Letters That Have Helped Me

William Q. Judge

Volume 1 compiled by Jasper Niemand;
Volume 2 compiled by Thomas Green and Jasper Niemand

The Letters in Volume 1 originally appeared in The Path, December 1888 to March 1890. W. Q. Judge first published them in book form in 1891, and this present edition is a verbatim reprint of that original. Volume 2 is reprinted from the original edition published in England in 1905 by Thomas Green. Theosophical University Press electronic version ISBN 1-55700-084-0 (print version also available). For ease of searching, no diacritical marks appear in this electronic version of the text.


To Z. L. Z., the Greatest of the Exiles, and Friend of all Creatures; from his Younger Brother, the Compiler. — Jasper Niemand, 1891

Preface to Volume 1

"Seeking for freedom I go to that God who is the light of his own thoughts. A man who knows him truly passes over death; there is no other path to go." — Upanishads

In the Path for May, 1886, we find these words:

"We need a literature, not solely for highly intellectual persons, but of a more simple character, which attempts to appeal to ordinary common-sense minds who are really fainting for such moral and mental assistance as is not reached by the more pretentious works."

The experience of one student is, on the whole, the experience of all. Details differ, however. Some are made more instantly rich than others: they are those who put forth more vigorous and generous effort; or they have a Karmic store which brings aid. What Theosophists know as Karma, or the law of spiritual action and reaction, decided this, as it works on all the planes, physical, moral, mental, psychical, and spiritual alike. Our Karma may be worked out on any one of these planes when our life is chiefly concentrated upon it, no matter upon what other plane any special initiative impulse or branch of it originated.

The writer, when first he became a theosophical student, had the aid of an advanced occultist in his studies. This friend sent him, among others, the letters which, in the hope that they may assist others as they have the original recipient, are here published. They are not exhaustive treatises; they are hints given by one who knew that the first need of a student is to learn how to think. The true direction is pointed out, and the student is left to clarify his own perceptions, to draw upon and enlarge his own intuitions, and to develop, as every created thing must at last develop, by his own inward exertions. Such students have passed the point where their external environment can affect their growth favorably. They may learn from it, but the time has also come to resist it and turn to the internal adjustment to higher relations only.

The brevity of these letters should not mislead the reader. Every statement in them is a statement of law. They point to causes of which life is an effect; that life arising from the action of Spirit in Nature, and which we must understand as it is manifested within us before we can advance on the Path. There is a scientific meaning within all these devotional or ethical injunctions, for the Wisdom-Religion never relaxes her hold upon Science or attempts to dissever an effect from its cause. Most of these admonitions have their base in the constitution of the Archaeus, or World-Soul, and the correlation of its energies; others, still, adhere in the Eternal.

No less should the reader guard himself against a slight estimate arising from the exquisite modesty of Z. An occultist is never so truly a man of power as when he has wholly learned and exhibits this truth:

"And the power the disciple shall desire is that which shall make him appear as nothing in the eyes of men."

The inner eye, the power of seeing, looks deeper into the source of a man's knowledge and takes it at its true value. Those men who are sharers in the Divine, whose first office is to give, are often protected from the demands and curiosity of the careless by a simple exterior which deceives the worldly sense. Some men are great because of the Power which stands behind them, the divine energies which flow through them; they are great through having learned how to receive this celestial influx from higher spheres of Being; they are the appointed ministrants, the true servitors of the Law and pupils of Masters whose office is humanitarian and universal.

Such aid is never volunteered; it follows the Karmic behest, and, when given, leaves the student free to follow it or not, as his intuitions may direct. There is not a shadow or vestige of authority in the matter, as the world understands the word authority. Those who travel the unknown way send messages back, and he who can receives them. Only a few of the first steps are here recorded and the first impediments surmounted. No hints of magic lore are to be found; no formulas of creed or occult powers; the questions of an awakening soul are answered, and the pilgrim is shown where lies the entrance to the Path. The world at large seeks the facts of occult science, but the student who has resolved to attain desires to find the true road. What may seem to others as mere ethics is to him practical instruction, for as he follows it he soon perceives its relation to facts and laws which he is enabled to verify, and what seemed to him the language of devotion merely, is found to be that of science; but the science is spiritual, for the Great Cause is pure Spirit.

Many students must at some time stand where the writer then stood, at the beginning of the way. For all these this correspondence is made public, and they are urged to look within the printed words for their imperishable meaning. They may be cheered to find the footprints of a comrade upon the rugged Path, above which the light of Truth ever shines. Yet even this light is not always a clear splendor. It may seem "in the daytime a cloud, and by night a pillar of fire." We must question every external aspect, even that of Faith itself, for the secret and germ of things lies at their core. Let us purify even our Faith; let us seek Truth herself, and not our preconceptions of Truth. In her mirror we shall never see our own familiar face: that which we see is still ourselves, because our real self is truth.

As the Theosophical movement gathers new momentum, fresh recruits may be aided by those letters which so greatly sustained me, or encouraged by some co-partnership of thought, and that, too, in the real issue confronting them. We first take this issue to be the acquirement of occult knowledge. Soon we find that the meaning of all really informed occult writers eludes us. We find that books only serve to remind us of what we knew in the long past, perhaps when "journeying with Deity," and the echoes awakened within us are so faint that they are rarely to be caught. Whether we study philosophies, metaphysics, physics, ethics, harmony, astrology, natural sciences, astralism, magnetism, or what not, we meet with endless contradiction and differentiation; we forever require to strike the balance of our own intuition. We discover that the final word has not yet been written down upon any of the higher subjects (unless it be on mathematics, and scarcely on that), and that all our learning is but a finger-post to that supreme knowledge of Truth which is only found and closely guarded within the human heart. Thrown back upon our inner perceptions for continual readjustment, on every side of experience this warning confronts us: Stand ready to abandon all thou hast learned! Not knowing the one center, we cannot thoroughly know any sub-center. The cause unknown, effects mislead us. Then we turn to that mysterious center whereby the One is manifest in man, and we begin the study of the heart, both in itself and in the life it has instituted about us.

To be put into more direct communication with the world of cause is now the student's most pressing need. One thing alone prevents this — himself. He is of such gross fibre that he cannot be "porous to thought, bibulous of the sea of light." To the refinement and dispersal of this lower self — of the man he now takes himself to be — he then directs his will. Each man has a different mode of doing this, but each who advances at all finds that with every new period of his inner life a new self rises before him. Looking back over a group of weeks or months, he is amazed to see what manner of man he was then, and smiles that pitying smile which we bestow upon the faded letters of our youth.

Yet some there be who ossify there in their rut; let them struggle mightily to break up the mass which has resisted all environment, all change, all the conditions of progressive life. They have done for themselves what the enemy strives to do for others; they are the rock in their own path.

What our Eastern brothers call "the sheaths of the heart" fall away one by one; when the last bursts open there is a silence, the silence of the mystic death. But "the dead shall arise," and from that death springs up the first tender growth of eternal life.

Up to this point we shall not travel in the ensuing pages. Yet having realized the real issue so forcibly that his whole strength was at the start directed towards self-knowledge and the right use of Thought, the writer offers a part of his first instructions to those of his comrades who, single-hearted and of royal Faith, hold Truth to be dearer than all material life and seek it on the hidden way. There is no tie in the universe equal to that which binds such comrades together. It has been forged in the fires of unspeakable anguish; it has been riveted by a dauntless purpose and a unique, because Divine, Love. The fierce hatred of seen and unseen worlds cannot tamper with it so long as a man remains true to himself, for this larger life is himself, and as he grows towards it his self-imposed fetters fall away and he stands, at last, a free soul, in the celestial Light which is Freedom itself, obedient only to the Law of its own divine Being. To reach it, let us obey the law of our own Being, for, truly, Being is One.

My comrades, wherever you are, I salute you.

— Jasper Niemand, F. T. S.

In Devotion TO THE IMMORTALS and in the Service of Humanity this little book is laid Upon the Altar — June, 1905

Foreword to Volume 2


One marked difference will be noticed between this, the second volume of Letters That Have Helped Me, and the earlier volume. That first volume had a unity of purpose and development, setting forth, as it did, in due sequence, the salient points of the eastern teaching. This unity palpably arose from the fact that the series of letters was written to one individual, and thus followed along a line suited to the unfolding needs and the studies of that individual, as to those of all fellow students pursuing an identical line of thought.

The present volume, on the contrary, consists of letters, and extracts from letters, written to a number of people in different parts of the world. In many instances, an extract only was sent to the compilers by individuals appealed to, that of their store something might be given to their fellowmen. In other instances, the entire letter was sent, but contained personal or other matter, which could not be published. In still other instances, the entire letter is given. It has been thought best to omit all headings and endings to these letters, in order that no discrimination shall be made in respect of the recipients, thus leaving the truths which the letters embody to stand out in their own relief, unmarred by a label and a name. Many of the extracts were published in The Irish Theosophist, and others still in the "Tea-Table" of The Path, where "Quickly" stood for Mr. Judge. It was the wish of Mr. Judge, expressed in writing to one of the compilers, that the series should be re-published (with the addition of other matter) as a second volume of the earlier work. The compilers are thus carrying out the direct wishes of Mr. Judge.

During the lifetime of Mr. Judge, it was possible to rearrange, to suggest excision or amplification, or the grouping of various extracts as one letter; and it was possible as well to annotate, since Mr. Judge read all proof, and was always ready to consider any suggestions, while he was also pleased to see that his annotator had grasped his meaning, or to correct errors in this respect. It is evident that such rearrangement, adding as it would to the completeness and the unity of a series, is much to be desired. It was hoped to continue this method with the present volume; but the death of the writer has made it impossible. We can only publish some letters completely, as they stand, and group together such extracts as remain.

One point more. A great number of letters have thus come up. One compiler alone has many score, all written since the publication of the first volume, and ranging over that period of years in which the trials of Mr. Judge became increasingly heavy, a period to which his unexpected death set a term. How great were these trials, none well knew except the Master Whom he so devotedly served. The last letter of all was written but a very short while before his death. In no single letter out of all these numbers — in no letters that the compilers have seen — is there a harsh or condemnatory word said of the authors of his trials. He accepts the bitter, the profound injustice done him without one word which could impugn the faith he held, the teachings he gave out. Surprise there is; annoyance once or twice at the waste of time, the irrational deeds and words. And then he turns him to that wise compassion which knows that it is not he who is wronged who is in truth the sufferer, but he who inflicts a wrong.

Mr. Judge always taught the truest Occultism, the highest path. When his hour of trial struck, step by step he followed along that path. In the destiny of the crucified, whether Christs, or Christ-disciples, it is always seen that the loudest denial comes from those most helped, most served. It is he who sits "at meat" with them who betrays them. And of all the long line of martyrs, never one has been exonerated to his era, justified to his age. This fact alone should make thinking men pause, remembering further that the crowd always prefers that Barabbas should be released unto them.

The great drama ever follows the same lines. The initiate, be he disciple or be he adept, cannot defend himself: this is the inexorable law. But he has all the tenderest support that his great predecessors along the path of thorns can bestow: all the joy of a battle nobly fought; all the gratitude of those among his fellows whose intuition can follow him behind the veil which screens the initiate from our sight.

So it comes about that these letters breathe the compassion, the patience, the brotherliness their author lived to inculcate. Sorrow, indeed, he felt; but he put it bravely by. His great and kind heart remained sound to the core. He sweetened the hours of bitterness by profound resignation to The Law. He was one of those of whom it is written: "He that loseth his life for My sake shall find it."

For the helping of mankind we publish these letters. To the judgment of posterity we commit them, knowing well that in the eternal spaces the Truth alone prevails. He who is here seen sustaining and consoling his fellows during the saddest hours of his life and down to the doors of the tomb, was in his turn upheld — not alone by a great faith and by an All-Compassionate Hand — but also by the Love enshrined in his own quiet heart. To the Master he left the rest.


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