Betty Bland – USA
An addition by the author:
Looking back over the article I wrote several years ago concerning unity among all Theosophists, I am struck by the current relevance of those comments. Since writing it, I had the opportunity to attend the 2014 International Theosophy Conference at Naarden in the Netherlands. There, many leaders and committed workers in the Theosophical movement rubbed elbows. While we peered at each other across the divide of our different backgrounds and experiences, we quickly warmed to our similarities as we socialized, reminisced, and explored priorities.
I witnessed the fire of dedication to Theosophical ideals as we came together to hammer out a covenant of common purpose. It was not easy, with each person vying for a particular point or favored aspect of our teachings. Yet, with each negotiated word, we understood each other better and gained clarity about what was most important to us. In the process, we generated a magical alchemy in which we bonded as true brothers and sisters in our great work.
Is this alchemy not our calling? Just as individuals of different stripes come together to form a local Theosophical study group for the purpose of learning, evolving, and forming a spiritually supportive community (a Sangha in Buddhist terminology), so also can our different Theosophical organizations grow into a larger whole of cooperation and mutual benefit.
This is no Pollyanna calling. It is a calling to the real work of maintaining our own integrity while at the same time taking note of our rough edges that might mar the whole. While out in the everyday mundane world we will always be unique and champions of our differences, on the inner side of things we can open ourselves to being cooked with the fire of spirit in such a way as to be blended into a perfected product for service in the great work of Theosophy.
Hereunder my article as it was published in 2013:
One of my favorite but decadent recipes comes from my mother’s family; it is the traditional Southern pound cake. The recipe probably began when recipes were not as sophisticated as today, so its ingredients were simple: a pound of eggs and a pound each of butter, sugar, and flour. Refining adjustments have been made over the years, but the proportions are still similar. Now this is an instance in which the whole is definitely better than its parts. Each ingredient is dependent on its proper blending with the others and if any ingredient is missing, the operation is a disaster.
Southern Pound Cake
As Theosophists who are committed to a chief aim of brotherhood, we are similar to that pound cake. Through our unfortunate splits and disagreements we have evolved into different but essential ingredients for the whole Theosophical cake. If any one of our groups which is committed to the Theosophical worldview as espoused by Madame Blavatsky shuns the rest, it denigrates the outcome of our final product—the upliftment of humanity, humanity being freed from religious superstition and scientific materialism so that we might grow in harmony and peace.
Considering our world situation today, we can see more clearly than ever why the Masters were so adamant that our task is extremely urgent. Madame Blavatsky made this clear in her writings. I quote from her Collected Works:
But in order that we may be able to effect this working on behalf of our common cause, we have to sink all private differences. Many are the energetic members of the Theosophical Society who wish to work and work hard. But the price of their assistance is that all the work must be done in their way and not in any one else’s way. And if this is not carried out they sink back into apathy or leave the Society entirely, loudly declaring that they are the only true Theosophists. . . . But to work properly in our Great Cause it is necessary to forget all personal differences of opinion as to how the work is to be carried on. Let each of us work in his own way and not endeavour to force our ideas of work upon your neighbours. . . . Theosophy is essentially unsectarian, and work for it forms the entrance to the Inner life. . . . Thus, then, “UNION IS STRENGTH”; and for every reason private differences must be sunk in united work for our Great Cause. (Vol.XI; pp. 165-166)
The use of the term union, or unity, implies more than one thing or being united in a common work. Although the Theosophical Society began as one, we have become multiple. Over the past more than 130 years, we Theosophists have divided and split over a number of issues, generally personal in nature. In a number of ways, that is most unfortunate, but if our differences can be seen as complimentary and enriching, then perhaps we find ourselves at an auspicious juncture. If we can work together with mutual respect and cooperation, we just might be able to achieve our original goals in time to save this fragile world. Instead of having our “goose cooked” we might make a great deal of progress toward our objective. In other words, we might “make the cake.”
I end with another citation from the Collected Works of HPB:
“Theosophy teaches self-culture and not control,” we are told.Theosophy teaches mutual-culture before self-culture to begin with. Union is strength. It is by gathering many theosophists of the same way of thinking into one or more groups, and making them closely united by the same magnetic bond of fraternal unity and sympathy that the objects of mutual development and progress in Theosophical thought may be best achieved. (Vol.VII; p.160)