What does the Theosophical Society do for the world in a practical way? The answer is: It goes to the roots of the causes of the misery and of the suffering which exist among men. Can there then be anything more practical, more useful, than the work which the Theosophical Society is doing, has done, and will continue to do as long as it remain faithful to the traditions which we follow and which we love? Our work, expressively compressed into a nutshell, is to labor to change the hearts and minds of our fellow-men towards higher things, towards things of permanency.
All the world's suffering, all its misery, all its pain and sorrow, arise out of human ignorance, human weakness, and human failings, the latter being what the Churches with some rather vague justification call "human sin." Is there anything more practical and more useful than changing the hearts and minds of men through the entering into them of the forces of imagination and practical ideals? By this, misery can be changed to content and happiness; poverty shall be done away with and be replaced with the abundance of those who earn it under changed conditions; for men thus motivated from within will be moved by the inner impulses of a changed character. Change the hearts and minds of men by giving them a vision and by acquainting them with the magnificent power of a constructive imagination, and all the causes of suffering and misery will vanish. That then is our main practical work; that is our answer to the above challenge.
Soup-kitchens, philanthropic institutions, and others of their ilk, are all admirable in their way, and in their way do good work. They are, shall we say, backed by untold millions, backed by human sympathy both active and passive, and by the support of those who are willing to give and who do give. But they are nevertheless palliatives: they do not cure the evil; they give but temporary surcease.
I would that every genuine Theosophist felt as keenly as some of us do the spirit of service to that sublime end which is imbodied in the Latin phrase I dearly love: Ego sum servus servorum Dei: "I am the servant of the servants of God — of the Divine." When the idea imbodied in this principle burns in the heart and sets it afire with its holy flame, then the "brain receives enlightenment in its turn and sees, indeed evokes, the methods, the way, the path, the means.
Let never, then, this challenge pass unanswered. Take it up immediately. Point out to all that the world's suffering and misery arise from the ill-doing, in its turn born from the ignorance and weakness, of our fellow-men — often, often, usually indeed, such ill-doing is not consciously done; for these things arise through ignorance, through lack of the inspiration and knowledge of the God-Wisdom which we have. Replace ignorance with knowledge; give light unto the dark places of the human heart and mind. Bring sympathy to the thoughts of men, and again all these causes of human wretchedness will vanish. War will disappear. We all know what war is. It is not in any sense wrong to defend one's country; but this is not war as commonly understood. It is the using of violence on a vast scale, from fear, misunderstanding, and often from selfishness, and the employment of some of our most brilliant minds in this cause, which we must do away with.
When we reach and uproot their causes, poverty will vanish and will be replaced with at least a competence for all; ignorance will vanish because proper education and sound knowledge based on ethical instincts will take its place. Human fellow-feeling will replace the present sentiments of fear and of indifference. Now is it possible to find any work more practical, more useful, more humane, than this? The T. S., our beloved society, was founded to change the hearts and minds of men, I repeat it. Change these and you then change all else in human life.
And as regards politics: It is my conviction that if the T. S. officially ever became entangled in politics of any kind, its day then will have come, its day of doom, and justly so. Why? Because it is precisely politics, with its manifold ramifications of distorted emotions which rends men apart into opposing camps. The streets, the lecture-halls, the council-chambers, the chancelleries of the world, today are filled with political groups, each eager-voiced, each voicing its own supposed remedies for our ills: yet universal agreement is never reached, because the thoughts involved are of the brain-mind instead of issuing from man's higher nature. It is precisely politics that separates men, as I have said, placing them into opposite or opposing camps. "If a house be divided against itself, how may it stand and endure?"
We Theosophists have no objection whatsoever to anyone's holding any political opinion that he or she may please. Any Theosophist is entitled to hold any decent political opinion that he or she may please. But as an organization the Theosophical Society is not so. Why? For the reason just pointed out. When we descend to brain-mind theories, instead of finding union we find division, separation.
In my judgment there is but one thing, one common system of thought, rather of philosophy, on which all men can agree when they understand it. This is Theosophy, the God-Wisdom of the ancients, our God-Wisdom: that which is taught in the distant stars; that which is taught here on earth; that which is ageless, timeless, deathless; which can be proved to any sane, normal mind today, at least in some of its aspects, by the latest discoveries of our most advanced modern scientific thinkers; that which the poets have caught glimpses of and which all the titan intellects of the past have known at least something of and which the greatest among them have taught.
Men have been separated into different political camps by varying political theories for heaven knows how many ages. Has politics ever yet healed the woes of the world? No, and it never will. I do believe that when men understand what Theosophy is and what it means, and what the work of the T. S. means, then politics will die, because all men will see its uselessness. I know that many men would look upon such a condition as a questionable advance. I believe, however, that their opinion is based largely upon lack of sufficiently deep and penetrative thought. The one fact that it is precisely politics which separates men proves its lack of essential spiritual and intellectual worth.
What does the T. S do in a practical way for mankind? I come back to the thought: It changes men's minds and hearts upwards and unifies them. When this is done all is done.
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