The Theosophical Forum – February 1947

CHANGE IS GROWTH — Mildred Hodgson

It is more than ever necessary today for us to realize that man has reached a most critical stage in his evolution. Change is the order of the day, whether we like it or not. But although most people admit this to be true, they will at the same time confess their reluctance to accept or make changes on their initiative. We must recognize that most people have a deep-rooted dislike for anything that will disturb their routine; for man, being essentially a creature of habit, tends to take the line of least resistance.

As man is obviously passing through a transitionary period, and as there can be no growth without change, we must seek the cause of his unwillingness to welcome changes in his life. I do not think we have far to seek — it is man's greatest enemy — fear. For if we have only a slight knowledge of man's history, we will agree that fear has been the dominating force in his life. It almost seems that fear is a necessary part of the divine plan, and that without it there could be no development. There is an ancient teaching to the effect that God sleeps in the mineral, is semi-conscious in the vegetable, conscious in the animal, and self-conscious in man. It would appear that it is only when the consciousness has reached a certain degree of sensitivity, that fear is born.

So let us try to define fear. Surely it is an awareness of the forces and powers of our surroundings. Every one of us, indeed every infinitesimal atom, is unconsciously resisting the entire universe. Few of us realize the fact that everything outside ourselves stands in opposition to us. We are targets for the impacts of all nature. It is these impacts that we should welcome, for this is the only means by which the life locked up within us can be roused into activity. This outer stimulus and the inner impulse constitute the primary duality, so far as man is concerned, and without this there could be no existence, as he knows it.

Most of us are so accustomed to associating the idea of Deity with love and compassion, that we tend to overlook the fact that there is a continual breaking-down process (often of a very ruthless character) going on simultaneously with the building-up process. This is the law of mutation and transmutation. And it is in this law that lies man's hope for the future. A pulling down of the old, that forms newer and more responsive to the life within may prevail. The fact that there is nothing static in nature offers the consolation that no matter how painful our conditions are, they too will pass.

Let us now try to see man and the world as they are today. Chaotic conditions prevail everywhere. Man himself is bewildered. He has just emerged from a war which has had no equal in history. Now he knows that man can sink to the lowest possible depths of degradation, and that he can also rise to great heights of self-sacrifice, and display superb courage. But the fact remains that the terrible sufferings and experiences through which he has passed have only intensified his fears.

Many people think that man has deteriorated. Actually he has become acquainted with the duality of his nature. Now he knows what Jesus meant when teaching that, "No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other; or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. . . ." Obviously we cannot love both good and evil; we cannot run with the hare and hold with the hound. We have to make a choice. And it is this choice which confronts so many of us today. There can be no compromise. We either challenge on behalf of our own higher principles, without regard to circumstances, consequences, or the personalities involved, or we continue to take the line of least resistance, by pandering to the weaknesses of the personality.

I believe that as a result of man's terrible sufferings he has developed a much truer sense of values. Men of all colors, races, and creeds were brought together during the war, thereby weakening the many prejudices which existed between peoples. We must remember that when a man is suffering or facing death, all hatred and prejudice cease. It is as if they never existed, and indeed they did not, fundamentally.

We must also bear in mind that individual suffering passes unnoticed, but collective suffering has a dynamic effect on the humanmind. For what does intense suffering imply? Surely it is beyond trivialities. Surely it is an agonizing cry — to God — for help. And surely, when millions of people cry for help and guidance, a mighty thought-form is created — a form born from man's own suffering. Is it not reasonable to suppose that this form could be used by a powerful force that would answer man's cry for help? Could not this form serve as the vehicle for the manifestation of a universal principle — the principle of brotherhood? Is not this precisely what happened during the war?

And this divine Principle, which can truly be called the child of man, what of it? Are we going to care for this child in order that it may unfold its power, wisdom, and beauty, or are we going to sink into apathy once again, and neglect to cherish this, our most wonderful possession? It is those of us who are aware of all that is at stake, who must decide.

And what about the Theosophical Society? It obviously has a definite part to play in the world today. But are we quite clear in our minds as to the part allotted to it? Can we say with any degree of truth that each lodge is functioning to its fullest capacity? I doubt it. We should try to find out the cause. I wonder if the answer is once again — fear? Some of our members have established certain habits of lodge procedure, and are consequently afraid of getting off the beaten track. Hence, instead of healthy changes, we have a static condition which is decidedly unhealthy. We must remember that it is the individual members in their aggregate who compose the Society; and those members, being individually subject to the law of mutation, should automatically introduce changes into the Society. Changes, however, are not very apparent.

But let us turn our attention to the nature of our Society's work. In this connection we can do no better than look for guidance to those Objects upon which our society was founded. The first and most important is the Universal Brotherhood of Man. It seems to me that the Theosophical Society was meant to be the vehicle for the divine Principle which has at last entered the consciousness of man. If this is the case, what are we going to do about it? First of all it must be given its proper place. And that place is the heart's center. It must not play the part of Cinderella, relegated to the kitchen.

I think we must admit that many of our members have tended to over-emphasize the mind principle at the expense of equally important aspects of their natures, the result being a lack of balance, or a wrong sense of values. It would be suicide if we were to develop a robot-like mind (a mind that knows all the answers), and there is every danger of this happening if more attention is not given to the creative faculty. It is by striving to be creative that we purify ourselves, for when truly creative we are temporarily detached, impersonal — and the more often we reach this stage, the greater will be our resistance to the purely personal, and the deeper will be our understanding of life and its problems. We shall be better able to apprehend what is meant by the "One" differentiating into the "Many." And when we really understand this sublime teaching, we shall appreciate what Krishna meant when describing the sage as one to whom a lump of earth, a stone, and gold are the same. At this stage, we shall be free from arrogance and conceit, no longer shrinking from the outcast, or attaching undue importance to labels, for we shall see all forms in their aggregate as the physical form of Deity. At last we shall realize that the air we breathe, the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the ground upon which we walk, are all expressions of the "One Life" . . . the "Unity." We shall at this level admit that there could be no physical form without its archetypal form, and that indeed the physical form is a projection or reflection of that divine form, and also that the fact of physical existence implies that the Divine wills this existence, and has a divine purpose to accomplish through it. In fact each man will know that he is divine in nature, and that the contribution he makes to life is of equal value to that made by any other man. Never again will he feel unwanted; never again will he be subservient to any man, no matter how high his social position — for a man at this stage will be truly Man.

What line of action should we Theosophists take in order to meet the needs of present day conditions? I suggest that we try to emulate the attitude taken by that great soul, our Teacher, H. P. B., who personified the "pioneer spirit." It is this spirit of the pioneer which is so desperately needed in the world today, and likewise desperately needed in our Society. It was H. P. B.'s sublime mission to fight orthodoxy and to found a Society wholly unorthodox in its teachings.

Are we then to become merely orthodox theosophists, with crystallized ideas of our teachings? Cannot we understand that Theosophy is all-inclusive; that it can have no barriers, because it relates the known to the unknown? Cannot we understand that it seeks to reveal the relationship which exists between God and man; between heaven and earth; between man and man; and indeed between man and all forms of life both above and below the human? Theosophy treats of the totality, and therefore the true Theosophist will not close the door on any phase of life, nor on any idea presented to him, without first of all giving it his full consideration.

Can we imagine that H. P. B. sacrificed herself in order to pander to the vanity of a few intellectuals, or would-be intellectuals? Surely her sacrifice was made for humanity! And surely it is our duty to be concerned with the masses, as well as the few! And if we are to give our attention to the masses, we shall have to propagate our teachings in a language that the masses can understand. It is possible, I think, to maintain the standard of accuracy set by Dr. de Purucker, and at the same time to relate Theosophy to current affairs and ethical problems. But in this connection it would be interesting to have the views of other Theosophists who, like the writer, share the life of the common people. I fully appreciate that the rendering of our teachings in intelligible language is a very sticky problem, but nevertheless it is one which will have to be solved, if we are to infuse fresh "life" into our lodges. Another important point to remember is the necessity for attracting young people to our movement, for it is to them that we must look for a continuance of the work.

Are we ready to change our attitude and modify our preconceived ideas in order to come into a closer relationship with younger people, and non-Theosophists? Remember that we teach primarily by example, and if we are unprepared to allow the law of mutation to operate through ourselves, we not only retard our own progress, but also that of the Society, which we profess to serve.

Let us then accept the challenge of the age, and let us ponder well these words from that great Teacher, Sri Krishna: "Who carp at My teachings and act not thereon, senseless, deluded in all knowledge, know thou these mindless ones as fated to be destroyed."

The Theosophical Forum