatomy of this body is formed entirely of dierentiated waveforms which are regulated by energy matrixes or chakras aligned with the spinal column.

Dharma: dha (to bestow) and ma (mother, light, measure); essential nature of being and order. Originally meaning the spiritual necessity to become a light unto oneself, it is also given a more social significance in Indian culture as dharma marga or path of duty and virtue.

Darshana: to view with reverence. An approach to observation and inquiry evolved in ancient Indian culture as an essential practice for the attainment of jnana or gnosis. Traditionally six of the seven Darshanas were grouped into three distinct pairs, which developed the theoretical, ritual and metaphysical teaching and its practical application in daily life. The seven Darshanas are: Yoga (1) coupled with Sankhya (2); Vedanta (3) with Mimamsa; (4) Nyaya (5) with Vaisheshika (6); Jnana (7).

Dhyana: Profound contemplation; intuitive perception and discernment.

Dhyana Chohan: Lord of contemplation.

Gupta Vidya: gupta (hidden) and vidya (wisdom); the protected wisdom of the ages. Mme Blavatsky regarded the Masters to be exemplars and custodians of Gupta Vidya.

Ida-Pingala: The two polarised and intertwined nadi, which coil round the central, sexless shusumna nadi along the spinal column. As channels of energy they function as conduits in the vital economy of the psychophysical body and are intimately connected to the energy vortex of the chakras.


Karma: from the verbal root kri (action, deed, work); The law of cause, eect and necessity. A central tenet in Hindu, Buddhist and wisdom teachings. Though it specifically addresses human action on an individual level, it has by extension a planetary and cosmic significance as the law that governs the evolution of all sentient life. All that we think, feel, say or do, in becoming this, that, or the other is said to have karmic consequences. On one level the concept of karma may suggest a deterministic understanding of causality and change and the complexities of relationship. However, since life provides us with constant feedback on the experience of ourselves as separate entities, there is always the possibility of gaining insight into the checks and balances and of waking up to the fact that we model our own destiny. Karma, in this sense is not retribution but an opportunity to learn and be free of the self-engendered blockages and conditioning so that something truly emergent can enter into our lives. It is at this point in an individual’s life when human nature can be said to truly begin to unfold, while nature continues to evolve. The psychological aspect of this is interesting, because it suggests that apart from any personal choice and significance that we may give to a particular action, thought, or feeling, our lives are ultimately governed by the immutable law of karma; that is, by the underlying truth of our actions, whether we see it or not. In theosophical teaching, each human being is said to pass through a series of seven rounds of incarnations, in which we are fated to play our part in the rise and fall of civilizations.

Kriyashakti: kriya (activity) and shakti (energy); personified in Hindu philosophy as Shiva and his consort Parvati. Associated in Yoga with the power of focused will and intelligence, which can organize and influence matter even at a distance.

Laya: derived from verbal root li (to dissolve); neutral zero points at the heart of each chakra. Layas are the portals in each chakra through which kriyashakti passes from one level to another within the unitary field.

Linga sharira: linga (model or pattern), and sharira (to waste away); the subtle body or plasmic template from which the physical organism—sthula-sharira—is manifested in three dimensions.

Mahatma: maha (great) and atman (spirit Self); Great Spirit. In theosophy the term Mahatma or Master is applied to an individual who has undergone the fifth Planetary and first solar initiation.

Manas: cognitive mind; the mental faculty of deliberation and reflection, which includes the capacity to compare, classify, reason and imagine etc. Although it is


the perishable aspect of Mind, it holds a pivotal place as the mirror of the world and actuality. Manas is the active thinking principle, which at its present level of development is the somewhat errant servant of emergent intelligence.

Manu: A generic term applied to a Master who oversees the cyclic evolution of a Root race. In theosophy their work is closely aligned with that of the ‘World Teacher’.

Manvantara: A complete evolutionary cycle of cosmic time presided over by a Manu. Manvantara and Pralaya are the active and quiescent periods of the cosmos, or the Days and Nights of Brahma. According to Mme Blavatsky a day of

Brahma consists of seven rounds of the planetary chain of what she calls a Planetary Manvantara, a period of 4,320,000,000 terrestrial years. “As the sun

does the universe emerge

arises every morning on our objective horizon

periodically on the plane of objectivity. And as the sun disappears from our horizon,

so does the universe disappear at regular periods, when the universal night sets in. ”


The Hindu’s have called such alterations the ‘Days and Nights of Brahma’ Key To Theosophy)


Maitreya: From mitra (friend).

Maya: The illusion created by the mind. Something displaced from its true nature. Often misused to describe the world as an illusion. Everything has its place in the unitary field. It is only misplaced thought which profanes this sacred order and as

a consequence the thinker suers the illusion of their own separative existence.

Mayavirupa: maya (illusory) and rupa (form); a ‘psychic’ form created to convey

a message or signal. In developing the siddhis some individuals are able to replicate

an image of their physical appearance and cause it to appear to a distant recipient. This is usually accomplished while the physical body is in a meditative state. The form is dissolved after serving its purpose.

Nadi: A species of reed with a hollow tubular stem. In the ancient Hindu and Yoga teaching, nadi are the invisible channels through which the vital forces circulate in the human organism, as likened to the pliant and hollow nature of a reed.

Prakriti: root substance and originator of the tattvas, which are the producers and forms of manifestation.

Pralaya: pra (away) and laya (dissolve); a cosmic period of dissolution. Following the theosophical view that a macrocosmic cycle is mirrored at all levels of manifestation, this can be equally applied to a human being or planet.


Purusha-Prakriti: being and becoming or Spirit-Matter. Purusha is the term used in Sankhya philosophy for that which has always been, the spirit which can be neither added to or subtracted from and is therefore immutable. It is the progenitor of all evolutions by way of closeness with Prakriti. During Pralaya Prakriti (nature) is in a state of equilibrium or inertia until it is animated by Purusha (spirit). According to Sankhya philosophy Purusha has three qualities:

awareness, life (prana), and immutability. When close to the dormant internal forces of Prakriti these qualities cause disequilibria in three internal forces within matter. These three forces, which are known as gunas or strands, translate as brightness or ordered rhythm (Sattva), force (Rajas), and mass or inertia (Tamas). Brightness enables awareness to become cognition, force enables life to become activity, and mass stimulates immutability to become will. The dis-equilibrium between these qualities initiates the complete evolutionary cycle known as a Manvantara. In the Sankhya-Yoga Darshanas this reflection of the Purusha triad in Prakriti is regarded as central to an understanding of the way life evolves. It is the dynamic disequilibria of the gunas which largely determines all that manifests in a given evolution both psychologically and materially.

Brightness has the quality of flexible intelligence; force is volatile and charged with energy, and mass provides the basis of matter. Brightness is said to predominate at the beginning of a cycle. This concurs with the Theosophical notion that cosmos is first involved, before being evolved, that is, precipitated from Cosmic Mind, via the essence of Buddhi which holds the distillates of former evolutions. The bright- ness strand enhances the capacity of the other two gunas towards dierentiation in which the mental and the physical are seen to evolve in parallel to each other, the higher attributes of mind unfolding while the lower is subject to evolution.

The threefold manifestation of Atma-Buddhi-Manas is the result of Purusha’s propinquity to Prakriti, the subject of Samkhyan philosophy, the self embodied in the highest sheaths, according to Vedanta teaching, In the one you have this Self and His sheaths, and in the other Subject, a reflection in matter of Purusha. *

See also entry on Spiritual Triad in section Related Terms below.

Rahasya: esoteric doctrine or teaching; subtle concept; secret wisdom.

Samsara: derived from the root verb samri; to pass through a succession of states on the wheel of birth and death; ultimately, becoming this or that is seen as an illusion created by dependence and identification with those states.

* Annie Besant,An introduction to Yoga, 1908.


Sankhya: One of the classical Hindu philosophical systems known as darshanas. Said to have been introduced in the sixth century BCE by the Rishi Kapila, Sankhya informs much of the theoretical basis of Yoga and the Bhavagad Gita. As an investigative tool or darshana closely associated with Yoga, it starts from the premise that the eternal spirit (Purusha), and matter (Prakriti) are indivisibly linked together. The apparent dualism in separating the two simply points to a relationship, which gives emphasis to the subtle over and above that which manifests in time and space.

Sanathana Dharma: Sanathana (ancient and eternal) and dharma (see glossary entry). The universal wisdom religion.

Sarahasya; of the mystical and esoteric.

Sushumna nadi: derived from su (excellent), shumna (blessedness, joy, perfect harmony) and nadi (channel). Sushumna is the sexless energy which forms the central channel aligned with the spinal column, around which the polarized energies of ida and pingala coil in helixical fashion, their points of intersection forming the chakras which modulate the psychophysical economy of the organism. With the two polarized nadi, ida and pingala, Sushumna regulates the subtle interface between whole spiritual energy of the unitary field and the development of the psychophysical organism. In the developed person it is in direct relation to the heart chakra, and thus enables a free flow of energy along the body’s inner axis.

Skandha: The aggregate or bundle of causal attributes and tendencies in a human being, which constitute the current ethos of a person’s aura or energy field. These include:

Rupa: (the physical form)

Vedana: (sensations)

Sanjna or sanna: (consciousness)

Sanskara: (physical and mental tendencies)

Vijnana: (mental and moral disposition)

The combination of these elements make up the identity which, despite being a shifting series of states, leads to various forms of attachment and identification, which give the illusion of continuity to the personality.


Siddhi: from the verbal root sidh (to attain). An ascending order of active and latent extrasensory faculties or phenomenal powers associated with the chakras. In Yoga philosophy, the phenomena associated with them are considered to be the natural outcome of increasing sensitivity and alignment within the individual. There are dierent groups of siddhis, which are categorized according to the level

at which they manifest; for example, the instinctive, the mental, and the buddhic.

A chela such as Mme blavatsky would be required to have developed those siddhis

associated with the ability to see and hear clairvoyantly, and thus to place herself enrapport with those who shared a certain anity. Writing to K.H. in the 1870s about the possibility of receiving direct instruction in occult philosophy, Allan O. Hume received the following answer in which K.H. begins by repeating a phrase

used by the questioner:

Converse with you and teach you through the astral light? Such a development of your physical powers of hearing, as you name,—the Siddhi of hearing occult sounds would not be at all the easy matter you imagine. It was never done to any one of us, for the iron rule is that what powers one gets he must himself acquire. And when acquired and ready for the use the powers lie dumb and dormant in their potentiality like the wheels and clockwork inside a musical box; and only then does it become easy to wind up the key and set them in motion…Yet every earnestly disposed man may acquire such powers practically. That is the finality of it; there are no more distinctions of persons in this than there is as to whom the sun shall shine upon or the air give vitality to. There are the powers of all nature before you; take what you can. *

Sutratman: sutra (thread) and atman (spirit-soul); conveying the idea of the Thread Self or Soul of sutratma buddhi which is co-extensive with the eternal pilgrim or reincarnating individuality. According to Mme Blavatsky, manas conjoined with buddhi absorbs the manasic ‘recollections’ in the form of distillates culled from the evanescent experience of each incarnation, which are strung like pearls on the luminous thread of sutratman.

Trimurti: the cosmic triad. A compound of tri (three) and murti (manifestation).

Upasika: (female chela or devotee)

Varcasa: (the eulgence of light)

* The Mahatma Letters to A.P.Sinnett, p65.


Vedanta: veda (knowledge) and anta (end); one of the principal schools of Hindu philosophy which was developed from the Upanishads. Vedanta proposes that reality could only be understood in terms of a single principle or self, Brahman. Brahma is the one reality in which the multiplicity and division created by thought is seen as an illusion. The school of Advaita philosophy (from a (not so or negation) and dvaita (dual) can be said to be the most refined expression of Vedantic thought, encapsulated in the saying ‘That thou art’ (tat tvam asi). ‘The moment the self ceases to think it, the universe ceases to exist, it vanishes like a dream…’ (An Introduction to Yoga. Annie Besant).

Yoga: from yuj (to unite or to yoke together); union with the divine within. Over the centuries many schools of Yoga have been established in Indian culture. Each school has developed a particular path towards the goal of self-realization; for example Raja the yoga of wisdom; Karma the yoga of action; Hatha the yoga of harmonizing physical posture (asana) and breath control (pranayam); Bhakti the yoga of devotion.

Related Terms

The Absolute: That which is without qualities or attributes. Any attempt to define the absolute evokes a significant anomaly implicit in the relative world of thought. This arises because the absolute by definition implies the immeasurable and unknowable, which of course is inconceivable. Physics, mathematics and philosophy have approached the theoretical implications of this by devising abstract concepts of singularity, absolute zero and totality. Some have ventured to suggest that having reached the limit of divisibility within the space-time boundary, in the microcosmic world, mathematically stated as 10-14 cm, we should consider these as one and the same.

Anomie: Alinenation or uprootedness which leads to dysfunctional behaviour against social norms which oer a narrow band of choices in individual and social development.

Astral: According to esoteric tradition, the astral plane is the level immediately above the physical and consists of a supersensible substance which pervades space and time. It is said to form the substance of the subtle body. The astral body is often cited as the source of OBEs or out of the body experiences, astral projection, etc. It is said to survive physical death for a short period.


Cosmic Sympathy: A Neoplatonic concept introduced by Plotinus (205-270 AD) who is generally considered to be one of the originators of the Neoplatonic School of thought. Plotinus understood the universe to be an integrated whole suused with implicit intelligence. He regarded this intelligence as synonymous with a profound sympathy and aection, which permeated everything. Existing among all parts of the cosmic organism, this sympathy rendered memory and sensation superfluous, since the mutual condition cannot and need not be conceptualized or ordered by thought. Henri Bergson echoed this when he proposed that memory and sensation are absent from the realm of intelligence.

The notion of cosmic sympathy supports the spiritual view of a self-ordering prin- ciple in life, which, though not immediately apparent, will reveal itself to the quiet mind. Thought must see its own limitation, to be clear and in abeyance for this to happen. This implies that much of what appears to need volitional control on the level of thought is actually self-ordering.

Cycle: A word of Greek origin meaning circle, from which the concept of cyclic change that has a periodic rhythm of recurrence is derived. It denotes a process by which a series of events unfold in a certain order. It is a deep-seated notion that profoundly aects our perception of time and change, based as it is on thousands of years of observation and experience.

Dialogue: To find the etymological root of a familiar word in everyday use can reveal a rich source of meaning that often lies obscured by modern usage. The word dialogue provides an interesting case in point, being a term much used in the current search for a language of inquiry that supports a confluence of meaning and value in science, art and religious inquiry. The word itself derives from the classical Greek word dialogos, a composite word in which dia translates simply as meaning ‘through’ while logos has a more complex provenance since there is no exact equivalent in any other language. In the original Greek, the primary meaning of logos was derived from the verb legein, which meant to join together, to gather and also to speak. In Classical Greek logos refers to innate substance that can be expressed through the word. The early Latin translators of Greek text who have largely conditioned the way we use the term today, wavered between three possible meanings, which are present in the classical Greek definition: ratio or reason and proportion in the mathematical sense; sermo meaning to say or a connected thing; and lastly verbum as in the St John’s Gospel, meaning the word made manifest. In both classical and later Christian philosophy this resonance of meanings within the one word gave rise to theological concepts of universal order. The noun form The Logos came to signify the One Being that indwells throughout time and eternity. In this sense it corresponds to the Tao in Chinese culture, and Brahma


in the Hindu cosmology. In many cultures logos is represented as a circle and perhaps not surprisingly many groups today find this to be the most conducive seating arrangement in which to freely engage in dialogue.

Electro-magnetic energy: The vast scale of electro-magnetism of which visible light is but a narrow wave band (see diagram, below) in the cosmic spectrum. Although visible light has a constant, 186,000 miles per second, it produces an extraordinary array of phenomena, both naturally and when harnessed, for example, in the coherent light of laser technology. Life has evolved infinitely complex fields of electro-magnetic energy to which we ourselves owe our existence.

energy to which we ourselves owe our existence. Emergent: The word is a derivation of the

Emergent: The word is a derivation of the Latin word emergere meaning ‘to rise out or up from’ and relates it to a number of familiar terms related to organic growth. In the present study the use of the term ‘spiritually emergent’ points to a perceptive intelligence which is related to overall necessity within the unitary field. There is a clear distinction between an emergent order of change , the epiphenomenal changes associated with complexity and evolutionary change.

Matter-Energy: an expression often used to emphasize the dual aspect of a field which on one level can be viewed as an ensemble of causally related discrete objects existing in time and space, or alternatively seen as discrete packets of energy, which fluctuate across a complex quantum lattice or invisible substratum of the field.

Field: All physical objects are held within, manifest from, or generate their own fields of force, which form infinitely complex interactions with all other beings, entities or discrete inanimate objects in the cosmos. Fields can be said to have


both ‘local’ and ‘non local’ aspects. Three-dimensional objects have aspects of larger fields of energy at play within them. According to quantum physics, fields are the essential substratum of the physical reality we sense and observe around us, and this is why quantum physicists usually consider energy to be more fundamental than matter. In physics, ‘field theory’ has included attempts to unify all fields; that is, the magnetic, gravitational, electric and nuclear into a unified field theory. Modern ‘field theory’ is significant, in that it provides evidence that reality is constructed of a complex but unified array of interpenetrating levels of energy transduction. Subtle organizing energy fields or SOEF, as they have become more widely known, is a term derived from physics which is often used to describe the complex electro-magnetic environment which supports both consciousness and physical existence. In human terms it is by degree self-ordering and mutable according to the individual.

Fractal: An object or geometric figure in which the component parts display self- similarity on all levels of its structure.

Heterarchy: A term used to describe the non-linear and more unpredictable

dynamics of change in any system, which can also include a hierarchical; that is,

a pyramidal, level of function or order.

Holism: From the Greek holos meaning whole. In philosophical terms holism is based on the proposition that there is an underlying unity in the cosmos, which is

reflected in all levels. This unity cannot be understood in terms of the sum of the parts but it is evident in the interconnectedness of all levels of existence. Experience tells us that in our dealings with the world a sense of this rarely transcends the conceptual level, as thought is caught up in various forms of dialectical behaviour. Holism has important implications for all areas of human endeavour and has found

a wide application in complementary medicine, ecology and art.

Immanence: A term derived from the Latin manare to dwell in and remain. A concept essential to teachings that regard the spirit as being present in all things, as opposed to the theological dogma of a transcendent God who is separate from and above the world.

Infinite perfectibility: The word perfect literally means made complete or

perfectly done. Perfection is not an ideal and can flower at any given moment, as

it does in nature, which is complete unto itself

Mysterium conunctionis: The union of opposites, the goal of the ‘Great Work’ as practiced in the ancient art of alchemy.


Mysticism, Naturalism in Classical Greek philosophy: The two predominant and most influential streams in Greek philosophy found their most eloquent expression in the work of the following philosophers:









(Fifth Century BCE)



















Necessity: A universal and irresistible force intrinsic to the natural law of cause and eect necessary for the evolution of life forms. From a systemic and holistic point of view, life forms can exist on levels that are fairly autonomous subtotalities, which have their own level of necessity within them. For example, it is necessary to eat to survive on the physical level. However, the more complex a life form becomes, the more the notion of necessity must be extended to include deeper levels of meaning. For human beings, the necessities of life extend far beyond simple physical survival and can only be fully understood when we include emergent necessities beyond what are strictly governed by evolution. Each person can be said to create their own necessity as they evolve, but ultimately this can only be meaningful in terms of the overall necessity. In social evolution the constraints and compulsions of perceived necessity give rise to faulty integrations within the thought process and these are reflected in society as whole. This led the German philosopher Hegel to regard the historical process as governed by an overall necessity towards greater integration. However, this view places historical necessity within the temporal realm of causal reasoning.

Occult Science: The science of being and non-being devoted to the investigation, understanding and development of mind, body and spirit as a unified field.


Palingenesis: From the Greek palin (again) and genesis (beginning); the replication by a single organism during embryonic development of prior stages in the evolution of its species. A concept in biology which proved faulty but nevertheless influenced the development of a psychology of the collective unconscious. In esoteric teaching it is related to the cyclic recapitulation and transformation within a single or series of lifetimes during a manvantara.

Positivism: Influential doctrine taught by Auguste Comte and given a twentieth century face with the philosophical school known as Logical Positivism. Comte held that historically all knowledge had passed through three stages: theological, metaphysical and positive. According to this view, positive or objective reasoning provides real knowledge of what is knowable, while theological and metaphysical reasoning cannot. The philosophy of Positivism has helped provide science with the means to understand enough of the internal workings of nature to enable it to manipulate it as a measurable structure. However, as science developed techniques

to explore the intricacies of the micro and macrocosm, the ‘knowledge’ and objective

verification on which Positivist principles were based was to become ambiguous and ultimately indemonstrable. It was finally to lose credence and be displaced by

a less determined model of reality, which hinged more on probability and the

anomalies, which spring from quantum physics and the complexities of chaos theory. The impact of this change of outlook has been significant in a return to a more open view of what constitutes reality in science, art and religious philosophy.

Principle: A principle is based on a fundamental proposition about the nature of reality.

Progressive modernism: It came about as a direct result of the success and confidence in the rationale and secular values of the European Enlightenment. It is, or perhaps we should say was, based on the belief that the innovative advances in the arts and sciences set in motion by the Industrial Revolution facilitated greater social awareness, economic benefits and the freedom for all nations to develop a progressive consumer culture. In this sense, we can say that it sprang from the notion of an unlimited horizon, which was open to all mankind. During the twentieth century competition for natural resources to drive machines and sustain growing populations, ensured an escalation in human conflict that began to seriously undermine such beliefs as a universal panacea for the problems of mankind. Thus it may be perceived as benefiting only the most powerful, gifted or aggressive sectors of humanity.

Postmodernism: It is an an attempt to redefine culture. As a philosophical outlook Post-modernism supports an approach to change which runs counter to many of the assumptions of progressive thinking. During the last decades of the


twentieth century it was widely recognized that a notion of progress, based on a concept of social evolution guided by science, was failing to meet human needs in an increasingly complex world. Postmodernism challenged the whole concept of progressive thinking by developing a method of deconstructing language and exposing many assumed values as fallacious. A central premise emerged from this critique in which concepts are regarded as components of ‘process’ rather than tools to define reality. This has created conditions in which the individual’s relation to the ‘world process’ and the ‘grand narrative’ of history need no longer be framed in terms of progressive, mainstream or traditional values oriented towards ideological goals.

Reductionism: The scientific method of reducing an organism, system, or object to a set of constituent or functional parts.

Simultaneity: Several perspectives held within the single frame or moment. Based on the perception that normal frames of reference coexist with levels that lie between our objective and subjective experience of the world. Each instant includes degrees of definition and ambiguity or blur, depending on where the attention is focused.

Sophia: The feminine principle of compassionate wisdom revered by the Gnostics.

Spiritual Triad: Love, Will and Intelligence: the sacred trinity of esoteric philosophy from which the four lower principles are derived; The Spirit Self, which ensouls the individual.

Teleological: from the Greek Telos meaning end; the theory of purpose and intelligent design in nature. The religious interpretation of human evolution is based on the belief in the guiding presence of divinity, first cause, designer or prime mover. The more recent development of secular humanism portrays man as having evolved by the natural processes of causation, which in turn has led to the common belief that man himself is solely responsible and capable of redesigning many aspects of natural evolution. Meaning and purpose may also be understood more in terms of intention and aim rather than as the direct result of prior causes.

Theosophy: The modern theosophical movement is essentially eclectic in that it seeks to provide a comprehensive overview of the wisdom teaching within a global perspective. To accomplish this, the movement continues to draw widely from many spiritual traditions throughout the world, to provide a global context for the universal principles by which each individual might view the various theories and beliefs of systems past and present within a broadly metaphysical and spiritual perspective.


Thought: The cerebral process that occurs in the brain when we think. Biophysics describes it in terms of the firing of neurons and the subtle modulations of molecules, which occur between the synapses within the brains complex stucture. One of thought’s most interesting aspects is its concern with events outside its own organic processes. When the brain begins to examine its own activity via the process of thought some very interesting phenomena take place in the realm of thought.

Timeless: Having no beginning or end, and therefore not subject to causality.

Waveform: In physics, a time varying quanta of energy which is also a function of position. A waveform may be periodic, transient or random.

Wavefront: A moving surface that is the locus of all adjacent points of vibration. Their propagation may take a simple form, such as a plane, sphere or cylinder or be of a much more complex nature. Complex interference patterns of amplitude variation occur over a space in which waves originating from separate sources arrive by dierent paths of propagation; These are called constructive interference arises when the two waves are in phase and their amplitude; ‘destructive interference’ arises when the waves are out of phase and their amplitude partially orcompletely neutralize each other.

Wisdom: The essence of culture; an illumination of both the heart and mind, which distills the essential meaning from all experience.


Further reading

Alice A. Bailey:

Education in the New Age. Lucis Trust, London, 1954.

Trevor Barker: (Compiler) The Mathatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, ( Facsimile of the 1926, 2nd Edition). Theosophical University Press 1997.

The Mahatma letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence. Edited by Vicente Hao Chin, JR. with research and notes by George Linton & Virginia Hanson. Quest Books, 1998. The original letters can be viewed in the British Library, London.

Annie Besant:

An Autobiography. First published, 1893; Quest Books edition, 1995 Evolution and Man’s Destiny. Theosophical Publishing House, 1924.

A Study in Consciousness. First published 1907; Quest Books, Adyar edition


Thomas C. Blackburn:

December’s Child, A book of Chumash Oral Narratives. University of California Press, 1980.

Helena Petrovna Blavatsky:

The Secret Doctrine. First published, 1888; Quest Books edition, 1993. The Voice of the Silence. First published, 1889. Quest Books edition, 1992. The Key to Theosophy. First published, 1889; Reprinted verbatim edition, Theo- sophical Company India, 1987.

David Bohm:

Unfolding Meaning. First published, 1985. Routledge edition, 1996.

Sigmund Freud:

Civilization and its Discontents. First published, 1930. WW Norton & Company edition, 2005.

Werner Jaeger:

Paideia:The Ideals of Greek Culture, In search of the divine centre. Volume II (Translated from the German by Gilbert Highet) Oxford University Press, 1986.


Carl Gustav Jung:

Symbols of Transformation. First published 1956. Included in the Collected Works C. J. Jung, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1967.

Jiddu Krishnamurti:

Commentaries on Living, Series 1, 2 & 3 (1956-58-60). Quest Books, 1994-1967-1967. The First and Last Freedom (1954). Harper SanFrancisco, 1975. Tradition and Revolution. Krishnamurti Foundation India, 1995. The Ending of Time (dialogues with Professor David Bohm). HarperOne, 1985.

George Henry Lewes:

Problems of Life and Mind, 1880. Kessinger Publishing, 2004.

Lady Emily Lutyens:

Candles in the Sun, Rupert Hart & Davies, 1957.

Mary Lutyens:

The Years of Awakening, Murray, 1975.

Lewis Mumford:

The Conduct of Life, 1951. Harvest/ HBJ Book, 1960.

Josephine Ransom:

A Short History of The Theosophical Society, 1938.

Theosophical Publishing House, 1992.

Bertrand Russell:

History of Western Philosophy. Routledge, 1991.

Cyril Scott:

The Initiate in the Dark Cycle, 1932. Red Wheel / Weiser, 1991.

Arnold Toynbee:

A Study of History. Oxford University Press, 1972.

Ernest Wood:

Natural Theosophy, 1930.

Practical Yoga, Ancient and Modern, 1948.

Is This Theosophy? Rider & Co., 1936.


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