Theosophical University Press Online Edition
To the New York Lodge
To the European Convention, London
Each one a center of the Movement, each one a leader — The keynote of our work — Our task to set afire the imaginations of men — Learn to forgive, learn to love — The true leader gives all.
MR. CHAIRMAN, MR. PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN SECTION, LODGE PRESIDENTS, AND COMRADES:
Your National President, Colonel Conger, has spoken ably and well of the journey which our beloved H. P. B. took in 1879. You know at that time, Comrades, everyone thought that because here in New York, in the New World, the Theosophical Society was founded, here it must stay, forgetting that Theosophy is universal, and that, strictly speaking, if we live in the esoteric spirit, in what the Quakers call the inner light, moving us to do and to dare noble things, then wherever that spirit lives, there is the heart and center of the Theosophical Movement, no matter what its geographical location may be at any time.
Every one of you is a Theosophical headquarters, and not only as our beloved Judge explained it: Make each one of you to be yourself a center of the Movement, a lodge of one; but I tell you more: each one of you should be and actually is a leader, a leader of men, a Theosophical leader, one more or less trained to guide his fellows. Oh! I pray that you do not forget this; for if this idea prevail among us, no matter what one may say about the relatively small number of adherents that the Theosophical Society at present has as compared with the many millions of humanity if this spirit prevails, I repeat, we Theosophists shall be not merely the leaven raising the general average of humanity, but verily you will be leaders, guides, teachers; and that is what each genuine Theosophist should aspire to be. Tell yourselves and tell each other that you are leaders. Your present Leader by his position merely exemplifies that fact — the spirit of self-devotion to a grandiose Cause; and every one of you could have that same spirit, and I believe you actually have it.
It is not only puzzling, but it hurts me, when I hear our Brother-Theosophists of other societies say that they don't believe in leadership in the Theosophical Movement, and that they don't like that kind of thing. They don't understand! They don't see that it is the duty of every Theosophist to be a leader, to be a guide, to be a teacher, and to give full-handed and in measure overflowing, of what he himself has — flowing forth from his heart. Any man who does this is a natural leader of his fellow-men; and all Theosophists should aspire to be true leaders, teachers, guides — not centers only, but leaders and teachers.
Nothing can daunt this spirit of self-devotion. It will prevail over everything, because its fountain is love — love of mankind, love of all that is — of the sweet and gentle breezes, of the howling hurricane, of the stars and of the sun, of the sea and its deeps, of the earth and all that it holds, of the great spiritual realms of Being and all that they contain. All these are held together by love; and the divine flame working through all Being is love. Love is no mere sentimental emotion: love is vision; love is harmony; love is that which flows forth from one to others; and when a man or woman has this in his heart or in her heart, then he or she is a natural leader. I desire you all to be leaders. Don't be ashamed of this lofty calling. Proclaim yourselves as aspiring to be true leaders. No one in the T. S. is too humble to help someone else, to show the way, and the way-shower is the leader, the guide, and the teacher.
Remember, Brothers, that Theosophy is the Wisdom of the Gods. There is the keynote of all our work — for this is Divine Wisdom; and remember also that each one of us, because each one of us is a child of the Universe and flows forth from the Universal Heart, can not merely know and be all that this Universal Heart contains, but can pour it all forth from himself. This is true Leadership again!
The very gods are behind our Theosophical work; but our task is to set afire the imaginations of the thoughtless and dumb millions surrounding us, to awaken them, to show them the path, to lead them along that path, although perchance their feet stumble in the way at first. I long for you to be leaders. I long for you to get the leadership spirit! I yearn for you to be aggressively active in Theosophical propaganda, as indeed you are now beginning to be. It is our common duty! Think what we have to give — fountains of wisdom which never run dry, the very love of the Universe which keeps the stars in their courses and the atoms of our bodies in harmonious union and working! Nature is with us! Time is with us! Destiny is with us! The very hearts of those who oppose us are with us — and they don't know it! There is the pathos of the situation.
But mark you, Brothers, because of this fact, it means that we can win those hearts. If we study wisdom in action, cleverness in action, a little of the diplomacy of the heart, then before you know it, our opponents will be taken by storm and we shall be with them in our union. They will accept our outstretched arms of fellowship.
Never neglect an opportunity to set wrong things aright, when these wrong things are said about us and our work. Do like Brother Meek over there in the corner, who is gifted with a facile pen. (Forgive me, dear Brother Meek, for speaking thus publicly of you.) He writes well; he knows how to do this kind of thing; he seizes every opportunity to correct a false impression about us that a newspaper may print. This work is also good advertising. He does it, because he, too, is getting the spirit of genuine leadership; he is beginning to see, and to feel, and to hear the inner voice. Every Lodge President has an onerous responsibility upon him, because he is a leader of leaders — or, to put it another way, he should be a leader of people who should be Theosophical leaders. I desire you all to be Theosophical leaders and teachers.
I emphasize this, because it is going to be a part of what I shall have to say to the peoples in the countries to which we are going. Our sojourn abroad is going to be a period of intense Theosophic activity and I hope of awakening — a new gospel with new thought. Beautiful is the feeling that comes with realizing that the Masters are behind our Work and that we have remained true; that we have not wandered from the path; there is nothing to be undone. Oh, how beautiful this is! It is wonderful to feel that the path is clear before us; that all we have to do is to walk it; and we must walk it by letting the love in our hearts flow forth to all, to foe and to friend without unjust discrimination.
Let us learn to forgive, because that is one of the first lessons of love, impersonal love, of course. Let us learn to love; because then we may easily and can easily guide. When we love we become leaders despite ourselves. You simply cannot avoid it. When you love a thing you will begin to do it; you will begin to work aggressively for it; you will love it evermore; you will want more of it; you will want to share it; you will want to give it; and despite yourself you become and are leaders — true Theosophical leaders. Here is the difference between mere worldly, human ambition — the desire of small-minded and often mistaken men to 'lead,' as they think, and the natural-born Theosophist giving from the abundance of his soul.
The true leader, the true lover, gives all; never questions; never asks, but gives; and oh! the recompense, the guerdon, that comes unto him a million-fold. It is beautiful to love one's fellows. Under love's sunny influence the human heart opens and expands and grows; and the more it opens the larger is the power flowing forth from within, which is love. Here again is a thought: love gives wisdom; because true love is clairvoyant; it sees; it knows; you cannot deceive it. It is only personal love, the love of the lower things, which misleads us. Simply because it is a distorted form of love has it the power that it does have. But impersonal love flows out without question to and for everybody. Wisdom follows in its train; for I tell you that wisdom and love are truly one.
Remember that when you love, you lead, despite yourself. Try to set aflame the hearts of others with this idea. Don't be afraid of being a Guru, to use the old phrase. I am not afraid of any 'Gurus' who ever lived! I can control them because I know how to take their hearts by storm when I find it best for my work to do so; and I want you all to be Theosophical Gurus — of course in the proper way. I don't want you to, set yourselves up and pose and all that kind of thing, because you really could not help anybody or hold anyone by acting like that; you could not long hold the attention of the people you would try to teach; but the genuine Theosophical teacher commands attention and devotion everywhere and it is the latter you should strive to be.
— Address on eve of departure for Europe, to New York Lodge and several other Lodges, September 16, 1932.
Following a discussion on 'Principles of Government of Lodges and National Sections' (Hierarchical Versus Democratic). Mr. J. W. Hutchin, President of the Liverpool Lodge, spoke on behalf of the hierarchical form of government, and Mr. A. H. Barlow, Treasurer of the English Section, T. S., spoke on behalf of the democratic form of government.
MR. CHAIRMAN AND COMRADES:
Brother Hutchin spoke so beautifully that it seemed to me that it was one part of my own heart that was speaking in his words; and then Brother Barlow arose and also spoke so beautifully, it seemed as though it was another part of my heart that was speaking; and I said to myself in answer to the first speaker: Verily thou persuadest me; and I said in my heart in answer to the second speaker, Brother Barlow: Verily, thou also persuadest me!
I think that we may find here the clue to what is, and always has been — at least to me — a most unfortunate and misfortunate division of men's minds and hearts between systems of belief which have wrongly been called divergent and opposing. Brother Barlow pointed out so truly that the very essence of democratic government is that the individual shall feel himself and actually be a component and integral part of the governmental machinery; but mark you, can there be a hierarchy composed of individuals disconnected and separate? The very structure of hierarchical government is that the fire of life and of thought, i. e., the delegation of authority, exists from the hierarch or summit through all intermediate stages down to the lowest, and that each individual member throughout the hierarchy is an integral portion of the government of which he forms apart. I never have been able to see any essential difference between the hierarchical and the democratic forms — never. It is merely political illusions in these respects which have led men's minds astray, and have disturbed their intellects. There cannot be a hierarchy without a delegation of authority from top to bottom, which is equivalent to a delegation of responsibility from the head to what men call the lowest integral element of the hierarchy. In a hierarchy every individual is not merely an integral and component part of the hierarchy, but de facto takes his own individual work and is individually responsible therefor; and in a democracy it is exactly the same — or should be.
Remember that these two terms, hierarchy and democracy, were derived from the Greeks — a people of subtil and nimble intellect, but likewise one known throughout their history as possessing little political coherence, and therefore subject to all the political weaknesses. They never were able to form a really efficient and advantageous government among themselves, even since the time of the best period of Greece — say the era of Pericles of Athens, for instance; and yet we Europeans have followed these inadequate Greek principles of government, and particularly in modern times their democratic ideas, as being the ideals of governmental systems. Equally with the Greeks of ancient times, we Europeans have contrasted the Greek ideals with the ideals that prevailed for instance, in Persia, where what moderns in the Occident called an 'autocracy' or at times even a 'tyranny' prevailed.
I now submit that these Greek theories of government, however admirable ideally speaking, are wrong and inadequate for purposes of modern civilization, and I have always felt that we, members of the Theosophical Movement and aspiring children of the Light and in a sense servitors and representatives of our Masters, should be leaders of our fellow-men in spiritual and in intellectual thought, and not merely followers or trailers behind. I have always felt that our Society should not adopt and be subservient to the inadequate theories of political administration which prevail in the outside world, but that our own internal form of government should be truly hierarchical; and I will tell you why I think so. First, because the hierarchical idea is copying Nature's own system by recognising its value from above, so to say, i. e., looking down on the general scheme of social and administrative action, and cognising the life-currents running from the brain and the heart of Mother Nature into her outmost portions — a net-work of living intellectual and vital fire streaming everywhere. Thus a thought arising in a human brain finally acts, but acts indeed within and through its own lines and according to its own inherent responsibilities. This is the principle of hierarchical administration, and likewise, I submit, is the essential principle of what men call responsible democracy. Mind you, if democracy had no principle of delegated responsibility inhering in each one of the administrative elements, it would be simply anarchy. The democratic form of government, just as much as the hierarchical, involves responsibility to superiors in a rising scale.
I see no essential difference between the two forms, because the differences appear to me to be rather differences of structure than of essence; and if we had a form of government in which all the power resided in the head, and the arms and the limbs and the stomach, the heart and the spleen and the liver, and all the other organs of the body corporate, did exactly and slavishly and without individual responsibility what that head commanded — what kind of a body should we have? But fortunately we are builded differently. We are linked with the very heart of the Universe, and there is a delegation of life and of intelligence and of authority reaching from that Universe's heart right down to our feeble human brains; and our feeble human brains do not directly control heart or liver or digestion or blood-flow or, indeed, anything else — for the actions of the latter are what are called automatic, or relatively so, because all interlinked and interconnected and interresponsible according to the hierarchical idea.
Think what it would be if we could at will change the processes of digestion, or if we could change our blood-flow, or if we were, following some feeble human desire, to tell our liver to do this or that! What havoc we would wreak in our helpless bodies. O my Friends, just think a moment! Consider Father-Sun: all within his kingdom are subject to his jurisdiction, and yet all are individually relatively responsible. From his heart are sent forth all the currents of life into the outermost fields of the Solar System, and every atom responds instantly and spontaneously and inevitably to the mandates flowing forth from the heart of Father-Sun. Yet, are not the planets individuals and responsible each within its own sphere? Are we men not bound to mother-planet as mother-planet is bound to the Solar System? And is not Father-Sun but a link in the ascending Chain of Beings comprised within the directing and administrative sway of some Intelligence still more grandiose than the Sun? Pause a moment in thought, Brothers. Don't let your ideas wander, I pray, I beg you, to dwell permanently in the feeble and inadequate methods of western Occidental governmental theories. Let us take facts. Let our minds and our hearts govern our actions — compassion, discrimination, pity, judgment — these are the principles that we as men should be governed by.
H. P. B. came forth from her Masters into the world to do a great work; she was charged to found a Society, and this Society was originally intended to have as its fundamental principle of government the utmost freedom for every individual member thereof, combined with individual inalienable responsibility; because only in this manner can a true hierarchical government exist. Tyranny is not hierarchical government; autocracy is not truly hierarchical government. Either involves a deprivation of essentially hierarchical elements. Hierarchy means a delegation of authority — and of identically the same authority — from top to bottom, to use human words, making every individual composing the army of beings in the hierarchical system responsible for what each such individual does; and just because each individual is as an integral part responsible, is the system a hierarchy. Indeed, there are hierarchies everywhere. Even in ordinary commercial affairs in the Occident a man is responsible to his superior, this superior is responsible to his superior, and this latter superior is responsible to the head of the system and to the laws of the land — to which latter indeed everybody is responsible. A country, for instance — and this is growing more evident as civilization advances — is morally and even politically held responsible to the consensus of the general opinion of mankind — what the great Dutch jurist, the founder of modern European international law, Grotius (Hugo de Groot), called the common law of mankind. Again, we humans are all responsible to the laws of Nature, including as a minor example the laws of our common spiritual, intellectual, psychical, and physical health. Nature's structure and governmental system are hierarchical everywhere.
Frankly, I am amused at the distinctions commonly and wrongly drawn between the hierarchical and democratic forms of government. You could not have a proper hierarchical government unless there was a delegation of authority, and a trust, a sacred charge, passing from the highest to the lowest and through all the intermediate stages, and exactly this principle prevails in any democracy that is worthy of the name.
If we are, then, to carry on the tradition of the Esoteric School, the School of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace who rule this Earth as our spiritual and intellectual Leaders and superiors, we must have in our Society an administrative system which is hierarchical-democratic or democratic-hierarchical; and I prefer, in common with our Chairman, Dr. A. Trevor Barker, to call it simply hierarchical, because this manner of speaking involves looking at the system from above instead of from below.
I regret exceedingly to have to state that in my judgment the Theosophical Movement in general has failed in the past properly to understand these matters, my Brothers. Consequently, trouble and anxiety naturally came when what we know as the split in the Society took place at H. P. B.'s death. I do not desire to go into those painful details of past history which harrow our feelings, especially in this new and promising era of fraternization and attempted interorganizational brotherhood, for you and I and dear devoted hearts everywhere, with our Spiritual Leaders' help, are now trying to reunite these disjecta membra, the separated portions of our Theosophical body corporate commonly called the Theosophical Movement. I don't care to dwell upon these things at present; but nevertheless the split occurred because a failure in the ranks came about. As soon as our beloved Katherine Tingley took office at Brother Judge's death, slowly, little by little, she builded up a new psychology; and when she in her turn passed on, the Theosophical world was in such mental condition that it was ready for this psychology to become more widely current in the minds of Theosophists and to be better understood.
We must keep the spiritual link with our Masters forever unbroken. No matter what else happens, keep the link unbroken! If any one of you belonging to the T. S. fears that his prerogatives or rights as a human individual ever run any possible risk of being ignored or forgotten, then, Brother, you do not understand! Consider the work that I am striving to do. Do I, as the head of the Society, ever say to any Section: Do this, Do that? Never! As our General Secretary, Brother J. H. Fussell, has told you, my whole governmental policy is a delegation to responsible individuals of portions of my own authority, thus making these individuals and those in their care fully responsible, arousing the interest of those into whose hands responsibility is thus put, and calling upon them to work within our structure of government as integral factors possessing individual initiative as well as delegated authority and responsibility. Arise, therefore, and take your proper place in our Masters' work. No single individual of the Society is dispossessed of delegated responsibility and the prerogatives of individual initiative. Is this 'tyranny'? Is this 'autocracy'? Assuredly not! To me, as Brother Barlow has put it, it is pure democracy of the highest kind, because it is pure hierarchical government. There could not be a hierarchy without individuals composing it, and the very essence of hierarchy means a series of steps or stages, on each of which stages there is a responsible individual in charge, each one deriving authority from the supreme head; and that supreme head again is but one of an army of others collected under one supremer head; and so forth, we may say, virtually ad infinitum.
If the day ever come, my Brothers, when you find that the Leader of the Theosophical Society, or any President of any National Section thereof, becomes what the Americans call a 'boss,' you will then know that structural decay and degeneration have set in amongst us. The very essence of the hierarchical system of our Masters' work is brotherhood, love, compassion, strong intellect and vigorous and alert discrimination, including the incessant stimulation of the spiritual and intellectual faculties in the individuals composing our body-corporate. Remember these words. I look with pain and sorrow upon political discussions which I have seen arising in some of the other Theosophical Societies. It is obviously not my business to suggest changes or to interfere, because I am in these respects a mere observer, an interested watcher; but I observe and I watch with pain, for these Brothers to my mind do not seem to understand what a true Theosophical Society's government should be. What is mere gain in membership unless such gain is brought about by the yearning to attain a greater spiritual and intellectual evolution or growth?
I say to you to trust your superior officers, as, for instance, the respective Presidents of your National Sections. If you don't trust them, then I ask, in the name of conscience, why do you stay within our ranks? It is all a matter of proper feeling and of proper understanding, for the life is greater than the form and our objectives are far nobler than any systems of striving for them. The Theosophical Society, as formed today, is indeed a hierarchical system of government, and for that very reason it is the most democratic institution on earth that I know of. It is no tyranny, it is no autocracy. Indeed, it is not a democracy as the word is ordinarily understood, but nevertheless it is most democratic, for its very principle of existence is the betterment of the individuals composing it, the spiritual growth of the individual F. T. S., and the sense of individual responsibility and of delegated authority which every genuine F. T. S. should not only recognise as his possession but which he should likewise strenuously cultivate. No one has ever heard me give an 'order.' Brother Barker will tell you — I believe he has already told you — that although the Constitution of the T. S. puts in my hands one or two rather extensive powers, I virtually never exercise them because there is no need to do so. I don't care to do so. If I were to exercise powers, as an irresponsible head, which in very truth I am most certainly not, the exercise would either be tyrannical or democratic, in the popular Occidental sense of the word, and I abhor both. There is no such tyranny as the tyranny of the mob — an acephalous tyranny without a responsible moral head. No, we Theosophists are linked with the gods, I repeat it, linked with the gods, and with their hierarchical systematic organization, and it is our duty to recognise this fact and to obey, to use the word of Brother Hutchin's, but to 'obey' not as slaves obey, but as free men obey the dictates of conscience and the impulses to do noble deeds. Obey the Voice within! This is spiritual hierarchical government. Abstractly speaking, there would be no trouble about governments at all if all men simply followed the dictates of the god within them.
Now then, one last word. Every member of the Theosophical Society is by virtue of his membership a leader of his fellow-men. If he does not recognise this and if, in fact, he is it not, he is not doing his full duty. He should in duty be such a leader; he should strive to lead. Is it not obvious that we have a work to do in the world? What are we here for? Why have we as individuals joined the T. S. — for selfish purposes, each one to return to his own little hole of seclusion and there selfishly to meditate on the teachings that he has received, and try to grow greater by shutting ourselves within self-imposed restrictions? No, we must open our hearts, and expand our intellects so as to take the world into our brotherhood. We must lead spiritually and intellectually. Each one of you is by right and by duty such a leader. Therefore lead, and let the god within you guide you. Be proud of saying: I am a leader, I try to be one. I feel that I am not following the dictates of my own conscience and have not done my duty if I don't try to lead my Brothers along the pathway of Wisdom and Peace and Love. Don't you understand me? Every Theosophist should strive to be such a leader; and over the leaders composing a Theosophical Lodge is their own leader, the Lodge President; and over all the Lodges in any Section of the Theosophical Society is the leader of the leaders of the Lodges, the National President; and over all the National Presidents there is the Leader of the National Presidents, the Leader of the Theosophical Society; and over the Leader of the Theosophical Society extends the authority of the Hierarchy of the Great Ones ascending to the stars. I mean this literally, my Brothers. Ours is a spiritual Movement; we have a new gospel, a new message, to give to men; it is the message of the spiritual structure and operations of the Universe. I am happy that Brother Barker has put these agenda, in particular this agendum, down today for our discussion, because it gives us the opportunity to bring out the thoughts that we have been exchanging. We Theosophists are trying to demonstrate among men today, however imperfectly, the principle that the world is ruled by spiritual government — spiritual intellect, and cosmic brotherhood, love — and each one of us should exemplify these principles in his individual life.
I have now had my say albeit imperfectly and inadequately, but I have 'got it off my chest,' as folks say in the States; and I call upon you from my heart: Remember that in our own beloved Theosophical Society we are bound to follow not only the ideals but even the principles of governmental administration which the Masters attempted to bring into the Society when H. P. B. first began her work in the world. It is the principle of Universal Brotherhood, of cooperation, of mutual love and trust. Trust your National Presidents; trust your Lodge Presidents; put the man whom you may choose by vote into office, but once chosen then trust him or trust her. Then as a Society we shall succeed, because we shall be working with mutual affection and confidence guiding our footsteps. Nothing will prevail against trust, which is but one of the forms of brotherly love.
— Address to European Convention, London, October 8, 1932.