Changing Lives from Selfishness to Altruism

“But I do love thee! and when I love thee not, Chaos is come again.” -Shakespeare

TRUTH springs eternal, unstoppable as hope, love, and the universal life force.

The life-loving truths taught many centuries ago by the great saviors and reformers of humanity are still with us, but still not consistently practiced.

What the Master Krishna taught Arjuna in The Bhagavad-Gita, 2,500 years before Buddha, is a cautionary teaching about the spiritual self-mastery our humanity today most needs.

“The Self is the friend of self,” is how Lord Krishna explains the dual force to his disciple Arjuna (who symbolizes every person as applied to their daily life), but adding: “and also its enemy.” 

It is the old story of the ongoing struggle between our higher spiritual vs personal material selves. “In a garden of sunflowers every flower turns towards the light,” but Mme. Blavatsky asks: “Why not so with us?” (Article 1888)

Referring to Lord Krishna’s teaching about the Self in its title, Blavatsky’s colleague W. Q. Judge explains how “this sentence in the Bhagavad-Gita has been often passed over as being either meaningless or mysterious.”

But it is only this uniquely human duality which explains why so many religious sects, while publicly espousing harmony and peace, are at the same time

…so ready and willing to denounce, terrorize and murder non-believers!

The medieval Christian Crusades were rife with atrocities, just as certain extremist religious sects are today—priests, prophets, popes and kings all willing to kill for their God. Religious murders, intrigues, assassinations and wars, have disgraced human kind through history, and tragically are still with us, as the briefest glance at the world’s daily news media confirms.

Our Two Selves

Krishna’s doctrine positions two selves, each an enemy and friend of the other. The “push-me-pull-you” character of many modern sectarian religions that foster ethical and moral inconsistencies, the soulless face of modern-day fundamentalism.

“The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real,” declares the Book of the Golden Precepts, “let the disciple slay [purify] the Slayer.”


One wonders what kind of feeling is evoked when the lower personal mind is purified, figuratively and literally, and the Spirit within released—when the Higher Self (‘voice of the silence’)  is heard for the first time? Let’s allow the Polish music masters Anna and Arkadiusz Szafraniec help us enjoy a joyful answer to the question.

The Angel Organ: The largest glass harp in the world, its range covers nearly 5 octaves.

“What revolution is experienced by the ear, which attempts to find associations with those tones?” ask Anna and Arkadiusz Szafraniec, the glass music duo from Poland. “What we try to capture, wanders somewhere,” they say, “is at the verge of our ideas of angelic music, a mythical world–and instruments which sound only in our dreams.”

Self in Sync

The two Polish musicians, (Glass Duo), both accomplished “players of the traditional instruments the violin and the trumpet, could not have suspected the path that lay before them. They began to master the glass harp, amazed by its technical and expressional possibilities.” It is truly an inspiring example of harmony in thought, will, feeling and action.

A New Cycle?

Looking forward, what of the coming year? “As the preparation for the new cycle proceeds,” H. P. Blavatsky foretells, “the latent psychic and occult powers in man are beginning to germinate and grow. Happily new tendencies,” she says, “are also springing up, working to change the basis of men’s daily lives from selfishness to altruism.” But with a caveat:

“Learn, then, well the doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation, and teach, practice, promulgate that system of life and thought which alone can save the coming races.”


“May Theosophy grow more and more a living power in the lives of each one of our members,” H. P. Blavatsky wrote (The Third Message, p.24),

“and may the coming year be yet more full of good work and healthy progress than the one just closing, is the wish of your humble co-worker and fellow-member.”  


What more powerful way to purify our faults, and elucidate the nobler side of our faculties, than the practice of altruism at every moment—in heavenly harmony with our Higher Self.

Motive is Key

“For two thousand years India groaned under the weight of caste,” wrote one of Mme. Blavatsky’s teachers concerning priestly craft, “Brahmans alone feeding on the fat of the land.”

The Spiritual Eye

“The place of the pineal gland in occult anatomy was one of Mme. Blavatsky’s favorite subjects,” a writer for Blavatsky News comments, “for it suggested the remnant of what had been the ‘third eye’ of primeval humanity. “And her ideas are duly noted,” the writer continues: “For Madame Blavatsky,

humans received this divine inspiration not through a figurative third eye but literally through the pineal gland itself. It was an ‘organ of spiritual vision.'”

The Spiritual Eye

“It is impossible to employ spiritual forces,” Blavatsky insisted, ” if there is the slightest tinge of selfishness remaining in the operator.” As a warning to wannabe occultists and healers she adds (Practical Occultism):

“Unless the intention is entirely unalloyed, the spiritual will transform itself into the psychic, act on the astral plane, and dire results may be produced by it.”



“It is important to direct our intelligence with good intentions,” says His Holiness the Dalai Lama. “Without intelligence, we cannot accomplish very much” he says, adding:

“Without good intentions, the way we exercise our intelligence may have destructive results.”

Similarly, H. P. Blavatsky wrote:  “it is the motive, and the motive alone, which makes any exercise of power become black, malignant, or white, beneficent Magic.” (Practical Occultism)

Healing the Mind

“We cannot expect to transform our minds in a few minutes or even a few weeks,” The Dalai Lama maintains, adding: “it takes a long time, sometimes years or even decades — but if we persevere, there is no doubt we will make progress.”

False Gods

“To-day the followers of Christ and those of Mahomet are cutting each other’s throats,” warns a Mahatma, “in the names of and for the greater glory of their respective myths.” These words were penned in 1882!

Battle of Ager – Jus Sanguinis

“Remember the sum of human misery will never be diminished,” the Master cautions, “unto that day when the better portion of humanity destroys in the name of Truth, morality, and universal charity, the altars of their false gods.”

On Religion

Why Good People
Do Evil

The mind is really a duality, Blavatsky warns, citing ancient teachings in The Secret Doctrine — “Lunar in the lower, solar in its upper portion, it is drawn in its higher leanings towards Spirit, and in its lower,” she notes, “descends into, and listens to the voice of its animal soul full of selfish and sensual desires.”

“After a little study of the human constitution, material and spiritual,” W. Q. Judge writes, “we easily see that the higher and the lower self are meant.”

The primal existence of a lower self is evidenced by the persistence of evils in all areas of human endeavors. Most notably polarizing politics, ruthless power and hate mongering, and religious extremism. But the crafty mentalism and motives which drive these is never easy to corral — indeed, they are the handiwork of a masterful masquerader!

The Masterful Masquerader

Psychological scientist Philip Zimbardo, innovator and a professor emeritus at Stanford University, and president of the Heroic Imagination Project, uncovers the demon inside with devastating, and unexpected consequences.

Professor Zimbardo is famous for his Stanford prison study and authorship of various introductory psychology books and textbooks for college students, including notably The Lucifer Effect and The Time Paradox.

Our Dual Minds

Mind (the Sanskrit ‘Manas’) represents consciousness per se, a unity. The key to unraveling its mystery, lies in the fact that what was once a unified principle becomes ‘dual’ on manifesting or ‘incarnating’ in a physical form.

One of the clearest expositions of this mysterious duality of ‘Manas’—the Thinker—is given by W. Q. Judge in his Ocean of Theosophy, (an ideal summation of the subjects in Blavatsky’s entire Secret Doctrine.)

Many Buddhas

In the Ocean, Judge clarifies the important Theosophical view concerning the ‘Thinker,’ the short code for

“…the reincarnating being, the immortal who carries the results and values of all the different lives lived on earth or elsewhere.”


The all-important details concerning the Dual Manas, and its dynamic relationship with both spirit and matter, can be studied at the below link, written by William Q. Judge:

The Ocean of Theosophy
Chapter 7

Double-Faced Entity

Why is the subject of the dual mind so important in Theosophy? The reason is clearly spelled out in a few lines from the article Psychic and Noëtic Action (Part II) by Mme. Blavatsky:

“If the impulse comes from the ‘Wisdom above,’ the Force applied being noëtic or spiritual, the results will be actions worthy of the divine…”

“The whole of man is guided
by this double-faced Entity.”

If the impulse to thought and action come from the “terrestrial, devilish wisdom” (psychic power),” she warns — “man’s activities will be selfish, based solely on the exigencies of his physical, hence animal, nature.”

Psychic vs Noëtic

This doctrine is essential to a deeper understanding of the philosophy of Theosophy.  The Thinker’s nature “becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body,” W. Q. Judge wrote.

“For the human brain is a superior organism, and the Thinker uses it to reason from premises to conclusions.”

Severus Snape, a double life

But this is only “the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas, and not, as some have supposed, the highest and best gift belonging to man.”

“Its other, and in theosophy higher aspect,” Judge concludes, “is the intuitional, which knows, and does not depend on reason.”

Milgram Experiment (1)

Stanley Milgram, a Harvard PhD, designed a series of studies on obedience to authority, using a “teacher” and a “learner.” The “teacher” is supposed to shock the “learner” if an answer is incorrect, starting at 15 volts and going up to 450 volts, increasing the shock each time the “learner” misses a word in the list.

Ultimately 65% of all of the “teachers” punished the “learners” to the maximum 450 volts. (Milgram, 1974)

Brain Wired

According to Milgram, every human has the dual capacity to function as an individual exercising his or her own moral judgement and the capacity to make their own moral decisions based on their personal character.

But what if the average person is obedient to authority, even when it overrides their own moral judgement?



The reasoning mind, the purely intellectual, “is nearest to the principle of Desire,” wrote William Q. Judge, “and is thus distinguished from its other side which has affinity for the spiritual principles above.”

But if the Thinker becomes focused exclusively with the intellectual, brain consciousness, “the entire nature begins to tend downward.”

“For intellect alone is cold, heartless, selfish,” because it is not lighted up by the higher spiritual side of his nature.


Mind and Matter

“No good ground exists for speaking of any special organ or seat of memory,” wrote the chair of philosophy at Yale University, Professor G. T. Ladd, who was quoted by H. P. Blavatsky in her notable article Psychic and Noetic Action.

Human Brain

“Every organ indeed, every area, and every limit of the nervous system has its own memory,” wrote the Professor. Then Blavatsky goes on to present the occult teaching concerning the relationship between brain and mind:

“To locate its organ in the brain, is to limit and dwarf the Universal Mind and its countless Rays [higher entities] which inform every rational mortal.”

“We care little for the psychophobian prejudices of the Materialists,” chides Mme. Blavatsky, “who may read this and sniff contemptuously at the mention of ‘Universal Mind’ and the Higher noëtic souls of men.”

Dual Mind

Our essential nature is the immortal, reincarnating Self, she wrote, and is “independent of the physical body.” Furthermore, during the sleep of the physical form, she affirmed:

“…there remains only an animated form of clay whose powers of independent thinking are utterly paralyzed.”


The Non-local Mind

Memory, an invisible, non-material filing system, is not at all similar to an addressable, centralized record keeping system. It’s not something that exists within the boundary of the physical biological form, but lies outside in the matrix or body-field, or astral, and beyond.


The descriptor ‘Kama-Manas’ is a compound of two Sanskrit words, kama (desire), and manas (mind) — ‘desire-mind’ — what occultists familiarly refer to as the lower mind.

Certain mixtures, tea and milk or peanut butter and honey, for example, are wholesomely pleasing combinations. But the mixture of mind and desire, like mud and water, is messy. It might be fun for kids to play with at first — but  may, in the end, turn out of control.

Tug of War

In his memorable final counsel to Arjuna, in Chapter 18 (p. 127) of the Bhagavad-Gita, the Master Krishna describes the eventual nasty end for selfish personal desires, when they are mixed with mind as…

“…that which in the beginning is sweet as the waters of life, but at the end like poison.”


The Marshmallow Test


An similar teaching depicts the deadly transmutation of spirit into selfish psychic power and desire, is found in the Voice of the Silence, the mystical text which suggests the solution, noting metaphorically:

“Eternal life’s pure waters, clear and crystal, with the monsoon tempest’s muddy torrents cannot mingle…”

Heaven’s Dew Drops

“Heaven’s dew-drop glittering in the morn’s first sun-beam within the bosom of the lotus,” that when dropped on earth

“…becomes a piece of clay—behold,
the pearl is now a speck of mire.”

“Strive with thy thoughts unclean before they overpower thee. Use them as they will thee,” says the Voice, ” for if thou sparest them and they take root and grow, know well, these thoughts will overpower and kill thee.”

This is exactly what we see happen in over two-thirds of Milgram’s participants.

Milgram Experiment (2)

Two Strings

“If the impulse comes from the ‘Wisdom above'” (again quoting Mme. Blavatsky in Psychic and Noetic Action), “the Force applied being noëtic or spiritual, the results will be actions worthy of the divine…”

“If from the ‘terrestrial, devilish wisdom’ (psychic power), man’s activities will be selfish, based solely on the exigencies of his physical, hence animal, nature.”

Spiritual and Physical Influences

“The above may sound to the average reader as pure nonsense,” Blavatsky wrote — “but every Theosophist must understand when told that there are Manasic [mental] as well as Kamic [emotional] organs in him, although the cells of his body answer to both physical and spiritual impulses.”

Milgram Experiment (3)

The Human Temple

“Verily that body, so desecrated by Materialism and man himself, is the temple of the Holy Grail, the Adytum of the grandest, nay, of all, the mysteries of nature in our solar universe.

“That body is an Æolian harp, chorded with two sets of strings, one made of pure silver, the other of catgut.”

Two Professors of Harp

“When the breath from the divine Fiat brushes softly over the former, man becomes like unto his God — but the other set feels it not.

“The powers and forces of animal nature can equally be used by the selfish and revengeful, as by the unselfish and the all-forgiving; the powers and forces of spirit lend themselves only to the perfectly pure in heart.”

– H. P. Blavatsky

Article link:

Psychic & Noëtic Action

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