Ali Ritsema – the Netherlands
Ali Ritsema in 2014, smiling during a talk she gave on Karma in Adyar
photo: © Richard Dvořák
Why this title for an article on 'The Three Objects of the TS and their Enduring Relevance? My thesis is that everything universal or eternal is of enduring relevance. Are the three Objects universal or eternal? If they are founded on universal law or laws, they will be universal and eternal and therefore of enduring relevance.
HPB indicates in the three fundamental propositions:
- that there is 'an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless and Immutable Principle...one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned being';
- the absolute universality of the law of periodicity which physical science has observed;
- 'the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Over-Soul...and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul...through the Cycle of Incarnation...in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic Law'.
She states that everything in this universe is based on Oneness. Also, in How to Study Theosophy, she stresses that, whatever we study, we should always hold on to this idea of Oneness if we are to come to an understanding of universal law(s). When we consider the third fundamental proposition, we may realize that brotherhood is the practical expression of this Reality or Law. What then is the additional value of having three objects instead of just one brotherhood? Does brotherhood not comprise everything necessary for us to lead a life based on universal law? However, we have to unfold our consciousness in order to make universal brotherhood a reality in our daily life. We need the Second and Third Objects to help us understand the breadth and depth of the meaning of universal brotherhood based on law.
The Secret Doctrine states that the One Life is closely related to the One Law which governs the world of being and also that each man is his own lawmaker. If the objects are to be of enduring relevance, they will not be rules or regulations or dogmas in the usual sense, but guidelines to help us discover that law(fulness) in ourselves, so that we may express the One Life. 'Wise are they that worship Karma-Nemesis' (SD, I, p. 642). If we look closely at the three Objects, we may realize that freedom of thought is necessary in order for us to see their depth and universality. Complete freedom of thought in itself is based on Law since, as already stated, each human being is his or her own lawmaker. This again is expressed in the third proposition.
Thus the reign of law is our door to Oneness; the Objects are means by which we may begin to see the workings of law and thus of enduring relevance.
Exercising freedom of thought is the most difficult task in our human phase of evolution. Freedom of thought is man's freedom to move from the 'outer' to the 'inner' world, from outer laws to inner laws. We are so used to seeing with our outer eyes only, that we forget our most precious capacity: the 'inner eye'. The 'inner eye' is clairvoyance but that which is referred to in The Secret Doctrine (vol. I) as the 'Eye of Dangma', which the Initiate alone, rich in the lore acquired by numberless generations, directs towards the essence of things, on which maya can have no influence.
To leap from the outer world to the inner is not easy. This is the Path, described in many books but never the same, because the ways are as numerous as the lives of man. It is much easier for us to see with the outer eye because we follow the rules of society where, in most cases, we know what is 'done' and 'not done', how things 'should be' and 'should not be' and have no idea of the essence of things. Everywhere, in every culture, wherever we live, we find such conditioning and traditions, such hidden or open rules. Theosophy is called 'the Wisdom Tradition', but here 'tradition' does not refer to conditioning, but to inner 'knowing'. The further we drift away from this Wisdom Tradition, the more we emphasize conditioning, outer traditions, environment, education, etc. This, in return, kills freedom in man, diverts him from the search for and understanding of the inner laws, the inner wisdom. That is why we have always to be on our guard against being unconsciously influenced by any deep-rooted conditioning.
The most important thing in the TS is to encourage freedom of thought, to make people really feel that our objects are not a set of rules but guides to help us free ourselves from any feeling that we are different, and from dogma, whether imposed by religion, philosophy or science, and also to show that we are not abandoned, that there are laws of Nature and that there are powers latent in man, which are the true, inner guides.
The success of the TS (in India), it is stated in The Mahatma Letters (Letter No. 85), was 'due entirely to its principle of wise and respectful toleration of each others' opinions and beliefs'. It is implied that no one 'has the right directly or indirectly to interfere with the freedom of thought of the humblest member, least of all to seek to influence his personal opinion...Discord is the harmony of the Universe...Thus in the TS each part...ceaselessly chases the other in harmonious discord on the paths of eternal progress, to meet and finally blend at the threshold of the pursued goal into one harmonious whole, the keynote in nature... Absolute Justice makes no difference between the many and the few...In our Brotherhood all personalities sink into one idea — abstract right and absolute justice for all.' Thus, unless the members agree to disagree in details and work united for the chief objects as laid down in the rules of the TS, the Mahatmas can have no hand in the future development and progress of any Lodge or Section.
Mankind is degenerate and not yet really human. The mission of the TS today is human regeneration, not as an imposition from without but as a natural evolutionary growth from within. According to Dr Taimni in Principles of Theosophical Work, we have to 'win the world not by a forcible conversion but by the inherent reasonableness of the ideas and the justice of the principles, the truths of Wisdom we seek to propagate'.
This is not an intellectual process, it is not a path for blind followers, it is a process which affects the heart and brings about changes within which are reflected without. It is the path of discrimination between the promptings (or desires) of our outer nature and the promptings (or perceptions) of our inner nature. The Secret Doctrine reminds us that knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own.
Many people think that our civilization is progressing because of its incredible technological achievements. However, the danger is that outer achievements may blind us to our true inner development, our inner evolution and the need to understand and perceive the inner laws of Nature. The great pity is that the illusions of our outer achievements can and do distract us from the truly magnificent future that can be ours if we choose the inner way.
How can we make people aware of the fact that there is such a way? The TS is an organization, based on the principles of the Ancient Wisdom, through which man may find that way. Since the three Objects are one of the very first aspects of the TS which people encounter and since they often give rise to high expectations, it is important that they should be put into practice. Enquirers should find that respect for the private views and beliefs of every member and the spirit of free research, inquiry and investigation are encouraged. The climate in the TS which will allow the three Objects to blossom into enduring relevance must be one of freedom of thought, leading to lawfulness in action.