Douglas Keene – USA
Douglas Keene, who last year succeeded Barbara Hebert as President of the Theosophical Society in America
When we consider the relationship between strength and unity, we must also consider justice, for justice is an outcome of strength and leads to unity. In fact, each quality can be seen as an essential bridge in the cycle, strength leading to justice, justice leading to unity and finally, unity back to strength. Love is the adhesive which holds the wheel in alignment. Each time that justice is achieved, strength and unity increase. When strength manifests, justice is possible. When we see strength and justice, unity usually follows.
Helena Blavatsky, one of the three cofounders of Theosophical Society writes in her book, The Key to Theosophy: “The most important of all aims of Theosophy are those which are likely to lead to the relief of suffering under any and every term, moral as well as physical.”
This is a direct imperative that Theosophy must be made practical in the outer world. One way this can manifest is through strength of moral intentions and the implementation of justice and compassion. We may feel that governments do not act in our name, but then we are obligated to make choices which may replace those in power, especially in democracies. Of course, this is not possible on the individual level but by banding together with like-minded individuals, changes may occur.
We should not underestimate our influence, as many are looking for a clear, experienced voice to lead them. We can also examine our actions within the context of our workplace and families and reflect on the motives that bring us to these actions. Are they selfless or is there a hidden motive that can be of benefit to ourselves? We should attempt to release the filters of self-interest. We must strive for purity and selflessness, first with ourselves and then to assist others.
When we speak of justice, what are we implying exactly. Is this compliance with human laws and government? Or is there a higher moral code that we must follow? Martin Luther King famously said: “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”
Is this mere rhetorical hyperbole, or literally accurate that each injustice is not only a threat to the greater good but diminishes our moral standing and direction?
Strength, of course, can be used positively or negatively. Blaise Pascal wrote that “Justice and power must be brought together, so whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.”
How can we implement power in a just environment? Does this need to be left to the courts as our representatives in the legal arena or does it apply also to our own decisions in daily life? Justice can be subjective and vary by perspective.
Helena Blavatsky has written a short passage called The Golden Stairs for her inner circle of students succinctly summarizing directives for a spiritual life. The 12th step is a “valiant defense of those that are unjustly attacked”.
We must be a defender of those that are persecuted and attacked unfairly. It is popular to engage in “identity politics” where a social group fights for their rights in our socio-political system. Therefore, it is uncommon to hear about gay rights, women’s rights, minority rights and the like. In fact, all these are human rights to which all moral humanity should be dedicated. We need to stand up when the rights of others are infringed, for there is greater strength in unity and judgments in this regard must be sought in fairness to all.
Due to this universal expression of life, and the fact that we are all connected in a deep spiritual sense, we must realize that any harm that comes to the individual also affects the whole. Conversely, sharing of love, compassion and joy elevates others either directly or indirectly.
Perhaps the sentiment is most suitably expressed by Annie Besant, an early Theosophical author and second president of the International Society. She writes in her book The Riddle of Life (Chapter 1, page 3): “in morals, Theosophy builds its teachings on the unity, seeing in each form the expression of a common life, and therefore the fact that what injures one injures all. To do evil i.e., to throw poison into the lifeblood of humanity, is a crime against unity”.
Let us all avoid this poison that is a crime against unity and find the strength to dispense justice throughout our world.
On Thursday January 4, during the last held International Convention in Adyar, Douglas Keene participated in an interesting Q&A session with Tim Boyd, Deepa Padhi and Pradeep Gohil.
Click on the photo below, taken during this slot, to watch it.
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