Category Archives: Brain, Mind, Consciousness, & Beyond

Occult America: Through The Looking Glass

Through the Looking Glass

THE  surreal landscape of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking-Glass has Alice wondering what the world is like on the other side of a mirror.

To her surprise, Alice is able to pass into a fantastic astral world and experience an alternate existence.

A puzzled Alice discovers a book with looking-glass poetry called “Jabberwocky,” which she can read only by holding it up to a mirror.

To Theosophical students, Carroll’s imaginative invention is an unambiguous reminder of “the astral light” of occultism, a universal storage drive where original images of all things are seen in reverse of their visible projections on our terrestrial plane.

In 1871, mediumship and table-tipping were all the rage, detailed in Mitch Horowitz’s popular book Occult America. “Understandably, Carroll’s sequel to Alice in Wonderland was wildly popular at the time,” he writes:

Clairvoyance and psychic powers have always fascinated the public. But then, as now, they were considered nonsensical by mainstream scientists.

“Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast,” the White Queen confides to Alice.

Alice through the looking glass.

Once of interest only to ghost-hunters, and the derided science of parapsychology, “The Big 5”: Precognition, Telepathy, Clairvoyance, Psychokinesis and Healing (known collectively as “psi”), are now being noticed by the rank-and-file psychological and neuroscience community.

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A Miracle of Miracles —The Great Inscrutable Mystery

Botticelli: Primavera

Botticelli: Primavera

WE were repulsed by a report of a terrorist beheading. David Brooks wrote about it in a NY Times Opinion, “The Body and the Spirit” in which he concludes that “the body has a spiritual essence.”

“The human head and body don’t just live and pass along genes,” Brooks writes: “They paint, make ethical judgments, savor the beauty of a sunset and experience the transcendent.”

Sounding more like a student of Theosophy than a cultural and political commentator Brooks adds: “The body is material but surpasses the material. It’s spiritualized matter.”

This is very close to what H. P. Blavatsky declared in The Secret Doctrine: “Spirit is the first differentiation from That, the causeless cause of both Spirit and Matter. It is, as taught in the esoteric catechism, neither limitless void, nor conditioned fulness, but both. It was and ever will be. . . .

“It is not matter as we know it, but the spiritual essence of matter.”

Spirit-Matter

“Most of us, religious or secular,” Brooks wrote: “have some instinctive sense that there is a ghost infused in the machine. And because the human body is a transcendent temple it is worthy of respect. It is offensive to treat it the way you would treat an inanimate object.”

Even after a person is dead, the body still carries the residue of this presence and deserves dignified handling.

Similarly, H. P. Blavatsky quoted Thomas Carlyle: “‘we touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!'” … “How does our physical body come to the state of perfection it is found in now?,” she asks, and answers: “Through millions of years of evolution, of course, yet never through, or from, animals, as taught by materialism.”

Further quoting Carlyle: — ‘The essence of our being, the mystery in us that calls itself  ‘I,’ — what words have we for such things? — it is a breath of Heaven, the highest Being reveals himself in man. This body, these faculties, this life of ours, is it not all as a vesture for the unnamed?'”

Botticelli, Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus

“The breath of heaven, or rather the breath of life is, as Novalis said, and no one since has said it better, as repeated by Carlyle: —

There is but one temple in the universe, and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form . . . . We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body!

‘If well meditated it will turn out to be a scientific fact — the expression of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles — the great inscrutable Mystery.’ 

(Blavatsky adds): “The breath of heaven, or rather the breath of life, called in the bible Nephesh, is in every animal, in every animate speck as in every mineral atom.”

(The Secret Doctrine 1:211-12)

human-anatomy-07

Intelligent Design

Quoting Thomas Carlyle:

“But none of these has, like man, the consciousness of the nature of that highest Being, as none has that divine harmony in its form which man possesses. There is but one temple in the universe, says the devout Novalis, and that is the body of man. Nothing is holier than that high form.”

We touch heaven when we lay our hand on a human body! This sounds like a mere flourish of rhetoric but it is not so.

“If well meditated it will turn out to be a scientific fact; the expression in such words as can be had, of the actual truth of the thing. We are the miracle of miracles,— the great inscrutable Mystery of God. We cannot understand it, we know not how to speak of it; but we may feel and know, if we like, that it is verily so.”

(Thomas Carlyle, Ch. 1, Hero as Divinity)

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We Are All Connected, Bound Together for Good or Ill

© Lois Greenfield

THE uplifting adage ‘attitude is altitude’ pinpoints how the power of positive thinking can improve every aspect of our lives, using a simple but underutilized power we all possess.

“For decades, scientists have tried to test the power of prayer and positive thinking, with mixed results,” writes NPR National Desk religion correspondent Barbara Bradley Hagerty about a study on the science of spirituality.

“Now some scientists,” she writes, “are fording new, and controversial territory.” In an area of esoteric inquiry which is sometimes called Mental Alchemy and/or Metaphysics, a lot of thinkers over the ages have stated the idea in various ways.

The conviction that one’s thoughts are the great determiners of the content of one’s life, inspires  many to forge on despite difficult life circumstances.

Ancient wisdom traditions maintain that thoughts are actual things, and that one’s thoughts are the result of an unalterable universal law called “Cause and Effect,” and will manifest themselves at some point in one’s life.

Cause and Effect

“The lower world of effects is the sphere of … distorted Thoughts; of the most sensual conceptions, and pictures; of anthropomorphic deities, the out-creations of their creators, the sensual human minds of people who have never outgrown their brutehood on earth

Remembering thoughts are things — have tenacity, coherence, and life — that they are real entities — the rest will become plain.

“Disembodied — the creator is attracted naturally to its creation and creatures; sucked in — by the Maelstrom dug out by his own hands. . . . But I must pause, for volumes would hardly suffice to explain all that was said by me in this letter.”

Letter 9, The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett

All Connected

The law of Cause and Effect can also be described as a law that says, “For every action, there is a reaction.”  Since thoughts are actual things, and since thoughts are also actions, it means that the thoughts will invariably cause a reaction that will result in the manifestation of those thoughts.

“No act is performed without a thought at its root either at the time of performance or as leading to it. These thoughts are lodged in that part of man which we have called Manas — the mind — and there remain as subtle but powerful links with magnetic threads that enmesh the solar system.” 

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The Rise and Fall of the Third Eye

New Universe Awakening

THEOSOPHY teaches the progressive development of everything, “worlds as well as atoms,” according to The Secret Doctrine.

This “stupendous development,” say the ancient sages, “has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end.”

To them, our ‘Universe’ is “only one of an infinite number of Universes, all links in the great Cosmic chain of Universes.”

In this view, each individual cosmos, or single human life, is the effect of its predecessor. Under karmic law, “a cause as regards its successor.” 

(The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 43)

If lifetimes and universes are analogous to schools, then the classrooms are stages of consciousness, pushing us to ever greater self-awareness and self-development — only if we are wise enough to pursue the path offered.

Thus our lives are complex creations, a series of  ‘progressive awakenings,’ advanced or retarded drop by drop, by our individual, family, racial, national and global karma.

Everyone, in this way, settles into his or her own unique rhythm in which a lifetime meditation empowers a mixture of past karma, and present choices.

We all must be then at slightly differing points on an ascending evolutionary arc, paying off old debts, making new ones — pushing forward or slipping back, and the mind thus ever awakens to newer realities.

Drop by Drop

The choices that shape our character each lifetime, are self-chosen—compounded of physical, sensory, emotional, mental, psychic and spiritual energies.

The ancient Egyptian after death judgement, weighed symbolically a person’s heart against the ‘feather of truth.’

The challenges of life, the occult doctrine notes, are the result of our being grounded in a personal level of consciousness, a limited world view. The Secret Doctrine 1:39-40 teaches that “whatever plane our consciousness may be acting in, both we and the things belonging to that plane are, for the time being, our only realities.”

Progressive Awakenings

Nothing is permanent except the one hidden absolute existence which contains in itself the noumena of all realities.

Weighing the Heart against the Feather of Truth

“Only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from delusions.”

“As we rise in the scale of development we perceive that during the stages through which we have passed we mistook shadows for realities.

and the upward progress of the Ego is a series of progressive awakenings, each advance bringing with it the idea that now, at last, we have reached ‘reality’—

(The Secret Doctrine 1:40)

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Behind Your Brain, A Master Planner

Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor

BREAKING up is hard to do especially when it comes to ingrained scientific worldviews.

Even after they have betrayed us, dogmatic beliefs still cling like burrs to our psyche and brains, despite all logic.

Recall the insistent flat earth and geocentric crowd, and creationist belief that the Earth is only ten thousand years old.

The list is very long. Science is littered with the remains of once sacred cows.

Until only a few years ago, for example, it was asserted that the brain cannot grow new cells —

when they are gone they
are gone for good!

Challenging this cliché that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, science now confirms that in fact adult brain cells keep growing after all! H. P. Blavatsky made short work of the errors of science in explaining the occult teachings:

“The brain is the instrument of waking consciousness and every conscious mental picture formed means change and destruction of the atoms [neurons?] of the brain.” Yet, “in ordinary intellectual activity, moves on well beaten paths in the brain, and does not compel sudden adjustments and destructions in its substance.”

neurofeedback

Neurofeedback

She then noted that a “new kind of mental effort calls for something very different — the carving out of ‘new brain paths’, the ranking in different order of the little brain lives.”

“Memory has no seat, no special organ of its own in the human brain,” Blavatsky wrote in — it has seats in every organ of the body. The seat of memory, then, is assuredly neither here nor there, but “everywhere throughout the human body.”

Neuroplasticity

Modern studies in people recovering from stroke also provided support for neuroplasticity, as regions of the brain remained healthy could sometimes take over, at least in part, functions that had been destroyed.”

The ideas she presented were no less than a startling preview of our modern science’s newly understood doctrine of neuroplasticity.

Especially the “brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life.” This fact in occult science began to be recognized by modern science thanks to the findings of Dr. Paul Bach-y-Rita, called “the father of sensory substitution and brain plasticity.” These “now commonly accepted concepts, [were]  novel ideas when [he] first conceived of them [70 years after Blavatsky] in the 1960’s.”

“In the 1960s, Paul Bach-y-Rita invented a device that was tested on a small number of people, and involved a person sitting in a chair, in which were embedded nubs that were made to vibrate in ways that translated images received in a camera, allowing a form of vision via sensory substitution.

(Wikipedia – Neuroplasticity)

Tree Bark

A musician needs his instrument, a painter her canvas. This requirement of a physical material vehicle is explained in The Secret Doctrine‘s first Fundamental Proposition: “…it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’

a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.

A central nervous system connected to a physical brain and body are indispensable to complete our human evolutionary experience. Just as the invisible “zeros and ones” of a digital software program, for example, must be connected to a physical computer or they cannot be read or used.

The brain is such a complex thing, both physically and metaphysically, that it is like a tree whose bark you can remove layer by layer, each layer being different from all the others, and each having its own special work, function, and properties.

– H. P. Blavatsky
(Transactions, Appendix on Dreams)

Neurons

The world of brain science was forever changed. Yet, “the scale of change [in the brain] is much smaller than what goes on during the critical period of development,” said a study co-author Elly Nedivi, a neuroscientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) —

but the fact that it goes on at all,
is earth-shattering.

The truth is that neuroscientists today are completely baffled by how the brain is able to organize itself so perfectly.

Yet, the word “science” comes from the Latin word “scire” which means to know. “Science” is supposed to be a systematic, organized way of investigating the world. The catch is when specialized learning turns into a dogmatic worldview, it then becomes an end-in-itself — distorting what might have resulted in a more holistic truth.

With persistent reference to occult science Blavatsky insisted (The Secret Doctrine 1:14), that “consciousness is inconceivable to us apart from change,”  and, “motion best symbolises change, its essential characteristic.”

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Ordinary Children Who Remember Past Lives

childs-candle-lights

Soul Light

REINCARNATION is “one of the most important issues faced by philosophy, religion, and science that have very significant implications for the understanding of human life,” says the Reincarnation Research website.

Theosophy Watch agrees. “Reincarnation used to be a subject confined to religion,” the site notes. “Since the 20th century, however, the inquiry has moved into the field of science.

This comes about “as a result of ground-breaking researches about people, particularly children, whose memories of previous lives have been validated by independent investigations,” the site reports.

“Many of these cases involved birthmarks or physical characteristics at birth that matched the manner of death of the claimed previous life. Some of them also could speak an unlearned language but which corresponded to the language learned in the claimed previous life.

“The concept of reincarnation, however, goes against the mainstream doctrines of a number of major religions. This has created conflicts and has led to raging debates on the pros and cons of reincarnation.”

butterflygirl

Butterfly Girl

H. P. Blavatsky and her Adept Teachers, Founders of the modern Theosophical Movement, were fully committed to the prime directive of introducing Western civilization to the twin doctrines of Reincarnation and Karma.

The importance of their directive can be seen in H. P. Blavatsky’s Letter 3 to the 4th Annual American Convention in April 1890, where she declared:

We are outwardly creatures of but a day; within we are eternal. Learn, then, well the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice, promulgate that system of life and thought which alone can save the coming races. 

(H. P. Blavatsky, April 27-28, 1890)

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The Non-Local Mind: Your Brain on God

The Lucid Zone

WHEN acting through our physical human brain and body, the mind displays a complex duality — a pivotal tenet of Theosophical psychology.

The reason for the contrast is quite simple: the entire manifested universe is pervaded by duality. We are mere copies. “As above, so below,” is the old Hermetic axiom.

“Everything in the Universe follows analogy. ‘As above, so below’; Man is the microcosm of the Universe. That which takes place on the spiritual plane repeats itself on the Cosmic plane. Concretion follows the lines of abstraction; corresponding to the highest must be the lowest; the material to the spiritual.” (The Secret Doctrine I:177)

“Parabrahm (the One Reality, the Absolute) is the field of Absolute Consciousness,” but when manifested as a material universe “duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object.

(The Secret Doctrine, Vol. 1, p. 15)

“As Above, So Below”

“Spirit (or Consciousness) and Matter are, however, to be regarded, not as independent realities, but as the two facets or aspects of the Absolute (Parabrahm), which constitute the basis of conditioned Being whether subjective or objective.”

Not being separate from the universe, we experience the manifested physical (to us) universe as ruled by the contrasts of day and night, sleeping and waking, hot and cold, evil and good. This construct, says Theffffff Secret Doctrine 1:15, is “necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.”

Sun Rays

“’Universal Mind,’ must not be regarded as even vaguely shadowing forth an intellectual process akin to that exhibited by man. The ‘Unconscious,’ according to von Hartmann, arrived at the vast creative, or rather Evolutionary Plan, ‘by a clairvoyant wisdom superior to all consciousness,’ which in the Vedantic language would mean absolute Wisdom.

Only those who realise how far Intuition soars above the tardy processes of ratiocinative thought can form the faintest conception of that absolute Wisdom which transcends the ideas of Time and Space.

(The Secret Doctrine 1:2) 

Cosmic Substance

“Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as ‘I am I,’ a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity.

“Again, apart from Cosmic Ideation, Cosmic Substance would remain an empty abstraction, and no emergence of consciousness could ensue and “the manifested universe is pervaded by duality, which is, as it were, the very essence of its ex-istence as ‘manifestation.'”

The every intense struggle between the dual channels of our mind is a challenge that few of us are able to successfully navigate and reconcile in one short lifetime.

But help is on the way. The solution has been taught by advanced masters of life such as Lao-tse, Patanjali, Krishna and Buddha. Each assured us that self-awakening is entirely possible — but a daily meditation, raja yoga practice, and above all else, altruistic service to family and humanity is required.

Clairvoyance

The struggle for control in meditation is caused by our split dual consciousness. The mind’s higher spiritual aspect gravitates toward altruism, says Theosophy, while the tides of its companion personal side is attached to outer forms, desires, survival and other material concerns.

The result is that all human minds are often blown by the winds of sense into the low lying eddies and currents of material thought. Like a balloon losing helium, we drift down from the god within us, and away from our kinship with the soul of things. Broadly considered, what is called higher mind is really a feature of our god-soul, our intuitional base: the manifestation all-knowingness in human beings.

Hamlet’s Soliloquy

Our all-seeing self and personal self are caught in a Hamlet-like to-be-or-not-to-be, we are alternately pitted by the gut and brain consciousness, against the knowing heart consciousness. This sets up an confusing conflict between the true god and the demigod in us. Yet, “peace is just a thought away” according to brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor.

Or as H. P. Blavatsky puts it (The Secret Doctrine 1:638):

“The closer the approach to one’s Prototype, ‘in Heaven,’ the better for the mortal whose personality was chosen, by his own personal deity (the seventh principle), as its terrestrial abode.”

For, with every effort of will toward purification and unity with that ‘Self-god,’ one of the lower rays breaks and the spiritual entity of man is drawn higher and ever higher to the ray that supersedes the first.

Taking his clue from Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita, William Q. Judge wrote about this internecine war in his article: “The Self is the friend of SELF and also its enemy.”

This struggle of selves is dramatized by neuroanatomist Bolte-Taylor in her New York Times bestseller “My Stroke of Insight.” As a brain researcher, Dr. Taylor’s professional focus is both anatomical and intuitional, the relationship between the brain’s left and right hemispheres. (See Video below)

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