THEOSOPHY, Vol. 39, No. 4, February, 1951
(Pages 175-178; Size: 12K)
(Number 16 of a 24-part series)

[Compiler's Note: All 24 articles have the same name.]

"THE BHAGAVAD-GITA" -- INFORMAL ESSAYS

ON EVERYDAY PROBLEMS

"Unto thee who findeth no fault, I will now make known...."
IN commenting upon the opening sentences of Chapter Nine, Robert Crosbie, in Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, calls attention to the fact that the essential element of querulousness and complaint in man stems from a lack of faith in Universal Law. This certainly suggests one of the many reasons why H. P. Blavatsky writes that the ethics implicit in the doctrines of karma and reincarnation "can save the coming races." Faith in law means two things: A willingness to accept responsibility for all of one's thoughts and deeds; and, secondly, faith in oneself as a being who may ultimately correct all the errors that lead to grief. Such a faith is incompatible with "querulousness."

Yet there is another important question which remains to be explored by the inquiring student. Like all psychological questions, it has no definite answer, but is rather a point of departure for that constructive form of introspection which prompts us to have less patience with ourselves and a great deal more patience with those around us. The question is, simply, Why do men have so little "faith in law," since the doctrines of karma and reincarnation have been available in all ages, and would have been universally accepted if sufficient willingness to establish that faith were present? How are we to account for those many religious disclaimers of just and equal moral law, who have exerted great influence? The answer to this question, as to many others, may be found to be involved with what H. P. Blavatsky calls the great "force of inertia" operative in average human nature. When we are faced with a situation we do not approve of, it is easier to criticize than to attempt to comprehend. For, in this seductive process, no changes are required within, our contention actually being that the situation "should" change.

Of all the forms of fault-finding most tragically associated with the difficult story of the larger Theosophical Movement, that of objecting to a teacher's method of instruction is the most notorious. We might imagine that Jesus of Nazareth -- our best known symbol for the crucifixion of a Great Teacher -- would not actually have been opposed so much on matters of doctrine as he was resented on matters of method, by those who betrayed him. In the history of religious orthodoxy, doctrines become a violent battleground only when identified with a method that challenges current practices.

Passing from the symbolic meaning of the crucifixion of Christ to the early days of H. P. Blavatsky's teaching of theosophic philosophy, it may be observed that disruptions in the Theosophical Society inevitably followed Hume's, Sinnett's and Olcott's dissatisfaction with the way in which they were instructed. "This is not the way one should ideally be taught. If you will teach me this which I want to know first, thus granting me wisdom to dictate my own terms of initiation, all will be well." This paraphrasing of communications addressed by Mr. Hume to his Eastern correspondent gives the tone of many attitudes confronting H. P. Blavatsky. Col. Olcott, incidentally, was thoroughly convinced that H. P. Blavatsky should teach through the impressiveness of "miracle," and was critical of her supposed mismanagement of the opportunities to attract a large following on that basis. Later, many were those who turned uninterestedly away from working association with William Q. Judge, because the latter was unspectacular, or a bit non-intellectual in his approach to the problem of disseminating Theosophical ideas. Horror of horrors, among some, he was not even very literary! And to those who enjoyed the warming privilege of working association with Robert Crosbie during the days of the foundation of U.L.T., it must have been apparent that many failed to give whole-hearted allegiance when they discovered that other "teachers" of Theosophy were more emotionally impressive than he was in lecturing ability. [Note: "U.L.T." refers to The United Lodge of Theosophists. --Compiler.]

If we turn from these briefly highlighted historical reminders to an examination of problems among fellow theosophical workers of the present, we may do well to conclude that precisely the same temptation to error exists on every hand. Working students are presumably fitting themselves to learn from every moment of their mutual contact with one another, all being teachers and pupils in a fraternity of allegiance to identical philosophical principles. Yet it is most difficult, is it not, to accept an idea, even when offered with conviction, from someone with whom we do not currently feel in rapport? Our emotional preferences for the company of this or that personality fluctuate continuously. Still, there is no necessity, even if this latter condition be regarded as inevitable, for the same fluctuation to obtain in regard to our presumed devotion to truth itself.

Many interpretations of the "heart doctrine" have been given, and undoubtedly will continue to be given. One of the many misinterpretations is that an adequate teacher must be able to make all those with whom he or she is associated "feel" a certain way -- that is, receptive and helpful. Yet it is not the task of the teacher to make anyone "feel" any way at all, but only to do the best that may be done, with limitations of personality and environment, to "make clean and clear mental perceptions and conceptions." The ideal student and the ideal teacher need much of the heart doctrine, but the heart doctrine first manifests in this equation as a depth of constructive sincerity, so great that the tides of personality are never allowed to inhibit the flow of beneficial influence. And "teachers" need a faith in patience, far more than they need faith in a personal capacity to evoke or feel all-embracing love. This, not because all-embracing love is less than the most important quality of all, but because it cannot be sought as an end in itself, being instead an efflorescence of hard work well done. We cannot conjure up love, nor can we invent situations of emotional rapport between audience and speaker, between writer and reader. But we can look for the constructive truth in anything said to us by a fellow man, whether or not we like his preferences, idiosyncrasies, wife, children or business associates, his methods of dealing with any of these -- or his preferred ways for stating ideas.

To sum up the developments of this particular line of thought, then, it may be permissible to attempt establishment of an equation: Fault-finding, of whatever sort, lessens both the opportunities and benefits of the universal educative process which is man's chief work in life. There is nothing from which we may not be "instructed," nor any human agency who cannot, in some significant way, enlighten or enliven our understanding. Fault-finding, in the sense of criticism, seems to have its place in every relationship. Yet unless its place is a subservient one, the force of inertia will triumph once again over those subtle efforts of creative will which represent man's spiritual aspiration to learn. We might say that the most logical safeguard against a compounding of all of the typical errors mentioned would be a determination to do away with fault-finding entirely and replace it, when it needs to be replaced by something, with open disagreement. Disagreement, whether gentle or violent, is always more constructive than the passing-judgment habit.

In each personal situation, every family or individual relationship, there may be a time for the individuals involved to compare notes on the present behavior of their respective psyches. But this is a project within a personal relationship, which, to be successful, must be carried on with complete openness and with what is currently called "objectivity." It is, moreover, "disagreement" rather than fault-finding. Relationships within Theosophical work, however, if they infrequently provide sufficient intimacy for successful devotion to such a proposal, do not need personal criticism. What is needed, instead, is the spirit of the resourceful architect, whose one passion is to create a habitable and substantial dwelling, all of whose ingenuity is expended in making use of whatever materials are available. Edifices fail to rise from the ground by even so much as a thousandth of an inch while the architects bemoan the lack of proper equipment or substances for building. The building will grow only when they use whatever materials they can, discarding only whatever they must. Such architects, also, are always too busy to explain, querulously, what they must discard and why.

The method of the theosophists, it would seem from the ninth chapter of the Gita, must be a combination of all methods, for: "Even those also who worship other gods with a firm faith in doing so, involuntarily worship me, too,... albeit in ignorance."

Pleasing uniformity of feeling does not, according to Krishna, provide a lasting happiness. Those, he says, who "follow the Vedas, obtain a happiness which comes and goes." These have wished for an easy harmony, rather than for Truth. Devotion to truth means a complete willingness to learn from anyone at any time, which means an end to complacency in any form -- and to complacency in some form we are all addicted. This must be the reason why we discover that it is those who follow the Vedas who are identified by Krishna as among "those who long for the accomplishment of desires." Searching for and trying to safeguard the possession of an ideal set of "feelings" is an attribute of what, in a theosophic educational equation, is habitually called the Lower Self. Complacency and fault-finding are twins, and neither deserves to live.


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ON EVERYDAY QUESTIONS
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