Thursday, May 13, 2010

C. H. A. Bjerregaard

The blog The Gurdjieff Con for May 6, 2010, carries a brief note about C. H. A. Bjerregaard and his connection with HPB. Bjerregaard is cited approvingly in The Secret Doctrine and articles by him appeared in the New York Path. Yet nothing exists on him in any theosophical account (there is no entry for him in the Cumulative Index to the Blavatsky Collected Writings series though he is referenced by HPB on p. 42 of volume 8).

Carl Henrik Andreas Bjerregaard (1845-1922) was born in Denmark in 1845. Graduating from the University of Copenhagen in 1863, he went on to become a professor of botany. In 1873 he came to America and in 1879 became Librarian at the Astor Library, which later merged with the Lenox Library to form the Reference Division of the New York Public Library, eventually becoming Chief of its Main Reading Room. His interest in the spiritual life can be seen in the books and articles he wrote. This may explain the extensive collection of theosophical material at the New York Public Library.

Of his relevance, The Gurdjieff Con notes: So, there was already an active Theosophical scene in New York and a librarian who was also a theosophist would have served a valuable function as part of the referral network and as one who created contributions to the literature.

In The Secret Doctrine, volume 1, p. 630, HPB quotes “the opinion of this learned and thoughtful theosophist, Mr. C. H. A. Bjerregaard,” on the Monad, from his “excellent paper on ‘The Elementals, the Elementary Spirits, and the relationship between them and Human Beings,’” read by him at the Theosophical Society in New York, and printed in The Path, Jan. and Feb. 1887: Every monad is a living mirror of the universe, within its own sphere. And mark this, for upon it depends the power possessed by these monads, and upon it depends the work they can do for us: in mirroring the world, the monads are not mere passive reflective agents, but spontaneously self-active; they produce the images spontaneously, as the soul does a dream. In every monad, therefore, the adept may read everything, even the future. Every monad or Elemental is a looking-glass that can speak.

His books include: Lectures on mysticism and nature worship, 1896 and 1897; Sufi interpretations of the quatrains of Omar Khayyam and Fitzgerald, 1902; Jesus: a poet, prophet, mystic and man of freedom, 1912; The inner life and the Tao-teh-king, 1912; The great mother, a gospel of the eternally-feminine; occult and scientific studies and experiences in the sacred and secret life, 1913; Sufism: Omar Khayyam and E. Fitzgerald, 1915.

In the November 1915 issue of The Sufi, Pir-o-Murshid Inayat Khan wrote of him: “He has explained how the conventional phraseology of Sufi poets has been so often misinterpreted by writers who have only been linguists – no mystics.”

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