The Theosophical Forum – February 1940

"SOUNDING BRASS" — Martyn A. Witter

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."

A great scholar may be able to deliver a very learned lecture upon Parabrahman and Brahma and yet if that scholar has not developed a genuine love for all men his words are as sounding brass. There is something that speaks through a man in a powerful language that leaves words and logic far behind, and that is the real nature of the man who speaks.

It is one thing to have an intellectual grasp of our starry science and another thing to have an intuitive grasp. The intellect compares while the intuition realizes. The latter can come only in proportion as one places the good of mankind above one's own good, and as one rises above the capability of sending out thoughts tinged with shaded animosity and cynicism. One may agree in an intellectual manner with the whole of the ethical doctrines implied in The Voice of the Silence and yet daily and even hourly send forth thoughts of shaded animosity toward those who disagree with him. This may be done without any feeling of inner conflict or the injustice of it all. It is the pursuance of the horrible doctrine that the end justifies the means. When such a doctrine is followed even unknowingly, the result is invariably disastrous in that the means soon displace the original end.

Intellect without a guiding light can be ruthless in manipulating ethics to fit its purposes. It can be blind to all other lights but its own. However, again intellect can, if galvanized into action by the Buddhic principle, be a useful instrument and a continual source of inspiration to others.

It is the duty of all Theosophists to put intellect in its place and to realize that what matters is not theory but Brotherhood. It is only by attaining proficiency in the science of sciences — ethics — that one can travel the path of the Gods. While the Theosophical Movement is not meant to be a nursery for adepts, yet if it is to take the first step towards bettering the conditions of humanity it must have inherent in its actual deeds the cohesive force of toleration for differences brought about by intellectual bigotry. This cohesive force must be strong enough to hold the Theosophical Movement together for practical co-operation among its component elements. Otherwise it will become mired through lack of recognition of the limitations of its own creations which have had their birth largely through the intellect. If the Theosophical Movement does not attain cohesiveness, its voice will be as sounding brass to the world though our teachings are those of the Gods.

"If thou would'st not be slain by them, then must thou harmless make thy own creations, the children of thy thoughts, unseen, impalpable, that swarm round humankind, the progeny and heirs to man and his terrestrial spoils."

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