The Path – November 1894


"Ideas rule the world", quoted one of Those whose influence in the Theosophical Society is not the less felt because its source is unperceived by most members. Yet there are many, even among our own Theosophists, who hold tightly to the notion that the world is held and even advanced by forms and words. From the ritualism and ceremonies of the Priesthood to the carefully rounded phrases of a Chesterfield there is scarcely a step. Both are equally useless to the development of the real man. The effort of each leads men away from the contemplation of the Spirit to the adoration of matter. Humanity has ever been led away from its freedom and recognition of the eternal principle of Life, to make obeisance to the god of form — and matter! Those in the past who said that all objectivity was Maya or illusion spoke a truth which must vibrate throughout all time, reverberating through the hearts of all who develop to the life of independence and power. For assuredly none can limit the changes in the Great Breath, whose perpetual motions in the unseen world make the varieties in this.

It is worth while to recognize this as a philosophy, and so prevent many mistakes. The world pulls this way and that, seeking her freedom in legislature and habit, oblivious to the fact that it is precisely these things which forge her chains. Belief in the necessity for Custom and Convention, sovereigns and saviours, style and good usage, is really born of the soulless: for these all limit freedom of the Spirit and propose to chain it to one idea. Hence arise disputations, and from them warfares.

Yet even recognizing this, the philosopher will not rebel against them nor seek their immediate destruction. Himself emancipated, in the world though not of it, he will see that the world being held by forms, through them it must be aided and advanced to freedom.

Some will think it is going too far to say that the spirit of evil and stagnation is in form. But it is easy to demonstrate this truth. Every great leader, every genius, has thrown off the yoke of form-slavery, and drawn his principles of action from the free source of things. Though often disregarding and destroying things men have long believed dear and sacred, yet while he lives men follow him and love him; recognizing something of the heavenly power about him, they find strength in his freedom and delight to be in his presence and to know his thoughts. Who has not seen the spirit of life in a child? And there are none among us who upset customs more than children. Buddha, Jesus, and the true religious founders destroyed all forms. Even though we see in them the great originators of present religious forms, it is not because they desired that that should be so, but because their ideas and wisdom were clothed in matter by their followers, who, possessing little recognition of the Spirit, were incapable of drawing life from anything but externals. Poets and painters, musicians, geniuses of all kinds, are noted for their eccentricities, yet no one can doubt that they see deeper into the divinity of things than do the Philistines. Strange as it may seem, it is, after all, the power of originality which is indicative of possible progress in any human being. Without this the nature is in darkness, there is no light in it and no creative power.

The Theosophical Society was established on such a basis that should prevent, if possible, its ever being tied by forms. Yet how many there are who want to make it a respectable institution — will not help a brother unless he be of the same rank as themselves! How many, indeed, wish that H. P. B. had not had eccentricities, or had not done so much outwardly to vibrate and shock conventional shells; or that fewer uneducated persons were in the ranks and more of those who are book-learned and well placed in Society!

Others are so caught in the web of form that they think it impossible for anyone to possess wisdom or light outside the Society's ranks. Let such know that there are many persons all over the world, outside the T. S., who have caught something of the Spirit of Wisdom just now lighting up the whole earth, and these as well as T. S. members are surely being helped by the Great Brotherhood behind. The T. S. has its own work to do. It was the originator of these thoughts in the West, and through its members they must be given to the world. And if taken up and used by others outside, a part here and a part there, sometimes imperfectly, generally unacknowledged, it is no harm, but always unconsciously an aiding the world. There are no forms here, no priesthood; each one has his own wisdom and should hasten to let the world know of it.

It is not only the Theosophical Society we work for, as a Society merely. This is a great danger to be avoided. It is for the Society only as a useful vehicle of ideas that we labor. It will fade and fall to pieces some time — and let us trust it may be destroyed long before it approaches the possibility of becoming a priesthood — but the ideas the world and our race have received through it will live and will have moulded the thought of the people almost without their knowing it. We shall be forgotten, but the thoughts we have passed on will live. Members should recollect they are not building an institution, but only erecting a temporary structure in which a little wisdom has been stored.

Many in the Society are just now used by Those "behind the scenes", to become vehicles of truth. They are intended to hand it on. Once the brain has opened to the Light only one thing can again close it, that is, the keeping back of wisdom from others. Yet many receive knowledge in a flash of intuition, and instead of giving it out at some Branch meeting or to someone who may need it, they keep it hid away to burst it forth later in a carefully-written paper or lecture, so that they may receive credit for their ideas and not have them stolen by others beforehand. Their ideas will then find no ground in which to take root: they should have been given out when received. And in time such persons will, if this habit be kept up, lose the spiritual power they now possess. Moreover, the setting free of ideas in the world at the right moment has a great deal to do with the development of occult powers, however little connection between these two matters there may seem to be. It is pure personality and selfishness that make one hold back and wait until the thoughts can be given out with greater credit to himself.

Madame Blavatsky launched her wisdom into the world without any consideration of herself. Probably her thought was something of this nature: "I know my English is faulty, I know my science is not of the best, but my wisdom is true, and it must be sent forth. Others will steal my ideas and knowledge for their own glorification, but it does not matter, that is their own loss; they are also helping me in my labor."

So it is that work which must be done, and speedily lest we lose the knowledge ere we have pinned it. Let loose the ideas among the people; do not hold them till you can get glory by them. Do not wait until you can understand Sanskrit, can write classical English, have made a name for yourself in the world, before you become a worker. This is all fear of form. To be sure, the better the instrument the better the work, but the means must not be mistaken for the end. The time is short; only a few more years exist for active work. Let the ideas loose in the world at all costs; and no matter at what loss of fame to yourself. After all, on your death-bed you will know that it is the IDEA — spiritual or otherwise — of life that you have had, and your virtue, that are the important things, not how much you have known of other men's thoughts, or how correctly you have dressed.

The Ideas live and rule, not the words that clothed them nor the imagery used for their expression. And it is well known that he who thus impersonally acts comes more and more directly in relationship with the Brotherhood of Light.

The Path