THEOSOPHY, Vol. 31, No. 11, September, 1943 (Pages 494-496; Size: 8K)
THE OUTLINE OF THE PATH
THE essence of Theosophy is a belief in the continuity of spiritual evolution for every living intelligence in nature. Great Teachers of Theosophy have described themselves, simply, as those whose belief in this doctrine and its natural corollary -- the interdependence in evolution of all beings -- has been confirmed by living and learning in its light. They have applied the philosophy by constantly striving to awaken in others a sense of responsibility for the outcome of the long voyage upon which all manifested life has embarked. The teachings they have passed on to men may rightly be called Theo-sophy, for they imply a God-like destiny, an infinite and self-determined future.
The soul-evoking philosophies of the Krishnas, Buddhas, Platos, and H. P. Blavatskys of every age, strike answering chords of inner responsiveness in the greatest of men because of this inspiring view of man's nature and destiny. The meaning of the path begins to emerge, outlined ever more clearly against receding mists of mental confusion and moral apathy. The reality of Theosophy is found on this Path, along which each can travel with true conviction when ready for the journey. It is well marked for all who, in seeking wisdom, impel themselves "by doing service, by strong search, by questions and by humility." Along it have marched the elect of all centuries and races.
Some have come to join this self-appointed company after exhausting the partial truths of popular religion. They found their soul needs awakened, but not fulfilled. Some have come through the doors of speculative philosophy, borne along at first by force of mind rather than needs of heart. They come, occasionally, from a desire to understand nature as a whole through widening application of genuine scientific inquiry. But whatever the external means of entrance to this old path, all its wayfarers have shared an unquenchable thirst for knowledge -- knowledge that will reveal man's rightful place in the scheme of things.
These pilgrims have found elder brothers of a mystic family waiting to assist them. Called Adepts, Initiates, and Masters of Wisdom, in the tradition of the East, and Saviors and Great Teachers in the West, these elder spiritual brothers help give new light to minds and new fire to hearts. The first thing to be seen clearly with the light these friends of man bring is that higher forms of wisdom cannot be acquired for self alone; that motive must be to serve the whole: "Point out the way. . . . Give light and comfort to the toiling pilgrim, and seek out him who knows still less than thou, who in his wretched desolation sits starving for the bread of Wisdom." Through true teaching comes true learning.
Those who tread this path can be recognized by sure signs, and will recognize, by the same signs, those of their own kind. If their efforts are conceived that they may be shared, if their forward steps are taken with hand outstretched behind, they are one with the spirit of the Company. It matters little how humble their mental abilities, nor how many others are able to speak from higher levels of ascent with tones of a surer and wider wisdom. Their task is the same. Always will be their place, from which they may reach ahead to those who can teach them, and reach behind to those who know still less.
To attain this perception is to have a spiritual vision of the interdependence of all beings. This wisdom alone can be called "divine" -- divine because it is the highest, because it embraces a universal view. Theosophist is the name of many to whom this vision is real. But the ranks of true theosophists include every sincere friend of mankind who has fought and sacrificed with a semblance of this truth in his heart.
There have been and will be many who somehow find the heart of things in popular philosophies and religions, for each world view touches somewhere the core of truth. But the ways of religions pursue a roundabout course, ofttimes presenting obstacles to wider vision, rather than means for self-clarification. As the problems of a great and confused modern age increase, the influence of dogma brings millions to the spiritual inertia of blind faith, or precipitates them into the temporary oblivion of a sensual materialism. Those who have represented Theosophy to the world have often willingly lived a sacrificial existence that Theosophical ideas might be the "helping hand" to those who starve in smoldering dissatisfaction without faith in man and faith in life.
The Teacher would reach out to all those who need, yet he cannot, for though all need, all do not know their need. With mind absorbed in the senses, many have encased themselves in a chrysalis impervious alike to soul within and life without. Others fit over the eyes of mind and soul the blinding hood of religious dogma. These two selfish allegiances include all those who have intellectually denied the reality of spiritual evolution. That reality ceases to exist for them until their chrysalis is brutally but justly shattered by the conquering force of a relentless friend -- the suffering that impels to revaluation. Until the mind and heart are searching, no teacher can teach the learner who will not learn.
Yet there is bright assurance that few have completely immersed themselves in the self-satisfaction that denies the need of an ever-widening view. The rank and file of materialists are mixed in faith. They yet feel and believe many things that their minds refuse to consciously voice. In the regimented array of religious believers it is but a few who fail to live spiritually beyond the confines of arbitrary creed. The host of mankind continues to travel toward wisdom and understanding, striving to overcome the mental distortions of materialism and religious orthodoxy. These check, but do not halt, the travellers. If they continue to seek, they will at last find.
To each potential pilgrim on the path of wisdom must come a vision of the meaning of life in terms of self-directed spiritual evolution. Not written word, not teacher, not even sage, can bring that vision to him, yet may the wayfarer see its reflection in one or all of these. He may see, too, evidence of the noble company that he will some day join. Thus the Theosophist teaches, and in the teaching learns still more of the way to realize and share a heritage of wisdom that each can make his own.
"Isis Unveiled"--An Introduction