Peas in a Pod

A. Studley Hart

"Compromise," "Call a truce," the cries arise; pressure mounts, and the dispute is 'settled' — to the satisfaction of none, other than the fact that peace is restored. Or perhaps a mediator is called upon — an umpire caught between the pressures exerted and the limits of his own vision and nature. Is peace that important? What about the steady undermining of every man's inherent right to be free to think and act as his conscience directs, subject only to the equal rights of others?

Better a compromise than a war, may sound very noble and self-sacrificing — on the surface, but history is full of this 'noble' sentiment which has ever been the policy adopted by peoples nearing the close of their cycles of growth. There are always those who advocate surrendering part of their ideals and ways of life to settle any seemingly unresolvable dispute or threat. Yet most compromises amount to an armed truce until one side feels strong enough to knock the other out — the basic differences not forgotten, but only submerged as far as the compromise has necessitated.

Differences of opinion have always existed; let us hope they always will; but will they always have to be settled by wars, compromises and judgments? Probably, as long as men feel it necessary that they must be settled. But the day may come when all of us will realize that there are no real differences in the goals — only in the ways of approach.

It would appear obvious that the use of compromise is not only morally right but obligatory in the every-day lives of a family or any other unit, when no fundamental principles are involved. But consider the case of a difference in beliefs carried to the extreme of demanding that the other be of his faith and act in such and such a manner — or else. That other had better quickly take the 'or else,' for a surrender or compromise will amount to a denial of the self. The root of the problem would not seem to lie in the interpretations of what is right or wrong, but in one insisting that he is infallible and so the other must conform. We must all become as peas in a pod — my pod.

Do we find Jesus compromising with the Pharisees? Would America have been built by compromising with the Georges, or the Magna Carta obtained from King John by the barons? No one has ever compromised with fundamental principles and come out whole, for a choice between materialistic selfishness and free altruism is ever having to be made. However, the Twentieth Century is witnessing portents of the dawn of an era of true brotherhood destined to motivate all mankind through the spirit of all great teachings as they have descended to us from the remote past. The truth of this is to be discovered in the growing recognition of the oneness of the goal of all men on the face of the earth, past and present, regardless of language, creed or way of life.

We have seen all too many individuals and groups ruled by pure greed or the fanatic pride of being the guardian and sole possessor of the Truth, whether relative to the good of mankind, or the supremacy of their ideals and — themselves. Again "my opinions and my wants," are the only ones; the brain-mind delusion that the Universe revolves around and exists for me alone, "the dewdrop slips into the shining sea" in reverse! Not John Jones, a spark from his God, but John Jones, God. Hence if Tom Smith wants to exist or to reach God, he must become a John Jones — and if he doesn't want John Jones, ipso facto he doesn't want God and so must perish. Again, all too many Tom Smiths push back their Gods, they wear John Jones' clothes and end up with lost identities.

We are told that in the days of old, Egypt, Greece and other civilizations all over the globe had "Gods" for rulers. That must have been very nice, and have left the ruled in a very enviable position, no matter what the form of the government, but modern man would have a little difficulty in feeling that any of his 'rulers' were "Gods," well-meaning as they may be and regardless of what some of them may declare themselves to be! But there are still those amongst us who bow down to 'rulers' in all walks of life, to meaningless conventions, to missionaries out to 'save' others. Even in our schools and colleges the laws of strict conformity and convention rule and plant ever anew the seeds of mediocrity, of suppression as a natural part of life. All must think alike, dress alike, talk alike or suffer social ostracism and taunts.

But is Tom Jones a nobler man than Wilhelm, Igor or a Swami Jones? We may not understand each other, dress alike, or believe the same creeds, yet surely no one will deny that the possibilities of greatness lie in each equally. In spite of this, all too often we see one or the other insisting that his kind of house is the only one allowable or possible. He then feels an urge to either enlarge his house or to remodel all the others in his pattern. The numerous refutations of this to be gleaned from just a study of the history of mankind alone are overlooked. The rise and fall of innumerable creeds and 'houses' make up that history, coupled with the stories of all the leaders and civilizations which arose from each type, using any one of them merely as bodies or instruments through which to express themselves. Study a little deeper and the evanescent value of compromises and coercive wars will become very clear in contrast to the lasting benefits to mankind as a whole which have arisen from battles to defend or gain freedom of conscience and action for each no matter what his race, color or creed.

Real growth can only come from differences honestly faced and worked out — not stamped out — for if we were all meant to think and act just alike, how comes it that man seems to be born with a desire to argue, to resent 'yes' men? Love ye one another as brothers, respect the beliefs of others, do unto others as ye would have them do unto you, and so on, but we find no hint of precepts to compromise or surrender our principles; no, only that each take and use what is his and let the other do likewise. The Spirit of the Dark Ages is ever present to the unwary and the opposite of freedom remains slavery. No man can give unto another what is not his to give — the Divine Spirit of which he is an expression on this world below, but he can by surrender close the door of communication to his Inner Divinity, and thus become an animal-man obedient to the leash of a master, a personification of egotism and material selfishness.

Truly the power of the "Devil" lies not merely in the one with the master-mind complex, or a mass of men hypnotized by a fanatical ideology to which all must bow, but in the one who acquiesces to domination by surrender or compromise for the privilege (usually temporary) of being permitted to continue on his own way in some small degree. With those who wish to so sacrifice their freedom we have no quarrel, but let us not allow ourselves or anyone else to be forced into it. The real freedom to be found in the Dumas slogan, "One for All and All for One" can only be realized when it is a spontaneous desire freely welling up in the heart and mind of each. The tragedy of the failure of this maxim has always lain in one man or group limiting the scope of its application.

(From Sunrise magazine, June 1952; copyright © 1952 Theosophical University Press)

There is no chance, and no anarchy, in the universe. All is system and gradation. Every god is there sitting in his sphere. The young mortal enters the hall of the firmament; there is he alone with them alone, they pouring on him benedictions and gifts, and beckoning him up to their thrones. On an instant, and incessantly, fall snowstorms and illusions. He fancies himself in a vast crowd which sways this way and that, and whose movement and doings he must obey: he fancies himself poor, orphaned, insignificant. The mad crowd drives hither and thither, now furiously commanding this thing to be done, now that. What is he that he should resist their will, and act for himself? Every moment new changes and new showers of deceptions to baffle and distract him. And when, by-and-bye, for an instant, the air clears, and the cloud lifts a little, there are the gods still sitting around him on their thrones — they alone with him alone. — Emerson

Theosophical University Press Online Edition