James LeFevour – USA
An addition by the author:
The need for cooperation amongst all Theosophical groups is just as pressing now as it was when ITC began. For those of us who want to work together, how many avenues do we have? Not many. One would think it would be easy to find brothers of similar mind amongst the universal brotherhood.
Since my writing of the passage in Our Unity, I have experienced both extremes firsthand, i.e. both Theosophists that wish to work together as well as those who do not. The best and only solution is, as always, to press forward. Let the negativity go unnoticed, and focus on the communal and the positive. In other words, turn the other cheek.
I still find great wisdom in W. Q. Judge's words on the difference between the Theosophical Movement and the Theosophical Society. He states that a Society is formed for Theosophical work, and he explains it is only a machine for conserving energy and putting it to use. The implication is that if the Society does not benefit the Movement, it is not serving a useful purpose. We should evaluate our own work in exactly the same way. We should question the benefit of our efforts and energy expended, especially in light of whether our actions are truly benefiting the movement.
Of the points made in my writing, I especially encourage people to really question the value of placing some Theosophical contributors as more or less valid than other Theosophical figures. My advice is to read all Theosophy, and choose for yourself what you cherish. Likewise, do not condemn writers like Leadbeater or Judge in front of others; let everyone use their own mind in the spirit of universal brotherhood.
Hereunder my article as it was published in 2014:
Being a younger student of Theosophy, my first International Theosophical Conference was only a few years ago. I remember quite well a particular conversation that I had over breakfast one morning, with another young student. He was a student of Point Loma – The Hague and I, being from Wheaton, was primarily exposed to the Adyar tradition. We enjoyed comparing notes, so to speak, talking on the differences between the traditions.
There was one common experience to which we could both attest, however, especially surrounded by many Theosophists from different traditions. We both remembered our shock the first time we found out that there were other traditions at all! Imagine learning of an organization with such a heavy emphasis on Universal Brotherhood and Truth and Unity. And then relatively shortly after, one discovers that at some point in history it split up in multiple ways! Even we, with the noblest of intentions, are not immune to such divisive events.
It is my observation though, that at this point in time we can be immune to divisive behavior. At this point I think we can celebrate the different traditions of study, and enjoy the opportunity for inquiry on seeming points of contradiction. I enjoy reading Blavatsky, Judge, Leadbeater, and de Purucker. They are all worth comparing, and if you find them out of alignment, do think for yourself on it. Even the first draft of The Secret Doctrine was nearly entirely criticized by T. Subba Row to the point that Blavatsky felt compelled to redraft the whole work; no one is a perfect Theosophist.
I have heard it said by many people, in regards to the different organizations getting along, that the best way is to only speak of Blavatsky and the things we all agree on. What a perfect way to build a row of powder kegs for us to meet upon, instead of a bridge! In time, that sort of approach would be meaningless.
To find unity among our efforts, and not just upon our inherent being, consider Judge’s words in his article The Theosophical Movement [The Path, Vol X. August 1895, pp137-9]
“There is a very great difference between the Theosophical Movement and any Theosophical Society. The Movement is moral, ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in effect, and continuous. A Society formed for Theosophical work is a visible organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and putting it to use; it is not nor can it be universal, nor is it continuous. Organized Theosophical bodies are made by men for their better cooperation, but, being mere outer shells, they must change from time to time as human defects come out, as the times change, and as the great underlying spiritual movement compels such alterations.
“We have not changed the work of H. P. B.; we have enlarged it. We assert that any person who has been admitted to any Theosophical Society should be received everywhere among Theosophists.”
There is no “one true Theosophical tradition.” Instead, what we have, as students of Theosophy is several traditions and bodies of knowledge that are preserved. From here on, members of any tradition can acknowledge to themselves or discuss in study groups what they feel are the strengths and weaknesses of each traditions approach, and apply the best of all of them, without condemning any of them.
If one were so inclined to speculate, one might be so bold as say it may have all been planned just this way.