THEOSOPHY, Vol. 40, No. 2, December, 1951
(Pages 64-68; Size: 14K)
[Article number (1) in this Q&A Department]
A MAN of mostly uncontrolled selfish desires will sometimes do something for a friend completely contrary to his usual attitude. Perhaps "friendship" itself inspired the man's high moral thoughts, and consequently an unselfish act? But what is this power of friendship? Or we might ask, too, what is this current that is forever contradicting the materialism of life?
Even the most ignorant of men recognizes the dependence of a single man on his fellows; the babe can neither exist nor survive without the parent, who supports his life until he is old enough to take care of himself. As the small person grows, he is constantly in contact with the world moving and living around him, and in the course of these contacts builds up within himself a complicated pattern of attitudes, reactions, and habits which we may call his personality.
Frequently the stream of persons and events which flows into the older person's life are unfortunate: poverty, war, slavery, both religious and economic, may cloud his day-to-day existence with problems which are, for him, practically insurmountable. He may lose his faith in his religion, his fellow men, his world, and finally in himself. His life seems to become a daily fight for survival against too great odds, and his thoughts and expressions express his inner bitterness and confusion.
Let us assume that this man has heard nothing of the "brotherhood of man," nor has he any conception of the higher and lower nature of man. But possibly with no conscious philosophy in his mind, he yet extends himself in personal sacrifice to his friend, despite the fact that his interest in the "friendship" itself may have seemed purely selfish.
We learn in the first fundamental that all men are a part of the whole, and that on the higher planes, the soul and spirit are in harmony. Though the "person" may be submerged in his own mental and psychic confusions, the soul remains in a sense free. Perhaps we could say that the soul supports the higher qualities, and that despite the conditions of the lower nature and the body of man, this link does not become broken; hence the link between soul and spirit serves as a channel for contact between human beings. It is somewhat like the sun always shining, above the clouds; at times its light shines through the breaks in the clouds. So, with the person, when there are breaks in the clouds of the confused lower nature.
Are there existing organizations that have declared purposes which are similar to the principles of U.L.T.? [Note: U.L.T. means "The United Lodge of Theosophists".--Compiler]
There are many organizations that could be said to have declared purposes similar to U.L.T. -- brotherhood on the basis of respect for each individual as an individual conscience. If we judge these organizations on the basis that they do not use theosophical terms, we would find little in our search for parallels on the fundamentals of U.L.T. But if we investigate or inquire for the reason that we wish to find other individuals or organizations working with a similarity of aim, that is, the betterment of man, we frequently will find organizations of this nature.
To be more specific, the American Civil Liberties Union is very helpful to oppressed minorities, because it has as its purpose the defense of the rights of the individual American citizen. This would include upholding the Constitution and particularly the Bill of Rights. The A.C.L.U. gives financial and moral aid to individuals who are being discriminated against because of "race, creed or organization."
One educational organization is the Anti-Narcotic League. It goes into the schools all over America trying to educate the young so there will never be a desire by the young for narcotics of any kind. However, an organization of this kind must be very careful of the type of education used on this pressing problem of our youth. A negative, as well as a positive, attitude will appear if there is too much concentration on the evils of narcotics.
It must be understood that such organizations are very much needed in American culture, but ultimately they will not accomplish their aim, which is brotherhood, unless there is more of a philosophical basis established, namely, Theosophy. H. P. Blavatsky, speaking in an article entitled "Our Three Objects," illustrates this point:Social differentiations, the result of physical evolutions and material environment, breed race hatreds and sectarian and social antipathies that are insurmountable if attacked from the outside. But, since human nature is ever identical, all men are alike open to influences which centre upon the human "heart," and appeal to the human intuition; and as there is but one Absolute Truth, and this is the soul and life of all human creeds, it is possible to effect a reciprocal alliance for the research of and dissemination of that basic Truth. [Note: For those who would like to read it, once you have finished reading this article, I've placed a link to HPB's "Our Three Objects" article at the end of this one.--Compiler]If there is to be understanding in the world, if there is to be a world where we will not have dissensions or racial differences, it will have to be done through Theosophy, pure and simple. In endeavoring to accomplish the central aim of the theosophical movement -- universal brotherhood -- it seems evident that we will, as individuals, have to believe in the idea of brotherhood ourselves on the basis of its philosophical meaning.
It is stated in the U.L.T. Declaration that the Lodge "does not concern itself with dissensions or differences of individual opinion." This sounds like a good policy, but rather impractical. It is also said that "The policy of this Lodge is INDEPENDENT devotion to the cause of Theosophy." The adjective, independent, immediately suggests individual ways of devoting and applying oneself, with consequent differences of opinion. Again, in the third paragraph, we find the expression "SIMILARITY" of aim and purpose instead of "sameness." These distinctions appear to point at differences instead of away from them; yet if the Lodge is not "concerned" with differences, are they ignored or superficially smoothed over?
This question brings out the understanding and wisdom which stands behind the Declaration. Unlike authoritarian systems of thought which automatically assume that everyone should believe the same, and act the same, U.L.T. expects differences of opinion and welcomes any and all sincere questions. We see, then, the theosophical idea is to stimulate and open minds, to discuss and evaluate ideas. In this we have a way of bringing about self-conscious unity.
If the full implications of the phrase, "similarity of aim, purpose, and teaching," are recognized, the essence and genius of U.L.T. as an association and not as an organization stands self-evident. Here we have earnest individual students, not necessarily "intellectuals," who through their own ways of reasoning and contemplation recognize the essential validity of the three Fundamentals and the great need of disseminating these principles. The "sole bond" between the Associates, then, is common study of Theosophy.
The "room" given for independent devotion and all self-induced, self-devised efforts and the absence of any authorities on matters of "the philosophy" are safeguards taken to prevent the entrance of religious authoritarianism and bigotry. Differences in regard to "the right way" of progressing along the path towards "a truer realization of the Self" were anticipated from the first. The only spiritual authority is the Buddhic quality in each aspirant, and thus soul-evolution must proceed from within outward. Robert Crosbie in The Friendly Philosopher calls for tolerance: "Our way is essentially our way, and his is his, and equally right and important."
Attention, naturally, is given to individual actions which vitally contradict the spirit and purposes of the Declaration, for the non-organizational, non-authoritarian spirit of U.L.T. is at times not easily lived up to. Mistakes of this nature may be expected to occur; but in such cases the U.L.T. tradition is for concerned individuals to examine such problems by objective criticism among those immediately involved. Dissensions are not fostered on the level of soul, but stem from the personality.
"Side issues," i.e., various individual opinions on outside events, situations, and controversial subjects, are recognized as signs of individual interest and bias; this kind of diversity indicates the lack of thought regimentation. Different sentiments exist, and there is no attempt made to deny this, but they are considered small in light of the work on hand. "We have devoted our lives to it [the fight for recognition of Theosophy, pure and simple], and there is no energy to spare for any other issue." (The Friendly Philosopher.)
Even though Theosophy should, because of its very nature, foster the most universal and open-minded of attitudes in its students, one often sees the tendency in them, and in oneself, to narrow the vision; to make of Theosophy a religion instead of a philosophy. Having devoted a great deal of time and energy to the study of Theosophy -- sometimes to the exclusion of other interests -- one may find that Theosophical DOCTRINES have a monopoly on his thinking. He may find himself using his conception of Theosophy as a static "frame of reference" into which other ideas either fit or do not fit, and are unthinkingly judged good or bad accordingly. How can we avoid this essentially "religious" attitude?
Theosophy is a key which opens many doors of mystery for the inquiring mind. It has been defined as "the rational explanation of things as they are." Therefore, when one first contacts the teachings, he may well find them extremely interesting. And when he has become somewhat familiar with the basic concepts of the philosophy and has made for himself any sort of working hypothesis of them, he may, by that time, be overwhelmed by the apparent authenticity of the teachings. He may feel that at last he has found the truth -- all rational explanation -- and this can be a very comfortable feeling to acquire.
Whenever men attach themselves to any knowledge not shared by most other people, it is very easy for them to become self-righteous, and in this case to judge all things rather partially from its high eminence. Sometimes this attitude leads to another and worse one -- condemnation.
How many times have we been talking to another when suddenly we realize that he isn't listening to us at all? He appears to be patiently waiting for us to finish talking so he can present his own viewpoint. He is satisfied with his own ideas, apparently, and since ours are not the same, he doesn't even bother to consider them. Somehow, we can't quite forgive him that sort of contempt for ideas. It is this unconscious judgment -- not against a particular idea, but rather, against different ideas of any kind -- that needs to be fought in ourselves.
Of course, when we are guilty of reacting like dogmatists we simply illustrate the desire for security that every man may feel. One seeks security in many varieties of material things, but more important to him is his request for security in the world of ideas. He would like to know certainty in this world of endless confusion, and this is not such an unreasonable desire to have, after all. Yet closed-mindedness lies at the core of that religious attitude from which the inquirer into Theosophy may originally have been trying to escape.
If we could but look for truth wherever it exists with clear and interested gaze, how much sweeter and more natural would be our relationships with ideas -- and with our fellows. It is perhaps better to seek and not find, than to "find" and then -- not seek.
[Note: Here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "Our Three Objects", that was mentioned and quoted from in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler]
YOUTH-COMPANIONS ASK--AND ANSWER
[Article number (2) in this Q&A Department]
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