The Theosophical Forum – July 1937

MODERN CHINESE THEOSOPHY — Cecil Williams

In the spring of 1935 a Chinese teacher named Tuan Szetsun, hailed in his own country as "the only sage after Confucius and Mencius," predicted an international crisis in the fall of that year, which might lead to a world war. In the following October Italy invaded Ethiopia and the international situation since that month has grown increasingly grave.

Whatever value may be attached to Tuan's predictions we cannot doubt that he is a prophet in the original sense — a teacher of divine truths. At an early age he devoted himself to the service of humanity, studied Buddhism and Confucianism, and when he was eighteen, in Tsing Cheng Mountain, "a vision came to him whereby the secrets of civilization were revealed. The past and future trends of humanity became as clear as the wrinkles of his hand."

Through the efforts of this remarkable man, now in his 72nd year, there came into existence in China branches of an ethical society which taught practical Theosophy, though not under that name. He urged upon his followers the practical exemplification of his teachings as the means of saving the world from a more horrible world war than the last.

To Theoosphists in the West the thought that teachers like "Tuan the Great" are striving in the East to bring home to the peoples there the age-old truths of Theosophy is distinctly encouraging. Shall we greatly err in supposing that this activity of Tuan's is sponsored by the Masters? However that may be, the statement of his ethical precepts should interest and perhaps inspire Theosophical students. The rules which I give below are, I believe, worthy of reproduction in any Theosophical magazine.

These rules are prefaced by two paragraphs which I give in the quaint English of the Chinese translator, which somewhat obscures the meaning in casual reading, but which will be perfectly intelligible to Theosophical students. The succeeding paragraphs I have altered to make them immediately clear to the reader, but without, I believe, interfering in any way with their sense.

This then is "an explanation given by Tuan Szetsun on the principle: 'Sincerity and Reverence will lead the world in Tranquillity':

In a vision on 12th of 1st moon I became alive to the fact that it is important to build up a personality both sincere and reverential in order to assure world peace. In theory and practice we must follow the following words in order to achieve my aim:

In one's self a faith must be founded. When the faith is carried out it becomes a perfection. When the faith is carried out with brilliant achievements it becomes great. Such greatness should be crowned with sacredness. When one becomes so sacred that he can not be known to the common people he is divine. He would cause a change without moving and achieve things unselfishly.

In morality we should be as sincere as the Emperor Wen; our thoughts as free as Confucius', but as ethical; our motives as merciful, loving, forgiving and sacred as Lu Lai's, Buddhism's great god, as Kwang Ying's, goddess of mercy, as Jesus Christ's.

In personal behavior we must not patronize houses of ill-fame, gamble, smoke, drink, be idle or develop other bad habits. We must not conspire, oppress or use force, but consider the whole world as one family and all peoples as one person.

To exert ourselves we must put forth efforts to help others for their sakes, and to work for them we must follow the Great Way. Before members of our family, servants and neighbors we should not betray our principles, and hold to the good even in a dark room, hidden from all eyes.

In speech we should not deceive ourselves, in behavior not continually justify ourselves, and, in the Great Way, never be selfish. The fundamental principle is justice.

At the sight of wealth we should not be envious but the ethics of gathering wealth and its wise use we should understand; and accept never a cent improperly. We should regard wealth from the standpoint of an immortal being, as something fleeting as a cloud, and be content with even a ration of water.

In walking, standing, sitting, sleeping, listening, looking and speaking we should protect the health of the whole man and balance action and tranquillity.

Our speech and actions should be considerate, earnest, modest, reasonable and humble, so that others may be influenced by our demeanor.

Our mind should be kept clean and alert, like a mirror displaying the reflexion of anything coming within its range.

We must not use anything not ours, nor use our own possessions at improper times. We must put our own experiences, our own behavior and our own merits into writing. One who writes is apt to behave according to what he has written. "A day should not be passed without work, leisure, exercise and observance of morality.

In reading the books of the ancients we should not adhere to every word, nor, at the same time, should we be blindly swayed by contemporary writers. We should exert ourselves to assimilate knowledge, for a commoner with a fine personality can teach an emperor.

In practical education, agriculture, industry and commerce, we should be thrifty and not wasteful. Even a scrap of paper should be valued as a rare treasure.

We should not be intoxicated with beautiful women, for lust is the worst of evils. Men and women are simply representatives of the negative and positive motions of Heaven, and in social intercourse we should neither speak nor think of seduction.

A true gentleman cultivates his person so strictly that his individuality will command heaven, earth and spirits. All human beings venerate their parents.

Being ordered to centralize the good points of all religions, so that with strong wills and fully educated we may safeguard permanent peace, we must carry out our aim fearlessly, without regard for threats to life or for slander.

We should understand things so thoroughly that no dispute remains as to the wisdom or the Tightness of our course. We should take all faults upon our shoulders, and pay no heed to those who envy us our knowledge.

Whether employer or employed, we must understand ourselves and our fellow-workers, comparing our minds with theirs. By following the proper doctrine we will benefit both ourselves and others and our example will be followed for ever.

Before undertaking anything we should think it over again and again. We should proceed with no program without a well-fixed aim, so that we may hurt neither Heaven nor our fellow-men. By being practical and true to duty our goal will be reached naturally.

We should do our part without asking for help, earnestly love our true selves, our families, our country, and the world; love all men and even all things, so as strictly to follow the principle of humanity. We should honor spirits but avoid them. We should not beg or flatter, should be free from superstition, and exist happily together with the Divine.

We should try our best," says Tuan in his concluding appeal, "in accordance with the principles of humanity, to act on behalf of our sages in order to enable the benevolent atmosphere to dominate the world.


The Theosophical Forum

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