Universal Brotherhood – April 1898

BROTHERHOOD OR DOGMA, CHOOSE! — G. G. B.

Those who are more or less upset in their minds because of the radical departure from old methods that was inaugurated on February 18th, at the Chicago Convention, will do well to read what Madame Blavatsky has to say upon this very subject: The following is quoted from the last chapter in the "Key to Theosophy." It was written in 1889.

"Its future (the future of the Theosophical Society) will depend almost entirely upon the degree of selflessness, earnestness, devotion, and last, but not least, on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work, and to direct the Society after the death of its Founders.

"I do not refer to technical knowledge of the esoteric doctrine, though that is most important; I spoke rather of the great need which our successors will have of unbiased and clear judgment. Every such attempt as the Theosophical Society has hitherto ended in failure, because, sooner or later, it has degenerated into a sect, set up hard and fast dogmas of its own, and so lost by imperceptible degrees that vitality which living truth alone can impart. You must remember that all our members have been bred and born in some creed or religion, that all are more or less of their generation both mentally and physically, and consequently that their judgment is but too likely to be warped and unconsciously biased by some or all of these influences. If, then, they cannot be freed from such inherent bias, or at least taught to recognize it instantly and so avoid being led away by it, the result can only be that the Society will drift off on some sandbank of thought or another, and there remain a stranded carcass to moulder and die.

"But if this danger be averted, then the Society will live on into and through the twentieth century. It will gradually leaven and permeate the great mass of thinking and intelligent people with its large-minded and noble ideas of Religion, Duty, and Philanthropy. Slowly but surely it will burst asunder the iron fetters of creeds and dogmas, of social and caste prejudices; it will break down racial and national antipathies and barriers, and will open the way to the practical realization of the Brotherhood of all men.

"If the present attempt, in the form of our Society, succeeds better than its predecessors have done, then it will be in existence as an organized, living, healthy body, when the time comes for the effort of the twentieth century. The general condition of men's minds and hearts will have been improved and purified by the spread of its teachings, and, as I have said, their prejudices and dogmatic illusions will have been, to some extent at least, removed. Not only so, but besides a large and accessible literature ready to men's hands, the next impulse will find a numerous and united body of people ready to welcome the new torch-bearer of Truth. He will find the minds of men prepared for his message, a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truths he brings, an organization awaiting his arrival, which will remove the merely mechanical, material, obstacles and difficulties from his path. Think how much one, to whom such an opportunity is given, could accomplish. Measure it by comparison with what the Theosophical Society actually has achieved in the last fourteen years, without any of these advantages, and surrounded by hosts of hindrances which would not hamper the new leader. Consider all this and then tell me whether I am too sanguine when I say that, if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulses, through the next hundred years, — tell me, I say, if I go too far in asserting that earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now."

Read these statements carefully, and many times. They are pregnant with prophecy. In the light of recent events, is it not significant that H. P. B. considers "selflessness and devotion," more necessary to the future of the Society than "a technical knowledge of the esoteric doctrine"; that she fears the Society may degenerate into a mere sect, only to be stranded upon "some sand bank of thought or another"? The words in which she says that the Society will "burst asunder the iron fetters of creeds and dogmas, of social and caste prejudices"; that it will "break down racial and national antipathies and barriers, and will open the way to the practical realization of the Brotherhood of all men," contain, as a hidden germ, the very principles which have recently blossomed into the objects of the International Brotherhood League, and the divine, inclusive truth for which the Universal Brotherhood stands today.

Was it an accident that II. P. B. should foresee "a numerous, united body of people ready to welcome the new torch-bearer of Truth" in case the Society should be able to weather the storms that would mark the closing years of the old cycle? Why did she italicize the word "united"?

More than that, she foresaw the loyalty which would make this organization willing, in case it lived until the close of the cycle, to sacrifice the "merely mechanical, material obstacles and difficulties" that stood in the way of further growth. She saw that it would be necessary and possible for the new leader to use "a language ready for him in which to clothe the new truths he brings," without frightening away anyone with Sanskrit words and purely technical terms. There is no hint that the leader shall put the new wine into the old bottles. That is not possible. Let us be loyal to our Helper, Katherine A. Tingley. Let us help her in every way that opens to us, to widen and deepen this channel that the "new truths" which she brings to us may flow through unimpeded. For she is unmistakably "the new torch-bearer of Truth" to whom H. P. B. referred as being the one to take up the work "after the death of the Founders," herself and William Q. Judge. It is true today no less than four years ago, that "the real issue is around H. P. B." Let us, at least, be loyal to her.

The principal object in establishing the Theosophical Society was "to form a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood." This was neither a mistake nor an accident, although for twenty-three years the subsidiary objects have been first in the eyes of the world and first in the hearts of many theosophists.

The nucleus has been formed. How is it possible to lock universal brotherhood within the shell of a doctrine? How is it possible to expect a movement that is universal in its sweep, to continue along the grooves of a specific and particular track? When the child has outgrown his picture books, when he has appropriated all the culture that his own yard and his own playmates can give him, when he begins to feel the limits of the gate which locks him away from the great world, shall we remind him that, after being satisfied with the book and the little playground all these years, it is simple heresy to go outside? No. The wise mother places the picture book in some top drawer where it is accessible for reference, unlocks the gate, goes forth with her child into the world, and helps him, by all the power and insight at her command, to grow out of that narrow love which includes only his physical brothers, to that diviner, broader love which sees in all creatures of the universe, his spiritual brothers. It is only the abnormal child that weeps over the "sacrifice" of his picture book or pinafore. He would transform the whole world into books and pinafores if he could. But that is not growth.

If you wish to see the danger of clinging to an old ideal after the soul has grown into the need of something higher, make a careful study of Wilhelm Meister. Poor Wilhelm and the stress that was his because his father denied him the chance to outgrow his youthful dream of the puppet show, are symbolic of the condition of affairs today.

The nucleus of Universal Brotherhood has been formed. Nothing can destroy it; and the object for which the Theosophical Society was originally founded has been accomplished. It would be no more possible to do the broader work for brotherhood "along the old lines," than it would be possible to fit a man for the ministry with the "Child's History of England" as the point of departure.

"If you have patience and devotion you will understand these things, especially if you think much on them, for you have no conception of the power of meditation. . . Kill out doubt which rises within; that is not yourself, you know.

"The doubt is a maya, cast it aside, listen not to its voice, which whispers low, working on your lack of self-confidence. If you are the Higher Self you are all that is great; but since your daily consciousness is far below, look at the matter frankly and impartially. . . Vex yourself not with contradictions. You know that you must stand alone; stand therefore. . . Hold your purpose and your ideals clearly and steadily before you. Desiring truth you shall surely have it; intending righteousness you shall surely so perform, though all things seem to conspire against you."


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