THEOSOPHY, Vol. 52, No. 6, April, 1964
(Pages 165-166; Size: 7K)

LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

[Article number (18) in this Department]

If the ethical implication of the teaching of Karma is that of individual responsibility for surrounding circumstances, how great an obligation does this suggest in respect to the Theosophist's involvement with community, state, and national political affairs? To say "the ego is timeless" may become a way of begging the question, and neglecting the person's need to become an active agent in relation to whatever point of space-time he occupies. Have not Theosophists often isolated themselves from the obligations which attend upon the social contracts that govern human affairs through legislation? In other words, a feeling of alienation from efforts to improve human affairs by unprincipled methods may need to be resolved by discovering for one's self an active, if different, role to play in political campaigns, polls preceding debates on current legislation, etc.

One way of describing the Theosophical objective would be to say that the Theosophist feels a pressing need to bring a genuine "language of the soul" into currency. Such a language has to be a natural emergence, but it can be stimulated by a diversified expression of the Theosophical tenets. And to the degree that such a genuine language of the soul exists, men's attitudes can respond, and matters usually considered to be "political" or "economic" or "social" can then be discussed in ways that suggest radically different attitudes and alternatives to action.

In the Gospel according to St. John we have a clue to the symbolic meaning behind much of the story of Genesis, because this Gospel begins by saying; "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." So we might say that for a man to emerge, a language for the next step in his evolutionary pilgrimage must first come into being -- gradually, from many sources -- a synthesizing language, a language which touches religion, which has implications in politics, and which implicitly contains within it the philosophy of education.

These considerations, we think, are not a begging of the question, for they relate to the opportunity of the individual to discover his own dynamic of "political action." A paragraph from Dwight Macdonald's The Root is Man might be taken to illustrate the influence small groups of Theosophists might have on the body politic:

We must begin way at the bottom again, with small groups of individuals in various countries, grouped around certain principles and feelings they have in common. These should probably not be physically isolated communities as was the case in the 19th century since this shuts one off from the common experience of one's fellowmen. They should probably consist of individuals -- families, rather -- who live and make their living in the everyday world but who come together often enough and intimately enough to form a psychological (as against a geographical) community. The purpose of such groups would be twofold. Within itself, the group would exist so that its members could come to know each other as fully as possible as human beings (the difficulty of such knowledge of others in modern society is a chief source of evil), to exchange ideas and discuss as fully as possible what is "on their minds" (not only the atomic bomb but also the perils of child-rearing), and in general to learn the difficult art of living with other people. The group's purpose toward the outside world would be to take certain actions together (as, against Jim Crow in this country, or to further pacifism), to support individuals whether members of the group or not who stand up for the common ideals, and to preach those ideals -- or, if you prefer, make propaganda -- by word and by deed, in the varied everyday contacts of the group members with their fellow-men.
Another passage which develops the same theme occurs in an article by Andrea Caffi, published in an Appendix to The Root is Man:
As long as today's problems are stated in terms of "mass politics" and "mass organization," it is clear that only States and mass parties can deal with them. But, if the solutions that can be offered by the existing States and parties are acknowledged to be either futile or wicked, or both, then we must look not only for different "solutions" but especially for a different way of stating the problems themselves.

We must conclude that the first thing to do, in order to get to the point where "politics of the people" will be more than a phrase, is to begin from the beginning, that is: with the rescue of individuals from the mass that mechanizes and dehumanizes them. We must find again the direct language, the genuine feelings, the clear notions, the limpid images through which we can establish a true communication with the "people."


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LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT
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