Theosophical University Press Online Edition
An Individual Channel for Spiritual Energy
Awakening the Sense of Responsibility
I doubt not that from the very first years after the founding of the T. S. in 1875, forwards-looking and intuitive Theosophists have understood, and have seen with more or less clarity of vision, that the Theosophical Movement — and let me here venture to speak in particular of our own beloved T. S., for it is the portion of the Movement which most intimately concerns ourselves -was intended to be or to become, the Vehicle or Carrier or Channel of a mighty Spiritual Energy, which would become the more strongly manifest in proportion as the Fellows composing the membership of the T. S. lifted themselves to the spiritual and intellectual planes where they might become not only cognisant of but participators in and therefore channels for this inflow of spiritual-intellectual Force or Energy.
Putting the matter thus baldly, of course merely restates once more one of the commonest ideas known and bruited among thoughtful men, to wit: that there are spiritual forces in the world which continually seek proper instruments or channels through which they may manifest themselves; and that these instruments or channels are at one and the same time organizations of human beings assembled for spiritual purposes, and also and more particularly individuals belonging as members to such organizations who would make themselves to be especially infilled with such spiritual force or forces. Indeed, every religious or philosophical organization in the annals of history has claimed more or less to be such an instrument or channel, collectively speaking, for the pouring forth into the world of this, that, or some other spiritual energy; and I doubt not that to some extent, at least in many cases, such a statement was based upon an original substratum of actual fact.
Every great spiritually religious or spiritually philosophical body which has become known over the world, or world-wide in influence, was founded by some great Sage or Seer for the purpose of pouring forth spiritual-intellectual ideas, and therefore spiritual-intellectual influences, into the minds of men. But, alas, in almost every instance these efforts with the passage of time have sunken below the spiritual-intellectual level where self-conscious union could have been made by individuals with the great spiritual energies presiding, perhaps, at the birth of such organization, association, or union, of human beings.
It is not alone to so trite and threadbare a truth, however, that I desire to call your attention, because the fact that I have just pointed out applies equally well to the founding of the T. S. in 1875 in New York. Such a fact is only a part, and a relatively small part, of what I have in mind to say. I desire to direct your attention forcibly to the great fact that the T. S. was indeed so founded; and more particularly to the fact that it is possible, and in fact easy, for any individual Theosophist so to raise himself in heart and in spirit, in mind and in feeling, to the higher planes where he may not merely become cognisant of this great inrushing flow of spiritual energy, and thus become a participator therein, but make himself a disseminator thereof among his fellow-men.
I do not here allude merely to the fact, recently becoming so popular in discussion, and deservedly popular among religiously minded people in the Occident, that the Over-soul, as Emerson put it, or the Cosmic Spirit, of which or of whom we humans are all children, can be self-consciously united with by individual men as an inexhaustible spiritual Fountain of ineffable Wisdom and Love. This would be merely restating once more the truth that I have already briefly alluded to, and would offer, I fear, but small personal encouragement to the well-meaning but more or less uninstructed Theosophist, who, with the best will in the world, and strive as he might, would find it difficult self-consciously to become 'at one' with Alaya's Self, the Anima Mundi or Cosmic Soul.
Do you, my beloved Companions, begin to grasp now from the foregoing hints what thought I have in mind? Let me try to explain my meaning a little more clearly. The Theosophical Society was founded not only with the aid of our Masters, by their Chela and Servant, our beloved H. P. B., but was an event of historical, spiritual importance foreseen and prepared for through centuries previous to 1875 — foreseen and prepared for, I repeat, by Intelligences loftier, far loftier, even than those high human beings whom we call the Mahatmans.
To speak now in plainer and more undisguised phrases, I mean to say that the self-conscious spiritual Centers or Foci who brought about the founding of the T. S. because of the work it was intended to do in the world, are the Nirmanakayas — some of them Beings who at rare intervals only take an active and individual part in founding and inspiring organizations of this kind, and then only because the need is unusually great, and the work to be done in the future of equal magnitude and importance.
Definitely do I wish to point out to you that every member of the Theosophical Society whose mind is washed clean of personal desires and whose heart is true to eternal spiritual principles has the chance of becoming an individual, nay a personal, channel for receiving his portion, so to speak, of this mighty river of Spiritual Energy which I have mentioned before — but only so if he can make of himself an impersonal instrument in the hands of these Great Ones for the world's high good, for the world's spiritual and intellectual betterment.
I want you, my beloved Brothers, to realize keenly and to feel intensely that what I am now telling you is not a merely abstract or impractical verity susceptible of being understood and valued by the rare and chosen few; but is a real chance, an actual spiritual opportunity, a possibility of quickened evolutionary unfolding for everyone. To my mind — and I think I see aright — it would already be something accomplished of genuine worth if the Theosophical Society were to become merely an organization of decent and lawabiding men and women, who love their fellow-men and who love the grand Philosophy of the gods given to us by the Masters, and who yearn to disseminate, and do disseminate, this Philosophy among their fellow human beings. This alone would be something fine; but it is not enough — not by any means enough — as I see the situation. Were it only that, I foresee that the T. S. would in time become a mere religio-philosophic association, a sort of excellent church doing a good work in the world, and living along in a more or less crystallized beneficent activity, until innate seeds of decay wrought their work of disintegration in the body corporate of the T. S.
We must not allow this to happen. The T. S. must at all costs be kept a living body, a body constantly growing from within, from innate and inherent seeds of life and inspiration; and these seeds of inspiration and life must find their proper soil or residence in human hearts and minds. The situation is precisely and exactly that alluded to by the Avatara Jesus when voicing his profound yet greatly misunderstood parable of the Sowing of the Seeds — some of which fell on stony soil, some of which fell by the wayside, and a few of which fell into receptive and proper ground for fruitage.
Do you realize, my beloved Brothers and Companions on the Path — do you realize, I say, and not merely understand it with the brain-mind — that even yet our connexion with this mighty flow of spiritual and intellectual energy has not been lost; and that as long as this connexion remains, the T. S. will be a body, growing and expanding and doing its intended work in the world, because vitalized with an ever larger current of the inflowing energy? If you so realize it, then you will likewise realize that this connexion must not merely not be lost, but must be strengthened, reinforced, and multiplied so to speak, by other connexions made by an ever larger number of individual Fellows of the T. S. with these Mighty Beings behind our Cause and our Work, who inspirit it and help it and are ever ready to fill it with newer life and fresher inspiration, provided that these Great Ones find the proper human channels through which to pour the current forth for the great benefit of all beings.
I have been asked many times a question which I will rephrase somewhat as follows: "G. de P., you teach and iterate and reiterate the really noble truth that the individual god within each man is a perennial fount of wisdom and love and knowledge and comfort and peace for him. But you say so little to help us to attain this union with the divinity within. How can it be done?" Ay, indeed, how can it be done, my Brothers, except by doing it! No Teacher in past ages has ever yet been able to tell us, individual students as we are, how to become at one, each man, with his own inner divinity, except by their pointing to certain age-old and indeed infallible rules for attainment which most of us, alas, accept with the mind, but, after a few faint and half-hearted trials, usually lay aside because, forsooth, it seems so difficult to follow them to success. Yet there is no other way.
Now what are these rules? Here at least are some of them, not here listed in the order of their importance, whether ascending or descending, but merely as they occur to my mind as being most feasible or practicable for the average Theosophical student:
(1) A yearning to be a better man or woman in every sense of the word — a yearning which no discouragement can ever oust from our hearts. (2) A fixed will, which naught can divert into other channels of activity, to crystallize this yearning into an actual inner rising upwards, brought about by (3) (a) a feeling of oneness of being with one's fellows, and, indeed, with all that lives, both great and small; (b) an intense desire at all times to be utter just and utter true towards these our fellow selves whom thus we love; (c) a positive refusal, which naught can shake nor any temptation cause us to lay aside, to benefit ourselves at the cost of others. (4) Conscientious and thoughtful intellectual study of the age-old teachings of Theosophy explaining the universe in which we live — a study which aims at Truth at all costs, and above everything else, irrespective of one's private opinions, prejudices, or feelings, all of which last we hold ourselves in readiness to lay aside at any moment when a grander vision or a nobler truth shows to us the inadequacy of what we formerly may have held so dear as opinions or feelings. (5) Putting into practice the age-old rule of learning to forgive and learning to love; for this perhaps more than anything else, for us ordinary human beings, is a spiritual exercise of paramount importance, for it chastens the mind, quickens the heart, clarifies the intellect, and distils from our own inner nature the magic elixir of sympathy and compassion, thus making us akin with the gods themselves. (6) A strict and glad observance of all the behests of duty of whatever kind, and doing one's duty with a song in the heart, which, it may be, expresses itself on the lips, because of one's recognising that duty nobly done is a good man's noble work; and (7) a keen realization of one's solidarity with the Universe and all that in it lives; a realization so keen that it transcends the mere feeling of a sense of oneness with one's fellows, as mentioned in 3 (a) above, for it becomes not only a spiritual intuition but also a keen intellectual realization of one's spiritual identity with the Universe, and therefore of one's complete solidarity on all planes of being with Nature's multitudinous hosts of lives, and more particularly with our fellow-men, so that their interests become our interests, their joys our joys, their advancement ours, and their sorrows our sorrows, and their distresses become claimant for such remedial action on our part as it is within our power properly and wisely to give.
I cease here from enumerating other rules; because with these examples in point before you, you will all know yourselves what other rules are the proper ones; although for each individual the rules may vary somewhat, because what may be in detail good for Caius may be in the case of Marcus or Publius superseded by something better.
My heart yearns to broadcast throughout the ranks of the fellowship of the T. S., high and low, and everywhere, the sublime verity that any one of you, my Brothers, may become a channel, if you only will to do so and train yourself so to become, for the reception of only the gods know how great an inrushing of the spiritual-psychic energies flowing from these Great Beings who, known or unknown, visible or invisible, presided over the founding of the T. S., and who will have it under their mighty protection and watchful care as long as we prove ourselves worthy and adequate instruments of their mighty strength and loving guidance.
Hypocrisy and pretense in these matters on the part of fraudulent claimants to spiritual powers or guidance will not only defeat their own ends, but will infallibly slam the door of communication tight shut between the pretender and the source of Light, for such a pretender is de facto a dissembler whose inner nature is divided against itself, and who therefore, for this very reason, makes himself to be a crooked and therefore an utterly unfit instrument and channel. Union with the high source is in his case stopped and blocked, and therefore is the connexion broken.
What I am here writing to you about, my beloved Brothers, is to me one of the greatest truths that all the various world-religions or world-philosophies originally taught, and which all, alas, with one possible exception, have now very largely forgotten, except as a theory, an empty possibility, mentally recognised but not followed, because considered to be too abstract and afar off, and therefore virtually impossible of fulfilment. I tell you that it is not impossible; it is not afar off; it is a reality. It is something nearer to you than your own body, nearer to you than your own mind; closer than hands and feet. For if you but realize it, you would know that your own higher consciousness at all times is inseparably linked with this sublime Fountain or Source; and all the vestments of consciousness or sheaths of understanding, or bodies with which the Monad may clothe itself, are less close to the Monad than this inmost of its own essence.
What a great, what a truly wonderful, thing it would be if only a hundred members in the T. S. could become such self-consciously trained vehicles or channels for this Wonder-Force or Energy to flow through! Nay, why do I say a hundred? Why not say a thousand; indeed, why not say five thousand — why not include every member of the T. S. who realizes that as a Theosophist he has a possibility of becoming far more than a man of the world, merely better than the average? What a picture rises before my mind's eye, as I see an ideal Theosophical Society, whose fellowship is formed of men and women who are inspired, directed, comforted, by the divinity within each one of them, and who are working in self-conscious collaboration with the Nirmanakayas whose holy presence every intuitive Theosophist must at least at times feel the nearness of! With our spirits thus expressing themselves, with our intellects thus enlightened, and with our hearts thus stimulated, the Fellowship of the Theosophical Society, within a relatively short time, would conquer the world, not in a material sense forsooth, but spiritually and intellectually, for they would become like a collective Spiritual Flame in human society, lightening the path of all, and guiding the footsteps of those still in the darkness towards the Great Light.
I am not here dreaming of the Seventh Race in the Seventh Round of this Globe D of ours, although such indeed will be to a large extent the 'human' society of that far distant day. I am thinking of what might happen even today among men, if Theosophists would realize the destiny that is theirs, the mission that it is ours to perform, and the tremendous, unspeakably great, spiritual and intellectual energies that we could loose into the world for the world's benefit and help and guidance.
I hear much talk in these days about things which seem to me to be of such small importance in comparison with the real work of the Theosophical Society. I hear much talk of Theosophical dissensions, and of the Movement being broken up into different parts, each part, so it is said, more or less jealous of every other part, and each part fighting for its own advantage; and while some of all this is undoubtedly true, nevertheless it does all of it seem to me to be so pitifully unimportant by contrast with the greater things and the greater needs. What does it matter, after all, whether one be of Paul and another be of Apollos? If the follower of Paul is an earnest, sincere Theosophist striving to do his best; and if the follower of Apollos is an equally earnest Theosophist doing his best likewise; it will surely be but a very short time before the followers of both Paul and Apollos will recognise that these separating distinctions are superficial and by comparison with the greater realities of little import.
The main thing is to be true to the solid realities of Theosophy that the T. S. was founded to teach; and then organizational differences and differences of individual opinion, and the having of different Leaders or Teachers, could be so easily regarded as incidentals of relatively small import, as, indeed, I always consider them to be. The main and sole thing that the Theosophist should consider first is working for Theosophy to the best of his ability and understanding. Work for Theosophy, and try to find the points of union and contact with each other, my Brothers, and the difficulties will vanish away because seen to be what they are — affairs of relatively small importance.
I have heard it often said, in substance, by critical Theosophists: "The Fraternization Movement is all very well as an idea; but it will never be worth much until we can bring the different Leaders to abandon their respective claims." This sounds plausible and sensible, but actually there is very little sense in it. I can assure you, my Brothers, that in my considered judgment, the trouble is not so much with the Leaders as with the feeling which runs in the veins of so many Theosophists, a feeling or a spirit of contrariety and of disinclination to look upon Theosophists of some other color as being probably just as good as themselves, where essentials are concerned.
One wearies of this constantly recurring talk about 'the evils of Leadership.' It is childish talk indeed, for if there is one thing that should be common knowledge to every intelligent person, it is that every Movement of every kind in every age, no matter what it may be or have been: religious, philosophic, social, political, commercial, or fraternal: is always begun and is always led by a leader or leaders. Thus is it with organizations of every kind. Thus is it with States. Thus is it with ecclesiastical institutions. Thus is it even in ordinary commercial affairs. Leadership is inevitable; and the leader either comes out into the open honestly, or he hides himself; but he is a leader in every case. He unifies ideals, directs activities to one-pointed or converging ends, and is in himself the unifying cynosure or converging point to which all look for guidance, or for the deciding of difficult matters.
The trouble is not in leadership per se, and it is mere folly so to aver. The trouble is in bad leadership. Bad leadership conducts to disillusionment, despair, and destruction. Good leadership leads on to peace, prosperity, and progress. We of Point Loma point to this obvious fact, one of the most powerful factors in human psychology and human affiliations; and in consequence we are not afraid openly to live our belief. Leadership is not only necessary; but it likewise appeals to the best instincts of the human heart — to devotion, to loyalty, and arouses the desire to help others; but we must have good leadership, the genuine and real thing.
Yet let no one think for an instant that I look upon divagations from, or lapses from, or distortions of, the original Theosophy of our Masters as first brought to us by H. P. B., as things of no importance. On the contrary, I hold them as of the very first importance. But this in no wise prevents me from holding a sincere wish to treat all other human beings — Theosophists included, even though the latter may utterly reject H. P. B. — as brothers. We of our own beloved T. S. hold true as steel to our own traditional T. S. and the traditional Theosophical philosophy which it teaches; but perhaps just because we do so, and try to live it instead of merely talking about it, we are always ready to be brotherly towards others, to recognise the rights of individual opinions when sincerely held by others, and also we realize with clarity that organizational differences, while having certain ugly features, nevertheless have one advantage at least among several others that I could enumerate: that is, that these organizational distinctions or differences or individual opinions at least keep the Theosophical Movement, or tend so to keep it, from falling into the old and fatal pit of disaster that has always been the fate of every religious organization up to the present day churchism, dogmatism, spiritual and intellectual crystallization, even perhaps poperies and ritualisms, in which the spirit is lost and is replaced by things of the body — matter.
I have said enough. I write these lines because the feeling came upon me strongly today, after months of pondering over these things among others, that I had better write what I have hereinbefore dictated, hoping, and hoping I believe with justice, that the implications contained in my words will be grasped by our own noble-hearted fellowship at least; and that thus this my writing will serve as a new inspiration, a possible new rule of action, in difficult times; and above everything else perhaps serving to open a door upon a new vision of ineffably grand possibilities which any Theosophist at any time, if he will, have he the yearning, have he the noble desire, can grasp and take unto himself for his own and his fellows' great good. There is nothing preventing a still larger influx amongst us, a still fuller inflow, than we now have, of the spiritual forces emanating from the Nirmanakayas, except supine indifference and lack of interest. These two to me deadly sins for a Theosophist I am happy to say I see very little of in our own T. S., which perhaps may account for the fact that it is steadily moving forwards on the upward path, and growing in membership and consequent influence.
What a great thing it is, when one takes the time to reflect over it, that the Theosophical Society, if it prove worthy of its high mission, can, through its members, be a collaborator with the greatest spiritual forces in the world, which, far from being reluctant to bestow bounteously of their own plenty, gladly work with and through such human instruments as prove themselves to be fit for and capable of aiding in their Great Work of service to all that is.
When the convinced Theosophist compares his own state of mind, with its steady calm, lofty hope, and quiet spiritual enthusiasm, with that of the average man of the human multitudes who fill our streets, and who are most of them bereft of any spiritual hope or keen realization of the fact that Spiritual Powers rule human affairs as far as humanity will allow it to be done: such earnest Theosophist feels deeply sensible of the high responsibility that is his, as well as of the keen joy that goes with it because of this joining of his own efforts with the Agents of the Spiritual Law — I mean the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion.
I believe that at present there is small danger of our hearts being filled with any unworthy pride because of the high privilege that is ours; such pride, it is true, may steal into our minds in the future, should we ever prove unworthy of our mission; but it is my present conviction that all true Theosophists feel too keenly the world's sorrow and its haunting fear of what the next few years may bring forth, to be cognisant of anything other than a yearning eagerness to give to all men the light and hope that we ourselves have. This yearning to help others, karmically less fortunate than ourselves, has proved to be up to the present time a sure bar to the entrance into our hearts of an unworthy spiritual pride which would, if it existed, tend to give to us a false sense of superiority over other men — and this sense not one of us has any right to have or to hold!
The world indeed is in a dangerous situation just at present; and it is my keen realization of the existence of much as yet unexhausted European and American racial karman which urges me to impress upon the minds of all our members, and indeed upon the minds of Theosophists everywhere, our supreme present duty: to do our utmost to bring back to the consciousness of the humanity of our day a keen and lively sense of the inevitability of karmic retribution — a sense which humanity has almost lost — and to make universal this sense or feeling of our responsibility towards each other and towards our fellows; and if we succeed in awaking this sense of responsibility, because of its permeating and powerful influence, it will surely work strongly in the counsels and deliberations of those representative men whom our western peoples set over themselves as guides and governors in national affairs and in international relations.
No normal human being who is awake to the fact that Nature is infinitely just and metes out retribution with unerring and infallible action, will ever do other than strive to his utmost to deal with justice, impartiality, and impersonal fairness by all other men, irrespective of what expediency or individual or national profit may, from short-sighted vision, otherwise urge upon him. Let us spread this great and consoling teaching of Nature's unerring retributive justice everywhere, my Brothers, and by every means in our power, supporting our presentation of it with all the scientific and philosophical knowledge at our command, and with all the persuasive logic that we are capable of. Only a universal awakening to a lively sense of the great fact that reason and not chance governs world-affairs, will restore to mankind in general the instinctive sense of the ever-present need to do right and to give impartial justice unto all, and that the doing of right brings success of all kinds and all true and lasting worth in its train.
I feel the strongest impulse to urge upon all who will listen, the need of acquainting everyone within the reach of our respective lives as individuals, with the meaning of Karman — Nature's inflexible but always compassionate retributive justice — and the majestic spiritual and moral sanctions that inhere in her operations. Human life could become almost a heaven by comparison with what it now is, if every man treated every other man with kindly consideration based upon the will to do impartial justice, and with a rigorous subordination of the desire of personal profit to a will to work for the common good — the good of all mankind, irrespective of race, creed, or class. Earth then would indeed be a heaven even in our material sphere, as compared with what it now is; and if the Theosophical Society does not do its part of this work in the world, for to do this work was one of the main reasons of its founding, then it will be but a mock and a rebuke unto us, and we shall be driven to cover our faces in shame.
Few men realize the immense power of a great idea in affecting the minds of other men; yet history offers to us innumerable illustrations of this immense power, and proofs of it, on every page of its recorded annals; and the great Plato was absolutely right in stating in substance, as he did, that "Ideas rule the world."
I would with all my soul that the Theosophical Society were an imbodied Spiritual Idea, an Idea become incarnate in its members, in its Fellowship; and this Idea, be it remembered, is the practicable ideal and common usage of Universal Brotherhood, based not on a shallow sentimentalism, but on those unerring and enormously powerful operations of Nature and their sanctions which compose the substance of Karman itself.