THEOSOPHY, Vol. 15, No. 10, August, 1927
(Pages 434-440; Size: 24K)
(Number 11 of a 13-part series)
THE RISING CYCLE
WRITING more than a third of a century ago, soon after the death of H.P.B., Mr. Judge discussed "The Future and the Theosophical Society." He called attention to facts and factors insistently regarded by Masters and by H.P.B., but whose determinative importance had not been seen by leading Fellows of the Parent society during her life-time and which were more than ever in danger of being ignored or forgotten. He drew from the necessities and existing circumstances a number of inferences as to the future which now, after the lapse of a full generation, may be seen as a prevision and a prophetic warning.
First he quoted from a letter of H.P.B.'s written in 1888 in which she gave a "bird's eye view" of the then future. She saw ahead a break-up of the Parent society, and its skandhas(1), or bad Karma, represented by many societies -- theosophical sects. That has come to pass. But she saw also "a few earnest reliable theosophists in a death struggle with the world in general and with other -- nominal and ambitious -- theosophists." That, too, has come to pass, so that to-day the Theosophical Movement is no longer represented by theosophical societies, but by the individual Theosophists in and outside all of them, and these scattered "reliable theosophists" are, in her words, "greater in number than you may think, and they prevailed." The italics are hers, and the signs are not wanting that this portion of her vision is in process of fulfilment. There are some theosophists left in Mrs. Besant's society, and those few are working to disseminate the teachings of H.P.B. and to expose the falsities of fact and philosophy so strenuously propagated by Mrs. Besant and her satellites. These few reliable Theosophists in the Besant society may not succeed in their self-imposed task, but they serve as a catalytic agent for all that: they are forcing the pretenders to discard their theosophical masks and stand or fall for what they are, not what they pretend to be; and they are making the facts so evident that multitudes of members, finding that Besantism, Leadbeaterism, Catholicism, and Messianic delusions are not Theosophical teachings, have been and are withdrawing from the Besant ranks. With these exceptions there are now none but "white corpuscles" in the Besantite veins. And so with Mrs. Tingley's "Universal Brotherhood and Theosophical Society." And so with Mr. Hargrove's "The Theosophical Society." And so with "The Temple of the People." And so with the multitude of smaller bodies which depend on corruption of philosophy, perversion of facts, pandering to psychic cravings with psychic ravings, and upon personal claims and assertions of "communications from the Masters of H.P.B." Their extravagances show the extremities to which they are reduced. Like begets like, and in each of these parasitic bodies there are fungoid growths -- cankers within cancers, with smaller followings of their own. It all reminds one of Jonathan Swift's famous verse:"So, naturalists observe, a fleaMeantime, step by step as disintegration goes on among the pseudo-theosophical bodies, the Rising Cycle shows on the constructive arc an ever-increasing circulation of the writings of H.P.B. and Mr. Judge, an ever-growing activity in genuinely Theosophical propagandum and study, as men and women who have reached maturity during this Twentieth century "come in contact with the knowledge which was theirs in former births."
Has smaller fleas that on him prey;
And these have smaller still to bite 'em;
And so proceed ad infinitum."
Next, in the article cited, Mr. Judge quotes H.P.B.'s words in the closing section of The Key To Theosophy on the future of the Theosophical Society, its possibilities and its dangers -- words which every true Theosophist ought to learn by heart. With these two quotations as his text, Mr. Judge proceeds to note the condition precedent to the safety and growth of the Movement in the right direction, as given by H.P.B.:"There must be an adherence to the program of the Masters. That can only be ascertained by consulting her and the letters given out by her as from those to whom she refers. ... that program ... excludes the idea that the Society was founded or is intended as a 'School for Occultism.' ... 'Let the Society flourish on its moral worth, and not by phenomena made so often degrading.'"How the program of the Masters has been lost sight of in the various theosophical and mystical bodies; how pretended schools for occultism have diverted the energies and the aspirations of inquirers and seekers from the great ideas of Universal Brotherhood, Karma and Reincarnation; how psychics, mediums, charlatans, and traders have defiled and abused sacred Names and sacred Teachings -- all this is "the inexorable shadow which follows all human innovations." It was the shadow of the mission of Krishna, of Buddha, of Jesus; as inevitably it was and is the shadow of the mission of H.P.B., for it is the evil Karma generated by those who seek with impure motives as well as by those who would purvey with unclean hands.
Mr. Judge asked students to consider well the great tone running through all words from pure Teachers and pure Teachings, and declared that the true program of the Masters is for Theosophists to work"To supply the world with a system of philosophy which gives a sure and logical basis for ethics."This is a call to work for the race(2) and not for self, a request to bring to the west and the east the doctrines that have most effect on human conduct, on the relations of man to man, and hence the greatest possibility of forming at last a true universal brotherhood. There is nothing personal, nothing sectarian, nothing smacking of "psychic phenomena" and "occult powers" in this prescription -- yet in very truth it calls for the profoundest Occultism, an occultism which the world desperately needs. It is the true Occultism of Masters, of H.P.B., of Mr. Judge, and of all sincere Theosophists. It is an Occultism as lacking in the numerous theosophical and occult societies as it is in the sects and churches of the various religions, or in modern science and systems of education.
It is the Occultism which uproots, not fosters, dogmatism and priestcraft, old or new. The old faiths are crumbling and the Theosophy of H.P.B. supplies the link which stirs up thoughts of the very highest importance just at a cycle when the age may swing back to anything but what all true Reformers have fought for. Nothing but pure Theosophy can supply that which, by joining religion and science together would make, the one scientific, and the other religious. Already in fifty years the times have been led a step in the direction of "the primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the ancient Aryans(3)."
Certainly this does not mean or imply that Theosophy, the Wisdom-Religion, should be Christianized or materialized, or turned into an alias for Spiritualism -- any more than that it should itself become dogmatic, sectarian, a new burden of evil in substitution for an old. These are the pitfalls which the existing theosophical societies have digged for themselves, making their own graves, thus fulfilling the saying of Christ: "Let the dead bury their dead."
Nor does it imply what so many students have vainly longed for and as mistakenly worked for -- the impossible conversion of the churches and of modern science and spiritualism to Theosophy. On this point Mr. Judge wrote:"...we can never hope to see the churches and the ministers coming over in a body to our ranks. It would be asking too much of human nature.... Congregations hire their priests at so much a year to give out a definite sort of theology, and do not like to be told the truth about themselves nor to have too high a standard of altruism held up to them in a way from which, under theosophical doctrines, there would be no escape. They may all gradually change, heresy trials will continue and heretical ministers be acquitted, but the old buildings will remain and the speakers go on in new grooves to make other reputations, but we may not hope to see the universal rush to join us.""Psychical Research" -- materialism transferred from the physical to the astral(4) states of nature and man -- is more and more interesting many minds which see in its phenomena and possibilities what they think to be the Spiritual. This is an old error of mankind, due for recrudescence at this stage. It is the natural lure of those who have successively broken with orthodox religion, orthodox science, orthodox spiritualism as explanations of life. In time it will be found to have neither an ethical nor philosophical basis and so can not satisfy the truly inquiring Soul. Its opposite pole is an honest atheism, in which there lies a greater danger for the disillusioned incoming Egos than that sanctioned under the various forms of phenomenalism.
Not the atheism which has hitherto passed current under that title, but a religious atheism -- a Western counterpart of popular Buddhism. The "Damned Souls Society" formed at the University of Rochester (N.Y.) which can be seen from its title to be in the nature of a protest and a negation only, has been followed by a "Society of the Godless," by "Junior Atheist Leagues," and so on. Already a score or more of such societies have been formed -- all of them in Universities and High Schools. They are a natural crop of the theories of evolution held by university professors generally: metaphysical "wild oats." Press and pulpit have given wide publicity to these atheistical associations of young men and women and have been horrified by them. In truth, they are not a disease but mere symptomatic outbursts which may as well be studied in a good light as a bad. They show that the reign of authority is over in matters of conscience, the rule of mental tyranny at an end for the best minds of the incoming generation. Atheism has nothing to defend, however much cause for assault upon the established order, and in a religious sense is but the assertion of the Soul's inalienable right and duty to think and choose for itself. Better thinking and better choosing will naturally follow. Atheism is a retreat from a false position rather than an advance to a more tenable one, but there will be no return to the old orthodoxies. Atheism is as much a protest against existing evils as was Protestantism in its inception.
Members of the hundreds of Protestant Christian sects have too long ignored that Protestantism has in it nothing vital because nothing positive. It is a religion of disintegration. It is now as predatory as the condottieri of the middle ages. Begun by fighting Rome and Pontifical claims, it has been maintained by continuous segmentations, each fighting the others and gaining its adherents from them. It is the process of death. A remarkable article in the March Atlantic Monthly deals with the subject in outspoken fashion. It is entitled "The Break-Up of Protestantism" and is by Rev. Herbert Parrish, an Episcopal rector. In many ways the article is highly significant to all students of the moral nature, and must excite attention because it comes from a man whose title and calling depend upon the very institution he dissects. We think we can do no better than quote a few of the statements contained in the writer's eleven-page article. He says:"...Protestantism as an organized religious force is moribund and shows signs of rapid disintegration....The writer is here but repeating what H. P. Blavatsky wrote in the Preface to "Isis Unveiled" just fifty years ago. It has taken so long to pulverize the ecclesiastical mind, but the grinding has been going on steadily. The upheaval in a single generation has surpassed that of centuries in both the Roman and the Protestant hierarchies. The writer goes on:
"...the educated, the critically intellectual multitudes, a rapidly increasing number, show no disposition to submit to religious autocracy.
"A disintegrated Protestantism will no more return to Rome than the troubled democracy of the day will return to the frozen archaism of the feudal system. If Protestantism as an organized religious force is dying in the twentieth century, by the same tokens of broken authority Rome died in the sixteenth.
"Autocratic authority in religion is everywhere giving ground.""...many able observers of the present condition of the religious world are persuaded that we are in the midst of a religious revolution....The writer blandly ignores that he and thousands of other clergymen who feel and express themselves as he does, have nevertheless subscribed solemnly to these very "preposterous confessions of faith," have themselves taught as religion these very "superstitions and hypocrisies," and do now continue to profit by them. He forgets that Pecksniffianism is the essence of Protestantism, not one of its "attributes." What has brought Protestantism to contempt and disintegration -- its clergy or its laity? The author derides syncretism as the bane of the "church", but what is the Church if not its creeds and its clergy? If the one is a mere profession which its own exponents are free to make with any amount of mental reservations, and if its most liberal theologians themselves "carry water on both shoulders" -- which is what syncretism is in plain speech -- then what sane conclusion is there to draw other than that both creeds and clergy are morally rotten to the core? Assuredly, there will be no genuine "housecleaning" in Romanism or Protestantism by those who make of their own professions a derision, and of their own dogmas a jest.
"...there is nothing so unsettling to the stability of religious authority, and hence to morals, as a new idea....
"...it is greatly to be wished that, in the process of housecleaning, Protestantism shall sweep out into the dust heap of time its own superstitions and hypocrisies, ... its preposterous confessions of faith, its bigotry and prejudices, ... its holier-than-thou pose, its lay popes, its fond and fanatical trust in secular legislation, its bitter intolerance, its suspicious and terrible emotionalisms, ... and the thousand and one other Pecksniffian attributes that in its name have so often brought all religion into contempt among sensible people."
Dr. Parrish declares:"The latest report indicates that there are now over twenty-seven millions of American children, nominally Protestant, not enrolled in any Sunday school. And quite reasonably. The Protestant Sunday school has no systematized religion to teach.... The Sunday school, now called the church school, has become the despair or the joke of the Protestant ministry almost everywhere."What a criminal confession! Morality for morality, what man in whom remains a vestige of genuine ethics would not prefer an honest "Society of the Godless" to such utter godlessness as stalks in ministerial garb, according to Dr. Parrish. This veritable confession goes on with a frankness which, in the circumstances, is shameless:"There is, then, no hope of unity among the Protestants. That idea must be quite definitely laid aside. The cut-throat methods of rivalry, of over-churching, will continue.... Two parties, Catholic and Protestant, threaten to tear the communion asunder. Among the sects the Fundamentalists and Modernists have so divided the groups that it is not too much to say that scarcely any two churches of the same denomination teach the same religion....Who indeed? Certainly not the corruptors of the "spirit of religion" in the present age, whose mental frankness uncoupled with moral courage may enable them to diagnose their own fatal diseases, but will never give them the self-discipline and self-knowledge necessary to do more than lament their own fallen fortunes.
"Protestantism is disintegrating and is doomed. It may outlast your life and mine, but ultimately America will see it no more.
"It is my conviction that the sooner Protestantism disappears from American life the better.... As a moral guide it is superficial, depending on the exterior force of state legislation to effect the redemption of the race. As a mystical experience it is sentimental, without intelligence, and with narrow vision. As a teaching force it is vague, negative, and uncertain. As an organization it is illogical and chaotic....
"Perhaps in dying as an organized force Protestantism will in reality save itself. The Church after all is a means to an end, not an end in itself.... The Church, in a sense, exists merely to do away with the need for its existence. But what new form the spirit of religion in the coming age may take, who can say?"
The numerous petty theosophical sects everywhere exhibit the same factors and factions, the same symptoms, as the sects of the Churches. There is no difference except in terms. They, too, are doomed, and from the same causation. Disintegration is a necessary step and prelude to reincarnation. The world need is for a religious organism, not organizations, and that will be found in the ever-growing numbers of those whose devotion is to the original Message and the original impulsion of the Theosophical Movement. All such Theosophists may take comfort in the knowledge that all the present and future has been foreseen from the beginning of the work inaugurated by H. P. Blavatsky; that the same prevision which commenced the work will continue to husband it. They may take renewed encouragement and inspiration as well as direction for their energies, from the closing words of Mr. Judge in the article first cited:"Our destiny is to continue the wide work of the past in affecting literature and thought throughout the world, while our ranks see many changing quantities but always holding those who remain true to the program and refuse to become dogmatic or to give up common-sense in theosophy. Thus will we wait for the new messenger, striving to keep the organization alive that he may use it and have the great opportunity H.P.B. outlines when she says, 'Think how much one to whom such an opportunity is given could accomplish.'"
The Rising Cycle
(Part 12 of 13)
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FOUR (4) FOOTNOTES LISTED BELOW:
COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
(1) "Skandhas" are bundles, or groups of attributes. These unite at the birth of man and constitute his personality. Every tendency of our character, good, bad, or otherwise, that we set up in our past lives, are included in this. The same goes for all of the skills and talents that we acquired through self-effort. And as individuals make up groups, such as Theosophical associations, these tendencies apply to the directions the whole group or portions of it take, as is being pointed out by the writer in this article, and in this whole series of thirteen articles that it is a part of.
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(2) "Race" means the whole Human Race here.
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(3) "Aryans": "Aryan" is the name of the present long evolutionary racial period (or cycle) that we are in as a whole humanity, and which is known as the Fifth Race (or the Fifth Root Race). The last long evolutionary racial cycle for humanity was named the Atlantean one, and was the Fourth Race (or the Fourth Root Race). The long evolutionary cycle before that was the Lemurian one, and was the Third Race (or the Third Root Race). A "Root-Race" is contained within a much longer evolutionary period (or cycle) called a Manvantara, which has a beginning and an ending. In the present Manvantara we are in the evolutionary period of humanity known as the Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race. A Manvantara is many millions of years long. Within that immense period there are seven Root-Races, each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races". It is always cycles within cycles. The shortest of these cycles is about 30,000 years. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, individually, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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(4) "Astral" means the Electro-Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.
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