Theosophical University Press Online Edition
(Lecture delivered November 2, 1930)
CONTENTS: Is The Theosophical Society a secret society? — What is the purpose of a secret society? — The possession of wisdom brings heavy responsibility. — One great Esoteric School and one wisdom-teaching. — Occult societies and mystical societies are not exactly the same. — Who is the true occultist? — Mithraism a mystery-teaching. — The close run between Mithraism and Christianity. — The Mysteries of Eleusis and Samothrace. — Have the various religio-philosophical societies of today a historical ancestry? — Claims made by the modern Rosicrucians as an organization. — The final test of a teaching: universality. — How can I find the society inspired by the most advanced Masters? — Have not all theosophical societies the same teachings? — One great Brotherhood of the Masters of Wisdom. — Why have not the scientists "discovered" the Masters? — A misapprehension as regards the Theosophical World-Congress to be held at Point Loma, 1931. Will any theosophists be excluded?
Is The Theosophical Society a secret society with bars raised against those who apply in sincerity and honesty of heart? It is not. Anyone may join The Theosophical Society who will accept the fundamental prerequisite, in fact the only prerequisite — an earnest and honest belief in universal brotherhood. Membership is open to every race of men, to every age after adulthood; and anyone who applies honestly can become an F.T.S. — Fellow of The Theosophical Society. You may ask: Then why is it that some of your teachings are spoken of as secret, as esoteric, as being such that you, a theosophical lecturer, cannot refer to them in public? Yes, that is true also.
We have in fact a secret society — it is not a branch of The Theosophical Society at all, but an esoteric body of students who are engaged in the study of the deeper teachings of theosophy and who undertake to lead a noble life. Into this Esoteric Section can enter, will enter, may enter, my friends, only those who give the right knock. Now, this restriction — the right asking, the right knocking at the Temple door, so to speak — is not a bar raised arbitrarily against anyone; it is not something placed in order to trip unwary feet, but it fills a need which has existed throughout all the ages of past time. In every land, among all races of men, and, as I have said, in every age, there have been secret associations of men who gathered together for a deeper, closer study of the wondrous mysteries of the universe which surrounds us; and only those could enter these secret societies or associations who had proved themselves worthy, well qualified to bear the responsibilities, and also who were earnest and honest; for in the higher grades of this Esoteric Section of ours, those who have proved that they are true to truth, loyal to loyalty, feal to fealty, honest in honesty, these who have thus proved themselves to have these qualifications, are taught the most wondrous secrets of the universe — not solely how that universe is builded and constructed and what its inner carpentry is, but also taught regarding the powers which infill this universe, which inspirit it, which invigorate it, which make it in fact what it is; they are taught about these powers, and also taught how to evoke from within the recesses of their own being the same spiritual and intellectual faculties and powers — in other words, wisdom and knowledge are put into their hands, because they have proved themselves spiritually and intellectually and morally worthy of the charge, and of the heavy moral responsibility which this charge implies.
You see thus that the restrictions spoken of are called for because of the present feeble character of human nature itself — feeble, failing, imperfect, only partly evolved, and therefore subject to temptation, and subject to failing. No spiritual teacher will ever give to another human being a truth implicating power unless he knows that that other human being has proved himself worthy and well qualified, capable of carrying the burden of wisdom and knowledge and responsibility; but once that the neophyte has proved himself worthy and well qualified, then by natural right all the wisdom and knowledge about the universe that can be given to him belong to him as a human being. It is his; therefore it is potentially yours also. It is the same principle arising in prudence and experience which causes the chemist to lock the doors of the laboratory, so that cranks and criminals, thieves and children, may not enter in and perhaps with unwitting mind and careless hand scatter the seeds of disease, or wreak havoc on their fellow men.
Men of the Occident don't know what they have lying within them, as I tell you on every Sunday when I speak to you from this platform. You have powers latent within you as men which, if you knew how to control and direct them, could wreck the monuments of the greatest city of the world and by a single effort of the spiritual will cause them to vanish into impalpable dust, and thus could bring devastation and death to your fellow human beings. Is power like that to be placed in unskilled and above all in immoral minds and hands? This is the reason for the bar, for the restriction, that I have spoken of, and this bar is simply the door of the Temple itself: that is, your Temple. This Temple belongs to humanity, to every son and daughter of man. But you must prove yourself worthy to enter into it, and having proved yourself worthy, then all that can be taught therein is yours by right.
There have existed secret societies in all ages, among all races of men everywhere, from the pole to the equator, from the equator to the other pole. There have been great men in the past, there are great men in the present, there will be great men in the future, who have known and who will know how to unlock the powers locked up within themselves. They have been initiated; they have been taught in the esoteric schools of the past. In every case, these great men are the saviors of mankind — those bright and flaming intelligences, children of the human race, whose records we may even now see written large in the annals of history. All ages have known them; all races have produced them. They all belong to the one great Esoteric School, the greatest spiritual school that the earth has ever produced; and we call these great ones of the human race, the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace.
How many times have I recited a few of their names to you from this platform: the great Buddha, Krishna, Sankaracharya, in India; Lao-tse, Chuang-tse, Confucius, in China; Jesus the Syrian sage; Pythagoras, Empedocles, Apollonius of Tyana, as instances of Greeks; and in other lands similar individuals of whom only a name remains to us at present, such as Quetzalcoatl, and Manco Capac — and many, many more. All these great men taught one fundamental doctrine. The language conveying this sublime doctrine may have been in many cases different; the mere system of teaching the doctrine may have varied; but that fundamental doctrine was the same everywhere, and its fundamental principles were identic. Do you know why? Because each one of these great men had been initiated; had been taught in that greatest of esoteric spiritual schools, how to take leave of the physical vehicle and to pass with all his percipient faculties behind the veil of the outward seeming, and thus to glean knowledge and wisdom of nature's inner workings at first hand. Doing this they saw; seeing this they knew, because they had been there and had become. Thus it was that they all taught the same wisdom-teaching.
This great adventure will also be yours, my Brothers, in good time. It is your own for the taking. But in order to take, you must be, you must prove yourself; and in order to pass the examinations you must study and train yourself; and there is no examination and no conquest so difficult as that of self. Self-control, self-conquest, self-victory — a victory over the personal self, so that the immortal god within you may shine forth in resplendent wonder, in its native glory. Then you are fit to carry the heavy burden of responsibility; then you are fit to wield the scepter of power and to dart the thunderbolt, to use the old figure of speech. Then you can truly lead; then you can truly guide — because you see; because you have been there, and therefore know.
Mystical societies, occult societies, have existed — and the average of men in the Occident think that these two kinds of societies are exactly the same. They are not. The occultist is one who studies at first hand those parts of nature which are hid, not seen — the unseen, the invisible — those parts of nature which so many men in their foolish blindness deny the existence of, so that they turn away from the straight and narrow path, which always is more or less a lonely path, but which leads to glory unspeakable, to mastery first over self, your self, nature's child, and then later over nature's inner forces and powers; because when you have passed the examinations, when you have passed the portals of initiation, then you become at one with spiritual nature, and nature's inner forces and powers you find to be in yourself. Oh! do you get that thought? It means becoming at one with the spiritual essence of your being, with your own inner god! And this is no mere figure of speech. Each one of you is the feeble reflection, the feeble expression, of a bright and flaming divinity within you and above you.
Initiation is naught but a becoming at one with your own inner god, your own spiritual being, and this means expanding your consciousness, your inner powers, so that they take cosmic extent, gain cosmic reaches. Being at one with the spiritual essence of things, you live there and breathe its atmosphere and become a very god in flesh. Just as Jesus the Syrian sage said: "I and my Father are one" — referring here to his own inner god. When you become at one with your own inner god — in other words, become at one with the divine essence working through you and giving you intelligence and love and power and vision — you have allied yourself with the divinity within you, and thus you become a god among men, literally.
The great ones of the past of whom I have spoken, have done just that; and smaller men do it in less degree; and these smaller ones, these smaller sons of men, are they whom we call geniuses.
My Brothers, in past ages, when the currents of material life ran less strong than they do today, when men's minds in those former ages were turned more to the things which endure, to the things of the spirit, to the things which last — I mean to the energies and feelings and thoughts within you, which bring you hope and make you live grandly and die grandly — in those past ages it was thought to be man's loftiest objective to become more than man, more than an ordinary human. In order to become more than an ordinary human, a man whose heart was anhungered for truth and whose soul was quickened with an intuition of great spiritual values, entered upon the path of the ancient mystery-teaching. He gave up his life in order to find Life; he broke the bonds of personal existence — limited, restricted, constricted — so that his soul might expand into its native cosmic essence. That is what the Mysteries of the ancient days in their higher degrees did for the men who were capable and strong enough to undertake the tests and pass them successfully.
Now, this study and investigation of the secret laws of our great parent, Mother Nature, of which we are all children, is called Occultism. It also involves the highest form of spiritual self-dedication. You cannot ever reach an end of this study and investigation, because Mother Nature herself, in her wondrous and illimitable fields of existence, is endless. So this means, as you at once may see, that behind every veil which now confronts you and blinds you, you can pass into a greater light — only to find another veil beyond, behind which, by greater growth still, you may go; and so on forever. What a sublime hope! Endless growth, endless expansion, undying vision! It is a blessed thought that we gain it all by our own efforts alone!
How that fact appeals to a true man — the sense of victory over self first, and then over the complex and wandering forces of nature around us, in order to help others. Because, don't you see, when you try to help yourself alone and to gain for yourself alone, and to live for yourself alone, you cannot go farther than a certain boundary which is the sphere of your limited personality? But when you live to help others, your consciousness is constantly expanding to take these others in, in other words moving always steadily outwards with the expansion of one's life and sympathies; and besides that you are in the current of the advancing river of progress, evolving, and all nature is with you, carrying you along with itself.
Brotherhood is based on nature's fundamental law that no entity lives unto itself absolutely. It cannot; in trying to violate this fundamental law it perishes in time. But when we live unto others than our own self, we expand constantly. Our consciousness reaches forever and forever more outwards to greater spaces and finds its play in ever wider and grander fields. Living unto others is the way to grow great. This is not vapid sentimentality — it enunciates the first law of being.
Of mystical societies there have been many indeed; and they are graded exactly according to the men who composed them. The idea of mysticism as contrasted with occultism is this: within every human being there is an interior light, man's infallible guide; and consequently, in order to know truth, every human being must consult this light within himself where truth abides in fullness. As the great Buddha said in substance: "Trust not the words of any other man, however fine they may be, merely because that other man has received the plaudits of mankind." Trust the spirit within you, trust your own conscience, although it is fallible because as yet imperfectly developed; it is, nevertheless, your final guide, the unwavering arbiter within yourself, because your conscience is a more or less complete shining of the interior light that I have just spoken of.
You see, therefore, from what I have just said, the difference that lies between occultism and mysticism. Every true occultist is a true mystic, and similarly every true mystic is an occultist; but the genuine occultist in addition to being a mystic is one who has been initiated by those whom he knows to be teachers or by his own especial teacher; so that his knowledge and course of life depend not only from the interior light that I have spoken of, but also flow from the grand science that he has been taught by those still greater than himself — his teachers or his teacher.
Do you think that because I have spoken so earnestly of the great help and of the great beauty of the inner light, do you think that because I speak of this to my audience on every occasion when I address them, that I forget the need of genuine teachers? O my Brothers, not at all. Men need both. On the one hand, men need guides and helpers, instructors; but, on the other hand, they also need to look within themselves and to become at one with the interior light. There is no contradiction at all between these two statements. If a man shows me the way at the time when the night is dark and my feet stumble in the path, should I accept, as Victor Hugo nobly says, "the authority of the torches"? Of course! Gladly do I accept the guiding hand. But for all that, when my feet are placed upon the way, shall I abandon my first prerogative as a spiritual entity manifesting as a human being — shall I abandon my independent judgment? Never! For following my interior light is the beginning of the growth within me, which light may be called the voice of my inner god, and this light increaseth in power and brilliance with every new lifetime, every new reincarnation, on earth.
Both the interior light and genuine teachers are needed by men. Men need teachers, genuine spiritual teachers; but also must they learn to look within themselves, learn to stand on their own feet and in time to be their own guides, just as little children learn to walk; and we are all little children, when you think of it, by comparison — in comparison with the surrounding great mystery of the universe which even the greatest god cannot fully plumb; for were he able to plumb it to the deepest deep, to the uttermost end, then he would find a frontier at that uttermost end and no further advancement would be possible. But there is no such uttermost end, there is no such frontier. There is always a grander and a greater world to explore, always something nobler beyond, something higher and more beautiful still, deeper, and more lofty. Therefore both are required — teachers and the noble self-confidence arising out of this inner light — and this self-confidence is not the vain self-confidence of the foolish, but the noble self-confidence arising from one's increasing sense of union with the inner spiritual light. When you have the latter, then you see the vision sublime, and you are approaching a stage in your growth in which you will be near to confabulating with the gods who fill the universe full and of whom we humans are the children.
O my Brothers, think of your divine ancestry! Think of the spiritual powers within you, of which you have intimations at times, and alas! from which all too frequently you turn away, because your minds are filled full with the patter of the schools and with the passing fads and fancies of the day. Listen to the voice of humanity enduring through the ages, recurrent in every age, insistent at all times in our consciousness, ringing out when civilization brings forth the greatest men — rather than listening only to the teachings of the schools, which teachings change with every twenty-five years or so. Exchange not your spiritual birthright for the passing fads and fancies of a day. Listen to the mystic voice of humanity. It says: "Man, know thyself. Within thee there is a divine being, the source of all that makes you great, deathless; which gives you hope and peace and which fills your heart with almighty love; which is also the source of your intellect, of your intelligence — which is the source of all that you are." This is an ancient teaching; it is the teaching of all illuminated mankind. It varies never and not at all.
One of the greatest of the esoteric schools among the Greeks and later among the Romans was that of the Mithraists. They had a wonderful teaching! It has been called a religious belief or religion. Yes, so it was; but it was also a mystery-teaching, a teaching of one of the Mystery schools. Do you know that Mithraism drove Christianity so hard at one time that the scales were so evenly balanced that a feather's weight in the Mithraic scale would have changed the course of history? Christianity prevailed only because it was easier to accept on belief. Do you get the thought?
The nations surrounding the Mediterranean Sea at that time were, spiritually speaking, running on a downgrade: an era of spiritual and intellectual obscuration had come upon men; and the grand old teachings of the Mystery schools had been largely forgotten, and the races that then lived around the Mediterranean could hardly understand those teachings; and the time finally came when they preferred to believe on faith rather than to think. That is why Christianity prevailed. Mithraism at one time was predominant in court, in the army, in the navy, among the people, indeed, everywhere; but it required thinking, it required study, it required something more than easy belief; and speaking in a strange paradox, it was its greatness which was its weakness — it was too great for a degenerate people to understand it.
Consider the Eleusinia, as another type of esoteric society, commonly called the Mysteries of Eleusis; consider also the Mysteries of Samothrace. Concerning these Mystery schools, the greatest men of Greece and Rome have told us — concerning these two great schools — that in them a man was taught how grandly to live, and when his time comes how grandly to die, filled with the fervent hope that he was on his way to join the gods — not in body, but in essence — preceding a return here on earth among men.
Yes, in all countries there were esoteric schools, and in the greatest of these esoteric or secret schools they taught occultism, the secret teaching of the things that are hid, not apparent, secret, such as the structure of the universe around us; such as the kind and nature and quality and circumstances of the spiritual beings who fill the universe full; such, again, as man's origin and destiny — spiritual, psychical, physical.
Therefore, every theosophist who is something more than a mere Fellow of The Theosophical Society is either a mystic or an occultist, or both, usually both; but they who belong to our Esoteric School, of which I have spoken to you briefly, they are both indeed. No matter how often they may temporarily fall from their best, no matter how often their feet may stumble on the pathway, they at least are sincerely trying; and when they stumble or should they stumble, up they rise again and take a new step forwards on the path towards those distant hills of the Mystic East, over which they see the sunrise every morning, inwardly.
There is truth in the universe, my Brothers; it can be had. This truth is not my truth, nor is it your truth; it is ours. You have a right to it and I have a right to it. But as a theosophical teacher I cannot give it unless I know that I transfer this most precious of treasures into worthy hands.
Some people don't like to believe certain things. Tell a man that he is a god and probably he will look at you and blink. Tell him that he is — well, a mere human, and he will think you are quite some chap! It is a strange twist of human psychology that men sometimes — and women too — like to think that they are admired for their faults! It is quite understandable, however. We excuse ourselves if others admire us for our failings, you see. But tell a man that he is an incarnate divinity, and he is not quite sure whether you are in earnest or not. He wants to find out for himself first and that is right, it is just as it ought to be. But this inclination to disbelieve also has its unfortunate side. Some people are a little too prudent sometimes; and yet I hate to say that, because I am continually urging prudence upon you: Be careful; don't accept every one who comes along and says "I am a teacher. Follow me." My message to you is to look within yourself. That is what it is my duty to tell you; and only if your own conscience leaps in instant recognition that what you hear is truth, then trust me.
Our theosophical truths are very wonderful, and so appealing that a great many of the various religio-philosophical societies that exist today, and which claim to have a secret teaching (I have not spoken of these societies by name because it would sound as if I were casting slurs on people, and heaven knows I don't want to do that!) have taken over a great many of our theosophical teachings which they have adopted as their own, and in consequence in certain cases make claims for a wondrous historical ancestry of their own. Well, the claim is true, so far as the teachings that they have borrowed from us are concerned; but I have grave doubts of such societies having an archaic ancestry in any other respect. Now please understand that I don't want to point my finger here or my finger there and say that the W-ites have taken some of our teachings and claim to be a true secret society coming down from past ages. I don't like unfriendly suggestions of that kind, and yet what can I do? As a theosophical teacher I am sworn to tell the truth as far as I know that truth, and I am equally bound to hide nothing if it is true. Or again, I refrain from pointing in another direction, saying that the X-ites have done the same thing. I will however make one exception, because there is a certain foundation in this case for claims of historical ancestry extending beyond a generation or two.
The exception that I refer to is the Rosicrucians. About Rosicrucianism in recent years we have been hearing a good deal. I have no doubt that there are splendid and unusual people among them — earnest and devoted and sincere; and yet, do you know, friends, that I am of the opinion that a large number of the doctrines that they promulgate have been taken from the theosophical teachings. That taking of our teachings is all right. It is fine. No true theosophist would object to it. The theosophical teachings belong to mankind. But this is what I personally am doubtful about: the claim made by any organization which adopts teachings that the organization so adopting is a brotherhood or society that has come down through the ages. The theosophical teachings so adopted have indeed come down through the ages, but their subordination to certain Christian teachings belonging to the Rosicrucian body, or the rather curious twisting of our Theosophical teachings in order to make them accord with certain mystical, medieval, quasi-Christian teachings, which are in their presentation relatively modern although quite mystical, in some instances, does not seem to me to prove that the proponents thereof possess a glorious spiritual ancestry as an organization.
About the middle of the fifteenth century there lived a German of strong mystical bent who was called Christian Rosenkreuz. This name may be rendered as Christian Rosy Cross. Whether this name Rosenkreuz was a name which was adopted, as I believe it was, is a matter which I leave to you. He claimed to have been on a pilgrimage in the East and to have brought back from the Orient the teachings which he is alleged to have given out with great care. To a certain degree the teachings that I have read and which are stated as having come from Christian Rosenkreuz are quite theosophical, both in tone and in content, but enunciated or expressed in a peculiar and hardly genuinely theosophical form. I may merely add in conclusion that there are a number of associations calling themselves Rosicrucians which, as far as I can gather, don't seem to agree among themselves.
During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, as every student of European history knows, there came into existence quite a number of so-called Hermetic societies which, however, probably did not use that name: these were societies having a mystical and so-called occultistic trend; and they all made rather large claims as concerns a mystical and historic ancestry; and as far as I have been able to study these claims, they were based on small foundations of fact.
I will give you what seems to me to be the only proper test by which to prove any such claim. It is an infallible test: Are the teachings of any individual or of any organization — are they, or are they not — universal? If they are, you may safely trust them. This is an infallible test. Does the Theosophical Movement, for instance, propagate teachings which ring as true today as they rang true when the first human protoplasts walked the earth and as they will ring true twenty billions of years hence, or as they will ring true even today to the inhabitants of other planets revolving around other suns? In other words, if the teaching is universal and applies to all times and to all entities everywhere — if it is based on natural fact — then it is true. You can trust it.
I would not accept any theosophical teaching which was based otherwise. I have tested them all. I have found that every one is based on nature herself. They explain all religious philosophies and all philosophical religions. They are as true to the Hindu as to the Occidental; they are as true to the Chinaman as to the Aztec; they are universal, appealing to all men; and they have existed in all ages. There is the test: universality. Any society which works under the influence of restrictive teachings and which limits even slightly the flow of spiritual life by concentrating it around and from any human spiritual figure of history as chiefest, may be doing excellent service in certain lines, and never would I throw a speck of mud, but as a theosophical teacher I am bound to tell you that the theosophical philosophy is based on nature's own operations, in other words on truth — not limited to Christianity, not limited to Buddhism, not limited to Hinduism, not limited to Greece or to Rome, or limited to anything. Prove this statement by your own study. Investigate, study, test. The work of proof lies with you.
The following is the first question that I have to answer this afternoon:
A friend is a fellow of an esoteric society which he says dates back to ancient Egypt. Apparently this society teaches about the same things as do the theosophists. Do other occult societies have Masters like the theosophists? If so, how can interested students know which society has the most advanced Masters, for I understand there are various degrees of Masters?
Well, there are various degrees of initiated men, and these Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace are just that — men who have evolved forth the Buddha within, the Christ within, the god within them, evolved it out, so that they stand as expressions thereof.
I don't know whether I should tell you without circumlocution what my candid opinion is regarding any society which claims to date back to ancient Egypt. I might hurt somebody's feelings, and I don't want to do that.
I will apply here the test that I have already spoken of: Are the teachings of the society mentioned universal? Have they the mahatma touch, have they the mahatmic atmosphere, behind and within them? (Do you understand me? Theosophists call these great Masters mahatmas.) Are the teachings universal? Do they appeal to all? Are they the same in all ages? Do they touch your heart and quicken your understanding?
Any society which puts forth, which teaches, a body of doctrine which does these things, probably has our Theosophical Masters behind it in some degree at least. And when the further question is asked: "How is one to find a society having the most advanced Masters?" I would answer: The society which is the most universal, which is the kindliest, which teaches doctrines that appeal to all — doctrines that appeal not merely to the brain-mind, but which touch the heart, which quicken the understanding, which awaken the intuition, which make men feel their essential human dignity.
This idea of Masters behind societies was generally unheard of until H. P. Blavatsky, the foundress of the Theosophical Society in our modern times, taught it. You have thus your answer, my Brothers. I do not care to go into this question more deeply. If any society wishes to claim that it has great seers and sages behind it, all I can say is, the heavens bless you, my Brothers. If you really believe it, then prove it by your lives. I don't care to dispute your claim. My duty is to aid, to help, to stimulate decency in men, to evoke kindliness and brotherhood in human hearts; yes, and to teach.
Now, I will tell you just what I think: there is on earth today a band or association of great sages and seers, wise men, highly evolved human beings, whom we call Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace. They founded the Theosophical Society in our modern times, and it is but a rebirth in our day of other theosophical societies that they had founded in other ages. They founded the Theosophical Society through the messenger whom they sent forth to found it — H. P. Blavatsky, — and entrusted to her care as teacher the grand old doctrines of the wisdom-religion of mankind — doctrines which are universal, appealing both to heart and mind, elevating, encouraging, giving hope and light and peace.
I am speaking as a theosophical teacher. I am not aware of any other body of Masters whatsoever. Our Masters may work through societies other than The Theosophical Society. Why not? If the opportunity to work for human betterment is a good one in any other society — if there are in any other society, no matter what its name may be, or in any church, great and lofty-minded men, who are fit vehicles to receive the blessing of the spiritual life flowing from this grand Brotherhood of our Masters — then most assuredly do I believe that our Masters work through such lofty men. They may be Christians, they may be Buddhists, they may be Hindus, they may be Freethinkers, they may be atheists, heaven knows what! The Masters live to benefit the human race; and although the Theosophical Society is their own child and they watch over it, although they do not guide it, nevertheless, being the exemplars of human compassion, love, and pity, being the exemplars of the divine flame of intelligence which infills the universe, if they see men and women leading a beautiful life in human organizations other than the Theosophical Society, most assuredly is our Masters' influence felt among such men and women too. Our Masters live to benefit mankind. So you see the question lacks a certain amount of reflection (and I don't mean this unkindly), for it is in fact rather foolish to ask where the most advanced Masters may be found.
Do you realize, my Brothers, that every one of you in your inner being is a mahatma, is yourself an unevolved Master? Think over it. Remember that evolution is simply the unfolding of this inner greatness, the expansion of your inner, latent, native powers and faculties; and mastery or mastership is but one grand step higher than ordinary humanity. Beyond the stage that our theosophical Masters have attained stretches the endless stair of life, ever upwards; and that is the stair that in future ages you also will climb.
I am a fellow of a few years' standing in another Theosophical Society, and in fairness I wish to say that you seem in every lecture to throw some new light on the teachings. I cannot understand how it is that you teach things that appeal to me as true but not to be found in our books. Is the reason because your teachings are esoteric? Are not all theosophical societies supposed to have the same teachings, and do not all these teachings come from the same Masters?
It is true that all the teachings given forth by my predecessors have been in essence esoteric; and in that fact lies their wonderful appeal. Furthermore, when the Theosophical Society — which must not be confused with the Theosophical Movement, which has existed in every age — was founded in our own age, in 1875, in New York, then indeed there was but one body of teaching; and it could truthfully be said that all theosophists believed in and accepted that one body of teaching. But, my Brothers, the Theosophical Society is simply an association of human beings; and after the death of the great founder, H. P. Blavatsky, the Theosophical Society separated into different children-societies — a misfortune which I am in part now laboring to undo in my work for theosophical fraternization and reunification. In some of these theosophical societies certain teachings have been promulgated, propaganded, and printed which the Fellows of these later theosophical societies apparently believe in.
I will say this much, my friends, that The Theosophical Society which I have the high honor to lead and the heavy responsibility of guiding holds fast and without change to those original teachings brought from the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace by H. P. Blavatsky. These teachings we retain in their pristine purity, although this does not mean in any wise that we are mere dogmatic formalists or bibliolaters. We are the exact contrary of this. These sublime teachings can be and have been developed by us. They can be and have been elaborated by us. They can be and have been explained by us. But as a body of teachings they are those same original teachings from which we have not varied. If you will remember that theosophy is a promulgation in human formulation of the structure and operations of the universe both spiritual and material, you will see that they comprise the sum total of all possible human knowledge far beyond the complete grasp of any human being, and that consequently development of them, elaboration of them, and explanation of them, is not only a logical necessity, but is a course of action that follows as naturally as one step follows another step forwards. I think, therefore, that in stating these facts, the question is properly answered.
There are, therefore, these later theosophical societies teaching other doctrines which their proponents consider to be theosophical, but which I do not accept because I cannot accept them; but nevertheless I have no word of scorn for any other theosophist, and no unkindly thought towards any other theosophist. If these other theosophists are satisfied and happy with what they have and promulgate, then it is my duty to see if I cannot bring even a greater peace to their hearts and a larger light to their minds than those which now they have. That is my duty as a theosophical teacher.
Here is an odd question:
If there are such superhumans as you theosophists call Masters, how comes it that our great scientists who have discovered even the electron cannot find these Masters?
[Laughing] Excuse me, please. I think the reason for this question is because the questioner supposes that the great scientists are looking for the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace in their test tubes, and in their apparatuses of experiment, and it is hardly reasonable to expect to find human beings there. Do you want to know where our Masters are? They are in fact everywhere. Their home is the world. Wherever human need is greatest, there are they. Wherever human suffering is most poignant, there they are. Their main seat at the present time is in more than one of the inaccessible places of the lofty tableland of Bodyul (Tibet); but they have their branch associations elsewhere on earth also. Nevertheless, because they gather and hold their special meetings in these particular localities does not mean that they continually stay there and leave them not at all. I tell you that wherever human need is greatest, there they are.
If our scientists used their intuition as grandly as some of them use their brain-minds, they would then indeed know where the great ones are; more, they would feel their actual presence. What an interesting thing am I going to tell you now! In the laboratories of work of three of our greatest ultramodern scientists, in three places that I have in mind, some of the great brothers have been present although invisible to the physical eye, watching the experiments in progress, stimulating the intuition of the researchers and inspiring illuminating thoughts, placing an inspiring hand, as it were, on the brain of the researchers — giving light, stimulating thought, and suggesting new ways and methods of work.
The questioner asks: "Why haven't the experimenters found your mahatmas?" My answer is: Let them look for the Masters where the Masters are, if they will; they will then see them perhaps, they will then feel them perhaps; then they will know. Yes, the greatest of ultramodern scientific discoveries, and even more important than the discoveries, the greatest of the scientific deductions of recent times, are derivable directly from the influence flowing from the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion and Peace, enlightening the brain of the researchers, so that they had hunches, so that they had grand and illuminating thoughts, so that they had a vision. Then the discovery was made, and the deductions were drawn from that discovery. Wherever human need is great, there the Masters are. And I should perhaps add that help is given in this invisible and silent way in all cases where the discoveries to be made and the deductions to be drawn from such discoveries will inure to produce a more spiritual view of the universe and to the amelioration of human relations; for, as I have told you, the Masters live but to benefit all mankind.
One more question:
I notice that from the Theosophical World-Congress to be held at Point Loma in 1931 you seem to propose to exclude as delegates the followers of a teacher who has a large following of theosophists and who is also the head Bishop of a Theosophical Church. Since it is proclaimed that The Theosophical Society is broad enough to include persons of all shades of religious belief, why should any theosophists be excluded from this theosophical universal Congress?
A very good question, but it is one which is based on a misapprehension of the facts. In the first place, it is by no means to be a universal Congress. We are going to send out invitations to the heads only of all the different Theosophical Societies whose addresses we can procure, extending an invitation in the name of brotherhood and peace, and on the ground of those of our theosophical teachings which are common to all of us, to come to Point Loma in August 1931, and thus to meet here together as brothers, and to show to the world that at least in fundamental feeling and in fundamental theosophical teaching we are essentially one body of workers for humanity. If I can assemble these theosophical heads, once get them together with me, so that we can talk together amicably and in peace, I think that more will be done to reunite the different branches of the Theosophical Society than anything else that has been achieved since the melancholy event of the disruption of the Theosophical Society which I have mentioned this afternoon.
I have no intention, and our officers likewise have no intention, of excluding any theosophist who comes as a duly accredited delegate from some Theosophical Society. As this is to be a Theosophical Congress alone, one who calls himself a Bishop merely will not be invited to come. But if he comes as a theosophical delegate it will matter not at all whether he be pope, bishop, priest, parson, or what else: if he comes as a Theosophist he will be welcome, but welcome because he comes as a Theosophist and not as a prince, priest, or peasant. Our gathering is to be a small congress of theosophists with a specific theosophic purpose in view. In some future year I hope to call a universal pan-theosophical congress; but to this especial congress or gathering of August 12th, next year, we shall invite only the heads of the different Theosophical Societies and a few duly accredited delegates from more or less independent theosophical societies who are not sufficiently closely organized to have a responsible or official head.
I don't exactly know how the unfortunate misunderstanding arose to which the questioner refers. We have no intention of excluding any duly accredited theosophical head. I have said very plainly, and have constantly repeated it, that this meeting of August 12, 1931, is to be a Congress of theosophists, and only the theosophical heads will be invited to attend at this particular gathering. Would it be wrong to suggest that perhaps some people who do not favor this plan of ours or who have misunderstood this plan of ours have circulated this unfortunate rumor of exclusion? Our officers and I have tried to be quite specific as regards these matters, and it is difficult for me to understand how our words could have been twisted into meaning that we have the intention of excluding any duly accredited theosophical delegate.
Yes, and continuing my answer to the question, The Theosophical Society is broad enough to include as members, persons of all shades of religious belief or of none, but this inclusion in our membership rests on a specific ground, which is this: that the applicant for Fellowship, or the Fellow, look deep into his own belief, that he plumb the deepest depth of his own religious or philosophical conviction, solely for the purpose that he may find our universal theosophy there. He will find it there if he examine carefully enough and look deeply enough. The only prerequisite to joining us is a belief in universal brotherhood. It may be argued that the churches also teach universal brotherhood — at least that they do teach it in our day; probably they do as a theory and I presume that they try to practice it. We Theosophists try to practice it; we don't say that we are perfect in our practice, for we are human; but I do say that theosophists really try to practice what we preach.
The Theosophical Society admits to Fellowship anyone who accepts the principle of universal brotherhood, no matter what the applicant's belief may be, no matter what the color of his skin, no matter what his caste — in fact, anyone, any human being, who accepts in principle the teaching of universal brotherhood is welcome as a Fellow of The Theosophical Society. But it is obvious to anyone who has studied our doctrines that the theosophical meaning of brotherhood is a deeper one than the ordinary dictionary sense of this word.
Our teaching of brotherhood means this: that every entity everywhere — not only human beings, but every entity anywhere — whether in far-off Sirius or in Betelgeuze, or within and without the galaxy: every entity dwelling on every electron in every atom as well as every divinity — is an inseparable part of the cosmic spirit, and therefore is a spiritual ray of the boundless ocean of conscious life which infills and inspirits the universe. Consequently, we and they are all essentially united, and brotherly feeling is not only a duty, but becomes a joy. Brotherhood — meaning the essential spiritual oneness of everything that is — is nature's fundamental principle, fundamental law; and the man whose heart is filled with this conception is already beginning to feel stirring within him that marvelous and inspiring sense of complete oneness with the universal cosmic life.
Vol 2, No 18