When people first join a group to study the Ageless Wisdom, they inevitably bring with them their baggage. Not just that picked up and so closely guarded in this life, but the schisms, dislikes, fanaticisms, and their cults of the past. For all our talk of reincarnation, we do not lay stress enough on this view. We are not the products of our predecessors. We are not the person we were in our past life or lives, and we are other than those who believe in infant damnation, and other than those who urge the survival of the fittest.
The great Wisdom Teachings and Movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, can become in itself then, less an evolution of ideas than of old cults each born with the motive force of centuries behind it, and each with the genius of ignorance and selfishness in it, which will destroy it again, as they have destroyed it before. There are positive sides to all religions and groups and I give you examples. One of them is spiritualism, a search for the truth after the passing over process, which from its very birth split into the degenerate side of necromancy. Another is the Pharisaic side of Jesus Christ’s time, which laid stress upon spiritual healing as apposed to man heal thyself, worldly prosperity of it’s leaders and the world-old hope which becomes father to the thought that an avatar who is at hand disempowering it’s followers into believing they will be saved no matter their actions they are about. Yet another is ceremonial magic with a degeneration into the black arts, and then we come to the ‘scientifically’ side of garbed wonder-seeking called psychical research. Here I harbour on the perilous side, but on its nobler side, which has been brought forth and presented throughout the ages by Great Teachers alike, are mystical Christianity, internationalism, and humanitarian and transcendental movements.
There have been many noble beginnings where Societies have been formed and they have been as custodians of the most ancient philosophy, the one I bring to your attention is that of the Theosophical Movement, and this has held a central position among them all, with a vision to guide, to amplify, to warn, and to answer. The mandate of this movement was one of explaining the rationale of all the other movements round it, incorporating science, the arts, and even the maddest of enquiries. This vision was to be done with sympathy and understanding; to provide a literature, to trace ideas to their origins, to restate the ancient doctrines of the soul of man which have survived the ages, to teach those things which are basic in all great religions and philosophies, and to round out the path of which each of the cults is a fragment, bringing it full circle in unity.
It is a precarious position to be in and a position easily lost. I am struck with a most arresting analogy, that of the centrifugal action in water, where the most buoyant thing can stay at the centre of the swirl, the least buoyant swings out to the circumference.
As long as the theosophist, here I refer to the true seeker in active sympathy of Brotherhood, can maintain his place at the centre of the great vortex of cults, he will serve the purpose of the Masters, his incarnation and that of the society he is a part. This will involve constant studying and explaining with sympathy, with kindliness and with insight.
The moment he identifies himself with any of the incomplete and fragmentary cults around him, or anything less than true Brotherhood, he has done less than the task he has assumed.
The moment he seeks to drag a Society into a special cult he has struck a blow at its usefulness.
If he should succeed and persuade a Society as a body into one or other of the lesser vehicles he would destroy its purpose utterly.
The one, or the group, would then cease to be the explainer at the centre of the hub. It would become itself only one of the explained destined to play a part on the periphery of mediocrity.
It is inevitable that in a body of such great scope, and with so wide a platform as a Society there will be those incapable of staying thus at the centre, who, because they are not trained to study or because they are bored, will find the teaching insufficient for their needs and seek a more exciting orbit.
It is inevitable also, that from time to time, a person or group, will draw the said Society or parts of it into their own eccentricities. Such things are inseparable from the task it has set itself. The remedy is that a Society shall apply itself with more devotion and industry to its original work, that of dissemination of the truth in the Wisdom teachings.
The first step to any real efficiency on the part of a unit must be an intimate realization of the meaning of the declared objects of that unit.
Let us take the Theosophical Society.
(1) To form a nucleus for the universal brotherhood of mankind without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or colour;
(2) To encourage the study of comparative religion, philosophy, and science; (3) To investigate unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man. As stated, they constitute a general description of the aims of the Society and a declaration to the world at large.
Beneath this they state the threefold means of all occult research – the trinity of essentials without which no Theosophical work can thrive. Neglecting any of them our work inevitably falls below the measure of balance and symmetry, which entitles it to the name of Theosophy.
Bear with me here reader. Theosophy is the highest and most inclusive word which we possess to describe the aspirations of man. All other words we use describe only parts of it. It is all the wisdom there is, and when we start in quest of it we are assuming something, which will require all our powers, every erg of energy. William Quan Judge defined Theosophy in the following manner:
“The strength of Theosophy lies in the fact that it is not defined. This means that evolution, slowly progressing, will bring out new truths and new aspects of old truth, thus absolutely preventing any dogmas or “unequivocal definitions”. [from HPB by Sylvia Cranston. p. 145]
The initial means in the quest of any seeker of truth is the pledge of Brotherhood. At the Kalachakra Initiation given by the Dalai Lama, he stressed that all religions are valid, in their bringing forward the truth of these things, brotherhood and compassion, and in order to stay strong we need to study, learn the wisdom teachings and only then do we have a solid foundation to build our faith upon. All else with fall in the shadow of disillusion.
It is not a sentimental consideration for the student of theosophy, it is a stern and uncompromising fact, the denial of which is deadly peril. The whole fabric of true religion is based on it, occult instruction is only possible when one realizes the law, and that is one through study, and instruction can continue only when one embodies the ideal of Brotherhood in his daily life. Denial of Brotherhood in thought or in act, even by subtle insinuation, checks the vital currents in the body at once, and insistence in the denial of brotherhood and compassion, renders right-hand occultism impossible.
It is of good practice, as soon as one finds their stream of force running low, to trace back to the immediate offence against Brotherhood which has checked the stream. Rarely is it further back than a day, often not more than a few minutes.
One can only trace effects that hinder our happiness when we have an understanding of the law, otherwise we are ignorant and that is not bliss.
The field outside of us for example, is the field of comparative religion, philosophy and science, and it is so comprehensive as to include all the symbolic, written and oral traditions of human learning.
The theosophical requirement is that we shall study and that our study shall be comparative, not just comparative religion, but comparative philosophy, comparative science, to compare religions with philosophies, religions with sciences, and philosophies with sciences.
It is in comparison that we become fertile and may give birth to further understanding, because if we think we have the answers, we a very stuck indeed and in a quagmire where we will sink fast.
There can be no exoteric religion, philosophy or science in the world that is complete. On the one count ask yourself the honest question, how can we even begin to assume we know the answers to anything in its entirety?
And on the second count, we humans have a tendency to defile within a very short amount of time, anything we believe we have discovered in an attempt to make it our own.
But by comparing, we may arrive at a completeness of which each is a part, one meadow growing in truth, rooted in the same soil, yet presented with different colours and with different smells.
It was told to me that study by comparison is not an option with the theosophist on the Path of Truth, but a requirement in order that he/she may carry the name of theosophy in honour, and it is an obligation put in front of a student because it is his source of supply.
Study in all areas is the means whereby the student may garner his intuitions, and I feel it a great privilege in this era, and also a duty to share what one discovers openly without recourse, remembering that Theosophy exists for the world and not for its devotees.
Comparative Theosophists also carry out that essential work in the process of testing for verity, and it is the means whereby we discriminate between true and false in what we gather by our intuition.
What is written in religion, philosophy and science, can only have one value for us, its application to our problem of consciousness, and only by our own experience can we know if anything be true, and I stress here, our own experience.
No fact in the universe possesses the slightest value for us unless it is a statement for us in terms of a great cycle (Macrocosm) of a fact, which is true in our smaller cycle (Microcosm.)
Theosophy, which will not test within the cosmos of a man is no Theosophy at all, and by every warrant in the ancient tradition we are authorized to cast it out.
But I also feel that a theosophist should be encouraged not to take the word of another in authority, on this, or take any account of what I am saying or what anyone says, again, as it is by individual discovery and diving deep oneself that the pearl is found, and not to forget, another may be in great error. One person, or even a group could blindly be sinking under indoctrination by one who assumes some authority, and then a person/persons would be in a group no different than one of those isms sitting on the periphery of a cyclone.
Thus we have in Theosophy three obligations- three because we are threefold, compounded of spirit, soul and lower self, and no Theosophist can be complete without using all three, the field, the aim, and the test. Neglecting any, he is less than a Theosophists, however fine he may be in every other regard.
It is not a question of how high he stands. Our question is of balance and even development, in these three areas, which alone can give us steadiness. Are we going then to accept anything less than a striving for brotherhood and truth in our Theosophical Society? Do we wish to be individuals who are, each of us, less than Theosophists? There have been those, especially in the distant past who have bore a grudge and tried quite gravely to do so. They say, “I will devote myself to Brotherhood and to development of powers, and leave comparative study to the intellectual people”; or “I will devote myself to Brotherhood and comparative religion and leave tests to those more daring than I”; or some, most foolhardy of all, who say, “my interest is in study and latent powers. I shall leave sentimental considerations of Brotherhood to those who like them”.
Lacking Brotherhood the student cannot go beyond the Eye Doctrine.
At the Kalachakra Initiation, the Dalai Lama was quite firm on brotherhood, showing compassion to all sentient beings, but that service was not enough. Lacking comparative study he will starve for the fragments of truth needed to evoke the powers of his soul. Lacking the third means of personal testing he will have to rely upon the reputed vision of some other, and if that faith, for that would be all it is, is ever tested hard, there will be no firm foundation of truth one can truly believe in to sustain him/her.
He will read of hierarchies and Logoi and great time cycles as if they mattered in themselves, or as if salvation lay through them instead of through his Divine Self.
To such a one, “As above, so below”, might as well never have been written. The health of all theosophists, our groups and the Society, along with it’s efficiency in the tremendous task that it has laid plan to, will be the measure of its even development along these three lines, not development in the aggregate, but development in each individual who forms the aggregate. Neither the altitude of its thought nor the magnitude of its operations will matter so much.
The Lords of Life can endow us with high thought if that would serve, and we only need to cheapen our method to get magnitude. Neither will serve.
I am so grateful that I, after many years in this lifetime, came across theosophy, I am even more grateful for my fellow travellers upon that path of truth which is strewn with rocks (bloody boulders if truth be known, excuse the pun.) Yet it is a path so wonderful, with such joy even in the heavy times when one becomes laden with grief and pain. It is a path, as Blavatsky, that wonderful person, said;
There is a road, steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind, but yet a road, and it leads to the heart of the Universe.
“There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer, there is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through; there is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount.
For those who win onwards there is reward past all telling – the power to bless and save humanity; for those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come.
Thank you to Roy Mitchell who supplied the majority of this read. A forthright, inspiring man that I wish I had met.