July 2010 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the July 2010 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
“So far -- WE KNOW. Within and to the utmost limit, to the very edge of the cosmic veil we know the fact to be correct -- owing to personal experience; for the information gathered as to what takes place beyond we are indebted to the Planetary Spirits, to our blessed Lord Buddha. This of course may be regarded as secondhand information. There are those who, rather than yield to the evidence of fact will prefer regarding even the planetary gods as “erring” disembodied philosophers if not actually liars. Be it so. “Everyone is master of his own wisdom” -- says a Tibetan proverb, and he is at liberty either to honour or degrade his slave. However, I will go on for the benefit of those who may yet seize my explanation of the problem and understand the nature of the solution.”
A Master of the Wisdom
The Asala Festival
Bishop C. W. Leadbeater wrote in The Masters And The Path, which was first published in 1925, the following account of the Asala Festival.
“Besides the great Wesak Festival there is one other occasion in each year when the members of the Brotherhood all meet together officially. The meeting in this case is usually held in the private house of the Lord Maitreya, situated also in the Himalayas, but on the southern instead of the northern slopes. On this occasion no pilgrims on the physical plane are present, but all astral visitors who know of the celebration are welcome to attend it. It is held on the full moon day of the month of Asala, (in Sanskrit Asâdha), usually corresponding to the English July.
This is the anniversary of the delivery by the Lord Buddha of His first announcement of the great discovery—the sermon which He preached to his five disciples, commonly known as the Dhammachakkappavattana Sutta, which has been poetically translated by Rhys Davids as “The Setting in Motion of the Royal Chariot Wheels of the Kingdom of Righteousness”. It is often more briefly described in Buddhist books as “The Turning of the Wheel of the Law”. It explains for the first time the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, expounding the great middle way of the Buddha—the life of perfect righteousness in the world, which lies midway between the extravagances of asceticism on the one hand and the carelessness of mere worldly life on the other.
In His love for His great predecessor the Lord Maitreya has ordained that, whenever the anniversary of that first preaching comes round, the same sermon shall be recited once more in the presence of the assembled Brotherhood; and He usually adds to it a simple address of His own, expounding and applying it. The recitation of the sermon commences at the moment of full moon, and the reading and the address are usually over in about half an hour. The Lord Maitreya generally takes His place upon the marble seat which is set at the edge of a raised terrace in the lovely garden just in front of His house. The greatest of the Officials sit close about Him, while the rest of the Brotherhood is grouped in the garden a few feet below. On this occasion, as on the other, there is often an opportunity for pleasant converse, and kindly greetings and benedictions are distributed by the Masters among Their pupils and those who aspire to be Their pupils.
It may be useful to give some account of the ceremony, and of what is usually said at these Festivals, though it is, of course, utterly impossible to reproduce the wonder and the beauty and the eloquence of the words of the Lord Maitreya on such occasions. The account which follows does not attempt to report any single discourse; it is a combination of, I fear, very imperfectly remembered fragments, some of which have already appeared elsewhere; but it will give to those who have not previously heard of it some idea of the line generally taken.
That great sermon is wonderfully simple, and its points are repeated over and over again. There was no shorthand in those days, so that it might be taken down and read by every one afterwards; His disciples had to remember His words by the impression made on them at the time. So He made them simple, and He repeated them again and again like a refrain, so that the people might be sure of them. One may readily see in reading it that it is constructed for this special purpose—that it may be easily remembered. Its points are arranged categorically, so that when it has once been heard each point reminds one of the next, as though it were a kind of mnemonic, and to the Buddhist each of these separate and easily remembered words suggests a whole body of related ideas, so that the sermon, short and simple as it is, contains an explanation and a rule of life.
One might well think that all that can be said about the sermon has been said already many times over; yet the Lord, with His wonderful eloquence and the way in which He puts it, makes it every year seem something new, and each person feels its message as though it were specially addressed to himself. On that occasion, as in the original preaching, the Pentecostal miracle repeats itself. The Lord speaks in the original sonorous Pâli, but every one present hears Him “in his own tongue wherein he was born,” as is said in the Acts of the Apostles.”
In addition to the account by C. W. Leadbeater we also have the testimonial of Geoffrey Hodson (1886-1983), a renowned theosophist and clairvoyant and also a priest of the Liberal Catholic Church, regarding the Asala Festival. In his occult diary, his wife Sandra Hodson wrote on July 7, 1976, “Geoffrey recorded to me verbally that on one or more occasions he remembered, on awakening, an out-of-the-body experience following the Asala Festival, of attendance at the home and garden of the Lord Maitreya. Geoffrey stated, “As far as my memory goes, not only Adepts, but a considerable number of aspirants to Adeptship—devotees of the Lord Buddha, the Lord Maitreya, and the Masters of the Wisdom—were also present and listened to the discourse. Most of them, in physically influenced memory, were floating in their subtle bodies, as it were, in the air above the Lord’s garden on the southern slopes of the Himalayan Mountains.”
The International President’s Visit
We are very honoured that Mrs. Radha Burnier, our International President will be coming to Singapore again, end of July 2010, specifically to meet members of the Singapore Lodge. Her last visit was in 2004, six years ago. She will be accompanied by her secretary Mrs. Bernice Croft.
Sister Radha was elected the Seventh International President of the Theosophical Society in 1980 and still holds the office today. As the International President, Sister Radha travels widely and lectures around the world. She has authored many books on theosophical subjects. She is also the editor of ‘The Theosophist’, the monthly organ of the Theosophical Society, in which she contributes the monthly feature ‘On the Watch Tower’, a tradition of the president since the founding of the society
Sister Radha will be meeting and addressing members on Thursday, July 29, 2010 at 8 p.m. The subject of her talk is “The Theosophical Society’s Future Work”. Keep this day free for the opportunity to be with the President. Some new members will have the rare opportunity of receiving their Diplomas of Fellowship from the International President personally.
135th International Convention
and the 11th Indo-Pacific
The Singapore Lodge is planning to send a delegation to the TS Headquarters in Adyar, Chennai to participate in the 135th International Convention.
In December every year, the northeast monsoon departs, leaving the Estate fresh, alive, green and nourished. A few weeks later, from 26 to 31 December, an important event for Theosophists takes place: the International Convention. There have been more than one hundred such gatherings.
Delegates arrive from everywhere, the majority from the Indian sub-continent, as well as from other countries around the world. Their number fluctuates between 1,000 and 1,500 but on special occasions such as the Adyar Centenary Convention in 1982, numbers have reached 2,000 or more. Last year almost 1,300 members attended the Convention.
The Convention transforms the tranquil Adyar Estate into a busy centre with delegates accommodated in the main guesthouses, private homes, and other buildings. They come to participate in what is a unique annual international gathering, and to see Adyar, ‘The Home of the Masters.’ The Convention is also an opportunity for members of the Society from many lands to become acquainted with the international fraternity and meet old friends. There is a great deal of activity at this time. Services include information booths, book displays and sales, various stalls and a South Indian restaurant under a large palm-leaf structure built especially for the Convention period.
During the Convention, through lectures, some of them by eminent Theosophists, philosophers, scientists and thinkers, and through symposia, dialogues and discussions, the members of the Society examine the meaning and significance of Theosophy in the context of the present-day world and individual problems.
This year, the 11th triennial conference of the Indo-Pacific Federation of the TS will also be held in Adyar immediately following the International Convention making it a dual occasion for the Singapore delegates. As we have to make advance preparation and travel arrangements members who would like to join the Singapore delegation should register by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or informing one of the committee members. Tentatively, we plan to leave on 22/12/2010 and return on 2/1/2011.
Donation to the TS in Chile
The beautiful but old building of the TS/TOS Centre in Santiago, Chile was badly damaged in February’s earthquake. We responded to the appeal to help with the major restoration of the three-storey building with 30 donors donating $5,000. We remitted US$3,500 to the Chilean Quake Relief Fund.