THEOSOPHY, Vol. 24, No. 6, April, 1936
(Pages 272-274; Size: 11K)
(Number 4 of a 4-part series)



WHAT is the distinction between the Adept, the Mahatma, and the man we know and are? There is both a likeness and a difference. The least of men and the greatest Mahatma have this in common -- both are Souls. The difference, then, is always in degree and not in kind. We live, while in the body, in the four lower planes of being. The incarnate Mahatma works in, on, and through these four worlds open to us, but He lives, moves and has His being in the three higher worlds -- worlds known to us only by hearsay and through the broken memories of what we call our dreams.

Our four lower principles largely control us, but an Adept is one who has obtained mastery over his four lower principles; hence no advanced Adept ever dreams. Thus, his presence or absence on any plane or in any relation is wholly voluntary on his part, because he has acquired self-mastery: full control of all the principles and elements of Being. There are degrees in adeptship, as in the whole scale of manifested existence, and the degree of adeptship is contingent on the number of principles under control.

A "dream", as we understand it, is an illusion; when not so regarded, when taken to be "real" in the same sense as we use the term in respect to the events and eventualities of waking human life -- then our dream ceases to be an illusion and has become a delusion. We have but to study the "case history" of the medium, the psychic, the seer, to ascertain for ourselves that they come under the same pathology as the inebriate, the delirious, the insane. What is called in medicine a "pathological illusion" may be, and often is, of the noblest quality and highest range. Instance ample is the case of Joan of Arc. Religious history is filled with examples of many kinds. They are the source of all theologies, as of all the "revelations" and "visions" which result in sects and sectarianism. All are "pathological" in that the perception of the seer fails to yield him the true character and significance of what he sees and hears.

From this it is evident that the failure to comprehend, or the erroneous comprehension, is in the seer and not in what is seen. From this it follows that the nature of the dreamer has to be understood, for without him, there could be no dreams, nor any understanding or misunderstanding of them. Trite as this may appear, it is of supreme importance. Few are those who give serious scientific attention to any dreams; far fewer still who are disposed to give scientific study to the Self which sees, which is affected by its dreams, which is intent on seeking one kind and avoiding another. Only as Self and its powers, their exercise, the results of that exercise, are studied conjointly -- directly in oneself, indirectly in others -- can Self-knowledge, Self-discipline, Self-control become a permanent actuality and not merely a permanent possibility.

Self-knowledge: this means the philosophy of Life; Self-discipline: this means the ethics of action; Self-control: this means that equilibrium in the individual whose universal presence we call Law. To this triune consummation all experience is but ways and means: a journey to be made, a road to be traveled, irrespective of its incidence. The key-note of the wisdom in man is the Intelligence in "nature". That key-note is impersonality. When so regarded and so employed, that key makes of the man a Mahatma. What is "Law" in nature becomes Will in the individual.

No wonder H. P. Blavatsky insistently asserted that Theosophy is neither a philosophy, a religion, nor a science, but that it is the synthesis of all these, because it is "the accumulated Wisdom of the Ages". Elsewhere in her Secret Doctrine she shows that what we idly name and dismiss as "dreams" are the connecting links between the Egoic experiences on the seven great planes of being, in the seven great states of consciousness. We visit them in every cycle of sleeping and waking. What we take to other states from this are there regarded by us as "dreams", as what we bring thence on returning here are likewise our "dreams". So she writes:

"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. 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'; but only when we shall have reached the absolute Consciousness, and blended our own with it, shall we be free from the delusions produced by Maya(1)."
"Maya", i.e., "Spirit when invested with Matter", as the Bhagavad-Gita puts it, or "Intelligence (Mahat) associated with Ignorance (Iswara[2] as a personal deity)", as in the Upanishads -- this is the source of all dreams, illusions, delusions, whether as to self or as to the "reality" of what we perceive and experience in any state or world or form. "Maya", then, is to Wisdom what darkness is to light -- the light of one plane being darkness on its opposite: both light and darkness but the image and the shadow of Self.

Shall we, then, withdraw our minds from the duties and activities of our waking human existence, so as to become dreamers of dreams and seers of visions, thinking thereby to gain "Occult powers"? Asked this very question in other words, H.P.B. replied: "It is by cultivating the power of what is called 'dreaming' that clairvoyance is developed." What does she mean? Well, we already have the power, so perhaps if we emphasize the word cultivating we can obtain a glimpse of another kind of dreaming, another sort of clairvoyance. In "The Three Planes of Human Life"(3) (Waking, Dreaming, Dreamless Sleep), Mr. Judge summed up for us all in these words:

"These thoughts are not intended to be exhaustive, but so far as they go it is believed they are correct. The subject is one of enormous extent as well as great importance, and Theosophists are urged to purify, elevate, and concentrate the thoughts and acts of their waking hours so that they shall not continually and aimlessly, night after night and day succeeding day, go into and return from these natural and wisely appointed states, no wiser, no better able to help their fellow men. For by this way, as by the spider's small thread, we may gain the free space of spiritual life."

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Underlying stamina is a necessary background for all the worthy human qualities. Without stamina, what chance for their dependably constructive expression? Stamina appears to be that all-around holding power, result of hard-fought and long-continued efforts -- a Karmic hereditament that is sometimes called "character". It is an acquisition, somewhere, sometime -- not a miraculous inherency. It is often found in unexpected quarters; its absence withers many a promising and brilliant life. Perhaps the honest and dogged doing of one's own natural duties, at all times, and the best one knows how, finally results in "stamina". Little by little, stone upon stone, the sturdy foundation is established upon which the noble qualities can stand firm, and by means of which the ignoble can be checked and transformed. For the latter are often but the defects of the nobler, and may be seen for what they are when an honest foundation for judgment has been built and stabilized. To thus see is the first step towards transformation. All the other steps follow this one naturally. 

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(3) Reprinted in THEOSOPHY, Volume I, page 331.
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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these next two footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Maya" means Illusion. And when speaking of any form being "Mayavic", it means being Illusionary: not permanent.
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[2] "Iswara" is the "Lord" or the personal god -- the divine Spirit in man. In other words, it is the Higher Self in each of us -- whether it is called the Krishna, Christos, Buddha, or Messiah "principle", or by any other name with other peoples and religions.
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