THEOSOPHY, Vol. 50, No. 4, February, 1962
(Pages 168-169; Size: 8K)

QUESTION--AND COMMENT

[Article number (17) in this Department]

MEMBERS of ULT study classes have certainly -- as was affirmed in last month's question for this page -- discovered that discussion of the Declaration of ULT can be "ceaseless and eternal," and interesting at the same time. We recall a great deal of worthwhile talking once, involving another phrase in the first sentence -- "independent devotion." What now comes to mind is this: Since we usually relate the word "devotion" to a religious outlook, and "independence" to either self-sufficiency or rebelliousness, it seems that the combining of both qualities would be difficult indeed. [Note: The above statement about "last month's question" refers to the 16th article in this Department; and "ULT" means "The United Lodge of Theosophists".--Compiler]

Of course, such a synthesis within the individual would be "difficult" -- and for a great number of lifetimes to come perhaps impossible. Most of us half-heartedly seek a higher level by way of psychic compulsion, and when this is the case our devotion is never independent of psychic influences. To illustrate: Occasionally, one's chief agent of attraction to Theosophy is a particular person, who is regarded as the veritable embodiment of Theosophy; we may gain benefits through this sort of "devotion," but in this case the devotion to the cause of Theosophy is only second-hand. If our chosen "special teacher" either defects from the Theosophical Movement or in any way departs from our idea of ideal behavior, there is little of devotion in us left for Theosophy.

It is common to the history of religions, certainly, to find that devotion is connected either with personages or with reliance upon authority, and in both instances the orientation of the presumed aspirant is psychic rather than noëtic. Because the religious cast has so habitually molded the thought of Western peoples, we find H. P. Blavatsky constantly stressing the conception of independence in relation to religion. For instance, note her approval in her article "What Is Theosophy?" of Thomas Vaughn's definition: "A Theosophist is one who gives you a theory of God, or the works of God, which has not revelation, but an inspiration of his own for its basis." [Note: Since you may want to read it after you finish reading this article, I have provided a link to "What Is Theosophy?" at the end of this one.--Compiler]

But what of independent inspiration without devotion? Certainly the prolonged reaction to religious teaching which has produced what we call a "scientific mold" of mind is characteristic of this outlook. Yet scientists who have come to more mature ways of thinking and who feel devoted to the cause of humanity see in the production of atomic weapons the apotheosis of research unrelated to ethical responsibility. Many of us, perhaps, in a manner similar to that portrayed by our cultural history, oscillate between periods of "devotion" and periods of "independence."

A Theosophist is certainly not immune to these and other swings of the pendulum, the difference lying solely in the fact that he is met with constant reminders that the criterion is never whether independence is better than devotion, or devotion better than independence, but whether the impulsion is from the psychic or the noëtic aspect of his nature.

In The Secret Doctrine (I, 210), are some useful references to devotion. H. P. Blavatsky writes that when consciousness arose in present humanity, "the first feeling it awoke to life and activity was a sense of solidarity, of one-ness with his spiritual creators." She continues:

As the child's first feeling is for its mother and nurse, so the first aspirations of the awakening consciousness in primitive man were for those whose element he felt within himself, and who yet were outside, and independent of him. DEVOTION arose out of that feeling, and became the first and foremost motor in his nature; for it is the only one which is natural in our heart, which is innate in us, and which we find alike in human babe and the young of the animal.
But this feeling, which H.P.B. calls "irresponsible instinctive aspiration in primitive man," was, in that stage of evolution, never separative  -- hence the psychic element was servant to the "unconscious spiritual conception of that race." As psychic individuality came into being pari passu with the strengthening of manas, another kind of story unfolds -- which H.P.B. elsewhere discusses when dealing with a crucial failure of "the Atlanteans" when they turned to the worship of specific powers. From that time onward, the tendency has been for the "motor of devotion" to drive in the direction of either following or compelling by authority.

Taking the whole of the first line of the Declaration, then, one might see that the "policy" of ULT is to strengthen non-separative "devotion" and independent evaluation at the same time. Robert Crosbie and William Q. Judge are linked with H. P. Blavatsky because they always called attention, as she did, to a great line of teaching, a tradition of a true gnosis which should belong to everyone, and which does innately. In ULT, the continual emphasis upon "impersonality" is a reminder that the cause of Theosophy may almost be summed up by a determination to combine "independence" and "devotion."


Note: In case you want to read it, before going on to the next article in this Department, here's the link to HPB's article, entitled "What Is Theosophy?", that was mentioned and quoted from in the above article by the Editors.--Compiler

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QUESTION--AND COMMENT
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