The Theosophical Forum January 1946

ON LOYALTY

As one of the last of his publications, Professor Josiah Royce published a book entitled The Philosophy of Loyalty. Reminiscent of the late President's phrase, "the only thing this nation has to fear is fear itself," Royce sets forth loyalty as the one thing to strive for and upholds loyalty to loyalty as the world's crowning need.

The charm of the incomparable fairy tales for children by Grimm is that he urges loyalty as the supreme virtue. Witness the two brothers starting on a journey and coming to a fork in the road. They agree to separate and explore the two paths separately but to leave a knife with two blades so that if one of the two encounters misfortune his blade will rust, whereas if the other meets with good fortune its blade in the knife will remain bright and shining. One does meet with good fortune and the other falls into evil hands, whereupon his blade rusts. The more fortunate of the brothers feels that something s wrong and returns to the road fork where the twain separated and discovers the rusty blade pointing to the route taken by the brother and warily discovers a method of rescuing him.

Sir Walter Scott's novels, the delight still of our youth, likewise inculcate the idea of loyalty as the crowning glory of man.

It is interesting to note that one of the best sellers, the Bible, so far as the writer has been able to discover does not contain the word loyalty. However, St. Paul in Chapter 13, I Corinthians, in the Greek dialect credited to him, is in reality speaking of the human quality, or shall we say divine quality, of loyalty in the word translated in the King James version as "charity," but in the revised version translated as the more understanding term "love." Love, however, is too broad a term to meet the sense of the Greek text, which is better interpreted "loyalty". Thus the revised version of this chapter is made to end: "But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; and the greatest of these is love."

If we consider the closing part of this chapter and St. Paul's expressed wish for his disciples to abide in faith, hope and loyalty, the latter term is obviously more nearly the meaning of the Adept Paul when he adds "the greatest of these is "loyalty'."

But let us now return to the opening of this instructive chapter. "If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not "loyalty," I am become as sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not "loyalty," I am nothing. And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not "loyalty" it profiteth me nothing. "Loyalty" suffereth long, and is kind; "loyalty" envieth not; "loyalty" vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; . . ."

Before we go on with this let us pause a bit and consider the different kinds of loyalty. There is the natural loyalty owed by a man to his family, his relatives and friends. There is the purely civic variety, a loyalty to civic institutions - clubs, schools, societies; loyalty to organizations, as the City, the State, the Nation, and should it become organized, the United Nations. Thus far we have considered loyalty of the lesser to the greater.

Next comes the downward phase of loyalty. This applies to the loyalty of the superior to his subordinates, whether in the family or any other kind of exoteric organization. It applies to the debt owed by Kings, Presidents, Generals or Admirals in the military or naval service. This type of loyalty is often described as noblesse oblige. This is the mark of a true gentleman, everywhere, but he can best be recognized by his loyalty not only to his subordinates, but by his invariable kindness to the weak and needy.

Next follows the loyalty of man to man or man to nature, for in a broad sense this loyalty includes all the kingdoms, visible and invisible, from the atomic to the galactic.

Lastly we come to the real meaning of the term when applied to a consideration of the occult hierarchy and used to describe the relationship between teacher and pupil, which is without question the most beautiful of all human relationships, and one which carries the greatest promise for the future of the race as well as the individual. But one must not paint too rosy a picture in these troublous times. That is to say, that great as is the reward for him who follows the path of loyalty to loyalty danger unforeseen threatens when he departs from the rules of chelaship. When he forsakes loyalty to loyalty he risks danger of falling into evil hands; danger of forfeiting the power of knowing how to follow the true path of loyalty; danger of losing his way in a spiritual black-out. He may know the mysteries, he may have the gift of prophecy, he may speak with the tongues of men, may be the most brilliant speaker in the world, yet lacking loyalty these shall avail him nothing; he is become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

Another, unprofessed to be a master of tongues or prophecy or knowledge, but who has faith, hope and loyalty may lead a multitude to the path of true understanding and devotion.

If thou would'st have that stream of hard-earn'd knowledge,
of Wisdom heaven-born, remain sweet running waters,
thou should'st not leave it to become a stagnant pond.


The Theosophical Forum

THEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE