THEOSOPHY, Vol. 35, No. 1, November, 1946
(Pages 20-23; Size: 12K)
(Number 11 of a 12-part series)
THE CYCLE'S NEED
THEOSOPHISTS, having at heart the formation of the nucleus of universal brotherhood, are naturally concerned with study and observation of the practical social processes through which human brotherhood comes to be applied. Brotherhood in personal relations is largely a matter of attitude, of self-reform, and of patience and ceaseless effort in the attempt to understand and deal constructively with one's fellows. Brotherhood at the social level involves the added difficulties presented by customs and institutions -- the concrete structures that have resulted, through the centuries, from common ideas held in the race mind.
The moral polarity of an individual is changed by the individual will. The family life, however, grows harmonious only by mutual effort. Members of a family resolved upon the practice of brotherhood have to become aware of the tides of feeling, the impermanence of some enthusiasms, the secret hopes and shy strivings of one another. The family, as a group, has to create an atmosphere of cooperative purpose which slowly assumes a more and more tangible influence in the family life, until there exists a living habit of mutual consideration, of respect for idiosyncrasy, and a general submergence of the trivial and personal out of regard for the ideal that has been set.
In all human relationships, the key to brotherhood is ever the same. Brotherhood is a spirit which sees one's self in one's fellows; it honors, in every situation, the presence of the soul, of the ego who is at work in the body. The sage is one who knows how to turn the key with practical understanding of human needs in particular situations. The sage never gives the key a wrong turning because of personal irritation. He sees needs clearly, and acts upon them. He sees egoic needs, not merely the eccentric longings of the personal man, the drives of desire and the foibles of lower Manas.
The conceiving and planning of social systems is a far more difficult undertaking than the attempt to introduce a moral basis for harmony and mutual aid in the family or small community. Here the problem of egoic needs concerns the evolutionary status of humanity in the mass. How shall a sage, a Manu, or a Plato, formulate the ideal society in terms which may be acceptable to others without their wisdom? Without, that is, the vision of cyclic evolution and the particular soul-needs of time and place? Where would he begin? To whom, and how, would he appeal?
These questions, manifestly, are not to be answered, except by a Manu or a Plato. Solon, it may be supposed, understood the Greeks sufficiently to make wise laws for their common government. Pythagoras, likewise, grasped the social and moral needs of those to whom he came as teacher, so that he inaugurated a system of teaching and practice that would best serve the scattered cities of Magna Graecia, bringing to them, through his disciples, the powerful leaven of example in social and personal integrity, of brotherhood in practice. Cagliostro and Saint-Martin, respectively, worked through the Masonic and the religious and occult institutions of their time, starting new currents of devotion with fresh statements of ancient teachings to sustain the hearts of men in these undertakings.
The first chapter of The Ocean of Theosophy speaks at length of the "agents" who come "for the doing of the work of the Great Lodge at the proper time." There are, then, tides in the affairs of men, times of opportunity, which call out efforts of a particular sort from the agents of the Lodge. The Ocean also distinguishes among the tasks of adept-teachers. Apollonius served as "a witness on the scene," because that was the need in his epoch. Paracelsus was a reformer in medicine, not merely because healing was his special interest, but because the sixteenth century presented peculiar opportunities for the laying of a foundation in occult knowledge through its application in medicine. Such special labors are not accidents of history, but illustrate the wisdom of the Teachers of mankind in preparing the soil that was, centuries later, to receive the seed of Universal Truth.
The nineteenth century effort of the Theosophical Movement may be recognized as the birth of a great spiritual and moral revolution for the human race. The work of H. P. Blavatsky encompassed and transcended earlier "preparatory" efforts. H.P.B. was not "political," like St. Germain, nor simply "mystical," like Saint-Martin. H.P.B. was a teacher who came as a teacher. She brought, not a branch, but the very root of the Wisdom-Religion. Her work was more than an attempt to modify and leaven existing race ideas; she established a new polarity of human striving in the Western world, began the heart-beat of a new cycle of discipleship for humanity as a whole.
As the centenary struggle of the Theosophical Movement proceeds, the larger meaning of the mission of H. P. Blavatsky becomes increasingly explicit. The throes of a root-race in profound evolutionary transition are upon us. The birth-pangs of the future are mingled with the spasmodic paroxysms of decline. The stabilizing conceptions of the past are melting away before the eyes of men who have no clear vision of the cycle that is to come, and whose apprehensions, therefore, may be transformed into despair before the great transition has taken place. Desperate men, terror-stricken by the awful dilemmas which their Karma presents, may turn to terror as a tool -- the emotion of fear alone has reality for them, and so they use it to delay and oppose the forces of the cycle. The prophesy of "the next terreur" was not made as a likely speculation, but from knowledge of the behavior of frightened men in extreme situations, and with foresight of the titanic forces, both evolutionary and retrograde -- forces material, psychic and moral -- that would converge upon the common life of twentieth-century mankind.
How will the doctrine of universal brotherhood fare during the social hurricane to come? What will be the applications of this teaching as the fissures open in the moral foundations of modern society? As hopes for human progress are blasted away, leaving only twisted and convulsed memorials to yesterday's optimism -- a devastation as thorough, as final, as the destruction of Hiroshima by atomic war -- upon what principles of moral architecture will other hopes be founded?
While frightened men crawl into their holes of hate, and when every dawn reveals the bloody glow of another Armageddon, where shall men of brotherhood find evidence of the reality of the ideal? How shall they speak of the fine current of moral unity which girds the strength of souls, when all the external supports of the old order have given way; when the great sifting of the evolutionary process proclaims the time has come to know the Law or be carried away by the fear-ridden emotions of the times?
The great need of that day will be for habits in human relations that make for solidarity, for immediate recognition that whatever the storms which rend the forms of society, the souls at work in those forms are the real; that there is a language of the soul, and a training in its use which may be gained by all who will make the effort. Every evil act has its alternative in brotherhood. Every dilemma has its resolvent in knowledge of the deep-lying karmic causes which brought it about.
The inner peace that can sustain men throughout the ordeals of transition grows from conviction that nothing is sacred but the soul and its purposes, nothing unchanging save the principles governing change. A beginning is made in that peace, and knowledge of those principles, by a study of reincarnation. This teaching, and only this teaching, comprehends the dynamics of the practice of true brotherhood. How can men act as brothers without understanding the soul-purpose of the experiences of life? And the processes by which the powers of the soul find expression in all the varied relations of incarnated existence: how can these be understood, unless the repeated descent of the perceiving, evolving being into the field of earthly life is recognized as the key?
There can be no building for the future without Karma and Reincarnation. There can be no faith in any construction of the mind, any social theory or ideal, without these principles as points of departure. A wall of enigmatic facts bars the progress of the social imagination which has not the guide of these teachings. The endless relativities of human capacity, the puzzles of heredity and environment, the mysteries of race, the psychic abnormalities of the age -- all these realities are today grasped as facts, but they are not understood. The practice of brotherhood, in any enduring measure, will be ceaselessly frustrated by the intrusion of these enigmas, so long as the soul is ignored. The community of ideals, of men and women striving after ideals, must grow from the small beginnings of the few who know, and who practice, the teachings of Karma and Reincarnation. The spread of confidence in man's spiritual nature, and of the power of soul-realities in social relations, will be dependent on the increasing practice of the few, and on their capacity to show, by theory and by illustration, that men in the mass will learn to be brothers only as their lives and difficulties are explained in terms of a few simple principles, as they slowly develop faith in man -- in their fellow man and in themselves -- as immortal and creative beings.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
THE FIRST SELF-MASTERY
In a great movement like this no one should expect to find his associates all congenial, instructive, prudent and courageous. One of the first proofs of self-mastery is when one shows that he can be kind and forbearing and genial with companions of the most dissimilar character and temperaments. One of the strongest signs of retrogression is when one shows that he expects others to like what he likes and act as he acts.
--From a Master's letter
THE CYCLE'S NEED
A LIVING MORALITY
(Part 12 of a 12-part series)
"THE CYCLE'S NEED"
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