The Theosophical Forum – June 1938


Life so needs beauty and laughter," said Katherine Tingley once a propos of her presentation of A Midsummer Night's Dream. Let us lay this to heart and not be too solemn over our Theosophy. For Occultism deals with human nature and if you can find anything more comic than human nature, well, I ask you!

Take for example what one may easily regard as a sixth sense — our sense of superiority. It is the one sense that is developed to the nth degree in every mother's son of us — not forgetting the daughters. In fact I don't believe many people could endure themselves or the facts of human living for a single day without being able to lean on the prop of their own superiority — in some direction — over that part of the human race that they are obliged to contact.

A perfect example of the action of this sense occurs to me at the moment and naturally concerns the antics of my own Ego. I was young at the time, and afflicted with that peculiar hardness which belongs to the very young of all climes and eras (and is not by any means confined to the modern gosling). I was riding in one of those old-fashioned "street-cars" (trams, our English friends call them), where the seats ran longitudinally down each side of the vehicle and all the passengers sat facing one another. The car was well filled. Nearly opposite me sat an overemphasized member of my own sex crowned by — certainly not by anything that could truthfully be called a hat! No — she was sporting a millinery "confection," monstrous and unbelievable. Like most of us she was not designed to take liberties with the solar spectrum, nor would her middle-aged complexion tolerate this outrage. And that is just what I was thinking, gazing at her more in sorrow than in anger, when I happened to catch her complacently roving eye. I had not time to shift my horrified eyes, but to my amazement she not only bridled, but smirked. It was as plain as lipstick that she believed me transfixed by envy!

So there both of us sat at gaze — ridiculous exclamation points to the delusion of our own superiority. And I have no doubt, if there is anyone reading this, that she/he is smiling at us both, tolerantly. If so, pause and corrugate the brow for a moment, dear Reader. For what is this toleration of yours after all but an infatuated sense of your own superiority to such absurdities?

I hope you're not old enough to remember the days when some wag divided the human race into "bromides" and "sulphites." Bromides were the people who always thought and acted exactly as they were expected to. Sulphites were — well, the rest of us. The newspapers made such a hilarious and protracted joke of it that people became decidedly sensitive. We were afraid, you see, that we might (quite absurdly of course!) be classed with the bromides. Finally some philanthropic wit published a statement that the best way to prove oneself a sulphite was to admit cheerfully that one was a confirmed bromide. And that ended the matter. So there it is. Whenever we find ourselves tolerating someone, let us realize that such toleration is preposterously intolerable. Only be sure we do realize it.

In other words, dear Companions on the Path, let us practise real brotherhood and avoid the secret, self-satisfied smirk. For true Theosophical laughter is directed always and only against ourselves. Is not this really one easy way by which each one of us can transmute his self-justifying nature into the chela's diamond heart? Before the new harvest, however, must come the breaking of the sods, the clearing and burning of the weeds, and the sowing of the new seed; and fields long neglected give a deal of trouble. Hence the Theosophical thinker will remember that: "Before the soul can stand in the presence of the Masters its feet must be washed in the blood of the heart," and the world at large will learn by its bitter harvest that against stupidity even the gods fight in vain.

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