Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

A new branch of activity has been started in Chicago in the form of an “extension centre." A circular has been issued to the members asking for their assistance and for suggestions as to fresh work. The correspondence committee consists of the following members: Mrs. Darling, Dr. Mary Weekes Burnett, Mrs. Tisdale, Mrs. Brainard and Mrs. Trumbull. Mr. Fullerton acts as councillor.

The Lodges carry on their usual activities, lectures being regularly delivered, but little detailed information has been received.

AUSTRALASIAN SECTION.

It is finally settled that the Second Convention is to be held in Melbourne at Easter, and the decision is regarded with general favour. It is felt that the claims of Melbourne were undeniably the first to be considered, and the other Branches have been content to wait. The idea of holding the convention at each of the larger centres of Theosophic activity in rotation is welcomed by all. Where distances are so great, it is only fair that each Branch should liave its chance of receiving the other delegates.

In regard to the business to be transacted, the chief item on the agenda paper will be the consideration of the Report of the Committee for the Revision of the Constitution.

It is rumoured that the General Secretary will apply at Convention for six months' leave of absence in order to attend to business at home; but the date of his departure is not settled. It is possible that he may return by way of San Francisco and New York, so as to make acquaintance with the American members.

The Countess Wachtmeister is now in Tasmania. Mr. H. A. Wilson is accompanying her, and is most efficient in assisting her in the work she is carrying on.

The following report comes from Auckland, New Zealand :

At the present time Miss Edger is paying a visit to the branches and isolated members in the southern portion of the colony. So far

her trip has been successful, and, upon the whole, her visit is likely to be of use.

Since last mail the following public efforts have been made: on Sunday evening, Jan. 5th, Mrs. Draffin lectured upon “Revolution of Orthodoxy, or Peace on earth and Goodwill to all men.” On Jan. 17.th, at the open Lodge meeting, C. W. Sanders read a paper upon Thought, Thought-forms and Karma.” On Sunday evening, Jan. 19th, Mrs. Draffin lectured upon “ Brotherhood and the Service of Man."

INDIAN SECTION. The chief Indian activities to be chronicled are the lectures and other work of Mrs. Besant, most of her work, however, consisting of correspondence and the preparation of articles for publication. A lecture against vivisection was delivered for the Calcutta Anti-Vivisection Society. The other lectures in Calcutta were on “ The Way to Liberation,” and “ Education as a Factor in National Life,” Mrs. Besant afterwards leaving for Benares, to take up the usual round of receptions and correspondence.

EUROPEAN SECTION. Mr. Mead's lectures on “The Lives and Teachings of the Later Platonists” at the Pioneer Club have proved very successful, the audiences attending those already delivered having displayed much interest in the subject.

The complete syllabus is as follows:

Feb. 14th, “ Alexandria and her Schools.” Feb. 21st, “ Plotinus, the Saint; Porphyry, the Philosopher; Ecstasis.” Feb. 28th, “Jamblichus; On the Mysteries; Theurgy.” March 6th, “Julian, the EmperorPhilosopher; and his Teachers.” March 13th, “Sosipatra, the Seeress: Hypatia, the Orator: and the Women Disciples." March 20th, " Proclus, the World-Priest; the Conclusion of the Whole Matter."

In February Mr. Leadbeater visited the groups in the south-west of England, holding private meeting and giving lectures at Bristol, Piymouth, Tavistock, and Exeter.

An excellent report comes from Holland, which has always been one of the most active of Continental countries. A new centre has been forined in Haarlem by Mynheer van Manen. Twenty-three persons were present at the opening meeting, and a lecture was delivered by Mynheer W. B. Fricke. A syllabus has been arranged for fortnightly meetings.

The meetings at the Dutch Lodge have been proceeding with the usual success, lectures being delivered every week.

[ocr errors]

CORRESPONDENCE.

APOLOGIA FIDEI CHRISTIANORUM. Will you kindly allow me to make a protest, which I know expresses the feelings not only of the writer, but of others also who are attracted by the interest of Theosophical studies ?

Those of us who are Christians by conviction object to have our creed credited with all the stupid and irrational accretions with which uneducated Protestantism has saddled it, and also with what we consider the unfounded assertions with which the Roman Church has sought to make an outwork for its citadel. It seems, for instance, absurd to us that enlightened and educated Christians should be held to believe in a New Jerusalem of literal gold and jewels, in a heaven of golden harps and a hell of flaming coals, and quite as absurd as this, that we should be credited with a system which makes either doing rightly or believing rightly a mere bargain for securing eternal liappiness for ourselves.

It is sufficient to disprove such a view as the last I have mentioned, to point to the teaching of the old Church collects. Take for example a fifth-century collect, slightly altered in our prayer book. “ Give to us the increase of faith, hope and charity, and that we may obtain what thou dost promise, make us to love that which thou dost command.” "Obtain" is in the original “may be worthy to attain"; the thing promised is not eternal happiness, but faith, hope and charity, which are to be attained by learning to love duty. Surely those who would read the notion of a bargain into such a passage as this are not altogether unprejudiced.

Yet such are the sort of ideas which a good many of the writers of Lucifer have ever since its starting associated with what we consider the noble name of Christianity.

Perhaps it may lead to enlightenment in non-Christian minds if I try to answer the question as to what, as a Christian and a student of Theosophy, I consider Christianity to mean.

I hold Christ, the one and only Master of Christians, to have founded a society of initiates, in which the conditions of initiation were entirely moral, and founded upon the right direction of the affections. Baptism was the appointed ceremony for admission into this society; confirmation in its original form) conferred the use of occult powers ; ordination carried on the succession of its heads; the Lord's Supper provided the members with a ceremony of personal union with their Master, and dead and living worked together under him at the same great work. The object of the society was the gradual reclamation of the outside world, and within it there were special spiritual privileges not to be found outside it, intended to enable its members to keep their spiritual flame burning at a temperature capable of carrying on their appointed work outside. This did not imply that the outside world was to go to hell: on the contrary, Christ taught that the outside world - the com-were to be judged by their success or failure in the performance of the ordinary duties of humanity.

One thing holds a very different place in the Christian scheme from what it does in the 'Theosophical scheme, and that is prayer. It is impossible not to believe that Christ prayed a great deal, and that he taught his followers to pray. In one case of obsession he said that prayer was the only method of dealing with it. I conclude that Theosophists would look on prayer simply as a method of

a directing thought-power to the object desired, but it seems to me that Christ's use of it added to this a special training of the affections -an affectionate dependence upon “the Father," who was to him certainly not the First Principle without attributes or predicates which metaphysics present to us-and an equally affectionate care and tenderness for our fellow-creatures, in whom he taught us to see his ideal latent.

I would suggest to non-Christians that those who have not tried what Christian prayer is in their own persons cannot possibly judge of its power on the spiritual plane, any more than, as they say, those who do not know how to use “mantrams” can judge of their power on the astral plane.

The relation of Christ to the members of his society is less a question for outsiders than for insiders, and I will therefore only remark that St. Augustine, St. Anselm, and the theologians of the schools and the Reformation seem between them to have produced a body of opinion on the subject usually known as the atonement, which reflects more credit on the industry of the human intellect than on its spiritual insight, and that those who wish to study this point had better go back to the original documents and study it from them. But that there is a truth underlying the theological statement no Christian who has developed his spiritual life on Christian lines can possibly doubt.

In conclusion, I should like to add that to me the special value of Theosophy is that it throws, as it were, side-lights upon the great edifice, not of popular Christianity, but of what seems to thoughtful and enlightened Christian people to have been the Christianity of

we

Christ. One or two Theosophists, notably Mrs. Besant, seem to realize that Christ is to Christians an actual and living Master, and I am sure we are endlessly grateful for any fresh light which she brings to us on the "how" of our religion, though the “why" can only be spiritually attainable to the insight of the individual. But wish that other Theosophists would respect our Christian susceptibilities as she does.

A CHRISTIAN STUDENT OF THEOSOPHY. [We were somewhat at a loss to understand what had called out the above protest from our correspondent. Further correspondence, however, has elicited the fact that the paper entitled “Letters to a Catholic Priest " is the offending document.

LUCIFER is entirely impartial in the matter, being neither Christian nor anti-Christian in his proclivities : at the same time our correspondent should be informed that the writer of the paper referred to has spent a long life as a student of theology in both the Protestant and Catholic schools, and is intimately acquainted with the religious life.

It certainly is absurd to imagine that the “ enlightened and educated” members of the Christian religion should believe in a “New Jerusalem of literal gold and jewels,” or in that long list of crude dogmas which have been stigmatized by the enlightened members of the Christian faith as the Calvinistic and other “ heresies.”

And pleased as we should be to accept the statement of our correspondent as an authoritative definition of “ Christianity," we cannot but believe that the vast majority even of the “enliglıtened and educated” members of the Church would reject such a definition. If it were otherwise, there would be no need of Theosophy; but as it is, the laying down of such definitions is simply the ne plus ultra of individualism, where every member of the community arrogates to himself the right of definition of a common faith, a position which destroys the entire idea of an authoritative Church.

The question of prayer is one on which Theosophical students have very various opinions; there is a vast difference between " prayer" itself and an analysis of the various " forms" of prayer ; and, of course, it goes without saying that the contrast of prayer and mantra and the spiritual and astral plane is a petitio principii of the most mixed kind.

We have, not, however, any intention of entering on a discussion with a correspondent whose paragraphıs lend themselves so easily to controversial treatment.-Ed.]

« AnteriorContinua »