THEOSOPHY, Vol. 36, No. 1, November, 1947
(Pages 23-25; Size: 8K)


[Article number (2) in this Q&A Department]

WHAT shouldn't theosophists talk about?

That sounds like a leading question. Are some subjects on a banned list because they make us uncomfortable? Truth can be uncomfortable, too. We may be uneasy when a problem is posed which we haven't yet been able to solve. In that case we need some long talks -- with ourselves. Topics or subjects can be discussed, but our problems are inescapably our own, and the insight to solve them must also be our own.

Then, again, many of the ideas and feelings we have are incommunicable in words. We may try to lay them out for another to see, but in the process their essence evaporates, and only the shell remains. We know what happens when we try to narrate a dream, for instance. There is no language in which to express it intact. This suggests that real experience belongs to the soul, and is a matter for assimilation, not conversation. When it has been built into our character, it will find natural expression: what we are speaks louder than what we say.

A key passage in the Secret Doctrine (I, 307) relates that the ancients were very cautious about reciting "any real events in so many unmistakable words," since to do so, they felt, was to evoke the powers connected with them. Many of the conventional, "old-fashioned" ideas as to reticence in personal matters have real basis in this fact. Those who set themselves to flout all such conventions, who boast that "nothing is sacred," may bear in mind that each experience can be sacramental -- and should be -- for experience means that the soul considers and acts. There is a kind of privacy we cannot do without, for it is part of integrity, as is also a respect for the privacy of others. That silence is golden.

Let's have a working definition of compromise. Seems to me that physical existence is a compromise from the start.

Compromise can be defined as a sacrifice of integrity. We are compromising when we abandon a principle for a personal advantage, or when we refuse to abandon a prejudice.

Physical existence is not a compromise, but a necessity of evolution. No thing or situation of itself can be a compromise. Compromise enters with the man -- and then only when he seeks to do two contradictory things at the same time. For the man who has but one purpose, to act from the highest he knows, there is never compromise, only cooperation. These two are opposites, although when our personal feelings make us unwilling to cooperate with another, we often say we are refusing to "compromise."

We are constantly faced with the necessity of altering ways and means, or of accepting another's plan. What of it? We can adopt and then abandon a hundred methods or courses of action without compromising, provided we continue to put our best efforts to work. W.Q.J.'s advice was, "make no fixed plans." R.C. said, "no method is the true method -- the true method must be a combination of all methods." What, then, do we compromise when we insist that our method is the only right one?

As for a definition of justifiable compromise, better called cooperation, why not consider "strictness toward principles, tolerance toward individuals"? On this policy, we can develop the ability to work with others, through any plan, and maintain a constant integrity of purpose.

I'm always hearing people talk about the dangers of having the "blues." Isn't it natural to oscillate emotionally from time to time? Why should this be "dangerous"?

However natural oscillation may be, it is something sages don't permit themselves to do. The danger of oscillation -- at one end of the swing of our emotional pendulum we call it the "blues" -- would seem to lie in the fact that it is quite beyond our control. We cannot decide when we shall indulge in the blues, nor how long we shall remain in them. The danger, then, is lack of control. Read what H.P.B. says on mediumship. We can also consider the effect of our blues on other people around us. Some persons seem to enjoy having fits of depression or whatnot, but few enjoy watching another have them.

Man, we are told, is a small universe, and it is not difficult to connect our internal "storms" with nature's outbursts. Take a hurricane, for instance. A hurricane is born in what are called the doldrums. (How many tempers and temperaments do we create by sitting down and feeling sorry for ourselves?) The hurricane itself travels quite slowly -- about 12 miles an hour -- although the winds which it sucks into its sphere whirl with a speed of 75 to 150 miles an hour. How far do we travel in a fit of anger or self-pity? No hurricane ever starts exactly on the equator, any more than the blues can arise in a state of equilibrium. Once started, the hurricane's internal combustion engine runs faster and faster, getting literally "wound up." The inside of a hurricane is a sort of hollow pipe which is sealed at the top, but open at the bottom. (A clue to where our "inspirations" come from when we are entertaining a glum mood.)

Man is a little universe, but the storms he creates are of more than little significance, and who can say that hurricanes are not nature's way of reading man's storm signals?

When the children of theosophists do not want to become theosophists, what then?

At that point, nothing in particular. It's hard enough to be a real theosophist when the strong desire is there; it's quite impossible without it. Theosophical parents, anyway, do not think of making their children this or that. The question of what the children will want to make of themselves, however, is one which parents are helping to answer long before it occurs to the children to formulate it. For it is not alone in words of counsel that parents instruct the young. The largest single factor in a child's environment is the example set by the parents, consciously and unconsciously -- an unbroken line of influence in which sincerity is the key thread. Every child responds to the harmony between words and acts, just as he is quick to sense hypocrisy.

Theosophy is not a narrow creed, nor an unthinking habit, nor a mechanical code of morals. Its meaning is freedom and self-assumed responsibility, and if that is what the example of parents communicates to their children, Theosophy will attract the inquiring spirit of the young as well as the acquired wisdom of the old.

Next article:
(December 1947)
[Article number (3) in this Q&A Department]

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