:O Oh my Goodness! It took several tries and this is our 5th take, with doorbells and phones ringing, bossy cats and battery dramas but we got through it :).
Again my apologies if you were notified each time that pushed the start button ~ Here is an insight into the “how it all began” and the who, whats and whens of what I am doing here on Yogi Theosophy. I also share about the discovery my first Theosophical text, for within its pages lie treasured and timeless teachings that have changed my life, so significantly that I feel I must share them with you. These “Fourteen Lessons” are an introduction to some of the most important recorded wisdoms of our time. Embers of this sacred knowledge can faintly be seen through the veils of almost every religion, including the new age movement. Each doctrine seems to have a piece of this grail, but none contain it in its entirety. Though my understandings at this time are finite and elementary, I will do my best to explain the Infinite within.
The following chapters contain the original correspondence course, mailed out monthly over a century ago, to the homes of eager students of esoteric philosophy, (I have included the original class notes, mantrams and meditations). My first encounter with this work was with the sequel and supplementary text that followed, titled “The Advanced Course…” I didn’t know it at the time, but I took some monumentally pivotal footsteps that day.
With a faint echo à la “The Da Vinci Code,” my journey began in the summer of 2003 when I stumbled across this century old text in a now defunct Southern California new age book shop. Just there for a quick look around, I strolled through, hoping maybe to find some obscure sandalwood incense. Over the decades, books seem to absorb the scent of time, their covers offering tiny clues to those who held them before; some with eloquent handwritten dedications inside, others with creased spines and dog-eared pages revealing favourite chapters and scribbled side notes.
Lazily wandering and fingertips flitting over the uneven books, I glanced at the plentiful library and all of the different titles and fonts. Ahead was a bookshelf of older works; I spotted one, tattered and grey with a faded and barely-there symbol of a triangle behind and surrounding a circle. Curious, I hooked my index finger upon its dusty top and flipped the book into my palm. The title seemed long and laborious: “The Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism.” I had absolutely no idea what that could possibly mean. I did, however, know that the word “occult” does not equate to evil as commonly thought. Vilified by the western world over the last four centuries, the word occult simply means: obscure, strange or mysterious, knowledge of the hidden. Arcane and esoteric, occult is a beautiful word that simply describes the unknown. The location of your lost set of car keys could accurately be classified as “occult” to you during that present moment.
I flipped through the yellowed edged, ivory pages and scanned the contents. The text that I glossed over quickly seemed surprisingly palatable and comforting. “Wow.” I looked up to see if anyone else was flocking to this area of the bookshop. “Wait, what section am I in again?” I read on for a moment and then kept flipping back to discern the title. The price was faintly written in near illegible pencil and seemed incredibly reasonable at only four dollars. Pleased, I scooped it up and headed toward the counter, forgetting all about the sandalwood incense.
Unfortunately, it remained unopened and unread in my own library for another six years.
Upon meeting my husband-to-be, a beautiful person with an even more beautiful soul; An Englishman who lived in the rural countryside of Devon 5,500 miles away in the United Kingdom. (This is a cherished love story I’d like to share with you someday…) I soon found myself faced with the opportunity of an international move. There is much to say here, but I wish to keep all as concise as possible. My purpose is to introduce you to the teachings in the text that follows, however, I feel a very brief bit of personal background is necessary, as the events along this journey are paramount to what led to the opening and exploration of this treasured book.
To marry and move was a colossal decision. The chances of ever finding and falling in love with someone whom you share THAT much in common with seemed incalculable. At forty-one years of age, I met the world’s most gentle, loving and amazing man, handsome too, my partner and very best friend, who lived half a world away. Over the years, our lives were curiously interwoven with several close calls but remained separated by thousands of miles. We shared countless similarities, tastes and interests. Rather than joining together with Christopher, it felt much more like a warm, loving and familiar “welcome back.”
I am mother to one cherished boy, the most precious young man, Alex, my heartbeat and the love of my life. Alex was only 8 years old when I met Christopher. Wanting to give him the very best of both worlds launched a custody “battle” that regrettably became quite bloody. I began to see the devastation and pain deep in Alex’s eyes after a return flight. The horrific realisation fell upon me like a sudden amputation, I could see that our ‘war’ was emotionally crucifying our beloved child; it was destroying him.
I have since come to understand that custody battles, outside of very extreme circumstances, are more often than not, based upon parent’s egos rather than what is truly best for their child. Children are extraordinary, individual beings, they are not possessions; We are their trusted guides. Through rivers of tears, I realised that out of an even greater love, one of us had to drop our sword and leave the battlefield. I would rather have burnt alive than to live without Alex, but it is a far greater gift for our son to have peaceful, loving parents than us bickering about which schools he should attend or ensuring where he would spend the majority of his time growing up. Compassion, kindness, communication and co-parenting are the real “winners” of any custody dispute.
It was the right thing to do but it was definitely not easy. Living apart from my son was excruciating, yet I have learnt that emotional pain of this magnitude can be of immeasurable value, as it literally reassembled my physical, mental and spiritual structure. The technology of today has allowed me to develop and maintain a loving and very close relationship with Alex, one probably stronger and even healthier than if we lived together in the same house. He now tells me how much he appreciates having two worlds, two homes and two cultures in which to grow and thrive.
It was during this crucial time of pain, numbness and realignment that I began to walk.
Our 450 year old home sits in the English countryside, surrounded by lush green fields and pastures. Our town is a medieval borough along the river Dart, not far from the sea with a population of about 9,000. Trails and paths are plentiful and eventually, I began to take advantage of this natural bounty and set off to bathe in the trees and wind as often as I could. I found deep comfort and solace in these quiet times; the solitude and peace found in Nature far surpass the interior of any man-made building.
Some days were harder than others; I often fought back stinging, salty tears, heartbroken and missing my beloved son yet stepping forth in trust, working towards building a life with my amazing husband. All the while, we kept space for Alex to come for summers and holidays and perhaps… maybe one day for good. I am so very grateful for the gift of husband, Christopher. He is more than patience and kindness; he is the definition of unconditional love.
Almost every time I walked by our little hallway library I would see this book on Yogi Philosophy, remembering its eloquent flow of wisdom. Often, I would pick it up and flip through the pages scolding myself, “You know, you really, really, really should read this book!” One early morning while scrambling to find worthy reading material on a flight to California to see Alex, I hurriedly popped it into my flight bag, this was the moment that changed everything.
The memory is vivid from aboard that transatlantic flight; every page I read resonated and flowed so beautifully. “Surely I am imagining this!” Or could it be… that after ALL of these years, something finally seems to be making sense? I vowed to myself to spend more time with this book. I must look up the author, the origins… What is all of this? Why had I not heard of this before?
“Man, know thyself,” Humanity’s eternal quest for the meaning of life. We have all read our fair share of books that guarantee life changing insight and magnificent mystical revelation. Some offered a dim illumination but most left us with far more questions than answers.
I started taking the book out on walks through the woods and fields along the river, reflecting upon the words as they sweetly leapt off the pages, it felt good to combine the study of these teachings with quiet time upon the earth. I paid very close attention to what I read as it seemed imperative to do so. Evenings at the dinner table, I would discuss with Husband the importance of what I studied that day, things like; the significance of the pineal gland, the “I AM” consciousness, global unity, coexistence, auras, it was all right there, but with an explanation and understanding far deeper than any other work I had ever come across. The more I immersed myself in these teachings and the more I applied them, the better I felt.
In the autumn of 2012, a Kindle purchase vastly improved my ability to absorb these writings, through miles of mud, wind and rain Amazon’s friendly, robotic “text to speech” female voice read my lessons to me while tucked safely away in my pocket. I combined walking with studying; hearing these lessons while deep in the arms of Mother Nature seemed to amplify their impact. I found it increasingly curious that whenever I revisited a chapter; additional, deeper and different information revealed itself, dare I say almost magically!
I was insatiable to find out where it all came from. Yogi Ramacharaka is a pseudonym used by one of the most prolific writers of the New Thought movement: Attorney, businessman, freemason, magazine editor and author; William Walker Atkinson.
My initial research led to mostly frustrating dead ends, aside from the discovery of a few, spattered and half-hearted biographies on Atkinson. However, there were a couple of people who seemed to recognise the value of the Ramacharaka writings and had documented their findings. “Ananda’s Site” listed a detailed trail of investigation, including a letter from “Yoga Publications” noting that there was indeed a man named Ramacharaka, born in India around 1799, a wise wanderer who travelled for years searching for wisdom. His pilgrimage continued on as he scoured remote monastery bookshelves and opulent private libraries to gather any and all knowledge that was known to man at the time. After years of study, meditation and contemplation, he is said to have finally found the foundation of truth.
In 1865, it was noted that this Ramacharaka took on a pupil, an 8-year-old boy named Baba Bharata. Over the next three decades in retracing his original steps, the wise man taught all he knew to his eager young student. Supposedly, it was this boy as a man in later years who eventually crossed paths with Atkinson in America. Bharata had the knowledge taught to him by Ramacharaka but lacked adequate writing talent, it is said that he worked together with Atkinson to write down these treasured wisdoms for future generations.
Then who was Yogi Ramacharaka? The truth remains an obscurum per obscurius and a mystery to this very day. Perhaps a story embellished by the Yogi Publication society to lend credibility to their writer… perhaps not.
I then reached out to Roger Cole, owner of online bookstore, YOGebooks. Familiar with the complete works of Walter Atkinson and also curious about the identity of Ramacharaka, Roger tried to contact the Yogi Publication Society for more information:
“I wrote to the Yoga (Yogi) Publication Society shortly after I discovered Ramacharaka’s books, and they sent me a form letter with questionable information. They claimed the books were written by a William Walker Atkinson from England. Atkinson is from the United States. They claimed the co-authorship of an Indian by the name of Baba Bharata, which loosely translates to Mr. India. No evidence exists for this person. They also claim that the teachings were from an actual person called Yogi Ramacharaka in India. Again no such evidence exists.”
~ Roger Cole
Interestingly, Atkinson was busy passing the bar exam in Illinois in 1903, the same year he began writing as Yogi Ramacharaka for the Yogi Publication society. Reflecting on the magnitude of these writings, it seems prohibitively difficult at best to have done both. All in all, a total of 13 “Ramacharaka” works were written down by Atkinson, with over one hundred titles to his credit on a wide variety of subjects, including: metaphysics, mentalism, healing, psychology, science and esoteric philosophy. Almost half of Atkinson’s books were written under pen names, other nom de plumes used by Atkinson were: Theron Q. Dumont, Swami Panchadasi, Magus Incognito and possibly more yet to be discovered.
“The Kybalion,” an equally enigmatic text on Hermetic Principles came through Atkinson in 1908 writing as “The Three Initiates.” Thought to be one of the great works of “Hermes Trismagistus,” (one in the same as the ancient Egyptian God, Thoth) the name “Hermes Trismagistus” is not the name of an individual, but rather is Divine Wisdom, Reason and Knowledge Itself, employing many scribes throughout the ages. Aside from “The Kybalion,” to me, Atkinson’s other books and writings do not contain the significance and sacred vibration felt within these Fourteen Lessons.
There was a resurge in popularity for the Ramacharaka books in the metaphysical New Age Movement of the 1960s. It is thought that Carlos Castaneda likely “borrowed” the written wisdoms of Yogi Ramacharaka to flesh out the later works of his Indian sage, Don Juan. Perhaps both “Yogi” and “Yaqui” in their original teachings spoke of the same ancient truths, like two men describing their view of the Sun from atop separate mountains.
Both “The Fourteen Lessons in Yogi Philosophy and Oriental Occultism” and “The Advanced Course in Yogi Philosophy” often refer to and quote a significant spiritual text titled, “Light on the Path.” Googling this, I found it to be one of the great Theosophical classics. Wait, Theosophical? Theosophy? What was that?!
I quickly added “Light on the Path” to my repertoire of studies. Written down by Mabel Collins in 1884, it is a greatly respected work among students of the ancient wisdoms/esoteric philosophies.
One winter evening, baffled and scrolling for more information on my phone in bed, I pondered with Husband, “How is it that Theosophy has never crossed either one of our paths in all of our years on Earth?”
Christopher joined in the investigation that night and found the Theosophical Society in London offered a one-year diploma course consisting of several modules, seminars and group studies. Some of the subjects offered for study: Cosmogenesis, The Seven Planes, Karma and Reincarnation. Those sounded intriguing, however, I longed to study what I was reading on my walks, the knowledge contained within “The Fourteen Lessons.”
Just a few weeks into the course, I began to see a striking similarity; one helped me to understand the other. Humbled with gratitude, I realised the teachings were literally parallel in places! My Theosophical studies began with the familiar Hermetic axiom, “As above, so below,” and I craved to learn more. We studied the classic writings and teachings of the Masters of the Wisdom with volumes coming through Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, most notably the extraordinarily significant, “The Secret Doctrine.” Published in two volumes in 1888, read directly, its pages are daunting, over the years, it has perplexed, confused and has been interpreted by many. During her time, Blavatsky literally wrote down thousands upon thousands of pages of ageless and intricate scientific and spiritual knowledge, truth, love and wisdom.
“Theosophy was once the universal religion of mankind, and is destined to be the universal religion of the future. Even now its great principles are permeating thought and action everywhere, and everywhere the most advanced mind are looking forward to the idea of a universal religion as Humanity’s one hope.”
~ Katherine Tingley
Theosophy originates from Theosophia; Theos for God and sophia for wisdom. Transcending religion, science and philosophy and in existence since time immemorial, Theosophy is a loving esoteric teaching of universal unity and true service of humanity. Meditation is strongly encouraged, even if only for a few moments a day, so that all may find their own truth within. Timeless and impossible for me to describe accurately, I shall leave it up to those far more qualified:
“Theosophia: Wisdom-religion, or ‘Divine Wisdom’. The substratum and basis of all the world-religions and philosophies, taught and practised since man became a thinking being. In its practical bearing, Theosophy is purely divine ethics.”
~ H. P. Blavatsky
“Theosophy, in its abstract meaning, is Divine Wisdom, or the aggregate of the knowledge and wisdom that underlie the Universe – the homogeneity of eternal GOOD; and in its concrete sense it is the sum total of the same as allotted to man by nature, on this earth, and no more.”
~ H.P. Blavatsky
“Theosophy is the inner life in every religion. It is no new religion, but as old as truth itself… to bring men and women together as co-workers for a great and universal purpose; and the first step towards that end is to accentuate the fact that man is divine, and that to help create a nucleus of universal brother-hood, based on the Divinity of Man and the Immortality of the Soul, is the duty of every human being.”
~ Katherine Tingley
Unfortunately, there has been much controversy, slander and drama as is often seen when significant spiritual truths combine with man’s lower nature. Greed and the struggle for power, control and exclusivity have always eclipsed the importance of the teachings themselves. I do not wish to go into any of that here. I simply wish to share with you, Dear Reader, the great joy I have found in learning and applying these truths. These “Fourteen Lessons” were the introduction that paved the way for me into further study of Theosophy.
I’m making a special note here on the following text, and the significant difference of some of the language of the Victorian and/or Edwardian period. Many words and descriptions are of the time and others are clearly explained in the further study of Theosophy. I feel it’s important to point out that the term “ego” can be used as a synonym for higher or lower self, depending on context. Also, it is important to understand that the term “race” describes a period of time in humanity, a stage of human evolution and most definitely not ethnicity. You will also see the word “savage” used to define some of us who are born with a closer connection to the lower human, “animal” nature. Ironically, this could certainly apply to many humans classified as “civilised” today, as it is true that many species of animals display more compassion, love and understanding than much of humanity. The use of the term “God” is all encompassing, neither religious nor exclusive. It is a reflection of the period and a word to describe The Eternal or The Absolute (a Source known by countless names throughout the history of our world.)
One must also be careful to never use the knowledge given in the following “Fourteen Lessons” irresponsibly or for selfish reasons. May I also ask all to please remember to read with an open mind and apply careful discernment as to what feels or does not feel as truth to you.
Coexistence, tolerance, love and compassion and a world without borders seem the natural evolution of Humanity to me. Mankind has murdered and tortured for millennia trying to prove that one particular belief is the most loving, peaceful and true. Studies have been made on the philosophical alignment of the great teachers and sages: Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Lao Tzu, Confucius, Pythagoras, Plato and in the Vedas, the Upanishads and the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali as well as the mellifluous writings of Rumi and Gibran, a vast number of texts with striking similarities! As we evolve, we can more clearly see their branches tracing back to the original Root.
The purpose of republishing these lessons with a modern introduction is to place them out in front once again. I wish to make them visible and accessible on bookshelves and online, so that any and all may be able to study, learn and grow from them as I have been able to do.
I am a radio and television presenter by trade and I felt so compelled to give these lessons a voice that I recorded them one by one over 2014/2015 and uploaded them to the web. I believe they should be made available to everyone. My life has so vastly improved, mentally, physically and spiritually, I am happy, whole and I believe there is nothing more important to do than continue the study and application of these teachings. I am no expert, simply a dedicated student of Theosophy.
Social media has enabled so many of us to have a global daily diary that spans the last few years. When I look back over my cathartic journaling from those early days, I can now clearly recognise the influence of these ancient wisdoms. I have shared some of my entries at the end of this book in the section entitled: “Digital Reflections and Afterthoughts.”
With so much love,
1 Ananda’s Site (2011). “Yogi Ramacharaka” [online]. Available from:
Anandas website http://users.telenet.be/ananda/ramach.htm
2 Tingley, Katherine. (1922) Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic. Theosophical Publishing Company.
3 Blavatsky, H.P. (1892) The Theosophical Glossary. London: The Theosophical Publishing Society.
4 Blavatsky, H.P. (1889) The Key to Theosophy. London: The Theosophical Publishing Company.
5 Tingley, Katherine. (1922) Theosophy: The Path of the Mystic. Theosophical Publishing Company.