The Path – December 1892

INTERFERENCE BY ADEPTS — Alexander Fullerton

When things are palpably going wrong in any department of life, and it is known that men deeply interested therein have both the power and the skill to effect correction, they are naturally expected to apply them. To abstain seems a denial of either the interest or the ability. And so when the bitter sorrows of a vast humanity, or calamitous mismanagement in national affairs, or the ills of a locality pain a philanthropic heart, and when it ejaculates a wish that it was mighty enough to arrest the whole evil and dry away the tears from every face, instinctively it wonders why Those who are do not. What is the use of prerogative if it lies motionless when most needed; of what real value are superior knowledge and power if they do not avert catastrophe and abate suffering? And, indeed, what are we to think of the claim that They are tender and sympathetic and beneficent, if on the face of things They appear wholly indifferent and inactive? Masters would seem a superfluity in Nature if, while able to cure evil and establish good, They let each work itself out untouched.

We shall never solve this anomaly unless through the principle of analogy. Do we instantaneously rectify every evil where we have the power? Every parent and employer can answer this question, every teacher and guardian. All intelligent education is based on the doctrine that truth is real to a mind only as it is realized, and that the realization comes through experience. Guidance, suggestion, warning may be proffered, but, if defied, no amount of coercive restraint can vindicate their wisdom to the recipient: he must learn it only through the results of defiance. A muscular father could always hold back a son from games or projects involving risk, but only at the sacrifice of his own time and the boy's experience. A teacher could always interpose when a pupil was at bay over a problem in mathematics or translation, but what would become of the patience, the resolution, the persistence, the mental dexterity which are the fruit only of self-effort? And what, too, of the healthy glow from conquest which is sweeter far than a relief conferred? It is by undergoing all the processes which lead from inexperience to maturity that a mind becomes developed in its own powers, and that it sees the reason for things and the reality underlying form. This never arrives through the dictum of another, or his enforcement of counsel however wise. The governments known as "paternal" are fatal to self-reliance, and foster a childishness of spirit and judgment which results in national decay. It is as men and nations work out their own problems that they reach wise and enduring issues.

Nor is this the only reason why Adepts are not interposing powers. Ordinary men, being less enlightened, must necessarily have other convictions, and the less the enlightenment the more positive the adherence to them. Any different course would therefore have to be secured through sheer coercion, and the violent subjection of another's will is a thing repugnant to the universal Law, to Justice, Right, and the very initial principles of Occult training. An Adept's nature would preclude the wish for any pressure beyond currents of intelligence and good feeling, and, if it could so far reverse itself, it would be held in check by Law.

And then there is the deep conviction of the sacredness of Karma. To wrest forces from their natural course would do much more than introduce confusion and disorder into the moral world: it would be to create new forces to re-act on their authors. Thus the two-fold result would follow, that the normal order would be disarranged and its ordained good be lost, and the created forces would rebound into the sphere which, because of its occultly-acquired harmony with Law, has surpassed the range of Karmic influence. Illegal interference by Adepts would therefore not only make things worse for men, it would put an end to Adeptship.

But how, then, it may be asked, can Adepts act at all? Why is not suggestion, influence, thought-impression as much an interference as restraint? Simply because it is in accordance with Law and not in contravention of Law. Here again analogy illustrates. We point out to a less experienced person a better way than his own, we suggest to our fellow-men more sagacious plans and easier methods. The bringing of more light is ever a gracious and worthy act. It proffers, it does not insist; it aids, it does not coerce. The choice, and therefore the responsibility, still rest on the one approached. There is no subversion of will, no restraint of freedom. No counter-forces are aroused, and no Karmic reaction excited. The gentle influences of a kind cooperation steal peacefully over the mind addressed, and what would be resentment at dictation is gratitude for assistance. There is health in help: there would be palsy in prescription.

And so, it would seem, the policy of Adepts finds its vindication in our own. When we wish to change the course of a neighbor or a nation, we know that it can effectively be done only as the conviction prompting to that course is changed, and so we expound the contrary considerations and suggest such facts as may operate on reason. Absence of dogmatic method is the first requisite to tact. The plastic material of the human mind is moulded by manipulation, not by blows. Thus the Adepts work. On the flowing currents They let loose a thought which shall be borne along to a harbor where it will be welcomed; They put a motive within the attractive range of a vigorous soul; They gently feed an aspiration which is weakening or a force which has declined. Ever alert for that beneficence of which They are the embodiment, They see with eagerness every glance towards higher possibilities, every motion to a loftier plane. And then They aid it. They know how They were aided as They struggled on to Their present sphere, and They pay the debt by passing on that given strength. It may not be possible to obliterate human misery, for nothing can do that save obliteration of the human ignorance and folly which produce misery, but it is possible to prompt a wish for its obliteration, and then to help each philanthropist attempting it. And however silent the Masters may seem, and however remote and listless, no man who deeply feels the call to altruistic effort need doubt that it comes from that hidden Brotherhood, and no man who responds to it need imagine that They who have reached him with Their voice will not reach him with Their help.

The Path