THEOSOPHY, Vol. 49, No. 9, July, 1961
(Pages 407-410; Size: 12K)


[Article number (10) in this Department]

IN Letter IX, page 20 of Letters That Have Helped Me, Mr. Judge says: "Do not adopt any conclusions merely because they are uttered by one in whom you have confidence, but adopt them when they coincide with your intuition. To be even unconsciously deluded by the influence of another is to have a counterfeit faith." Now, we are constantly affecting and being affected by all other beings. We certainly are not separate, and we do not act alone. And we do have closer attachments to some than to others. Would it not, therefore, be natural for us to be influenced by those in whom we have confidence? Isn't it the role of the "teacher" to influence the pupil? If we fear this influence because to be "even unconsciously deluded by another is to have a counterfeit faith," wouldn't this fear tend to make us overly cautious, so that spontaneity is lost?

A great many considerations focus upon the area which this question enters. However, at the outset, some "semantic" attention should be paid to the words quoted in the question: Mr. Judge in no way implies that to be influenced by another is to be "deluded," nor that a "counterfeit faith" is an inevitable consequence of such influence. Mr. Judge simply reminds the student that if he is to adopt conclusions merely because they are uttered by one whom he tends to venerate, this may take him to "unconscious delusion" and "counterfeit faith." In these terms, then, the question answers itself. Yet a considerable number of philosophical and psychological points also suggest themselves for consideration.

H. P. Blavatsky speaks of the Buddha as the greatest "world teacher." In a chapter of the Dhammapada titled "The Wise Man," Buddha's remarks are translated in the following verse:

If you see an intelligent man who detects and blames what is blameworthy, follow that wise man. Value him as a revealer of hidden treasure. He will be beloved of the good; by the bad he will be hated. Let such a man admonish, let him instruct, let him forbid what is improper.
Now certainly, a disciple who is to "follow that wise man" will be influenced almost immeasurably by him, and then, evidently, the wise man will have to find the means for setting the student upon his own feet -- no longer following the path that has been shown by his teacher. But for the present, even apart from the statements made by H.P.B. and W.Q.J. on the subject, it is clear that neither the time nor the circumstances permit a similar guru and chela relationship. As Mr. Judge says, "The hour has struck," and the matter of standing on one's own feet is not for later, but for now.

As a result, the disciple today must go to school to a philosophy and not to a person. His final reliance must be upon the principles of that philosophy. This means that no matter what our respect for a wise teacher, we are obliged to consider our respect and devotion as but two of the factors in our search for truth and in our determination to act for the best. This is, perhaps, what Mr. Judge implies by saying, "do not adopt any conclusions merely because they are uttered by one in whom you have confidence."

As to the "spontaneity" of our being moved more by one than by another, this is neither bad nor good, but principally a fact of psychic predisposition. We are "unconsciously deluded" only when we allow ourselves to believe that a preference necessarily leads us to truth. In a working relationship among Theosophists, certain it is that we will enjoy the company of some -- teachers or no -- more than the company of others. And the more we enjoy persons, of whatever description, the better for them and the better for us. The rigors of philosophic thinking, however, introduce us into another area entirely -- an area wherein we have respect for the thought, for the idea, for the inspired utterance.

As the discussions in the Bhagavad-Gita concerning the three qualities imply, it is never easy for any Arjuna to be sure he has himself determined the basis for his attitude or action. We can, however, be sure that it is only some tamasic element of our nature which leads us to imitation of the person we profess to respect or admire. If the "influence" which affects us leads us to imitation -- either of forms of expression or of particular ways of emphasizing the philosophy, we are simply trying on borrowed robes -- and what we say and what we do will lack the spark of creativity which alone makes thinking and acting worth-while in terms of evolutionary experience. A short editorial on the nature of William Q. Judge in THEOSOPHY for March contains two paragraphs which bear repeating in this connection, for they indicate that every desire to "imitate" should be ferreted out and discarded:

Those whose initial studies are of H.P.B's writings and who have pursued their assimilation over a number of years seem bound to "discover" and appreciate Mr. Judge. On the other hand, those who begin their Theosophical reading with, let us say, The Ocean of Theosophy, are led to H.P.B. Among students of both categories a conviction arises that those who know H.P.B. best also know Judge best, and that those who know Judge best will know H.P.B. best, too.

And yet, these two who in this way can be seen so close in understanding -- how dissimilar they were, how differently they talked and differently wrote. Therefore it is that no student, either in their time or this, can understand the one through imitation of the other. If Judge had been a lesser man, he might in some manner have imitated H.P.B. That he did not, is clear -- as clear as that he became the "perfect disciple" through having that of his own to teach.

Closely connected with these considerations is the complex of "authority." Here, again in the terms of the Bhagavad-Gita, we enter the domain of rajas. If we are influenced by those who are most impressive in making claims for their knowledge, we are, in dangerous fashion, attempting to mix politics with philosophy. The voice of authority -- to one who becomes a follower -- is the voice of a security which he feels may be bought by the promise of his support. Mere followers themselves become "forceful" in seeking to further press the claims of the authority upon which they depend, and from this comes assertiveness, dogmatism, and intolerance. In the Bhagavad-Gita, the quality of sattva is interpreted variously, according to context of chapter and verse, but it may be noted that even the imitation of another's "goodness" offers little hope that a higher or more useful form of goodness will ever be attained by the disciple.

There is a spontaneous kind of selectivity in choosing a vehicle through which an understanding of Theosophical philosophy may be reached. The modulus of ULT platform procedure permits at least four or five alternating speakers. [Note: "ULT" means The United Lodge of Theosophists.--Compiler] In this instance, it is inevitable that the newcomer would find an easier communication through the language and ideation of one platform worker than another. But because emphasis is deliberately placed upon the impersonal character of the presentation, the likelihood of becoming involved in the personality of one speaker to the exclusion of all others is lessened. In this context, then, it has been a fairly common experience for a new student to feel that for a certain period he or she best comprehends and learns from one speaker, later on from another, and from still another after that. Nor are such spontaneous forms of rapport necessarily in any logical sequence of advancement. Each nature may respond to a certain emphasis at times, which could only be explained by knowledge of the full karmic history of the student. And, finally, of course, each has to make his own karma in relation to Theosophy; it avails nothing to attempt to involve ourselves with the karma of one whom we regard as an instructor, either by way of a drift towards imitation or by a desire to believe in the authority of his words.

COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:


Of one thing, rationally-minded people, apart from Theosophists, may be sure. And that is, service for humanity is its all-sufficient reward; and that empty jars are the most resonant of sound. To know a very little of the philosophy of life, of man's power to redeem wrongs and to teach others, to perceive how to thread the tangled maze of existence on this globe, and to accomplish aught of lasting and spiritual benefit, is to annihilate all desire or thought of posing as a heaven-sent saviour of the people. For a very little self-knowledge is a leveller indeed, and more democratic than the most ultra-radical can desire. The best practical reformers of the rights of women, legal tyrannies, oppressions of the poor, have never dreamed of posing as Messiahs.

With the advent of Theosophy, the Messiah-craze surely has had its day, and sees its doom. For if it teaches, or has taught, one thing more plainly than another, it is that the "first shall be last, and the last first." And in the face of genuine spiritual growth, and true illumination, the Theosophist grows in power to most truly befriend and help his fellows, while he becomes the most humble, the most silent, the most guarded of men.

Saviours to their race, in a sense, have lived and will live. Rarely has one been known. Rare has been the occasion when thus to be known has been either experienced or possible. Therefore, fools alone will rush in "where angels fear to tread." 


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