The Hill of Discernment — A. Trevor Barker

2. Solving the Individual Problem

[The life of a President of a National Section of the T. S. is arduous. His problems are many and difficult, and yet, strange truth, it is in the very endeavor to solve these that there is revealed the essence of the truly Theosophic life. This life demands of any leader constant self-sacrifice, the ability to draw ever renewed inspiration from the teachings, and in this way revitalize them for others; the genius thus to lead, to inspire, to encourage, where need be to warn and to advise, yet never to impose.

These must have been the qualities which dominated the life of Trevor Barker, for we find them reflected in his articles and lectures, and perhaps pre-eminently in those heart to heart talks with members and friends in which advice and suggestions were given to Theosophical lodges or study-groups. These are gathered together in this chapter.

As perhaps the best medium for keeping in touch with his membership, Dr. Barker used The English Theosophical Forum, the first issue of which appeared in January, 1933, under his editorship. The articles in this chapter (except the extracts from his Inaugural Address) are reprinted from that magazine.]

Let Us Go Forward

— Extracts from Inaugural Address on Dr. Barker's assuming the duties of President of the English Section of the Theosophical Society, 7th September, 1930.

Friends and Brothers: I want tonight, with your permission, to have a heart-to-heart talk with you as members of the Theosophical Society. I want to tell you frankly and intimately what is in my mind and heart in taking up the responsible position of President of the English Section, which our Leader, G. de P., has placed upon my shoulders.

In view of the fact that I am personally unknown to the majority of members in this country, it may perhaps be interesting to you to hear what it was that caused me to join your ranks. Up to February or March of this year I had never contacted any member of this Society, nor had I had any correspondence with Point Loma. Together with my friend Mr. R. A. V. Morris I had been working for some time upon the preparation of the old magazine writings of H. P. B., with a view to their publication in book form. The work was already far advanced when Dr. Kenneth Morris arrived in this country from Point Loma, and hearing from his brother what we were doing, and realizing that similar work was in progress at Point Loma in connexion with the H. P. B. Centennial Committee, the work of which at that time had not been made public, he drew our attention to the matter. This resulted in a meeting and some conversation between Dr. Morris and myself, during the course of which he suggested that it might be worth while communicating direct with G. de P. in regard to these literary matters.

I immediately wrote to Dr. de Purucker, stating frankly what we were engaged upon, and offering to co-operate with him if our purposes should be the same. I received in response one of the most courteous and friendly letters that it has been my lot to receive from a leader of any Theosophical Society. The correspondence continued. The co-operation of Mr. Morris and myself with the H. P. B. Centennial Committee became a fact, and it was not long before we turned over the whole of the manuscript of the H. P. B. articles which we had prepared to Point Loma.

As you will discover when the Centennial Edition of her works is published there will be something like thirty large volumes of those teachings for our instruction — so much is there that I venture to think for most of us, what remains to us of one short life will be insufficient even with concentrated attention thoroughly to grasp and understand it. The task of a real Theosophic student demands some little sacrifice of personal preconceptions, of the ideas which he may have acquired as a result of his education, heredity and environment, and from teachers of other systems of thought. If we would truly enter into the spirit of her teaching, then we must try to come to it with a fresh mind.

Our Leader has declared in no uncertain terms that we must concentrate our efforts upon what he calls our magnum opus, the understanding and dissemination of the teachings of Theosophy. In order to do that successfully a spirit of union, peace, and brotherly harmony is essential. Whatever we do, therefore, in the promulgation of Theosophic teachings through the lodges in this country, I appeal to all members everywhere to regard it as a sacred duty to let it be known and understood that in this Society we are loyal to the great Founders of the movement, and to the teaching which They gave through H. P. B. There is a dynamic force in this idea which together with the principle of brotherly charity for all, is alone capable of unifying the Theosophists of all societies — which is the aim which lies closest to our Leader's heart. All the bitterness and strife which has occurred since H. P. B.'s passing is rapidly being forgotten under the beneficent policy which our Leader is following. No Theosophist would dare to belittle H. P. B. and remain worthy of the name. And while it must necessarily take them some time to prove for themselves that our Society has never departed from the program and the teaching which she gave, they will all respond to the note of H. P. B. — because H. P. B. is in reality but a symbol of the work of the Masters Themselves.

Let us look at the matter now quite impersonally, and let us get the idea that we are not here, as it were, to enthrone a president, but rather to enshrine in our hearts a few main ideas which will help us to guide our activities along the main lines which our Leader has laid down.

The great guiding principle to be followed in our meetings is to endeavor to forget our own views and personal opinions entirely. The public in general and students in particular are not interested in or hungry for the necessarily incomplete personal opinions of any one of us on philosophical matters in general, but I suggest that they and we do want to hear the Message of the great Masters on any aspect of the teaching which may be under consideration. Therefore let our attitude be not 'I think,' but rather 'the teaching is' so and so. In this way, all answers to questions should be given in terms of the teaching so far as we understand it — ever bearing in mind that there is meaning within meaning, and that as veil after veil is removed from before our eyes, still beyond there are yet other veils before we reach the final understanding and know the whole Mystery.

And so I stand before you, Brothers, pledged to carry out this great task, and asking for your help, your co-operation and your encouragement. With hearts aflame with the Light and the Peace of the Great Lodge, let us go forward shoulder to shoulder, knowing that we can trust each other because we are united by a common purpose, a common teaching and a common love for all humanity without distinction of race, of caste, of creed, or of color.

Individual Responsibility

You have a marvelous opportunity here. You have done magnificent work, and I know it will prosper. The splendid nucleus of people which you have is proof of what can be done with the divine fire of the Wisdom-Religion burning in your hearts. You and I know that it is an illusion to suppose that any of us is alone in this work. Any one of us, no matter where he may be situated, whether he knows a brother Theosophist in the district, or whether he does not, has only got to think Theosophy for a few weeks or months, to talk Theosophy to those he comes across, in order immediately to prove to himself that as members of the Theosophical Society, plus the desire to forward its work, we become energetic centers through whom the influence that flows from the great Lodge of the Masters passes to all with whom we come in contact, consciously and unconsciously, but who nevertheless respond to the current of thought that we ourselves generate and live in.

Try to get a knowledge of the teachings yourselves. Make them your own and help the work of the Society by spreading those teachings, endeavoring to arouse interest in the Society's work yourselves, and you will find the whole aspect of your own personal and individual life begins to change. You will become a center of conscious activity which will bring not only illumination, peace and an added strength to master yourselves; but what is infinitely more important you will find if you work, study and help that you will be able to bring that same light and inspiration to all those with whom you come into contact. As I see it, that is the call the Theosophical Movement makes to us individually. First it gives to us individually out of the riches of its Teachings. We take from it; we take from those who were the first to teach us; then if we are true men and true women we should want to make the only return that is really worth while, which is to give it to somebody else who has it not.

Remember that every single Theosophist who comes into our Movement becomes a dynamic center of energy. Oh, we do not do these things of our own power, you know! It is as Mr. Judge pointed out in one of his articles — each member is a center. Aye, because we are linked to the dynamic energies that flow from the great Lodge of Masters: and each member is a magnetic center distributing that energy that works magic in the hearts of men if we have faith in our own higher nature — faith in the Masters who stand behind our Work.

Idolatry and Leadership

If you would go on with your occult studies and literary work — then learn to be loyal to the Idea, rather than to my poor self. When something is to be done never think whether I wish it, before acting: . . . I am far from being perfect hence infallible in all I do; . . . — K. H.

There is no subject that at the present time so occupies the minds of Theosophists of all colors and degree, as the much vexed question regarding the place and true meaning of Leadership in Theosophical affairs. It is a problem before which the stoutest heart may at times be forced to quail, because the duty to Truth and the impersonal ideals that the great Masters have set before us come in conflict with the demands made upon the nature of the student by ties of personal devotion spontaneously rendered to some Leader, or perhaps in some cases unreasonably demanded by the latter as being more important than free and untrammelled service to an impersonal Cause by workers in the Theosophical field, who are capable of individual initiative.

What is the Truth about it? By what touchstone shall we measure and test the principles which we hold for our individual guidance on this most difficult and thorny problem? What should come first? The dedication of life to Truth and the Higher Self: to the Holy Cause of which the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion are at once the purest ideal and the best exemplars; or the personal devotion demanded by one or other of the many Gurus who walk their way amongst men, and who promise salvation to the aspirant if only personal devotion to the said Guru is strong enough?

Let us ask ourselves the question: what kind of devotion would we choose as the dominant characteristic of any group of Theosophical students if any of us individually were called to lead them as an officer, whether of high or low degree? Would it be of the personal kind? Would we ask first of all for unfaltering trust and devotion to ourselves? Surely not — for to do so would be to invite failure at the very outset. It would be in fact like taking the tiller of each man's individual boat out of his hands, and thereafter to incur a most dangerous and all but impossible responsibility; and moreover it would result in a group of individuals incapable of individual thought and initiative.

What are the qualities then which we should look for and encourage and welcome in those whom we may be called upon to lead? First and foremost we would have free and vigorous searchers after Truth who recognise that their first duty, their highest devotion, is to the splendor of their own innate Divinity, and through their realization of That which is the Higher Self in each one of us, to the Great Teachers of the human race who watch and wait. Such true men and women, by the power of their own innate spirituality evoke the love, the confidence and the trust of any individual whom they may be called upon to serve under. They will not have to pause and think before every action as to whether what they are about to do would be agreeable to their immediate superior, because they would have learned the beauty and the peace of loyalty to an Idea — an idea and an ideal the grandest, the highest, the most noble that the mind of man has ever conceived of.

There is nothing ignoble in the spontaneous hero-worship which sometimes comes about in the devotion that is evoked in the heart of a younger for an older student, when the latter seems for the time being to be the splendid embodiment of the ideal to which the younger is striving to attain. The devotion of a trusting heart is a holy thing, because it springs from love — that holy and immortal feeling that opens the heart to the perception of Truth, and strips the veils away from the eyes of the seer. But most emphatically such devotion cannot be commanded. Its very essence and life is in its spontaneity, and we cannot command love any more than we can control the sea. The origin of devotion in the human heart is a mystery. It is evoked by a true Teacher in his pupil almost inevitably as the pupil finds reason for gratitude for the help and enlightenment that the Teacher has brought him. It is also intimately concerned with the past Karma of the respective individuals.

One of the most beautiful things in the Theosophic life is the love and mutual trust that springs up between an older and a younger student as a result of the service rendered by the younger in the larger work of his superior, and the help, understanding and sympathy extended by the elder, when the neophyte is assailed in moments of darkness, doubt and uncertainty. Many are the trials that assail the minds of those who set forth on the voyage across the mighty ocean of Theosophy and occultism; and there is nothing that so evokes the love and gratitude of the neophyte as the finding of a friend more advanced than he is himself whom he can trust — to whom he may safely reveal the mental doubts and the unsuspected weaknesses that he discovers in his own lower nature.

No sane man can quarrel with the attitude of truly impersonal devotion, confidence and trust to a Teacher or Leader when it arises from the recognition that Light has been transmitted and received. On the contrary, to such as these who embody Wisdom and Compassion, unswerving loyalty is a virtue as well as a duty and the necessary pre-requisite to the receiving of further Light.

But the world alas! is full of false teachers who beguile the unwary with their siren songs, thus poisoning the well-springs of true devotion and setting up Idolatry instead of Leadership. The Guru who is not worthy of the name is the one that diverts the attention and devotion of his followers to himself, and places their personal regard as higher and of more importance than their unswerving fidelity to the Truth enshrined in the age-old teachings, and to the Great Teachers who made those teachings available to us in modern times.

OurImmediate Work

I am very happy to be amongst you all again after an absence from England of rather more than two months, and I would like to take this opportunity to speak to you on several important matters in connexion with our Theosophical work. The whole purpose of our work and studies in the Theosophical Movement is to fit ourselves one day to play a part — a conscious part — in the direction of the forces which govern and guide the human race under Cosmic and Cyclic Law. Nothing less is our future destiny if we want to tread the age-old Pathway that leads to knowledge and to wisdom. Time is one of the factors that the occult student must take into consideration, because in real esoteric work there are times and seasons for everything — for initiating work, and for completing it. Our regular Lodge Meetings must and should begin promptly at the advertised time, whatever that may be. This is an elementary but fundamental principle in the conduct of any work such as ours. It is not only a matter of wholesome discipline for ourselves, but there are larger issues at stake.

There are times when certain things may be done; there are other times when it is not only folly, but it is dangerous, to do the same things. The very opening and closing of a Lodge Meeting according to the scheduled time is only a kind of symbolical exercise wherein we recognise the fundamental harmony of the Universe, and take into consideration that the advertised time is the right time when we have decided to come together, with heart and mind to study the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom; and we have asked Those who stand behind this work to take note of it, and to give us, if we are worthy, of their inspiration, their energy and their guidance. If then we turn up five or ten minutes late for a meeting! — it just shows that we are not sufficiently interested, that's all, and that we do not know what it is all about. It is the business of this exoteric movement to inject into the mind of the Race some elementary knowledge — first ideas — of the Teachings of Occult Science; and on the principle that a little leaven leaveneth the whole loaf, thereby make it possible for those who do play a conscious part in the direction of the destinies of this Race of ours, to come and work amongst us more openly than they can at present.

I am going to try to speak tonight of what it really means to come into this Theosophical Society and to work in it. You cannot, it would be wrong, to think of it as a body which in all its affairs is directed by some great Initiate or Master of Wisdom. That would be to mislead you and it is not true. But what is true is that these great Beings began the work of the Theosophical Society as a great hope — a great experiment — for the education and enlightenment of the Races now inhabiting this Globe, so that, if it might be successful, they could come into ever closer and closer touch with humanity.

The great masses of the people are for the esotericists, 'the profane' — those who have not reached spiritual birth, who have not commenced to set their feet upon the Path of enlightenment and knowledge. We must remember, however, that one of the Masters once said that Humanity in the mass has always a paramount claim upon them. None the less they have to protect their time and energy from interference by the curious and ignorant. They necessarily must do so; but the important fact for us to bear in mind is that these esoteric circles have, even in the Theosophical Society itself, individuals with whom they have entered into some kind of relationship — individuals who have proved for themselves that they exist. And some of these people live and work and do their best in the ranks of the T. S.; and the fact that they do so means that sooner or later each one of us has the opportunity of coming in contact with somebody who knows — thereby coming more closely within the sphere of the Masters' influence. Obviously, as you can see for yourselves, all the individuals with whom Masters have entered into any kind of relationship are themselves points of observation for these Masters; therefore the people that they in turn come in contact with must come under observation of Masters also, at least to that extent.

But we have always to bear in mind that a great Adept has a vision which is Universal. He can look over the surface of the globe in its most densely populated parts and also in the less populated, and there see, if he so chooses, anyone who has succeeded in lighting his spiritual lamp, even if it be but a feeble glimmer. Such individuals they look for, they watch over, they help to nourish and to tend the flickering flame, and to bring them sooner or later within the sphere of influence of any particular work in the world that one or other of their pupils may be doing. It is folly, in my humble judgment, to look upon the work of the Theosophical Society as the only work of this kind going on in the world. I do not believe that idea. We are not a sect, we are not a narrow Church that believe that we are the only ones who will be saved, and that only through us can Light come to humanity. We know, if we think for a minute, that such an idea must be false. I know personally of several groups in different parts of the world that have nothing whatever to do with the Theosophical Society, but the members of which know things — because they are being taught.

The human race is looked after, guided, helped, and opportunities are given for those who want them; but, as Katherine Tingley said, if you want it you have got to work for it, and if you don't work for it you won't get anything. And when I say you "won't get anything" I hope that no one will say to me that he did not think that was the idea — to get something. It is not, but think a little further. What I mean is this. If we start out in this work to try to do our best to serve our fellows, to help others, to share what little light and knowledge we have, immediately we are face to face with the problem of human individuals who are ignorant, suffering, and who need help; and when they come to you in their need what are you going to give them? By what means are you going to do the good that you want to do, if you don't know how?

The answer is that you have got to find out. You have to get the knowledge; and all your effort, all your endeavor to get, is in order that you may give; and if that is your purpose your motive is a true one, and you need have no fear. Let us search, therefore, all of us for the truth — within ourselves and without, let us seek for it in order that we may have that with which we may feed those who starve. The Theosophical life is nothing if it is not a fearless, courageous, open-minded search for Truth. And I hope it will never be our lot to hear any member of any of our Lodges talking and acting as if they no longer have to search for Truth because, forsooth, they have come into the Theosophical Society and they have found it already within the pages of some book or another. Unfortunately there are such in the Theosophical Movement who take just that position — we do not have to search because we have it. Poor souls! We have none of us got it as a final thing, but we may have started out to find it. Then we have gained something at least. We cannot give what we have not got, and so we must "keep up the aspiration and the search," as Mr. Judge used to say.

I believe that the true attitude is never the one which merely accepts everything without question which is handed to us. Think of the words of the Buddha: "Do not accept anything just because I say it." He, the Blessed One, the Teacher of Gods and men — do not accept it just because he said it, or because some other great Sage said it, or because you find it in one or other of the sacred Scriptures; but rather go in a spirit of humility, in a spirit of eager questioning, asking to be taught. Go to those sources of inspiration of the human race, and try to understand what you will find there. See if it is reasonable, logical, whether it brings you illumination, whether it shows you the Pathway before your feet; or whether it sends you to sleep in a kind of self-satisfied smugness. If we do not understand a thing, if it is repugnant to us, if we disagree with it (no matter from what source it comes) question, and do not be afraid. I personally enjoy to meet a man or a woman who takes another viewpoint in these matters than my own — that is if it is a sincere one and not an affectation or a pose. We do not have to have a dull agreement on everything. I say that we want to encourage the presence amongst us of fearless seekers after truth, along whatever line they may be going. Let us hear what they have to say. We should not permit them to cause us to diverge from our own course, but encourage them to express an honest doubt, to say perhaps: "But your theory, gentlemen, is not reasonable; we do not understand it; we have no sympathy with it, and what good does it do?" and then expound if you can — give them the solution of the riddle if you have it; and if you have not, for the love of the Immortal Gods let us admit it.

Let us thereby learn our lesson — that this (the work of a Theosophical Lodge) is our field of training in the Masters' service. Do you realize that? I believe that each one of us ought to be prepared to accept the conditions of our training if we want it; and it applies to all of us — Presidents of Sections, Presidents of Lodges, Officers of Lodges, Officers of Sections, all the way down the scale. Let us follow this fundamental principle and accept our condition of service. It will be at times uncomfortable, especially if we have a wrong point of view, but do not let our members and the public come here and go away empty-handed, saying "But these people do not understand — they do not grasp my questions; they give me nothing in reply; they do not seem to know." That is wrong. Cherish above almost everything the intellectual integrity and freedom of thought of our Theosophical Lodge, the intellectual honesty of our students; and let our purpose be to go to work; let us go like students to school, and let us study, let us go where we can get instruction, and get the information and make it a part of our being. But it does mean work.

It does not signify if you have been a member for fifty years of the Theosophical Society, if you have not done any work in those fifty years, and if you do not know your stuff. There may be no harm done except for yourself; but be humble enough to go to work now. Begin, because if you do not begin today, well tomorrow you won't be any better off, and you will have nothing to give the other fellows. Oh! how one longs to see the members of our Theosophical Lodges becoming more and more intellectually and spiritually alive, growing and discriminating purposefully in their Theosophical work, day by day learning more of the Ancient Wisdom: learning it, opening up their own inner faculties, so that they are not placed in the position very often of having to say, "I don't know"; but never miss the opportunity of saying you do not, if really and truly you don't. Why? Because it makes for mutual confidence, so that others can think: "At least these people do not pose, they do not pretend to know something that in fact they do not know."

You know that was one of the most marvelous things about our old H. P. B. She was never a deceiver. She made hundreds of mistakes perhaps — and I personally have very little use for the people who do not make mistakes. If you are a human being — learning, struggling, engaged in the affairs of this world, you are bound to make mistakes and thereby you learn. And therefore it is never necessary to put on the pose that you never make a mistake. Be honest about it.

And I would like, if the President of this Lodge will permit me, to voice to you a suggestion I have already made to him. I would earnestly suggest this for your consideration, as I always do to all the other Lodges — have your business meetings when they are necessary, but have them at a time other than the regular meetings of the Lodge — either before or afterwards; but do not interfere with the very life, spirit, and purpose of your Theosophical work in order to discuss how you are going to do something. Set your time, ask the people to come — lay emphasis, appeal to them to come at that time; but your proper Lodge Meeting time is the time for your Masters' work. That is the time that you want some illumination, and you won't get any in business meetings — or very little. But they have their proper place and purpose, and they are good; and I am delighted to hear that your President is taking steps to get more active co-operation from all the members of the Lodge and from the members of Committees, so that they all take their share in the common work. Shoulder the burden and delight in it; that is the right way. But do not let us get things out of proportion. Give business its proper place — but no more than that.

We stand at this moment at one of the most critical periods, I suppose, that the Theosophical Movement has had. I feel myself that if we go the right way about it; if we keep our views and our work broad enough, alive enough, if we are willing to accept Truth where it may be found, during the next few years we shall have an opportunity of an increasing amount of help from what we call Esoteric circles. Remember that every one who succeeds in making himself a fit channel for them to work through is going to do something for this Society, and through it for the human race, and that in time will bring its own result. It is our objective. We ought to work for it.

On Looking for Results

You have just heard it stated that our philosophy teaches us not to look for results, an idea which is very much laid down in the Bhagavad-Gita. Nevertheless, like all good things, there is sometimes a hidden danger if we don't understand the import of what is there written. I do think that as Theosophists we have the duty to recognise that whilst we are not looking for results or fruit of a personal kind, or for personal advantage, or good results to our own karma; nevertheless, as agents, unconscious, semi-conscious, or fully conscious, of that great Brotherhood of holy men who stand behind the work of the Theosophical Society, we have to recognise that if we want to achieve the objective which is set before us as workers in the great Theosophical field, we must learn how to calculate and use the forces, the instruments, and our tools of work, in such a way that we get the results that we are striving for. No mere philosophical reasoning to the effect that "we are not looking for results," will compensate for our lack of choosing those methods which will get results.

One of the great Masters once wrote these words:

. . . The degree of success or failure are the landmarks we shall have to follow, as they will constitute the barriers placed with your own hands between yourselves and those whom you have asked to be your teachers. The nearer you approach to the goal contemplated, the shorter the distance between the student and the Master.

— in other words they judge by results.

Whilst there is truth in the other statement, let us not have it in the back of our minds as a justification to ourselves that after all, we have done what we could, and if nothing has come of it, well, we must not "look for results." I don't believe that is the highest Theosophical philosophy; it is rather to take the view that if we have not got results, we must accept the responsibility for it ourselves, and recognise that there must be something that we have not learned, perhaps don't know how to do; and remember that the last and final key, and the first key to any successful work, is something in our own hearts and minds. If we are not successful, anyone of us individually, in presenting Theosophy to the public in such a way that it attracts them, holds their interest, and leads them in their turn to go to work to dig in the mines of the Archaic Teaching so that they can win the treasure that therein lies, win it and incorporate it into the very fabric of their being, and then give it out to others — we have done nothing, indeed less than nothing! It is not just coming to listen to a speaker or a lecturer which is the beginning and end-all of being a member of the Theosophical Society. No. To quote the Leader's own words, 'Everyone of us militant Theosophists has got to become a Leader himself,' in the sense that we must find the key within our own hearts that will literally make us leaders of the thought-life of our age.

I have often thought of the illustration of the man who was compelled by a peculiar will of a deceased relative to go down on to the Thames Embankment in London, without a penny in his pocket, and not having eaten anything for a long number of hours. He was struck with his total inability to relieve the dire distress and misery that he found on that river-bank. Any individual who wants to labor in the illimitably vast field of the Theosophical Movement to bring spiritual light to men is in the position of that man, if he has not himself made a certain amount at least of the Theosophical truths and principles a part of his life and a part of his being; for that is the spiritual gold with which alone be can relieve the suffering of others.

Therefore it is our first job, and not our last, to go into the work-shop of our own Nature, and take up the tools which belong to our craft. You know what they are: the material in which we have to labor is the sevenfold constitution of man and of nature of which he is a part, and the tools of his craft are placed in his hands by the Great Teachers of the human race. They are the sublime teachings of the archaic Wisdom-Religion of mankind, the rules of life and conduct. It is these things that we have to take up, and not merely gaze on them from afar like a famished man gazing upon a spread banquet which he dare not eat. But we must walk to the feast that is laid upon the Masters' table and ourselves partake of it; go to work on the battlefield of our own being, like Arjuna, on the field of Kurukshetra. First, we must slay the armies and hosts of those lower forces that course through our own lower nature; for each of us has to learn to vanquish himself, however many times we ourselves may be vanquished in the process.

But the Theosophist takes as his shield and buckler the saying of the great Buddha: "Greater than the conqueror of armies is the disciple (the man, the student, the neophyte), the aspirant, in every age, who learns to conquer himself." After all, that is the entrance door, into the Theosophical life. The Theosophical Movement, Brothers and Friends, means nothing at all if it has not the power to awaken the divine fire in our own hearts, and in the hearts of all who come into the Movement. Why is it that the Theosophical Movement right down the ages has had and does have today the power to change men's lives? Have you ever reflected upon it? Why is it? It is a fundamental that lies right at the basis of the whole of our work, and it is something that, alas, is very little understood even among the ranks of Theosophists. Many people believe that a mere concourse of students, all more or less of the same level of development, makes a Theosophical Society, and the truth is that it does not. Why? This is the reason, as I understand it: The Theosophical Society itself is the outer court of the inner circles, the esoteric circles, of the human race; the outer court-way, through which we may enter into direct touch and communion with the Great Teachers. And the point that I want to make at this moment is that in order for us to leave the ranks of what in old times they called "the profane," the living dead, the spiritually unawakened portion of humanity, we need the help of conscious beings. I mean fully conscious in comparison with us ordinary men and women who are most of the time semi-conscious or unconscious, because of the mechanical way in which our consciousness works. It is nothing but that spiritual stream of conscious energy that flows into the world through the Theosophical Movement itself, through individual envoys, agents, and messengers, conscious envoys who are capable of becoming the channels of that spiritual power, which has the capacity to awaken the sleeping germ in the hearts of those who have it only potentially. As H. P. B. once herself said or wrote —

"If Sun thou canst not be, then be the humble Planet," says the Book of the Golden Precepts. And if even that is beyond our reach, then let us at least endeavour to keep within the ray of some lesser star, so that its silvery light may penetrate the murky darkness, through which the stony path of life trends onward; for without this divine radiance we risk losing more than we imagines.

And she meant just that, that if you enter into a Fellowship in which the very life-blood flows in a stream from the asramas of the holy Masters, then you will have something which if you yourselves work in the right way will help you to change your whole nature from the ground up, and make you leaders of men in your turn.

On Fraternization

In regard now to our relationship with other Theosophical organizations, we are glad to be able to record that the work of breaking down inter-organizational hatred, suspicion and prejudice continues to go forward. We are not working so much for unification of organizations, but towards a unification of thought and life based upon a genuine and brotherly sympathy and tolerance for all who in their different ways are earnestly and sincerely seeking for the light of Theosophia. There is no virtue or holiness in isolating ourselves behind the high walls of the particular Theosophical organization to which we may choose individually to belong. As a matter of fact, there are few experiences so satisfying to the mind and heart of a militant Theosophist as to be able to compare notes in regard to methods, objectives and teaching; in other words to share his Theosophic experience impersonally with friendly groups of members of other organizations and affiliations. It is well worth the effort occasionally to go out of one's way to meet some Theosophist whose views, as expressed in his writings, one may cordially detest or disagree with, because so frequently one finds deep down the same aspiration towards truth, and a desire to give what he has in service to those willing to receive it; and all this not because we, any of us, have any ax to grind, but simply because we like to meet our Brother Theosophists and see whether perchance we may render a service, and on occasion receive one in return. All without exception who sincerely strive to make Theosophy a living spiritual force in their lives, must discover much that is beautiful and true within themselves which they long to share with others that they too may benefit. Truth has no earmark or label; the same light lighteth all men into the world. Organizations are of value just in so far as they serve to lead men individually towards the truth. No one of them probably is indispensable to mankind as a whole, but all are useful in proportion to the truth that is in them. It should be recognised that in this coming together of members of different affiliations there must and should be reciprocity: a certain open-minded generosity of spirit, and that straight-forwardness of purpose which in itself evokes confidence and commands respect. We desire to see it recognised by members of all Theosophical affiliations that it is first and foremost un-Theosophical to treat Brother Theosophists with less decency and gentlemanly courtesy than the standard set among civilized communities in general. We do not hesitate to say that unless the spirit of narrow, sectarian fanaticism and exclusiveness is uprooted once and for all in the different units which so largely compose the modern Theosophical movement, then Those who stand behind the veil and watch, will write Finis to all present Theosophical efforts, as an experiment which had noble beginnings, but which ended in spiritual bankruptcy and failure.

And now may all our F. T. S. everywhere look within their own hearts to the light they will inevitably find there, and resolve in this first month of the New Year that each member will make of himself an energetic center for our Masters' work, so that he may come to recognise and feel their holy presence within himself, and thus be the means of spreading everywhere the Spirit of Wisdom, Nobility and Peace.

Further Notes on Fraternization

Broaden instead of narrowing your sympathies; try to identify yourself with your fellows, rather than to contract your circle of affinity. — Mahatma K. H.

The great and all-important aim in any effort for fraternization is to bring about mutual confidence, and we do not hesitate to declare that this can never be brought about if either party seeks under the cover of fraternization to secure a material advantage — and by "material advantage" we mean specifically an endeavor to increase our respective memberships by capturing the members of the other Society, or by any other kind of political jerrymandering. Any kind of jockeying for position is untheosophical, and therefore obviously contrary to the spirit of fraternization, which after all is only the militant aspect of Brotherhood. Having said this much let us go further, and state exactly how we have been able to do successful fraternization work with our brothers of the Phoenix Lodge.

First of all we have the same aim and a common purpose, viz: to unite in true fellowship in order to give to the world — if possible in a more vital way — the Great Message of our Masters through H. P. B. Thus we had the requisites laid down by William Q. Judge as a basis for union amongst Theosophists wherever they may be found: similarity of aim, of aspiration, of purpose, of teaching, of ethics. Our respective Lodges follow somewhat different methods in their regular work, but we recognise in these differences of organization, nothing more important than the cut of the particular style of waistcoat that happens to suit our fancy. On fundamentals we always have been, and we hope always will be in the future united. There has never been even a suspicion of friction; but we have not sought that negative kind of quietude in our joint work which is usually described as being undisturbed by even a ripple! On the contrary we venture to think that our meetings together have been productive of waves of thought, of philosophical and spiritual thinking, so powerful and so strong that we hope and believe they will have the necessary force to permeate the entire thought atmosphere not only of all Theosophists in England but of all men without distinction of religion, race or creed.

What in the name of our Masters would be the use or purpose of trying to do Theosophical fraternization work upon a basis of theft and duplicity? We do not admit that we ever have done so, and we pledge ourselves to all and sundry that we will never do so in the future. When Lodges of the Point Loma T. S. approach Lodges of other Societies in order to hold joint meetings in celebration of White Lotus Day, or some other impersonal effort or occasion, they should be given credit for the integrity and sincerity of their purpose. Their sole aim is to demonstrate to the world, that Theosophists not only can but do meet together in spiritual Fellowship to forward the Cause of the Masters they serve. Let there be no mistake — successful fraternization work rests upon the basis of mutual confidence because rooted in Mutual integrity. There should be complete understanding: there must be no cause for apprehension; there must be agreement by the respective officials concerned beforehand, not only as to the details of the program of a meeting, but as to the speakers, and exactly how the meeting is to be conducted. The membership of both Lodges must know exactly where they stand, certain that they not only have nothing to fear but everything to gain by sharing the inspiration, which other workers in other spheres have brought to the problem of how to learn, of how to live and of how to give Theosophy to the world.

We repeat that on our side we seek no material advantage; we hold out the hand of friendship, of fellowship, of devotion to our Masters' Cause. We are willing to share what we have, and all that we have the right to share with all men everywhere, whether Theosophists or not. We believe that in a right understanding of the message of Theosophy lies hope for mankind. The healing power of that Message can never be given to the world with the force that it should have, if the public cannot help being made aware of constant internecine warfare within and between the Theosophical organizations. Only when such destructive forces are changed by fraternization, i. e., Fellowship, shall we be able to carry the flame of inspiration through the thought-life of every class and section of this great nation. We do not purpose to lay down the task until the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky are known and read and loved (as they already are, so we are credibly informed, by members of the Royal family) by all sections of the aristocracy; by members of the business community; and by the great toiling masses of the people — from the unemployed miner in South Wales and Durham to all who are seeking the Bread of Life. That is our program and such is our Faith.

Rising above Desire

What does the occultist mean when he says we should endeavor to kill out desire? He does not mean that we should do away with the driving power in life. Desire is the motive force that sends the Universe along.

Unfortunately it has been my experience in the Theosophical Movement to see some very worthy people reduced to complete inertia thinking they were really striving along the Path and had killed out desire — and the poor things had! But you cannot perform any duty in life without the principle of desire energizing your being. It is a vehicle for your will. So, in considering this question, there must be a particular sense in which desires have to be killed out. It is only those desires that intensify your material and transitory nature that have to be killed out. We have to change or transmute finite desires into aspiration. If you are a Christian you call it prayer, and true prayer, which is aspiration towards the spiritual part of your being, to the Supreme itself, doing all actions without a selfish desire for the fruit of those actions — this is the state towards which we aspire, difficult enough, but true. That is the use of desire.

But there is another way of looking at this question. The highest philosophical and metaphysical concepts that we study in a Theosophical Lodge take the mind into a region that is really beyond the region of desire, and that is why we study them. It is to purify the desire nature and free the mind from identification therewith, that we study philosophy and metaphysics. To quote a lovely phrase of Gautama, Buddha: We try to teach the mind to walk in the way of Truth; we try to instruct our mental part, our true individuality, to recognise its essential oneness, unity, identity with the one Mind, the one Being which is the Universe, for it is the greatest mistake in the world if you think of the planet and the solar system, and the marvelous Universe of which it is a part, as something outside of you. You are part, an essential spark of its own life; part of its great river of being. So that we think of this Universe as a conscious living entity, we playing our little roles and parts in its gigantic term of life; and the purpose of the whole thing is to realize that there is not a moment of life when the atoms of the material part of us cannot be transcended and conquered by rising above desire into unity with the one mind, the Universal Soul, which incidentally is without bounds. Is that an idea that inspires you? If you have never thought of it before, dwell upon it, and think, for one of these days it will give you the greatest lift that it is possible for a philosophical idea to do, for then you will realize that you are not your weak and erring and sinful mind, but that if you are willing to rise above these things, to let them go out of your life, you have the power of the One Mind; you have the Life and the Knowledge and the Wisdom and the Truth of the Universal one Self, which is the same in you and in me.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition