by Richard Berg
Given in the Blue Star Memorial Temple
August 20, 2023
My first recollection of a world that I knew existed but could not see happened as a child when I first looked up one night. I noticed stars and I noticed they formed a pattern. My curiosity drove me to try to understand the pattern of stars in the night sky, which I soon found were organized into constellations, and the constellations described various Greek or Roman mythological figures. My instruments at age 12 years old consisted of a star chart and a pair of binoculars.
As I traced out the constellations in the night sky, I went to the library to read about astronomy and astrology. I became aware of various mythological stories associated with gods and goddesses of ancient Greek and Roman mythology. Studies of mythology led me to literature that expanded my imagination. I was 14 years old when I read the two most important books in my life up to that time. The first book was The Odyssey by Homer, followed by The Iliad, also by Homer. I was soon introduced to soothsayers, Gods, demons, and all sorts of fantastic creatures encountered by Odysseus during his adventures. I often asked where the stories about mythological figures come from. I have yet to find the answer.
Mythology introduced me to the world of the supernatural and the celestial spheres. Having been fascinated with the Greek and Roman Gods, soothsayers, and Goddesses, I began to realize there was something that I could not see with my eyes and only see with my mind. Of course, I didn’t know what my mind was at the time, and I confused my mind with my brain. I eventually discovered that mapping electrical signals in the brain does not provide information about the mind. My studies, however, have taken me to the world of consciousness — what is consciousness and why explanations of electrical activity in the brain do not explain consciousness. I realized when reading Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and others that consciousness is a lot deeper than my five senses. One of the books I discovered was Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams which opened the field of the unconscious and subconscious and introduced me to the study of the psyche. This was followed by the study of social and political science, leading to the study of human behavior.
The connection between ancient mythology and the study of psychology and human behavior had an everlasting effect on me. I benefited from the study of Western civilization, which gave me an historical perspective of human behavior. These studies, however, did not lead to understanding consciousness.
My journey is paved with books I have collected over many years, most of which I have read and some of which I understood. There was, however, something missing from my studies. I made many attempts to find people with whom to discuss occult knowledge, but alas, I could find no one to help me. I knew that I was planning to become a scientist as that was where my aptitude was greatest; however, my liberal education included sociology, psychology, biology, chemistry, physics, literature, and history. During graduate school I studied science, but I was always fascinated with psychology and philosophy as I tried to comprehend human behavior and emotional development. Even though I was able to separate rational scientific thought from emotional thought, I have spent most of my life trying to understand emotion, namely desire, motivation, instinct, and the vitality of life forces.
I have always collected books on occult topics (occult, meaning hidden to me): psychotherapy, sociology, political theory, philosophy. I never expected to get far in philosophy. My expertise was in was biology and chemistry and I have worked in that field for 50 years. However, my interest in books mystical, occult, and fantastical always fascinated me.
Whenever I went on trips to cities that had bookstores containing old or quaint books, I would always visit these bookstores. One time I was in Philadelphia, where I had lived for five years while I was in graduate school, and happened into a bookstore with many unusual books. I spotted Isis Unveiled and when I opened the book, I immediately knew I had something of great importance in my hand. I bought this book and packed it into my suitcase and went home with it. I put it next to several books I had collected over the years in my travels. One of my favorites was Tertium Organum by P.D. Ouspensky, along with In Search of the Miraculous by the same author. I had also collected a few books about the Kabbalah Tree of Life, gnostic gospels, and phenomenology. One particular book that made an impression on me was A Course in Miracles, which I studied and which had a profound effect on my life. This book taught me to realize the limits of my perception, which has proven to be very useful to me over the years. I also collected a multitude of various philosophy books. I became interested in some of the books by the Postmodern French authors Jacque Lacan, Michel Foucault, and Jacques Derrida that helped me to understand the existential nature of man. Questions that fascinated me were philosophical and related to understanding the inner world of my mind and the outer world of society. These studies also introduced me to the difficulty of using language to describe the nature of man. My interest in books never ceased, and I always remembered the unusual book I had collected 20 years ago entitled Isis Unveiled, which I had not read as it was too difficult for me to pursue. I did however remember the name of the author: H.P. Blavatsky.
Although I lived in the world of psychology and philosophy, my wife, a Catholic, was not a fan of what appeared to her to be the phantasmal world I was comfortable in. I became critical of religions with creeds and rituals. I rebelled against organized religion for much of my exposure to organized religion — for example, when my wife to be wanted to be married in St. Ignatius Loyola, a Jesuit church in New York, and the church refused to annul my previous marriage. Needless to say, we were married by the Justice of the Peace in Princeton, New Jersey.
We moved from Princeton to the Bay Area in California for a Biotech job in 1994, and my interest in the occult travelled with me. We moved to Arroyo Grande in 2000 where I had a job in San Luis Obispo. Before moving here, I had never been to the Central Coast.
Moving to the Central Coast caused me to explore the surroundings, and I became fascinated with the Dunites and Oceano. I eventually found my way to the Oceano Railroad Station Museum on a Sunday afternoon, where I met Norm Hammond. In asking about the Dunites, he provided me with a book he had written entitled The Dunites that was published in 1992. His books were for sale at the station.
Norm Hammond states in his book on page 12 that “…in 1903 representatives of the Theosophical Society of New York came to the area just east of Oceano to buy a large farm and the adjacent Coffee Rice mansion… . Helena Blavatsky, the founder of the movement, had spent much time in India and Tibet where she was initiated into many of the higher teachings. She brought these teachings to England and then to New York. Blavatsky’s successors then brought their group and teachings to the new farm they had just bought; they named the new community Halcyon.”
This indeed piqued my interest, and I showed up one Sunday to see what this Temple of the People was about. When I entered the Temple, I looked around and noticed a portrait of H.P. Blavatsky on the back wall. I was warmly welcomed by Temple members and began to comprehend that what I had apparently found was what I had been looking for, even though I didn’t know it at the time. This community guides me to certain occult writings, concepts, and knowledge.
Having found the community of Halcyon, and having found Theosophy, has been like finding a ball of thread and pulling on a string to discover an endless thread. This started stream of knowledge that I was not aware of until that day. One string led to another and another and another, and the genie comes out of the bottle followed by a plethora of knowledge, to my delight. Halcyon is a community where many people who have studied Theosophy and related works contribute their knowledge and understanding to each other. There are books I have not read but have been referred to by the group. The library is a treasure beyond belief where I have found many books that I never knew existed.
The study of theosophy has been for me the glue that has allowed me to apply historical perspective to religion and science over the last two millennia and before. The study of theosophy demonstrated to me that there was a knowable history prior to the two millennia of Western civilization. Ancient wisdom precedes history as we know it, and unfolds as we follow our journey. I understand that the universe is infinite with no beginning and no end, and I have discovered that in order for me to comprehend the universe, I first of all need to become aware, and secondly, I need to expand that awareness to consciousness.
I have lived in many places and many geographical locations and have discovered that anyone’s perspective is dependent on his environment and is an accumulation of his experience. Therefore, to contemplate the occult, it is essential to contemplate words whose meanings may have changed or have been translated from unfamiliar languages. Theosophical teachings of some traditions use Sanskrit words that do not translate into English very well, so one needs to read several authors’ descriptions of certain concepts to better understand those concepts.
I have discovered that my own limitations in understanding the world come from the challenge to become aware of myself and then to become aware of my non-self. This led me to realize that my surroundings are dependent on my perception.
Lessons in a program for living
I have worked to understand how to live meaningfully. It boils down to several simple concepts that are easy to state but difficult to understand.
My lifelong study and exposure to occult teachings has led to an understanding of the universal laws that operate under all conditions. This is the essence of my spiritual path that is actually my path to consciousness. The steps in the spiritual path require waking up becoming self-aware and then conscious.
Laws of nature
Laws of nature that I have learned are from the Hermetic principles:
The universe is mental; there is a correspondence on many planes of understanding; the universe is in constant motion; there is a balance between opposite poles; every effect has a cause; and the whole is all one but differentiates into genders. The journey in my life is based on a program for living which consists of becoming aware of my surroundings and of myself, and becoming aware of others. The result of becoming aware is becoming conscious.
In summary, my life began with stars and with trying to understand the world I could not see. It developed into a quest for understanding the inner world in my own mind. This is described as my spiritual path that continues today. Having found the community of Halcyon has given me an enormous resource and fellow travelers to lighten my load as I traverse a spiritual path to consciousness.
My spiritual path started with stars and is ending with consciousness.
— Richard Berg
August 20, 2023