The Path – May 1894


In cooperative work, as in every other problem before students of occultism, there are two extremes to be avoided and one right course to be maintained; two evils opposed to one good; a pair of opposites reconciled by a unity; and in cooperative work, as in other problems, many make the mistake of avoiding the more obviously wrong extreme merely to fall into the other extreme which is less obviously wrong. A body of workers should neither repel one another nor lean on one another. The former maxim is so obvious that no one fails to recognize its truth and to strive to act in accordance with it; but there are many who, in doing so, rush to the opposite pole of weak reliance on others. Workers should cling to the cause, not to each other; for if they cling to each other, the failure of an individual will be disastrous for the whole; while, if each one clings to the cause, each one must be torn away separately ere the whole fabric can be destroyed. The pillars of a temple do not lean up against one another, neither do they counteract each other; each stands firmly on its own base and is independent of the support of the others, yet all unite in the common object of supporting the dome. We must be as the pillars of a temple, helping one another, yet independent and each on his own base. The destruction of one or two does not seriously impair the building, for the others still stand firm.

In unity is strength, and though we must be united in a common object, yet we must not lose the advantage arising from our individual unity. A body of workers all mutually dependent constitutes a single united centre of force; but if, while maintaining their unity of purpose, they retained their independence of individual action, they would be more powerful, for they would constitute a number of separate centres synthesized by one great centre — a number of unities forming one cardinal unity. When many members of a body are self-reliant, their self-reliance synthesizes itself into a great power and stability, and the total force is much greater than it would be if they all leaned up against one another. It is a law of nature that a number of logoi or individualities should constitute collectively a single superior logos or individuality. Our Egos, though each acts independently, all emanate from a single central logos, of which they are only parts, but whose quality of egoism each reflects. Our bodily organs, though each has a separate function, all unite to form the whole man. They do not thwart each other, nor absorb one another's functions nor combine to do the work of one. We should be like the rays of the sun, which shoot in all directions and yet are but fulfilling the separate details of a single organized plan. It is upon this very diversity of course that depends the successful carrying out of that plan; for were all the rays to shoot in the same direction the sun as a luminary would be a failure. This illustration also serves to show us how two people pursuing opposite courses can yet subserve a common end; for to every ray there is another that shoots in the precisely opposite direction.

Why should we try to persuade our friends over to our own views, or grieve because they differ from us in details? Would we have all workers do the same work, all climbers ascend the same path, all occultists follow the same ray of truth? Light has many hues and the sun has many planets; and though there is a maxim to the effect that those not yet qualified to be suns may remain for the present humble planets, no reason is given why we should all be the same planet. A general, in conducting a campaign, assigns to each division of his army a particular portion of the work he wishes carried out; a master-printer assigns to each operative his due share of the work in hand, one setting the type, another reading the proofs, and so on. Each subdivision does its own work without interfering with the work of others, and through this simultaneous carrying out of many dissimilar details the whole plan, for which all alike cooperate, is successfully accomplished.

Though most of us recognize this principle in matters of external work, there are many who fail to carry its application into more interior departments of our work; it applies equally well to methods of thought and ways of looking at the questions that affect our moral life. One student may, through the exigencies of his own nature, be impressed most strongly by the value of fiery energy, while another may pin his faith to the principle of "power through repose": if these two should try to convert one another, they would be merely wasting time and labor, and the work of both would be hindered. Each should do what is best for himself, and leave the other to follow what is best for him. We are all necessarily impressed with different aspects of the great problem, and must therefore all work on different tacks, but, while recognizing our own method as the best so far as we ourselves are concerned, we must frankly acknowledge the equal importance (to the general body) of our brother's plan.

Many are the paradoxes that present themselves to the student of occultism, and among them this is not the least important — to work in perfect harmony with our colleagues, and at the same time to work as if upon our own individual effort depended the whole enterprise. To realize this we must be united yet independent.

The Path