Universal Brotherhood – February 1898

DUTY — E. A. Neresheimer

Theosophists have entered upon a path of duty which is broader than the ordinary line of personal duty; the one is but an extension or rather a better comprehension of the other. The faithful performance of the small duties of every-day life are the seeds from which grow fruitful trees extending beneficent branches in all directions. A higher conception of the relation of oneself to mankind and the universe is the result of experience gained in the byways of correct application to principle in small things on our journey through evolution. Like an extension of belief from the crude forms of dogma and creed which grows by successive stages into knowledge that the Universe is governed by divine intelligence according to law, order and eternal justice, so is the conception of duty which we recognize as owing to friend and kin enlarged by conscientious attention to small things, into the broad field where it becomes an all-embracing force harmonizing with the plan of nature. Self denial and abnegation like the desire to do one's duty spring from love — love that is not for self, but love which is the reflection of the universal ocean of love, often unconsciously exercised by man in the small and large acts done for the benefit of some one else; these acts when done without attachment to result go to increase the world's welfare and become the property of the race — Universal Karma. The deep absorption in an act to the extent of making the actor oblivious to the existence of his personality is an energy employed for the benefit of the world. If this energy is consciously applied in the direction toward an ideal by the performance of acts for the betterment of the condition of humanity, then he, who so does, is treading the path of broader duty which is bound to produce the greatest felicity — absorption in the ideal world. However the path of action is obscure and so is the path of duty. Many are the sins that have been committed in the name of duty done for principle. At the first blush of awakening of the mind to a cosmic ideal it inclines sentimentally to and impetuously relates everything to grand principle. Our artificially built up natures, the nervously delicate structure which the mind has builded and woven often lead into error and leave us on insecure ground. The high conception of the principle which we have formed is rarely attained to in practice. Pride of personality in one form or another, subtle but insidious, steps in and produces failure after failure; principle has to do duty to cover mistakes and hide even depraved intentions. It is well therefore to go slow with the broader duties. When one is in doubt let him wait and if he be in earnest attend scrupulously to smaller duties, until time has brought around the cycle from obscurity towards the light; we cannot as yet solve the world's eternal ways. When enthusiasm lags and the broader duties become mixed in the mind, let him who is thus befogged abstain from expending his energy on artificially wrought up ideals but stand firm and remain content with correct performance of every day common sense duties. Large beneficent results grow from correct beginnings.

Universal Brotherhood