Theosophy works a magic upon us which is grander by far than merely telling us of the undoubted and beautiful truth of our essential divinity. It transmutes our weak and often evil manhood into godhood. It teaches us to forget ourselves for others — for the world. It so washes our natures and our hearts and our minds of the personal and limited that in time we are led on even to forget ourselves and live in the universal.
To me this is the lost keynote of modern civilization, whirling as it does around the egoisms born in us. It seems to me that if we Theosophists can instil into the thought-life of the world, of our fellow-men, ideas, principles of thought, and consequent conduct, teachings of religious and philosophical and of scientific character and value, which will teach men, enable men to learn, to forget themselves and live for others, then I think we shall have done more than teaching men the undoubtedly sublime verity of their oneness with divinity — one of my own favorite thoughts and teachings! For even that can have an atmosphere of egoism about it, of spiritual selfishness. You know, I really believe that if our sad and suffering world today, hovering on the brink of disaster as it is, this world taken distributively as individual men and women, could learn the one simple lesson of self-forgetfulness, and the beauty, the immense satisfaction of heart and mind, that come from such self-forgetfulness, living for others, for the world, I honestly believe with all my heart that ninety-nine per cent, of the world's troubles would be solved. Politics would then become an engine of human achievement and not of selfishness and often destruction. Works of philanthropy would be considered the noblest in the world, because they would be guided by the wisdom of an awakened heart. For no man's eye sees clearly when it whirls around the pivot of the personal self; but it will see clearly when its vision becomes universal, because then all in the field comes within the compass, within the reach, of its sight.
Am I not right, therefore, in believing that, beautiful as are the teachings which, as individual men, we can study in Theosophy, and great as will be the advantage that individually we shall draw from them, from these teachings, there is indeed something still higher in Theosophy which it alone, perhaps, in the world today teaches: that we reach our highest, our sublimest, peaks of achievement when we forget ourselves? And may we not find the same sublime verity at the heart of, as the essence of, the burthen of, every one of the great religions of the past, provided we strip away the dogmatic excrescences born of the brains of smaller men?
Remember that true Theosophy is a matter of the heart-life, and of the heart-light, as well as of deep intellectual understanding; but so many people do not realize this, and look upon Theosophy as merely a kind of intellectual philosophy, which is only a part of it.
Here is another thought: While the selfless life as taught in Theosophy is considered by us to be the most beautiful because universal and all-inclusive, yet can we properly be living such a selfless life if we ignore those duties lying nearest at hand? In other words, if a man so yearns to help the world that he goes out into it and neglects duties that he already has assumed, is he doing the thing which is manly? Is he living the selfless life; or is he following a secret, selfish yearning for personal advancement? Is he even logical? Selflessness means never to neglect a duty, because if you do that, upon examination you will discover that you are following a desire, a selfish thought. It is in doing every duty fully and to the end, thereby gaining peace and wisdom, that you live the life which is the most unselfish.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE