The Subtle and Sublime Anarchy of Universal Brotherhood

Jonathan Colbert – USA  

Theosophy JC b JON Theosophy Tribute 3 120 Jon

Jonathan on the right with his father, Jim Colbert, the nestor of organic cross pollination, "switching chairs" at home in Julian, California

[Extracts from “Alas and After… In Search of the Dynamics of Unity” by Jonathan Colbert]

Without self-awareness and vigilant mindfulness of the spiritual fact of unity, efforts towards reunification and cooperation cannot help but risk degradation into the more entropic and conservative factional motivations of self-preservation and consolidation. If theosophists, then, are to continue the noble objective of opening doors, clarification as to motives, means and methods will become increasingly crucial. A powerful lens for the individual and institutional self-examination that is needed, was given as early as 1890, in an address by Bertram Keightley in New York City to the Aryan T.S. entitled, “The Objects of the Theosophical Society.” His thesis is that critical to the theory and practice of the 1st Object, Universal Brotherhood, is the artful practice of the 2nd and 3rd Objects. Keightley writes:

...instead of our three Objects being, as often erroneously supposed, separate, distinct, disconnected, they are in truth intimately and vitally related to each other: the Second and Third Objects of the Society indicating the only lines upon which we may reasonably hope to achieve the ultimate realization of our grand ideal, the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity.                                                                                                                                         The Theosophist, September 1890

The subtle and sublime anarchy of Universal Brotherhood, “excludes by its very nature, every form of dogma or orthodoxy from the hearts of those who truly follow its noble teaching.” The Founders of the Theosophical Society saw Universal Brotherhood as a Spiritual fact to be realized, rather than as something to be created or imposed. It is this pivotal insight on the part of the Founders, Keightley contends, that determined the choice of the Society’s 2nd and 3rd Objects.

Contrary to the unhappy view that, by stealth, tiptoes in amongst doctrinaire Theosophists— that the pursuit of the 2nd Object is a way of proving that Theosophy is superior to other religions, sciences, and philosophies— Keightley asserts that the study and process that the 2nd Object represents is that of removing sectarian differences and showing the fundamental identity of all creeds.

Here, one could add with the Dalai Lama, that the study of the sciences demonstrates the profound interdependence of all life, and, with Plato, that the study of philosophy as the contemplation of transcendental archetypes fosters universalization and synthesis. All of these are instantiations of the Spiritual fact of Brotherhood, cultivating “growth of brotherly feeling throughout all sections of the human race.”

“Universal Brotherhood,” then, says Keightley, “is not only the foundation-stone of the Theosophical Society, but literally the essence of its Second and Third Objects — the life-giving spirit in them all.” In considering the 2nd Object, we find countless examples of mystics who have had beatific visions of unity and solidarity. In this way the 3rd Object becomes accessible as a part of the collective record of human experience. Importantly, in Keightley’s discussion of the 3rd Object, he deemphasizes “psychic” as astral-physiological development, while favoring it as the “spiritual development of the individual.”

This shift of emphasis towards the development of noetic, spiritual, and moral faculties is reinforced both in the “The Maha Chohan’s Letter” and in H.P. Blavatsky’s landmark article, “Psychic and Noetic Action.” Thus, in elucidating the path of noetic awakening, spiritual growth, and moral regeneration, he makes of the 3rd Object the indispensable means to fully discern the all-pervading universality of the 1st Object. In speaking of the all-importance of Universal Brotherhood, he concludes his address thus:

Without such a goal to strive for, such a lofty purpose to animate us, our liberality of thought would soon become aimless license, our efforts to study the Wisdom Religion would soon end in the formation of a new sect, the life would die out from among us, and the Theosophical Society would either crumble into dust or remain a frozen and lifeless corpse, encased in the ice of Dogmatism.                                                                             The Theosophist, September 1890                                                                                                                                                                                       

The steep path of Universal Brotherhood, rather than that of the acquisition of doctrines, is the more difficult of the two paths. As Keightley points out, “Few are those strong enough to live in a state of continual growth, of ceaseless mental expansion and change.” Yet, Keightley pioneers an attainable route for us when he points to the 2nd and 3rd Objects as the “only lines” by which the ideal of universal brotherhood can be achieved.

Ongoing attempts at opening doors of the heart between students of various organizational affiliations might do well, with Bertram Keightley, to focus on the 2nd and 3rd Objects as important means of realizing the prized ideal of universal brotherhood. It is noteworthy that in her Preface to The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B., writes:  

Even the two volumes now issued do not complete the scheme, and these do not treat exhaustively of the subjects dealt with in them. A large quantity of material has already been prepared, dealing with the history of occultism as contained in the lives of the great Adepts of the Aryan Race, and showing the bearing of occult philosophy upon the conduct of life, as it is and as it ought to be.

Sound like the 2nd and the 3rd Objects? Different people have different things to say about whether H.P.B.’s prepared material along these lines saw the light of day, either in her own lifetime or posthumously, but what I wish to draw attention to here is her indication of the need for such a study. We find suggested in the writings of the Tibetan reformer, Tsong Ka Pa, a similar curriculum, and in this case, including all three Objects:

To go beyond the attitude of seeking the bliss of peace for oneself, one should cultivate over a long time love, compassion and the altruistic mind of enlightenment... Next, one should learn of the deeds of the Bodhisattva and nurture a wish to train in them. When one can bear the burden of the deeds of the Conqueror Sons, one should take the Bodhisattva vows and practice their precepts.”\ (as cited in The Jewel in the Lotus, Concord Grove Press, Santa Barbara, CA)

What if Theosophists of various stripes, in exploring the dynamics of unity inherent in the 2nd and 3rd Objects, determined to share research and expression via presentations and round-table discussions?

In the spirit of the 2nd Object, the great heroes of humanity such as Buddha, Shankaracharya, Pythagoras, Plato, Iamblichus, Plotinus, Hypatia, Boehme, Bruno, Pico Della Mirandola, Marcilio Ficino, Emerson, Thoreau, Gandhi, and King could be considered, to name but a very few. As the study proceeds from one hero to another, our “mental grooves” would of necessity have to be abandoned to give full attention to each new subject at hand.

In the spirit of the 3rd Object, what if such themes as-- ”Metaphysics and Ethics”, “What is True Self- determination?”, “What is Self-Knowledge?”, “Meditation and Self-study”, “Continuity of Noetic Consciousness”, “Ideation, Health and Self-magnetization”, “Spiritual Gestation and Growth”, “The Potency of Silence, Sound and Speech”, “The Efficacy of Vow Taking”, and “Swadharma and The Call to Action”--again, to name but a few, could be considered? All of these represent spiritual capabilities within each human being, waiting to unfold, do they not?

If, we can remember with Cervantes, that “the road is always better than the inn,” there will be a unifying richness of potential in the investigation of these remarkable faculties latent within each human being, wherein a living nucleus of universal brotherhood could be established, enjoyed, and celebrated.

Text Size

Paypal Donate Button Image

Subscribe to our newsletter

Email address
Confirm your email address

Who's Online

We have 546 guests and no members online

TS-Adyar website banner 150




Vidya Magazine