THEOSOPHY, Vol. 37, No. 11, September, 1949
(Pages 504-506; Size: 9K)

YOUTH-COMPANIONS ASK--

[Article number (24) in this Q&A Department]

WOULD not the ideal solution to human problems be reached if men were to renounce group activities of all kinds, and limit their relationships to single individuals? Mob psychology illustrates the maxim that when men group together, it is the lowest common denominator that prevails, and there seems to be a feeling that if you remove an individual from the crowd, you have a good chance of rousing the best in him.

Such a condition would represent an ideal solution only on the theory that men are inherently imperfect creatures with definite limitations to their possibilities for progress. The postulate of man as a soul, on the other hand, carries with it the implication of unlimited potentialities in the human being, an endless vista of attainable perfections. It is quite true that a man tends to act better as an individual than he does as a "mass man," but this does not mean that he cannot maintain just as high a standard for himself whether or not he is acting with others.

There is plenty of justification, nowadays, for individuals to deal with men as units, and to "renounce" domination by mass institutions. But insofar as this movement spreads through fear of institutions, it is built upon weakness. Working with one or two persons is our opportunity to learn the principles of human relationships, but these need to be applied to all of our work in and with institutions of whatever kind. As long as we conscientiously treat a group of men as respectfully (for the sake of each member therein) as we treat one isolated man whom we have come to know, we will be putting institutions to a proper use, without degrading or belittling human beings in the process. After all, is it not implicit in the idea of universal brotherhood that the time can come when men will work better together than they do alone?

Then, too, there are lessons to be learned in groups which we can hardly learn by ourselves or in company with a single other person or selected friends. Every temperament has its own flaw, as well as its own virtue, which shows up when placed against the background of a cooperative enterprise. The "easy-go-lucky" person can somehow manage to get through his own business without too many mishaps, but the inadequacy of a "squeaking through" policy is unmistakably disclosed -- and thus correction is encouraged -- in a larger context, when it is clear that irresponsibility hurts others, not only oneself. At the other end of the personality scale, the "efficient" type can endlessly plan and subdivide day and night to his heart's content without troubling anyone else unduly (or so it seems). But the same tactics in a group situation inevitably raise clouds of irritation until one sees the need to balance himself as a human being, instead of as an efficient machine. Or take the qualities of resourcefulness, ingenuity, cheerfulness, and tolerance -- all related, in one way or another, to a sense of balance, fitness, and humor -- where else than in a group are these traits so appreciated and so necessary?

What can the Theosophical student say when he encounters one who asserts that H. P. Blavatsky was a dogmatist?

He can agree or not, depending upon how the other person defines his terms. Webster's gives the following definition of dogmatism: "Boldness and positiveness of spirit, manner and expression concerning what one regards as true," under which terms H. P. Blavatsky might rank as a dogmatist -- and some others might wish to qualify. In defining a dogmatist, however, Webster becomes more equivocal: "One given to positive assertion and to making statements without argument or evidence." The last phrase gives us the source of the invidious meaning of the word, and if our companion seeks to attach that quality to H.P.B., he can be readily refuted by evidence and argument both. Indeed, so consistent was her battle against dogmas and authoritarianisms of whatever stripe, that almost any of her articles, particularly her Lucifer editorials, will be found to contain, explicitly or implicitly, an attack on those twin jailers of the mind. Let her "accuser" read "A Society Without a Dogma" (THEOSOPHY XXXIII, 362), and see how H. P. Blavatsky links dogma and faith together as the "right and left pillars of every soul-crushing Theology." It would be vastly more sensible (and time saving) to dispose of arguments "supporting" H.P.B.'s supposed dogmatism than to try to collect the almost innumerable evidences in her writings to the contrary.

This is especially true, since the person who charges H.P.B. with dogmatism has probably had little, if any, contact with her directly (through her own writings, that is). Such an opinion is most often evolved from secondhand information. Dogmatism is by no means lacking in those who believe without knowledge and who, therefore, assert without proof. For this reason, those who are students of H.P.B. rely upon no other interpreters than her own words.

Mr. Judge mentions in the OCEAN that the Ego remains in Devachan until all the psychic energies set in motion during life are exhausted. Is it possible to exhaust these energies during life, and so shorten the Devachanic period? [Note: "OCEAN" means the book entitled The Ocean of Theosophy.--Compiler.]

It is possible to shorten the Devachanic period, according to Theosophical teachings, by the course of action pursued in life, but it would seem to be more to the point to attempt to limit the psychic energies we evolve, rather than simply try to exhaust them after they have been generated. Such psychic energies as are formed so copiously in day dreams, for instance, and in the wistful images formed in our minds by overmuch light reading, can seldom find their fulfillment here in this life, and therefore they require "working out" in the subjective after-death states.

Not all the "psychic energies" referred to by Mr. Judge are of such a light and trivial nature: there are aspirations for the welfare of others, the desire to be of help to one's fellows. These feelings cannot and should not be dispensed with. And yet they are not wholly necessary. Their value lies not in their psychic or emotional character, but in the fact that they are at least partly unselfish aspirations. We need to preserve the aspiration while eliminating or controlling, insofar as possible, the emotion with which it is connected. Unless we transmute our aspirations from desires to facts -- no matter how inadequate the attempt may seem -- we are "letting the psychic outrun the manasic."

We can speculate, further, that the perfected man does not engender any psychic impulses or energies at all. Or, rather, that a course of action is never, for him, originated in the psychic nature; but that his energy is employed only as the instrument for the purposes of the higher nature, Buddhi-Manas. So many of our actions spring from the impulsive bidding of desire, that the shortening of Devachan might well result from our efforts to make the psychic nature simply the executor of will-born actions.


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