Universal Brotherhood Path – August 1902


One of the great needs of the age is an increased sense of personal responsibility, and there is no greater indication of the advance of selfishness than the loss of this. We have cramped our highest duties into the narrow circle of domestic life, and even there we devolve upon others, upon school teachers, and upon churches, the responsibilities which ought to be sacred to the parent. The great world which lies outside of the home is no concern of ours, unless it be as a stepping stone to ambition, and the question which has been eternally asked through the ages — "Am I my brother's keeper?" we answer with a persistent negative. That question must be answered in a different way before the world will step out of the shadow in which it lies. There are duties which cannot be delegated to others, responsibilities which we cannot devolve, obligations for which no substitute can be purchased.

Even many of those among us who are most keenly alive to the needs of the world yet lack that sense of responsibility for those needs which would give an added stimulus and, we may say, an added guidance to their efforts. If there is anywhere a philosophy which can teach the one-ness of human life in terms so simple as to bring conviction into every mind, that philosophy will do more for the uplifting of humanity than any other teaching or any legislative or other authority, however it may be constituted. It will necessarily bring with it a sense of individual responsibility for the condition of the world which will enable us to look out upon the race, upon its errors and upon its sorrows, and to recognize our own handiwork, and to accept the shame and the reproach which it must bring. There is no force in nature which can make good our claim to isolation, and the strong hand of personal grief will sooner or later tear away the flimsy veil which our selfishness has spread before our eyes in order that we may view through it with a placid and a comfortable indifference the griefs and the pains of others. There is no such joy as that which spiritual knowledge can give, but it may be that we must learn it from the tear-stained page of pain.

When a sense of personal responsibility has once been gained there will no longer be ignorance of the ways to help. There is no lack of light to the eyes which are opened gladly upon the sky. All the roads of life become plain when we see that we too must tread the paths of pain so long as there are any feet that have wandered thereon. Cowardice alone urges us to deny our personal responsibility, of which the brave recognition would be the immediate forerunner of a wave of compassion strong enough to save, and as enduring as the Soul.

Universal Brotherhood Path

Theosophical University Press Online Edition