THEOSOPHY, Vol. 21, No. 3, January, 1933
(Pages 116-118; Size: 11K)


[Article number (27) in this Q&A Department]

IF there is no God, why do people go to church?

Church-goers might be divided into three classes: (1) those who sincerely believe in a personal Deity and go to church for the purpose of worship; (2) those who have outgrown the idea of a personal God yet feel that organized religion may still be of service to the world, and (3) those who attend church as a matter of form. Basically, the cause of all church-going is a distortion of the religious instinct, which, when truly understood, might be expressed as the devotional aspect of the Wisdom-Religion. In the hands of priestcraft, this innate desire for Self-Knowledge becomes diverted into emotional channels, and we have blind belief taking the place of devotion illuminated by reason. The universal belief in a deity of some sort, no matter how garbled the conception, comes from knowledge impacted in the imperishable center of man's nature -- the knowledge that there is a Divinity within man. What greater punishment could befall mankind than that of seeking everywhere without that which lies only within? It is thus that we pay for wilful blindness in the past, groping in the dark until the light of Theosophy becomes evident to the Seeker.

Do Theosophists pray to Masters as Christians do to their God?

Emphatically, no. Theosophists invoke the God within, that they may become like unto Masters. Christians pray to an imagined God without, that he may have mercy on them in their erring ways. A consideration of the third fundamental makes the reason for this difference clear. First, it teaches that nothing is achieved except through self-initiated effort. This fact at once places prayer in a class with idle hopes and mumbled longings, of no possible value to the evolving soul because it asks for the intervention of an outside force. Second, the true God is the Divine Spark within, so that although one's prayer might be from the best of motives, it would certainly fall on deaf ears. So much for the reasons why the Theosophist does not pray. What he does strive to do is call upon that divine power which is the possession of all human beings alike -- the Spiritual Will -- arouse it so that his duties may be performed to the utmost of his ability. This is the invocation which has been degraded into prayer by the creeds of organized religion. Supplicatory prayer is an avowed denial of the Deity within.

Why is the motive more important than the act?

At first glance it might seem that the act is more important than the motive. If a man kills his neighbor, surely that is a more important bit of business than merely wishing him under the sod! And take the other side of the story -- the desire and execution of a noble deed. One's neighbor is in danger. Surely a desire to help him is not enough! Must one not actually lay down his own business and plunge into the fight? This is the objective way of viewing the matter, a way which regards only the field of action. But actions have no separate existence. They do not float in space; they are rooted in the earth, in man's heart, in his life's desire. Motive is not mere intention, for the earth or "hell" is deluged with such intentions. Motive is the spring of action regardless of intention. If a man desires to help his kin but finally decides to spend his resources on himself, his weak "intention" is altruistic while his actual motive is selfish. So in finding the true cause of our actions let us not look at our romantic halos but at our hearts. There is usually some central motive in that heart which dominates the actions of an entire life. Motive in this sense is not secondary. It is a fundamental expression of the self.

The elder brothers of humanity have said "Look within." That is the only way of getting a bird's-eye view of one's life. That is the only way to root out elements of narrow-mindedness -- for evil is narrow-mindedness -- and steer the course of one's life. The Gita says that we should not let the motive of action be in the desired result but in the significance or social aspect of the action itself. This is a command to do away with narrow-mindedness, the personal basis of action. Action instead of being reflexive becomes universal, and likewise the motive is put on the universal plane.

What is the meaning of "Love thine enemies," are we to be "soft" and allow others to override us?

"Love thine enemies; do good unto them that hate you." Now in what sense do our enemies hate us, and why are we their enemies? We are seldom hated on account of ourselves as a whole. It is usually some quality or idiosyncrasy which arouses the ire of others, particularly that quality or idiosyncrasy which conflicts with another person's qualities or idiosyncrasies. We are bent on having cheese with our pie when some diet faddist makes sarcastic remarks about indigestible combinations. Such remarks may spoil an otherwise perfect evening. Or take the case of a family about to be visited by some neurotic relative. Our "hatred" is not justifiable in either case. And really, is there any complete hatred, body and soul? Even consuming hatreds -- of which there are numerous examples -- would not bear close examination. The human heart, even the human personality, is by no means a simple thing. The trouble with all of us is that we are continually identifying ourselves with trifles or fatuous idealizations. We might just as well "hate" a fellow for his crooked nose as his sour disposition: for the disposition is no more the man than the ugly face. Or take our mad American pursuit of money and position. Are we made of money or position? No, but we are continually lacking the knowledge of what we want.

Now what is love? especially the "loving of enemies." Love of enemies is the love of man. Love is a deep-seated appreciation of all that is fundamental in character and experience, and from such love come loving deeds. For all that, are we to become "soft" or "overridden?" Decidedly not. Our true selves are not soft, for they understand both the soft and the hard. Our true selves are made up of wisdom. Yet should it be necessary, the situation being tested by wisdom, there can be found in the true self a remarkable capacity for being firm. Likewise with the quality of softness. There are certain circumstances in which it is necessary to yield.

Perhaps the terms "wisdom" and "true self" are a bit abstruse. But our true selves are abstruse, and this is not sentimental romancing. "Study the hearts of men," is not superficial commandment. Neither is wisdom a silly idea. It is always partly with us and a great distance ahead. It might be said that while we grow in wisdom we grow into the Self of each and all.

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:


The teachings were, at least, partially known to several of the Fathers of the Church. It is maintained, on purely historical grounds, that Origen, Synesius, and even Clemens Alexandrinus, had been themselves initiated into the mysteries before adding to the Neo-Platonism of the Alexandrian school, that of the Gnostics, under the Christian veil. More than this, some of the doctrines of the Secret schools -- though by no means all -- were preserved in the Vatican, and have since become part and parcel of the mysteries, in the shape of disfigured additions made to the original Christian programme by the Latin Church. Such is the now materialised dogma of the Immaculate Conception. This accounts for the great persecutions set on foot by the Roman Catholic Church against Occultism, Masonry, and heterodox mysticism generally.--S.D. I, p. xliv.

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