Mary Anderson – England
‘Living Theosophy’, as Dr Algeo has pointed out, can be interpreted in two ways: as Theosophy that is alive and as living in a Theosophical way.
Could we say that it is up to us to keep Theosophy alive and a living force by living it?
When we think or speak of making Theosophy a living force in our world, does ‘we’ mean the Theosophical Society or the members in general, or is this question addressed to each one of us? After all, the Society is not an abstraction but is made up of its members, and moreover all members are free to make their own decisions on how to make Theosophy a living force in their lives. Yet, if we are serious, our decisions as Theosophists – and also our actions and our whole attitude – will be based spontaneously on what the Theosophical philosophy means to us personally.
If we have understood Theosophical teachings – each of us after our own fashion and in all seriousness – our lives will be affected. Indeed, Theosophy is a philosophy, a teaching, but it is also a way of life in the light of that teaching.
We are all different individuals and our understanding of Theosophy may also differ in some respects, but what is important is that, if we are serious, Theosophy should spontaneously become ‘a living force’ in our lives. That living force will at times be felt by others.
If we look back on our first encounters with Theosophy, perhaps it was an article or a book that awakened our interest. But for many of us it may not have been the teachings in themselves that first awakened our interest – indeed perhaps awakened memories of something familiar (‘rang a bell’). It may rather have been an encounter with a Theosophist who was inspired by, and did his or her best to live according to, Theosophical principles, without wishing to impose them in any way on others.
The importance of personal encounters does not mean that we should not organize or hold lectures, seminars, discussions, etc. or write articles to explain and spread Theosophical teachings in a nondogmatic manner. Indeed, such activities are important and should be carried out, as far as possible, in an efficient, even professional, but essentially human way. But what is also supremely important is that our whole attitude in life should be affected, quite naturally, by these teachings. How do we act, as individuals, when we suffer loss, when we are disappointed, bereaved, misunderstood, or abused? People may become interested because they wonder how we manage to survive catastrophes in our lives, to take fortune and misfortune in our stride and sometimes even, as Kipling wrote, ‘treat these two impostors just the same’.
Also within the Society, we may differ in our opinions and attitudes. We may have arguments. But we can simply ‘agree to differ’, and perhaps it is our conception of the brotherhood of humanity that strengthens the bonds between us as members. A colleague of mine once joined us on a trip to another town in Switzerland for meetings. She did not attend the meetings but came with us ‘for the trip’. She remarked afterwards how nice we all were to each other.
If our understanding of the Theosophical philosophy is deep enough (although it may or even should be simple), we shall, as individuals and also as a group, attract others, particularly those not bound by dogma or superstition and those who are seekers. After all, we are also seekers, human beings who have not yet found everything. Indeed, if we feel we have found everything, we may risk becoming dogmatic.
I have dealt with the subject of making Theosophy a living force in our own lives and not with its becoming a living force in the world. But, after all, we are all part of the world. The first step, as Christmas Humphreys is reported to have often said, is important. The first step involves our own lives. If Theosophy becomes a living force in our lives, it may become a living force in our environment. Such a living force may not yet be perceptible, but when circumstances are favourable, it may become also a force in an ever wider environment.
Of course, Theosophy will not become a living force in the world by magic. We are still deep in kali-yuga. But whether we as Theosophists study on our own and thus form our own attitudes or spread such study and such attitudes in our environment, we are simply sowing seeds that somehow, some time, will produce plants and ultimately a harvest to feed the hungry.