THEOSOPHY, Vol. 8, No. 11, September, 1920
(Pages 321-333; Size: 42K)
(Number 9 of a 34-part series)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT(1)
HITHERTO we have been concerned with the survey of the Theosophical Movement of the nineteenth century from its public aspects: the recital of a series of events more or less in relation with each other and with the sum of human activities, together with such reflections on their bearings and significance as to us appear logical and consistent. An attempt has been made to show clearly that the vicissitudes both of the Theosophical Society and Madame Blavatsky's teachings of Theosophy were inevitable and but a repetition of the varying fortunes which have attended every former effort to introduce a system of thought and action at variance with the ideas, customs and practices still firmly entrenched in the mind of the race. So far, all that we have discussed is accessible in all its detail to any enquiring student, and the ordinary mind will find nothing beyond the range of common observation and experience. The student will have both the advantage and the disadvantage of the familiar multitude of conflicting testimony and opinion that attends every inquiry into human affairs; he will find nothing that transcends the possibility of reconciliation or explanation on his habitual lines of thought, without greatly deranging his fundamental preconceptions regarding God, Nature, Man, and the course of human evolution and action.
But, as we have early intimated, the Theosophical Movement has an esoteric as well as an exoteric side, and here the Western student is without guide, chart or compass, either in his own memorial experience or in any accredited testimony of the race to which he belongs. Not only so, but he will find himself confronted, both in himself and in the race, with a deeply-imbedded incredulity which derides and despises the very possibility, even, of intellectual and spiritual evolution within and behind physical evolution. The student of the esoteric side of the Theosophical Movement has then literally to take the position of a Columbus. He has to postulate the existence of the spiritual and mental world or worlds, independent of and superior to our familiar universe, yet interpenetrating it at every point, standing in relation to it as a cause to an effect, and, in man, almost inextricably interwoven and interblended with him in his embodied existence. He has to admit the fundamental assumption that spiritual and intellectual evolution is as much under Law in its processes and resultants as physical evolution, and that the latter is but the shadow and the reflex of the mental, as the mental is of the spiritual. He has to recognize the inevitable corollary of these propositions, that Life, individual as well as collective, is continuous, and that the infinite course of spiritual, mental and physical evolution has produced Beings as much superior to man as man is superior to a black beetle -- as was once speculatively suggested by Professor Huxley -- and, finally, that these Beings take an active part in "the governance of the natural order of things."
The student will find that Western religious history and Western tradition and myth do, indeed, present an immense literature dealing with gods, angels, demons, fairies, and so on, and their interactions and relations with human beings and human affairs, but without exception such beings and their interventions are regarded either as miraculous or fictitious, and belief in them rests either on the grounds of "revelation" or of mere opinions ingrained from childhood, or of some misunderstood and unique personal experience in psychology. Nowhere is there any philosophy, any scientific, any logical, any historical evidence or basis for the existence and action of superhuman and subhuman entities as the product of evolutionary Law. Such a theory or such a fact is as unknown or as derided in the West, as foreign to its basic concepts, as the ideas of pre-existence, metempsychosis, reincarnation, Karma, continuous immortality -- all integral and inseparable parts of the fundamental assumptions connected with the esoteric aspects of the Theosophical Movement. Only when all these are recognized, at least as a working hypothesis, does the expression, "the esoteric side of the Theosophical Movement," become tolerable in any but a materialistic sense. To be able to consider this esoteric aspect intelligently the student is compelled to turn aside from the religion, philosophy and thought of the day and familiarize himself with the recorded philosophy of Theosophy, if he is to view recorded facts in any other light than that of the well-nigh universal preconceptions of the Western race. It is only through the most careful and conscientious study and application of the teachings of Theosophy that the student can hope to penetrate beyond the visible aspects of the Theosophical Movement to the arcana of the intellectual and spiritual factors and forces which constitute the occult side of that Movement.
The first direct affirmation of the existence of Adepts, Beings perfected spiritually, intellectually and physically, the flower of human and all evolution, is, so far as the Western world is concerned, to be found in the opening sentence of "Isis Unveiled." From beginning to end that work is strewn with evidences, arguments and declarations regarding Adepts and their doctrines. Theosophy is declared to be a portion of Their Wisdom; its teachings are presented for the examination and study of the world and of the Fellows of the Theosophical Society.
As subsequently appeared from the repeated testimony of all three, before the publication of "Isis" and even prior to the foundation of the Theosophical Society Madame Blavatsky had imparted many of her teachings to Colonel Olcott and Mr. Judge, had convinced them of her phenomenal powers over matter, time and space, and had accepted them as her pupils. More, through her intervention both of them had become assured of the existence of the Adepts, had received phenomenal visits from them, and had made their pledges under the rules of occultism direct to the Masters of the Great Lodge of Adepts. They had reached the determination to follow the guidance and instruction of H.P.B. and it was under her inspiration that the Theosophical Society was formed. Again, from the subsequent repeated statements of all three as to the events and relations of those earliest days, it is apparent that the connection between H.P.B. and Mr. Judge was of a different and deeper nature than the relation established with Colonel Olcott -- as will develop in the due course of our study. Nor were Col. Olcott and Mr. Judge her only pledged associates, though the names, duties and activities of the others have never been publicly disclosed. But mention of the fact occurs in the "Introductory" of the "Secret Doctrine," in "Lucifer," volume III, page 173, in various "E.S.T. Aids," and in other places in Theosophical writings. And something of the nature and widespread activities of the Adepts apart from the Theosophical Society, is plainly to be discerned in an article in Blackwood's "Edinburgh Magazine" for January, 1880. This was written by an English publicist and embodies a very remarkable letter written by an unknown individual named as a "Turkish Effendi"(2) on the relations of Christianity and Islam.
The fact of these private teachings, of the intimate connection of the Adepts with the foundation and spread of the Theosophical Society, of an inner core of Chelas or disciples as the active agents of the Adepts, both in the Society and the Movement, of the practical possibility of a direct connection with these Adepts and their Chelas through Madame Blavatsky, was kept sedulously concealed until after the arrival of H.P.B. and Col. Olcott in India. A few Fellows suspected from occasional personal hints given them, or by inferences from the accessible teachings, that more might be learned. But H.P.B. turned a deaf ear to all prayers and entreaties in that direction, bidding the aspirants to join the Society, to study the published literature, to apply themselves actively to the Objects of the Society.
In India the religious convictions of the inhabitants are, quite in contrast with the West, the predominant factor in daily life. The spiritual and mental heredity of the populace is such that the teachings of Theosophy have in them nothing of the incredible or revolting to inherited ideas. Bound and fettered as they are by rigid castes and creeds, separated by alien tongues, crippled by an enormous percentage of illiteracy, abused by a priesthood which keeps them in subjection to gross idolatries and superstitions, ground by an ever-present poverty, the vast majority of the native populations are, nevertheless, deeply religious in feeling, of simple and kindly lives, imbued with the ideas of guardian spirits, of tutelary deities, of the near presence of the immortal and invisible, and of the sacredness of all life. The country is full of Sannyasis, Sadhus and Faquirs, many of them men of the noblest and most self-sacrificing character who have exempted themselves from all restrictions of caste and worldly life and who wander the length and breadth of the land keeping alive the reverence and faith of the populace, practicing and inculcating the great virtues of all time. And among the educated classes are very many highly intelligent men profoundly versed in the philosophical teachings of the ancient sages, Rishis and Mahatmas.
Almost from the first moment of their entry the Founders met with a sympathetic and understanding reception from the native Hindus, and in this kindly atmosphere of traditional appreciation it was natural that the first declaration should be made of the deeper import of the Theosophical Movement. In "The Theosophist" for March, 1880, the article relating to the "Turkish Effendi" was reprinted from Blackwood's. In the succeeding number appeared "The Theosophical Society or Universal Brotherhood." This directly identified the Society with its great First Object, and made the first public proclamation of the "Superior Sections." The article is an official and authoritative announcement, is signed by Kharsedji N. Seervai, Joint Recording Secretary, and has for its sub-title "Principles, Rules and By-Laws, as revised in General Council, at the meeting held at the Palace of H. H. the Maharajah of Vizianagram, Benares, 17th December, 1879."
Article I recites that the Theosophical Society is formed upon the basis of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity. The plans of the Society are stated to contemplate seven great objects, of which the first and foremost is "to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions;" the second "to oppose and counteract .... bigotry in every form, whether as an intolerant religious sectarianism or belief in miracles or anything supernatural." The succeeding purposes are amplifications of the well-known second and third Objects of the Parent Theosophical Society, the inclusive purpose of all being stated as follows: "Finally, and chiefly, to encourage and assist individual Fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual. But no Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge communicated to him by any member of the First Section; violation of this rule being punished by expulsion. And before any such knowledge can be imparted, the person shall bind himself by a solemn oath not to use it for selfish purposes, nor to reveal it, except with the permission of the teacher."
The "First Section" spoken of is declared in article XI to consist "exclusively of proficients or initiates in Esoteric Science and Philosophy, who take a deep interest in the Society's affairs and instruct the President-Founder how best to regulate them, but whom none but such as they voluntarily communicate with, have the right to know."
Article XII reads: "The Second Section embraces such Theosophists as have proved by their fidelity, zeal, and courage, and their devotion to the Society, that they have become able to regard all men equally their brothers, irrespective of caste, colour, race, or creed; and who are ready to defend the life or honour of a brother Theosophist even at the risk of their own lives.
"The administration of the Superior Sections need not be dealt with at present in a code of rules laid before the public. No responsibilities, connected with these superior grades, are incurred by persons who merely desire ordinary membership of the third class."
It is then announced that the Theosophical Society proper is merely the "Third Section" of the real society, and it is called the "Section of probationers. All new Fellows are on probation, until their purpose to remain in the Society has become fixed, their usefulness shown, and their ability to conquer evil habits and unwarrantable prejudices demonstrated."
"Advancement from Section to Section depends upon merit only. Until a Fellow reaches the first degree of the Second Section, his Fellowship gives him but the following rights: (1) to attend the Society's meetings, (2) access only to printed matter, such as books and pamphlets of the Society's library, (3) protection and support by the President and Council in case of need and according to personal merit, (4) instruction and enlightenment, upon what he reads and studies, by Fellows of the Second Section; and this whether he remains at home or goes abroad and wherever he finds a Branch of the Theosophical Society; every Fellow being obliged to help the others as much as the circumstances, in which he is placed, will allow."
The article concludes with the certification: "Revised and ratified by the Society at Bombay, February the 26th and 28th, 1880."
Thereafter references in the pages of "The Theosophist" become more and more frequent; the mysterious "Brothers" or Mahatmas are often spoken of; Chelas and chelaship are discussed, occultism and its rules are alluded to and, on rare occasions, the names and designations of various chelas in their differing degrees are guardedly and indirectly introduced.
We have spoken of Subba Row and Damodar, who became more and more known in this way both to natives and Europeans. Others mentioned from time to time in peculiar and particular ways in "The Theosophist" have remained unknown to the world and the references to them seem never to have aroused question or comment among theosophical students. Amongst Europeans Mr. A. P. Sinnett and Mr. A. O. Hume, both then resident in India, came into indirect contact with the Mahatmas through H.P.B.'s agency. These two were witness of many phenomenal occurrences, and wrote numerous letters to the hidden "Brothers." Although they never met the Adepts personally and were never themselves able to communicate with them directly, both Mr. Sinnett and Mr. Hume received lengthy communications from them, "occult letters" amongst those sent and received in more prosaic fashion. In the summer of 1881 Mr. Sinnett's book, "The Occult World," was published in London. This contains long extracts from some of the letters of the Mahatma K.H., written in a script and with a name chosen for the purpose of communicating with "lay" and "probationary" chelas. In these extracts will be found much of permanent value concerning the real nature of the Theosophical Movement, the purpose of the exoteric Theosophical Society or "Third Section," the rules and discipline of chelaship of the "Second Section," the methods of the Adepts in dealing with humanity, and other occult matters. In 1882 "Hints on Esoteric Theosophy" was published and contains much matter bearing directly and indirectly on the existence and activity of the "Second Section." The subject of the "Superior Sections," their teachings, work, and the limitations imposed on and by them in dealing with the complex nature of man, are largely discussed in the series of articles, "Fragments of Occult Truth,"(3) publication of which was begun in "The Theosophist" for October, 1881. In the number for March, 1882, was commenced "The Elixir of Life," with the parenthetical notation that it was "From a Chela's Diary," giving the physical discipline and scientific resultants of successful probationary chelaship, and setting out the conditions precedent to "occult preferment." In January, 1883, "Chelas and Knowers" was printed, followed in the Supplement to the issue for July, 1883, by "Chelas and Lay Chelas."(4) This, perhaps the most important article on Occultism ever published, sets forth the difference between accepted chelas and the pledged probationers and neophytes of every degree. It repeats in detail the risks and dangers of rushing prematurely into "practical occultism," gives illustrative examples of failure, and specifies some of the iron conditions of self-discipline necessary. The same subject was first discussed in a general and guarded fashion toward the close of the last chapter of "Isis Unveiled." Finally, the leading article for July, 1884, entitled, "Mahatmas and Chelas," gave in clearest words the nature of Adeptship and the folly and futility of prevailing ideas in regard to Mahatmas and the means of approaching Them.
We have selected only a few of the numerous writings which gradually appeared bearing on the esoteric side of the Theosophical Movement during the first ten years of the Society's life. Only when these articles and the collateral circumstances of their appearance are understood can their relation to and bearing upon the incidents connected with the career of the exoteric Society be properly grasped and the behavior of various leading persons connected with it be comprehended. To the "rush for chelaship" and to the failures in occultism of probationers must the student look for the metaphysical and spiritual explanations of the internal storms which then and thereafter rent the original Theosophical Society and its branches.
The extensive circulation of "The Occult World" and "Esoteric Buddhism," the intense activity of the "London Lodge" in the pursuit of the "Third Object" after the return of Mr. Sinnett to London and his leading position in that Lodge, most of whose members were spiritualists and avid for "phenomena," caused many to believe that the Masters could be reached via mediums, séances and "psychic practices" of one kind and another, to the entire neglect of the First Object and the study of philosophy. The powerful currents that surrounded H.P.B. wherever she went, the impetus given to curiosity and ambition for "occult" knowledge by the great amount of published tales and speculations concerning her and her mission, the preliminary "investigations" of the Society for Psychical Research into the "theosophical phenomena" -- all these produced a great danger for the selfish, the unwary, the venturesome Fellows of the Society who had profited spiritually not at all from Isis Unveiled," from the Master's letters in "The Occult World," from the repeated instructions and warnings in "The Theosophist," nor from the private communications from H.P.B. and the Mahatmas to numerous individuals most bent on forcing their way into the arena of operations of the "Superior Sections" without regard to the unknown laws and perils to be encountered.
Aside from the Chelas in India, no candidates for the "Second Section" were accepted either in America or Europe other than those directly under the guidance of H.P.B. or Mr. Judge, and these have never been publicly mentioned. Not until 1884, when the independent and misguided energies of the "London Lodge" threatened the gravest danger both to its Fellows, to the Society and to the Movement, was permission granted, at their petition, to Miss Francesca Arundale and others to form an "inner group" of the London Lodge as probationers of the Second Section. The signers pledged themselves to follow strictly the rules and instructions given them. All this remained secret for many years, but in the volume, "Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom," published in 1919, will be found some graphic statements and indications of the conditions prevailing -- statements which shed a flood of light not only on the state of affairs at the time we are discussing, but which are equally illuminating in their applications to the course of affairs since and now among the thirsty aspirants for occult powers and knowledge.
During this period "Man -- Fragments of Forgotten History," was being received by two chelas in their efforts at self-development; the Fourth edition of "The Occult World" was published with its Appendix containing a long letter from the Master K.H. on the "precipitation" of "occult letters" by chelas of the "Second Section." All these events accompanied and unfolded pari passu the "Kiddle incident," the attack on H.P.B. by Mr. Arthur Lillie in his pamphlet, "Koot Hoomi Unveiled," the Coulomb charges, the investigation by the S.P.R., the lukewarmness or desertions of the Fellows from the Society, and the violation of their pledges by those Fellows who were also "lay" and accepted probationers of the Second Section. From the standpoint of the philosophy of Theosophy, the objects set forth for the conduct of the Society, the principles and rules laid down for the guidance of the probationers of the Second Section, and the pledges taken both by the Fellows and the probationers, the course of events marked the trial of the Society, its members and its neophytes in Occultism, to determine their fitness individually and collectively to carry on the work of the Masters, to sustain the shock of combat incident and inevitable to that work and to their own progress in spiritual and psychical evolution.
The first decade passed and its results ascertained and weighed as regarded the Society as a whole, reorganization of the work of the Superior Sections can be seen in the commencement of "The Path" by Mr. Judge, in April, 1886, and of "Lucifer" in London by H.P.B. in September, 1887. Something of the immensity of the change inaugurated in the public work of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge can be seen by merely comparing the character and range of contents of these two magazines with those of the first seven volumes of "The Theosophist" (1879-1886); the published books in the period 1885-1895 with those of the first decade; the growth in character of work undertaken by the Society in America and England in 1885-1895 whether compared with the history of the Society as a whole in its first ten years, or with its work and character in India during the same ten years, or with any of the fruits of the numerous Theosophical societies now in existence that have sprung up since 1895.
The philosophical and moral lessons and considerations, the sine qua non conditions of the Superior Sections, the explanation of the numerous failures, exoteric and esoteric, which beset the work of the first ten years, and which must beset every similar attempt in all times, are nowhere more clearly and authoritatively set forth than in the article entitled "The Theosophical Mahatmas." The general circumstances have already been outlined; the particular occasion was as follows:
Amongst the earliest of the European pledged probationers of the Second Section was Mr. W. T. Brown. He was a young man who had been reared a strict orthodox Christian, was a graduate of the university of Glasgow, and had traveled extensively in Europe and America. In 1883, while in London, he made the acquaintance of Mr. Sinnett and others of the London Lodge, as well as of some leading spiritualists and some Continental followers of Eliphas Lévi and students of mediæval Rosicrucianism. He was a member of the "Central Association" of British spiritualists, joined the London Lodge, and became so deeply interested in what he read and heard of Theosophical teachings that he determined to go to India and devote his life to the "esoteric doctrine." He was witness of some of the phenomena constantly occurring at headquarters, received "occult" messages from one of the Masters, and besought Colonel Olcott, then absent from Adyar on a tour, for permission to share in his work. He received a long, friendly, but very straightforward reply warning him of the immense difficulties to be confronted. Undeterred, he set out to accompany Col. Olcott, and on this trip received further communications from the Master K.H., was visited by the Master in "astral body," and finally met and talked with the Adept in his physical body, recognizing the Master both from the portrait which he had previously seen, from his "astral" appearance, and from the subject matters discussed. All this occurred during the latter half of 1883. Mr. Brown was so aroused by his experiences and studies that he determined to become a probationary Chela, and was accepted "on probation" in January, 1884. "On that occasion," he says, "I was warned as to the difficulties of the road which I desired to tread, but was assured that by a close adherence to truth, and trust in 'My Master,' all must turn out well."
Mr. Brown was at headquarters during the time of the Coulomb accusations, returning to England via the United States. Next he went to Germany and identified himself with the "Rosicrucians" there. He had written a pamphlet reciting his experiences in India, which was published "under the authority of the London Lodge." Next he published a brief autobiography devoted to his experiences in Rosicrucianism, and finally, early in 1886, came once more to the United States to associate himself with Mrs. Josephine W. Cables.
Mrs. Cables was a Christian and a spiritualist and herself afflicted with "psychic" tendencies. Learning of the Theosophical teachings, she had been largely instrumental in forming the Rochester T.S. in 1882, with Mr. W. B. Shelley as President and herself as Secretary. This was the first Theosophical Society established in America after the formation of the Parent T.S. In April, 1884, she established "The Occult Word," a monthly "journal devoted to the interests of the Theosophical Society, and for the dissemination of Oriental Knowledge." The issues appeared irregularly and the contents show a curious mixture of Christianity, spiritualism, mysticism, Theosophical ideas and personal vagaries on diet, "asceticism," and "occultism." Mrs. Cables gave frequent talks before the Rochester T.S., held séances, and endeavored by every means in her power to "open up communication" with the Mahatmas. Finally, she procured the assistance of Mr. Brown through correspondence. In the summer of 1886 Professor Elliott Coues, President of the then "American Board of Control" of the T.S., endeavored to make of "The Occult Word" the "official organ" of the T.S. in the United States. Meantime Mr. Judge had started "The Path," and the character of its contents showed a sure knowledge and the signs of direct contact with the very Powers Mrs. Cables had been seeking to reach in many ways. Very evidently it appeared to Mrs. Cables and Mr. Brown that the unknown Masters had not accorded them that recognition which they felt that they had deserved and earned. In "The Occult Word" for October-November, 1886, they published a leading editorial article over their joint signatures. The article is entitled "The Theosophical Mahatmas," and in it the authors say:
"There is a great desire among many of our brothers to be put into communication with the Theosophical Mahatmas, and as we have given much thought to the subject, and evinced great desire to receive even slight tokens from the Masters, it will be useful to our brothers to have some of our reflections. We have come to the conclusion that it is useless to strain the psychical eyes toward the Himalayas.... The Masters have given out nothing new in the literature of our Theosophical Society. There have been students of mysticism in all ages ... and all of those have found a world of literature opening to their gaze as they directed their attention to the spheres of the occult.... We need not think, therefore, that we are having a special revelation by means of our Society.... Therefore, we need not run after Oriental mystics who deny their ability to help us....
"A great many of us have come to think that we have been running vainly after Eastern mystics and ecstatics, when, within the New Testament itself, we find the Way, the Truth, and the Life.... We are now prepared to stand by our Essenian Master and to 'test the spirits' in his name. We have been hunting after strange gods, and have 'denied Him thrice,' but with bleeding feet and prostrate spirit we pray that He may take us once more under His wing.... We have wandered far and suffered for our wanderings. We have been living on husks, while the gospel of love and soul invigoration has been always at our hands.... The 'dwellers on the threshold are within.'"
To this manifesto H.P.B. herself replied in an article with the same title, which was published in "The Path" for December, 1886.(5) After stating that the feeling expressed by Mrs. Cables and Mr. Brown "is undeniably shared by many Theosophists" H.P.B. goes on: "Whether the complaints are justified, and also whether it is the 'Mahatmas' or Theosophists themselves who are to blame for it is a question that remains to be settled." We can here give only the briefest extracts from H.P.B.'s article, which constitutes the view of the "Superior Sections" on the essentials of the "path of probation" and the causes of the wrecks that line the road. The article itself should be read and pondered by every aspirant to esoteric knowledge until it is ineradicably engraved in his inner nature, for it relates, not to an isolated instance in human action, but to the inviolable law of the higher life. She says:
"To the plain statement of our brothers and sisters that they have been 'living on husks,' 'hunting after strange gods' without receiving admittance, I would ask in my turn, as plainly: 'Are you sure of having knocked at the right door? Do you feel certain that you have not lost your way by stopping so often on your journey at strange doors, behind which lie in wait the fiercest enemies of those you were searching for?' ... Our MASTERS are not a 'jealous god;' they are simply holy mortals, nevertheless, however, higher than any in this world, morally, intellectually and spiritually, ... members of a Brotherhood, who are the first in it to show themselves subservient to its time-honored laws and rules. And one of its first rules demands that those who start ... as candidates . . . should proceed by the straight road, without stopping on every side-way and path, seeking to join other 'Masters' and professors often of the Left-Hand Science, that they should have confidence and show trust and patience, besides several other conditions to fulfill. Failing in all of this from first to last, what right has any man or woman to complain of the inability of the Masters to help them? ...
"Once that a theosophist would become a candidate for either chelaship or favours, he must be aware of the mutual pledge, tacitly, if not formally offered and accepted between the two parties, and, that such a pledge is sacred. It is a bond of seven years of probation. If during that time, notwithstanding the many human shortcomings and mistakes of the candidate (save two which it is needless to specify in print), he remains throughout every temptation true to the chosen Master, or Masters (in the case of lay candidates), and as faithful to the Society founded at their wish and under their orders, then the theosophist will be initiated ... thenceforward allowed to communicate with his guru unreservedly, all his failings save this one, as specified, may be overlooked; they belong to his future Karma....
"Thus the chief and only indispensable condition required in the candidate or chela on probation, is simply unswerving fidelity to the chosen Master and his purposes. This is a condition sine qua non, not ... on account of any jealous feeling, but simply because the magnetic rapport between the two once broken, it becomes at each time doubly difficult to re-establish it again....
"Both the writers may have and very likely they did -- 'hunt after strange gods;' but these were not our MASTERS....
"Yet, to those theosophists, who are displeased with the Society in general, no one has ever made you any rash promises; least of all, has either the Society or its founders ever offered their 'Masters' as a chromo-premium to the best behaved. For years every new member has been told that he was promised nothing, but had everything to expect only from his own personal merit. The theosophist is left free and untrammeled in his actions ... unless, indeed, one has offered himself and is decided to win the Masters' favors. To such especially, I now address myself and ask: Have you fulfilled your obligations and pledges? Have you ... led the life requisite? ... Let him who feels in his heart and conscience that he has-- ... let him rise and protest. ... I am afraid my invitation will remain unanswered. During the eleven years of the existence of the Theosophical Society I have known, out of the seventy-two regularly accepted chelas on probation and the hundreds of lay candidates -- only three who have not hitherto failed, and one only who had a full success. No one forces anyone into chelaship; no promises are uttered, none except the mutual pledge between Master and the would-be-chela. Verily, verily, many are the called but few are chosen -- or rather few who have the patience of going to the bitter end, if bitter we call simple perseverance and singleness of purpose. And what about the Society, in general? ... Who among the thousands of members does lead the life? Shall anyone say because he is a strict vegetarian -- elephants and cows are that --or happens to lead a celibate life, after a stormy youth in the opposite direction: or because he studies the Bhagavad-Gita or the 'Yoga philosophy' upside down, that he is a theosophist according to the Masters' hearts? As it is not the cowl that makes the monk, so, no long hair with a poetical vacancy on the brow are sufficient to make of one a faithful follower of divine Wisdom. Look around you and behold our UNIVERSAL Brotherhood so-called! The Society founded to remedy the glaring evils of christianity, to shun bigotry and intolerance, cant and superstition and to cultivate real universal love extending even to the dumb brute, what has it become in Europe and America in these eleven years of trial? ...
"I have never ceased repeating to others: as soon as one steps on the Path leading to ... the blessed Masters ... his Karma, instead of having to be distributed throughout his long life, falls upon him in a block and crushes him with its whole weight. He who believes in what he professes and in his Master, will stand it and come out of the trial victorious; he who doubts, the coward who fears to receive his just dues and tries to avoid justice being done -- FAILS. He will not escape Karma just the same, but he will only lose that for which he has risked its untimely visits...."
"And now repeating after the Paraguru --my Master's MASTER -- the words He had sent as a message to those who wanted to make of the Society a 'miracle club' instead of a Brotherhood of Peace, Love and mutual assistance -- 'Perish rather, the Theosophical Society and its hapless Founders.' I say perish their twelve years' labour and their very lives rather than that I should see what I do to-day: theosophists, outvying political 'rings' in their search for personal power and authority; theosophists slandering and criticizing each other as two rival Christian sects might do; finally theosophists refusing to lead the life and then criticizing and throwing slurs on the grandest and noblest of men, because ... those Masters refuse to interfere with Karma and to play second fiddle to every theosophist who calls upon Them and whether he deserves it or not." [Note: Here's the complete article: "The Theosophical Mahatmas". --Compiler.]
The history of the Theosophical Society is the history of the failure of Theosophists in high and low position to lead the life inculcated in their own Objects and their own professions; is the record of the failure of the lay and pledged probationers of the Second Section to keep their pledges in "simple perseverance and singleness of purpose."
The case of Mrs. Cables and Mr. Brown has been selected because it is public and typical of the hundreds of cases before and since of those who started with fair prospects, in all the "glory of a fresh enthusiasm," with all the general and particular advantages, help and guidance that past Karma and personal contact with the Teachings and the Teachers could give them, and who nevertheless failed miserably because they would not, and not because they could not, adhere to the lines laid down by those very Masters whom they longed to come in contact with as accepted chelas.
Mr. Brown returned to England, later went to India and there married an Eurasian lady; he returned to the fold of orthodox Christianity, and has never since been heard of in connection with "chelaship." Mrs. Cables speedily turned the Rochester T.S. into the "Rochester Brotherhood," and her magazine into the exponency of the various phases of "mysticism" and "occultism" that attracted her fancy from time to time. Neither Mrs. Cables nor Mr. Brown appear ever to have questioned their own instability of purpose, their own inconsistency of action, their own ability to determine what the "Masters" ought to do, their own utter failure to abide by the conditions they had themselves invoked. Was this course of conduct unique on their part or was it but a manifestation of those very defects and weaknesses of human nature which must be fought and conquered by the "candidate for chelaship?"
We have now to return to Colonel Olcott, pledged probationer of the "Second Section" as well as "President-Founder" of the Theosophical Society, and consider his course in the light of "the path of probation" -- a course which finally compelled H.P.B. to form the "Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society" against his violent protests and in spite of his bitter opposition in order, if possible, to save the Society: in order, in any event, to continue to carry on the work of the Theosophical Movement on the lines laid down from the beginning.
(To be continued)
THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT
(Part 10 of a 34-part series)
"THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT"
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FIVE (5) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
(1) Corrections, objections, criticisms, questions and comments are invited from all readers on any facts or conclusions stated in this series. --EDITORS.
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(2) Reprinted in THEOSOPHY, Supplement for November, 1914, and in the pamphlet "Some Theosophical Prophecies."
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(3) Reprinted in THEOSOPHY in issues from January to October, 1914, inclusive.
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(4) Reprinted in THEOSOPHY for January, 1916. Also reprinted in the volume "Five Years of Theosophy."
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(5) Reprinted in THEOSOPHY for July, 1913.
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