THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 3, January, 1931 (Pages 114-116; Size: 7K)
THE FUNCTION OF THEOSOPHISTS
THEOSOPHICAL names and Theosophical claims are being given far and wide to very much that is not Theosophy -- that is the antithesis of the teachings, the aims, the objects of the Theosophical Movement. This cannot be prevented, for copyrights do not run in the world of ideas, nor would such exclusiveness, were it even possible, be in accord with the genius of the Wisdom-Religion. Theosophy is for all men -- for the bad quite as much as for the good, for the foolish quite as much as for the wise. It is, indeed, the ill-disposed, the self-seekers, the simple, who more than any others need that correction and direction which Theosophy alone can give, in this as in any other Age.
Assuredly any thoughtfully disposed man must admit that the various schools of philosophy, the many castes and religious sects of the Orient, of India in particular, have for many centuries been putting into the mouths of the Great Teachers of old ideas and practices wholly foreign to the basic spirit of the great Scriptures; have been quoting their words, using their great Names, for purposes wholly alien to the One Object of all true Teachers and Teachings. In the Western world the same misuse and abuse of Christ and his teachings are everywhere in evidence. It is not intended to be suggested that this world-wide and world-old degradation of the Spiritual to utilitarian, to sectarian, to personal ends, is wilfully done. Rather, it proceeds from the ignorance and misapprehension of the purpose of Life itself on the part of devotees themselves more blind than those they assume to lead.
Before undertaking to teach it is necessary to learn, and all too often those who are most anxious to teach are the most unwilling to learn. The whole difficulty springs from the common tendency to draw conclusions from insufficient premises, and play the oracle before ridding oneself of that most stupefying of all psychic anaesthetics -- Ignorance. Mankind has ever been what one observant writer has called "incurably religious," but mankind has never yet been Spiritual. Universally, the religious instinct in all men has led them to judge of the Divine from the Human standpoint, and so we have had a long procession of personal Gods, a long succession of personal agents of these gods -- men who assume to stand as connecting links between their God and his worshippers. The Divine Order in Nature is thus made into a gross caricature of human government, with its rewards to the obedient, its punishment of rebels against the "established order," its long, long chain of authorities from greatest to least, its masses who pay tribute to these vested interests -- all in the Name of the highest and holiest men can conceive. Did not H.P.B. speak truly when she called all this a psychic anaesthetic -- Ignorance both on the part of the governors and the governed?
It is only when a man knows for himself Why he is in the world that he is able really to study Theosophy, or true Occultism. Few are those actually prepared to admit that their place and condition, whether as governor or governed, are the reaping of what they have sown -- in any Spiritual sense. Each knows for himself that his reaping is in large part undesirable, yet proceeds headlong and headstrong to sow again from the same inner motives and basis that have already produced these undesirable results. We change our method of sowing and cultivating; we change the fields in which we sow -- but we go right on sowing the same seeds: the seed of the personal, the selfish, the human ideas of Nature, of Man, of the relation between them. Each of us is constantly judging all the others, ready to tell them what to do and what to abstain from doing, ready and anxious to interpret for them the Law and the Gospel, whether of Krishna, Buddha, Christ, the Masters of Wisdom, or of ordinary conduct in daily life -- knowing all the time that we are unable to govern our own motives, our own minds, our own senses, our own bodies. Is not all this a totally false relation with each other, a total misapprehension of duty, of the fundamental Principles of all Evolution?
Theosophical ideas are as prevalent in the world as rain-clouds in the sky. They always have been, whether sowed by one great Teacher or another, whether precipitated in one era or another. Men could not live without them -- not even their mortal human existence could go on without some true ideas of law and order, of sowing and reaping. We have all learned many of the tricks of "spells" and the methods of using the subtler but still material forces of psychic and physical nature: they constitute our religions and our sciences. But have these made us any happier, any wiser, any nearer the Divine in nature and in ourselves? Have they brought us Self-knowledge, that realisation of the Divinity in all Nature which constitutes Universal Brotherhood -- the brotherhood that gives the Master of Wisdom alike his Compassion and his Immortality?
Theosophy pure and simple is the philosophy of the rational explanation of things, not a nursery for forcing a supply of Occultists, nor a set of religious doctrines or scientific tenets. Theosophy pure and simple has still as hard a battle as ever to fight, for all the many "brotherhoods" formed and attempted to be formed and forming in its great Name are but shams and failures, and must continue to be, so long as Theosophists pursue their labor, or repose, from the merely human and personal basis. The function of Theosophists is to fit themselves by study and application of their philosophy to the reformation of their own inner, invisible nature and principles. Men cannot all be Occultists, but they can all be Theosophists. Many who have never heard of Theosophy or of any Theosophical association by name are, none the less, Theosophists at heart and in conduct without knowing it themselves; for the essence of Theosophy in a practical sense is the perfect harmonizing of the divine with the human in man, the adjustment of his god-like qualities and aspirations, and their sway over the terrestrial or animal passions in him.