Paul Zwollo – the Netherlands
Together differently was a winged word of George Arundale. He went so far as to say that every Theosophist had to develop certain qualities so as to become an expert in some specific field. Not in order to become proud of them but to contribute in one's own and best possible way to the uplift of the whole world. Differentiation is inherent in the order of life. In Theosophical literature we read about the great differentiations that took place long ago and the subsequent gradual advent of the material world as we experience today. The countless differences in forms, colors, living creatures, etc. give life its charm and fascination.
Variety is not only the main characteristic of life but a “must”, a sine qua non, to prevent inbreeding and offer maximum possibilities for further development. Evolution needs this enormous variety in order not to get stuck and select those forms best suited to experiment with. The Divine Plan may have been laid down in outline, and it would look that the details are subject to experiment if not trial and error.
We are different from each other, absolutely unique, but not separate. Madame Blavatsky is a good example of how a great occultist stands apart from the ordinary man and at the same time works for the good of ordinary humanity at large. The one does not exclude the other. The example of the lives of the great ones, the Adepts, has proved that as one advances on the spiritual path toward the Divine in oneself which is man's true appointed end, the individual characteristics still do not get wiped out. On the contrary, they develop completely. This is not only certified by the Masters of Wisdom in their letters to A.P. Sinnett and others. Reading these letters, by the way, one is impressed by their distinctive handwriting style. Even the layout of the letters is different for each. A good graphologist would be able to give a fair description of the characters of the Masters by analyzing their handwriting. When man becomes what he really is, he is creative, original, even without any conscious attempt.
Those who have visited the Adyar Museum may have been impressed by a beautiful and inspiring painting by Nicholas Roerich, called The Messenger. The painting was presented to Adyar in 1925, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Theosophical Society. The artist meant to honor Madame Blavatsky for whom he and his wife had great admiration. No wonder, they translated The Secret Doctrine into Russian in the mid-thirties which is probably the only existing edition in that language so far. HPB was chosen by the Masters as their messenger in view of her exceptional talents for the heavy task they had in mind. A spiritual person never wants to imitate or compete. He is self-sufficient, content, and shuns every semblance of rivalry. He strives no longer to attract attention or put on a show. He simply is. He dares to be himself and can only do that by being no-body, no-thing. And by so being he succeeds in being one with everybody, everything. A seeming contradiction of the highest order we all have to come to terms with.
Following this line of thought, Nirvana is the extinction of the personal, the time- bound and the less favorable features of man, giving room to real spiritual qualities. The personality, the “me” becomes lesser, so that the real man blossoms out, a process called by J. Krishnamurti as the inward flowering.
Man's road to perfection is a long-term project, though much could be achieved in one life. There is hope – we read in The Mahatma Letters. Attentive visitors of Adyar Museum may have noticed a small paper in one of the glass-cases with a few lines of Madame Blavatsky which read:
“There is a road steep and thorny, beset with perils of every kind; but yet a road; and it leads to the heart of the universe. I can tell you how to find Those, who will show you the secret gateway that leads inward only, and closes fast behind the neophyte for evermore. There is no danger that dauntless courage cannot conquer. There is no trial that spotless purity cannot pass through. There is no difficulty that strong intellect cannot surmount. For those who win onwards, there is reward past all telling; the power to bless and save humanity. For those who fail, there are other lives in which success may come”
Together differently: a paradox? Both these words leap into significance by juxtaposition. As has often been expounded in theosophical literature, man's spiritual development means he has to learn to stand on his own by his own efforts. In doing so, he develops his own specific qualities. This sets him apart from his fellow-man. Though we are equal, no two are the same. “Together” indirectly refers to the oneness of all Life, the most fundamental truth of Theosophy. Was not a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity stressed again and again in The Mahatma Letters?
It is man's privilege to choose in complete freedom from out of numberless possibilities. This differentiates him from all others. Life offers endless possibilities to further explore its mysteries, and develop one's unsuspected intellectual and spiritual potentialities. When that happens, man becomes more and more unique.
He becomes himself spiritually. He comes home from a long journey. This gives him a feeling of great joy and oneness with all life. He has become whole and experiences the wholeness of life. At the same time he feels responsible not only for his own feelings, thoughts and deeds but for all life, the earth itself. He has become a co-worker with Nature. Nature then reveals to him her innermost secrets. In obedience to her laws, man wholeheartedly stretches out the hand of fellowship to one and all.
[The article was published previously in The Theosophist, y1989 v110 July p388]