The Theosophical Forum – May 1948

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP — Marshal Ogilvie

Avataras, messiahs, saints and sages sojourn among men from time to time and seek to enlighten them. These luminous figures, these couriers of light, vary in the degree of radiance that they shed. They have, however, certain salient points in common; some one or more of the thirty-two distinctive signs of Buddhahood. Invariably, they are fearless and care not one whit for praise or blame, for the acclaim of the multitude or the denunciation of the mob, for either reward or punishment. Inevitably, they are met with opprobrious opposition in precise proportion to the brilliance of the effulgence that shines through them. They expect and accept calumny or crucifixion because they come to combat the powers of darkness, of ignorance, of lust and of malice. We call them meek when we see them turn the other cheek, not knowing that they possess power to wreak summary vengeance on their enemies and refrain from using it. We marvel at their humility, because, unlike ourselves, they know full well that the radiant rays of compassion, of wisdom, peace and power shine through them and not from them. They speak with authority and their words seldom conform to our preconceived ideas of what will prove most profitable for our selfish interests. Their authority, however, emanates from a higher source than themselves and they are aware that they are transmissive agents only.

How may we learn to recognize and not to repudiate these messianic messengers who come to serve us? Should we catechize them with scientific psychological phrases to ascertain whether their intelligence quotients are in the upper category as philosophers or occultists? Should we seek for a sign in the manner of the Pharisees and Sadducees? We might recall that "A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas." (Matthew 16: 1-4) Should we cavil among ourselves as to whether he or she carries all thirty-two of the Buddhistic signs; or send for a dentist to determine that the teeth are forty in number, close together and all white as the seventh, eighth and ninth signs demand? Nay, rather let us employ the insight of the Centurion (Matthew 8:5) when he asked that his servant be healed. Jesus, assenting, said that he would come and cure him of the palsy. The Centurion, demurring that he was unworthy of having the Lord come under his roof, replied, "Speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed." Here was an instant recognition of superhuman authority by a man who exercised jurisdiction over those under him. Furthermore, the Centurion stated, "I am a man under authority . .," and implied that his orders were obeyed because the power which he wielded had been delegated to him from a source higher than himself. Despite the humble outward appearance of Jesus, he saw in Him an authority that had been delegated by an omnipotent source. Remarking that "I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel," the compassionate Nazarene Avatara healed the Centurion's servant "in the selfsame hour."

Having been trained to render implicit obedience and to exact it from those committed to his command, the Centurion did not resent a far greater authority when he encountered it. Such is not the case with those whose quaint conceit leads them to conceive that they are, themselves, fully versed in that which they know least about. Sir Norman Angell has said that "His service consists in speaking harsh truths" and this is the mission of all who come to correct humanity's most destructive misconceptions. "Nothing so infuriates the mediocre mind as to be compelled to admit to itself its own inferiority," and resentment to the authority of wisdom is the rule; even when truth is presented in the palatable form of parables. All malicious actions stem from ignorance and to confess it is, truly, the beginning of wisdom. We are greatly deceived in expecting to find ideas in the enlightened ones that coincide with our own concepts of cosmic verities. If they agreed with the vague and erroneous notions of the majority, they would not be either saints or sages. We may ask ourselves, then, what is the processus by which such individuals acquire wisdom and become garbed with authority to communicate it? Who and what are the personages that wield the dominant authority of spiritual leadership; which leaves its ineffaceable mark upon the minds of mankind in spite of ridicule and relentless persecution?

We may agree that the inspiration of divine ideation emanates from Atman, as the spark of the spirit of God in man that is ever in contact with the universal source of all intelligence. Through Buddhi, as the soul, the intuitively perceived truth is transmitted to Manas in proportion as the personality has been purified. Manas as the discursive reason, formulates the supramundane concept in terrestrial terminology that will make it applicable to some human purpose. Then, if popular opinion can be persuaded to accept it, the body of humanity may put it in practice through physical action. For this body of humanity, or homo sapiens in toto, the leaders correspond in their characteristics to the soul, mind and body of the individual. The spirit stands ever apart and is not incarnated. Thus, the fully-ensouled man is a spiritual leader, but his inspiration is intuitive and not indigenous. He is the crowd compeller or impeller, who may exercise his power quite undetectably in the most impersonal and unobtrusive manner. Yet, exercise it he must, and it is the instinctive resistance of darkness to light that creates opposition to him. His intelligence is intuitively wise and it cannot be gauged by the sum total of worldly knowledge that he may, or more likely may not, have accumulated. The highly intellectual man of strong purpose is a crowd exponent who formulates the aspirations of the populace. Usually, his eyes are misted and his mind is warped by ambition. "It is upon the placid surface of the serene mind that visions gathered from the unseen world reflect themselves." Consequently, as a mirror of the masses, the majority of human leaders reflect the animal impulses that they seek to control or cajole for their own benefit. Indeed, it requires purely spiritual gold to resist the corrosive sublimate of dictatorial power. The third type of leader is the crowd representative who articulates popular aspirations and whose leadership is corporeal, or physical. Soapbox orators and rabble rousers, as vox populi, are included in this class. Below them lurks the ravening wolf-cry of the mob.

It seems obvious that the danger of "the tyranny of the majority" spoken of by DeTocqueville is inherent always in a democracy. It is the antithesis of autocracy, but both present equally gloomy gulfs of ethical disintegration. If the social structure be turned upside down and public opinion rules unguided, the hard path of duty advocated by those of spiritual insight will be repudiated and its advocates will be suppressed. Between the two, the political leaders, whose role is to formulate policies, will find themselves consumed by the Frankenstein monster that they appeased and placated until it bulked too large for them. "Constructive impulses percolate down from the top and destructive ones bubble up from the bottom." Consider for a moment that it is your conscience and not your concupiscence that should guide you. Free yourself from the contagion of mass impulses and consult the Voice of the Silence that speaks with the words of intuitive wisdom. Most frequently, its still, small voice is drowned out by the clamor of men en masse, by the strident propaganda from the Tower of Babel. It will require ardent efforts to immunize the self against the infection of fear and the insinuations of subtle suggestion. If this herculean task can be accomplished, one has achieved the first step toward freedom and the development of the individuality. Then, perchance, the recognition of a highly individualized spiritual leader will become instinctive.

The influences that are operative on the psychological plane in perceiving spiritual truth in any guise may be analyzed by analogy. In music, a precise parallelism exists that can be applied in practice. Spiritual impulses are sympathetically concordant and compassion, or love, are but other terms to designate the divine equilibrium between positive and negative that is truly harmonic. One mentality may initiate the negative discords that are effective in setting up similar ones in other minds that may be attuned in unison. All contiguous mentalities are, then, subjected to the vibrational action of violent differentiation in mass chords. Naturally, the negatively discordant radiation is most antagonistic to the nearest sympathetic concordant. The least disastrous effect is to negative all coincident constructive action. The worst result is the creation of mass antagonism that increases to the proportions of mob violence. To become attuned to concordance is to attain the capacity to feel, or sense, its vibrational harmony in the presence of spiritual leadership. It should be remembered, however, that the most perfectly sympathetic and compassionate concordance must be that one which is most radically opposed to any and all discords. Therefore, messianic figures are met with opposition in proportion to the purity of their harmonic tone. "Only the noble-hearted can understand the noble-hearted." Let us put ourselves in unison with the harmonic vibrational frequencies broadcast by the thoughts of the noble-hearted. It is the Music of the Spheres, the sympathetic outflow from the heart of the sun, the cosmic rays, the circulation of the blood of Christ. Then, as one tuning-fork held end to end opposite one in vibration, we will commence to sound forth the key-note communicated by a Spiritual Leader.

The wrong are weak, the right are strong.
This means the two terms right and wrong;
And truth sought out to any length,
Finds all wrong weakness, all right strength.
           — Pope


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