Theosophical University Press Online Edition
To the American Convention, New York
To the Fraternization Convention, Boston
To the European Convention, Visingso
What does the T. S. do in a practical way for the world? — Our work to change the hearts and minds of men — Physical aid only palliative — Ego sum servus servorum Dei — T. S. officially not entangled with politics — Human heart must be won by sympathy.
What does the Theosophical Society do for the world in a practical way? Brother Clapp has, of course, given the substance of any answer that can be given to these constant complaints we all of us hear from time to time, have been hearing for years, to the effect that the Theosophical Movement does nought that is practical to help the miseries of the world, its pain, its suffering. Yet, Companions, there is but one answer to a question such as is imbodied in that read by Brother Lewis from the unknown friend. It is the reply direct to the challenge as you, Mr. President, have stated it. The challenge is: "What does the Theosophical Movement do for the world in a practical, pragmatical way?"
The answer is: It goes to the roots of the cause of the misery and of the suffering which exist among men. Can there then be anything more practical, more pragmatical — as the word is wrongly used than the work which the Theosophical Society is doing, has done, and will continue to do as long as it remains faithful to the traditions which we follow and which we love? Our work, expressively compressed into a nutshell, is to labor to change the hearts and minds of our fellow-men towards higher things, towards things of permanency.
All the world's suffering, all its misery, all its pain and sorrow, arise out of human ignorance, human weakness, human failings, what the churches with some justification call 'human sin.' Is there anything more practical and more useful than changing the hearts and minds of men through the entering into them of the forces of imagination and practical ideals? By this, misery can be changed to content and happiness; poverty shall be done away with and be replaced with the abundance of those who earn it under changed conditions; for men thus motivated from within will be moved by the inner impulses of a changed character. Do you see it? Change the hearts and minds of men by giving them a vision and by acquainting them with the magnificent power of a constructive imagination, and all the causes of suffering and misery will vanish. That, then, is our main practical work; that is our answer to the challenge.
Soup-kitchens, philanthropic institutions and others of their ilk are all admirable in their way, and in their way do good work. They are, shall we say, backed by untold millions, backed by human sympathy both active and passive, and by the support of those who are willing to give and who do give. But they are nevertheless palliatives; they do not cure; they give but temporary surcease from the evils.
I would that every genuine Theosophist felt as keenly as some of us do the spirit of service to that sublime end which is imbodied in the Latin phrase I dearly love: Ego sum servus servorum Dei: "I am the servant of the servants of God — of the Divine." When the idea imbodied in this principle burns in the heart and sets it afire with its holy flame, then the brain receives enlightenment in its turn and sees, indeed evokes, the methods, the way, the path, the means.
Let never this challenge pass unanswered. Take it up immediately. Point out to all that the world's suffering and misery arise from the ill-doing, in its turn born from the ignorance and weakness, of our fellow-men — often, often, usually indeed, not consciously so; for these things arise through ignorance, through lack of the inspiration and knowledge of the God-Wisdom which we have. Replace ignorance with knowledge; give light unto the dark places of the human heart and mind. Bring sympathy to the thoughts of men, and again all these causes of human wretchedness will vanish. War will disappear. We all know what war is. It is not in any sense wrong to defend one's country; but this is not war as commonly understood. It is the using of violence on a vast scale, from fear, misunderstanding, and often from selfishness, and the employment of some of our most brilliant minds in this cause, which we must do away with.
When we reach and uproot their causes, poverty will vanish and be replaced with at least a competence for all; ignorance will vanish because proper education and sound knowledge based on ethical instincts will take its place. Human fellow-feeling will replace the present sentiments of fear and of indifference. Can you tell me anything more practical than this? More useful? More humane? The T. S. was founded to change the hearts and minds of men; I repeat it. Change these and you then change all else in human life.
And as regards politics: It is my conviction that if the T. S. officially ever became entangled in politics of any kind, its day then will have come, its day of doom; and justly so. Why? Because it is precisely politics, with its manifold ramifications of distorted emotions, which rends men apart into opposing camps. The streets, the lecture-halls, the council-chambers, the chancelleries of the world, today are filled with political groups, each voicing its own supposed remedies for our ills: yet universal agreement is never reached, because the thoughts involved are of the brain-mind instead of issuing from man's higher nature. It is precisely politics that separates men, as I have said, placing them into opposite or opposing camps. "If a house be divided against itself, how may it stand and endure?"
We Theosophists have no objection whatsoever to anyone's holding any political opinion that he or she may please. Any Theosophist is entitled to hold any decent political opinion that he or she may please. But as an organization the Theosophical Society is not so. Why? For the reason just pointed out. When you descend to brain-mind theories, instead of finding union we find division, separation.
In my judgment there is but one thing, one common system of thought, rather of philosophy, on which all men can agree when they understand it. This is Theosophy, the God-Wisdom of the ancients, our God-Wisdom, that which is taught in the distant stars; that which is taught here on earth; that which is ageless, timeless, deathless; which can be proved in any sane, normal mind today, at least in some of its aspects, by the latest discoveries of our most advanced modern scientific thinkers; that which the poets have caught glimpses of and which the greatest among them have taught.
Men have been separated into different political camps by varying political theories for heaven knows how many ages. Has politics ever yet healed the woes of the world? No, and it never will. I do believe that when men understand what Theosophy is and what it means, and what the work of the T. S. means, then politics will die, because all men will see its uselessness. I know that many men would look upon such a condition as a questionable advance. I believe, however, that their opinion is based largely upon lack of sufficiently deep and penetrative thought. The one fact that it is precisely politics which separates men proves its lack of essential spiritual and intellectual worth.
What does the T. S. do in a practical way for mankind? I come back to the thought: It changes men's minds and hearts upwards and unifies them. When this is done all is done.
One last thought, Mr. Chairman, Mr. President: I come down here on the floor. These Olympian gods on the platform I know agree with me. (Laughter) They are Olympian gods despite themselves! I do, it to drive home a need, or rather to suggest a cure for a need which I have found in many of our Theosophical lodges: that is, talking down to people from above, as it were. We must not do it, dear Companions. We must touch the human heart by sympathy, by kindliness, by letting our audience know that Theosophical speakers are just as much men and women as the audience is or are.
I remember an old poem that my dear old Dad once recited to me when I was a boy. I have never forgotten it. I have quoted it half a dozen times on this present Theosophical tour. You know my dear old Dad was a clergyman. They say the sons of clergymen always go wrong! (Laughter) Here is the poem which illustrates my point:
A parish priest of austerity
Climbed up in a high church steeple,
To be nearer God, that he
Might hand down God's word to his people.
In sermon script he daily wrote
What he thought was sent from Heaven;
And he cast this down on his people's heads
Twice one day in seven.
In his age God cried, "Come down and die!"
And he cried out from the steeple,
"Where art thou, Lord!" And the Lord replied,
"Down here among my people."
— Informal talk given in answer to a question at the Convention of the American Section, New York, October 23-24, 1937.
Frankness in thought and speech, and fidelity to one's Theosophic principles, the basis of mutuality and fraternization — Divisions in the original Theosophical Society predestined — Various Theosophical organizations act as checks on each other — Orthodoxy in Theosophy not desirable.
DEAR BROTHERS IN THEOSOPHY AND FELLOW-STUDENTS:
I have been asked rather earnestly by those having charge and duty of organizing these remarkable interorganizational Fraternization Conventions to write at least a few lines of greeting and brotherly sympathy, and I gladly do this, and address myself to all, irrespective of Theosophical affiliation. It seems to me and has always seemed to me, speaking as an individual Theosophist and student of our blessed God-Wisdom, that there are few individual activities in the Theosophical world or Movement which are more creditable to Theosophists as such than are these Fraternization Conventions, in and during which Theosophists of different shade or color of feeling and conviction may meet on a common basis of amity, comity, and brotherly sympathy, and thus learn to know each other better and to see the good in each and in all.
Personally I have refrained, and very carefully and thoughtfully refrained up to the present, from taking part in these Fraternization Conventions, either by message or otherwise, lest such message or word or action of mine, showing sympathy on my part in these Conventions, be misconstrued into something which when all is said is farthest from my desire, to wit, to influence anyone in any direction whatsoever. As a matter of fact I doubt if any word from me would influence anyone; but any such message or action from me could be construed possibly, perhaps, peradventure, as an attempt to influence. Yet I have never failed on every occasion which has offered itself to express my deepest sympathy for these Fraternization Conventions and to urge all who are interested in mutual Theosophical fellowship and who can do so to take part in them.
It has been the feeling of the present writer from the inauguration of the Fraternization Movement that candor, frankness in thought and in speech, and honorable dealing, and fidelity to one's own Theosophical principles, should be the basis of mutuality, and the basis of fraternizing intercourse, and it is my prayer that in these splendid Fraternization Conventions this basis which I believe to have existed up to the present may continue.
The present writer is one of the few I fear — I wish there were more — who feel that the separation of our beloved H. P. B.'s original Society into the different modern Societies, was a good thing, was furthermore foreseen and predestined to take place; and I can explain this as being my own feeling by making the statement that I think that the existence today of the different Theosophical organizations is not a sign of disintegration nor of decay nor of imminent dissolution of the Theosophical Movement as a whole, but that it is a sign of vitality and individuality and of the exercise of the latter by Theosophically free-thinking men and women; and I for one know no better way by which the Theosophical Movement could have been saved from becoming dogmatically frontiered by its own bounds alone and thus set apart among the world's Movements as but one more organization or body self-satisfied with its own self-assured perfections. I wonder if I make my meaning clear. As long as the different Theosophical organizations exist, they act to a certain extent as checks on each other, and should be friendly critics of each other — a criticism not degenerating into mud-slinging or enmity, but on the contrary mutually stimulating each other to keep strictly on the now historic lines laid down by the Masters and our beloved H. P. B. There is an old proverb that says that from the shock of ideas springs forth light. And it is good that we Theosophists should interchange ideas, and one of the best ways to do this is by fraternization and Conventions working on the Fraternization basis.
It is of course in one sense a tragic historic event that the original Society broke up into the different Organizations that now exist, because theoretically it could have kept utterly clean and true in its fidelity to the Masters' original program; yet the lessons that history teaches us show us on the other hand that differences of viewpoint are wholesome and healthy and that as H. P. B. nobly wrote in her First Message to the American Theosophists in 1888: "Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge."
To my mind these are some of the wisest words that H. P. B. ever wrote, and I believe they were not merely wise but prophetic. Hence it is, as should be clear enough from the dictation of these lines, that the present writer is one of those who consider, as stated above, that the separation of the original T. S. into the different Movements was a good thing — good for the reasons above named, although, as also above stated, because of the weakness of human attributes and the tendency to degenerate into sectarian orthodoxy it was from that standpoint a pitiful thing.
Let us, Theosophists all, of whatever affiliation, look at the situation in the Movement as it exists, and by earnestly striving to be brotherly and kindly towards each other, make the world respect us as Theosophists because showing to, the world that we can at least meet in friendly conclave upon the basis of the blessed God-Wisdom common to us all. I do not believe and have never believed and have often proclaimed my disbelief in this point, that the breaking up of H. P. B.'s original T. S. into what are now the later Societies, was a bad thing or a sign of impending dissolution; but on the contrary believe, and have always so stated in public, that having in view the weaknesses of human nature and its proclivities to dogmatic orthodoxy, it was a good thing, and that it was foreseen by the Masters, if not actually engineered by them. There are few better checks on the different Theosophical organizations today than the very existence of these different Theosophical organizations watching each other carefully, and, if they have any sense at all and good Theosophical fellowship at all, learning from each other and making each desirous to avoid Theosophical wrongdoing and lapses into the faults against which the Masters and H. P. B. have warned us.
Dear Companions in Theosophy all, accept the assurance of my heartiest sympathy, and although I personally very carefully refrain from taking any part in these Fraternization Conventions, any work which tends to bring Theosophical thinkers together on a basis of mutual fellowship for the increase of a better understanding has my instant and profound sympathy. May your deliberations be governed by the spirit of Truth and be along the lines laid down by our beloved H. P. B.
I am, dear Brothers all,
Fraternally and faithfully yours,
G. de Purucker
— Letter to the Sixth Fraternization Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, June 25-26-27, 1938.
Need of Theosophy in a disturbed and restless world — Objective of ours to change hearts and minds of men, not to be achieved overnight — Reference to prophetic passage in "The Secret Doctrine" — Ways of increasing membership — Theosophy for everyone — All members of whatever social standing have equal opportunity — Future hope of establishing Theosophical training-schools in different parts of the world — Spread influence of lodge through study-groups and establishment of daughter-lodges — Danger of sacerdotal caste or priesthood in Theosophy — Discrimination in choosing public representatives — Give opportunity to the younger members.
MY BELOVED COMPANIONS AND FELLOW-WORKERS:
From time to time I feel the impulse, based upon a real need, of communicating thoughts to as many F. T. S. as possible, and for this purpose I seize the opportunity of addressing my Fellow Theosophical Workers on the occasions of the different National or International Conventions held periodically; and in accordance therewith I seize the occasion of addressing to you the present Message or Letter.
In the earlier years of my administration, I chose the method of communicating with our F. T. S. by means of General or Circular Letters; but this involved a good deal of time and energy, as well as expense, in preparation, printing, and mailing, and it has seemed to me a better method to use the opportunities offered by these National or International Conventions in the manner of the present Letter to write on such occasions when I feel a need has arisen, these Messages or Letters often being later printed in one or more of our magazines or periodicals.
There is naturally a great deal on my mind and heart that I would like to share with my beloved Fellow Theosophical Workers, which, from lack of personal intercourse with me cannot always be communicated to them. Yet I do my best by means of correspondence or otherwise, either with National Officials or with individuals, to share my thoughts in this manner with them.
In the present Message I can but point to the present terribly disturbed and saddening condition of the world in its unrest and anxiety, as showing how greatly needed is the spiritually soothing and intellectually refining influence or power that our beloved Theosophy or God-Wisdom can and does instil into the hearts and minds of men.
As I have often pointed out on previous occasions, the Work of the Theosophical Society, as I see it, is above everything else to change the hearts and minds of our fellow-men collectively and as individuals; for in this manner, by affecting a large number of individuals over the world, we build up a psychology or psychological atmosphere touching or impressing great numbers of our fellow human beings, who in their turn, touched and enlightened by all this, have the opportunity to act and often do act directly upon their own national or local affairs. In other words, it is our sublime hope little by little to theosophize the world, and in this manner to bring about an amelioration of social and even political and other unrest, distress, anxiety, and troubles. Nations after all are made up of men who are individuals, and here is the key-note of what I am striving to say.
Naturally this objective of ours is something that cannot be achieved overnight, nor indeed even with the lapse of a small number of years, but will, I fear, take lifetimes of study and unremitting labor and aspiration on our part. Yet I believe with all my soul that it will come in time. Of course the T. S. as an organization is absolutely non-political and never meddles in political or so-called social agitations; for our Work is general and not national or local, because aspiring as we do to change the hearts and minds of men towards a longing for settling all problems on a basis of dispassionate reasoning and impartial and even-handed justice, it is to this general work of instilling into the souls of our fellow-men the principles of magnanimity, universal brotherhood based on kindliness, and mutual understanding, that we give ourselves: our hearts, our labor, and our time.
The present lamentable condition of the world which all good men, I doubt not in every country, deeply deplore, is but the result of the consequences of former actions; in other words it is the karman into which the West — and indeed the East — has brought itself, being indeed especially in Europe just that condition or state of affairs to which H. P. B. alluded in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, p. 646, so graphically and prophetically when she published her magnum opus in 1888. I only point therefore to these matters and turn to the more particular thoughts that I have in mind to communicate to you in the present letter.
I believe, indeed I know, that the greatest in importance of all our efforts at the present time should be the increasing of our influence in the world as an Organization or Society; and the best way in which this increase of influence can be achieved is in increasing our own membership by every honorable, upright, and legal means within our power, for it is obvious that the more members we have, the greater will be our chances to affect strongly an ever larger portion of the public.
Now, there are many ways of increasing our membership or fellowship, and I happen to know that such increase in our fellowship is the one thing which every National Section of the T. S., and I believe every individual in every National Section, desires above everything else. But often our members are untrained, in fact usually so, for our Society is still but little more than fifty years old in the modern world; and many of our lodges, perhaps most, and certainly most of our members, hardly know how to work effectively in order to interest others in the blessed God-Wisdom which we so prize. It comes to this: Propaganda. There are numerous ways in which propaganda can be carried on, but fortunes can be spent, an immense amount of labor can be lost, and a great deal of ensuing discouragement to our people incurred, because of lack of knowledge of the best psychological methods of undertaking our propaganda-work. By way of remedying this state of affairs, which is but natural when we consider all sides of the problem, I would recommend most earnestly and with all my heart that the individual F. T. S. should concentrate in the first place upon close and very conscientious study of our technical Theosophical doctrines, so that by such continued and unremitting study of the teachings of the God-Wisdom, our members as individuals, whether members-at-large or members attached to lodges, may become expert in them, perfectly familiar with them, feel them, live them, dream them as it were; and this attitude of mind will without any doubt whatsoever, weigh heavily in bringing to others the convictions that we ourselves hold.
A scattering and superficial knowledge of the Theosophical doctrines on the part of our members is altogether insufficient; I repeat that our members must train themselves to become as individuals expert exponents to the public of the glory and sublimity of the faith and knowledge that is in their own hearts. This will strike the fire of enthusiasm and conviction in other hearts.
Now it has frequently been said to me that it needs education, refinement, social standing, and other things in order to make a good exponent or teacher of the Theosophical doctrines, and to a great extent this argument is perfectly true; yet I would point out to all that experience has shown to us in the past that it is not always our most educated or learned public exponents of Theosophy, and not always those of the highest social standing, who are the most successful in their work of propaganda. The reason lies in the fact of the varieties of public psychology, for such learned lecturers, or lecturers of high social standing, while very greatly needed indeed in our Theosophical Work, are sometimes looked upon with awe or with suspicion or even with grave questioning doubt on the part of thousands of the public, whose minds are not persuaded by mere learning, and whose hearts are not captured by the fact that one of our lecturers, X or Y or Z, is a lady or gentleman of high social standing in his own country.
Therefore you see the value again of what I have just said, of every member in the Theosophical Society becoming himself an expert in Theosophical study, striving to become likewise an expert in the communication of our Theosophical doctrines to others; so that each man or woman thus to become expert through study and devotion in our teachings, may fire the minds and touch the hearts of others who belong to his or her own educational or social status or milieu. Do you see what I mean? Thus: the prince who is likewise a devoted Theosophical student and lecturer, let us say, can talk most easily and readily and with the greatest chance of being understood, by those in his own social sphere — and also, if he have the ability, can be understood and gain the affection of others who are not members of his own social stratum; but it is probable that there will be tens or even hundreds of thousands who will listen to his message with respect perhaps, with interest perhaps, but who will feel that there is no place for them therein. Hence a beloved companion who may be born a peasant has his great field of work likewise, and through devoted study and self-forgetful application to his work, he might become like a torch of light to tens of thousands of others whose hearts and minds he can reach because of his understanding them and their understanding him.
We must remember that Theosophy is for everyone. The prince in this life may have been a peasant in some former life; the peasant in this life may have been a prince in some former life. I do not say that this is usually the case, but it can readily be so; and in fact not infrequently is so, for karman leads us on into strange destinies in the working out of its inscrutable and often amazingly intricate plans.
It has occurred to me while dictating the above passages, that they may be thought to be by some as derogatory to those members in the T. S. who enjoy the advantages of high social birth and the training and traditions that go therewith; and if anyone reads into my words any such idea as this, I can only say such reading is absolutely wrong. In fact, what the T. S. needs, as indeed any small and struggling organization needs, is to interest and to obtain as its fellows, those whose social condition, education, and other training, fit them to be the best public exponents, and who, because of such advantages in human life, whether monetary, social, or educational, have the ease, the poise, and the social experience, enabling them to conduct their work with the grace and graciousness, with the tact and courtesy, which their position brings with it. We greatly need more of this class of members, and fortunately they are steadily coming to us. Yet everyone in the T. S., every fellow no matter what his or her position, high or low, rich or poor, can do his or her own invaluable work for our blessed T. S. and our blessed God-Wisdom, each worker in his or her own field, among his or her own friends; for after all Theosophy is for the world and for all men, irrespective of nation, class, caste, or color.
And now another point of thought: it was the wish of our beloved H. P. B., of that wonderfully devoted man W. Q. J., and of our own beloved K. T., and it is my own heart's wish, in time, as the T. S. grows in power and obtains a constantly larger increment of means to do so, to establish Theosophical colleges or universities, or training-schools, in the different parts of the world, where any Theosophist, man or woman, and whatever his status in human life, may embark upon a course of technical Theosophical as well as other studies fitting him or her at the conclusion thereof to become a shining example of knowledge, and of tact in that wonderful diplomacy of the heart, and of devotion which the best Theosophical propagandists exemplify. But this time of establishing Theosophical colleges or training-schools everywhere has not yet arrived, although this hope and plan will certainly be worked out in the future, perhaps not the near future but nevertheless some day it will be so.
Meanwhile, my beloved Companions, I again repeat that the best single way of increasing our membership and of increasing our influence correspondentially, is by firing our entire fellowship in the different countries, to undertake a continued and very earnest individual self-training in the study of our Theosophical doctrines; and there should run concurrently with this study the self-training of these devoted students to fit themselves to give to others what they themselves have learned and gained by such training.
Nor is it only individuals to whom these words apply. They apply likewise to lodges, and in the following manner: It is my conviction that every Lodge of the Theosophical Society, no matter where situated, should look upon itself as a future mother-lodge in its own particular district or neighborhood, whether it be a single lodge in a city or even one of several lodges in a city. There is always an immediate neighborhood or field for work which each such lodge should endeavor to cultivate. Now how is this done? It is done in the manner which has already been found and practised by not a small number of our lodges in different countries, and they do it in the following manner: they send out lecturers into their neighborhood, not only to bring the public and inquirers to the meetings of their own lodge, but to establish affiliated study-groups, local study-centers attracting those immediately around these groups or centers; and in this way these lodges that I have in mind have built up new lodges, daughter-lodges so to speak, and the plan has succeeded wonderfully. The great thing in this work I now mention is to have self-confidence in one's ability to succeed, and where the self-confidence — which is not egoism but is born of enthusiasm and devotion which do away with fear — where this spiritual and intellectual self-confidence exists, these lodges have invariably been successful in founding daughter-lodges around them.
I recently received a communication from a very devoted member. It is not necessary here to mention the name or residence of this devoted member who complained, and with great justice in some respects, that too often our Theosophical speakers are insufficiently acquainted with our God-Wisdom, and that we should have training-schools giving these students an opportunity to learn in more technical fashion, and likewise to train themselves to reach the public ear. These comments are perfectly true; yet I must point out that like many other great religious organizations in the past, all things take time to grow. The primitive Christians, for instance, were met with the same difficulties that face us, and yet they prevailed wonderfully for various reasons; and if they succeeded with only a feeble part of what we today have in our God-Wisdom, we should succeed in time even more brilliantly than they did.
Thus, upon considering this picture which I have endeavored to lay before you, we note that we must endeavor to follow the middle way between two dangers: the first danger to avoid is the building up of a special class or caste of Theosophical teachers who in time would be looked upon by the majority of our members as spiritually superior or spiritually privileged, and who would thus — and this would be a terribly fatal mistake — become a true sacerdotal caste, a priesthood as it were, supposed, and wrongly supposed, by the majority of the members of the T. S. to be of especial spiritual worth or development. In time such a sacerdotal caste would gather into its hands the larger part of the teaching and exposition of Theosophy, and thus become truly a priesthood; and should this happen, this fatal error which came upon the early Christians would make of the T. S. but another sect: broad and generous in its outlook perhaps, teaching still somewhat our blessed God-Wisdom perhaps, but yet a sect; and infallibly, as H. P. B. pointed out, its destiny would be to drift to some sandbank in the river of time, and the Masters' effort started in 1875 more or less would be frustrated.
The seeds of the danger latent here are the tendencies, both mental and emotional, to look upon such sacerdotal or similar caste of lecturers or teachers, who have become priests or clergymen in the church, as possessing the knowledge necessary to be a good Theosophist: in other words, the introduction of dogmatisms and the crystallized ideas which are the marks always of sectarian and therefore limited beliefs. Above everything else, Fellows of the Theosophical Society must guard their right to freedom of conscience, freedom of thought and freedom of speech; and while the brain-mind always loves things which are "clear and definite," as the saying goes, and while we certainly should strive for clarity and definiteness, yet we can achieve these without losing our inestimable right and privilege of searching for truth for ourselves in the blessed teachings we have, and finding them from our own efforts in study and self-discipline. We should always keep in mind the very wise words which H. P. B. wrote in her First Message to the American Theosophists in 1888:
Orthodoxy in Theosophy is a thing neither possible nor desirable. It is diversity of opinion, within certain limits, that keeps the Theosophical Society a living and a healthy body, its many other ugly features notwithstanding. Were it not, also, for the existence of a large amount of uncertainty in the minds of students of Theosophy, such healthy divergencies would be impossible, and the Society would degenerate into a sect, in which a narrow and stereotyped creed would take the place of the living and breathing spirit of Truth and an ever growing Knowledge.
These are wise, very wise words; and while we all love clear expositions and definite outlines of thought, and it is right that we should love these because they show clear and masterly thinking, yet it is so easy, and history proves it, to slip into the fatally disastrous grooves of orthodoxy and mental crystallization. Hence let us prize the freedom we have today which gives us individual diversity of opinion in the T. S. and guarantees our freedom of conscience and freedom of speech, and furthermore, and not less important, makes us realize that the opinions of a brother may be well worth listening to, even if they may differ from our own.
Thus, to summarize: our ideal is to have every member of the T. S. devoted to deep and earnest study of the Theosophical teachings, and to self-discipline in his daily life, each one being a propagandist and leader in his own sphere; but to have the more public work of the T. S. conducted by those whose greater breadth and depth of study and discipline, through larger opportunity, and whose character and temperament and ability, fit them for it.
The other danger above alluded to is the feeling among no small number of Theosophists, that anybody, learned or unlearned, expert in teaching Theosophy or inexpert, is a proper representative to place before the public as a teacher of our blessed God-Wisdom; it being forgotten that those who stand before the public as exponents of Theosophy should first and foremost have training in the philosophy, and this training, as I repeat above many times, in our present condition can best be achieved by uninterrupted, continuous, and utterly devoted, study of our God-Wisdom. On the other hand, I most emphatically do not argue that only those who are trained students should be given the platform in lodge-meetings. This again would be a psychological mistake, for in the lodge-meeting it is often a part of the training of our Theosophical students to gain experience in speaking from the platform, and this is a good thing, because they themselves feel that in order to speak intelligently and with self-confidence, they must undertake some really conscientious study of the teachings of Theosophy.
I do hope I make my meaning clear. On the one hand we must avoid in the future the rising of a sacerdotal or so-called priestly caste; and on the other hand — and this faces us at the present time — our lodges and individual members should all work as individuals to become teachers and leaders in Theosophy. But it is always the best course in our lodge-work, when public meetings are held, to have those members of the lodge speak to the public who are known by experience to be the best trained.
Another thing I consider of real importance: it is to give every opportunity possible to the younger people in the T. S., to take an active part in the work just as soon as they show that they have the devotion and the understanding which fit them to assume responsibility. I say this because in certain Sections of the T. S. there is an undoubted disposition on the part of our beloved older members to discourage at least the entrance of our younger members into active Theosophical work, whether in lodges or otherwise; and I must say that I have little sympathy with this viewpoint. After all it is the younger members who will bear the burthen in the future, and it is our duty to give them every chance in training, and the best training is by learning under actual conditions of work and responsibility. I beg all my beloved members to keep these words in mind.
And now, my dear Companions all, I must turn to other duties. I send greetings and good will, with the love of my heart and the hope that our blessed Masters may influence your deliberations as far as possible, and in accordance with the high and aspiring enthusiasm which I know is in your souls.
I am, my beloved Companions,
G. de Purucker
— Letter to the European Convention, Visingso, Sweden, July 27-August 1, 1938.