The Theosophical Forum – October 1940


I want to point out the extreme need of disseminating technical Theosophical teachings in the outside world of men and women; and by "outside world', I mean those who are not privileged to study together as we do. That is the only sense in which I use the word "outside'. There are millions whose place, spiritually and intellectually, is here amongst us. But we have not succeeded in giving them the chance yet; we have not yet been able, with our teachings, to reach their imaginations, their hunger for more light, for more truth. Their lives are already founded in ethics and they are ethically inclined, they have the ethics of the magnificent religions and philosophies in the world, and they have the instincts of decency in the human heart. What they need is the technical Theosophy to show them How and Why and What — something that can be achieved only by giving them and making them to love the study of our technical Theosophical doctrines.

Why do the Avataras come amongst us? To help us who to them are spirits in chains of matter, to raise ourselves out of the condition in which are those whom Pythagoras called the "Living Dead", into at least genuinely good men and women whose lives are good because they are ensouled, in other words who have a conception of spirituality and who love it, and loving it follow it.

Faint indeed must be the whisperings of the spirit within you if a picture like this does not arouse something within you as it did in me when first as a child or boy I was taught it again in this life, in this embodiment. Then it was that I first dedicated my life to Theosophy.

What is the burthen of all the teachings of all our great godlike men? Feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, clothe the naked, comfort the heavy-laden. Do you think this means merely material benefits? It means aid and feed the naked and suffering and hungry souls of men — as well as their bodies; and if we can arouse by our Theosophical work, working under the mandate that we have received, sufficient enthusiasm along these lines, sufficient to change the thoughts and hearts of men, all the material wants of all mankind will be taken care of because men will no longer allow their fellow human beings to suffer the material wants.

All these latter things are needed, but they sink into utter insignificance compared with the majestic drama of the human soul swinging between spirit and matter, between Divinity and Avichi. And often, too much of the good things of life, too much concentration of thought and mind, too much devotion unto the material things, are dangerous because they concentrate the attention on and attachment to material things alone, and there is danger in this.

Notice that neither the Buddha nor Jesus the Avatara, nor Krishna, went around establishing soup-kitchens and charitable organizations and hospitals and things like these, great and beautiful though these often are. They were feeding and raising the hungry souls of men; they were ministering to the intellectual wants of their fellowmen; they were clothing their spiritual nakedness with the sheaths of consciousness, the garments of truth, knowing that when they did these things, a multitude thus ensouled would attend to the material wants of our fellow human beings.

Not that I decry soup-kitchens and things like that! Sometimes they are very needed; but when I hear people ask me: "Well, you Theosophists talk about loving your fellowmen, and you believe in Universal Brotherhood. Why don't you establish soup-kitchens, and do philanthropic work among the poor and visit hospitals?" Our answer is obvious: We have done it, and we are doing it as much as we can as individuals, and will do much more of it when we get the millions upon millions of the wealth of the churches, or the philanthropic organizations. But what we are doing is cutting at the root which brings these physical material wants, needs, lacks, into being. In other words we work mainly to change men's minds and hearts. What produces the poverty amongst us, and the illnesses, the un-tended material wants, the exactions on the poor and the weak who are the least able to respond to exactions? Human cruelty, human selfishness, human weaknesses, human thoughtlessness, the lack of an active warm beating heart feeling the woes of the world. Correct these, and you cut at the roots of all the material evils of mankind. That is what the Great Ones of the earth have always done, they cut at the root of the evil, knowing that when they get the multitudes together in a common ideal, if the multitudes are faithful these other things will be attended to.

Now, don't go to extremes. The next time you hear the cry for food, physical food, or the cry for a cup of water, don't say: "No, I am doing Master's work on a higher plane. Go elsewhere to him or her, he or she will attend to your wants." Take what comes in your daily work, and set the example of universal pity and helpfulness; but remember that these noble philanthropic material things will automatically come about if we first take care of the greater things.

It is really a terrible situation. The materialization of our age has become frenzied, so frenzied that there are millions of men and women in the world of today who have no patience with things of the spirit. They are utter materialists; they think there is no good in anything except what will benefit the human body. That is wrong and distorted, and as evil-working a state of mind as is the mind of those frenetic spiritualists in the other sense of the word, who want to be up in the clouds all the time, and will not even give a cup of cold water to a man whose body is thirsting. There are such.

When you remember that the majority of our fellow human beings are destined for two things, unconsciousness, with no progress, and no further light and no further help for aeons and aeons and aeons, unless they get spiritual enlightenment and intellectual help; or, on the other hand, destined to the annihilation of the Planet of Death or of Avichi — what is your reaction? I put it to you. I think these things ought to be talked from the housetops, preached all the time, brought to notice on every occasion possible. It does not matter two pins if people mock. The average man and woman today likes, like the Athenians of old, to hear something new; and even if a smile of incomprehension comes to the face — mark you the first time you attended a Theosophical gathering, and consider what your reaction possibly was. For all you know, you may be sowing seeds of thought every time you utter a technical Theosophical teaching. So wonderfully appealing and persuasive are they, that no matter how much a man may grin and hesitate and argue, and even mock perhaps at first, it may be for months, the seed sown will germinate some day. You may have saved that human soul and you know what I mean by "saving'; and for pity's sake, when you talk about philanthropy, raise this grand old Greek word to the plane where we understand it, and don't think that the giving of glasses of water, or mush and sausages, or soup and stale bread, is going to save souls. I have seen these things done so mechanically and soullessly that it was almost an insult to the receiver, and a disgrace to the giver. I have seen it, and have blushed.

Of course I don't say all the philanthropy of human beings is like that. Undoubtedly there are thousands and thousands of noble men and women in the world who have never heard a word of genuine Theosophical teaching, whose hearts ache for the sufferings of their fellows, and who do what they can. But I am talking of mechanical charity, and the charity which humiliates when it is given.

What we want is to do away with the need of charity, and you will never succeed in this until you change men's hearts and their minds. The multi-millionaire who endows a College or a University, or some scientific institution, with several millions which he could spare perhaps as easily as the wealthiest among us could spare a few dollars, and immediately sees his name in the newspapers, may be doing far less good for his fellowman than the poor woman at the cottage door who will give of the little she has to the wayfarer who may come and knock. The latter act is true human sympathy. The other may or may not be commendable.

I tell you this, it is my own pet dogma: I don't believe you will get any genuine spiritual brotherhood, no matter what the form of the power behind the movement, which is not based on spirituality and Theosophy. You will get mechanics and political theories and emotional outbreaks of charitable people. And these are often more dangerous than they are workers of good, because their whole concentration is on the things of the body. It is needful to have the body cared for, undoubtedly. Nobody questions it for a moment. But look here. You can feed a man's body and starve his soul to death. You can give him work and kill his spirit. You can give him a job and clothe him well and guarantee him against the cold of winter and the heat of summer, and you can starve that man to death. You may have made a lost soul out of him. Why? Because the concentration here is solely on the things of matter. When Jesus spoke of "feeding my little ones", do you think he meant babies? Children? "Little ones" is an old occult term for disciples, learners, as children are; loving as children are; receiving as children do: therefore "little ones". And such — and I say this with deepest reverence for human hearts and minds — and such, I repeat, are all those millions who await hungrily to be fed the bread of life and the water of inspiration that Theosophy, technical Theosophy, only can satisfy.

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