THEOSOPHY, Vol. 23, No. 3, January, 1935
(Pages 97-103: 19K)
(Number 1 of a 10-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT in its inclusive sense means the triple course of evolution pursued by self-conscious Egos from the dawn to the close of a Manvantara. "Being is an endless cycle within the one absolute eternity, wherein move numberless inner cycles, finite and conditioned."
The Movement in our times is a cycle of 100 years which began in 1875, and is the sixth in a series which began in the last quarter of the fourteenth century. It will be followed by a seventh commencing in 1975. The present centenary cycle, and the series to which it belongs, are both included in the "Messianic cycle" of 2,155 years, itself but a phase in a still larger one, and so on throughout the life-period of a whole Race, of a series of Races, and of our entire solar system, of which this earth and its inhabitants comprise but a portion. The whole mass of Egos collectively, in Races, Sub-races, Family-races, nations, etc.; the individual Egos in their various stages -- all these represent cycles upon cycles, wheels within wheels, which "down to their smallest ramifications, overlap and are entangled with each other until it is nearly impossible to separate them." The key of cycles, otherwise of Karma and Reincarnation, underlies and pervades the entire teachings of the Wisdom-Religion whose partial re-presentation in our times by H. P. Blavatsky was by her named Theosophy.
All cycles, the most transitory as well as the longest, are repetitions on an ascending and descending scale, and run their course in strict mathematical sequence. Three statements on this subject in The Secret Doctrine are of the utmost importance to all theosophical students. They are:The reincarnationists and believers in Karma alone dimly perceive that the whole secret of Life is in the unbroken series of its manifestations: whether in, or apart from, the physical body. (I, 238.)If these generalizations are true, then not only was there neither miracle nor chance in the mission and message of H. P. Blavatsky, but the whole course of the Movement with all its confusions, contradictions, and bewilderments is nevertheless the orderly development of Karma. That course must have been fully foreseen by the Masters of Wisdom, must have governed Their Messenger in all her conduct, and must correspond to former messages, messengers, and cyclic repetitions of the Movement -- and must be understandable by those who conscientiously make use of the keys provided by the teachings and example of H.P.B. in their own efforts to do more than "dimly perceive" the uninterrupted concatenation of causes in the agglomerate of effects heaped up in the events of our cycle as so far in evidence.
...the first law in nature is uniformity in diversity, and the second -- analogy, "As above, so below." (II, 699.)
Analogy is the guiding law in Nature, the only true Ariadne's thread that can lead us, through the inextricable paths of her domain, toward her primal and final mysteries. (II, 153.)
Our cycle, like all others, must pass through four phases, each represented by a mixed generation of adult theosophists. Two generations have produced their effects; the third is now engaged both with those transmitted results and with the making of causes on its own account -- to be followed in due course by the fourth and final phase and generation. All overlap, otherwise there could not be continuity, diversity, or uniformity in the diversities. All the ramifications of the Movement can be looked at from below up, that is to say, from the personal standpoint; or from the point of view that all those engaged are reincarnating Egos who, in this life, are but renewing and continuing courses individually and collectively pursued in former cycles and former lives on earth.
These two opposite planes of perception, the human or personal, and the impersonal or Egoic, represent the two antagonistic elements in the Movement as in the man, the exoteric and esoteric aspects of both. "The human being constantly confuses effects with causes, the genuine Occultist never." The contrast, and the way to deal with it, is clearly put in the "Introductory" to The Secret Doctrine (I, xx):The true philosopher, the student of the Esoteric Wisdom, entirely loses sight of personalities, dogmatic beliefs and special religions.When this attitude of mind is adopted and adhered to, then men, things, methods, policies, actions and events can be studied with profit and what otherwise is merely controversial becomes truly educational. Had theosophists of every degree taken to heart the fundamental distinction between their own human point of view and that represented in H. P. Blavatsky and her Theosophy, the course of the Movement would have been far different. It is just as possible to the student of today to take the impersonal attitude toward theosophical Karma made, in the making, and to be made, as it was in the beginning of the Movement. A few at all times did; a few do now; that their number may increase is the object of this attempt to survey the course of the Movement since 1925. It is an effort to face the making of recent theosophical history in the light of Theosophy as recorded by H.P.B.; to benefit by the lessons which may be learned in that way and in no other, and to point out the application of those lessons to the immediate present and the unfolding future.
The course of the Movement from 1875 to 1925 developed the causes set in motion by H.P.B., both by her writings and by her own application of Theosophy in relation to persons and events contacted during her career, the first phase; the second quarter witnessed the understanding and the use made by her immediate disciples and others of the assets and liabilities thus accruing and added to. Each phase has its own distinguishing features more or less determinative in their influence on the next. The mid-point of any cycle being reached, the opposing influences are at their maximum, and one or other must prevail, in the individual and in any group of individuals, during the remaining half of the term.
The originally latent, then germinal, then ripening, "mental deposits" brought forward from the past reproduce in their turn, each after its own kind, and must under law continue to do so, until the seeds of the one or the other are destroyed whether in the Ego or in any group of Egos. The Theosophical Movement of our period as of all former ones contains both wheat and tares. The familiar parable on that subject supplies the perfect analogy, though its correspondence with our cycle has been largely missed by theosophists. They have made as little application of it to their own problems as did those who heard the words of Jesus to theirs.
H. P. Blavatsky represented a descent from the plane of the Masters to that of men, and her message of Theosophy the seeds of the Wisdom-Religion it was her mission to sow broadcast in the mind of the race. The Theosophical Society represented those Egos drawn by her presence and her message to share in her mission. The Theosophical Society and its objects came from her, not from those who entered it, as did the teachings imparted for their study and application. Her relation from the beginning and throughout was that of a Teacher; the relation of all the members was that of pupils to their teacher: relations wholly self-assumed and voluntary on both sides, the Society a mere meeting-ground. Facts so simple and plain as these were misconceived from the start and were increasingly misunderstood as the Society grew in membership on the one side, and the mission and message unfolded from the other. The conflict between the esoteric and the exoteric nature of the Movement, between the human and the divine nature of the members, grew apace. From the very first the three classes of Egos among the members were naturally attracted to the particular Object of the Society which corresponded to their own affinities brought forward from the past. By far the greater part of the members gave their attention to the Third Object as they conceived that object to mean -- the cultivation of "psychic powers". So much for America and Europe. In India it was the Second Object which attracted the interest and efforts of nearly all the members. Rigidly bound by caste and sect, they could only misunderstand and misapply in their own way as was being done by the West in its. Few and far between were those Egos whose past Karma was such that they felt strongly the inspiration of the great First Object.
By the middle of the first quarter of the Movement the re-awakened tendencies had produced several violent eruptions; had resulted in strong lines of cleavage within the Society -- so much so that H.P.B. declared it had become a "dead failure", one more among the societies "whose pretensions are great but whose names are simply masks -- nay, even shams." She therefore formed the "Esoteric Section" or "Eastern School of Theosophy" whose members were pledged to Theosophy and to the Three Objects of the Movement. Only about ten per cent of the total membership in the Society entered the "E.S.", nearly all of them in America, the rest in Great Britain. Before the end of the first quarter the opposing views of the real purposes of the Movement had ruptured both the "E.S." and the T.S.
Of the three original leading figures, H.P.B., and her two associates, Col. H. S. Olcott and William Q. Judge -- the course of the Movement brought H.P.B. and Judge ever closer together, while Col. Olcott, the "President-Founder", became more and more the embodiment of the utilitarian aspect of the society, the ally of those who wished to pursue the Second and Third Objects. Both H.P.B. and Judge died before the close of the first quarter, Colonel Olcott surviving them until 1907.
From the death of Judge, in 1896, five years after H.P.B.'s departure, the visible aspects of the Movement rapidly degenerated; tangential tendencies flourished unrestrained; the number of segmentations multiplied; less and less attention was paid to the original teachings and the original impulse imparted by H.P.B. and Judge, while contradictory dogmas and doctrines, warring claims and pretensions, absorbed the attention and energies of leaders and societies alike in their struggles for predominance. In all the numerous societies were members interested in Theosophy and in the theosophical Objects, but their efforts were compromised by their affiliations, unable to make head against the controlling elements. During the years from 1896 to 1925, the lapses and withdrawals of members were enormous, so that at all times there were ever-increasing numbers of Theosophists who saw no other course than to keep silent, or to abstain from connection with any of the sectarian groups. Between 1896 and 1908 the segment ruled by Madam Tingley shrank more than 80 per cent in membership despite the profusion of schemes inspired by her to attract followers. Today, after nearly forty years, the Point Loma following is smaller than the original membership in 1896. The Olcott-Besant fragment of the original society, at its maximum period of still more strenuous proselyting and continuous spawning of allegedly inspired activities, numbered less than 50,000 members. From 1896 to date more than 100,000 persons have joined the Adyar society. Its official reports from year to year show that the average withdrawals have exceeded the newly acquired followers. Today the total membership is barely 30,000. In all the numerous theosophical and off-shoot bodies, the list of ex-members vastly exceeds the present followings. In all of them there is a continual flux; in none of them is there single-hearted devotion to the teachings, the objects, the policies of H.P.B. and Judge.
In 1909, Robert Crosbie with seven associates, recognizing the universally prevailing sectarianism, began a method of theosophical study and work which might in time afford a basis for the restoration of the Movement to unity and harmony. A Declaration of purposes was drawn up; a name adopted, and public meetings started. No formal bond existed among the Associates of The United Lodge of Theosophists, the sole object being the study and dissemination of Theosophy pure and simple. In 1912, the midpoint of the second quarter of the Movement, the magazine THEOSOPHY was founded to provide a medium for dealing with theosophical philosophy and history free from sectarian affiliations or influences. Slowly the effort spread despite all obstacles and opposition, the impregnable basis of impersonal devotion keeping the work unsullied, an impersonality strictly continued after the death of Mr. Crosbie in 1919. By the close of the second quarter of the Movement in 1925, the issues were once more clear to all who might choose to inquire. Numerous groups of students had arisen in many cities, thousands of individual theosophists the world around were by then informed and active in purely theosophical study and work. The Associates of the The United Lodge of Theosophists included in almost equal proportion ex-members of the various organizations and newcomers to Theosophy in this incarnation. The subscribers to the magazine THEOSOPHY included Associates of U.L.T., non-Theosophists, members and ex-members of the many theosophical and mystical bodies. No distinctions were made, but all in any way interested in Theosophy and the facts of theosophical history were dealt with, irrespective of affiliation or non-affiliation.
So the contrasted elements stood in clear relief in 1925; so they stand today, still more sharply accentuated. All sincere Theosophists deplore the existing evils in the Movement and long for their eradication. They "dimly perceive" that these evils have an originating and sustaining cause which must be counteracted, but so long as their attention is fixed on effects, how can they, except with "divided mind", study the producing cause or causes? How are they to learn that the real and continuing source of the evils in the Movement, as in the world, is precisely this divided mind in the race and in the individual? They cannot learn what is necessary to be learned from any extant system, for all these systems are second-hand. They cannot learn the truth about nature and themselves in any other school than that provided in Theosophy and in the lessons to be learned from self-study and the study of theosophical history.
The Theosophists of today are, in large part, merely repeating the errors of omission and of commission of human nature in general, and as manifested throughout the course of the present cycle of the Movement. We are faced with the same inherent difficulties, the same problems, the same weaknesses, as those drawn into the Movement during its two preceding phases. Material, both of teaching and of history, are available to us that was not accessible to our predecessors, but the real lack then is the real lack now -- the disposition to face the facts, to make the necessary effort to gain first-hand knowledge of Theosophy as a basis and standard of discrimination and of judgment -- and then the will to act upon those firmly established principles thus self-perceived.
There was no need for anyone to walk waveringly; there is no need now. There was no necessity for the mistaken paths taken by nearly all the leading figures of the past; there is no necessity for our repeating and transmitting them. The tendency to repeat, to follow the already beaten path, is strong in human nature. This tendency is the very Karma of the past, our Skandhas from former lives and if not faced, fought, and overcome, must inevitably reproduce the failures of the past. From the beginning, but a handful recognized the gravity of the issues involved, and that is still the case. Theosophists have succumbed to the influence of the Skandhas instead of resolutely facing them, recognizing them for what they are, destroying them by unity, study, and work. Unity is the practical application of the first Object of the Movement; comparative study the application of the second; work -- the will to study, apply, and so come to understand the play of forces in human nature -- is the practical application of the third object.
Theosophy, says the Key, has "no two beliefs or hypotheses on the same subject." Yet the Movement today is full of conflicting beliefs, hypotheses, doctrines and practices -- all labeled Theosophy and Theosophical. It is now time for all sincere students to reconsider the causes of prevailing conditions.
(Part 2 of a 10-part series)
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