Hypocrisy or Ignorance
The Path, December 1891
There are some members of the Theosophical Society who expose themselves to the charges of indulging in hypocrisy or being ignorant about their own failings and shortcomings. They are those who, having studied the literature of the movement and accepted most of its doctrines, then talk either to fellow-members or to outsiders as if the goal of reunification and universal knowledge had been reached in their case, when a very slight observation reveals them as quite ordinary human beings.
If one accepts the doctrine of Universal Brotherhood, which is based on the essential unity of all human beings, there is a long distance yet intervening between that acceptation and its realization, even in those who have adopted the doctrine. It is just the difference between intellectual assent to a moral, philosophical, or occult law, and its perfect development in one’s being so that it has become an actual part of ourselves. So when we hear a theosophist say that he could see his children, wife, or parents die and not feel anything whatever, we must infer that there is a hypocritical pretension or very great ignorance. There is one other conclusion left, which is that we have before us a monster who is incapable of any feeling whatever, selfishness being over-dominant.
The doctrines of Theosophy do ask for nor lead to the cutting out of the human heart of every human feeling. Indeed, that is an impossibility, one would think, seeing that the feelings are an integral part of the constitution of man, for in the principle call Kama—the desires and feelings—we have the basis of all our emotions, and if it is prematurely cut out of any being death or worse must result. It is very true that theosophy as well as all ethical systems demands that the being who has conscience and will, such as are found in man, shall control this principle of Kama and not be carried away by it nor be under its sway. This is self-control, mastery of the human body, steadiness in the face of affliction, but it is not extirpation of the feelings which one has to control. If any theosophical book deals with this subject it is the Bhagavad Gita, and in that Krishna is constantly engaged in enforcing the doctrine that all the emotions are to be controlled, that one is not to grieve over the inevitable—such as death, nor to be unduly elated at success, nor to be cast down by failure, but to maintain an equal mind in every event, whatever it may be, satisfied and assured that the qualities move in the body in their own sphere. In no place does he say that we are to attempt the impossible task of cutting out of the inner man an integral part of himself.
But, unlike most other systems of ethics, theosophy is scientific as well, and this science is not attained just when one approaching it for the first time in this incarnation hears of and intellectually agrees to these high doctrines. For one cannot pretend to have reached the perfection and detachment from human affairs involved in the pretentious statement referred to, when even as the words are uttered the hearer perceives remaining in the speaker all the peculiarities of family, not to speak of those pertaining to nation, including education, and to the race in which he was born. And this scientific part of theosophy, beginning and ending with universal brotherhood, insists upon such an intense and ever-present thought upon the subject, coupled with a constant watch over all faults of mind and speech, that in time an actual change is produced in the material person, as well as in the immaterial one within who is the mediator or way between the purely corporal lower man and his Higher divine self. This change, it is very obvious, cannot come about at once nor in the course of years of effort.
The charge of pretension and ignorance is more grave still in the case of those theosophists guilty of the fault, who happen to believe—as so many do—that even in those disciples whose duties in the world are nil from the very beginning, and who have devoted themselves to self-renunciation and self-study so long that they are immeasurably beyond the members of our Society, the defects due to family, tribal and national inheritance are now and then observable.
It seems to be time, then, that no theosophist shall ever by guilty of making pretension to any one that he or she has attained to the high place which now and then some assume to have reached. Much better is to be conscious of our defect and weaknesses, always ready to acknowledge the truth that, being human, we are not able to always or quickly reach to goal of effort.