The Work Since May
The Path, October, 1895
This month ends the year and gives us, for examination and review, seven months of experience in theosophical work. Last April, after the Boston Convention, there were some who had fears that great difficulty, perhaps disaster, was soon to come upon the work. It was a sort of superstition for which they could hardly account—a superstition connected solely with the mere framework of an organization. In the general mental development of the world there could be found no basis for the notion that Theosophy was decaying. So the superstition was connected with forms as a ghost is with a house. But there were others who had no fears and no sort of superstition. They perceived the truth of the idea thrown out by others wiser we that the unity of the movement depends on singleness of purpose and aspiration and not on a world-wide single organization. By the time the fears of the first must be allayed and the hopes of the second justified.
The echoes of the Convention had not died away when active, widespread work went on as before, without a halt. We reported to the meeting, and before any voting on the Constitution, that there were 102 branches in the jurisdiction. This was true as to the record, but some of those were even then so inactive as to be subjects of grave consideration. Today—when this is penned—notwithstanding losses and prophecies and croakings, domestic and foreign, we have ninety branches. These ninety have among them several new ones formed since April, out of new material and not resulting from a split. This part of the seven months’ history is in itself enough to show the wisdom of our course, and to give to everyone the greatest encouragement.
The very first result of the vote at Boston was to infuse into all “loyal” branches new energy and determination in increase the activity while trying to make brotherhood practical. All the new branches are made up of good working material. In those cases where—as in some cities—the new body was formed by half of the old, the branch was doubly determined to be of still more use that was the old. So now the entire body of branches may be regarded as strong, active, inspired for action and trying to work for brotherhood.
Official activities began the day after Convention. The Forum was made of greater value by changing its plan and shape. Reports from everywhere commend it and show that its usefulness has increased. The other official papers were continued as before. Almost immediately a new, active, and actual working committee was formed for propaganda in the Central States—a vast territory. Another was formed in New England. While the Central Committee was being formed Mr. Burcham Harding worked in the New England district, lecturing in public and visiting branches. When everything was ready he started work in the State of Indiana, and succeeded in spreading Theosophy in nearly every town, and by means of the reports given by newspapers, must have reached nearly every inhabitant. The best sort of people came to hear him. When, as did happen, bigoted ministers publicly denounced him, the people came to his rescue and snubbed the priest. Everybody seemed to want to know about theosophy, and papers would give columns to his lectures. This may be taken as an indication of the liveliness of Theosophy and as proof that more people desire this philosophy than members seemed to think. The case of Indiana I select out of many because it furnishes a condensed example. At the same time the New England, the Atlantic and the Californian work went on unabated. The San Francisco members had for some time been holding Sunday theosophical services for the convicts in the prison there. This is continued. And there, also, every Sunday a free public lecture is given, to which very good audiences come. The old Pacific Coast Committee did not stop work a day and its lectures went up and down among the people as usual, finding as much interest as ever in Theosophy. In New York an additional series of popular lectures was started at Chickering Hall by Mr. Claude Falls Wright with the aid of the Aryan T.S. These seem to be likely to attract large audiences very shortly. All this time the correspondence with enquires went on and new members came in as before and in greater numbers.
I have brought forward these facts—and they are not all that might be selected—to show in a measure what the seven months’ work has been since the eventful last Convention. It proves once more that “the Theosophical Movement is greater than any Theosophical Society.” It ought to show that the Theosophical Society in America is a strong, active, intelligent body, not depending on personalities but upon hard, common-sense work. And behind that hard work there are forces and a spirit which will keep it alive for more than a century if members always look for the spirit and not for the letter. No member has now the right to be gloomy or afraid. If seven months can show such facts, where is there cause for fear? There is none. The future grows from the present, and nothing but a cataclysm can stop our progress.