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AROUND THE TABLE
REAKFAST with the Family is usually anything but a household gathering. The exigencies of Doctor's profession seldom permit him to breakfast with the rest; and the other members of the Family are so busy these days that their orbits often do not touch until after mid-day. Doctor preaches hygienic eating, but his own morning habit is to "eat and run". This bright June morning, however, he was lingering over a newspaper before starting on his round of hospital patients; Mother, Spinster and Mentor, breakfasting together for once, were talking over their plans for the day. "Well, what's the news, Father?" asked Spinster, as Doctor laid his paper down on the table with a slap of decision.
"Most interesting, child, most interesting", chuckled Doctor, "a serious crisis is at hand! A lady from Hollywood writes a letter of protest because some folks out there are going to give a pageant on the 'Light of Asia': shouldn't be permitted in this Christian. land-and all that sort of thing."
"Really, Father?" asked Spinster. "But of course, you're joking", she smilingly added. "That kind of intolerance doesn't exist nowadays, especially in California."
Doctor picked up his paper again with a little snort of dissent. "Don't make any mistake, child", he remarked. “That kind of intolerance' does exist-and in California, too, as this letter proves. The ignorance and superstition that give birth to intolerance also exist, as the letter likewise demonstrates. For a lady who writes reasonably good English this correspondent seems about as illinformed as is possible-and rather proud of it at that. Why will people rush into print, Mentor, in regard to matters they know nothing about?"
"Isn't it upon just such matters that human nature most plumes itself for its wisdom", answered Mentor with the utmost innocence of expression. "Seems to me I heard you declaring yourself quite emphatically last evening over modern methods of taxation and admitting before you finished that you had made no real study of taxation, further than to pay your rates.”
There was a general laugh at this, in which Doctor heartily joined. "But I didn't rush into print over it", he declared, tapping the newspaper with his surgeon's fore-finger, "and advertise my ignorance to an appreciative world. Just let me read you this letter", he continued, "I've got a few minutes yet, and I'd like to hear your comments on it. Have I your permission, Mother?" with a glance at the head of the table. "All right, just listen to this" -and then he read the following:
THE "LIGHT OF ASIA."
HOLLYWOOD, June 20.—[To the Editor of The Times.] Kindly give me the same space you allot to the mention of the “Light of Asia," to the production of which as a Christian
woman I wish to register my objections. The men and women
In India twenty-seven centuries of Buddhism have resulted in sorrow and hopelessness. Less than one woman in a hundred in India can read; there is more suffering all the time among women and children than on the battlefields of Europe. The ladder of Buddhism with its top lost in the clouds of many future existences rests at the base on the woman and chief. Yet some sheltered women in this country, perhaps from lack of other occupation actually embrace this heathen doctrine to the exclusion of the gentle, simple faith of their forefathers. Are we to encourage, if not by our presence, at least by our silence, the propagandists of an ancient heathen cult and perhaps see our sons and daughters forsake the Light of the World for the light of Asia?
Doctor paused a moment, and then added, "She signs her name and gives her address, wants to go on record evidently as 'a Christian woman'-to show her Christian charity and Christ-like toleration and love, I suppose."
"That's not nice, Doctor", said Mother warmly. "The letter bespeaks a great deal of self-righteousness, of course, but she meant well enough and we've no right at all to criticise her personally, have we, Mentor?"
"Certainly not", was the answer. "That's the way with so many of us", turning to the Doctor, "we have such a personal way of criticising anything and everything. We might look on all these people as minds, and then we would find it easier to 'judge the act, and not the person'."
"That's right", agreed Doctor, with a regretful sigh. "I know these things, but I'm so apt to revert to the old habits of thought and speech. Almost glad I said it though", he added with a rueful smile, "for now I'll be on guard all day.'
"But we can consider the letter itself, can't we, Mentor", asked Spinster, "without violating the admonition 'judge not'? That would not be condemning any person, would it?"
"Certainly not, my dear", answered Mentor gently. "We can consider the statements and acts of individuals impersonally, as expressions of different minds, and thus gain further experience and discrimination. But passing judgment on persons, as such, or giving vent to personal condemnation, never will get us anywhere in the line of spiritual understanding or growth. Certainly it violates the ethics of Jesus, which are in no wise different from those enunciated by Buddha, or any other spiritual Teacher.
"But to consider the letter: this writer first seems to refer to 'Asia' as 'India'. Asia is a great continent of which India is
only a single country-and the letter shows a misapprehension even in that minor detail. Again, the writer assumes that Buddhism is the religion of India when such is not the fact. The people of India have many theologies, almost as many as have the 'Christians' of America. In fact India contains something like three hundred different sects, among which the followers of the teachings of Buddha are almost as rare as actual followers of Jesus among Christians.”
"But the letter calls our country a 'Christian Nation'", remarked Mother, as Mentor paused a moment. "Isn't that position quite unwarranted by the facts?"
"It certainly is", was the answer. "Why, the most casual consideration of the facts of our boasted civilization will prove that our nation is not Christian-in its social life, its politics, its laws or its commercial basis. We have taken the old Mosaic tradition of ‘an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth', and made it the basis of our conduct, national and individual. That surely is not Christian, if 'Christianity' means the teachings of the Christ. This writer states that twenty-seven centuries of Buddhism in India have resulted in sorrow and hopelessness-meaning, I presume, the theologies and theological practices and customs of the peoples of India; but it is equally true that twenty centuries of theology among so-called Christians have not brought unity, happiness or freedom from crime and bloodshed. It is also true that practically all the ‘Christian' nations of the world are now engaged in a war unequalled in history for its brutish cruelty and appalling ferocity-in fact Germany is a 'Christian nation'!"
"Again, the letter mentions the 'simple faith' of our forefathers. That 'simple faith', remember, instigated the Inquisition, drove the Pilgrims and Puritans to our shores, and then supplied the basis for even those fleeing refugees to establish their own cruel persecutions in New England for all who did not agree with them. It is interesting that the 'revelation' of 'Christianity' depends upon a number of isolated and conflicting manuscripts, writers unknown, and found by nobody knows whom. These were translated-often incorrectly, as repeated revisions demonstrate-and called the 'Bible' or 'Word of God'. And yet none of the Bible readers or believers really know anything about its truth or its origin; while if they believe all that is included in it, they are believing statements that are mutually contradictory. What kind of intelligence is that?"
"The phrase in the letter that amuses me most”, said Doctor, with a chuckle, is that 'ancient heathen cult'."
"Yes, that is amusing", agreed Mentor, "a naive touch of human nature. The Buddhists call us heathen, and we 'Christians' call them heathen. Everybody whose theology is different from our 'ology' is a heathen, of course-and that settles it! But, our 'sons and daughters', as this writer fears, are beginning to break the moulds of superstition and ignorance, are beginning to apply to matters religious the same keen intelligence that we give to other de
partments of life; and the great hope for America lies in this fact. We shall come to see that the teachings of Buddha and the teachings of Jesus are in no wise different; that all great Teachers down the ages have taught the same doctrine-the ancient Wisdom-Religion, the truth about all things. We will realize that our theological differences are due to the interpreters and their different interpretations that we have accepted-never to the Teachers, the many Christs, for these always taught and demonstrated the unity of all truth and of all beings. And then will we refuse interpreter and interpretation alike, and seek the Source, the God within. That is the 'Path' of Buddha and the 'Way' of Jesus-the quest of the great ones of all ages. The Kingdom of Heaven is within you’. 'Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven'. These words attributed to Jesus are the admonition of all true Teachers down the ages-Jesus, Those who preceded Him, Those who came after Him. These beings all have taught the same old Wisdom-Religion. It is called 'Theosophy' today; it was called by other names at other times; the teaching is always the same, whatever the language, the parables, the terminology, the name."
Doctor looked at his watch and hurried for the door, picking up his hat and bag en route for the garage.
"What do you think about this pageant anyway, Mentor", asked Mother, rising from the table.
"Oh, I don't think anything about it at all", said Mentor, with a smile. "It seems like a rather unnecessary expenditure of effort these days, when there is so much real work to be done, both outward and in the spreading of true ideas. But we have nothing to do with it, and it is none of our business."
"Isn't that just so", declared Spinster. "If we only attend to that which is distinctly our own business, we won't have any time or inclination to criticise others for doing what they see to do, will we?"
SECRET DOCTRINE TEACHINGS*
The idea of Absolute Unity would be broken entirely in our conception, had we not something concrete before our eyes to contain that Unity. And the deity being absolute, must be omnipresent, hence not an atom but contains IT within itself. The roots, the trunk and its many branches are three distinct objects, yet they are one tree.
From the Original Edition Vol. I, pp. 58, 59; see Vol. I, p. 89, Third Edition.
THE AWAKENING TO THE SELF*
SHANKARACHARYA'S ATMA BODHA.
HIS awakening to the Self is recorded for those whose inner darkness has been worn away by strong effort, who have reached restfulness, from whom passion has departed, who seek perfect Freedom.
. Among all causes, wisdom is the only cause of perfect Freedom; as cookery without fire, so perfect Freedom cannot be accomplished without wisdom.
Works cannot destroy unwisdom, as these two are not contraries; but wisdom destroys unwisdom, as light the host of darkness. At first wrapped in unwisdom, when unwisdom is destroyed the pure Self shines forth of itself, like the radiant sun when the clouds have passed.
When life that was darkened by unwisdom is made clear by the coming of wisdom, unwisdom sinks away of itself, as when water is cleared by astringent juice.
This world is like a dream, crowded with loves and hates; in its own time it shines like a reality; but on awakening it becomes unreal.
This passing world shines as real, like the silver imagined in a pearl-shell, as long as the Eternal is not known, the secondless substance of all.
In the real conscious Self, the all-penetrating everlasting pervader, all manifested things exist, as all bracelets exist in gold.
Just like the ether, the Lord of the senses, the Radiant, clothed in many vestures, seems divided because these are divided, but is beheld as one when the vestures are destroyed.
Through this difference of vesture, race, name, and home are attributed to the Self, as difference of taste and color to pure water.
Built up of fivefold-mingled elements through accumulated works is the physical vesture, the place where pleasure and pain are tasted.
Holding the five life-breaths, mind, reason, and the ten perceiving and acting powers, formed of unmingled elements, is the subtle vesture, the instrument of enjoyment.
Formed through the beginningless, ineffable error of separateness, is the causal vesture. One should hold the Self to be different from these three vestures.
In the presence of the five veils, the pure Self seems to share their nature; like a crystal in the presence of blue tissues.
The pure Self within should be wisely discerned from the veils that surround it, as rice by winnowing, from husk and chaff.
Though ever all-present, the Self is not everywhere clearly beheld; let it shine forth in pure reason like a reflection in a pure mirror.
This article was printed by Wm. Q. Judge in the Oriental Department pipers, July,