John Roberts – USA
A Living Philosophy For Humanity
No. 6 (48) - March-April 1952
The recognition of pure Theosophy - the philosophy of the rational explanation of things and not the tenets - is of the most vital importance in the [Theosophical] Society, inasmuch as it alone can furnish the beacon-light needed to guide humanity on its true path. - H. P. B. in her First Message to American Theosophists, 1888.
At first glance, it may seem that nothing could be simpler or more plainly stated than is the aim of the Theosophical Movement in the words of H. P. Blavatsky, addressed to a convention of American Theosophists in one of the climacteric years of the nineteenth-century effort: the year of The Secret Doctrine, and the year when the Esoteric Section would be announced. How is it, then, that the Movement today has become such a complex disunity? Why is it that almost none of the simple, plain directions of the Teacher are being consistently followed in the various "branches" of the Movement - let alone the fact that the very existence of rival societies is contrary to the First Object!
Even to define "pure Theosophy" is to start an internecine war among so-called Theosophists, although to fight about pure Theosophy is manifestly absurd: as well expect Einstein to propose a duel because an amateur mathematician scoffed at the Relativity Theory! What, then, is the war about? Why, about impure "theosophys," and waged by those who desire to plant themselves in the ground that has been cleared in the name of H. P. B. and the Masters.
It is not significant that various and distinct interpretations of Theosophy are expounded in Theosophical circles. Nor is it surprising that some interpretations are useful, inspiring, and honest, while others are degrading, deceitful, and morally infectious. The Theosophical Movement continues nevertheless, except when free speech and a healthy divergence of opinion are interfered with as a policy. To curtail the free expression of opinion and conviction among theosophical students is to encourage "spiritual" dictatorship; to preach Unity, while assiduously practicing the technique of "divide-and-rule," is hypocritical; and to celebrate "independent devotion" after all original thinkers and creative workers have been ejected from an organization, is sheer jesuitry. Such policies can only lead to the complete annihilation, as a theosophic center, of the group or clique which chooses to run thus counter to the real Theosophical Movement.
Regardless of individual differences, Theosophists are expected to work whole-heartedly for Theosophy, and neither for, nor against, any person or persons whatsoever. It is true that the student usually identifies himself with certain associates, and naturally takes direction from those whose judgment and ability he respects - thus avoiding the pitfalls of heedlessly trying to "go it alone." Yet a fine line has to be drawn: each of us must be our own final authority in all matters of conscience and decision. Making choices is a difficult, worrisome, and sometimes heart-breaking task, and the weakling, the "coward soul," can easily find fancy excuses for shirking the job. But if he does, he misses priceless opportunities to form his own conclusions, act upon his own understanding, stand by his convictions - and take the consequences of his own mistakes. Conscientious self-reliance is not all "sweetness and light"; it will necessarily involve, from time to time, definite disagreement with fellow-workers as to methods. But ideally speaking - and where soul integrity is the paramount consideration - disagreement need not imply disagreeableness.
Is this the picture today? Or is the Theosophical world a busy little (very little) arena, in which still smaller areas are given over to picayune skirmishings, and where so much dust is stirred up that the audience can see nothing clearly? When Theosophists devote time, energy, and ingenuity to personal squabbles, what do they expect Theosophy to mean to the world "outside"? Is there some magic way by which jealous hearts, ambitious egotists, and warped minds can nevertheless reflect Truth?
H. P. B.'s definition of pure Theosophy is "the philosophy of the rational explanation of things and not the tenets." How is this understood today? Do Theosophists honor and encourage every man's attempt to philosophize from the theosophic basis, or do they tend to focus on a few Rational Explainers who supposedly use Theosophy properly? Very cautious are such "protectors" of the tender shoots of Theosophy, very particular about the words used in conveying Theosophy, very much concerned about the education, appearance, habits, and personality of those who are permitted to speak and write Theosophy. Does the Wisdom-Religion, which has existed and survived throughout innumerable cycles of civilization, depend, then, upon the flimsy foundation of names, forms, and appearances?
Not so thought H .P. B., whose outright statement in the First Message is: "The multiplication of local centres should be a foremost consideration in your minds, and each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself." What can this mean, but that H. P. B. brought Theosophy for every man, woman, and child in the country and in the world, and that she hoped to see the great ideas adopted, used, and expressed by all kinds of minds, in all walks of life, from all points of view, and everywhere! What seems to have escaped the notice of "organizational" Theosophists is that "multiplication" is the opposite of centralization. No man who reads H. P. Blavatsky's words with a welcoming heart is incapable of spreading Theosophy, in his own way, to those whom he meets in daily life. No man touched by a vision of the Theosophical Movement is unable to forward that Movement, to some degree.
In the light of H. P. B.'s convention messages, therefore, much theosophical work in our time must be termed anti-Theosophy. The question is, what is to be done about it?
Introducing the Esoteric Section in her second message, H. P .B. described it as a group "whose members are pledged, among other things, to work for Theosophy under my direction." It may be that these words have a significance imperfectly fathomed by present Theosophical societies. Are we to think that the Esoteric Section began in 1888, that it ended in 1891, or that it exists no longer? Shall we search for it in a place, a person, or in one special "splinter" of the Movement? Or shall we ask, simply, if we have pledged ourselves to work for Theosophy under H. P. B.'s direction? If we have, is she not aware of the fact? Let us recall what a Mahatma wrote to A. P. Sinnett in 1882: "Your strivings, perplexities and forebodings are equally noticed, good and faithful friend. In the imperishable RECORD of the Masters you have written them all." (Mahatma Letters, p. 266.) If this is so, what more do we need in the way of a go-ahead signal? What prevents us from forging our own path of Theosophical promulgation?
In the Theosophical Movement, as in evolution itself, the soul's position is neither a gift nor a privilege; it can neither be conferred nor taken away; neither bought, nor sold, nor transferred; it is what it is, as a result of self-induced and self-devised exertions. Let each Theosophist be a center; let each center expand and multiply; and as the multiplication proceeds, each nucleus will realize, more and more, the meaning of universal Brotherhood.