William Quan Judge

American occult writer

William Quan Judge (April 13, 1851 – March 21, 1896) was an Irish-American mystic, esotericist, and occultist, and one of the founders of the original Theosophical Society.

William Quan Judge


QuotesEdit

Letters That Have Helped Me (1891)Edit

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  • We need a literature, not solely for highly intellectual persons, but of a more simple character, which attempts to appeal to ordinary common-sense minds who are really fainting for such moral and mental assistance as is not reached by the more pretentious works.
  • The writer, when first he became a theosophical student, had the aid of an advanced occultist in his studies. This friend sent him, among others, the letters which, in the hope that they may assist others as they have the original recipient, are here published. They are not exhaustive treatises; they are hints given by one who knew that the first need of a student is to learn how to think. (Preface to Volume 1)
  • Do not think much of me, please. Think kindly of me; but oh, my friend, direct your thoughts to the Eternal Truth. I am, like you, struggling on the road. Perhaps a veil might in an instant fall down from your spirit, and you would be long ahead of us all. The reason you have had help is that in other lives you gave it to others. In every effort you made to lighten another mind and open it to Truth, you were helped yourself. Those pearls you found for another and gave to him, you really retained for yourself in the act of benevolence. For when one lives thus to help others, he is thereby putting in practice the rule to try and "kill out all sense of separateness," and thus gets little by little in possession of the true light. (Vol. I, Letter 1)
  • Never lose, then, that attitude of mind. Hold fast in silence to all that is your own, for you will need it in the fight; but never, never desire to get knowledge or power for any other purpose than to give it on the altar, for thus alone can it be saved to you. (Vol. I, Letter 1)
  • No one can really help you. No one can open your doors. You locked them up, and only you can open them. When you open any door, beyond it you find others standing there who had passed you long ago, but now, unable to proceed, they are there waiting; others are there waiting for you. Then you come, and, opening a door, those waiting disciples perhaps may pass on; thus on and on. What a privilege this, to reflect that we may perhaps be able to help those who seemed greater than ourselves! (Vol. I, Letter 1)
  • O, what a groan Nature gives to see the heavy Karma which man has piled upon himself and all the creatures of the three worlds! That deep sigh pierces through my heart. How can the load be lifted? Am I to stand for myself, while the few strong hands of Blessed Masters and Their friends hold back the awful cloud? Such a vow I registered ages ago to help them, and I must. Would to great Karma I could do more! And you! do what you can. (Vol. I, Letter 1)
  • Place your only faith, reliance, and trust on Karma (Vol. I, Letter 1)
  • I am not separate from anything. "I am that which is." That is, I am Brahma, and Brahma is everything. But being in an illusionary world, I am surrounded by certain appearances that seem to make me separate. So I will proceed to mentally state and accept that I am all these illusions. I am my friends, -- and then I went to them in general and in particular. I am my enemies; then I felt them all. I am the poor and the wicked; I am the ignorant. Those moments of intellectual gloom are the moments when I am influenced by those ignorant ones who are myself. All this in my nation. But there are many nations, and to those I go in mind; I feel and I am them all, with what they hold of superstition or of wisdom or evil. All, all is myself. (Vol. I, Letter 4)
  • We are not the only ones to suffer upon the Path. Like ourselves, Masters have wept, though They do not now weep. One of them wrote some years ago: "Do you suppose we have not passed through many times worse trials than you now think you are in?" The Master often seems to reject and to hide his (spiritual) face, in order that the disciple may try. On the doors and walls of the temple the word "TRY" is written. "The Brothers" is a better designation than Mahatmas or Masters. (Vol. I, Letter 5)
  • I feel -- not Doubt of Masters who hear any heartbeat in the right direction, but -- a terrible Despair of these people. Oh, my God! The age is black as hell, hard as iron. It is iron, it is Kali Yuga. Kali is always painted black. Yet Kali Yuga by its very nature, and terrible, swift momentum, permits one to do more with his energies in a shorter time than in any other Yuga. But heavens, what a combat! Demons from all the spheres; waving clouds of smoky Karma; dreadful shapes; stupefying exhalations from every side. Exposed at each turn to new dangers. (Vol. I, Letter 7)
  • Yes; the gods are asleep for awhile. But noble hearts still walk here, fighting over again the ancient fight. They seek each other, so as to be of mutual help. We will not fail them. To fail would be nothing, but to stop working for Humanity and Brotherhood would be awful. We cannot: we will not. (Vol. I, Letter 7)
  • On Sunday I engaged in Meditation and received some benefit. I wished I could see you to speak of it. Yet these things are too high for words, and when we approach the subjects we are not able to give expression to our thoughts. (Vol. I, Letter 7)
  • It is true that the road to the gods is dark and difficult, and, as you say, we get nothing from them at first call: we have to call often. But we can on the way stop to look ahead, for no matter how sombre or howsoever weak ourselves, the Spectator sees it all and beckons to us, and whispers, "Be of good courage, for I have prepared a place for you where you will be with me forever." He is the Great Self; He is ourselves. (Vol. I, Letter 8)
  • Regret is productive only of error. I care not what I was, or what any one was. I only look for what I am each moment. For as each moment is and at once is not, it must follow that if we think of the past we forget the present, and while we forget, the moments fly by us, making more past. Then regret nothing, not even the greatest follies of your life, for they are gone, and you are to work in the present which is both past and future at once. So then, with that absolute knowledge that all your limitations are due to Karma, past or in this life, and with a firm reliance ever now upon Karma as the only judge, who will be good or bad as you make it yourself, you can stand anything that may happen and feel serene despite the occasional despondencies which all feel, but which the light of Truth always dispels. (Vol. I, Letter 8)

The Ocean of Theosophy (1893)Edit

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Chapter 1, Theosophy and the MastersEdit

  • Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; unfathomable in its deepest parts, it gives the greatest minds their fullest scope, yet, shallow enough at its shores, it will not overwhelm the understanding of a child.
  • It is wisdom about God for those who believe that he is all things and in all, and wisdom about nature for the man who accepts the statement found in the Christian Bible that God cannot be measured or discovered, and that darkness is around his pavilion.
  • Although it contains by derivation the name God and thus may seem at first sight to embrace religion alone, it does not neglect science, for it is the science of sciences and therefore has been called the wisdom religion. For no science is complete which leaves out any department of nature, whether visible or invisible, and that religion which, depending solely on an assumed revelation, turns away from things and the laws which govern them is nothing but a delusion, a foe to progress, an obstacle in the way of man's advancement toward happiness. Embracing both the scientific and the religious, Theosophy is a scientific religion and a religious science.
 
Annie Besant, Henry Steel Olcott and William Quan Judge in London (May 1891)


  • It is not a belief or dogma formulated or invented by man, but is a knowledge of the laws which govern the evolution of the physical, astral, psychical, and intellectual constituents of nature and of man. The religion of the day is but a series of dogmas man-made and with no scientific foundation for promulgated ethics; while our science as yet ignores the unseen, and failing to admit the existence of a complete set of inner faculties of perception in man, it is cut off from the immense and real field of experience which lies within the visible and tangible worlds. But Theosophy knows that the whole is constituted of the visible and the invisible, and perceiving outer things and objects to be but transitory it grasps the facts of nature, both without and within. It is therefore complete in itself and sees no unsolvable mystery anywhere; it throws the word coincidence out of its vocabulary and hails the reign of law in everything and every circumstance.

Chapter 2, General PrinciplesEdit

  • The teachings of Theosophy deal for the present chiefly with our earth, although its purview extends to all the worlds, since no part of the manifested universe is outside the single body of laws which operate upon us. Our globe being one of the solar system is certainly connected with Venus, Jupiter, and other planets, but as the great human family has to remain with its material vehicle — the earth — until all the units of the race which are ready are perfected, the evolution of that family is of greater importance to the members of it. Some particulars respecting the other planets may be given later on. First let us take a general view of the laws governing all.
  • The universe evolves from the unknown, into which no man or mind, however high, can inquire, on seven planes or in seven ways or methods in all worlds, and this sevenfold differentiation causes all the worlds of the universe and the beings thereon to have a septenary constitution. As was taught of old, the little worlds and the great are copies of the whole, and the minutest insect as well as the most highly developed being are replicas in little or in great of the vast inclusive original. Hence sprang the saying, "as above so below" which the Hermetic philosophers used.

Chapter 8, Of ReincarnationEdit

  • This is the most ancient of doctrines and is believed in now by more human minds than the number of those who do not hold it. The millions in the East almost all accept it; it was taught by the Greeks; a large number of the Chinese now believe it as their forefathers did before them; the Jews thought it was true, and it has not disappeared from their religion; and Jesus, who is called the founder of Christianity, also believed and taught it. In the early Christian church it was known and taught, and the very best of the fathers of the church believed and promulgated it.
  • How man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are questions that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive answer to. This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities, all his because of his intimate connection with every secret part of Nature from which he has been built up, stands at the top of an immense and silent evolution. He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that aim may be attained....
  • Science and Religion both fail to give a reasonable reply. Science does not pretend to be able to give the solution, saying that the examination of things as they are is enough of a task; religion offers an explanation both illogical and unmeaning and acceptable but to the bigot, as it requires us to consider the whole of Nature as a mystery and to seek for the meaning and purpose of life with all its sorrow in the pleasure of a God who cannot be found out. The educated and enquiring mind knows that dogmatic religion can only give an answer invented by man while it pretends to be from God.
  • What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to reach self-consciousness; not through a race or a tribe or some favored nation, but by and through the perfecting, after transformation, of the whole mass of matter as well as what we now call soul. Nothing is or is to be left out. The aim for present man is his initiation into complete knowledge, and for the other kingdoms below him that they may be raised up gradually from stage to stage to be in time initiated also.
  • This is evolution carried to its highest power; it is a magnificent prospect; it makes of man a god, and gives to every part of nature the possibility of being one day the same; there is strength and nobility in it, for by this no man is dwarfed and belittled, for no one is so originally sinful that he cannot rise above all sin. Treated from the materialistic position of Science, evolution takes in but half of life; while the religious conception of it is a mixture of nonsense and fear. Present religions keep the element of fear, and at the same time imagine that an Almighty being can think of no other earth but this and has to govern this one very imperfectly. But the old theosophical view makes the universe a vast, complete, and perfect whole.
  • Christians should remember that Jesus was a Jew who thought his mission was to Jews, for he says in St. Matthew, "I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." He must have well known the doctrines held by them. They all believed in reincarnation. For them Moses, Adam, Noah, Seth, and others had returned to earth, and at the time of Jesus it was currently believed that the old prophet Elias was yet to return. So we find, first, that Jesus never denied the doctrine, and on various occasions assented to it, as when he said that John the Baptist was actually the Elias of old whom the people were expecting. All this can be seen by consulting St. Matthew in chapters xvii, xi, and others.
  • In the case of the musician Bach we have proof that heredity counts for nothing if the Ego is not advanced, for his genius was not borne down his family line; it gradually faded out, finally leaving the family stream entirely. So, too, the coming of idiots or vicious children to parents who are good, pure, or highly intellectual is explained in the same way. They are cases where heredity is set at nought by a wholly bad or deficient Ego.
  • It has been often thought that the opposition to reincarnation has been solely based on prejudice, when not due to a dogma which can only stand when the mind is bound down and prevented from using its own powers. It is a doctrine the most noble of all, and with its companion one of Karma, next to be considered, it alone gives the basis for ethics. There is no doubt in my mind that the founder of Christianity took it for granted and that its present absence from that religion is the reason for the contradiction between the professed ethics of Christian nations and their actual practises which are so contrary to the morals given out by Jesus.
 
Karma is a beneficent law wholly merciful, relentlessly just, for true mercy is not favor but impartial justice... With reincarnation the doctrine of karma explains the misery and suffering of the world, and no room is left to accuse Nature of injustice.

Chapter 11, KarmaEdit

  • Karma is an unfamiliar word for Western ears. It is the name adopted by Theosophists of the nineteenth century for one of the most important of the laws of nature. Ceaseless in its operation, it bears alike upon planets, systems of planets, races, nations, families, and individuals. It is the twin doctrine to reincarnation. So inextricably interlaced are these two laws that it is almost impossible to properly consider one apart from the other. No spot or being in the universe is exempt from the operation of Karma, but all are under its sway, punished for error by it yet beneficently led on, through discipline, rest, and reward, to the distant heights of perfection. It is a law so comprehensive in its sweep, embracing at once our physical and our moral being, that it is only by paraphrase and copious explanation one can convey its meaning in English. For that reason the Sanskrit term Karma was adopted to designate it.
  • Applied to man's moral life it is the law of ethical causation, justice, reward and punishment; the cause for birth and rebirth, yet equally the means for escape from incarnation. Viewed from another point it is merely effect flowing from cause, action and reaction, exact result for every thought and act. It is act and the result of act; for the word's literal meaning is action. Theosophy views the Universe as an intelligent whole, hence every motion in the Universe is an action of that whole leading to results, which themselves become causes for further results. Viewing it thus broadly, the ancient Hindus said that every being up to Brahma was under the rule of Karma.
  • It is not a being but a law, the universal law of harmony which unerringly restores all disturbance to equilibrium. In this the theory conflicts with the ordinary conception about God, built up from the Jewish system, which assumes that the Almighty as a thinking entity, extraneous to the Cosmos, builds up, finds his construction inharmonious, out of proportion, errant, and disturbed, and then has to pull down, destroy, or punish that which he created. This has either caused thousands to live in fear of God, in compliance with his assumed commands, with the selfish object of obtaining reward and securing escape from his wrath, or has plunged them into darkness which comes from a denial of all spiritual life. But as there is plainly, indeed painfully, evident to every human being a constant destruction going on in and around us, a continual war not only among men but everywhere through the whole solar system, causing sorrow in all directions, reason requires a solution of the riddle.
  • The poor, who see no refuge or hope, cry aloud to a God who makes no reply, and then envy springs up in them when they consider the comforts and opportunities of the rich. They see the rich profligates, the wealthy fools, enjoying themselves unpunished. Turning to the teacher of religion, they meet the reply to their questioning of the justice which will permit such misery to those who did nothing requiring them to be born with no means, no opportunities for education, no capacity to overcome social, racial, or circumstantial obstacles, "It is the will of God."
  • Parents produce beloved offspring who are cut off by death at an untimely hour, just when all promised well. They too have no answer to the question "Why am I thus afflicted?" but the same unreasonable reference to an inaccessible God whose arbitrary will causes their misery. Thus in every walk of life, loss, injury, persecution, deprivation of opportunity, nature's own forces working to destroy the happiness of man, death, reverses, disappointment continually beset good and evil men alike. But nowhere is there any answer or relief save in the ancient truths that each man is the maker and fashioner of his own destiny, the only one who sets in motion the causes for his own happiness and misery. In one life he sows and in the next he reaps. Thus on and forever, the law of Karma leads him.
  • Karma is a beneficent law wholly merciful, relentlessly just, for true mercy is not favor but impartial justice.
  • How is the present life affected by that bygone right and wrong act, and is it always by way of punishment? Is Karma only fate under another name, an already fixed and formulated destiny from which no escape is possible, and which therefore might make us careless of act or thought that cannot affect destiny? It is not fatalism. Everything done in a former body has consequences which in the new birth the Ego must enjoy or suffer, for, as St. Paul said: "Brethren, be not deceived, God is not mocked, for whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap."
  • For the effect is in the cause, and Karma produces the manifestation of it in the body, brain, and mind furnished by reincarnation. And as a cause set up by one man has a distinct relation to him as a center from which it came, so each one experiences the results of his own acts. We may sometimes seem to receive effects solely from the acts of others, but this is the result of our own acts and thoughts in this or some prior life. We perform our acts in company with others always, and the acts with their underlying thoughts have relation always to other persons and to ourselves.

Occult Tales (1894)Edit

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A Curious Tale — (December 1888)Edit

  • ... there was an old man keeping up a fire... the eternal fire never yet known to have gone out, and I...alone was permitted to help the old man. ...When the old man left me, it was burning brightly. ..In a frenzy of fear I leaped to new fuel and put it on the fire, fanned it...but all my efforts were vain, — it was dead. A sickening dread seized me......"It is the past," the stranger began. "You have just reached a point where you failed to feed the fire ages ago. It is done. Do you want to hear of these things? The old man has gone long ago, and can trouble you no more. Very soon you will be again in the whirl of the nineteenth century....This is an old tower used by the immediate descendants of the white Magicians who settled on Ireland when England's Isle had not arisen from the sea. When the great Masters had to go away, strict injunctions were left that no fires on these towers were to go out, and the warning was also given that, if the duties of life were neglected, if charity, duty, and virtue were forgotten, the power to keep these fires alive would gradually disappear. The decadence of the virtues would coincide with the failure of the fires, and this, the last tower, guarded by an old and young man, would be the last to fail..

The Magic Screen of Time — (April 1889)Edit

  • Time, in the Sanskrit, is called Kala. He is a destroyer and also a renovator. Yama, the lord of death, although powerful, is not so much so as Kala, for "until the time has come Yama can do nothing." The moments as they fly past before us carrying all things with them in long procession, are the atoms of Time, the sons of Kala. Years roll into centuries, centuries into cycles, and cycles become ages; but Time reigns over them all, for they are only his divisions.

The Tell-Tale Picture Gallery (June 1989)Edit

  • I was standing looking at the face of an old friend about my own age who had been sent to another part of the island, and it filled me with sadness unaccountably. One of the curious elemental creatures moved silently up near it. In amazement I strained my eyes, for the picture of my friend was apparently discolouring. Its expression altered every moment. It turned from white to grey and yellow, and back to grey, and then suddenly it grew all black as if with rapid decomposition.
  • I began to carefully scan the collection, and found that all my co-disciples were represented there, as well as hundreds whom I had never seen, and every priest high or low whom I had observed about the island. Yet the same saddening music every now and then reminded me of the scene of the blackening of my friend's picture. I knew it meant others blackened and being destroyed by the watchful elementals who I could vaguely perceive were pouncing upon something whenever those notes sounded. They were like the wails of angels when they see another mortal going to moral suicide.
  • Here were the living pictures of every student or priest of the order founded by the Adepts of the Diamond Mountain... connected by invisible cords with the character of those they represented, and like a telegraph instrument they instantly recorded the exact state of the disciple's mind; when he made a complete failure, they grew black and were destroyed; when he progressed in spiritual life, their degrees of brightness or beauty showed his exact standing.

Suicide Is Not Death The Lamp, September 1894Edit

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  • Suicide, like any other murder is a sin because it is a sudden disturbance of the harmony of the world... Nature exists for the sake of the soul and for no other reason, it has the design, so to say, of giving the soul experience and self-consciousness. These can only be had by means of a body through which the soul comes in contact with nature, and to violently sever the connection before the natural time defeats the aim of nature, for the present compelling her, by her own slow processes, to restore the task left unfinished. And as those processes must go on through the soul that permitted the murder, more pain and suffering must follow.
  • Suicide is a huge folly, because it places the committer of it in an infinitely worse position than he was in under the conditions from which he foolishly hoped to escape. It is not death. It is only a leaving of one well-known house in familiar surroundings to go into a new place where terror and despair alone have place. It is but a preliminary death done to the clay, which is put in the "cold embrace of the grave," leaving the man himself naked and alive, but out of mortal life and not in either heaven or hell.
  • A tree or a mineral or a man is a combination of elements or parts, and each must have its projected life term. If we violently and prematurely cut them off one from the other, certain consequences must ensue. Each constituent requires its own time for dissolution. And suicide being a violent destruction of the first element - body - the other two, of soul and spirit, are left without their natural instrument. The man then is but half dead, and is compelled by the law of his own being to wait until the natural term is reached.
  • The fate of the suicide is horrible in general. He has cut himself off from his body by using mechanical means that affect the body, but cannot touch the real man. He then is projected into the astral world, for he has to live somewhere. There the remorseless law, which acts really for his good, compels him to wait until he can properly die. Naturally he must wait, half dead, the months or years which, in the order of nature, would have rolled over him before body and soul and spirit could rightly separate. He becomes a shade....

Quotes about W.Q. JudgeEdit

  • To William Q. Judge, General Secretary of the American Section of the Theosophical Society
    Dearest Brother and Co-Founder of the Theosophical Society:
    In addressing to you this letter, which I request you to read to the Convention summoned for April 22d, I must first present my hearty congratulations and most cordial good wishes to the assembled Delegates and good Fellows of our Society, and to yourself — the heart and soul of that Body in America. We were several, to call it to life in 1875. Since then you have remained alone to preserve that life through good and evil report. It is to you chiefly, if not entirely, that the Theosophical Society owes its existence... Let me then thank you for it, for the first, and perhaps for the last, time publicly, and from the bottom of my heart, which beats only for the cause you represent so well and serve so faithfully. I ask you also to remember that, on this important occasion, my voice is but the feeble echo of other more sacred voices, and the transmitter of the approval of Those whose presence is alive in more than one true Theosophical heart, and lives, as I know, preeminently in yours. May the assembled Society feel the warm greeting as earnestly as it is given, and may every Fellow present, who realizes that he has deserved it, profit by the Blessings sent.

See alsoEdit

Theosophical Teachers & TeachingsEdit

RelatedEdit

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