I KNOW not what others think, but I have never enjoyed breaking idols, for I believe in the divine instinct in the human heart which at some past time brought those idols into being as works of love and understanding. It is we who do not understand what they represent and mean. It is rather we who are at fault than the Great Ones who gave birth to those works of past ages which have comforted millions century after century after century; and I do not enjoy breaking idols and crushing ideals in human hearts. Much better is it to teach, to show, to win with gentleness and kindness: "Search this out, Brother, here is something I have found, something I have discovered to be supremely grand and good. Try it yourself. Subject it to your own closest inspection, and if you find it good, come and help to give to others what you and I have found."
Smashing idols is easy work, and it has been a work which has persisted for too long in my judgment beyond its appointed place in the history of mankind. Oh, indeed if you like you can say that an idol contains a precious stone, and in order to get the precious stone, by all means let us smash. But there are other ways. If that idol contains a precious stone, it was put there by very wise men, and there is a way to get that precious stone out of the hiding idol without crushing it, and thereafter the idol becomes useless and is discarded.
And what are some of these idols? I do not mean brass and stone or wood only. I mean generally those idols which men worship and which they carry around in their minds and in their hearts. Don't you realize that sometimes by intemperate iconoclastic action you can actually set human hearts backwards, discourage them, throw them off the path? It is easy to be an idol-smasher. It is easy to smash; it is easy to crush; it is easy to overthrow — and it is often popular. But there is grander work for true men than that.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE