THEOSOPHY, Vol. 52, No. 8, June, 1964
(Pages 245-247; Size: 9K)

LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

[Article number (20) in this Department]

Editors, THEOSOPHY: A primary theosophical objective, as everyone knows, is an honest brotherhood of all races and creeds -- a venture not beyond the capability of success. But the existence today of several societies bearing the name theosophical, largely fenced off from each other by decades of misunderstandings and outworn tradition -- this is a mockery of brotherhood, the brotherhood all profess. No Theosophist denies that Brotherhood is the basis of his society's platform, but does he face the logical corollary deductions that stem from this simple declaration? Are we furthering our objective when we remain aloof from each other, uncommunicative, when we view each other's activities with suspicion verging on antipathy? In our minds we may give service to working towards brotherhood. But in our hearts we fail, because when it comes to other theosophical societies we hedge, we dodge, or we ignore the issue. And because of this we are open to the charge of moral cowardice. We prefer the dismal twilight zone of Status Quo because its tricky light permits us to hide from thoughts that are too strong for us, to refrain from answering questions too challenging, and to substitute straw men for real facts so that we may knock them down and fool ourselves with false activity. And finally we dismiss the whole aggravating problem with the sweeping statement that our differences are basic because they concern interpretation of teaching and therefore any acts toward a final unity would be hypocritical.

These errors are now being challenged. The worst of them is the disposition to disconnect ourselves from the other groups; to have little or no communication with them. But all the groups have beauty and strength and good character, even though, as in all human relations, they likewise have their share of error. It is ridiculous and untheosophical for these groups to think that they are The Chosen Group. Yet that is the attitude which they hold. Certainly H.P.B. gave us warning enough: That any group which became bigoted would find itself stranded on some sand bank. There is a good deal of bigoted thinking among us. The challenge is to reunite and become reconciled to our brother theosophists.

READER
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The criticisms and perspectives focused by this letter may be employed to further either an ecumenical movement among theosophical organizations or an emergence of one institutional body. Both proposals have been made during recent years, in terms of specific steps which might be taken, and the general atmosphere of communication between Theosophists of various affiliations has become more tolerant and less divisive. So much so, in fact, that the extreme criticism of the writer of this letter seems to be directed against views that have already either been replaced or modified.

There is an important difference, however, between seeking a theosophical front which presents a single ideological base, and working for reciprocal understanding among Theosophists whose concern in the Theosophical Movement is of a somewhat different nature. The working Theosophist, according to H.P.B., might be "either a philanthropist, or a scholar, a searcher into Aryan and other old literature, or a psychic student." In other words, the mutual assistance possible among Theosophists engaged in promulgation of a distinct theosophical perspective is a matter of discovered feasibility, proceeding from self-determination in respect to those aspects of theosophical dissemination dearest to one's own heart. H.P.B. also warns against the attempt to proscribe viewpoints and methods of endeavor by the man who merely "understands Theosophy in his own -- if the expression may be used -- sectarian and egotistic way." This applies not only to the characteristic limitations of small organizations, but may also apply equally to a large and impressive "united front." Nothing could be more disastrous to the Theosophic ideal than the idea that Theosophy is now properly represented before the public.

Madame Blavatsky, herself, was neither by temperament nor design an organizer. She was a philosopher, a teacher, a psychologist -- and above all an occultist. She fully comprehended that which few enthusiastic partisans in any movement have been able to comprehend: that, as historian Carl Becker puts it, true "revolution must be accomplished in men's minds before they make it a work of their hands." It is difficult to think that any organizational basis for presenting Theosophy to the world can be enlightened by enough philosophical understanding to enable the embodiment of those universal perspectives which Theosophy should ideally represent. One wonders if the most effective beginning for uniting the good wishes and background of many formerly differing Theosophists will not have to be a recognition of the need for developing a completely nonsectarian, nonpartisan language. This might be a language which evolves in part from the theosophical tendencies in contemporary psychology and religion -- to which the Theosophist, proper, can contribute, but which he can neither entirely design nor control.

A single institutional body representing Theosophy before the world might easily tend toward an enthusiastic partisanship. But proselyting is not the way of theosophical growth, and the Theosophist can best demonstrate breadth of perspective by avoiding proselytism and partisanship in all of his endeavors. H.P.B. was primarily concerned with the many works of publication which made theosophical study possible for the interested individual, whatever his background. In the Theosophist, her opening articles, "What Are the Theosophists?" and "What Is Theosophy?," gave the broadest possible base for theosophical definition and sought to establish the fact that Theosophy was not and should not become a "religion." In Lucifer, she provided an open forum so that the conceptions of philosophy emphasized in theosophical study could exist side by side with other viewpoints. She obviously hoped that the modulus of Lucifer might be widely extended. In her basic volumes, Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine, she found countless ways of demonstrating that Theosophy is not of any particular group -- that no group was "chosen" in an authoritative historical sense to be a doctrinal fount. She relied, finally, upon "a conviction on the part of many, and knowledge by a few, that there must be somewhere a philosophical and religious system which shall be scientific and not merely speculative." But this reliance was upon a natural intuition present in any human being who undertakes a search beyond partisanship.

All in all, the Theosophical message is so complex that the appearance of any single institutional representation militates against the broadest reaches of theosophical philosophy. If Madame Blavatsky herself is regarded as a special "authority," it is primarily because all her labors were directed towards widening the receptivity of students to this sort of comprehension.


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