Universal Brotherhood Path – December 1902


There is one ideal so sacred that, although we carry it always in the heart, we seldom attempt to speak of it, because words are so profane and so inadequate. It is the ideal upon which, as upon a broad and crystal foundation, all others are builded. It is that of the Elder Brothers, those Helpers of Humanity who have climbed the heights and have earned the boon of dwelling in that world which is bounded by wisdom and by peace, yet who choose to go down into the dark and sin-drenched places of human life to help those who dwell in them. Why do they do it? Because they want to do it, because they would not be contented in doing anything else, because the doing of this is an absolute joy. That is why this ideal is so sacred that one does not dare touch upon it in words very often. That is why it includes all other ideals. It is the purest and most intimate expression of the Law of Laws, which is Compassion Absolute.

As there is a Soul that is Universal, so there is a Heart that is One. And there is something within that Heart which pleads with humanity to build up in the world an expression on outer lines of this great ideal. For those are few who can of themselves reach into the real spaces of human life. The majority needs something tangible.

And so it has come to pass that, age after age, the Messenger of this ideal has sought to gather about him a band of students who should stand on outer lines as the expression, as the Voice really, of the Real Brotherhood. Always a few have responded to this call, the few who have the trust to follow the guidance of their own hearts. Those who formed these nuclei of students have known that in this lay humanity's only hope, for it is of the Law that evolution cannot go forward unless a helping hand is extended from above. And these students, whose motives were compassionate, not selfish, and whose lives surely should have been impersonal and pure, were as a rift in the clouds through which alone the rays of the True Sun could shine upon the world.

Did those who gathered about the World Teachers in the past fully realize this? If so, then why did these saving movements always go down? Why did they invariably, from the Golden Days until the actual present time, become disintegrate and then Leaderless? History furnishes but meager records, but even these clearly indicate that failure resulted because jealousy crept into the ranks of students, age after age, and they had not the wisdom nor the courage to force it out. Indeed, it sometimes looks very much as if they did not care to do so.

Jealousy is perhaps the most fatal and most insidious of all the diseases begotten by the personality, and it is rampant in the world still.

Now, as students of life, we have been told, over and over again, that those who make concessions to the lower nature deliberately place themselves outside the Path. We have been told, over and over again, that to harbor jealousy in our hearts is to make the most despicable of concessions. We have been told, and daily we see it proven if we are at all observant of human nature, that jealousy is a destructive and disintegrating force, which in time utterly shatters the personality, destroys that which should be the citadel of the heart, and leaves the soul shelterless.

The chronic discontent of a jealous person is but the label which his mind wears, the petty, nagging, persecuting acts which the jealous person is such an expert in performing, are the unfailing sign of an actual breaking down of the moral fiber. And how much "nervousness," and "stomach trouble" "liver complaint" and chronic malaise generally merely mark the inroads made upon the physical health by jealousy.

Jealousy is such a degrading vice. It must be, to picture it concretely, like some slimy, crawling, pulpy, shapeless thing which deceives because it slimes its victim before devouring it. It is called "green-eyed," fitly, for it is a characteristic expression of the lower mind, with no reach, toward anything that is impersonal and pure. The proof of this lies in the fact that those who are impersonal in act and motive are always secure against jealousy. They could not be jealous if they tried. The danger point is passed only by those who no longer center their consciousness in the personality.

In jealousy, as in all diseases mental or physical, there are many stages, many degrees. The first stage is suicidal merely. It expresses itself in a chronic discontent, a dead-set determination to make the world feel that there still remains one martyr, one poor soul whom no one understands, one person, at least, who is desolate and abused and not appreciated. This stage is long or short of duration, depending entirely upon how uncomfortable the jealous person's victim or victims can be made. If very uncomfortable, then more strenuous measures are not necessary. But if the reverse is the case, then the one who is suffering from this disease passes into the second stage and more active measures are tried. For what is the use of being jealous if one can't make life a deadly, unpleasant undertaking for the one who is the "cause" (!) of that jealousy?

This stage is characterized by all those little nagging unkindnesses which may be described by the term, petty persecution. Jealousy clasps hands with tyranny at this stage, and unless the one who is the target for these persecutions is strong enough to take control of the situation at the start, life is indeed made miserable. Those who cannot or do not do this are more numerous in the world than we realize and are hunted, fugitive creatures. Every act of their lives is found fault with, every deed which they do from a high motive is credited to one that is mean and low, every purpose is thwarted as far as possible, every detail of their lives is under ceaseless surveillance, because otherwise some details might escape the fate of being objected to. For the jealous person is a chronic objector, a chronic fault-finder, a chronic tyrant, for whom nagging and picking and fussing are meat and drink. The one who has not the strength and wisdom to control the disease in another has usually not the wisdom to diagnose it. Therefore, from sheer ignorance, such an one, who probably is fifty times superior to his persecutor, lives a hunted existence, the acts of his life kept for the sake of "peace," perpetually under cover, until he feels like a very outcast and outlaw. What a crucifixion to be inflicted upon the soul!

Jealousy is one sign of the little mind. It arises usually in those people — shall I say students? — who would like to possess the abilities or capacities or accomplishments of another without the inconvenience of laboring to acquire them. It is a disease peculiar to the egotist. And while the egotist is too indolent or too selfish to work for and earn the advantages he would possess, he is never too indolent to use every means possible to prevent another from working. Strange anomaly! For it rarely takes as much energy or time to climb the heights oneself as it takes to pull another down. If the one who allows himself to be eaten up with jealousy because some other appears to be more capable or more useful, would only conserve his energy instead of scattering it, all that he most desires would belong to him, honestly and by right, in no long time. If the petty persecutor would only spend as much time and energy on his own affairs as he does on the affairs of his victims, what a lift he would give the world's Karma, and what a noble example he himself would become! Strange, indeed, that this does not occur to him.

As this disease progresses, even the most casual observer can mark stage after stage. From nagging the jealous one descends to slander and to lies. Iago stands before us as a perfect type of the jealous person at this stage of the disease, the type which persecutes not by open act but by the innuendo, insinuation, and vile crawling around in the dark. Then there are still more advanced stages which occur if this disease is not checked, and at last we have a virtual maniac on our hands, one who hugs his egotism and his stilleto and, when lies fail, does not hesitate to stab even his benefactor.

This is not a pleasant picture, but it is nevertheless a fairly accurate one of that path which you and I actually tread, the moment we allow the tiniest feeling of jealousy to enter our minds. It is time that we gave the matter some thought, not merely because jealousy is an execrable vice, but because it is the open doorway to every other vice in the Universe. Those who deliberately open the doorway and keep it open, are destined to learn that the soul will not endure insult forever. The day will finally come when the soul will simply withdraw, and there will remain but a monster in human form.

Is no one, then, immune from this disease? Is there, then, no remedy, no preventive? Yes, there is, and it is work, work — but not in the sweeping sense of the word, because in dealing with intangible forces, the Law takes account of motives rather than deeds. It is not enough to merely work, to merely be occupied. One must work because one absolutely loves to work — the mere doing is no sign of virtue. One must be busy because the doing of one's duty is the most enjoyable thing in the world. The most jealous person I ever knew was reasonably well occupied from day to day. But oh, dear! Everything was such a task! This was done, "because I need the discipline, I suppose!" That was labored over because it was "according to orders;" something else was done or complied with "because of rules!" Getting up in the morning was such a task that the early hours were smirched with ill temper, and so on. That person might have been occupied twenty hours out of the twenty-four and still not be immune to this disease, even in its worst stages. Ah, it is the motive behind the work which is the guardian of that fortress of the soul. None of us are perfect, but all of us can purify our motives, and then with the mind perpetually "on guard," what siege can trouble us, what enemy can enter? None.

What an insult is such a mental attitude to the soul! What a commentary upon those who take it! This talk about "discipline" and "rules" and "crosses" and "bearing burdens" and "living the life" (with a sigh), is entirely out of date. It used to be the fashion, but somehow it never appealed to humanity in general, and the disciples who flourished these terms, somehow, never succeeded in getting much of a hold upon the world. The fact is, humanity is unconsciously, rather sensible, and ages and ages ago it decided that the man who deliberately lived a life that was not pleasant, or who deliberately did things he didn't like to do, was a fool — or a hypocrite. The world's conclusion has been quite correct. It is according to the Law that we should work and live, too, along lines of least resistance. No student can live the right life in the true sense unless he absolutely loves to do so. For that matter why one would care to do otherwise is a mystery. It is plain enough that one who frets and sighs over the details of his "life," yet who will not step aside and make room for some student to whom the same details would be the reverse of wearisome, is either traveling toward idiocy or he is using that life as a cloak for some vice — it may be, unconsciously. In such a case, how easy for jealousy to creep in and disintegrate? And, in such case, how invariably does this occur!

Comrades, does this ideal of the Elder Brothers mean anything to us, or does it not? Are we sincere in our desire to give to humanity some of that insight and that joy which they have bestowed upon us, or are we just pretending to be students? Do we really hold in our hearts the ideal of a great comradeship of souls on this plane, whose lives are pure, whose natures are true? No atom of jealousy can creep into the mind that is anchored to this ideal. If the comrade at our side is purer or wiser or apparently more useful than we, then do we rejoice that the world holds more purity, more of wisdom, than otherwise. And how grateful must we be for the rare joy of clasping hands with those who are above us, the greatest privilege this old world holds! Such should be our comradeship, such it even now is, in an ever increasing degree. It is the only condition by which the Light can come back to men.

Universal Brotherhood Path

Theosophical University Press Online Edition