THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 1, November, 1932
(Pages 24-27; Size: 12K)


[Article number (25) in this Q&A Department]

WHAT would you consider to be the moral causes for the present state of chaos throughout the world?

Chaos, whatever the circumstances, is caused by inharmony, and the qualities of harmony and inharmony deal with relations of parts. A well-ordered family is one in which each member does his proper duty. A family in which the husband refuses to support his wife, in which the children "talk back," is inharmonious. The same is true of a nation. The state in which the rulers refuse to relieve the suffering of the lower classes, in which the lower classes are rebellious and revengeful, is not a well-ordered state. A group of countries, once trading peacefully with each other, now breaking out in war, may cause a universal chaos. It must be noted that in each of these examples, the ideal of harmony may vary with individual opinion. It is conceivable that a family in which both husband and wife support themselves independently may be satisfactory. Yet in all these cases the best relationships, conducive to the greatest well-being of each part in the whole, ought to be sought out. Carrying this argument to the present financial chaos, what is the financial ideal, the financial harmony, we are working for? It is certainly not an over-balancing of resources, control resting with a powerful few: that is dangerous and has proved fatal. Neither is it equal distribution of wealth in the socialistic sense, for all do not equally deserve the same means of control. Somewhere there is a happy medium in which each man enjoys the opportunities necessary to his capacities. But financial soundness is not an ideal in itself. It belongs to a far greater harmony, the well-being of humanity. So we must consider it also as an element which works with other elements to form an harmonious whole. Far too much attention has been paid to it. An ever-increasing possession of money has been the desire of too many people. There are other social factors -- emotional training, thought life, spiritual growth. The moral cause has been a lack of discrimination, and discrimination is absent when desire and small-mindedness are present. We have wanted the part in place of the whole, and of that part we have wanted all.

Do Theosophists do anything to better these conditions?

If this means, do Theosophists as a body open soup-kitchens, provide Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners, knit sweaters and socks for the poor, the answer is "no." That is a matter for the individual to decide. Not that charity work is unnecessary; if it were dependent upon Theosophists alone, undoubtedly they would do all they could. But Theosophists know that their aim is high, and in order to satisfy it they must devote all their energies to it. That aim is no less than changing the mind of the race, and since men like to change their own minds, the task is made more difficult. We must present the material, and show the way, keep in our hearts faith in what we know is true.

Could you suggest from the Theosophical basis some principles of reconstruction as ideals for Theosophists to follow toward that end?

In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna deals with one of the greatest reconstruction programs -- the tearing down of the old, the building on a pure basis; the transforming of a man into a divine being. This divine is no flimsy figment of imagination -- it is that which alone is real, permanent, well-defined; it is the perceiver of change and the eternal form. Theosophically speaking, all institutions in the world are the result of man's mental attitudes. Theosophy does not give the place to environment that science does, for Theosophy looks on man as an immortal entity and at environment as the model of his desires and thoughts. Economic theories and conditions, political promises and nations, are the result of Thought and Desire. Krishna tells how damage is first brought about in the mind. We attend to inclinations of the senses and in them have a concern. Concerned about things, we crave them passionately and we are annoyed at interferences. When a boom comes to the stock-market we lose the memory of past depressions, and from loss of memory we lose discrimination -- we think "the sky is the limit." But Krishna maintains, "He who free from attachment or repulsion of objects, experiences them through the senses and organs with his heart obedient to his will, attains to tranquility of thought. And this tranquil state attained therefrom shall soon result a freedom from all troubles." So we must make our hearts obedient to our will -- and this is done by training and purifying the mind. There is no short cut way to the growth of discrimination, it must be brought about by slow process of education. Cures for depression, government work for the unemployed, starting industry and money moving again, are not ultimate cures. They may bring us out of depression but they will not keep us from going into it again. What is needed is a thorough knowledge of what to do when things are going along smoothly, and by a knowledge of the principles of right action.

What constitutes "a successful life" according to Theosophical ideas?

A common definition of success is achievement of one's goal or ideal. Of course, this is modified to some extent by the moral code. Successful criminals are not praised, but over-stuffed bankers are. Yet, here, there is no adequate idea of what constitutes a successful life. Achievements in the arts, professions, and business is one thing; achievement in the art of living is a thing often disregarded. Now, Theosophy is essentially a science of life. Obviously we have to do something to expand our energies or we stagnate, but mere concentration on some mechanical efficiency is a barren thing. Business men say, "Work, get money, enjoy yourself." But few of them know how to enjoy outside of the stimulation from their own fight. Artists say, "Create." But if you analyze their minds you will find that they are more interested in criticizing each other's technique than in advancing any human need. Physicists, astronomers and biologists are analyzing the physical universe but they have left out one important thing -- man's spirit, man's quest for the ideal. Of course religion would have us sprout wings, but at the sacrifice of one of man's most essential virtues -- self-reliance. Everywhere we are building, criticizing and tearing down a material maze.

How can one live a full life Theosophically? To live to benefit mankind is the first step, to practice the virtues is the second. The Theosophist recognizes the first fundamental law of life -- brotherhood. He realizes that he is part of a great evolving system, and that it is his duty to further the progress of mankind to the best of his ability. But in order that he may serve he must know his capacities. There is a great danger both to the individual and his fellows in over-estimation of strength. The Theosophist's duties are not only the support of family and community but are mental and spiritual besides. In fact, material duties only serve as an end to the further advancement of Manas, the principle now to be cultivated by man. Yet these are only suggestions of purpose. The means for attaining one's purpose are very complex. For example, one has to decide how much energy should be devoted to the family, the community, the progress of the arts and sciences in the Theosophical direction, to the Theosophical Lodge itself. Undoubtedly we need Theosophical leaders in the world to help turn men at large to Theosophical ideals; and so we also need them in that quiet, energizing group, the Lodge. It is for the individual to decide what is his duty according to his capacity. There are no rules of measurement of the successful Theosophical life in material greatness or scope of work. According as a man fits into the great system of life, doing all that he is capable of doing, is he to be judged "successful." So the most humble worker and the most gifted of public men meet here in service. Like the molecule in the steel girder and the girder itself, they are both an essential part of the building.

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:


... Universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Re-incarnation. These are the four links of the golden chain which should bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood ... In the present state of society, especially in so-called civilized countries, we are continually brought face to face with the fact that large numbers of people are suffering from misery, poverty and disease. Their physical condition is wretched, and their mental and spiritual faculties are often almost dormant. On the other hand, many persons at the opposite end of the social scale are leading lives of careless indifference, material luxury, and selfish indulgence. Neither of these forms of existence is mere chance. Both are the effects of the conditions which surround those who are subject to them, and the neglect of social duty on the one side is most closely connected with the stunted and arrested development on the other. In sociology, as in all branches of true science, the law of universal causation holds good. But this causation necessarily implies, as its logical outcome, that human solidarity on which Theosophy so strongly insists. If the action of one reacts on the lives of all, and this is the true scientific idea, then it is only by all men becoming brothers and all women sisters, and by all practising in their daily lives true brotherhood and true sisterhood, that the real human solidarity, which lies at the root of the elevation of the race, can ever be attained. It is this action and interaction, this true brotherhood and sisterhood, in which each shall live for all and all for each, which is one of the fundamental Theosophical principles that every Theosophist should be bound, not only to teach, but to carry out in his or her individual life.--H.P.B.

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(December 1932)
[Article number (26) in this Q&A Department]

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