"INGRATITUDE IS NOT ONE OF OUR FAULTS." WE ALWAYS HELP THOSE WHO HELP US. TACT, DISCRETION, AND ZEAL ARE MORE THAN EVER. NEEDED. THE HUMBLEST WORKER IS SEEN AND HELPED.
To a student theosophist, serving whenever and however he could, there came very recently — since the departure from this plane of H. P. Blavatsky — these words of highest cheer from that Master of whom H. P. B. was the reverent pupil. Attested by His real signature and seal, they are given here for the encouragement and support of all those who serve the Theosophical Society — and, through it, humanity — as best they can; given in the belief that it was not intended that the recipient should sequestrate or absorb them silently, but rather that he should understand them to be his only in the sense that he might share them with his comrades, that his was permitted to be the happy hand to pass them on as the common right, the universal benediction of one and all. The Divine only give to those who give. No greater cheer could well be vouchsafed to earnest workers than the assurances of which these sentences are full. Not a sincere helper, however obscure or insignificant in his own opinion, is outside the range of that watchful eye and helping hand. Not one, if he be sincere, fails to commend himself to the "gratitude" of the highest of the hierarchy thus far revealed to us. Every deed is noted; every aspiration fostered; every spiritual need perceived. If in some dark hour the true helper imagines himself forgotten, supposes his services to be slight in value or too frail for remembrance, these sentences reassure him in all their pregnant significance; they send him on his arduous way refreshed and strengthened with the knowledge that he can "help" Those who help all. Nothing but ourselves can shut us away from Them. Our own deeds are our Saviors.
How, then, can we best help? Another and much beloved Master — He who first communicated with the western world through Mr. Sinnett — once wrote that there was "hardly a member unable to help" by correcting prevailing misconceptions of Theosophy and by clearly explaining its teachings to outsiders. There are comparatively few of our members yet able to do this, and reasoning along this line we see that the great want in the theosophic ranks today is
A THEOSOPHICAL EDUCATION.
At the present juncture the theosophical movement exhibits, both in England and the United States, an astonishing activity, a tenacious and all-embracing vitality. Never before in its history has numerical growth been so rapid: one hundred applicants in ten weeks in the dull season here, and four new branches already since the "death" of H. P. Blavatsky. The moment of depression upon the departure of our great Leader from the objective world was so brief as to be scarcely noticeable. Then, all at once, as if inspired by gratitude, by fidelity, by all the promptings of full and loyal hearts, the Society made a bound forward, impelled by the efforts of its individual members towards Solidarity and increased usefulness. The tide of popular opinion is turning. Press comment has become more favorable and more reasonable in the better newspapers; more virulent and extreme in the lower ones, sure sign of our steady — and to them irritating — advance. Each day a swifter momentum is discernible. And on all sides theosophists are found saying and writing, "What can I do for the Cause?" This question is put forward out of lives hampered by care, limited in opportunity, wherein ease is scant and leisure brief, yet it comes so earnestly, so frequently, that reply must be made.
The pressing need of our Society today is a theosophical education, a sound grounding in theosophical teaching. Our members require clearer comprehension of theosophic truth. They lack, in large part, ability to explain the groundwork of the theosophic scheme in simple, direct language to inquirers. They are not able to give a terse, plain account of the faith that is in them, nor their reasons for holding it. Dazzled by the vastness of the universal plan which theosophic works reveal in glimpses only, they have not realized the desirability, the necessity, in fact, that they should be able to give a clear account of our belief, to themselves in first place, and afterward to others. The composite nature of man, for example, in itself so explanatory of the problems of life, they do not wholly grasp and cannot expound. They are vague, — and Theosophy is considered vague. They are tongue-tied, — and theosophical thought is believed to halt. Their shortenings are all attributed to Theosophy. Most of our students read discursively. Many are unable to present a few fundamental ideas to the understanding of the average man, who inquires or listens, on the trains, or on the streets, at the close of a hard day and with brains already weary with headwork, a man whose life of fevered haste and effort at money getting is so crowded that he has not ten minutes to give to eternal salvation itself, if it were offered to him, while he is often as unconscious as a child to the importance of his thought as affecting his future destiny. Nor can we dispel this unconsciousness, or arrest his attention, until we are able to set before him a few well-digested and apposite facts. Practical, applied Theosophy appeals to him. Basic truths he is ready to understand. He does not yet aspire, perhaps. His devotion slumbers; his mental need is stifled: but give him plain facts, and he listens. The unity of Religion, the Law of Action and Reaction, the necessity for Reincarnation along the line of the persistence of Energy — here are things he will grasp, retain, augment, if they are explained in their bearings upon daily life and its inexplicable, haunting sadness and misery.
Here is a service more needed than any other, which any student can render. The study of the Key to Theosophy, as one studies a grammar, the mastery of some one given subject, followed by an effort to write it out, or to speak it, in one's own language for one's self only at first, would assist the student to fix the chief points in his own mind, as well as to express them clearly. A few moments of such study daily, even weekly, would be of immense use to all. We do not need to read so widely, to think so discursively, to have knowledge so profound, or to run so far afield after occult mysteries and laws. We do need, and that urgently, to simplify our thought, to express it lucidly, briefly; to clarify our knowledge and to live what we know.
The opportunity thus afforded for doing good is incalculable. All about us are persons straining at the tether of their creeds, eager to break away to pastures of living Truth. Before the great mysteries of Life they stand dumb as the brute, but with enlarged capacity for suffering; endowed with the reason which in the brute is lacking, but which in the man of today receives little support, scant sustenance from all that he has been taught heretofore. If such a man be met, at the critical moment, by a theosophist willing and able to explain and give reason for what he believes; to indicate the bearings of theosophical truths upon the mental, social, and other conditions of the present time; to point out the relations of Karma and Reincarnation to universal law as partly known to the average mind; the value of the service rendered thus becomes evident, the need of self-education among our members is perceived.
The subject must be studied as we study any other. One branch after another may be taken up, each being the object of meditation and reading until we can render a clear account of it to ourselves in our own words, illustrated by our own experience. It is better to know a little very thoroughly, and to frankly say that we know no more (which always placates an inquirer and inspires confidence in our sincerity), than to seek to impress others by the wide range of our thought. We may incite wonder but we shall not convince or aid. It may seem an insignificant path to point out when one says, "Educate yourselves." It is, in fact, an initial step which is also the final step, for it never ends. And if the enlargement of our own minds, the amplification and serenity of our thought, the clarification of the nature, the knowledge that we have helped others towards these priceless advantages were not sufficient reward for the faithful lover of his kind, reward for labor, inducement for further endeavor, then surely the greatest, the final incentive comes when he remembers that he can help Those who "build the wall" to protect humanity, that he may become Their co-laborer, himself a part of that living wall. The truest way to help is by clearly learning and clearly imparting theosophic truths. It is only done by not straining too far, by educating one's self gradually and thoroughly from the root up, with frequent trials of our own definiteness of idea. Classes may be formed wherein the members examine each other: there are many ways when the wish and will are strong.
Hand in hand with this effort goes the higher Education. It is Patience. With Patience and knowledge he develops his full power of helpfulness; he becomes great by becoming a greater servant of his fellow-men.
"Life is a sheet of paper white
Whereon each one of us may write
This word or two — and then comes night.
Greatly begin! Though thou have time
But for a line, be that sublime:
Not failure, but low aim, is crime"
Duty is the proper use of the present hour. This calls upon us to train ourselves that we may come to the assistance of our fellows who founder in quagmires of thought, in the musty accumulations of centuries. If we would help them, we must show ourselves masters of our ideas and ourselves. There is a way to it: — that way is in steady self-education.
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