December 2005 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the December 2005 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
On the Watch-Tower
Theosophy is not a religion, it is religion per se; Theosophy is the Wisdom-Religion at the heart of all religions, found when all the encrustations, misinterpretations and superstitions are put away; true religion and philosophy must offer the solution of every problem; the Theosophical Society was chosen as the cornerstone, the foundation of the future religions of humanity. These statements are known to all students of theosophical literature and serious members of the TS. But their implication for the work of the Society, especially for the role of the Society in the future, is not understood by the majority of members. Obviously the name ‘Theosophical Society’ was neither vainly nor unintentionally chosen. It defines the connection between the body of people who compose the Society and that transcendental knowledge which is the Wisdom-Religion, and the self-abnegating way of life which opens the soul to the Eternal, and prepares it to be a compassionate and wise server of the ailing world.
The lack of such understanding results in a tendency to regard the Society as an ordinary association of men and women, on the whole well intentioned and idealistic, but nothing more. Complaints are voiced at times about how hard it is to attract new people to the TS because many other ‘occult’ and ‘esoteric’ groups have borrowed information from our Society and present it in a distorted and even sensational shape to capture attention. Such is very much the case in regard to the concept of Masters of the Wisdom and the Occult Hierarchy of Perfected Beings. However, there is no justification for being disheartened. A renewal of energy and a further era of splendid work lie ahead for the TS, provided members do not stagnate at the level of ideas and information. This is the moment for the TS to irradiate receptive minds with an invigorating, universal, religious spirit, and live up to the lofty implications of the name given to the Society.
The first object of the TS is philanthropy. The true Theosophist is a philanthropist—‘not for himself but for the world he lives’. This, and philosophy, the right comprehension of life and its mysteries, will give the ‘necessary basis’ [to find spheres of influence] and show the right path.
This advice from the Mahatma KH is followed by his comment that the absolute need is for the doctrine of the heart as opposed to the doctrine of the eye. This alone can help to rescue the world from its moral and spiritual sufferings.
Much is implied in the Objects of the Society: the self-abnegation which is the basis of a truly religious consciousness; a dynamic, altruistic spirit dedicated to discovering the right solution to the moral and spiritual sufferings of humanity; and commitment to making the needed sacrifices to penetrate the mystery of life, particularly the nature of the self. The Objects of the TS are at present superficially practised because members are rarely aware that they are connected with the leavening of the human mind through a religious orientation and even religious fervour—in the widest sense of the word ‘religious’.
Materialism is rampant today, though somewhat different from the materialism of HPB’s time, for it is not backed by the advancing tide of scientific thinking. However, the success of technology—which pampers instincts of pleasure-seeking, acquisition and self-centredness—hypnotizes people into believing that the unrealities to which they cling are real and worth possessing.
By filling markets with tempting goods and using efficient techniques to brainwash millions of people into buying more and more, technology intensifies greed. Consumerism not only damages the environment, but it aggravates the violence and selfishness of the ‘animal man’.
Many examples could be given of how the rapid outer changes brought about by human ingenuity are conditioning human beings entirely to forget their own divine possibilities, and making them go round and round like morons in circles of enjoyment, ambition and illusion. Materialism as well as dogmatic religion, which suppresses enquiry and intelligent understanding, are depriving humankind of contact with its soul—that is, with its higher nature. ‘When the salt hath lost its savour, wherewith shall it be salted?’
What the world desperately needs is religion in the true sense—Theosophy—which is lived, which is a recollection and a deep awareness of life being an indivisible whole. All our studies and activities must lead to a unity ‘which is so universal and all-embracing that no man, as no speck—from gods and mortals down to animals, the blade of grass and atom—can be outside of its light’.
To become the cornerstone of the religions of the world, the Theosophical Society must infuse such a spirit into the human breast, which means that the members themselves must be inspired to live Theosophy, not merely to study and profess it. At the external level, every person must express himself or herself in individual ways, appropriate to the creative energy flowing from within. The forms which express religious feelings such as reverence, aspiration and self-surrender are bound to vary. But the forms become unimportant and cease to divide people when it is realized that true religion exists only on the plane of consciousness and that a pure, unselfish heart and an open, unconditioned mind are its foundation.
Consciousness has gradually blossomed during the long evolutionary process, initially with the development of the senses, then of the emotions and mind, and further of the remarkable intellectual powers human beings display at the present stage. But, functioning as it does without the light of buddhi, intellect is blind, groping unsuccessfully for solutions to such problems as war, poverty and immorality. It is unable to see that the spiritual direction is the only one which will free humanity from repeatedly committing grave blunders. As the Bhagavadgitā mentions, the mind branches out in many directions that contradict each other and hence it creates confusion and suffering. But buddhi is decisive, because it is clarity of consciousness, a perception which is holistic and based on the unitary nature of existence.
The future welfare of humanity lies in directing energy to awaken buddhi, sometimes called intuition. Intuition is not a hunch; it cannot be alive so long as the personal self, which is the product of the separative mind, is active and dominant. The personal self must die and yield place to a new consciousness, if there is to be true progress.
The ‘Golden Stairs’ leading to the Temple of Wisdom indicate briefly the way to the unveiled spiritual perception which will illumine the hitherto lopsided intellect and transform its aims and activities. These guidelines are essential for understanding how Theosophists must work and act, and should not be neglected. Every phrase must be investigated thoroughly as to its meaning and put into practice. We might take as an example the first phrase only, which appears to be so simple as to need no explanation or effort. But is it really? The full meaning of purity in thought, word, and deed may, in fact, dawn on a person only after years of attentive living, and full awareness that we are continually influencing the world—benefiting or harming it—by the purity or impurity of the vibrations going forth from every part of us.
A clean life is characterized by absolute integrity and an unchangeable attitude of harmlessness towards all living beings, and not requiring for oneself more than what is essential for simple living. It also implies a sense of equality and respect for everything that belongs to Nature, and a readiness to serve. Clean living in the few could stimulate many into living rightly; this depends on the level of sincerity and devotion in those who practise it. Although TS members are relatively few in number, if there is real earnestness in them, the world will be helped to change.
An open mind, a pure heart, an eager intellect—every one of these steps should be pondered, their manifold implications grasped and lived daily. This work must not be half-hearted or occasionally remembered and taken up. It must be central in members’ lives. With patience and perseverance, we must prepare for the dawning of the light of buddhi in ourselves and in humanity. The Theosophical Society is uniquely endowed to assist progress in this direction.
Reprinted from The Theosophist, Nov. 2000
May we all rejoice in the spirit of Christmas
— of giving and celebrating and
May each of you find peace and joy
in the New Year!