[On the Life of a True Theosophist]
Lucifer, September, 1887
It is rumoured that A Catechism on Every-Day Life, by a Theosophical writer, is ready for press. Let us hope it will contain no special theology or dogmas, but only wise advice for practical life, in its application to the ordinary events in the existence of every theosophist. The time has come when the veil of illusion is to be pulled aside entirely, not merely playfully, as hitherto done. For if mere members of the theosophical body have nothing to risk, except, perhaps, an occasional friendly stare and laugh at those who, without any special necessity, as believed, pollute the immaculate whiteness of their respectable society skirts by joining an unpopular movement, real theosophists ought to look truth and fact right in the face. To become a true theosophist—i.e. one thoroughly imbued with altruistic feelings, with a willingness to forget self, and readiness to help his neighbour to carry the burden of life—is to become instantaneously transformed into a public target. It is to make oneself a ready thing for heavy “Mrs. Grundy” to sit upon: to become the object of ridicule, slander, and vilification, which will not stop even before an occasional criminal charge. For some theosophists, every move in the true theosophical direction, is a forlorn-hope enterprise. All this notwithstanding, the ranks of the “unpopular” society are steadily, if slowly increasing.
For what does slander and ridicule really matter? When have fools ever been slandered, or rich and influential men and women ostracised, however black and soiled in their hearts, or in their secret lives? Who ever heard of a Reformer’s or an orator’s course of life running smooth? Who of them escaped from being pelted with dirt by his enemies?
Gautama Buddha, the great Hindu Reformer, was charged by the Brahmins with being a demon, whose form was taken by Vishnu, to encourage men to despise the Vedas, deny the gods, and thus effect their own destruction.
“Say we not well thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?” said the Pharisees to Jesus. “He deceiveth the people . . . Stone him to death!”
“He who surpasses or subdues mankind,
Must look down on the hate of those below,”
says the great English poet. The latter is echoed in prose by the King of French poets. Writes Victor Hugo:
“You have your enemies; but who has not? Guizot has enemies, Thiers has enemies, Lamartine has enemies. Have I not been myself fighting for twenty years? Have I not been for twenty years past reviled, betrayed, sold, rended, hooted, taunted, insulted, calumniated? Have not my books been parodied, and my deeds travestied? I also am beset and spied upon, I also have traps laid for me, and I have even been made to fall into them. But what is all that to me? I disdain it. It is one of the most difficult yet necessary things in life to learn to disdain. Disdain protects and crushes. It is a breastplate and a club. You have enemies? Why, it is the story of every man who has done a great deed, created a new idea. It is the cloud which thunders around everything which shines. Do not trouble yourself about it. Do not give your enemies the satisfaction of thinking that they cause you any feeling, be disdainful. (Choses Vues.)