Destiny of each National Section depends on its National officials and members — National President should be an example of infinite kindliness and benevolence —Mistakes of Theosophists usually through misdirected enthusiasm — Mistaken sympathy a stumbling-block — Tendency to 'lean' weakening for the student-disciple — In the T. S. endeavor to build up self-reliant strong characters — Difficulty is opportunity — Cultivate inner reserves of strength — Difficulties in Theosophical propaganda-work.
MY DEAR COMPANIONS:
On frequent occasions when these very valuable European Theosophical Conventions of the T. S. are held, I have tried to send to the representatives of National Sections and individuals, at least a brief letter of affectionate fraternal greeting and good-will, and have tried to comprise in said letter a few thoughts which in my own Theosophical experience I have found helpful, and which I have believed, if understood and practised, would be helpful to all Theosophists, whether officials or simple F. T. S.
In the present instance, I venture to be so bold as to repeat this in this Message of greeting and good-will, which I am now dictating to you; but I shall try to make the present Letter or Message one dealing rather with psychological and ethical matters, than touching upon teaching of a more technical and philosophic and scientific character.
It is of course obvious that the fate, or destiny rather, of any National Section of the T. S. depends not solely upon its guiding officials, but upon the membership as a whole; and yet it is upon the shoulders of the National officials that rests the burthen of guidance and of steering their respective Theosophical ships, it may be sometimes through stormy waters, to the spiritual Goal upon which all our eyes are set.
Hence it is that in my view and judgment, the President of a Section as an instance in point, or indeed any National official — and these words should apply with equal strength to Lodge officials of any kind — each such National president or National official or Lodge official should endeavor to be an exhaustless mine of infinite kindliness, of human charity and benevolence, cultivating an enlarging capacity for understanding the problems of human hearts and minds; and last but certainly not least, he or she should likewise possess an almost infinite tact, to soften asperities, smooth over difficulties, and introduce relative if not perfect harmony in places where trouble, be it in the beginning no larger than a grain of mustard, yet due usually to honest human convictions, can become seeds for worse trouble in the future.
As a matter of fact, my experience has shown me that it is on the rarest and most unusual occasions, if indeed ever, that the Leader himself or a National President finds the need of exercising his authority in an emphatic or unusually positive way. Such emphatic action of course in the run of human affairs it might be on very, very rare occasions needful to exercise; but I do believe that such occasions are but once in a million times, as I have found in my own experience that difficulties can almost always be solved by a sincere effort to see both sides of a difficulty or a dispute, and in doing so, and in handing down one's official opinion, exercising the fullest sympathy. Sympathy with the souls of men is the easiest and quickest way to restore harmony where disharmony exists, or where embarrassment exists.
I have always found that very few Theosophists indeed ever mean to do ill or mean to embarrass or hurt others. It does arise on occasion that individuals are swept away sometimes by enthusiasm, which can be sincere but misguided, and sometimes again by lack of judgment and sometimes by hot temper; but when one analyses these cases, one almost always realizes that the situation arises out of the deepest interest of the individuals with whom the official has to deal, and also sometimes are based on a deep-seated anxiety to see Theosophical affairs go properly. Of course this does not mean that such deep interest or secret anxiety is always well-founded; my point is that very rarely do Theosophists, if ever, intend to be unjust to others.
Hence an official of the T. S., whatever his rank, will soon find in his experience that all such situations requiring adjustment call for sympathetic understanding, and unending kindliness and infinite patience, the seeing of both sides and the doing of justice to both sides; and it is a psychological and interesting factor in human nature that where the official in whose hands lies the solution of a problem gains the reputation of being strictly just, infinitely patient and compassionate, the membership in his jurisdiction become enamoured of the same spiritual and intellectual qualities of justice, reason, and understanding.
Again, there are stumbling-blocks, many kinds, for all Theosophists: sometimes mere words are stumbling blocks, causing anxiety or confusion to the minds of many. Sometimes even a mistaken sympathy is a stumbling-block. Sometimes, again, a tendency to argue even with one's friends is the worst kind of stumbling-block. Thus it is that a Leader, whether the Leader of the T. S. or the Leader of a Section or the Leader or President of a Lodge, or the Leader in any study-group, will always strive to avoid such stumbling-blocks, as he will soon realize that they embarrass the feet of those who look to him for help or official guidance.
The best thing to do in such cases is as far as possible to tell those who come to you for help or guidance, whether the help be sought from a Theosophical official or from a simple member — the best way, I say, is to try to make such seekers see that they must solve their own difficulties with justice for all and uprightness of principle in action. For if our members as a whole in the T. S. can make this habitual in their lives, they arise from the conquest of their problems spiritually refreshed, intellectually stronger, because they will then have conquered their own difficulties themselves.
The same rule applies to chelaship or discipleship, for it is a bad discipline when the chela or disciple leans too much on the beloved friend or the beloved official; for while such guidance it is perfectly proper to seek where our officials exist, where such seeking for guidance becomes a leaning and a reluctance of the individual to exercise his own will-power and intelligence, the result is a weakening for the student-disciple, and in fact is bad spiritually, if I may use this term, I mean bad spiritual training.
The truth is that every human soul must tread its own Path, for such is Nature's law; and here we have the key to the thought I am trying to express. It is our duty to give strong sympathy, earnest, sincere help and friendship, to all, especially to those who deserve it. Yet it would be a great mistake to extend this sympathy in such fashion that it would teach the seeker for guidance or help to turn away from the solving of his own problems. Hence, the best guidance, the best help, is to help the seeker for help to help himself. The little child must learn to walk on its own feet, for it is obvious that if forever it trust to its dear parents to carry it or to support it in its first toddling steps, it will never learn to walk, or learn too late.
In the T. S. our whole endeavor from H. P. B.'s time is to build up self-reliant, strong characters, utterly devoted to the inner Light taught by the Masters, and to their Work. For there must be strength in the membership as a whole, to carry on our Work and to spread our sacred Cause; and it is obvious that this inner strength must come from within the soul of the F. T. S. himself, and particularly so this strength must be found in the soul of the chela himself. Hence it is that it is to the almost infinite reserve of powers of the inner spirit of the human being that the Theosophist must learn to turn.
It is an interesting and strange and beautiful paradox, that it is precisely those who have thus cultivated the inner strength who become the most truly self-forgetful in their work, and their lives feel this self-forgetfulness in inner beauty and holiness.
Difficulties are bound to arise in the lives of all of us, and each such difficulty is an actual opportunity for acquiring or rather evolving or developing new reserves of strength from within; and all the difference between the strong man and the weak, the true Theosophist and the pretender, lies in the fact that the former finds strength to overcome his difficulties, both personal and Theosophical, from within that fountain within himself about which we are all taught, and towards which our Masters have urged us ever to turn. It is in this way, by cultivating these inner reserves, that we reach the stage of blessed peace, inner vision, and inner serenity; and these will surely come to all when once they have begun to master the psychological obscurations and illusory sense of one's own lack of strength; for that strength is there. The light is always within ourself. This is one of the first and one of the most important fundamental Theosophical teachings. All that the Leader or Teacher can do is to point the way, to teach, to give the sympathetic hand of friendship, and the sense of gentle comfort, when these are really needed by others, mostly by aspiring but young students; and the same principles herein just expressed should be exercised by Theosophical officials, whatever their rank, in their dealings with those who look to them for official guidance, sympathy, and help. This is a trust placed in our Theosophical officials, which these officials must never disappoint; and the same trust should be expected by all Theosophists from all Theosophists; and here again this trust should never be disappointed.
As regards propaganda in our Theosophical Work, this is something upon which we must all concentrate; for when the last word is said, our Masters started the T. S. really for propaganda-purposes, that is to say to spread the blessed Wisdom-Teachings of the gods among men. Now, the best propagandists are those who love their Theosophical work with all their hearts, and who also love what they are trying to give to others in order to broaden and to help the lives of others. For such love of one's blessed philosophy, and of one's duty, arouses kindred spiritual fires and intellectual flames within those whom we are helping; and I believe I but state a fact known to all when I say it is these spiritual fires and intellectual flames within us all which are incomparably more powerful and more persuasive than merely the cold intellectual knowledge that the Theosophical official or speaker or worker or propagandist may have; for this love of our Work arises out of the love of humanity in our hearts. Combined with the wisdom of the gods, our Theosophy broadening our minds by our study of it, makes any man or woman who is normal to be a good Theosophical propagandist. I beg of you to think these words over.
It is of course perfectly true that we face many, many difficulties in our Theosophical propaganda-work. But is it not true that these difficulties form the challenge to us to overcome and to prevail? I think that it is in this prevailing and overcoming that the greatness, of soul lies. After all, our Theosophical work is done less for ourselves as individuals than for our suffering fellow-men: suffering not only it may be the lack of material things, but what is even more distressing and therefore more important, suffering for the Light of Wisdom, suffering for the spiritual bread of hope, suffering for the mystic water of vision and of consolation — in other words suffering for all those inner things without which life becomes colorless and drab, and is all too often desolate and sordid. It is true that physical poverty is terrible, but it is not a thousandth part as bad, in my judgment, as is spiritual and intellectual poverty including the loss of hope and vision, and these Theosophy restores to all.
And now, dear Companions, I take leave of you, hoping that your deliberations, and the renewing of old bonds of friendship and sympathy which will be yours because of gathering together in this Convention in Wales, will result fruitfully for the common Theosophic weal, and that you will carry back with you to your respective countries a renewed enthusiasm, and a stronger determination to bring Theosophy to all men.
In conclusion, I send a word of especial greeting to my Brothers, your Welsh hosts. May our Masters' blessing be with you all!
G. De Purucker
— Letter to European Convention, Penarth, Wales, August 7, 1939.
Let me tell you something: no organization is greater than the spiritual insight it imbodies. That is the mark of its greatness. That applies to us individual men as well as to organizations or to lodges or to study-groups. The question then arises: on what source may we draw for this spiritual inspiration? You know the answer as well as I do. On our God-Wisdom teachings; on the inspiration that was given to us by the Masters and the Founders; and last but not least — and please hearken to these words carefully — on what you yourselves build to enshrine the inspiration you long for. Build a Holy of Holies and the Spirit will infill it. That spirit will not enter into a den of thieves.
Your Lodges or Study-Groups or National Sections, the whole T. S. and the Headquarters, are great only in so far as they become the imbodiment of the ideal which we preach. That means the Headquarters workers, that means every National Section, that means every Lodge and every member, and that is the Leader's most exalted duty as well. So you can have an inspiration that will flow through forever. It is what we call technically the Lodge-Force. I would that every F. T. S. would self-dedicate himself in his heart to that principle. It is like the prayer of Socrates: "O Zeus, and all ye other gods, aid me in making myself so that this outer man shall be a fit temple of the inner man, and that in that inner man the divine Spirit may abide."
A man who carries that thought with him, has inspiration coming to him everlastingly. His duty is self-dedication to ever become, and every good and true man who carries that ideal of becoming a channel of intelligence, a channel of transmission of the Holy Fire, can actually become such a channel, no matter what mistakes he may make nor how often he may stumble on the path. Would that every member were such a channel. Would that every one of our Lodges were such. Would that every National Section were such. Then what power the T. S. would be in the world! That is the Lodge-Force, and we call it the Lodge-Force simply because the Masters themselves have become such channels; and if we could have as it were a reservoir of their own great power, some of the energy of the Cosmic Spirit, then nothing could stay the progress of the T. S. at any time. Nothing could ever overthrow it. Nothing could ever destroy it. It is the old principle: A man is no greater than the noblest he has in himself. So simple and so true.
So Companions, these are my final words. This is probably the last time I may speak in this dear old Temple consecrate to our Work and dedicated through so many years of utterly unselfish service to mankind: not only by us Headquarters workers, but by those of you, Fellows of the T. S. of whatever country you may have been or will be, who have helped in this. And do you know, this Temple carries a peace. How many times have I not had our guides tell me that utter strangers coming in those doors pause a moment and exclaim: What strange peace there is here. They sense it. And that, that is what we are going to try to build up at the new place which we shall go to. There is a beautiful auditorium up there, larger than this. We too, working there with your help when you come, will make of it a Temple as this has been, now in a few days to become deconsecrated, and I suppose to be used for merely sectarian uses. But when we begin our meetings up at Covina, how happy we shall be if it chance that some of you from time to time will come up and we see the familiar faces, faces we have learned to love and to respect and to cherish as our own. Remember, Companions, your Headquarters is yours even though you may not live at Headquarters. It belongs to the T. S. It is just as much yours, and more so in a way, than it is ours who work at Headquarters and keep it going.
Au revoir, and may the Gods bless you all.
— Farewell words on May 31, 1942, at a meeting of the San Diego and outlying lodges at the International Headquarters, before its removal from Point Loma, to Covina, California.