April 2019 Newsletter
The following articles are reproduced from the April 2019 Newsletter to members. Non-members may or may not be able to relate to the contents.
Significance of the
One of the many failings of man is that he gets bored quite easily. Many joined the TS with great enthusiasm only to find their interest on the wane no sooner than the novelty wearing off. Let’s take the opportunity today to look at the circumstances prevailing amongst members. Most of us come to the Theosophical Society because we are seeking answers to the perennial questions in life. Many of us are on a spiritual quest of some sort. Some joined the TS because they found our teachings appealing, if not useful. Granted, there are others who might have come only out of curiosity. Our individual motivations may be different—nevertheless, there are certain things we have in common. To a greater or lesser extent, many of us are not entirely satisfied with secular life, otherwise we would not be seeking answers. We may each have our own disappointments, failings or tragedies in life. For one reason or other, we have begun to ponder and wonder deeply about the mysteries of life. Perhaps, we may be approaching a stage called by the Buddhist in Pali Manodvâravajjana meaning the opening of the doors of the mind. At this stage one seeks to acquire a firm intellectual conviction of the impermanence and worthlessness of mere earthly aims and understand the true purpose of life.
This step, also called by the Hindus Viveka, is often described as learning the difference between the real and the unreal; and to learn it often takes a long time and many hard lessons. But not everyone is prepared for that hardship, that is to say, not all of us are equally committed to or are indeed truly ready for the spiritual life. By and large, we can all appreciate the ideals of the occult life but we almost always feel that such ideals are rather out of our reach, at least for the moment. Faced with elusive goals, a sense of unreality sometimes creeps up on us at this stage. This then is often the beginning of our disenchantment. The emphasis of theosophical teachings on such lofty ideals sometimes in this way has its negative impact on members. Some may feel daunted, even hopeless, in the face of seemingly unreachable goals—the high ideals. They cannot help feeling that theosophy is far too idealistic and not compatible with their present modes of living, so they decide to find solace elsewhere. To those who feel this way, I have to remind them Rome was not built in a day. We cannot hope to attain perfection in one life time. What is important is that we have taken the first steps in the right direction. And I quote one of our revered Masters in this regard:
“The process of self-purification is not the work of a moment, nor of a few months but of years—nay, extending over a series of lives. The later a man begins the living of a higher life, the longer must be his period of probation, for he has to undo the effects of a long number of years spent in objects diametrically opposed to the real goal. The more strenuous his efforts and the brighter the result of his work, the nearer he comes to the threshold. If his aspiration is genuine—a settled conviction and not a sentimental flash of the moment—he transfers from one body to another the determination which finally leads him to the attainment of his desire.”
Then there are those who have problems and are seeking comfort and solutions but were told again and again that they are the masters of their own destinies and that indeed no one could help them but themselves. Disillusioned and desperate, they turn their faces elsewhere once more, still hoping to find easy solutions to the problems of life. Many will run to the next place for spiritual inspiration with the hope that they can get what they could not with the TS. Reality is sometimes the hardest to bear. That theosophy teaches the truth should not make it repulsive or any less attractive.
Another human failing is vacillation and the lack of confidence. Many people do not realize the gem of truth they have found in theosophy and are still discontented. Consequently, they spend much of their time running from one place to another seeking novelty. Often impressionable, they are easily distracted, or more correctly attracted, by anything that is new. Sadly, they do not realize that Theosophy is the mainstream of the esoteric tradition. This perhaps is our greatest challenge. To quote our same revered Master.
“The man runs constantly in and out of the straight road, deviating from it every time he thinks he perceives a new path; but finding himself in a cul-de-sac as invariably returns to the right direction.”
There is always the allurement of phenomena, gurus and things mystical. Many seem to be particularly fixated by swamis and those who apparently could provide psychic services which may cover the whole gamut from instant enlightenment to quick fixes to their problems, vicarious atonement, raising of the kundalini, vivification of the chakras, psychic powers, telling their past lives, escape from rebirths and so on. Invariably, a man in a saffron robe will command instant respect. Whatever he says will certainly carry more weight than the poor theosophical lecturer. Here we may have misguided confidence and credulity. In this respect, I would quote another of our revered Masters.
“There are 100 of thousands of Fakirs, Sannyasis and Sadhus leading the most pure lives, and yet being as they are, on the path of error, never having had an opportunity to meet, see or even hear of us.”
But is there any harm you may ask, to have an open enquiring mind, and to pursue all these avenues of ‘spiritual’ interest. Of course, there is no harm if you are truly discriminative and can tell the real from the unreal. Unfortunately, most people are simply impressionable, if not credulous. The danger of following wrong beliefs and being misguided is explained by the Master as follows:
“Those who have believed and followed us have had their reward. Mr. Sinnett and Hume are exceptions. Their beliefs are no barrier to us for they have none. They may have had influences around them, bad magnetic emanations the result of drink, Society and promiscuous physical associations (resulting even from shaking hands with impure men) but all this is physical and material impediments which with a little effort we could counteract and even clear away without much detriment to ourselves. Not so with the magnetism and invisible results proceeding from erroneous and sincere beliefs. Faith in the Gods and God, and other superstitions attracts millions of foreign influences, living entities and powerful agents around them, with which we would have to use more than ordinary exercise of power to drive them away. We do not choose to do so.”
But there are great men you would say, who have good reputations, who can perform miracles, and other phenomena. Indeed, they have great numbers of followers, abundant testimonials and cannot possibly be wrong you may argue. Well, how could you ever be certain? In this regard, our revered Master who was once asked about such a personality commented as follows:
“Suby Ram — a truly good man — yet a devotee of another error. Not his guru’s voice — his own. The voice of a pure, unselfish, earnest soul, absorbed in misguided, misdirected mysticism. Add to it a chronic disorder in that portion of the brain which responds to clear vision and the secret is soon told: that disorder was developed by forced visions; by hatha yog and prolonged asceticism. S. Ram is the chief medium and at same time the principal magnetic factor, who spreads his disease by infection — unconsciously to himself; who innoculates with his vision all the other disciples. There is one general law of vision (physical and mental or spiritual) but there is a qualifying special law proving that all vision must be determined by the quality or grade of man’s spirit and soul, and also by the ability to translate diverse qualities of waves of astral light into consciousness. There is but one general law of life, but innumerable laws qualify and determine the myriads of forms perceived and of sounds heard. There are those who are willingly and others who are unwillingly — blind. Mediums belong to the former, sensitives to the latter. Unless regularly initiated and trained — concerning the spiritual insight of things and the supposed revelations made unto man in all ages from Socrates down to Swedenborg and “Fern” — no self-tutored seer or clairaudient ever saw or heard quite correctly.”
In other words, things may not be what they appear to be. There is evidently much deception in the psychic world. Often the psychic himself is deluded. The Master added:
“No harm and much instruction may come to you by joining his Society. Go on until he demands what you will be obliged to refuse. Learn and study. You are right: they say and affirm that the one and only God of the Universe was incarnated in their guru, and were such an individual to exist he would certainly be higher than any “planetary.” But they are idolators, my friend. Their guru was no initiate, only a man of extraordinary purity of life and powers of endurance. He had never consented to give up his notions of a personal god and even gods though offered more than once. He was born an orthodox Hindu and died a self-reformed Hindu, something like KCS but higher, purer and with no ambition to taint his bright soul. Many of us have regretted his self-delusion but he was too good to be forcibly interfered with. Join them and learn — but…”
In the early history of the Theosophical Society, we hear of fascinating stories of members being glamourized and influenced by men with unusual abilities.
Now suppose you have actually found a truly remarkable person who can do wonderful things, perform all sorts of miracles. How would that help you, think? Being in the midst of rich men does not make you rich if you are not. Being in the midst of wise men does not make you any wiser if you are not. Will you suddenly become enlightened simply by association with such a one? We must know that changes and progress can only come from within and through our own efforts. We do not need to be in the presence of some lofty beings in order to do that. A person progresses spiritually through his own resolution and endeavor. So it is always the other way round, “when the pupil is ready the Master will appear”. To be ready for the Master is to develop all the human virtues and become truly a good and pure man.
I hope we have a general idea of the futility of running around needlessly. To come to the Theosophical Society and to abandon it for some other interest is like looking a gift-horse in the mouth, if I may say so. As we talked about those who have left the TS for some of the above reasons, I am looking to all of you who are here today to reaffirm your membership and support for the Theosophical Society and our work. I certainly hope that none of us here today will make the sad mistake of forsaking Theosophy for something else. Furthermore, we each have the power to influence and convince a wavering brother on the significance of theosophy and the TS by our own belief and action. Our own enthusiasm, devotion and dedication to the Society cannot but have a positive influence on others.
Lastly, I would like to thank all the members who have renewed their membership of this great society. There is no more eloquent way of expressing your support for the mission of the Theosophical Society than continuing to be a member. I would like to say a special thank you to those who seldom come to the lodge, and most probably are not even here today, but have found it meaningful and worthwhile to continue supporting the Society by renewing their membership also. I hope the day will come soon when you will return to the lodge and join the rest of us regularly in full activity.