(a NEW Q&A grouping)

Compiler's note: This Question & Answer department ran in THEOSOPHY magazine from November 1947 to November 1951. If it turns out to be in every monthly issue, it will end up being a total of 49 articles. I'll keep listing the dates of the latest ones that I've scanned, numbering them as I go along. If I run into a month here and there where it wasn't run, I'll point it out. So far the first 27 articles (inclusive of the 7-page additional article that I added at the end of number 10, July 1948; and the 2-page additional article that I added after the first Q&A in number 19, April 1949) were scanned from a total of 88 pages in the magazine, which is an average of 3.3 pages per article. Once I finish proofreading an article, the link will appear. As of this moment there are (27) finished articles.

All of the articles have the same Department name; there are no sub-titles. So to try and be somewhat helpful to the reader, who might want to come back, or point to, or provide the link to, any particular article on this index page, as I proofread each one, and come to know the questions being asked and answered, I will list only the questions next to each date and link, hoping that this will be enough to help the reader to find and get back to the article whenever desired and/or necessary.

(1) The Asking of Questions [1-page Introductory article]

(2) November 1947 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) What shouldn't theosophists talk about? (2) Let's have a working definition of compromise. Seems to me that physical existence is a compromise from the start. (3) I'm always hearing people talk about the dangers of having the "blues." Isn't it natural to oscillate emotionally from time to time? Why should this be "dangerous"? (4) When the children of theosophists do not want to become theosophists, what then?]

(3) December 1947 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) It is said that evolution begins at the top. Now, if Theosophy is ever going to get anywhere in "breaking the mold of men's minds," it ought somehow to be brought to the attention of the leaders of the world. How is this going to come about? (2) It is sometimes quoted that the Brahmin, the outcaste and the cow are regarded equally by the wise man. How far is it wise to make no distinctions, when a perfected discrimination is supposed to be the fruit of wisdom? (3) What about race prejudice? Where does the theosophist stand on that question? I should think we would be leading the fight against it. Doesn't the first Object clearly specify no distinctions of race? (4) Since movies seem to be here to stay, why don't we accept them, then, and emphasize some of their good points for a change?]

(4) January 1948 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Current newspapers often carry accounts of fatalities among children and young people resulting from what used to be no more than harmless family "spats." One girl was accidentally killed with scissors thrown by her sister in a squabble over clothes. Why should such tragedies occur when people mean no real harm but are simply blowing off steam? It seems a disproportionately heavy Karma for a fit of anger. (2) It seems that every reformer, from a Jesus or a Buddha down to a Billy Sunday, always gets people angry with him, and ends up crucified, either literally or figuratively. If his life isn't at stake, his reputation is. Why should this be so? (3) How much of a point should theosophists make about their ideas in their contacts with non-theosophists? Sometimes we make ourselves a lot of trouble by talking Theosophy.]

(5) February 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) How can we make people think? Some prominent writers and lecturers apparently believe that unless they shock the public, they can't instruct it. (2) Why do resolutions often seem to backfire? You think of something you'd "never think of doing," and then you go ahead and do it. (3) Is vegetarianism purely a matter of preference? Or is it a protest against the slaughter of animals for food? (4) We often hear that gossip is the worst foe to brotherhood. Does this mean we shouldn't ever discuss our personal affairs? It's rather difficult always to be "impersonal."]

(6) March 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) What's going to bring hope back into human society? It seems as if the world will never be light-hearted again. And why do the "optimistic" philosophers like Emerson leave as faintly resentful, even though we would like to share their enthusiasm? (2) The lower kingdoms have a natural impulse toward perfection. What has man to help him on, in addition to his "self-induced and self-devised efforts"? (3) Are all instincts animal? (4) There are a lot of nice, pleasant things we would like to do which don't hurt anybody else. Surely they're not "wrong," are they? Are there not some personal desires which are not selfish?]

(7) April 1948 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Since there is nothing new under the sun, it seems logical that truth should be neither new nor old, but always the same. Why, then, is it necessary to have truth constantly re-expressed in different terms? Why doesn't the "free truth" stand as stated, once and for all? (2) In the Feburary THEOSOPHY, in answer to the question of how we can "make" people think, much was said about mental "shock treatment." While it is evident that such technique carried to excess might be dangerous, it still seems to be the only way to wake some people up. (3) How much are we really justified in not defending ourselves against the attacks of others?]

(8) May 1948 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Why is there anything? Why did we ever begin? (2) Is there anything wrong with taking very young children -- sometimes even babies -- to the movies? I can't trace it any further than an uncomfortable feeling that they can't do much else but suffer from the unnatural noise and violence and passion which seem to characterize most movie scripts. (3) What about the skandhas? How can we be sure that everything that comes to us actually belongs to us?]

(9) June 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Krishna says that he "incarnates from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked and the establishment of righteousness." How could there be evolution if evil were destroyed? Isn't contrast necessary? (2) Am I wrong in thinking that examinations are a menace to education? (3) How can you explain that it is foolish to fear death? People don't believe in being "heroic," these days. (4) What about discipline? Some people seem to think of it as an end in itself, instead of being only the means to a given end.]

(10) July 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) It is easy to draw a distinction between effort and strain, but how do you actually go about using one without getting the other? (2) When anyone wants to discredit an idea, he just has to say that it's a superstition. But don't all superstitions have a basis in fact, no matter how far back you have to go to find it? (3) Will the Golden Age follow directly on the present Dark Age, or do we have to shade back to it through the Bronze and the Silver Ages? (4) Is not possessiveness the greatest of all evils?]
    [Note: I have provided a copy of the 7-page article by HPB that is quoted from in the answer to the 4th and last question, and placed it at the end of this 10th article. It is entitled: "On Engrafting Religious Thought".--Compiler]

(11) August 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) If truth is universal, why do we have to study to learn it? And why are we so often mistaken about it? (2) What is meant by the statement that Theosophy gives a "self-compelling basis for ethics"? This seems to imply that knowing about the theosophical philosophy is going to make men ethical. Yet we know that theosophists aren't perfect, any more than anyone else. (3) Is there any way to overcome indifference in other people? Just being enthusiastic yourself doesn't seem to do it. (4) What is violence? There are various kinds of violence, and it does not seem enough to define it as force used either to compel a man to do a certain thing or to keep him from doing it. Restraint is not necessarily a form of violence, and we often take violent physical means to save someone from danger.]

(12) September 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Sometimes there are so many things we ought to do that we don't find time or feel free to do the things we really want to do. How are we to resolve this situation? It seems to be the basis for all we hear about "frustration." (2) Is betting contrary to theosophical principles? Some say you can't bet if you know about Karma, since betting is just a way of trying to "get something for nothing." Yet from another viewpoint, you couldn't win any money that wasn't karmically yours. (3) It often happens that two different people making the same criticism can affect us in entirely different ways. Why should this be? It doesn't seem to be a good thing at all. (4) Many people are interested in Theosophy when they find that it postulates "spiritual" evolution, but they balk at the idea of the permanence of soul. Is there any way to get around this reluctance?]

(13) October 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Devachan is spoken of somewhere as a reward for unmerited suffering. How is it possible, under Karma, to suffer something unmerited? (2) In the August "Youth-Companions," the point was made that we often do less, or different, than we know we should, and that we fail to put many of our good intentions into practice. But isn't it natural that our achievements will always be behind our aspirations? (3) Is repetition really the mother of learning? Sometimes it seems as if the more a thing is repeated, the less impression it makes. And then something said just once will strike a deep response or make a lasting impression. (4) Should we refrain from doing what we consider right and proper, when with others who don't have the same standards? For instance, some people don't seem to give any attention to social amenities.]

(14) November 1948 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Is it possible for a person to live without the joy of life, or the thirst for life, or whatever name you give to the feeling that it's good to be alive? Is this part of the make-up of the perfected man? (2) How far is it safe to go, in trusting other people? (3) While it may be true that strain results from doing something we don't want to do -- from working with a divided mind, so to say -- yet it often happens that strain is produced by too much concentration on a certain thing which we want very much to do. How can this be explained?]

(15) December 1948 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Living in the "Now" is often misconstrued to mean living recklessly. Isn't it a little dangerous to talk about "taking no thought for the morrow"? (2) Of course it's impossible, but if we could know another's motive, would it not be moral to punish him for evil intent and action? (3) What do you say to one whose characteristic response to even the most ordinary request is "Do I have to?" (4) It is sometimes said that conferring about principles does not violate a person's integrity, while the habit of seeking personal advice may. And yet it is precisely the personal problems which we would like to have a fresh viewpoint on, even if we don't always follow the other person's "advice."]

(16) January 1949 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) It has been said that the Astral Light is "young and strong" in the first part of the year. How can this be, if it has all the records of the past? Surely it doesn't start off new each year, does it? (2) Is it better to be strict -- even harsh, sometimes -- with children in order to make them behave, or should one be easy with them, hoping that they will behave well of their own accord? (3) What is it that causes us sometimes to wake up in the morning feeling as if we hadn't really rested at all? (4) Is not hate just as eternal as love, since the two are opposites, and therefore equal? Yet it is often said that good has more power than evil, and that it will eventually prevail.]

(17) February 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) It's easy to talk about not developing inferiority complexes, but how do you avoid it, since there's always something that you just can't learn how to do, while everyone else goes through it with hardly any effort. (2) How can we be sure that we get what we have earned? There's no sense in working hard if we're not going to get the reward. (3) How much reality is there in the idea that heredity and environment make the man what he is?]

(18) March 1949 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Both God and the First Fundamental are beyond the reach of human understanding and investigation. How, then, could you explain the difference between them to, say, a Christian friend? (2) Isn't it good to break social conventions now and then? People get so stuffy about what is and isn't "done." There seems a really positive value in doing what we want to do, rather than being compelled or persuaded by something or someone outside. It's part of integrity, isn't it? (3) If we regard all tendencies in the direction of organization with scepticism, do we not sooner or later drift into anarchy? (4) Both the Christian and the theosophist say that there is only one Truth. What then is the difference -- are not both positions dogmatic?]

(19) April 1949 [These 4 Questions are answered: (Note: Because it's referred to in it, I've provided, at the end of the answer to this first question, a copy of a 2-page article entitled "A Dialogue On Freedom".--Compiler.) (1) The idea that the sage does not engage in self-defense is a little puzzling. Surely he would not submit to unjust compulsion, especially when his acquiescence would only help to make the forces of injustice more powerful to overwhelm others weaker than himself, perhaps? (2) What's the point -- if any -- in having to sit up straight and maintain "good posture"? The important thing is maintaining that position which is most conducive to mental attention, is it not? Some people seem to think best when they're perched on the bottom of their spine, and many who sit erect don't seem any the more attentive. (3) How is it possible to make children aware of the sacrifices which others make for them without at the same time slipping into some kind of self-righteousness? It doesn't seem right that even very young children should fall into the habit of accepting services and gifts, or even toys, with no thought of the price which someone paid in terms of time, thought and money. (4) How can we determine how much of the truth need be told in any given circumstance? Often it seems that "the whole truth" is too painful, and should be left for the person to find out for himself. How do you reconcile kindness with honesty?]

(20) May 1949 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) How can we be sure there is no personal God? (2) If we say an unkind word to a person, does the result return to us necessarily from that same person? (3) Do we always improve with every effort we make to bring about certain results? (4) If a criminal is allowed to go free without capital punishment, would the Law of Karma mete out justice according to his offence?]

(21) June 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) How should we interpret the phrase, "forgetfulness of self"? Sometimes this sort of thing appears to be more pious than really altruistic. (2) People look at you suspiciously when you praise someone for being a "radical." Now, while this word covers a lot of persons who are admittedly more unbalanced than anything else, it also includes all those who have made a mark on history. Jesus and Buddha were radicals, for instance. How are we to distinguish between "good" and "bad" radicals? (3) How can you help someone develop self-confidence? It seems that if a person has this, "all other things shall be added unto him," and if he does not, all his other talents and capacities are driven into hiding.]

(22) July 1949 [These 4 Questions are answered: (1) Is there any reason why we should try to preserve good appearances? Is this not just another form of hypocrisy? (2) Could it be said that the use of talking animals in cartoons and stories helps a child to understand Nature? (3) How important is consistency in one's life? (4) We may say that all human beings have the same potential for achieving things, but the fact is that some people are "creative," and some are not; and there doesn't seem to be any way to develop that quality if it isn't there to begin with.]

(23) August 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Is it right to do things for the sake of setting an example, which we wouldn't do anyway as a matter of course? And what about the related problem of asking questions at a meeting in order to keep the meeting "going" or for the sake of clarifying points for newcomers? Is there not some hypocrisy involved in such a course? (2) What is the environment of freedom? How are we to determine what conditions are necessary for it to exist? (3) Is it necessary to be COMPLETELY pure? Is there no room in a person's make-up for human frailties -- often the very qualities which most endear him to others? After all, the pearl would not be formed were it not for the "imperfection" of a grain of sand inside the oyster's shell; and rain would not fall were there no molecules of "dirt" in the atmosphere on which the vapor could precipitate itself.]

(24) September 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Would not the ideal solution to human problems be reached if men were to renounce group activities of all kinds, and limit their relationships to single individuals? Mob psychology illustrates the maxim that when men group together, it is the lowest common denominator that prevails, and there seems to be a feeling that if you remove an individual from the crowd, you have a good chance of rousing the best in him. (2) What can the Theosophical student say when he encounters one who asserts that H. P. Blavatsky was a dogmatist? (3) Mr. Judge mentions in the OCEAN that the Ego remains in Devachan until all the psychic energies set in motion during life are exhausted. Is it possible to exhaust these energies during life, and so shorten the Devachanic period?]

(25) October 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Why is it that the most beautiful things -- creations of art, music, etc. -- are most often the saddest? (2) Is there ever a right motive in killing another -- perhaps in order to protect a child from a murderer -- in view of the teaching that the "astral shells" of the latter influence sensitive people? (3) We know that some writers find it very easy to write, while others create their work only with the greatest difficulty. We heard a theosophist call this the difference between psychic and manasic writing. Could you explain what was meant by this?]

(26) November 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) What prompts people to "take chances," and seek dangerous adventures beyond the "call of duty"? It seems to be a universal inclination. Is this the only way to test one's courage and nerve? (2) One of the most frequently heard excuses for a mistaken course of action is, "I didn't know at the time that it was wrong." How true is this, in the light of the statement in theosophical books that we have been through all experiences? (3) What is it that makes a person see a forbidding and foreboding System behind every metaphysical idea or proposition?]

(27) December 1949 [These 3 Questions are answered: (1) Robert Crosbie's constant emphasis on the need for "following the lines laid down" seems to suggest imitation more than original thinking. Is it not implicit in the doctrine of growth and evolution that we MOVE ON beyond the formulations of all past and present teachers? (2) Can it be said that holding the idea of a personal God could actually affect a man's courage in facing life -- or is this an unwarrantable assumption? (3) What causes young children to make up stories out of their own heads and pass them off as if they actually happened, or to exaggerate their own experiences all out of proportion to the truth? This isn't exactly in the category of deliberate lying, and yet it seems to be something which should not be left uncontrolled.]

(Compiler's note: Because I won't be back here for a while, here's the link to the location on the "Additional" articles Index page where you can see the "Nine Groupings of Articles" that I'm currently working on, little by little, which this 3rd grouping is in. You will see a link to each grouping's index page, a notation of how many articles are currently finished in each one, as well as a notation showing you the particular grouping that I'm presently working on. Once you see that I'm working back here again, and that the next article, number 28, has already been done, but you don't see it when you come here, all you have to do is click on your system's Reload or Refresh button in order to bring this page up to date.)
(28) [Next article]

...and so on, up to a possible total of (49) articles. All of the ones not listed haven't been pulled off the bookshelf and scanned yet.

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