Masters and the Path

Dora Van Gelder Kunz - USA

[Dora Kunz (1904-1999) as a girl lived in a Theosophical community in Australia, where she served as an assistant to C. W. Leadbeater. A natural clairvoyant, Dora regarded herself even in her late years as "a veddy prrractical girl." In the following talk, delivered in Philadelphia on White Lotus Day 1955, she examines one of the most characteristic of Theosophical ideas, the existence of those whom her husband, Fritz, called "men beyond mankind," the Masters, that is, those who have mastered the lessons of human life that the rest of us are still striving to learn. A transcription of this talk, supplied by Edward Abdill, has been lightly edited but is unaltered in any substantive way, preserving its oral and Dora-esque qualities.]

I would like to present a few of my own ideas about the Masters and the Path which are somewhat different from what you will find in books. I have been a Theosophist all my life, and the Masters have been real to me as far back as I can remember. I would like to tell you something about my point of view about the Masters and our relationship with them.

The Masters are interested in and their concern is for the whole of humanity. They are not necessarily only interested in us because we are members of the Theosophical Society. Secondly, they are not interested in the past in one way. Their whole dedication is to the future. They are interested in the present but they are mainly interested in shaping the future. If you read the Mahatma Letters you will notice this idea of shaping the future.

We can be of use to the Masters in a very specific way. The Masters are beyond the state of personal karma. This is a very important point. They cannot undertake anything which is personal or which would involve them in a personal relationship which they would have to work out. They can only be involved in a personal relationship which is dedicated to the work of humanity. They love you, but if they only did something because they only loved you in a personal way, then that would involve them in personal karma and interaction. They are where they are because they are dedicated to humanity.

We as members of the Theosophical Society can be of infinite use to them because the amount that can be accomplished in the physical world depends upon how willing we are to accept karma. If we are pioneers and if we act on the Masters’ behalf, then we are doing the Masters’ work, and we are carrying out the karma for that action. Very few people think of it that way. The Masters cannot have personal karma. They cannot be brought back into the vortex of personal relationships. The Theosophical Society is useful, and it will only remain useful if we, the members, are dedicated to that ideal of humanity, and realize that we must be willing to be the agents of karma for the Masters in carrying out their work. Very few of us really realize this relationship. You will find, if you read their letters, that they prefer to think of us as colleagues in a great work.

When you know the Masters, you cannot help but be devoted to them, but they do not want us to worship them, and the Theosophical Society was not meant to be a religious organization. I think that sometimes we put the Masters on a pedestal and feel like little worms below. Some think if they feel a tremendous sense of devotion to the Masters, they can sit in a chair and do nothing, like being in a monastery. That is not enough.

The Theosophical Society was not founded on that principle and it will not fulfill its destiny if we unconsciously treat it like a church. The churches have a tremendous work to fulfill, uplifting the people, giving them that faith and bringing out their devotion. Devotion is a fine thing, but the Masters require a very great deal more. We have to feel with the Masters that sense of being colleagues engaged in a great work together. As I said before, the more you know about the Masters, you cannot help but have that feeling of love and reverence, but that is not why the Theosophical Society is in existence.

If you have read something about the life of Madame Blavatsky, you know that she referred to her Master as the “Big Boss,” and often she didn’t like the things she had to do. She was a brilliant person in her way, and she was highly gifted. However, she also had an erratic and tempestuous personality. Some people ask why she was chosen to be the Master’s instrument when she did not live up to people’s idea of what the instrument of the Masters should be. She was the best instrument they could find. She was absolutely devoted to the Master. There was nothing he could not ask, in spite of her bad health, too. She may have not wanted to do it, but there is nothing in the world she would not do if the Master asked her to do it.

C. W. Leadbeater (CWL) was a very different personality in many respects, but both of them had a “gambling spirit.” That may be a peculiar thing to say, and I shall explain. CWL joined the Society because he met Mr. Sinnett and read Esoteric Buddhism. To the end of his life, CWL was a paradox. He was a curate in the church of England, and in one way he was a very proper mid-Victorian Englishman. Yet he read Esoteric Buddhism and accepted it. Then he met HPB, who was far removed from the ideals held by a mid-Victorian Englishman curate. They were far removed from each other in character. He was asked to go to India, and he gave up everything he had, resigned his position, and went to India, not knowing whether he was going to eat or not. She gave him one week’s time. Now, that’s gambling, isn’t it! Those people gave of themselves unstintingly. Whether the world was for or against them, they served the Masters.

At that time, the Theosophical Society was a pioneer. What the Theosophical Society pioneered then is accepted today. The Theosophical Society went into India and assisted the history of India. Nearly all books in India mention a debt of gratitude to Mrs. Besant and the Theosophical Society, although they may not believe in Theosophy. The Theosophical Society brought back to India respect for Indian teachings. It brought back insight into Indian religion. The Theosophical Society started the first Hindu School, and it brought back Buddhism to Ceylon. That is what the Masters told them to do. How many of us would do all that?
The early Theosophists went through tremendous discomfort and never really knew from moment to moment what was ahead. That’s what I call gambling. They were pioneers and did not think of the Theosophical Society as a religion. The Theosophical Society initiated the first coeducational schools in India. Now it is the law. Before the Theosophical Society, few people in the West had heard of the Bhagavad Gita. Now you can buy it on the newsstand. Mrs. Besant started the first Hindu college in India. The Theosophical Society started the first outcaste schools, which are still today the harijan schools outside of Adyar. Anyone from any caste was accepted. Remember that the caste system still existed then. Today all castes go there and there is a long waiting list.

So you see, these people were devoted, but they were devoted to humanity. The Masters said that the Theosophical Society had to be the bridge between the East and the West. These people were devoted to the cause of bringing the philosophy of the Masters to the people. This is, from my point of view, what the Masters really expect from the Society. They expect us to be a body of people who will do our best, who will do everything possible to bring their philosophy to others, against great odds even, and to be willing to face karma, whether it is right or wrong.

Now, the Masters are real. It is very often difficult for us to make the Masters real because, first of all, very few of us study the literature. How many people have read the Mahatma Letters or the Letters from the Masters of the Wisdom? They are basic Theosophy. We talk about wanting to serve the Masters, but we do not bother to find out what the Masters are saying. Few people seem to have read the books. We should go to these original sources. I often advise people to read the Mahatma Letters and CWL’s book The Masters and the Path. Both of them are very fine books, but they are very dissimilar, and that’s why it is good to read both of them.

CWL wrote his book with a tremendous amount of devotion and from a Western point of view. The Masters are not Western. CWL wrote from the heart, and gave a wonderful picture, but it is a one-sided picture. I’m not belittling the book. But there cannot be a greater reality than the Masters’ words, can there? The Masters’ words are very tough for us to think about. Our preconceived ideas often make a barrier between us and the Path and the Masters. You start with a certain idea of the Masters, and in meditation you make an image of your preconceived idea of this picture which is built up out of your background, Christian, Buddhist, etc.

For example, the Masters are holy, but their real holiness may be completely different from what our preconceived idea of holiness is. The real thing is often a shock to us. Be aware of your preconceived ideas. When you meditate upon the Masters, always keep your mind open and see what your impression is instead of making a mental picture of them. Perhaps you will get more of the reality. Nothing worthwhile is easy. Study what the Masters have said and do not be afraid if you do not understand because it is difficult. Also, you will get a lot of shocks.

You know, when we think of somebody holy, we sometimes think of them as rather “namby-pamby.” That’s what will give you a shock. The Masters say what they think in very, very clear terms. If they think something is wrong, they say it. They called Mr. Hume some strong names. They saw him as he really was. Mr. Hume wanted to be good, but he sometimes closed his eyes to his faults. What did the Masters do? They saw through him, but they worked with him and wrote to him month after month. They never gave up. Did you notice that? Wouldn’t we be different? If we see right through someone we usually say we are through with them. The Masters went straight on with infinite patience, and Mr. Hume finally did something worthwhile. Although he quit the Society, he became one of the leaders in the National Congress in India. That was one part of the work the Masters wanted continued. They wanted India free. Now, we must not be shocked about it.

Why shouldn’t the Masters be realists? Do you think the Masters are going to take us at our evaluation? They can’t, can they? None of us can see ourselves as we really are. When they work with us—and they will work with us—they will comprehend all our weaknesses, they will comprehend all our strengths. And if we will work for the same goal, we shall be able to establish that rapport. It’s in the work that the great thing lies.

Now about the Path. The Path is a true thing, and it is open to everybody. But I think it is not virtue which we lack. It is humbleness. Let me explain. One of the dangers is that lots of people become too concerned with whether they have a true experience, whether they are an initiate, a chela, or what. None of that matters. The thing which is true is our relationship and our knowledge, and so many people want those things because they want to be something better. That’s a very common human failing. It is a very dangerous one because we are practically never aware of it. If you continually think of it in this personal way you loose the essence, and eventually you loose the Master.

The great thing which comes if you meditate on the Master is an ability to be unafraid to do, to act, to work, and to experience. Think of how you can help. If you get “hide-bound,” if you get set or enclosed in rigid ideas, if you get into a permanent state of status quo, then you will slowly close the gateway between yourself and the Masters.

The Masters are working eternally for the future, and they work toward a spiritual change. The important thing for you is not to allow yourself to become “closed.” Always live up to what you understand in an experience sense to be the highest for yourself, if you want to meet the Master. Be honest with yourself. Meditation can be of great value, but you cannot say, “I raise my mind to the Buddhi or the Atma” and be there. That is pure nonsense. Just saying the words is not going to get you there. It is the experiencing, the living of it that matters and when it is real for you, then you really have something. That is the Path.

The Path is for people who are really willing to study. You are not expected to understand every word of these difficult letters from the Masters. But you cannot understand the Masters if you do not make an attempt. Maybe the letter will not make sense the first time you read it. Understanding will come bit by bit if you are really interested in working for the Masters. It is the trying that is important, the trying to lift your mind to the Master’s mind. The moment you say, “Oh, this is too difficult,” you will defeat yourself.

That is the difference between the Theosophical Society in the pioneering days and the members today. In the pioneering days, it was fun for them to have something tough. Do not say that because you do not understand it now that you will not go any further. Don’t remain static. We must not remain static because the Masters must work through us and the Theosophical Society.
We should not talk about things we do not understand. Talk bit by bit about things that are in our comprehension. Try to comprehend through your experience, through your personality, through your living. If you once get the feeling of what the Masters are, don’t talk about it, but live it. Dedicate yourself from your soul to your physical body to that idea of serving the Masters, trying to do their work through the Theosophical Society. Then, from moment to moment, when the opportunity comes, you will take it.

Don’t have a lot of preconceived ideas. Keep open. Then, whatever is put before you, any kind of work, you will be able to take it in the right way. You will be able to realize that it can be an important experience, and if you are dedicated to understanding something about the Masters, then you will become what I call a Theosophist. There are thousands of members of the Theosophical Society, but there are very few Theosophists. It is very easy to sign a piece of paper and say you want to join the Theosophical Society and that you believe in brotherhood, but brotherhood is something we should live instead of talking about it.

The Theosophical Society is the testing ground for brotherhood. It is the place to let ourselves grow, to let ourselves understand that we are not to be dogmatic, to let ourselves learn to get along with one another whether we like one another or not. You must be willing to have differences of opinion. You must be willing to stand the acid test, even if you are called names. It is you who are being tested. If you walk out because one individual says something nasty to you, you are failing the test of brotherhood. Remember, the Theosophical Society is open to everybody. It isn’t a closed circle. The people who stick to the philosophy, who will stick to the Masters through personalities, these are the people who will get the feeling. They are the Theosophical “warhorses.” That is a compliment. They are the people who have gone beyond personality.

If you could think of the personalities that you meet as the acid test of your own character, of your own Theosophy, you would get a different point of view. When something comes up, ask yourself how you will take it, and ask yourself what it is about you that needs to be changed. The Masters test us a hundred times on that. If there were no Theosophical Society, then there would not be this testing, and perhaps we would have it easier individually, but we would not have the chance to grow as fast. The lodges of the Theosophical Society are particularly interesting in the sense of being a testing ground.

If people are Theosophists in the true sense of the word, they don’t have to talk. They carry something with them. Other people can realize that you as an individual have a philosophy of life. If you can carry that something which makes you a person who can be absolutely steady because you have that philosophy of life, and who has a tremendous tolerance, and who has a devotion to the service of the philosophy of the Masters. then you begin to serve the Masters. Then the Lodges you work in will have something of the qualities of the Masters. You then experience the Masters.

How can I try to convey something of the experiencing of the Masters? I shall try to give a brief description of what I think are some of the characteristics of the two Masters that we always talk about, the Master KH and Master Morya. As I said previously, there has never been a time in my life when the Masters have not been real to me, and I shall try to describe them from my point of view.

The Master Morya was the Master of HPB. If you read the Mahatma Letters you get some sense of his personality. As you know, he is an Indian. He is very tall, and he comes from a very princely family. I think that if you are in his presence, you have that sense that you are in the presence of somebody who is every inch a king. That feeling really is true because he gives a sense of absolute integrity. That may sound like a strange word to use. What is meant by absolute integrity?

All of us have masks. All of us think in terms of little things that are not true. If you are in the Masters presence, for the moment all of that gets wiped out. All of the little things which are not really true, which are not part of what we see as ourselves, are wiped out. If you are in his presence, you meet a person who is so absolutely in the center of his being, who is so absolutely true, that you yourself, get the sense of being thrown back into the absolute center of yourself. You get a sense even of the greatness and integrity of yourself. In his presence, you could not think of something childish or mean. Of course, there is also a tremendous sense of strength and of a strength which enables you to carry something through to the end which you have started. It is a strength that has no ending.

In the Master’s letters you will notice he is very economical with words. There is also a complete economy in emotion, in movement, and in everything. Even in his looks. He has a tremendously noble face, but whatever he feels is not reflected in it. It is a steady face. The facial muscles change very little, because it is the face of a person who is completely at one with himself, and who is cast in a solid granite mold of unity, integrity, and strength. I think that is a brief personification of the Master Morya.

The Master KH is totally different in many respects. Their two personalities could not be more different. Yet, they have a sense of tremendous devotion to one another, as you will notice in the letters. They have been colleagues for so many lives. It is really a beautiful thing to notice how they work together.

The Master KH is tall, but not as tall as the Master Morya. He has a very noble face. Whatever he feels shows. Pictures could never do him justice because his expression varies from moment to moment. He writes beautiful English in the Mahatma Letters. He has a great feeling for music and the arts.

I think that what the Master KH conveys is the feeling of love. You might think that, if you were in the Master’s presence, you would feel very small and shy. Perhaps the Master Morya would give you that feeling a little, but not the Master KH. You would have a sense of expanding consciousness just as you would with the Master Morya. But the Master KH has the great gift of making a person feel as though you had known him all your life. Don’t you think that’s a great gift of love? He is a person who is so much a personification of love that it draws from me all the love that I am capable of, and so it draws from any person who comes into contact with him a sense of outgoing love. That sense of outgoing love is finally a sense of being yourself a perfect being.
We can think about the Masters and we can meditate about them. In fact, we should think about them. If you are in a quandary, don’t necessarily ask them for help, but if you have dedicated your life to the Masters and to the Society and the work (remember that first), then when you are in a quandary think of yourself in the aura of the Master. After all, the Masters have immense auras. If you can develop this rapport feeling of being within the Master’s aura, then you could get a sense of what the Master’s reaction would be. We would get into touch, but we would not have to ask for help. This is something all of us can try. Think of the Master when you feel very upset about people. If you could put your mind into rapport with his perfect love and harmony, you would get some of the love and harmony within you.

Even if the Masters find it necessary to judge people, they see the truth. They are absolute realists. They work with people and don’t judge in the ultimate sense, because they are willing to work with anybody. When you love somebody correctly, you have to be willing to let them be perfectly free. That even applies to the Lodge. We have to pull together, but we have to make an atmosphere in which people can grow and in which people are free. If you think there is not enough of that love in your life and in your expression, then think of the Master when you are in a quandary.

If you do not know if what you should do is right then think of the Master Morya, and I think you will get an impression. Often we find it hard to judge what is right because many of us are pulled apart as far as the personality and the soul are concerned. If you have contact with the Master, I think you will get a sense of knowing what is right. We are perfectly right to think of the Masters in that way. Think of them as colleagues. Think of how wonderful it is that we can be engaged in a work with people whom we can learn to understand if we study and if we work.

I emphasize work. I think it is only by study and work that we come near the Masters. If we are engaged in their work, then we are in the direct stream of their consciousness. That will automatically become more real from moment to moment. That’s why I think we should study, work, have a sense of direction, and a sense of certainty. For Theosophists and the Theosophical Society, the most important thing is, of course, Theosophy, the philosophy, and carrying out the work. If you put that as number one in your life, then I can’t see how anything could really throw you off.

It is not the individual who is important so much as it is the philosophy and making it a part of your life, part of yourself. Then no human being could throw you off. Slowly, bit by bit, you get that essential certainty, that essential knowledge. That will make all of us something which is so greatly needed today, to be a little like the Masters, to be people of integrity in ourselves, and also to be people who are not afraid to do the things which carry out the Masters’ work.

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