Work for Theosophy
From a Talk by Robert Crosbie
Theosophy, Nov, 1940 – February, 1941
It is futile to accept revelations on anybody’s say-so. They convey no knowledge, and it is actual knowledge that is required by each one. Shibboleths and formulas are mere words, not a criterion of truth.
Theosophy is in the world to present the means by which each one can acquire knowledge for himself. Its study and application call forth the judgment and discrimination latent in the man himself.
Truth is not a man, nor a book, nor a statement. The nature of Truth is universal; its possessors in any degree will be found to be appliers of universality in thought, speech and action. Their efforts will be for humanity regardless of sex, creed, caste or color. They will never be found among those claiming to be the chosen spokesman of the Deity—and exacting homage from their fellow-men: true Brotherhood includes the least developed as well as the very highest. We must seek to give aid to all in search of truth. Our value and aid in this great work will be just what we make them by our motive, our judgment, our conduct.
The heart-felt desire that others may benefit from our lives will be felt by those open—it matters little how few; they may be the means of wakening many others. It is the effort and the sacrifice that bring the ultimate results, but in our zeal it is well to consider what the Masters have done, and do year after year, age after age. They do what They can, when They can, and as They can—in accordance with cyclic law. They conserve the knowledge gained—and wait. Knowing this, and doing thus, there can be no room in us for doubt or discouragement. Theosophy is for those who want it.
We are to hold, wait, and work for those few earnest souls who will grasp the plan and further the Cause. Many have their ears so dulled, or their attention so diverted, that no number of repetitions can reach them—yet Theosophy must be held out continually for all who will listen. That is our self-assumed work; we have our example in H.P.B. and W.Q.J.—as to means, method and manner: let us imitate them, and so do their work in their spirit.
The Theosophical “arch” has been thrown across the abyss of creeds and materialism. Some have discovered where a base rests on one or the other side; others have found “stones” that belong to the arch, but the “key-stone” has been “rejected” because of its irregular shape—all like the story of old in masonic tradition. But we are also reminded that the time came when the rejected stone became “the head of the corner” because it was found to be the keystone. All the time there were those who knew of the key-stone, but they were very few and their voices were not heard amid the clamor of the claims made by those who had found portions of the arch and desired recognition. So the few had to “Work, Watch—and Wait,” knowing that history repeats itself, and that there is nothing new under the sun.
The allegory of the tower of Babel applies to the present times. Everything is in confusion, everyone talking his own gibberish—and nobody listening. I said “nobody”—but some are; a few realize that none of these things bring knowledge. All that can be done is to let the light so shine that all who will may seek it, thus sowing for future harvest. It would be a hopeless task were it not for Reincarnation; so the great effort should be to promulgate the fundamental principles of Unity, of Brotherhood, of Karma and Reincarnation.
In the work which we have undertaken together, it matters not whether “we” fail or succeed: Our purpose has been and will be that the Work shall go on. We can throw—each one of us—our best into the effort; the rest is in other and stronger hands. Our “best” may not be great, but if the motive is there, even to hold our ground is victory in some contingencies.
It is, then, to the Teachings that attention has to be called—not to ourselves who are only handing them on as best we can. If one sees that in many ways he is not able to do all that needs to be done, or that he would like to accomplish, it is evidence that he is in the way of improving. Our ideals are never reached: they continually precede us. As a man thinks, so he becomes. Time is an element in this, and it is shortened by patient doing of what we can. To be in the least cast down by our apparent imperfections is a form of impatience—a disregard of Law. Whatever comes is right—until something better appears. Observed defects will fade out under observation, so we can cheerfully bear with our own defects as well as with those of others, while we go right on working.
One of the greatest helps that Theosophy gives is the power to take a wider survey of the field of action than is otherwise possible: we do not look on this life only, but on many future lives during which “I and thou and all the princes of the earth” will live and strive for the universal redemption of mankind—ever looking ahead, ever seeing further heights toward which the awakening spirit may be directed. There is much strength, there are many faculties among men and mostly used without direction of a permanent nature. Could right philosophy be implanted—even the single idea of the Divine nature in man—a greater impetus would be given to right living; then, a philosophy in accord with this nature would be sought by those so quickened.
It would not take so long, nor be so difficult, if those who are interested in Theosophy would stop figuring it out for themselves, and get busy in spreading the philosophy and the idea of service. Without the right philosophy, strength and especial faculties are useless. If all study so as to be the better able to help and teach others, there must result a general gain and help. I think that the word “Theosophy” has power: if it had not, there would not be so many misusing the name. In spite of all these, Theosophy itself is untouched. Our work is to keep it pure as it was delivered to us, for the sake of those who can be helped—and we are finding some all the time. In better days we will be able to do more—and all the better because of present difficulties. Theosophy pure and simple is the standard by which efforts may be applied and errors combated, so it must always be kept in evidence as the source of all right effort. Perfection in action is not possible; so, while showing forth the spirit of the Movement only, we yet present a visible basis necessary in any exoteric work. “U.L.T.” is a name given to certain principles and ideas; those who associate themselves with those principles and ideas are attracted and bound by them only—not by their fellows who do likewise or who refrain or who cease to consider themselves so bound. The DECLARATION, with its signature by the Associates, is a wide departure from anything that exists as an organization.1
We are not concerned in “seeing things,” but in awakening the Higher Consciousness—for we know that Theosophy gives the knowledge of the principles that should guide its students in their public and private work. We should also be able to find explicit directions—explicit in the sense that Theosophy points the way clearly how best to serve our fellows. So it is good work to search out and make available to all, those necessary quotations from their writings which carry the intent of the Teachers. If such could not be found, one might have grave doubts as to the course to be pursued. If we are able thus to throw a clearer light upon the intent, our work will be good for both the learners and the learned.
The basis of successful work is Unity: this is the constant cry of H.P.B. and W.Q.J. To be able to afford a basis for Unity to individuals or organizations, without demanding any relinquishment of affiliation or belief, is no small thing. Paraphrasing a saying of the Master, we might say, “All Theosophy is before you; take what you can.”
The part we play, major or minor, does not concern us at all. Our work is to call attention to the true basis for Union among Theosophists—and at the same time to set the example. People need, whether new students or old, to grasp the message of Theosophy for itself—not because of belief in any person or organization. If students succeed in grasping and applying the Philosophy, they will have true clairvoyance as to men, things and methods, and their gratefulness will include all that contributed to their opportunity; this gratitude will find expression in their doing the same for others.
So, the effort should be to get those interested to participate, to associate themselves with the Work and share in the responsibility—not by proselyting or urging, but by keeping the idea before them in various ways. As with anything else, every method has to be tried, but without making the line too hard-and-fast. The main work is to convey ideas. Our purpose is to draw attention to the Teachers and the Teaching, not to any others; hence it is conservation, safety, to maintain the impersonality of “U.L.T.” Its aim, scope and purpose are shown in the Declaration, and besides, attention is called to the great underlying Movement which compels such alterations from time to time; so, as the declared policy is followed out and the Teaching is studied, the practical amplification will come of itself. Until each one clarifies his own perceptions he would not know gold of Ophir from base metal. Let “U.L.T.” flourish on its moral worth alone.
The work we have to do, the knowledge we have to give out, depends on no other names than those of the true Teachers, H.P.B. and W.Q.J and to the Masters whom They served. Nothing else will restore the Movement. Theosophy does not emanate from any society nor from any living persons. So far as the world and all Theosophists are concerned, Theosophy comes from H.P.B. and W.Q.J., or rather, through them. So, to avoid misconceptions we get back to the Message and the Messengers.
Our efforts may seem inadequate, but they are in the right direction, and “a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump.” We will do what we can and all that we know how to do, enduring the evils of the present while attempting that which will work for greater good in the future, here a little and there a little, thus leading the minds of Theosophists of every degree and in every society to as broad a conception of the Philosophy as possible. And all these efforts will be educational for us, too, for we will have to meet all kinds of minds from ignorance to arrogance, and so speak as to leave an impress that will stick. H.P.B. once wrote: “If anyone holds to Buddha’s philosophy, let him say and do as Buddha said and did; if a man calls himself a Christian, let him follow the commandments of Christ—not the interpretations of his many dissenting priests and sects.” The moral is—If anyone desires to be a Theosophist, let him study Theosophy as it was given by those who enunciated it. For one to accept as true what any teacher chooses to tell him, without any means given him by which to verify the statements made, or without verifying for himself the facts alleged—is simply to believe on blind faith, as do so many others.
Our own difficult task is to avoid all semblance of authority of any kind, while being at the same time sure of our ground and not afraid to say so. We have to give every one an opportunity to see for himself that what we have to say is well founded. What we have to give are the salient points, clear and definite, so that they cannot be passed over by the reader but stand as facts verifiable by anyone who cares to do so. We have undertaken a high mission and a heavy task—not because we think ourselves so eminently fit, but because we see the need.
Mere attendance at meetings is not enough to make us feel our identity with the work. Attendance is but the preliminary to a further step; this shows itself when those who attend begin to ask how they may obtain further understanding. As they participate they develop, of course—but they must not be allowed to forget the object of the help afforded them, nor that such help is but a means and a way. The object of Theosophical study and work is not individual development, but that each and all should become true helpers of Humanity. Some will catch the feeling.
The tendency to say more than is useful to the newcomers is a common one in the beginning, but is gradually overcome when it is seen to minimize inquiry. We should push nothing, while responding to everything. We would not use force if we could, because each mind has to be free to choose; otherwise there would be no true progress. And I think this is a good attitude to be taken in the matter of questions concerning theosophical claims and exponents. These various stripes must have their place in the great economy of consciousness—they must have, or people would not be attracted by them, would not seize and hold on to them. When the particular “stripe” does not bring the devotee the expected result in knowledge, then a further search is indicated to the mind so caught. Every person really waked up by such claims or exponents will touch us sooner or later, if we hold to the straight line.
The fewer the words an idea can be expressed in, the better. Our effort is to disseminate among Theosophists the idea of unity regardless of organization. Let each go his own way, and with best intention, giving credit to others for the same: in this way we set up no hindrances, no matter what others may do. We sympathize with all efforts to spread broadcast the teachings of Theosophy pure and simple, without expressing preference for any organization or individual so engaged—recognizing that while methods differ, the Cause of one is the Cause of all. We all need to cultivate that charity which sympathizes with every effort to spread Theosophy, even if the methods and other things do not appeal to us: any effort is better than no effort at all.
We point to the Message, the Messengers, and Their enunciation of the Work. It should be our policy to state at each meeting what our purposes are—namely, to disseminate the fundamental principles of Theosophy and to answer questions on the subject-matter provided.
The Authority which we recognize is not what men term authority, which comes from outside and which demands obedience, but an internal recognition of the value of that which flows through any given point, focus, or individual. This is the authority of one’s Self-discrimination, intuition, the highest intellection. If we follow what we recognize in that way, and still find it good, we naturally keep our faces in that direction. This means no slavish following of any person.
H.P.B. wrote, and showed herself a true Teacher when she said, “Do not follow me nor my path; follow the Path I show, the Masters who are behind.” The wisdom of this advice is seen in observing the course of those who judged of the teaching by what they could see of the teacher. They judged her by their standards, not by her adhesion to the Theosophy she taught. We point always that the most and the best anyone can do is to do as Judge did—follow the lines laid down by H.P.B., regardless of any others. The strength shown by any worker is not that of the personality, which has none, of itself; it lies in the words, the ideas, the conviction of truth held by the inner man.
We are striving for Unity first, and as far as possible leave out points that may antagonize. Theosophy itself, pure and simple, is the great “unifier”; more we can encourage others to study and apply Theosophy, the more will they see for themselves the parts played by the various persons and personages in the movement. Our work is to inform, not to proselyte.
When questions are asked about persons in the Movement, and when occasion compels it, plain statements of fact have to be made, but in defense of Theosophy, not in condemnation of any person. This is our key to a right attitude in all such cases presented by theosophical history, made or in the making. It may be a hair line—but we have to find it, and while pointing out truth, whether in Theosophical philosophy or history, to avoid condemnation, even where names have to be mentioned. Where others have made mistakes and gone wrong, they become a vicarious atonement for those who might have done the same thing but for the lesson learned from the errors of others.
One has to know Truth in order to detect its counterfeits. So we point to the Message and the Messengers as the Source upon which all should rely who desire to learn what pure Theosophy is and what it is not. What all need is intelligent devotion to Masters’ cause. It is always personal divagations that throw students off the Philosophy. We have to go ahead, doing what seems right in ever varying circumstances, and that is where discrimination comes in. It is never what one would like to do in this or that condition—but what should be done. We have much to do to fit ourselves for what may be in store. Can we do it? We can try.
If the basic ideas are not taken in, nothing can be done. If we can do no more than to keep these ideas alive in the world and among Theosophists, we should be content; but we are not through, and while our life lasts we will keep on doing all we can to give others a sound basis, a better understanding of what the great Ideas of Theosophy mean. Each of us must find his own expressions of the same great Truths.
This is an age of transition and our work is to hark back to first principles, promulgate and sustain them as best we can, so that they shall be ready for those who need them, drawing our inspiration from the Message and the Messengers.
What we need to be on our guard against in working theosophically is not our mistakes—but our avoidable mistakes. It is a mistake to allow the impression to grow in anyone’s mind that he is of importance to Theosophy. Theosophy was restored to the world for the sake of those who are looking for light, not for those who are satisfied with things as they are and life as they find it. So, to try to interest special persons is not worth the effort expended. The very effort made prevents by arousing either opposition or erroneous notions. To let as many as possible know about Theosophy, but to seek out no one in particular, is the wiser course.
The Karma of many is such as to leave no mental or physical doors open directly, yet even they may be reached indirectly through the efforts of others in affinity with them, who may take hold and find the way. What we should do is rather to convey the information that the opportunity to understand and apply Theosophy comes under Karma to the very few, not because it is withheld from anyone, but because their prevailing tendencies are not of a nature to leave the mind open to the consideration of new truths, or to enable them to take advantage of the ways and means afforded. This comes from neglect or misuse of opportunities in former lives, in many cases. Especially is this true in this age when so much of the ancient Wisdom is once more made available to all who will. All get this chance, some more favorably than others. It is the height of unwisdom to neglect the opportunity again, most especially in those cases where it is brought home to them without effort. In our daily lives we mingle with people as they are. This enables us to show human sympathy with their life, to understand their conditions, without getting involved in either, while in indefinable ways giving the impression of the serious side of life and the necessity of real knowledge as to its meaning.
It is both wise and necessary to have a good comprehension of ways and means, of the processes of dealing with others’ minds, not merely for the sake of doing or being “good,” but that they and we may learn the rules of Soul-warfare, the duties, individual and collective, of the incarnated Ego, the “warrior.” We are Karma, for we are the cause of all we do. Our trouble is that we do not realize the extent to which the causes go which we set in motion, either for good or evil. Hence the necessity for knowing our pedigree, spiritual, intellectual, and physical. Our heredity is our own, the present effects of causes set going by us in the long past.
Although all that we can say is but a restatement, there is a different light cast sometimes by a word or an application, which will be helpful and useful to some. The two things that hinder effectiveness are our own failure to give as good an impression as might be, and the failure of the listener to appreciate the meaning of what is said. Most minds cannot look beyond the person, with his faults and limitations, beyond the giver to the gift itself and all that it implies, and so, expect too much of the personality in that it does not fully embody what is handed on.
If we stand true and steadfast as to our aim, purpose and teaching, we will afford such aid and guidance as is in our power to all who may inquire, and all necessary arrangements will shape themselves. We have but to keep continually in mind and heart the original lines laid by H.P.B. and W.Q.J., namely UNITY first, as a focus for spiritual growth and mutual strength; STUDY, that a knowledge of the Movement, its purpose, its Teachers and its Message, may be had; Work, upon ourselves in the light of that study, and for others first, last, and all the time.
All that any of us can give is Theosophy. We did not invent it. It was given to us; we stand in line and pass it along, as people used to do at fires in passing the buckets of water. People are grateful to the one who passes the “water of life” along to them, but the “passer” knows where gratitude belongs, and says: “Don’t thank me; thank Theosophy—as I do. It enables me to help others; it will also enable you.” Thus he helps them and helps himself to get rid of the personal idea. The fight against the “personal idea” is a long one and a strong one. It has to be guarded against that it does not take to itself what it has no claim to.
The Messengers have left all that is necessary—for us and for others—in the way of direction; it is for us and for them to apply the right things at the right times and in the right way. All those who will consider philosophy, logic and facts on their merits—all those who are or who may become to any extent open-minded, will make some investigation, will gain a better outlook to that degree, a better appreciation of the need for Unity on a philosophical basis. What Theosophy is engaged in, through those who believe in it, without any mental reservations whatsoever, is a battle for recognition. Theosophy serves to explain the hidden side, the real and inner meaning of all things, for it is a friend to understanding, an aid to knowledge. By it a man may come to know himself through and through. It is because of misunderstanding of the real Self that we have all these religions, sects, parties, dogmas, with all their vested interests and sustainers. It is the Karma of the race that meets us, so we will not cry out nor dodge it when it confronts us. What we might otherwise think is the worst, is the best thing that could come, if we meet it in the right spirit, clearing up our Karma as we go along, making ourselves better instruments.
It is by dwelling on our inherent perfectibility that we get rid of our imperfections. The last thing to doubt is the inherent perfectibility of all men. Here is an interesting statement by H.P.B.:
“Every Ego has the Karma of past Manvantaras behind him. The Ego starts with Divine Consciousness—no past, no future, no separation. It is long before realizing that it is itself. Only after many births does it begin to discern by this collectivity of experience that it is individual. At the end of its cycle of reincarnation it is still the same Divine Consciousness, but it has now become individualized Self-Consciousness.”
Without this sense of inherent perfection, there would be nothing worth living for: a few years of “pleasure and pain,” and then it is all gone—and what has been gained? Do what we will, we cannot escape Life, for we are Life—all the time; most of us realize but a portion of its possibilities. Sometime we will learn what Life really means. We are working to that end, for others as well as ourselves
—mostly now for those others “who know still less than we,” but we also are learning all the time. Is it not worth all that it costs? Men make greater sacrifices than we are called upon to make, and for infinitely less—a few years of questionable happiness, and then oblivion as far as they know or can see. That we can see even a little of the purpose of life, is much; to feel it, is greater still; to realize it, is to live. It is a School of Life, and everything that comes to us at any time contains in it the thing we need, whether it seems hard, troublesome or pleasant.
Theosophists must point out error by comparison with Theosophy. Methods must vary with time, place and conditions. We have to learn that the way to present truth is by examining various beliefs in its light. The ideas we have to present implies a full sense of freedom on the part of the one who listens, as well as on the part of the speaker. In these days of proselyting and propaganda for all sorts of ‘isms there is the more need for tolerance if we are to find those chinks in the mind of others through which questions may possibly be aroused. We can set the example of examining anything on its merits and then presenting in contrast the Theosophical view, which accords with nature as a whole. The way to know the truth is to get back to what the Teachers themselves gave, both in philosophy and in right work. Masters never cease working, and it is always possible for even the humblest Theosophist who is clear-eyed and humanity-loving to aid Their endeavor. We need to bring again and again to the attention of all discouraged or bewildered Theosophists what H.P.B. wrote to Judge in 1888:
“Night before last I was shown a bird’s-eye view of the Theosophical Societies. I saw a few earnest, reliable Theosophists in a death-struggle with the world in general, and with other—nominal but ambitious—Theosophists. The former are greater in number than you may think, and they prevailed, as you in America will prevail, if you only remain staunch to the Master’s programme and true to yourselves.”
“For it is only when the Nucleus is formed that the accumulations can begin that will end in future years, however far, in the formation of that body which we have in view.” I do not think that They used words purposelessly; it is for us and for all others who would serve Them, to apply, apply, apply Their teachings. There is no time limit to effort.”
Study and preparation on the part of beginners will alone make them efficient as propagandists. In endeavoring to aid them, it is essential to encourage their own initiative as much as possible, suggesting and adjusting when and where necessary.
In the beginning, the middle, and the end, we should hold to the Three Fundamental Propositions of The Secret Doctrine in all our work—for upon these the whole philosophy hinges, and unless well grounded in them, no real progress can be had. The first thing to make clear in every exposition of Theosophy is the impossibility of the ordinary conception of a personal or separate God, and the importance of realizing the SELF as all, in all. Then, the Law of Periodicity, Cycles or Karma, in all its applications as “the world’s eternal ways.” This shows Reincarnation by analogy, as also the successive re-embodiments of solar systems, planets, and every form of matter. This leads naturally to the consideration of “the Universal Over-Soul,” the collective intelligence in any solar system, as well as in all of them—for all are connected, “down to the minutest conceivable atom,” and what affects one affects all—Egos small and great as well as embryonic ones. This means Unity throughout all, interaction among all, individual responsibility.
It will be well at every study class to state what the purpose of the meeting is; to have volunteers state in their own words their understanding of the Three Fundamentals. Questions should be freely invited and asked, the object being that students, even beginners, should formulate for themselves. Only so can they make their understanding good, and get themselves in the position where they can best help others even as they have been helped. In the class in The Ocean of Theosophy, the Three Fundamentals are the background of the whole work. Chapter by chapter, in question and answer, the applications can be brought out and the consistency of the entire philosophy made clear. Individual students who want to learn should both ask and answer questions in terms of the philosophy itself. There will be difficulty in getting many to see the importance of this continual reiteration, but it is essential to all true progress.
The right way of looking at things is shown in Theosophy. Each has to learn, to know, and to control his own nature, if he is to acquire discrimination—the ability to help others. Each has to take the philosophy and apply it, in the face of all mistakes and acts which, while they make the task more difficult, have been the means of arousing the very discrimination needed. Our mistakes can be turned to good account. We will take time to think what we shall say and how we shall say it. One gets over changeableness and indecision as he takes time to think things out fully before acting or making promises. He will then study to do whatever he says he will do. This carefulness will increase true self-reliance and the reliance that others will place in him. Only as full confidence is gained can men be helped in themselves and with each other.
The Western mind is apt to look upon mere literary form and fine phrases as the standard of judgment. People in general do not get the meaning of what is written, in the same way that they do not extract the value from their experiences. They make surface deductions and applications only. So they have little ability to apply the philosophy to daily life, nor can they see its practical value. They have to be helped to assimilate the fundamental principles if they are to realize right valuations and applications. Each has to eradicate his own faults in these as in other directions—not the faults of others. Until students set to work seriously on these lines they cannot find surety nor happiness. Theosophy and its application go together, if there is to be real progress. It is not for us to say, “Do this,” or “Don’t do that.” It is for us to put the case, Theosophy and its individual application, and leave each student, each inquirer, to make his own decisions. People get into tight places right along by following “advices,” instead of exercising their own discrimination, and then invariably blame the “advisor” when matters do not go according to their expectations.
“Amongst thousands of mortals a single one perhaps strives for perfection.” So, among the many who may be interested in Theosophy—the philosophy of the perfectibility of Man—here and there will be one who may wake up. Therein lies the hope. And even those who are interested enough merely to listen or to read with attention, will get something in the way of a trend that may some day develop. If we keep trying in all proper ways and means open to us, something will come from such mutual endeavors.
The fundamental statements of the Teachers are axioms to be applied. At the same time they are woven in with such reasoning as may affect the ordinary way of thinking. Science, Psychology, and all efforts that are based on them, fail—and for no other reason than that they do not assume or admit that full and true knowledge exists. If Western Science and Psychology would go on with their painstaking efforts in the light of Theosophy, the spiritual and intellectual darkness of the world would soon be overcome and a civilization brought into being that would best express a true physical life. What hinders? Intellectual pride, together with the cramping effects of false religious conceptions. If the idea is held that there is but one life on earth, then all the learning of the man and of the age is limited to a small and narrow range. But if one grasps the idea of successive lives on earth—all under Karma—then, the learning takes on a wider sweep, leading the man to the conception that all powers of every kind proceed from the Supreme, the Self of all creatures; that he himself is in reality a spiritual being, and must think and act as such.
We may not be able to apply, as fully as we and others might desire, all the axioms and reasoning of the philosophy; but what of that? We can apply what is possible and all that is possible to us, and in that application greater understanding and facility arise. Each one has to find his way. Words cannot give it, yet there is a way for each. Most of the trouble lies in trying to see, trying to hear, trying to “think” it all out, instead of applying what we do see. All ability comes very gradually, imperceptibly—felt, grasped, realized, rather than perceived in the ordinary sense. . . . There is not enough acquaintance with the philosophy itself for many students to have confidence enough to take hold and carry on the work. They ought to have learned that no one is Theosophy and the best are but transmitters; that they too, having received, should get busy doing as much by others, becoming transmitters in their turn.
We are dealing with minds, not persons. The Soul, being conformed to the mind, reacts upon the whole nature. If, as persons, we could all look at the world of ideas in that way, we would learn more, gain more discrimination, and be more useful to others, so meriting Their guiding influence. It is Karma, all of it; students should realize that and benefit by the knowledge. The right start is everything. If this is gained and held, then all that each one does carries him and others in the right direction. Either Theosophy pure and undefiled is the most real thing in the world, or we are all wasting our time and effort. If we are able to conceive its reality in all seriousness, we should then never cease trying to understand and apply what has been recorded by Masters’ Messenger for our guidance and instruction. What is the distinction between Theosophy and anything else? In Fundamental Principles, I should say. Nothing else affords an all-inclusive view of existence. All kinds of sincere efforts help, all kinds of systems contain some truth, but they all fall short, because they all exclude or ignore some part of nature. Theosophists of every degree should realize that under Karma much is required of those to whom much has been given in opportunity and knowledge. We can only use our opportunities and knowledge to the best possible advantage and continue to do so, if we would not ourselves fall short of the requirement of “the Law of Laws—Compassion absolute.” What has been done has been of real and lasting advantage to many; there are others yet unborn, yet to come. This is the time when one wishes to be like Brahma with “eyes, heads, mouths and ears in every direction.” Read “The Tidal Wave” in Lucifer (Vol. V, page 173) if you would learn how H.P.B. felt—and feels. The real point of issue is the divine nature in man. The real basis of work is to impress this on the minds of those who come.
In Theosophy we have this basis. A right philosophy is desperately needed by the world. Without this, strength and special faculties are useless because they are misapplied. Theosophy is not merely words. It is Life, and this includes all things in life and all the planes of living. To have Brotherhood among the many, it is first necessary to realize brotherhood among the few, and the basis of brotherhood is the divinity inherent in all men.
All true impressions come from within—from the highest Principle in us, Atma, or the Divinity which is one and the same in all. If there is nothing in the brain but impressions from the lower principles of our being, nothing to connect the Thinker with higher planes, he can but waver between these lower states. If thought is to rise further, it must be thought without a brain. Nature works by orderly processes to which we give the name of law. In the individual it is called the Will. By an act of the will all ordinary mental processes may be stopped; then the habitual center of mental action may be transcended and the ascent to the next plane made, without losing the power to perceive on this. In all such attempts we must keep the Fundamentals in view—in mind. The Spirit in man, the Perceiver, is “untouched by troubles, works, fruits of works, or desires.” It seems to me that the clearest comprehension, if not understanding, of all this comes from dwelling on the idea of the Perceiver as looking into one or another of his “sheaths” and finding there the record of the actions in any or all of them.
Everything depends on what one has in mind—his fundamental conceptions of Deity, Nature, and Man, when considering or attempting to practice “concentration.” The general idea on this as on other subjects and objects is purely personal. There is no self-examination of motives, no altruism, no effort to carry out in daily life the assumed object of fitting one’s self to be the better able to help and teach others, no observation of the evil effects of rushing in for “psychic development.” H.P.B. says, “One has to have an unshakable faith in the Deity within, an unlimited belief in his own power to learn; otherwise he is bound to fall into delusion and irresponsible medium-ship.” Here is the signpost of warning against all attempts to develop psychically before one has learned to master and guide the lower, personal self. What is indispensable is right philosophy and its application in daily life. By the wrong attitude in this and other respects, many well-meaning theosophists fail, and harm themselves and others. The meaning is plain. Leave psychism alone; work from the spiritual side upon the lower nature—visible and invisible, psychic and physical—first by analysis and comprehension of the principles of our being as Theosophy teaches, then by the guidance of knowledge as it arises within oneself. We pass from plane to plane daily, but relate everything to the brain circle of necessity, and thus lose the real meanings. Dwelling on the Fundamentals and the endeavor to help others is the true concentration. Mr. Judge wrote: “Thus the Will is freed from the domination of desire and at last subdues the mind itself.”
If Theosophy is taken to be something of an abstraction, or a simple point of beginning from which a system is to be developed by individual research, the whole idea of Masters as the custodians of the accumulated wisdom of the ages and Their Message to the world of men, has to be abandoned. Every student worthy of the name knows that H. P. Blavatsky gave a body of knowledge to the world; that She named what She gave “Theosophy” and that She explicitly declared it to be from the Masters of Wisdom.
In justice to the Message, to the Messenger who brought it and to the ideal of Masters, nothing should be named Theosophy but this Message. Whoever takes any other position violates the first laws of occultism by belittling both Message and Messenger, and cannot expect to benefit by them.
Those who accept the Message and belittle the Messenger, are equally unfortunate, for in belittling one, they belittle both. To these it should be said that it is folly to imagine that the Masters of Wisdom did not know enough to select a Messenger who would deliver Their Message correctly and in its entirety. The Masters’ wisdom being questioned, the whole edifice falls to the ground. There is but one safe course. Theosophy must be understood to be a gift to mankind by more progressed beings than ourselves. We must learn, and apply, the fundamental principles which underlie that grand philosophy, and understand the operation of law as disclosed therein. Then, and then only can we begin to make Theosophy a living power in our lives. We should preserve a willingness to give and receive instruction, but we should in either case be sure that such instruction is in exact accord with the principles and laws set forth in the Theosophic philosophy.
If each student did this, all would have one aim, one purpose, one teaching, and a sure basis for united effort. Such differences of individual opinion as might arise would be solved by a careful adjustment of these to the philosophy. Thus all would be united; all preserve the utmost freedom of thought; all progress most rapidly by self-induced and self-devised efforts. No one, then, would make the fatal blunder of imagining that Theosophy is something which can be developed, but each would devote his thought and effort to growth along the lines that Theosophy indicates, so that he may become the better able to help and to teach others.
If there is such a knowledge as the Wisdom-Religion, it is the result of the observation and experience of the Masters of Wisdom, and as such stands for itself; it can neither be enlarged nor improved upon by its students. Furthermore, what was named “Theosophy” by Mme. Blavatsky is that same Wisdom-Religion so far as the latter has been promulgated by the Teacher. In regard to the latter statement H.P.B. herself has written:
“The Secret Doctrine (or Wisdom-Religion) is not a series of vague theories or treatises, but is all that can be given out in this century. It will be centuries before much more is given.”
A similar statement by Win. Q. Judge is as follows:
“It (Theosophy) is not a belief or dogma formulated or invented by man, but is a knowledge of the laws which govern the evolution of the physical, astral, psychical and intellectual constituents of nature and of man.”
Theosophy is not a religion, but Religion itself in the truest sense; even the use of the term “religion” without any qualification is misleading, for Theosophy is not “a belief” as religions are generally, but rather Religious Science, Scientific Religion, and an all-inclusive philosophy.
1. “U.L.T.” is the abbreviation of United Lodge of Theosophists, a voluntary association of Theosophical students.