THEOSOPHY, Vol. 42, No. 1, November, 1953
(Pages 29-32; Size: 12K)
[Article number (24) in this Q&A Department]
IN the past other great Teachers have promulgated the Theosophical teachings, yet the world in general still goes on believing its old ideas. Won't the present Theosophical Movement eventually die out or become hidden the way previous efforts did? If so, what is the use? Also, we are in the Iron Age so how can we hope to achieve our goal?
Almost every member of the United Lodge of Theosophists is familiar with William Q. Judge's article, "The Theosophical Movement," which states,Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatism, have been promulgated, there the great movement is to be discerned. [Note: Since you may want to read it after you finish reading this article, I have provided a link to "The Theosophical Movement" article at the end of this one.--Compiler.]Judge goes on to speak of Jacob Boehme's work, Luther's reformation and the struggle between science and religion, as evidence of the existence and progress of the Theosophical Movement. Notice that here the principal criterion of progress is not whether certain doctrines as given by Mme. Blavatsky in The Secret Doctrine have gradually infiltrated into the race mind, but, rather, is dependent upon all genuine advances in freedom of thought. The Theosophical Movement will never, therefore, "eventually die out or become hidden" unless the society under which we live completely suppresses freedom of thought -- an obvious impossibility. It is true that the words "Theosophical Movement" may, in these terms, sound like but a nebulous generalization, yet if we attempt to define it in terms of "objective specifics" we would enclose it within the confines of "dogma" of our own definition. Who of us knows exactly what and where the true core of the Theosophical Movement is? Some have thought to have this exalted form of knowledge, and proceeded to form a kind of "House Un-Theosophical Activities Committee."
When a member of U.L.T. is asked, "What religion do you belong to," he may feel himself in a bit of hot water. Varied answers are received. The ULTer may sometimes come back with "Oh, I'm a Theosophist," or he may say something about favoring northern Buddhism except tendencies toward annihilation, or he could say he is a student of Theosophy. But what is Theosophy? If Theosophy is that undefinable something that represents truth, then he is simply a student of truth. The fact is, he is simply a student and, as a Theosophist, as defined by H.P.B., does not "belong" to any religion. The United Lodge of Theosophists can only be a place of study which, in especial, makes available the writings and ideas of H. P. Blavatsky, who, in the opinion of those who belong to U.L.T., has shown the fundamentals of Truth about religions and religion through her teachings. If we hold the analogy constant of the teacher-pupil relationship, neither the U.L.T. nor H.P.B. need be regarded as "infallible." Any university student knows that his professor is far ahead of the student in the course that he is pursuing, but no university student need loudly proclaim that his professor is infallible. In the words of Judge,If any persons regard H.P.B.'s writings as the infallible oracles of Theosophy, they go directly against her own words and the works themselves; they must be people who do not indulge in original thinking and cannot make much impression on the times.U.L.T. certainly does not appear to be an organization intent upon creating a mass movement toward ideological success, any more than a university is. It does not gear itself to recruit, proselyte, or propagandize. Nor has it made any extended efforts to bring other "Theosophical Societies" into the fold. The U.L.T. is, then, a place of study for the students who wish to use it. "A place of study" -- is this a belittling description? Some "students," with great devotion and a feeling of reverence, perhaps, attend twice on Sunday, twice on Wednesday, and again on Friday. Some also study the teachings at home daily and donate money each week. If we postulate Theosophy as "divine wisdom," as it is defined, we can indeed think how worthwhile this expenditure of time and money is. Yet, on the other hand, by devoting so much of one's life to such a cause through an organization, think how easy it would be to make this "place of study" into a supposed "infallible oracle" of truth. When we do this we are no longer students, but, instead, simply members of that vast audience of "followers." When an organization reaches this point it begins to decay, and it is not only legitimately attacked by the free thinkers of the age, but also more intently by rival institutions. Then, by gradual stages, it ceases to be a part of the Theosophical Movement. Think how often organizational attempts to study Theosophy have followed this same pattern, and how easily history may repeat itself. We can no longer belittle the idea that the main point of emphasis for the United Lodge of Theosophists should be that it is "a place of study"!
How can one develop a greater love for humanity? How can we extend our sympathy and understanding for those we do not see?
If one sees the importance of these feelings, then it would seem that a knowledge of the basis for sympathy and understanding is to be striven for. The more one understands himself, the more he can extend the application.
Under the law of Karma (the law of ethical and physical cause and effect), a person can see at once that whatever evil people wreak upon him is causally related to his own actions of the past. Then, as we live from day to day, those around us will more easily gain our sympathy rather than our enmity. And there is a great compensation in this, in that our debts are gradually being paid up, and one can turn his rewards toward helping humanity in the best manner possible.
It is interesting to note how Mr. Judge faced a similar problem. In Letters he writes: "I was reading a book and looking around within myself to see how I could enlarge my idea of brotherhood. Practice in benevolence will not give it its full growth. I had to find some means of reaching further, and struck on this, which is as old as age.
"I am not separate from anything. I am that which is. That is, I as Brahma, and Brahma is everything. But being in an illusionary world, I am surrounded by certain appearances that seem to make me separate. So I will proceed to mentally state and accept that I am all these illusions. I am my friends -- and then I went to them in general and in particular. I am my enemies; ... Then I felt them all. I am the poor and the wicked; I am the ignorant. Those moments of intellectual gloom are the moments when I am influenced by those ignorant ones who are myself. All this is my nation. But there are many nations, and to those I go in mind; I feel and I am them all, with what they hold of superstition or of wisdom or evil. All, all is myself. Unwisely, I was then about to stop, but the whole is Brahma, so I went to the Devas and Asuras; the elemental world, that too is myself. After pursuing this course awhile I found it easier to return to a contemplation of all men as myself. It is a good method and ought to be pursued, for it is a step toward getting into contemplation of the All. I tried last night to reach up to Brahma, but darkness is about his pavilion."
It would seem that an understanding of the three fundamental propositions of Theosophy is almost essential to any lasting feeling of brotherhood. To realize that all come from the same source, act under the same law, and are striving for the same goal, is to have the intangible ideal of "brotherhood" become more and more self-evident statement of fact.
If we want our love for humanity to be something better than a lukewarm, hazy feeling, as well as to have it include all (even those currently in after-death states), and not just a selected portion of humanity, such a compassion must be the outcome of knowledge and understanding.
Self-consciousness goes hand in hand with understanding. Our sphere of active consciousness extends no farther than our understanding. To be conscious of the strivings and needs of all of humanity we must expand our own being.
H.P.B. offers a certain perspective on "Charity" (Key to Theosophy) which seems applicable to the above question also. To understand the real meaning of charity one must act personally and give directly to those in need. This requires extending direct sympathy, help, and interest to those we can see, to those we naturally contact through our particular karma. It is by exhausting all of the possibilities in one's immediate life, living by principle, supporting constructive activities, and utilizing one's means to the fullest that broader understanding and love can be developed.
"In order to become the KNOWER of ALL SELF, thou hast first of Self to be the knower." This is also suggestive of the individual approach. If it is true that every man, including all of his actions, is a little universe or microcosm within the greater universe, universal understanding is at least potentially possible through a comprehension of the principles governing individual actions.
Note: In case you want to read it, before going on to the next article in this Department, here's the link to WQJ's article, entitled "The Theosophical Movement", that was mentioned and quoted from in the answer to the first question in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler.
YOUTH-COMPANIONS ASK--AND ANSWER
[Article number (25) in this Q&A Department]
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