But when the King heard how Siddhartha came
Shorn, with the mendicant's sad-colored cloth,
And stretching out a bowl to gather orts
From base-boms' leavings, wrathful sorrow drove
Love from his heart. . . .
"Son! why is this,"
"My Father!" came reply,
"It is the custom of my race."
Answered the King "counteth a hundred thrones
From Maha Sammat, but no deed like this."
"Not of a mortal line," the Master said,
"I spake, but of descent invisible,
The Buddhas who have been and who shall be:
Of these am I, and what they did I do."
— The Light of Asia
There are those who because of an innate lack of spiritual perception are never privileged to see the Teacher. Though their work may take them in daily contact with him, they see only a man and the physical body in which he lives. They may even be quite fond of the "man." His pleasing personal appearance often calls forth their admiration of the perfect match in color between his eyes and his necktie. The obvious qualities of patience, fortitude, understanding and compassion which he possesses, they attribute to a naturally good disposition. His good leadership they consider the results of his former business or professional training.
If such as these continue to do their Theosophical duty, and be loyal to the "man," they cannot be considered guilty of disloyalty, though their spiritual loss is tragic.
From the time of H. P. B. there have been four distinct types of members of the Theosophical Society. To begin from the bottom and work up: first — those who sought to discredit and besmirch the character of the Teacher; second — those who recognized the Leader, but denied the Teacher; third — those who recognized the Teacher and immediately set out to get from the Teacher all they could of spiritual or material help for themselves; and lastly, those whose daily prayer was, "Help me to help the Teacher."
Among this last group are those of H. P. B.'s day, who, sixty years after her death, use their failing strength writing in her defense in an effort to stem the tide of venom proceeding from the prolific pens of her defamers. And let us not overlook the fact that almost without exception, present-day writers of books defaming H. P. B. have gotten their material from Theosophists of the 19th Century who belonged in one of the first three groups listed in the previous paragraph.
Each Teacher gives to his pupils infallible rules for recognizing a Teacher, one of which is the absolute essential of spiritual perception within the pupil himself.
Carlyle once said, "No greater proof can a man give of his own littleness, than his disbelief in great men."
To those of us who have been members during the leadership of two Teachers, and have been intimately associated over a period of years with older members who have served the movement under three or even four Teachers, it is understandable that one might feel closer to a certain Teacher than to his predecessor or his successor. But that very closeness to one Teacher increases the spiritual perception to such a degree that he cannot fail to recognize the basic similarity among them all which sets them apart from the ordinary run of mortals.
Some of us who in our professional life before and during the war were privileged to work in close contact with what the world calls "great men," have a pretty good yardstick with which to measure greatness. Perhaps that is why the difference between the "worldly great" and the "spiritually great" is brought home to us in such clarity. It is perfectly apparent to us that though the gulf between us sergeants and our generals was a sizeable one, the gulf between the greatest of our generals and any one of our spiritual Leaders of the Theosophical Society is immeasurably greater.
Realizing that fact does not make the individual feel small, or little, or unimportant. On the contrary, such perception gives one a feeling of wonder and joy that it was his karman to be privileged to serve not only the worldly great, but the spiritually great.
Once we recognize the Teacher, and work with him completely, we notice day by day an increasing perception of the spiritual qualities in our companions with whom we are associated. The personal habits of the little man working nearby which used to irritate us so much, seem to have disappeared, and we discover one day to our wonderment that he really is a very nice person. We learn to see our associates through the Teacher's eyes. And what is more, we put forth more effort to change our own personalities, so that we can face the clear eyes of the Teacher, without wondering how much of the selfishness and pettiness within us he can see.
Do not be confused by specious arguments that loyalty and obedience to the Teacher is "personality worship." The Theosophical Movement is not a structure built of wood and stone and brick. The Theosophical Movement is the Teachers, all of them in hermetic succession, and THEIR Teachers, the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion. These, and those who serve them faithfully, unselfishly and loyally comprise the Theosophical Movement.
The Theosophical ForumTHEOSOPHICAL UNIVERSITY PRESS ONLINE