Theosophical University Press Online Edition
To the American Convention, Boston (letter, October 14, 1933)
To the American Convention, Boston (address, October 15, 1933)
Fidelity to Theosophy — The genuine and the counterfeit — Caution to American Section especially against psychic phase of growth in America — Necessity of increasing fellowship — Intensive study of technical Theosophy — Need for supporting International Headquarters — Work of Theosophical Club and Lotus-Circles — Interorganizational Theosophical fraternization — Difference between Fraternization work and Sectional or Lodge work — Approval of plan of Regional Vice-Presidents — Reference to thirteen months just spent at Oakley House, Bromley Common, England.
MR. PRESIDENT AND MY BROTHERS:
In addressing to you these lines of greeting, and what I trust will be helpful suggestions, I do so with the feeling that the Theosophical work in America is about to enter upon a new and far more active term than has been the characteristic of the work of the Theosophical Society in the United States and its Dependencies and Canada during the last twenty-five or thirty years. After a period of obscuration, the American Section of the T. S. is now preparing for what I hope, and, indeed, verily believe, will be in future years an era of quite unexpected expansion and growth — growth not only in membership, which is one thing that I consider most needful at present, but also in its spiritual and intellectual influence upon our country.
Human institutions and organizations, like human beings themselves, are subject to periodic phases of contrasting character, i. e., to phases of activity and to periods of rest; but let us remember that it is just in these resting-periods, the periods of assimilation and recuperation, that energy is ingathered for the work of the following day or age. When we contrast the amazingly successful and far-flung American Section as it was in the days of our beloved W. Q. Judge, with what it has only recently been, it becomes immediately obvious that we are now emerging from a resting-time, a period of spiritual and intellectual incubation if I may so phrase it; and I am greatly desirous, and in a sense genuinely anxious, that the new activities, that the new work, that the new growth and expansion in short, of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, shall in the future follow steadily and without deviation to right or to left, those spiritual directions in administration and in conduct, which point unerringly to the Spiritual North, and which, if you can follow them faithfully and without fail, will lead to that glorious consummation in the destiny of the American Section of the Theosophical Society which lies before you, providing only that you follow faithfully the direction which will lead you to it. This direction is absolute fidelity in thought, in feeling, and in our spoken words whatever they may be, to the teachings of our Blessed Masters as originally conveyed to the Theosophical Society by our H. P. B., and after her by W. Q. J., and that great hearted Leader and Teacher whom as yet so few understand, Katherine Tingley.
It is to Theosophy that we must be faithful all the time, through the nights and through the days, during our resting periods and during our times of intensest activity; and when I say Theosophy, I mean Theosophy, and not any one nor a few nor indeed many or any of its distortions, which alas we see around us today.
This by no means signifies that Theosophy is merely and only a certain revelation, partially, ex hypothesi, given into our hands once and for ever, to which nothing may ever be added because it is full and complete, and which we should receive with the bended knee of adoration and the bowed spirit of servile reverence. This is a mistaken, fallacious, false, and therefore highly dangerous, conception of the nature of the magnificent body of teaching which H. P. B. first brought to, us. She herself was the first to point out that she was but the beginning of a line or succession of Teachers officially following her, each one of whom would have his or her work to do, and each one of whom could and would, if times were ripe and minds were receptive, explain in fuller measure what came to us from her hands, adding thereto other partial 'revelations,' if I may use this much abused word, or unveilings, from the same source from which she received her Message for mankind.
In other words, we must never look upon Theosophy in the sectarian manner of the purblind bigot, or of the equally blind religious devotee, 'as being once for all delivered to the Saints,' and who considers it as being sacrilegious if a still higher lifting of the veil covering the Ancient Wisdom let forth a new light to elucidate what was given before, or as being wicked to receive new verses adding to our treasury of esoteric information, knowledge, and wisdom.
Slowly the Bible of the Race is writ,
Each age, each kindred, adds a verse to it.
a beautiful statement of esoteric fact that was greatly beloved by our revered K. T.
Human nature is not static, but changes continuously through the ages, sometimes advancing in inner growth, sometimes subject to temporary phases or periods of obscuration. But it is a characteristic of the human spirit that it is a lover of truth; and if it can free itself from the shackles of orthodoxy, even of a Theosophical orthodoxy, alas, and can cast off the irons of creed-bound beliefs, it always welcomes truths which to the brain-mind may seem to be new, but which by the enlightened spirit are recognised as being only new flashes, new revelations, new rays, from the same spiritual Sun that lightened and enlightened our fathers and our forefathers.
No one knows better than I how easy it is for words just like these that I am now writing to be evilly, wickedly, banefully used to human spiritual hurt by self-seeking hypocrites with ready tongue, or by mongers in spiritual frauds. But let us remember, my Brothers, that by the counterfeits we find the proof positive that the genuine gold coin exists; and let us not be so fearful that knowing that fraud is in the world we shut our eyes to new truth when we have a chance to receive it, remembering that it is new only to our brain-minds. But when coming from the source whence H. P. B. drew hers, and given by Messengers whose teaching and life are consistent with the high spiritual and ethical standard that was hers, we can test the genuineness of the new truth by its perfect consistency with what she gave to us, by its power to cast a dazzling light of explanation upon the obscure parts of her Message, by its power to elevate our hearts and to stimulate our minds, and above everything else by its power to ennoble our lives and to give us a light under which we may walk the path safely and steadily.
My mind has been running strongly upon these reflexions recently; for my one year's sojourn in European countries, with the devoted members and Fellow-Theosophists who accompanied me, has shown me more clearly than ever before, that the way of safety, peace, and progress for any Section of our beloved T. S. is in ignoring the frauds around us with pity, but not allowing them to affect us at all, and by moving steadily forwards in utmost fidelity to the Message, in its relative fulness, that H. P. B. brought to us, and not only to parts of it as some misguided Theosophists do; and by cultivating our spiritual intuitions to the utmost of our ability, so that we may learn to recognise truth from falsehood when it becomes needful for us to distinguish between them.
In America particularly, with its relatively new and unspoiled psychic atmosphere, and with a people which already is becoming psychically and mentally distinct, as well as physically so, from the other nations of the earth, the need for caution, prudence, and wisdom, both spiritual and worldly, is very great; and future years will make a call upon your spiritual, intellectual, and psychical resources which may at times tax you to the utmost. But remember this, my Brothers, where the labor is the greatest, there likewise is the promise for the greatest and best fruit.
Freakish religions, extraordinary philosophies so miscalled, and bizarre societies of all kinds, flourish like weeds in the curious psychical soil of the American mental life; and all these are phenomena of the phase of growth through which the young American nation at the present time is passing. But this situation itself, this receptive mental soil, so fertile and holding the promise of such fine things for the future, is a guaranty in a way of what the Theosophical work in America can become or grow to be; and I call your attention to it with the same emphasis that William Q. Judge placed upon the fact when writing about it many years ago.
Turning now from general observations, I venture with a certain diffidence it is true, but with great earnestness of soul, to voice a number of reflexions regarding your work for the present and future, which I trust will be received by your noble-hearted President, by yourselves as delegates, and members attending your Congress, in the kindly spirit of understanding and of brotherly love in which I dictate them. Under our Constitution the Leader of the Theosophical Society has no right to interfere in the internal affairs or administration of any Section of the Theosophical Society, unless, indeed, things be moving so badly and with such danger to the general health of the Theosophical body corporate, that it becomes his duty to take a hand therein. This up to the present has never happened; and I am sure that there is no likelihood at all of its ever coming to pass, at least not in our lifetime. I pray you, therefore, not to misconstrue my observations or reflexions or remarks or suggestions as evidencing in even the slightest degree, a wish to meddle or intermeddle in your affairs.
I would therefore first point out that the primal need, the greatest necessity, at the present time in all the Sections of the Theosophical Society, is a centering and a concentering of our utmost efforts upon increasing our Fellowship, our membership, i. e., the number of our members. We are still not a powerful body numerically speaking, although our numbers have been increasing steadily and continuously for the last four years, and in a manner which pleases me, because such steady growth shows solidity of body; and I see no signs of any mushroom-characteristics anywhere. But yet, and despite the fact that our membership is growing, and perhaps it is because of my own individual characteristic of intensity, I wish we were growing faster.
In many of our Lodges, although doing excellent work in a general way, neither our lodge presidents nor our members are as aggressively active with the divine spirit of propaganda as they could be, and, indeed, should be. There are doubtless a number of reasons for this state of things. While some of our lodges are growing rapidly, others are increasing but slowly; and I think in every such instance where the increase in membership is slow, and the activity shown by a lodge is small, it arises always in ignorance of the best methods of doing the work of the lodge; for wherever I have gone I have found wonderful enthusiasm, intense conviction of the need of Theosophy in the neighborhood, and a growing realization of the solace and help and illumination that Theosophy brings to men.
It seems to me, therefore, that it is among the first duties, perhaps indeed the paramount duty, of the President and officers of a National Section, to, show our lodges how best to grow, i. e., the best method of gaining new members, and the best methods of conducting the various lodge-meetings, open or closed, and in short of attracting the attention of the public to their work and to themselves.
We have much to be thankful for. Our T. S. is not rent by dissensions or quarrelings. We are amazingly unified and peaceful in all our internal economy and relations. Yet our lodges need guidance, my Brothers; and the relatively short time that I have held office as Leader of the Theosophical Society has proved to me that the health and prosperity of a Section depend upon the common weal, i. e., upon the common well-being and prosperity, of the lodges composing a Section; and furthermore, that the spirit of enthusiasm, of propaganda, and of growth, must originate in the chief officers of a Section before this same spirit can communicate itself or be communicated to the Lodges within the jurisdiction of such Section.
In other words — and this sums up the matter in a nutshell, and it well exemplifies the hierarchical type of our T. S. — the inspiration and the urge to growth must flow forth from the center, the President of the Section, and from and through his General Council; and it will thereafter flow throughout the veins of the entire body corporate, and, indeed, gather unto itself increments of enthusiasm and prosperity as it pursues its vital round.
You have at the present time in President J. Emory Clapp, a man well fitted to lead you forwards to success in the lines that I have herein before hinted at; but he needs support in every possible way. My confidence in Brother Clapp is absolute; and he can be trusted throughout and to the end. But he needs your help — he needs your help in every way in which you can give it: in confidence, in trust, in brotherly love, and certainly not least in financial support. He took over the administration of the affairs of the American Section of the Theosophical Society from another gentleman equally noble-hearted, high-minded, and as true a Theosophist as Brother Clapp is, I mean Colonel Arthur L. Conger; and although I knew that when Colonel Conger handed over the reins of the administration to President Clapp, he gave them into the hands of a man as noble and as capable as himself, yet it gave me a pang of regret to realize that it was Colonel Conger's health alone which obliged him to do this; for I had foreseen that could Brother Conger continue in office, he would have handed over his work in later time to his successor as a noble tree bearing good fruit, and full of promise for the future. What he did we are all grateful indeed to him for having done; and it is a matter of immense gratification to me that it was Brother Clapp who succeeded him as President of the American Section of the T. S. Give to him, therefore, I say again, all the support which you can gather, support of every kind, and your trust and your brotherly love.
Another thing which I consider of the utmost importance to ensure the growth and expansion of any Section of the T. S. along the proper lines, is an intensive study in all our lodges of genuine Theosophy, I mean of technical Theosophy, the Theosophy of H. P. B. and of the Masters. How can we affect the thought of the world, which is the sole reason for our existence as a Theosophic body corporate, if we are not as individual Theosophists more or less fully cognisant of the main doctrines of the Theosophy which we so love; and how can we give to others the blessed light and the unspeakable comfort that we ourselves have received from Theosophy, unless we study it, study it as a technical study, and show to others who are hungering for truth and light the beauty of this study, and what it has brought to us, and what it has meant to us.
It is my most earnest hope that you as President, Officials, Delegates, and members of the American Section of the Theosophical Society, will collectively and as individuals do your utmost to stimulate the study of Theosophy, technically speaking, everywhere. Our literature is steadily growing; and there is no paucity of reliable and indeed fascinating books on technical Theosophical subjects; and I look upon it as one of our greatest duties, indeed one of our greatest needs, to see to it that at least the more important of our Theosophical books become the cherished private possession of every one of our members; and that each lodge as soon as it can begin to do so, shall begin to build up a Theosophical library, devoted, however, to books treating of genuine Theosophy, and eschewing and disregarding as far as possible all literatures of a quasi-mystical, freakish, or other useless character.
The amazing fruitage of the labors of that remarkable man, W. Q. J., in building up during his lifetime what became the strongest in influence, in wealth, and in numbers, of any of the Sections of the T. S., was due more than anything else to his instructions to the lodges and members who then were, first to concentrate on studying technical Theosophy; second, individually to own and to study Theosophical books; and third, to recognise the duty of every F. T. S. of those days to make himself a committee of one to increase our membership by every honorable and proper means.
I would call your attention also to the great need of doing everything in your power as officials, delegates, and members of the American Section of the T. S., to support our International Headquarters, which, I can assure you, needs this support fully as much as, and perhaps even more than, does the work of the American Section. At any rate the two stand on a parity in this respect. Never forget, my Brothers, that our International Headquarters are like the living, beating heart of the Theosophical Movement; and that as long as the heart is strong, inspiration, guidance, vitality, and the best that is in the Movement, will flow forth from it, not only to your own Section, but to all corners of the earth: to National Sections, to lodges, and to individual members of the T. S.
In future ages we shall be wealthy, and the very pressing needs of the present time will seem like a dream of the past; but I am not now pointing your eyes to the future, but directing them to the present and to its own needs. Build well in the present, and the future will take care of itself, and will give you no need for worry or anxiety. It is the International Headquarters which are the home and intimate office of the Leader of the Theosophical Society, and of those who will succeed him when it becomes his duty — I had nearly said privilege and joy — to hand over the heavy burden which he carries, to the next in line of official succession.
Other work thoroughly Theosophical in character, which will attain greatly added importance as the years fly by into the ocean of the past, is the work of The Theosophical Club, an organization affiliate with the Theosophical Society, and directly under the guidance of its International Director, who is the Leader of the Theosophical Society; and also the Lotus-Circle work. The Theosophical Club should be a liaison-body between the millions of the public on the one hand who are seeking for light but who fight shy of joining the T. S. and subscribing to its objects, and the Theosophical Society itself on the other hand. Its sphere of activity ought to, and I believe with all my heart will, become immensely useful as regards our Theosophical work in the future; and I call your attention to it, and urge, if you are not well acquainted with its objects and methods, that you familiarize yourselves therewith.
The Lotus-Circle work which was so dear to Judge and K. T., but which existed merely in the germ at the time of H. P. B., is as all know, I doubt not, our Theosophical work simplified and carried to the children, impressing and impregnating their as yet unformed minds with the beauty of some of the simple teachings of Theosophy, and thus leading them to love Theosophical doctrines, and in a sense to guide their lives by them. It is the hope that as the Lotus-Circle children pass out of the Lotus-Circles, they will join the Club; and after being in the club with others of their own age, and with other Club-members of any age, that these young people will finally join the Theosophical Society, thus continuing in the cycle of Theosophical study and rounding it out.
I turn now for a few brief observations on the matter of interorganizational Theosophical fraternization. I began this, as you all know, in 1929; and I can say that at the present time the results achieved are distinctly promising, and to me personally are very gratifying. Our work in fraternizing with our Brother-Theosophists of other Societies, some much closer to us in ideals and in work than others, is going steadily forwards, despite the many rebuffs that we have received, and despite the large amount of misunderstanding, and in some few cases of derisive indifference, which this work for Theosophical brotherhood has aroused among the unthinking. Some whose inner light burns more brightly than in other cases, and who belong to other societies, are seeing eye to eye with us, and are beginning to stand shoulder to shoulder with us in this fraternization work, as witness among many other instances that I could cite, the recent very interesting and, indeed, the remarkable inter-Theosophical Fraternization Convention held at Niagara Falls this past summer. This work was really begun and carried through to its successful culmination by a member of the Adyar Society, Brother Cecil Williams, whom it gives me pleasure to name in this my Message to the Convention, and openly to express my thanks to him for the generous and large-minded way in which he has cooperated with us, and thrown his shoulders into the harness.
Brother Clapp, to whose wisdom and far-sightedness the Convention also is to a certain extent due, I believe has already informed you of what took place there; and I hope that this Fraternization Convention will be but one of others to follow in the future. But in this connexion I feel it likewise incumbent upon me, indeed a duty, to call upon you to make a clear distinction between the fraternization work and our own Sectional or lodge-work. The time has not yet come, in my best judgment, when it is wise to ask lecturers who are not Fellows of our own T. S. to speak to our lodges, or to travel around our own Sections, at the expense of the lodges thereof. Yet — and I say this with all the emphasis at my command because it is so near to my heart — there are few needs greater in all our Sections at the present time than competent traveling field-lecturers. It is one of the dearest wishes of my heart to have members capable of speaking intelligently and convincingly before the public, going from lodge to lodge, under the direction of the National President of course, and doing what they can to further the work of the National Sections. This will certainly come in time; but with my usual enthusiasm and intensity of character, I would that we had these traveling lecturers now at work amongst us.
This work is already in the doing in a small way. In different parts of the world devoted members for two or three years past have been doing what they could in going from lodge to lodge, in lecturing and building up and stimulating, and in encouraging our lodge-work; but they are in all cases limited by needs which are particularly their own; and while they give their best, they are cramped because not wholly free to do this work.
The recent plan in our American Section of the T. S. to aid its President by instituting regions presided over by Executive Regional Vice-Presidents, I think is a most excellent idea; and I wish it with all my heart the best of good luck and brilliant prosperity. The American Section is so large in area, that it is extremely difficult for any National President to take care of all the details of a Section flung so wide, the more particularly as our dear Brother Clapp has private duties of his own which are as honorable and as needful for him to fulfil as are his Theosophical duties. But I emphatically approve of this plan of Regional Executive Vice-Presidents, and look for great good to come from it; and I extend to these Regional Executive Vice-Presidents my personal thanks and good wishes for success.
My Fellow Theosophical workers and I have just arrived in Boston, on our return to the United States, and on our way to our International Theosophical Headquarters at Point Loma, California, after somewhat more than a year's residence spent in Europe, where we had our temporary International Headquarters at Oakley House, Bromley Common, Kent. These thirteen months or so have been months of intense spiritual and intellectual activity of very varied character; but I am happy to tell you that the results achieved have been beyond my expectations, and were accomplished in a period shorter than what I had at first thought possible when leaving Point Loma in September, 1932. The details would be highly improper to insert here, nor do they particularly concern the agenda of this Convention, my Brothers; but I would like to say that while in Europe, I attended three most interesting, fruitful Conventions: one in London in October, 1932, shortly after our arrival in England; one in Sweden on the Island of Visingso during the time of the summer solstice; and one in Holland at The Hague, on July 15th and 16th last. Two of these were of an international character, the one in London and the one at The Hague. The one in Sweden was international in spirit, although more particularly devoted to matters of the Scandinavian Section.
And now we are come to you as your temporary guests to attend this the first Convention of the American Section of the Theosophical Society in the new era, where we are carrying on the noble tradition that presided at former Conventions of the American Section in earlier days. The members of my staff, my Fellow-workers, and I, are very happy to be amongst you, albeit as guests; and I desire to express my thanks to Brother Clapp and his officials and the members of the Boston Lodge of the T. S., and to other members of the T. S., for the great kindness and courtesy which we are receiving while here.
In conclusion: keep stout hearts all of you; never be dismayed by adverse conditions of whatever kind, be they financial, political, social, or what not. With our glorious philosophy which we hold as the light of our lives, and as the common inheritance of mankind, in our hearts and in our minds, and with undaunted courage, we can face the future with confidence. Certain of the justice of our Cause, and of the purity of our hearts, and disregarding the criticisms of the unthinking, of which we may at any time be made the objective, and with malice towards none, I call upon you to move forwards into the future with me and with those who will follow me, with the Holy Light of the Tathagatas guiding our feet.
I am, my Brothers,
Fraternally and faithfully yours,
G. de P.
— Letter to American Convention, Boston, Massachusetts, October 14, 1933.
The destiny of the New World — The T. S. the nursery for new religions of the future — The T. S. must be kept a pure channel — Mistakes of head and mistakes of heart — Needed increase in membership — Every Theosophist should be a law-abiding citizen — Warning of difficult times to come — Ethical injunctions — Traveling lecturers needed — Closer communication between lodges of the American Section.
MR. PRESIDENT AND CHAIRMAN, FELLOW-THEOSOPHISTS — BROTHERS AND COMPANIONS ON THE PATH:
I am going to speak to you briefly on what seems to me to be the destiny, and also the needs, of the American Section of the Theosophical Society. Here we have an immense, and even at the present time a wonderful, country, now enjoying internal peace, having known the agony of internal strife; the home of a new people, a young people, a people breathing a different psychical atmosphere from that found anywhere else in the world — a fresher air as breathed by both mind and heart, so to speak. Here in the New World, and particularly in the United States if I see aright, and I think I do, are already the beginnings not only of the new civilization that is even now by its forerunners knocking at the doors of the present; but here also in America (and by America I mean not only in the United States) will be, as I see it, in the future the building up of a Theosophical civilization, i. e., a civilization which I venture thus to qualify because possessing some of the attributes which we understand by this adjective. The destiny of the American Section, whatever may be the political and social destiny of our country, is, I hope with all my heart, to be that of spiritual leader of a great people, the leader of the thought of the New World in the future.
I am extremely anxious that the ground-work be laid strong, that the foundations be firmly builded, before the time comes for me to pass on. I have on numerous other occasions spoken of the foundation-work done by that wonderful woman, Katherine Tingley, and I have at those times also spoken of the super-structure which it shall be our destiny, I believe, to build upon that foundation. But I now am enlarging my picture; and I see not only the ground-plan, the basement-floors, so to speak, but I see already the beginning of the building of the first floor, upon which others are destined to be reared by generations following our own. New religions of a nobler type than we know, in the future are going to spring forth from the work in which we now collectively and individually are engaged — new religions embosoming more of the supernal light of the Theosophia Divina than did or does any religion at present existent on the globe. These will be a portion of the fruitage of the arduous work in which we at present are engaged; and it is my prayer that we shall now build so strongly and truly that these new religions of the future shall be of a lofty spiritual and intellectual type, Theosophical in core, and let us hope Theosophical in outlook also.
In other words, I want Theosophy in the United States to be pure, unadulterate, so that the Theosophical Society faithfully imbodying and teaching this genuine technical Theosophy, this pure Theosophy, may become the channel for the reception of a greater volume, of a greater flow, of inspiration from the principal Lodge of our Masters. That stream will never flow, at least will never flow properly, unless the channel — the Theosophical Society — is builded in proper pattern, builded aright, and kept or preserved aright through the years. The Masters of course are not hindered in their work by the mistakes of men. Their work is not undone, nor is it spoiled, by the mistakes of us, their pupils. Nevertheless, if there are no mistakes to rectify, no things built distortedly to straighten later, no errors to atone for with retributive suffering, then the flow of Light and Truth and Peace and Brotherly Love coming forth from the heart, spiritual and intellectual, of our planet, will be strong and immediate and will reach us in relatively full flood and sooner than otherwise would be possible.
I do not want anyone, my Brothers, to construe these words as meaning a proud arrogation to ourselves of all Theosophical virtues, nor as hinting a disparagement of the work of Brother Theosophists when their work is genuinely Theosophical. Any genuine Theosophical work, done by anyone, and arising from whatever source, infallibly is destined to form a component part of the mystical channel of transmission that I am speaking of.
You have some understanding of what the Fraternization Movement stands for; and I pray you, do not misconstrue these remarks of mine to be a back-handed criticism of other Theosophists. What they do they themselves shall be responsible for, whether it be good, bad, or indifferent. But here I am now speaking of our own work only — of your work, of your future work. Let us keep our hearts directed to the Spiritual North, and our minds directed to the Spiritual North, collectively and individually. Let us do our own labor well; and the best way by which to do our own labor well is for each one of us as individuals to do it well. Let others, whether of our own ranks or not, make what mistakes they may. Let us at least see that we make as few mistakes as is humanly possible.
Now, there are in human affairs mistakes of two kinds: mistakes of the head and mistakes of the heart. The mistakes of the head, Theosophically speaking, are usually mistakes in judgment or doctrinal mistakes, and are subject to rectification with more or less ease. The mistakes of the heart are not so easily rectified; and the worst of it is, my Brothers, that the mistakes of the heart leave lasting scars on the hearts of others who are affected, and it may be injured, by them. Mistakes of the heart may be prevented — probably always prevented — by following the Golden Rule: "Do unto others as ye would that they should do unto you"; which I will quote again in the phrasing of the wise old Chinese, Confucius, which I think to be an even better rendering of this famous old adage: "Do not unto others what you would not that they should do unto you." Do you see the difference here? The Occidental rendering is the positive and personal view, which suggests that you make yourself to be the judge, more or less, of what is good for the other fellow; but the Oriental way of putting the Rule is: let the other fellow be the judge; and it is a kindlier way of understanding the Golden Rule. Following this Rule we shall avoid mistakes of the heart; and as I have said, the mistakes of the mind, such as we shall probably doubtless make in the future, will be easily rectified.
I long for the day when the American Section instead of being composed of a certain number of members as it is at present, will reckon among its fellowship one hundred, one thousand, Fellows, for every individual Fellow whom we have at the present time. After thirteen months spent in European countries, and after careful study of the conditions there, I have reached this conclusion: that nowhere, at least as far as I have traveled, are the conditions for Theosophical propaganda more promising than they are in the New World. This does not mean that conditions in European countries are unpromising. Quite the contrary; but everything favors you here in the New World. You have absolutely no cause for discouragement of any kind. Mark you, this does not mean that you are superior to Europeans, and do not get that little bee in your bonnet! I mean only that conditions of all kinds distinctly favor you here, that everything is favorable for you; and as I have just said, I long to see the American Section grow and increase by leaps and bounds, reaching what was the maximum of attainment along the lines of increase which belonged to Brother Judge's day, and overpassing it, and making even our membership of that time seem to be numerically small!
Possibly some of you think, Brother Americans, that I have been paying compliments to you. If so, you will change your mind, because now I am going to say a few things of another kind! I ask you all, Fellow-Theosophists, to be on guard against one or two vices which rightly or wrongly are often called American faults: the idea that everything that is American is superior to everything else on earth. This may be all very well for political rostrums, or for the corner soap-box orator. But we Theosophists, as members of an International Organization, sworn to a spiritual International Brotherhood, and nevertheless loving our native country with all our hearts, should have a larger and more generous outlook than that. I have heard it stated — never however by one of our own members — that anyone holding a government-post would find it difficult to reconcile his fellowship in the Theosophical Society with his duty to his country. I want to take this occasion to tell you, as Leader of the Theosophical Society, that this statement is an infamous falsehood. You cannot be a good Theosophist unless you love your country well, unless you love it not for its past achievements in selfishness of any kind, but for its past grandeur in spiritual and ethical and social values. I want the Theosophical Society to become an organization in which not words, but truths and high feelings, shall guide the lives of its members. Every Theosophist should be a law-abiding citizen, doing every duty to country and to individual that comes to hand, no matter what it may be.
As is my habit, I often speak by hint. Strange times are coming upon the world; and it may not in future days be easy for me to reach individual Fellows of the Theosophical Society, who may, in the honor and sincerity of their hearts, yearn to ask the Leader what in his judgment is the best path to follow in this or that or in some other difficult set of circumstances. Be peace-makers, and ye shall inherit the earth. Strive always and battle continuously for truth and right, and ye shall win all things. Be truthful at all times and places; but understand that silence sometimes is golden where speech is lead. Cultivate your intuitions; hold fast to moral principles; let principles, the Theosophical principles which have been given to us, be like your guiding star. Never neglect a duty of any kind; but in order to prevent your ideas from becoming crystallized and dogmatic, and in order to prevent your feeling that you have reached an ultimate, remember that higher than any duty there is always a higher duty, and that a higher duty is never in conflict with an inferior duty.
And now, Mr. President, after having been like the Greek Sage Heraclitus, obscure, I desire to advert briefly again to the affairs of the American Section itself. One thing we need more than anything else, my Brothers, and that is traveling lecturers, people who are not too timid to speak on a public platform, men and women who are familiar with and capable of explaining our Theosophical doctrines, and who in consequence can communicate them to others easily and without offense. One of the best methods I have found in the training of a body of speakers, is for the President of a lodge, or for the proper officers of the lodge, to institute classes in public speaking, classes in which appropriate members of a lodge shall be allowed to come to the platform and face their fellows and thus learn how to address them easily, kindly, and convincingly. Just as it is by speaking in a foreign tongue that one learns to use it most easily, so it is by trying to explain Theosophy to others: by actually doing it you gain facility in exposition, and also clarify your own mind; so that with each new time when you come to the platform to speak, you find that you do so more easily, and can speak to your audience more convincingly.
I would like to see a far closer communication, Mr. President, among the various lodges of the American Section, i, e., lecturers or members of one lodge going to other lodges by invitation as speakers, and as friendly visitors. I understand that this is already in the doing in certain quarters. There is a great advantage in this. It not only makes the members better acquainted with each other, but it likewise introduces a spirit of enthusiasm in propaganda. Seize every opportunity that offers itself to keep your name and work and quality in the public eye. Seize every chance possible to speak in and through the newspapers. Neglect no opportunity along this line, however small it may be; and do not be discouraged if the editors of the newspapers at times refuse to accept your communications. Persevere and keep at it !
Next, and perhaps most important of all, study Theosophy continuously. Take our books; study them not only in your homes; if possible carry our books around with you, and read them whenever opportunity offers, so that you may become acquainted with and familiar with our technical terms; gain facility in explaining them so that you may thus more easily convey what you know to others, not only in your private circles, but before public audiences.
And now, Mr. President, I thank you for the very gracious reception which you and the Officers of the American Section, the Delegates here present, and the Officers and Members of the Boston Lodge of the Theosophical Society, have accorded to my fellow-travelers and myself. We have been keenly sensible of the profound courtesy and generous hospitality which we are receiving; and we shall leave you tomorrow in order to pursue our home-journey to our International Headquarters at Point Loma, California, with our hearts filled with brotherly love, and with a feeling that our return to the United States after more than a year's absence has been likewise the occasion of a memorable and historic event in the American Section of the Theosophical Society — I mean this present Convention. I pray that the work so auspiciously outlined here in this Convention may become imbodied in the future in an American Section of the T. S. which will be a model for all. I verily believe it will be so!
— Address to Convention of American Section, T. S., Boston, October 15, 1933.