THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 3, January, 1961
(Pages 127-130; Size: 31K)
[Article number (5) in this Department]
PART II of "The Original Programme," published in the August issue of THEOSOPHY, makes it manifest that H.P.B. saw nothing whatsoever wrong in the Society's being governed democratically -- with its president, its officers, its constitution, its rules and regulations, and its annual fees. One wonders whether ULT, with its avowal of its work and end being "too absorbing and too lofty to leave it the time or inclination to take part in side issues," and its eschewing of all manner of formal conduct associated with organizations -- such as constitution, by-laws, and officers -- is not, in fact, attempting to rise superior to H.P.B. herself. The fact that there is no democracy, no election of officers, might be thought to be a great deterrent to individuals striving or personal place and power, and thus to all but the elimination of personal criticism; but because members are very "human" and far from quasi-adeptship, desire for place and personal criticisms can become all the stronger and therefore harmful, since there is no machinery for their open expression.
In ULT's desire to avoid foundering, as other so-called Theosophical organizations in the past have done, through the cult of personality and organizational wrangling, it would seem that it has gone to the extreme of thinking that no member will be the least interested in personality, the acquisition of power, or personal criticisms, if means for their expression are denied organizational form. Where there is an exoteric society, accepted exoteric forms should be followed, thus it seems to have been with H.P.B. An esoteric group is an entirely different matter, as we know from the Esoteric Section of the original Theosophical Society, where "the constitution and sole direction of the same" was "vested in Madame H. P. Blavatsky as its head."
Is ULT, one wonders, trying unsuccessfully to function as an exoteric group within an esoteric form? [Note: "ULT" means "The United Lodge of Theosophists". For those who would like to read it, once you finish reading this article, and the additional one mentioned in the next paragraph, at the end of both of them I've provided a link to the long article mentioned at the very beginning of the above question, entitled "The Original Programme of The Theosophical Society", which was presented in 3 parts in THEOSOPHY magazine. I didn't bother to scan and proofread it myself since I found it on the Theosophical University Press Online web site.--Compiler]
Many of the points and issues raised have been encountered in respect to THEOSOPHY Magazine, since a similar lack of official structure is evident. As to ULT itself, occasional articles in THEOSOPHY have stated the case for the ULT modulus. (See, for example, "The Declaration of ULT," in THEOSOPHY for February, 1959.) In the Friday evening study class of the Parent Lodge, it has been a practice to hold open discussion on the Declaration of ULT, and, during the course of various exchanges, all of these criticisms have been expressed, with constant re-thinking of its meaning as the result. The ULT Letter for 1960, incidentally, reflected the fruit of such deliberations. [Note: I have provided a copy of "The Declaration of ULT" article that is referred to by the Editors, and placed it at the end of this article.--Compiler]
One suggestive view is that the lack of constitution and by-laws encourages discussion to revolve around considerations of principle, rather than around constitutional points, so that we have, in effect, one discussion -- and that of a philosophic nature -- rather than two sometimes unrelated discussions in the same evening.
We shall say that each ULT center has its own specific "karma," related, of course, to the degree of philosophic perception attained by those who assume major responsibility for maintaining a lodge or study group. Many ULT members have had previous experience with the organizational form provided by one of the Theosophical Societies, and might be said to have joined ULT on the basis of whatever appeal strikes them in the ULT Declaration to work towards a less orthodox and more rewarding method of conducting theosophic study.
Now, turning more specifically to the questions raised:
The question as to whether ULT is "trying to function as an exoteric group within an esoteric form" suggests two different lines of thought. First of all, Robert Crosbie's appeal "To All Open-minded Theosophists," on the basis of the ULT Declaration, stemmed from an awareness that the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky were not being adequately preserved, were not readily available, and were not being really studied by Theosophists themselves. The basic conception in the Declaration was to cut through differences of opinion as to the relative merits of existing organizations and claimants to successorship by uniting upon the study of H.P.B.'s Theosophy -- as containing within itself sufficient keys to self-guidance. One may say that H.P.B.'s Theosophy as developed in her books and articles until the time of her death, is in a sense esoteric, when viewed from the platform upon which the T.S. was founded in 1875. Under the democratic form of the T.S., various efforts towards study of comparative religion and various kinds of psychic research went on, and among the T.S. members a certain number came to focus upon H.P.B. as a teacher with a specific teaching. Her "Secret Doctrine," she affirmed, could and should now be opened up for all those who might find in it what they were searching for.
Apart from the structure of her Esoteric Section, then, all of her genuine students, whether E.S. members or not, were involved in studying matters of teaching which had often previously been largely esoteric. It was this aspect of the Theosophical Movement which the founders of ULT wished to represent -- a heritage, one might say, from H.P.B.'s genuine students of the last century. H.P.B. herself had little to do with constitution or by-laws, because her work was conceived at a different level, though for some the T.S. was the means by which they acquired the background which would enable them to appreciate the significance of H.P.B.'s writings. In the Parent U.L.T. Lodge in Los Angeles, for example, opportunity is presented for an actual comparative study of religions. One well-attended class is currently working with the actual texts of the Dhammapada, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Tao Te King, and has previously worked with the Old and New Testaments and the Upanishads. But the main effort has been to keep available the particular theosophic emphasis made by H.P.B. -- a sort of transition from exoteric to esoteric means of approaching Theosophy.
Closely allied with this point, we feel, is the fact that the ULT Declaration ideally encourages initiative. During the past few years, two new ULT lodges have been started in different localities by associates of the "Parent Lodge," who simply went out and started them on their own responsibility. Some sort of constitutional governing board might also have been inclined to form other lodges, but would probably have planned this "from the top down," according to financial resources and availability of approved personnel. When someone forms a ULT, whatever happens is, so to speak, a new effort. It may be successful or unsuccessful, but at least in no sense is it prefabricated. Some kind of nucleus among responsible students comes into being, and the members of this nucleus accept the responsibility of the enterprise, making the same sorts of decisions as are made by the editors of an independent journal -- who often also personally help defray the cost of publication. Several of the ULT lodges are composed of associates who were moved to the undertaking on the basis of what they heard about ULT and on the basis of its Declaration. Some of these lodges have been functioning successfully, according to their ability, with little or no "personal" contact with any member or members of the Parent Lodge or any other -- without, that is, any "formal authority." And as long as new lodges are formed in this very interesting and "semi-esoteric" fashion, the ULT idea is not stagnating.
It would indeed be ridiculous for any apologist of ULT to claim that within the ULT modulus there can be no "desire for place" or for personal criticisms, etc. Not a single ULT but has experienced some result of all these tendencies. But, ideally, those who work out programs of policy do so because they have held the less-desirable aspects of their own personal natures sufficiently in abeyance to be able to function properly. In the magazine THEOSOPHY, for instance -- which endeavors to follow the ULT modulus -- there has never been one single "editor," but rather a varying number. Always is the door open for this number to be augmented and always there is the possibility of differences of opinion which might lead one or more of the staff to withdraw from the work. The same is true of those who collaborate in planning the program of study classes and lectures, and it does seem that the absence of official status is beneficial, simply because no one person has an established status to maintain or defend, nor is there any prospect of a clearly-defined status to be attained on the basis of ordinary ambition.
There is no doubt that each particular lodge or group of students will have its ups and downs, and stagnation, for any group, will be a cyclic risk. The most vital ULT centers are those wherein an increasing number of students are contributing to the platform work and to conferences on policies and programs. And the best sort of ULT center should be always in the process of proliferation -- with new groups, discussion classes, or lodges forming.
This is not to be held as a criticism of the democratic form of organization, but ULT might be said to be striving to represent the sort of situation you would have if the faculty of a university were actually able to run the university. In the latter case, official trustees and governing boards are in charge of finances, and, although such may neither teach nor study, are very active in policy-making. Never in ULT does such a situation obtain, for no contributor to ULT finances is encouraged to consider that his contribution entitles him to any more voice on policy than any other member. Finally, we must say that we don't believe that ULT could have preserved its major lines of effort through all these years on the basis of constitutional democratic procedure. Those who would function best under a democratic form are also those who seem to be able to function without it, while strident personalities, of which Theosophical lodges always have their quota, would be forever draining needed energies by forced diversion into formal areas of debate.
Compiler's note: Before going on to the next article in this Department, here's a copy of the article that was spoken of and pointed to in the very first paragraph of the answer to the question in the above article:
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 47, No. 4, February, 1959
THE DECLARATION OF ULT
FRIEND: I've attended a number of your meetings and hope to come to more. Someone remarked that the sole document of ULT is the Declaration. I've heard the Declaration read and discussed several times, and gather that the Associates here think of it as a sort of document of integration. Would you care to tell me more about it? I confess I don't follow it too well.
Associate: Of course. It so happens that ULT's Founder, Robert Crosbie, had a large correspondence on these very statements that make up the Declaration, and fortunately for us his letters were preserved and published. If agreeable, then, we'll let Mr. Crosbie enlighten us, taking up the clauses in order and point by point, as he himself clarified them.
(1) "The policy of this Lodge is independent devotion to the cause of Theosophy, without professing attachment to any Theosophical organization."
The Declaration is a summation of the stand that all Theosophists should take toward the work and toward each other. There are a number of theosophical organizations in existence today, all of them drawing their inspiration from Theosophy, existing only because of Theosophy, yet remaining disunited. The nature of each organization is such that unity cannot be had on the basis of any one of them; hence a common basis should be taken if the success originally purposed is to be attained. Now, what are the claims of ULT in this direction? It makes none. It points to the Message, the Messengers, and their enunciation of the Work -- and carries on the latter in accordance. It has no revelations to offer, and only hands on that which was known before. This position, which makes no claims to any other authority than the Message and the Messengers, is unique and unassailable.
When the Messengers departed from this scene, all that was left here was the Message (exoteric and esoteric), and its students of more or less proficiency in the assimilation of that Message. With the altruistic example of the Teachers and the inspiration of Theosophy, the Theosophical Society should have been able to stand alone and united. Unfortunately, history tells another story. Our own difficult task is to avoid all semblance of authority of any kind, while being at the same time sure of our ground and not afraid to say so. ULT has, like the great Founders, to give everyone the opportunity to see for himself that what it has to say is well founded. Therefore it is our policy to state at each meeting what our purposes are: namely to disseminate the fundamental principles of Theosophy and to answer questions on the subject-matter provided.
(2) "It is loyal to the great Founders of the Theosophical Movement, but does not concern itself with dissensions or differences of individual opinion."
Theosophy is not in conflict with any form of religion, any society, any man, any opinion; however much these may be in conflict with Theosophy. What Theosophy is engaged in through those who believe in it, as we do, without any mental reservation whatsoever, is a battle for recognition. We are striving for unity first, and as far as possible leave out points that antagonize. Our work is to inform, not to proselyte. Our purpose is to draw attention to the Teachers and the Teaching, not to any others. It is conservation, safety, to maintain the impersonality of ULT.
Every student worthy of the name knows that H. P. Blavatsky gave a body of knowledge to the world, that she named what she gave Theosophy, and that she explicitly declared it to be from the Masters of Wisdom. In justice to the Message, to the Messenger who brought it, and to the ideal of Masters, nothing should be named Theosophy but this Message. Whoever takes any other position violates the first laws of occultism by belittling both Message and Messenger, and cannot expect to benefit by them.
We should preserve a willingness to give and receive instruction, but we should in either case be sure that such instruction is in exact accord with the principles and laws set forth in the Theosophical philosophy. If each student did this, all would have one aim, one purpose, one teaching, and a sure basis for united effort. Such differences of individual opinion as might arise would be solved by a careful adjustment of these to the philosophy. Thus all would be united; all preserve the utmost freedom of thought; all progress most rapidly by self-induced and self-devised efforts. No one, then, would make the fatal blunder of imagining that Theosophy is something which can be developed, but each would devote his thought and effort to growth along the lines that Theosophy indicates, so that he may become the better able to help and to teach others.
(3) "The work it has on hand and the end it keeps in view are too absorbing and too lofty to leave it the time or inclination to take part in side issues."
All that we are doing is to help others to find the right lines. We do not want any attention paid to "us." In the work we have undertaken together, it matters not whether "we" fail or succeed. Our purpose has been and will be that the Work shall go on. We can throw -- each one of us -- our best into the effort. The rest is in stronger and other hands. Our best may not be great, but, if the motive is there, even to hold our ground is victory in some contingencies. For when there is no standing army the art of fighting has to be learned: the recruits have to do the fighting, the older teaching and leading the younger. With no concern but to keep in fighting trim, our best work is done when most heavily pressed and tried.
This is an age of transition and our work is to hark back to first principles, promulgate and sustain them as best we can, so that they shall be ready for those who need them, drawing our inspiration from the Message. If basic ideas are not taken in, nothing can be done. If we can do no more as humble agents than to keep these ideas alive in the world and among Theosophists, we should be content. Yet each of us must find his own expression of these same great Truths.
We have to strike the keynote for those who come after us. Once struck, it will be followed by those who take hold. The others will find it "too absorbing and too lofty" for them, and will not attempt it. Our work is to call attention to the true basis for union among Theosophists, and at the same time to set the example. Let ULT flourish on its moral worth alone. The work we have to do, the knowledge we have to give out, depends on no other names than those of the true Teachers. When questions are asked, and when occasion compels it, plain statements of fact have to be made, but in defense of Theosophy, not in condemnation of any person. This is our key to the right attitude in all such cases presented by theosophical history, made or in the making.
(4) "That work and that end is the dissemination of the Fundamental Principles of the philosophy of Theosophy, and the exemplification in practice of those principles, through a truer realization of the SELF; a profounder conviction of Universal Brotherhood."
To have a Brotherhood among the many it is first necessary to realize brotherhood among the few, and the basis of brotherhood is the divinity inherent in all men. The real point at issue is the divine nature in man. The real basis of work is to impress this on the minds of those who come. "To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity without any distinctions whatever" was, and is, the first object of the Movement.
What is the distinction between Theosophy and anything else? Its Fundamental Principles. Nothing else affords an all-inclusive view of existence. All kinds of sincere efforts help, all kinds of systems contain some truth, but they all fall short, because they all exclude or ignore some part of nature. The fundamental statements of the Teachers are axioms to be applied. At the same time they are woven in with such reasoning as may affect the ordinary way of thinking. Science, psychology, and all efforts that are based on the latter, still fall short of their object -- and for no other reason than that they do not assume or admit that true and full knowledge exists. But if science and psychology one day decide to go on with their painstaking efforts in the light of Theosophy, the spiritual and intellectual darkness of the world will soon be overcome and a civilization brought into being that will best express a true physical life. What hinders? Intellectual pride, together with the cramping effects of false religious conceptions.
The first thing to make clear in every exposition of Theosophy is the impossibility of the ordinary conception of a personal or separate God, and the importance of realizing the SELF of all, in all. Then, the Law of Periodicity, Cycles or Karma, in all its applications as "the world's eternal ways." This shows Reincarnation by analogy, as also the successive re-embodiments of solar systems, planets, and every form of matter. This leads naturally to the consideration of "the Universal Over-Soul," the collective intelligence in any solar system, as well as in all of them -- for all are connected, "down to the minutest conceivable atom," and what affects one affects all -- Egos small and great as well as embryonic ones. This means Unity throughout all, inter-action among all, individual responsibility.
(5) "It holds that the unassailable basis for union among Theosophists, wherever and however situated, is 'similarity of aim, purpose and teaching,' and therefore has neither Constitution, By-Laws nor Officers, the sole bond between its Associates being that basis."
Members of any organization or unattached, old and new students, can belong to ULT without disturbing their affiliations, for the sole condition necessary is the acceptance of the principle of similarity of aim, purpose and teaching. The binding spiritual force of this principle of brotherhood needs no such adventitious aids as Constitution or By-Laws, or Officers to administer them. With it as basis for union, no possible cause for differences can arise; no room is found here for leader or authority, for dogma or superstition; and yet, as there are stores of knowledge left for all, the right spirit must bring forth from "Those who never fail" all necessary assistance. The door seems open for those who would, but cannot see a way. Any considerable number, living, thinking, acting upon this basis, must form a spiritual focus, from which all things are possible.
The basis of successful work is unity. To be able to afford a basis for Unity to individuals or organizations, without demanding any relinquishment of affiliation or belief, is no small thing. The Declaration of ULT does just that: it is not a theory, but a carrying out of the spirit of the Messengers. We have but to keep continually in mind and heart the original lines laid by H.P.B., namely UNITY first, as a focus for spiritual growth and mutual strength; STUDY, that a knowledge of the Movement, its purpose, its Teachers and its Message, may be had; WORK, upon ourselves in the light of that study, and for others first, last, and all the time.
Local Lodges have been and continue to be formed using the name ULT and promulgating the basis of union, recognizing Theosophy as such, regardless of organization; open meetings; public work, keeping Theosophy and Brotherhood prominent; intercommunication between Lodges, free and frequent; comparing methods of work of local Lodges; mutual assistance; furtherance of the great Movement in all directions possible. The motto is: "Be Theosophists; work for Theosophy."
(6) "And it aims to disseminate this idea among Theosophists in the furtherance of Unity."
Our efforts may seem inadequate, but they are in the right direction, and "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump." We will do what we can and all that we know how to do, enduring the evils of the present while attempting that which will work for the greater good in the future, here a little and there a little, thus leading the minds of Theosophists of every degree and in every society to as broad a conception of the philosophy as possible.
(7) "It regards as Theosophists all who are engaged in the true service of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, condition or organization...."
H.P.B. once wrote: "If anyone holds to Buddha's philosophy, let him say and do as Buddha said and did; if a man calls himself a Christian, let him follow the commandments of Christ -- not the interpretations of his many dissenting priests and sects." The moral is, if anyone desires to be a Theosophist, let him study Theosophy as it is given by those who enunciated it. For one to accept as true what any teachers choose to tell him, without any means given him by which to verify the statements made, or without verifying for himself the facts alleged -- is simply to believe on blind faith, as so many others do.
We all need to cultivate that charity which sympathizes with every effort to spread Theosophy, even if the methods and other things do not appeal to us. Any effort is better than no effort at all. "Truth is not a man, nor a book, nor a statement." The nature of Truth is universal. Its possessors in any degree will be found to be appliers of universality in thought, speech and action. Their efforts will be for humanity regardless of sex, creed, caste or color. They will never be found among those claiming to be the chosen spokesmen for the Deity -- and extracting homage from their fellowmen. True Brotherhood includes the least developed as well as the very highest. We must seek to give aid to all in search of truth. Our value and aid in this great work will be just what we make it by our motive, our judgment, our conduct. In these days of proselyting and propaganda for all sorts of 'isms there is the more need for tolerance if we are to find those chinks in the mind of others through which questions may possibly be aroused. We can set the example of examining anything on its merits, and then presenting in contrast the Theosophical view, which accords with nature as a whole.
(8) "....and, It welcomes to its association all those who are in accord with its declared purposes, and who desire to fit themselves, by study and otherwise, to be the better able to help and teach others."
The heartfelt desire that others may benefit from our lives will be felt by those open -- it matters little how few; they may be the means of wakening many others. It is the effort and the sacrifice that bring the ultimate results, but in our zeal it is well to consider what the Masters have done, and do year after year, age after age. They conserve the knowledge gained -- and wait. We have to think at all times of others and of the future. If others are not helped and trained to take hold, to share in the work and its responsibilities, then, should anything happen to us, the Work would suffer. Study and preparation on the part of beginners will alone make them efficient as propagandists. And the future will demand such, trained and grounded in the principles set forth in the Declaration, as multiplication of Lodge centres carries on into the future.
If one sees that in many ways he is not able to do all that needs to be done, or that he would like to accomplish, it is evidence that he is in the way of improving. Our ideals are never reached: they continually precede us. As a man thinks, so he becomes. Time is an element in this, and it is shortened by patient doing of what we can. We are helped, and in the right way, the way our nature needs; not necessarily according to what we assume would be the proper way. But if we waited until we were saints would we ever begin? The Gita says, "Lay all thy deeds, good and bad alike, upon me."
Perfection in action is not possible. So while showing forth the spirit of the Movement only, we yet present a visible basis necessary in any exoteric work. ULT is a name given to certain principles and ideas; those who associate themselves with those principles and ideas are attracted and bound by them only -- not by their fellows who do likewise or who refrain or who cease to consider themselves so bound. The Declaration, with its signature by the Associates, is a wide departure from anything that exists as an organization. The Authority which we recognize is not what men term authority, which comes from outside and which demands obedience, but an internal recognition of the value of that which flows through any given point, focus or individual. This is the authority of one's Self-discrimination, intuition, the highest intellection. If we follow what we recognize in that way, and still find it good, we naturally keep our faces in that direction. This means no slavish following of any person -- a distinction which some are unable to grasp. We point always that the most and the best anyone can do is to do as Mr. Judge did -- follow the lines laid down by H.P.B., regardless of any others.
[Note: Here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "The Original Programme of The Theosophical Society," that was spoken of in the very first part of the question to the Editors in the above article at the top of this page.--Compiler]
[Article number (6) in this Department]
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