Monday, August 24, 2009

Layer 184 Ashes, Auras, Theosophy, Blavatsky, Steiner, and Krishnamurti

The End of an Aura

So England have won back The Ashes. Is this important? No.
Was it enjoyable? YES!

And there's no question that the retirement of Australia's two outstanding bowlers – Warne and McGrath - brought about the end of an era, as well as an aura. [This is a kind of in-joke for cricket-loving anoraks and saddos.]



“The Buddhist flag, first hoisted in 1885 in Sri Lanka, is a symbol of faith and peace used throughout the world to represent the Buddhist faith.

The six colours of the flag represent the colours of the aura that emanated from the body of the Buddha when He attained Enlightenment under the Bodhi Tree. The horizontal stripes represent the races of the world living in harmony and the vertical stripes represent eternal world peace.

The colours symbolise the perfection of Buddhahood and the Dharma.

The Blue light that radiated from the Buddha's hair symbolises the spirit of Universal Compassion for all beings.

The Yellow light that radiated from the Buddha's epidermis symbolises the Middle Way which avoids all extremes and brings balance and liberation.

The Red light that radiated from the Buddha's flesh symbolises the blessings that the practice of the Buddha's Teaching brings.

The White light that radiated from the Buddha's bones and teeth symbolises the purity of the Buddha's Teaching and the liberation it brings.

The Orange light that radiated from the Buddha's palms, heels and lips symbolises the unshakable Wisdom of the Buddha's Teaching.

The Combination Colour symbolises the universality of the Truth of the Buddha's Teaching.

Therefore, the overall flag represents that regardless of race, nationality, division or colour, all sentient beings possess the potential of Buddhahood.”

The flag was invented in 1880 by an American journalist, Colonel Henry Steele Olcott. Olcott was a fascinating character. A former soldier and lawyer, he set up the Theosophical Society of New York. He arrived in Sri Lanka with the renowned spiritualist Madame Blavatsky on 17 February 1880 - a day which was subsequently celebrated as Olcott Day in independent Sri Lanka. He founded the Buddhist Theosophical Society, devised a Buddhist catechism, encouraged Buddhist versions of Christmas carols and cards, and inspired the founding of Buddhist schools and and the YMBA - the Young Mens Buddhist Association. There are six colours in the flag, but the human eye can see only five. They are described in the Scriptures as emanating from the aura around the Buddha's head.

Olcott felt that local Buddhists in Sri Lanka needed a symbol to rally around. His flag acheived that: it became the emblem of the international Buddhist movement and is flown today worldwide in Buddhist buildings and at Buddhist celebrations.



Theosophy is a doctrine of religious philosophy and metaphysics originating with Helena Petrovna Blavatsky (1831–91). In this context, theosophy holds that all religions are attempts by the " Spiritual Hierarchy" to help humanity in evolving to greater perfection, and that each religion therefore has a portion of the truth. Together with Henry Steel Olcott, William Quan Judge, and others, Blavatsky founded the Theosophical Society in 1875. - Wikipedia

As far as I can see Theosophy tried to be a movement whose aim was to show that all religions were basically attempts to say something important about the metaphysical aspects of the human condition, in terms of the existence of spiritual intelligence, as I'd call it.

Obviously they were on to something, but created a rod for their own backs by proclaiming their beliefs as some sort of a new pseudo-science, and making the whole thing over-complicated and untenable for people of either a) a religious persuasion, or b) a complete lack of interest in such obscurantist and esoteric views. Keep it simple, dudes!

“Rudolf Steiner created a successful branch of the Theosophical Society in Germany. He focused on a Western esoteric path that incorporated the influences of Christianity and natural science, resulting in tensions with Annie Besant (cf. Rudolf Steiner and the Theosophical Society); these were seriously exacerbated by Steiner refusing members of the Order of the Star of the East membership in the Theosophical Society's German Section. Steiner was vehemently opposed to The Order of the Star of the East's proclamation that the young boy, Jiddu Krishnamurti, was the incarnation of Maitreya (who was believed to have "over-shadowed" Jesus Christ).

(Krishnamurti later repudiated this role and left the Society to pursue an independent career of spiritual teaching.) In 1913 Steiner founded his own Anthroposophical Society; the great majority of German-speaking theosophists joined the new society, which grew rapidly. Steiner later became most famous for his ideas about education, resulting in an international network of " Steiner Schools," also known as Waldorf schools. Other influences of anthroposophical thought include biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophic medicine and the acting techniques of Michael Chekhov.

Theosophy was closely linked to the Indian independence movement: the Indian National Congress was founded during a Theosophical conference, and many of its leaders, including M. K. Gandhi were associated with theosophy.

The present-day New Age movement is to a considerable extent based on the teachings of Blavatsky, though some writers have described Alice Bailey as the founder of the "New Age movement". However, the term was used prior to Bailey; a weekly Journal of Christian liberalism and Socialism called The New Age was published as early as 1894. James R. Lewis and J. Gordon Melton, in Perspectives on the New Age wrote, "The most important - though certainly not the only - source of this transformative metaphor, as well as the term "New Age," was Theosophy, particularly as the Theosophical perspective was mediated to the movement by the works of Alice Bailey."

Mahatma Gandhi met Madame Blavatsky and Annie Besant in India in about 1889, shortly after Besant had joined the Society. He declined invitations to join, but said the meeting induced him to study his own background in Hinduism. He mentions this, and his further study of Theosophy during 1903 as published in his autobiography, The Story of My Experiments with Truth (1927–29).

L. Frank Baum , a notable member of the Theosophical Society, wrote The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), which some see as an allegory of theosophical tenets. Many of the story's oft-cited parallels to mysticism—the rainbow and the ruby slippers, for example - actually originated with the 1939 MGM musical adaptation. There are Theosophical elements in all fourteen Oz books, with Tik-Tok of Oz (1914) particularly strong in Theosophist symbolism.

Van Morrison's song "Dweller on the Threshold," has Theosophy concepts at its core. He also mentions Theosophy in the song "Rave On, John Donne".

Artists and authors who investigated Theosophy, aside from the musicians listed below, include Aldous Huxley, Wassily Kandinsky, Piet Mondrian, Franz Kafka, William Butler Yeats, George William Russell (Æ), Owen Barfield, and T. S. Eliot.


Rudolf Steiner (25 or 27 February 1861 – 30 March 1925) was an Austrian philosopher, literary scholar, educator, architect, social thinker, playwright and esotericist. He gained initial recognition as a literary critic and cultural philosopher. At the beginning of the twentieth century he founded a new spiritual movement, Anthroposophy, as an esoteric philosophy growing out of European transcendentalist roots with links to Theosophy.

Steiner led this movement through several phases. In the first, more philosophically-oriented phase, Steiner attempted to find a synthesis between science and mysticism; his philosophical work of these years, which he termed spiritual science, sought to provide a connection between the cognitive path of Western philosophy and the inner and spiritual needs of the human being. In a second phase, beginning around 1907, he began working collaboratively in a variety of artistic media, including drama, the movement arts (developing a new artistic form, Eurythmy) and architecture, culminating in the building of a cultural center to house all the arts, the Goetheanum. After the First World War, Steiner worked with educators, farmers, doctors, and other professionals to develop Waldorf education, biodynamic agriculture, anthroposophical medicine as well as new directions in numerous other areas.

Steiner advocated a form of ethical individualism, to which he later brought a more explicitly spiritual component. He derived his epistemology from Johann Wolfgang Goethe's world view, where “Thinking… is no more and no less an organ of perception than the eye or ear. Just as the eye perceives colours and the ear sounds, so thinking perceives ideas.” A consistent thread that runs from his earliest philosophical phase through his later spiritual orientation is the goal of demonstrating that there are no essential limits to human knowledge.


Jiddu Krishnamurti or J. Krishnamurti (Tamil: கிருஃசுணமூர்த்தி ) , (May 12, 1895–February 17, 1986) was a renowned writer and speaker on philosophical and spiritual subjects. His subject matter included: psychological revolution, the nature of the mind, meditation, human relationships, and how to enact positive change in society. He constantly stressed the need for a revolution in the psyche of every human being and emphasized that such a revolution cannot be brought about by any external entity whether religious, political or social.



Well – you have to do something whilst listening to TMS and the climax of the 2009 Ashes.


School of Rock

This feel-good little gem of a movie was repeated last night. The review of it in Wikipedia really fails to get to grips with it or to do it justice.

For a start, Jack Black is wonderful. As are the kids.

And it says important things about the purpose of schools, about approaches to teaching and learning, about motivation for learning, about art and creativity, about respect for children, about the attitude of fee-paying parents, about pressures on school management, about having reasons and real purposes for learning, and developing every aspect of the self. It says things about the power of collaboration, and teamwork, and cooperation instead of competition, where each one uses their special gifts and talents for the good of the group.

In a moment of triumph Jack tells the swatty girl that she can have 8 gold stars, and she replies, “ I didn't do it for the grades!”

The scene where Jack takes the head of the school to a bar and she gets somewhat sozzed on half a glass of beer is excellent. She says, “I've never been to this side of town before”, and you can feel something awakening, or re-awakening, in her. She says, with real feeling, “I wasn't always like this, you know. There was a time when I was fun! I was funny! Those parents! That pressure! I can't afford to make a mistake!”

Jack puts a song on the jukebox - “Edge of Seventeen”, by Stevie Nicks, which he knows is going to do things to her, and for her. It's a rocking song, great rhythm, and she goes with it, back in time to when she was young, and real, and passionate, and she sings along . . . connecting with something buried deep within . . .

Just like the white winged dove...
Sings a song . . .

The music there it was hauntingly familiar
And I see you doing what I try to do for me
With the words from a poet and the voice from a choir
And a melody . . .
Nothing else mattered

And the days go by...
Like a strand in the wind...
In the web that is my own...

Can she change herself? Can she change her school? Can she change the parents?

Right at the end, the little band they've created is getting ready to rock, and Jack tells them which song he thinks they should perform – one that the kid who's the guitarist has written. And then he says, “But that's just my opinion. This isn't my band. This is OUR band”.

The kids have a right to their opinions, and to adults' respect for their opinions. Learning and creating together – they all have a voice, and a say in what they do.

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