Theosophical University Press Online Edition
Sacred charge given to Theosophists — Dangerous tendencies in Theosophical Movement — Broad platform of T. S. — Teachings must square with H. P. B. and Masters — Truth may be had at any time — Importance of keeping mind fluid and receptive — As a Movement we have not universally followed the teachings of the Masters — Essential meaning of H. P. B.'s teaching — Guides of mankind — Spirit of genuine brotherhood.
FRIENDS, COMRADES, AND BROTHERS:
You have just heard the reading from our beloved H. P. B., and the thoughts that we have heard from her were the very thoughts that, curiously enough, were running in my own mind as I came up to town from Oakley House. My imagination constructed pictures of what civilization on our earth would be if all men, not merely Theosophists, were to follow the lines of thought and the indications to spiritual progress that our beloved H. P. B. laid down in the extracts that our Chairman has read to you tonight. To my mind they contain — I will not say the very essence of Theosophy, but at least a part of it — the principles of conduct that should guide every genuine Theosophical Society professing to be faithful to the tenets of the ancient Wisdom-Religion given to us by the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. In what H. P. B. here wrote to the American Theosophists, we find all the sign-posts, so to say, on the pathway of Theosophical progress and peace, and the lines of direction masterfully presented, enabling us to construct a universal fraternity not only among ourselves — among the at present, alas, separated fragments of the Theosophical Movement — but the principles of conduct in thought and action which will lead, not only to a reunification of the separated fragments of the Theosophical Movement as it at present exists, but to a unification of men's minds and hearts into a spiritual brotherhood, without dogmas and without popery, but with genuine and capable Teachers.
I will tell you frankly that I am a Theosophist; I try to be a pukka Theosophist. I have little patience, I am sorry to say, with those who profess Theosophy and fail to practise it, that is, with those who say they believe in it and then fail to live it. We Theosophists have a sacred charge given unto us, it matters not to what Society we may belong, nor to what affiliation we may claim adherence. We are by natural law, and therefore we should be in our acts and in our thoughts, brothers: brothers in thought, brothers in conduct, brothers in act, brothers in work; and all the teachings of the Masters and of their Messenger H. P. B. lead directly to that one objective, a practical Universal Brotherhood. We are but hypocrites, every one of us, if we refuse to live up to the teaching which we say we believe in, and which we present so glibly to the public, but which too often, alas, we fail to practise.
There is the challenge. I am not unbrotherly in speaking as I do, because, if I have a brain which knows the right, I have likewise a heart of compassion which speaks. I never accuse others; nor do I ever blame unkindly, because I point out dangerous tendencies which have arisen in the Theosophical Movement. Who am I, or who are you, that we should blame unkindly our Brother-Theosophists even for their failings? Let us remember that they are at least learning. But when it comes to questions of truth and of Theosophical doctrine, there indeed it may be that we shall have to part company, because truth is truth, and right is right, and there is in very fact such a thing as genuine Theosophy and false or imperfect Theosophy. But even if we have to part company on points of teaching, we can at least be brotherly, we can at least work hand in hand along a part of the road that we are all following. All of us are advancing, albeit slowly, to that goal of relative perfection to reach which the call has come to us.
We all speak of the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky. What are they? Ideas given to us for our intellectual enjoyment only? Or to take unto ourselves as selfish individuals and thereafter try, alas, to hold as our personal property within the small restrictions and compass of our own puny brains and hearts, and say: "This is what the Masters taught, this is what their Messengers have brought to us," and that all that a brother thinks which may be different from what we conceive, is dogmatism, or is significant of popery, or is significant that the brother is taking the downward path? What kind of uncharity is all this? Does it exemplify the spirit of brotherhood and forgiveness? Is it the Theosophical spirit of mercy and charity? Is it the spirit of peace? Is it the spirit that is at the heart, and, indeed, is the heart, of our wonderful Theosophical teachings?
The platform of the Theosophical Society is wide enough to accommodate all kinds and shades and varieties of human opinion. There is but one prerequisite to Fellowship: the acceptance of the fact of universal brotherhood; and I challenge anyone, if he wishes to do right as a Theosophist, to restrict this platform to any smaller compass than that. If Theosophy is anything at all, it is something that we must live by, not merely say that we believe in it. If we do no more than the latter, we are but mere sectarians, no matter what our professions may be. It is living the life which is the test.
If some brother of some other Theosophical Society is foolish enough to try to set up a popery or to change or to distort our sublime Theosophical doctrines, does this impose the duty on me of ranting against him in a spirit of uncharity on the one hand; or, on the other hand, am I obliged to follow him in his errors? Of course not! I am not obliged to do either. It is quite likely that I might feel a moral duty laid upon me to point out his errors, but to do so in a fraternal spirit of brotherly love and of forgiveness. Don't I know, have not I worldly wisdom enough to know, that popery in a Theosophical Movement cannot stand, and in time will fall of itself? Why should I condemn and damn a brother because his opinions and feelings in Theosophical matters differ from mine? But — and this is a reservation of extreme importance — when he, or if he, comes to me and asks me to accept opinions or a Theosophical administration which I believe to be erroneous and dangerous because they don't square with the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky and the teachings of our Masters, shall I accept them, and is there an obligation laid upon me to accept them? Of course not! Shall I be thought to be unbrotherly because I refuse to accept what I inwardly know to be wrong? Of course not.
Let us then exercise our wonderful faculty of common sense. To me the teachings of H. P. B., which are the teachings of the Masters, are truth imbodied in words, and I think that I can use no stronger phrasing than this; but does this, again, mean that all the innumerable truths of boundless time and space have been given to us within the narrow compass of the two volumes of The Secret Doctrine, or of The Key to Theosophy, or of The Voice of the Silence, or of H. P. B.'s other magnificent teachings? What folly! What insane egoism to imagine, for anyone to imagine, whether he call himself a Theosophist or otherwise, that his opinions and interpretations and deductions, and, as he thinks, his extractions of truth from the covers of The Secret Doctrine for instance, encompass the entire range of universal reality! I repeat, what insane egoism! Some Theosophists read and study H. P. B.'s works and do it earnestly and through years, and then because of this earnest study of many years conclude that they have comprehended her teaching and pretty nearly all of it, and soothe their conscience perhaps in doing so with the mental opiate of the familiar statement, "Of course there is a great deal more that could be drawn from The Secret Doctrine if you take the time to look for it." This is obviously true, but let this obvious truth work much more strongly to prevent the declarations of personal superiority that such long years of earnest study, alas, sometimes produce. Unquestionably H. P. B.'s magnificent Secret Doctrine contains keys to deep mysteries of the Universe and of man's own being, which no Theosophical student, at least none known to the speaker, has ever yet uncovered. But it is a pity that recognition of this fact does not make some of our old-time Theosophists more charitable in their judgments of others who may have found in The Secret Doctrine, or discovered therein, verities which these critics themselves have not yet dug out. Such Theosophical egoists need chastening; they need the softening, refining, and purifying influence of the buddhic principle within us — a principle which gives us not only Buddha-like pity and compassion, but is the source of a powerful intellect and an understanding heart.
Mind you, I am intolerant of intolerance, I am a hater of hate, I am a lover of love. I venture to say that within the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky as they were given to us — and I will take her book The Secret Doctrine only because that wonderful book contains the main principles of the most recent delivery to us of the Wisdom-Teaching of the gods — I venture to say that her book, The Secret Doctrine, contains the elements of boundless kosmic truth; but to anyone that says that nothing further can reach the hungering hearts of men from the same Masters unless they understand from their own initiative, from their own inner faculties and powers, the hints of boundless verities that The Secret Doctrine contains — to anyone who speaks like that, I say: "Brother, you greatly err. Who are you that you presume to criticize the actions and the policy, age-old, archaic, existing from immemorial time, of the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and beautiful Peace?" Indeed, they send forth their Envoys and Messengers whenever they please, and who shall say to them, Nay!
Because H. P. B. stated in a certain well-known passage of one of her writings that at the end of every century a new effort is made by a special Messenger, is this undoubted fact exclusive of all possible intermediate imparting of truth? What an ambitious and Theosophically foolish deduction! Is the delivery of truth so mechanically arranged that it will pour forth in certain eras, or parts of eras only, and in such eras, or parts of eras, flow relatively unrestricted; and in other eras the mechanism lie silent and inactive? What curious illogic, and how arbitrary, and how unnatural is this ideal! I tell you that truth may be had at any time, by any son of man who will raise himself inwardly to take it, for the taking of truth is a taking by strength — strength of intellect, strength of spiritual faculty, by intuition, by inner spiritual and intellectual power. Nothing can shut me out from the Universe which is not only my Home, but in essence is I Myself, and You Yourselves.
It is childish and shows an utter misunderstanding of the Theosophical doctrines dogmatically to asseverate that Theosophy has already been given and cannot be given anew now, and that the message of one era is exclusive of another message from the same divine source coming before the next special era of outpouring; or that the message given in any one era contains all that the one era can comprehend; for this is a lie. I tell you that the way by which to introduce dogmatism, sectarian hatred, and all the other evil things that follow in the train of these twain — I say that the way to introduce these evils into our beloved Theosophical Movement and into its various Theosophical Societies, is to set up barriers, frontiers, of any kind, and to say: Within these certain things happen, or don't, as the case may be. Who are the wiseacres who think they know so much as wilfully to misinterpret H. P. B.'s teaching and to violate every instinct and intuition of the human heart? Who has the right to presume to dictate what shall or shall not be, or what is or what is not done, in any one era? Let us keep our minds fluid, our hearts unlocked, our brains expanding. Let us be ever ready at all times and in all places to be receptive of a greater truth than that which now we have, or in the future shall have. I hate sectarianism with all the energies of my soul, and I am its sworn foe. The way by which to stop 'popery' intruding its evil influence into our ranks — and I now speak only of the Theosophical Movement — is to keep our minds open, to know that we can have truth at any time when we become worthy of it, to think for ourselves, and to stand, each one of us, on his own spiritual and intellectual basis of thought and of appeal to the divinity within, ever-living, deathless, stainless, and always ready to communicate its divine flame of wisdom and love to hearts and minds which are opened to receive in the proper spirit.
On the other hand, don't I know that evil things have crept into the Theosophical Movement? O Brothers, I know it only too well; but they have crept in just because Theosophists in so many cases have been unfaithful to their trust. As a Movement, we have not universally followed the teachings of our Masters, not even as they have been given to us through H. P. B. Too many Theosophists have become exclusive, have become restrictive, and to a certain degree have become sectarian in spirit; and emphatically I don't mean particularly our own beloved Society of Point Loma, whatever its other faults may be, because in these respects it is the least blameworthy. I am speaking of the Theosophical Movement as a whole, including every variety and brand of Theosophists, excluding not one, yea, not even ourselves.
It is high time that we Theosophists had the courage to tell the truth to each other. I am ready to receive any truth. Tell me something that will improve me, and I will receive it gladly and bless the giver for the communicating of a new light. The Theosophist is not only a truth-seeker, but he is a truth-speaker, and no man who allows his mind to be befouled with falsehood and untruths can or will be a giver of truth.
Do you know what the essential meaning of all H. P. B.'s teaching is — that teaching which tells us of the nature, structure, origin, destiny, operations, and laws of the spaces of Space, of the frontierless fields of boundless infinitude? It is that the Universe and we, as individuals, are one; and that at any time, in any place and we can make our own conditions — we can enter into the Great Peace, into the great Silences, into the great realms of spiritual Light, and take therefrom what we will; and our taking will be strictly governed, limited or expanded, by our own inner powers of observation, of grasp, of comprehension, and of reception. This is the spirit, the essence, of the teaching of H. P. B., as indeed it is of all the great Sages and Seers of the world.
But now, having said this much, let me turn to the other side of the matter. Does what I have said mean that the Theosophical Movement is an acephalous organization, a headless, anomalous body, wandering without guidance in the Wilderness? Or are there guiding Intelligences back of it? Further, is there no bridle, is there no rein, that we can put, and rightly put, upon the vagaries and fantasies of ambitious protagonists of theories and policies, and upon mere seekers for place and power? To be sure there is. It is what I have already told you. Your own conscience, your own intuition, will tell you if such or such other wanders from the truth. This view does not include any uncharitable condemnation of others. It means only that those who strive to be genuine Theosophists will refuse to accept and to follow what the vision of our conscience and of our intellect shows us to be erroneous or evil. If you uncharitably condemn, you are falling into error. Condemnation of evil is a duty, but we must condemn the thing, yet forgive the doer; and in addition to all this, keep ever in mind that there are Teachers, those who have actually gone behind the veils of the outward seeming and have taken wisdom and knowledge at first hand, as I have just said, from the great Heart of Mother-Nature, as each one of us should try to do if we are true followers of our Masters and of H. P. B. These Guides of mankind are truly spiritual Leaders and Teachers, and they are beings whom we should strive to copy, to emulate, to be students of, and to do as they do and did. They exist today; and who dares say, who will tell me to my face, that there is no one in the world today who can teach me a spiritual or intellectual truth until 1975? What madness! What a stifler of hope this is, and what a bar to progress, Theosophical or otherwise! What lack of understanding of the doctrines of our Masters!
Pause a moment in thought. Reflect. The gods live and are with us all the time; and each one of you is an incarnate god, and each one of you at any minute, night or day, can, if you know how, reach upwards and inwards and become at one with the divine Source of wisdom and love and knowledge and peace which is for ever the essence of your being. Knowing this, none ever thereafter can suggest to you or say to you, Nay! Verily there are others beyond us, greater by far than we, and they are at work among men all the time, in every part of the world; and no minute, no hour, no day, no month or year, finds them inactive, for they are perpetually laboring amongst us; and if you have not come into communion with them, then by this statement you place yourself where you belong, and if you proclaim it publicly, genuine Theosophists know just where you do belong. It is the rule I am speaking of rather than the instances, and I have never feared the erratic and misguided claimants of special 'communications' from the Masters. Such men always advertise themselves by their mere statements as being foolishly ambitious or ambitiously foolish; for the genuine esoteric student who is in touch with the Great Ones never makes public announcement of this fact unless ordered to do so for impersonal purposes, and in the latter case we judge them by their lives and by the message which they bring.
It is brotherhood we want, the brotherhood which is courageous enough to tell a brother a truth and courageously to receive the telling of a truth, and to take it and to profit by it. This is the spirit of genuine brotherhood, the real thing. It is not prating pretty phrases all day long about Theosophic brotherhood and what the Masters do and don't, and what they have said and have not said, and what H. P. B. said and didn't say, which proclaims the lover of brotherhood and his fellow-men, in other words the genuine Theosophist; but the genuine Theosophist is he who does Theosophy: who is charitable, kindly, courageous in declaration of truth, impersonal in statement and in act, and willing to understand a brother's viewpoint. The true Theosophist cultivates modesty, kindliness, firmness, truth-speaking, and welcomes with manly fortitude sorrow and pain when they come, because he knows that they will give to him a chastened heart.
Theosophy is very real: it is the doctrine of the realities in the Universe; and we are hypocrites if we talk about it and don't live it. As H. P. B. said: "Theosophist is who Theosophy does," not one who talks about it only.
So then, here is your check against the unlimited and ungoverned introduction into our beloved Theosophical Movement of corrupting or disintegrating influences, of hunters for position and place, power, and kudos: the fact that Teachers exist and can be reached by those who prove themselves worthy, and that each one of you can gain all that such a Teacher has or will ever have by going within and above yourself, looking within and following the teaching, and then your hearts will be at peace with your fellow-man; you will then have courage to tell him the truth if needs be, because your own mind will see, and your brain will be cleared of the fogs of deceptive thought.
I do not fear the influence of mere 'gurus' in the Theosophical Society. What does it matter to me if a man comes into the T. S. and tries to be a guru, tries to be a teacher, tries to gain a following? What should I fear? Are not the Masters with us? Is not my own heart pure? At least do I not strive to make it and keep it pure? And with pure heart and open mind and eager intellect, and at least to some degree an unveiled spiritual perception, why need I fear any advancing shadows of evil? I can face them and disperse them; and I have found that they feebly resist and finally vanish like wisps of mist on a hillside before the morning sun.
There is only one thing we Theosophists need really fear, my Brothers, that which springs up in our own lower nature — uncharitableness, unkindliness, impurity of thought and mind, unbrotherliness, lack of harmony and peace. I tell you — and say it with deep earnestness of feeling, and urged, impelled, by something within me which recently has told me to declare the truth to the Theosophical world, as I see it, and to fear no consequences that may follow I tell you, I say, that 'new' teachings are now in the giving, and that they can be had by anyone who is interested, who is a genuine Theosophist, who loves his fellow-men, who is willing to forgive and to forget, who is willing to follow the Path.
Human minds are the stiffest, hardest, toughest, most intractable things I have ever had to deal with; and human hearts, hard as they can be, are soft by comparison.
The Theosophical Movement has reached such a pass today that many Theosophists are afraid even of the thought of receiving a new truth, and quiver and shake in their seats and move with anxiety and trembling fear at the terrible idea! I tell you again that the pure in heart see truth, and those whose hearts are pure fear not. There is for them no counsel of fear. If you like not the new truth, then exercise your free will and reject it! You may err, you may make a grave mistake; but nevertheless, in so rejecting and in following your conscience, you exercise your prerogatives of free will and choice; and even if you make a mistake and reject a truth, the exercise of your will, if sincere and high-minded, has been good for you and you learn thereby. You will discover some day that what you then cast aside was possibly actually one of the stones going to the building of the Temple. But you will learn by your lesson and you will profit by it. Then you will at least in some degree become a helper, instead of an opponent.
I have tried tonight to talk to you very simply, and to state in simple and direct language, as best I could, a few thoughts that occurred to me concerning our beloved H. P. B.'s teachings when our Chairman, Brother Barker, read the extracts from one of her writings that you have heard.
— Public address at the Headquarters of the English Section, 70 Queen's Gate, London, on the evening of October 16, 1932.