The Theosophical Movement
The Path, August, 1895
There is a very great difference between the Theosophical Movement and any Theosophical Society. The Movement is moral, ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in effect, and continuous. A Society formed for theosophical work is a visible organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and putting it to use; it is not nor can it be universal, nor is it continuous. Organized Theosophical bodies are made by men for their better cooperation, but, being mere outer shells, they must change from time to time as human defects come out, as the times change, and as the great underlying spiritual movement compels such alterations.
The Theosophical Movement being continuous, it is to be found in all times and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to be free, wherever spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and dogmatism, have been promulgated, there the great movement is to be discerned. Jacob Boehme’s work was a part of it, and so also was the Theosophical Society of over one hundred years ago; Luther’s reformation must be reckoned as a portion of it; and the great struggle between Science and Religion, clearly portrayed by Draper, was every bit as much a motion of the Theosophical Movement as is the present Society of that name—indeed that struggle, and the freedom thereby gained for science, were really as important in the advance of the world, as are our different organizations. And among political examples of the movement is to be counted the Independence of the American colonies, ending in the formation of a great nation, theoretically based on Brotherhood. One can therefore see that to worship an organization, even though it be the beloved theosophical one, is to fall down before Form, and to become the slave once more of that dogmatism which our portion of the Theosophical Movement, the T.S., was meant to overthrow.
Some members have worshipped the so-called “Theosophical Society,” thinking it to be all in all, and not properly perceiving its de facto and piecemeal character as an organization nor that it was likely that this devotion to mere form would lead to a nullification of Brotherhood at the first strain. And this latter, indeed, did occur with several members. They even forgot, and still forget, that H. P. Blavatsky herself declared that it were better to do away with the Society rather than to destroy Brotherhood, and that she herself declared the European part of it free and independent. These worshippers think that there must be a continuance of the old form in order for the Society to have an international character.
But the real unity and prevalence, and the real internationalism, do not consist in having a single organization. They are found in the similarity of aim, of aspiration, of purpose, of teaching, of ethics. Freemasonry—a great and important part of the true Theosophical Movement—is universally international; and yet its organizations are numerous, autonomous, sovereign, independent. The Grand Lodge of the state of New York, including its different Lodges, is independent of all others in any state, yet every member is a Mason and all are working on a single plan. Freemasons aver all the world belong to the great International Masonic Body, yet they have everywhere their free and independent government.
When the Theosophical Society was young and small, it was necessary that it should have but one government for the whole of it. But now that it has grown wide and strong, having spread among nations so different from each other as the American, the English, the Spanish, the Swedish and others in Europe, and the Hindu, it is essential that a change in the outward form be made. This is that it become like the Freemasons—independent in government wherever the geographical or national conditions indicate that necessity. And that this will be done in time, no matter what certain persons may say to the contrary, there is not the slightest doubt.
The American Group, being by geographical and other conditions outwardly separate, began the change so as to be in government free and independent, but in basis, aspiration, aim and work united with all true Theosophists.
We have not changed the work of H.P.B.; we have enlarged it. We assert that any person who has been admitted to any Theosophical Society should be received everywhere among Theosophists, just as Masons are received among Masons. It is untheosophical to denounce the change made by the American Group; it is not Theosophy nor conducive to its spread to make legal claims to theosophical names, symbols and seals so as to prevent if possible others from using them. Everyone should be invited to use our theosophical property as freely as he wishes. Those who desire to keep up H.P.B.’s war against dogmatism will applaud and encourage the American movement because their liberated minds permit; but those who do not know true Theosophy, nor see the difference between forms and the soul of things, will continue to worship Form and to sacrifice Brotherhood to a shell.