Two Years on the Path
The Path, March, 1888
Twenty-four months ago this Magazine was started. It was then the second periodical devoted solely to the Theosophical Society’s aims, and the only one in the Western Hemisphere. Subsequently in France Le Lotus appeared, and later Lucifer in London, while the pioneer, The Theosophist, continues at Madras, India.
It has never been claimed that these journals alone knew of and expounded Truth; all that their conductors asserted for them was that they desired truth, and that they intended to remain devoted to the aims formulated by the Theosophical Society and to the Masters they believe are behind that body. There are many other magazines engaged in the search for the ultimate respecting Nature and Man; there are other Societies who try to reform the age, but none other, we believe, can point to the same measure of success or to the same literature devoted to the one end.
When THE PATH was launched we knew not-nor asked how long it would float, nor to whom it would reach. No capitalists or companies offered their assistance, and none could then say how it was to obtain a circulation. The suggestion to start it came from minds greater than ours, and the derivation of its name is from the same source. Nor was there a staff of writers employed or promised. No, articles were on hand waiting for insertion, and, besides all that, its founders had other matters of a material nature calling for attention and occupying time. The promise of its future lay alone in supreme faith.
Its course during these two years has been for its conductors full of encouragement and instruction; letters from numerous subscribers testify that its readers have had some benefit also; none have written a word of disapproval, and those few who have stopped taking it gave reasons other than dislike.
The object before our eyes when we agreed to carry on this project was to hold Truth as something for which no sacrifice could be too great, and to admit no dogma to be more binding than the motto of the Theosophical Society,—”There is no religion higher than Truth.”
In addition we intended to steadily draw all our articles and exposition toward the Light which comes from the East, not because we ourselves are of Eastern birth, but because the fathers of men living in the East ages ago went over the philosophical and scientific disputes that now engage the 19th century.
The only true Science must also be a religion, and that is The Wisdom Religion. A Religion which ignores patent facts and laws that govern our lives, our deaths, and our sad or happy hereafter, is no religion; and so last March we wrote,—”The true religion is that one which will find the basic ideas common to all philosophies and religions.”
Western writers have been in the habit of pooh-poohing the idea that we could learn anything from Indian books, and such as Max Muller in no small degree supported the contention. But we believe in the cyclic theory, and it teaches us that in the ages man has been upon the earth he has evolved all systems of philosophy over and over again. The reason we turned to Indian books is that that land of all the rest has preserved its old knowledge both in books and monuments. We never for a moment intended to rely upon or be guided by superstitious ideas that prevailed in India as they do in Christendom, but even in those superstitions can be seen the corruptions of the truth. In the Vedas, in Patanjali’s Yoga System, the Bhagavad-Gita, and hundreds of other works, can be found the highest morality and the deepest knowledge. What need, then, to bother with crude beginnings of the same things put forth in Europe for the admiration of scholiasts and the confusion of the multitude?
American Spiritualism has recorded a mass of valuable facts with entirely baseless or inadequate explanations attached to them. These expositions, accepted by some millions of Americans, lead to error as we are taught. We find it denominated in the Aryan books as the worship of the Pretas, Bhutes, and Pisachas. Through many weary centuries the Aryans pursued that line of investigation to find at last the truth about the matter. What reason can we give for not examining their theories? They do not degrade our manhood, but rather raise its power and glory higher. Besides, we well know that there is no separation of nations. We of America were perhaps the very individuals who in those by-gone ages helped to elaborate that philosophy, and the men now living there were, maybe, the then inhabitants of bodies in this continent. It is Truth we want, and not the petty glorification of either America or India.
In the same way would we have used the literature and learning of ancient Egypt, had it been accessible. But that lies buried under wastes of sand, waiting for the time to come when it shall be useful and for the man to arrive who knows.
Our readers are nearly all students. Some are disciples. But few are not in earnest. All are sympathetic. They have helped us with appreciation, and assisted the progress of all by striving for the calmness which comes from trying to exemplify Brotherhood. Some perhaps disagree from us upon minor points, nearly all of them resolvable to a personal basis—that is, having their root in some divergence as to particular persons.
We wish not to hide or to fail to state our attitude. As one of the founders of the Theosophical Society and as an old friend of Madame H. P. Blavatsky and Col. H. S. Olcott, we adhere staunchly to the Society, which we firmly believe was ordered to be founded in 1875 by those beings who have since been variously designated as Adepts, Mahatmas, Masters, and Brothers. In 1875 we knew them by the name “Brothers”; and now, as then, we pin our faith upon Their knowledge, wisdom, power, and Justice. That much mud has been thrown at these ideals makes no difference to us; we have never allowed the insinuations and proofs of fraud or of delusion offered on all hands to alter our faith in Them and in the Supreme Law that carries us into existence, governing us there with mercy and giving peace when we submit completely to it.
The Society has had, like all sentient beings, its period of growth, and now we believe it has become an entity capable of feeling and having intelligence. Its body is composed of molecules, each one of which is a member of the Society; its mental power is derived from many quarters, and it has a sensibility that is felt and shared by each one of us. For these reasons we think it a wise thing for a person to join this body, and a wiser yet to work heart and soul for it. And we would have no one misunderstand how we look upon H. P. Blavatsky. She is the greatest woman in this world in our opinion, and greater than any man now moving among men. Disputes and slanders about what she has said and done move us not, for we know by personal experience her real virtues and powers. Since 1875 she has stood as the champion and helper of every theosophist; each member of the Society has to thank her for the store of knowledge and spiritual help that has lifted so many of us from doubt to certainty of where and how Truth might be found; lovers of truth and seekers after occultism will know her worth only when she has passed from earth; had she had more help and less captious criticism from those who called themselves co-laborers, our Society would today be better and more able to inform its separate units while it resisted its foes. During all these years, upon her devoted head has concentrated the weighty Karma accumulated in every direction by the unthinking body of theosophists; and, whether they will believe it or not, the Society had died long ago, were it not for her. Next to the Brothers, then, we pin our faith on her: let none mistake our attitude.
Readers! the third year of THE PATH is upon us; Theosophists! the thirteenth year of our Society’s formation has opened; let us go on with a firm faith in the mercy and supremacy of the Law to whose fiat we bow.
Let the desire of the pious be accomplished! OM!