The Theosophical Society in Australia

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Biography Blavatsky Book Reviews Consciousness Indology Pamphlets Periodicals

Consciousness

 

Selected Publications

BESANT, Annie: A Study in Consciousness: A Contribution to the Science of Psychology, Theosophical Pub. Society UK 1904, 443 pages. For text online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online. An exposition of the evolution of consciousness.

Bhagavad Gita See JUDGE, William Q: Bhagavad Gita recension combined with his Essays on the Gita, TUP 1978 220 pages. Various other translations and commentaries are also available. For texts online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

BLAVATSKY, H.P.: The Voice of the Silence. 1st ed. 1889, other editions since. Complete texts of several editions accessible through Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

This is one of the last works that H. P. Blavatsky wrote before her death in 1891. She states in her Preface that it was derived from The Book of the Golden Precepts forming part of the same series from which the ‘Stanzas’ of the Book of Dzyan were taken and on which The Secret Doctrine is based. See Boris de Zirkoff ‘s informative article, ’How The Voice of the Silence was Written’, The American Theosophist, Nov/Dec 1988, and in the Quest Book Centennial edition, 1992.

In his article de Zirkoff describes The Voice of the Silence as ‘a guide in practical life, a devotional text which would create the proper spiritual atmosphere in the mind of the student and help to transform thought into action, aspirations into compassionate deeds’ and crowning Blavatsky’s ‘previous efforts with thoughts and ideals of enduring spiritual worth, a legacy of both depth and grandeur bequeathed to humanity at large.’

BUCKE, Richard Maurice: Cosmic Consciousness: A Study in the Evolution of the Human Mind, EP Dutton and Co NY 1901, 384 pages

A classic study of human consciousness experience that was a landmark in its time and is still of interest. Its theme has implications for humanity’s potential to achieve a higher level of consciousness. Bucke defines cosmic consciousness as “a higher form of consciousness than that possessed by the ordinary man”. He himself had an experience in which he considered he entered into such a state: “[He] found himself wrapped by a flame-coloured cloud … he knew that the light was within himself. Directly after there came upon him a sense of exultation, of immense joyousness, accompanied or immediately followed by an intellectual illumination impossible to describe”. He remained profoundly impressed for the rest of his life.

Bucke’s experience inspired him to investigate others who had similar experiences, and to amass accounts from a wide range of individuals — some historical, some contemporary. This book contains thirty-six case histories of such experiences. He also explored this ‘cosmic consciousness’ from a scientific viewpoint and developed a theory based on evolution to explain it. He considered that the human race would be enhanced by the gradual development of this new kind of consciousness far in advance of ordinary self-consciousness.

Richard Bucke had practically no formal schooling but educated himself to become a leading medical doctor, specialising in mental health. He was a leader in this field and his compassionate and humane methods of treatment were ahead of his time. He held leading positions in the teaching and administration of mental health, culminating in his election as President of the Psychological Section of the British Medical Association in 1888, and President of the American Medico-Psychological Association in 1890.

CHATTERJI, Mohini M: Viveka-Cudamani or Crest-Jewel of Wisdom. See SANKARACHARYA.

Crest–Jewel of Wisdom (Viveka-Chudamani). See SANKARACHARYA.

HANSON, Virginia (ed): Approaches to Meditation, Quest TPH Wheaton USA 1976, 147 pages

Contributions with a wide range of approaches. Joy Mills notes in the introductory chapter:

“In presenting this compilation of articles …. our endeavour has been to cast some light upon the processes and disciplines of meditational procedures. In many of the articles it is pointed out that meditation involves the totality of an individual’s life and activities”.

HAO CHIN Jr, Vicente: The Process of Self-Transformation: mastery of the self
and awakening of our higher potentials
, TPH Philippines, 2003

This self-transformation process is a spiritual approach to dealing with psychological conflicts that hinder our capacity to live more fully and to have more meaningful relationships. These conflicts may also prevent the deepening of spiritual practices. Four areas are covered and each contains exercises to help their exploration. They are:

The book is based on the outcome of Self-Transformation Seminars that Vicente Hao Chin Jr has been conducting in many countries including the UK, Australia, India, Philippines, Singapore, Pakistan and Malaysia. He is President of The Theosophical Society in the Philippines and editor of Theosophical Digest. He has also initiated the establishment of schools in the Philippines that aim for integration of self-transformation and academic learning.

HOELLER, Stephen: Gnosticism: New Light on the Ancient Tradition of Inner Knowing, Quest Books TPH Wheaton 2002, 256 pages:

From the author’s Preface:

‘This book is a concise and sympathetic presentation of the teachings and spiritual ambience of the Gnostic tradition. .... The title describes it as containing insights into a tradition. This is intended not as a mere figure of speech, for Gnosticism is truly a tradition and not a mere collection of ideas, myths and symbols that may be interpreted according to any whim or opinion. What we have here is a full-blown tradition with its definite worldview, its scriptures, its mystery rites, its priesthoods, and its spiritual lineage. If Gnosticism were purely a form of spontaneously motivated spirituality, unmediated by tradition, there would be no need for a book such as this....

The book is not primarily a work of academic scholarship .... it aspires to serve as an introduction to the subject’.

There is also a range of illustrations and designs.

INDICH, William M: Consciousness in Advaita Vedanta, Motilal Banarsidass India 1980, 144 pages

Indich presents a systematic, critical and comparative study of the nature of human awareness according to classical Indian thought. In particular, he focuses on the nature of consciousness according to Advaita Vedanta. In this system, he says, the study of consciousness is the study of human awareness. However, it holds that human awareness also encompasses transcendental consciousness, or the realisation of the identity of human consciousness with all existence. In describing the Advaitic philosophical system Indich analyses its vision of waking, dream and dreamless sleep experiences, comparing this analysis with Western thinkers such as Freud and Jung. He provides an extensive bibliography.

William M. Indich has a PhD in Comparative Philosophy from the University of Hawaii and has been a student of Asian philosophy for many years.

JAMES, William: The Varieties of Religious Experience — a study in human nature, Longmans, Green & Co. UK 2nd ed. 1902, 534 pages.

An exploration of the characteristics of the religious life.

JUDGE, William Q: BHAGAVAD-GITA Recension combined with his Essays on the Gita, Theosophical University Press 1978, 220 pages. Various other translations and commentaries are also available. For text online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

The Bhagavad Gita, an episode of the Mahabharata, has introduced many to the profound wisdom of Hindu philosophy.

William Judge was one of the founders, in 1875, of The Theosophical Society. He was a serious student and encouraged others to investigate and experience a broad spiritual perspective. He recognised the value of the Bhagavad Gita but he also saw the need for a non-academic exposition of its doctrines. To this end, during 1887-8 and 1895-6 he published in The Path, his monthly magazine, a series of illuminating essays exploring its philosophy. His Recension appeared in 1890.

KAFATOS, Menas and KAFATOU, Tahlia: Looking In Seeing Out: Consciousness and Cosmos, Quest Books TPH Wheaton USA 1991, 290 pages

From the Introduction:

“The present work can be distinguished from many popular books which attempt to prove fundamental connections between modern physics and philosophical, religious systems. Quantum theory says nothing about consciousness. It only shows the inadequacy of the scientific paradigm to obtain a complete picture of the universe which must include the role of the consciousness of the observers. Modern physics shows the need for synthesis but does not accomplish that synthesis. We do not attempt to show that quantum theory is evolving towards Eastern philosophies or that Eastern philosophies are becoming more valid because of the findings of Western science. Our position is that physics does not need mysticism for support, and neither does mysticism need physics for validation. Rather the two are complementary.”

In pursuing this end the authors examine what modern science says about the nature of the universe. They look at what they term “the metaphysical science of consciousness”. They also examine the synthesis between physical science and metaphysical science, saying that such a synthesis cannot ignore the individual human being and his or her place in the universe. All great philosophers and sages, they say, “have urged humans to look within themselves. On this internal level the synthesis is consummated: everything one is looking for is within. The outer universe is then seen to be what it really is — a projection of consciousness (looking in seeing out). Moreover individual consciousness is seen as identical to universal Consciousness.”

Menas Kafatos has a PhD in physics from MIT. He teaches and researches astrophysics and quantum theory and is an author of several publications. Thalia Kafatou has a PhD in computer science and management information systems. Both are serious students of a variety of philosophical systems.

LASZLO, Ervin: Science and the Akashic Field: An Integral Theory of Everything, Inner Traditions USA 2nd ed 2007, 194 pages

From Laszlo’s Introduction:

“In this book I discuss the origins and essential elements of the worldview now emerging at the cutting edge of the new sciences. I explore why and how it is surfacing in physics and in cosmology, in the biological sciences, and in the new field of consciousness research. Then I highlight the crucial feature of the emerging worldview: the revolutionary discovery that at the roots of reality there is not just matter and energy, but also a more subtle but equally fundamental factor, one that we can best describe as active and effective information: ‘in-formation’.

‘In-formation’, I claim, links all things in the universe, atoms as well as galaxies, organisms the same as minds. This discovery transforms the fragmented world-concept of the mainstream sciences into an integral, holistic worldview. It opens the way toward the elaboration of a theory that has been much discussed but until recently has not been truly achieved: an integral theory not just of one kind of things, but of all kinds — an integral theory of everything.

[This] would bring us closer to understanding the real nature of all the things that exist and evolve in space and time …. It gives us an encompassing and yet scientific view of ourselves and of the world; a view that we very much need in these times of accelerating change and mounting disorientation”.

In Part One Laszlo sets out the foundations of his theory and explains how information “connects everything to everything else”. In Part Two, he further explores his idea of the ‘in-formed universe’ including how the Akashic field concept fits into the picture.

LASZLO, Ervin: Science and the Reenchantment of the Cosmos: The Rise of the Integral Vision of Reality, Inner Traditions USA 2006, 217 pages

Laszlo again takes up the issues he explores in the book described above. He explains his theory that physical and spiritual reality are two faces of one coherent whole. The reenchantment of the cosmos as a coherent, integral whole comes from the latest discoveries in the natural sciences, but the basic concept is not new, it is, he says, as old as civilisation. In this book Laszlo also explores the concept of the Akashic Field and its potential.

He then expands the consideration of pertinent issues in the section titled ‘The Re-Union of Science and Spirituality’ by including chapters from leading thinkers. These include Jane Goodall, Stanislav Grof, Christian de Quincey and others from the fields of psychology, metaphysics, biology, mathematics, philosophy, economics, religion, education and conservation, etc. Together they consider how “this integral vision of reality may be restored to humanity so that it may see itself as a coherent part of a coherent world … a conscious part … a being through which the cosmos comes to know itself”.

Ervin Laszlo has a Ph.D. from the Sorbonne, four honorary Ph.Ds and numerous awards, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 and 2005. Among other things he is a former professor of philosophy, systems theory, and futures studies and founder and President of the information think tank The Club of Budapest. He has written 74 books that have been translated into 20 languages.

PATANJALI: The Yoga Aphorisms [or Sutras] of Patanjali, William Q Judge interpretation, Theosophy Company CA 1889/1930, 74 pages. Various other translations also available. For texts online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

RINPOCHE, Samdhong: Buddhist Meditation, TPH Adyar India 1988, 117 pages; 2nd ed. 2007, 172 pages

Meditation, says Samdhong Rinpoche, is the instrument that we need in order to search for that which is yet beyond ourselves. In the book he discusses issues that arise from essential questions: Why do we meditate? What is meditation? What is its result? He considers aspects such as preparation; technique; potential impediments; the goal. Continuing with the practice of meditation will produce changes in the body, in the mind, and in awareness. Commenting on the potential power of mediation and its contribution to alleviating misery in the universe he says: “If we can do little at present, we can [at least] build up the power of the mind because it is the mightiest power in the universe, for everything was and is created by it. This power cannot be disturbed or challenged by material powers because they themselves are only a by-product of the power of mind. Therefore the powers of compassion and wisdom are much stronger than the powers of ignorance and hatred”.

The publication is based on talks given at the 1982 School of the Wisdom, The Theosophical Society, Adyar in India. The chapters include questions and answers that followed each talk.

Samdhong Rinpoche, a life member of The Theosophical Society, is Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government-in-Exile. From infancy he was given the rigorous religious and philosophical training suitable for an incarnated lama in Tibet.

SANKARACHARYA: The Crest Jewel of Wisdom (Vivekachudamani). Translation by Charles JOHNSTON, John M Watkins London 1964, 104 pages. There are also versions by other translators. For text online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

The Crest Jewel of Wisdom has been described as ‘a practical and inspiring guide to life’. It starts, says Johnston, with the first steps on the path and ends with the complete teaching of Sankara’s philosophy ‘so far as that teaching can be put into words’.

See also other translations, eg, by Mohini M. CHATTERJI: Viveka-Cudamani, TPH Adyar 1932, 228 pages, and translation and commentaries by Ernest WOOD: The Pinnacle of Indian Thought — Crest Jewel of Discrimination, Quest Wheaton 1967, 161 pages. For various texts online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

SMITH, E. Lester: Inner Adventures: Thought, Intuition and Beyond, Quest Books TPH Wheaton USA 1988, 233 pages:

Lester Smith examines the anatomy, function and activities of the brain; as well as memory, thinking and various levels of consciousness. In trying to understand nature and life he says that they cannot be constrained in relatively simple hypotheses. The whole truth lies beyond any mental processes and can only be apprehended in mystical understanding. Each chapter in the book is an independent essay on some facet of the overall theme. The scientific and philosophical chapters lead to those that are a brief guide to the spiritual life. Lester Smith covers a wide range: mystical and higher states of consciousness, intuition, dreaming, brain rhythms, bio-feedback, information processing, mind-brain interface, etc.

SMITH, E. Lester (ed) with revisions by Patrick MILBURN: Intelligence Came First: Life and Mind in the Field of Cosmic Consciousness, Quest TPH Wheaton 2nd ed 1990, 221 pages:

Originally published in 1975, this book is the outcome of research by a group of individuals well-qualified in science and with much of the material drafted by the editor. In this 2nd edition Patrick Milburn, a philosophical biologist, significantly revised or eliminated some chapters, added others, and incorporated further important scientific material. Smith, who also extensively rewrote his contribution, noted that “each of us wholly approves the contributions of the other”.

The researchers start from the premise that consciousness is a fact of nature, since it is a universal experience, and then hypothesise that intelligence is primal and that the cosmos is grounded in, and pervaded by, Intelligence. They refute traditional scientific theory that promotes the role of ‘blind’ matter and blind chance in the universe. They examine and interpret various scientific approaches to this complex issue.

E. Lester Smith has a D.Sc. and has won many honours, including being appointed Fellow of the Royal Society for his discovery of the benefits of vitamin B12.

SRI RAM, N: Consciousness: Its Nature and Action, Blavatsky Lecture 1964.

For text online see Links to Theosophical Texts Online.

SRI RAM, N: The Way of Wisdom. A collection of unrevised transcripts of talks given during 1956-64 on At the Feet of the Master, Light on the Path, The Voice of the Silence and the Bhagavad Gita. TPH Adyar 1989, 372 pages.

TSONG-KHA-PA: The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, The Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee (ed), Snow Lion Publications NY 3 vols.

Descriptions below are from the volumes’ covers.

Tsong-Kha-Pa completed this work in 1402 and it soon became one of the most renowned works of spiritual practice and philosophy in the world of Tibetan Buddhism. He based his insights on the classical Indian Buddhist literature, illustrating his points with classical citations as well as with sayings of the masters of the earlier Kadampa tradition. The text demonstrates how Tibetan Buddhism carefully preserved and developed Indian Buddhist traditions.

Vol 1, 2000, 434 pages: establishes that the central focus of the text is the development of the spirit of enlightenment, the heart of the Mahayana tradition. All the practices that are prerequisite for developing the spirit of enlightenment are covered here;

Vol 2, 2004, 295 pages: the heart of the Great Treatise. This covers the spirit of enlightenment and the deeds of the bodhisattvas;

Vol 3, 2002, 447 pages: contains a presentation of the two most important topics to be found in the Great Treatise — meditative serenity and supramundane insight into the nature of reality.

van den BROEK, Roelof and HANEGRAAFF, Wouter J (eds): Gnosis and Hermeticism: from antiquity to modern times, State Uni. of N.Y. Press 1998, 402 pages

The editors aim to meet a need for scholarly, empirical and historical research into what has been called the ‘third component of Western culture’ — i.e. those religious traditions that have rejected a world-view based on the primacy of either pure rationality or doctrinal faith. This third aspect emphasises instead the importance of inner enlightenment or gnosis: a revelatory experience which is typically believed to entail an encounter with one’s true self as well as with the ‘ground of being’, God. To this end, contributors to this book demonstrate this perspective as fundamental to a variety of interconnected traditions.

The book originated as lectures given at the Amsterdam Summer University in 1994 and contributions from the various authors have been arranged to produce a chronological consideration of main aspects. These selections from the Table of Contents indicate the scope: Gnosticism and Hermeticism in antiquity; Manichaeism; A Christian Gnostic text; Reading from Nag Hammadi Codex VI.6; the Cathars; music and the Hermetic tradition; Romanticism and the Esoteric connection; Christian theosophic literature of 17th & 18th centuries; William Blake and his Gnostic myths; New Age movement and the esoteric tradition.

The editors are distinguished scholars in religion, esotericism and Western culture, and have authored various publications.

Viveka-Chudamani (Crest-Jewel of Wisdom) — see SANKARACHARYA.

WOLMAN, Benjamin B. and ULLMAN, Montague (eds): Handbook of States of Consciousness, Van Nostrand Reinhold Co NY 1986, 672 pages

The editors present wide-ranging research into states of consciousness covering diverse approaches and different viewpoints. Apart from their own contributions there are articles from more than twenty leading authorities in the disciplines of neurology, medicine, psychology, psychiatry, consciousness studies, sleep research, etc. The subjects covered include parapsychology, meditation, dreams, hypnosis, mysticism, drug addiction, sensory deprivation, biofeedback and altered states of consciousness. These aspects are explored in three major areas, namely, theory, manifestations and applications, their neurological corollaries, and related issues.

Benjamin B. Wolman was a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst. He is a celebrated editor and author of noted publications. Montague Ullman was a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York. He is also a celebrated author.

WOOD, Ernest: The Pinnacle of Indian Thought — see SANKARACHARYA.

 


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