Theosophists: Reunite!
By F. Pierce Spinks

CHAPTER VI
WHO IS INFALLIBLE?

“And Jesus answering, began to say to them: Take heed lest any man deceive you.
“For many shall come in my name saying, I am he: and they shall deceive many.”
(St. Mark, 13, V.5-6)

PERHAPS the most potent cause of The Dark Ages was the acceptance of infallible authority. Man’s reason began to stir only when the ‘authorities’ of that day were held up for scrutiny. Until then truth and its seekers were put down by persecution. Gradually, however, philosophers emerged who established a sound base from which to search for truth; the infallibility of any authority was then open to challenge.

Speaking of opinions which have been silenced on account of the infallibility of ‘authority,’ John Stuart Mill said that “if any opinion is compelled to silence, that opinion may, for aught we can certainly know, be true. To deny this is to assume our own infallibility.” And though the silenced opinion be an error, it often contains a portion of truth, and “it is only by the collision of adverse opinions that the remainder of the truth has any chance of being supplied.” Thus the assumption of infallibility prevents the emergence of truth. It is pretty safe to assume that the one who throws over himself the cloak of infallibility, does so to cover up his own ignorance, for it is nearly always done to silence the expression of opinion. “We can [226] never be sure,” says Mill, “that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still.” The stifling of opinion and free discussion is the method of authoritarianism and an assumption of infallibility.

In the previous chapter we discussed certain specific problems between Theosophical groups. This chapter concerns a problem which is present in most religious groups, for the area of religious speculation is particularly susceptible to difficulties arising from a belief in the infallibility of a Voice of Authority. The Theosophists of today are not free of this trouble.

The history of mankind is filled with the claims made by people that they know without hesitation with complete certainty, and therefore you and I must conform to their beliefs. Failure to do so brands us as spiritually bad. But as good philosophers we must inquire into the nature of this certain knowing: What is its origin? Upon what do they base their claims to knowledge? Sooner or later these questions must be asked by all intelligent seekers of truth. They are part of our epistemological problem which we must probe if we are to merit the name of seekers of truth.

In the case of H.P.B. Theosophists are unanimous, as we have already pointed out, in agreeing that she was the mouthpiece of the White Lodge. And yet one of the members of this Lodge wrote that at times her usefulness became “sadly impaired,” yet she was the best available instrument. Here we have human imperfection entering into the situation. H.P.B., a human tool, as an amanuensis for the Lodge, was excellent but not perfect. Should this not warn us against the danger of being an H.P.B. dogmatist and hence a dogmatist of X-Theosophy or Y-Theosophy? [227] What is this foible of the human mind which makes us so willing, so anxious, to seize on a group of ideas, and thenceforth claim that it alone is true, because our ‘authority’ could not be other than correct? It is without doubt the constant human desire for certainty. The mind insists on being able to wrap itself around all areas of experience so that they make sense. This too is part of our epistemological problem - that human beings are so anxious to have their problems exactly defined and solved, once and for all, that they make a shibboleth out of something which may be only relatively true. When the Initiates themselves claim to be fallible, how could we expect infallibility from their chosen spokesman, who was of greater fallibility? And how could we expect any real philosopher to accept, without questioning, the hypotheses or writings of those who were merely fallible students of the teachers who claimed fallibility themselves? Is not a more critical attitude warranted, which cannot take knowledge for granted, but is willing to inquire into the nature and adequacy of propositions and claims to knowledge? Perhaps a non-Theosophist, approaching the subject for the first time might have good reason to declare that many Theosophists take a somewhat bigoted view of a magnificent philosophy. For what, they might ask, is the difference between the attitude of those who inculcate the dogmatism of some churches towards metaphysical problems, and the attitude of many Theosophists who set up their own authorities and declare them to be infallible? The attitude of scientists in these matters is more reasonable, for science is always willing to give up formerly cherished beliefs, even if supported by their present authorities, provided new knowledge is available which [228] upsets previous tightly held beliefs. A good example of this is the conclusion recently reached by astronomers as to the age of the universe. According to the best available evidence, the age had been given as 2,500,000,000 years. But on completion of more recent studies at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California (location of the 200-inch telescope), this age was upped to 5,000,000,000 years. Scientists generally accepted the new findings and there was no gnashing of teeth because new findings had forced them to reject the old, well-regarded beliefs. There was a cheerful acceptance of a new situation.

The protests of many can be heard at this point, saying that Theosophists of the stature of H.P.B. have a vision of truth which is in the nature of a direct perception of reality, a sort of mystical experience which to them is reality. This vision, they claim, is a direct flight to the mountain-top of truth, which the scientist can scale but slowly due largely to the limitations of his methodology.

Human beings, in their search for realities ardently desire Authority in capital letters. They want to ask all sorts of questions and they want answers. In their eagerness to get answers they are prone to ally themselves with this or that authority, without questioning what comes from that Voice of Authority. These Voices of Authority are sometimes good, but none are perfect. And the degree of perfection goes up with a volume written by a Master, or an H.P.B., and goes down in the case of the mere students of those authorities. But we must call attention to the margin of error that is present in all works of any character written by human beings. It is human to seize on authority, swear by everything that the authority says, and [229] cling to it desperately. But in acting in this manner we are apt to over-emphasize the quality of that authority, its not-to-be-doubted authenticity. We need to be reminded constantly that there is no such thing in the human kingdom as an authority which is not to be questioned. There is only relative perfection. This is where some Theosophists have made serious errors, for they have assumed that everything that is in written form dealing with Theosophy is to be treated as revelation; whereas it is only through H.P.B. that the Masters have given us anything approaching revelation.

A reading of the early history of the Society to be found in H.S. Olcott’s Old Diary Leaves should convince everyone of how human and fallible the Founders themselves were. This diary is largely an intensely human account of the struggles of H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott out in the field.

H.P.B. was the teacher. She had spent some years in training. She was masterly in the art of automatic writing. She had learned to produce certain occult phenomena at will. She had very evidently pledged herself to the White Lodge for this life and never faltered in her devotion. But such a pledge and such qualities did not put her on a level whereon mistakes are not possible. The capacity to serve the White Lodge in a substantial way also gives the capacity to make great mistakes, and this must be recognized in the case of every aspirant on the occult path. That she had very human failings is so obvious that only an idolator could be so blind as to overlook them.

To assert that H.P.B. was an Adept and then read about her perfectly human failings is a contradiction in terms. Adepts are of a superior evolution to the average and undoubtedly have their faculties under [230] superior control. They are not subject to the extremes of human error that afflict most of us. They have learned to ride the horse of human emotions so that these are subservient at all times. A momentary lapse could spell disaster. Any horseman knows that an agitated horse with his head low and the bit in his mouth can run wild and cause harm to the rider who is not skilled enough to master the situation. An Adept is a master of these emotional situations.

Those who overlook the obvious weaknesses of H.P.B. or any other Theosophical leader may have a motive in doing so. For example if we want to set up H.P.B. as an infallible authority on Theosophy, we may want to cut down to size anyone who knew her well and who called attention to her human shortcomings. Such a one was H.S. Olcott, the man who knew her better than any other person. Some groups actually follow this policy.

*  *  *

H.P.B. herself stated that the Founders “were distinctly instructed about ... what they had to avoid.” They were told that:

“They had to oppose in the strongest manner possible anything approaching dogmatic faith and fanaticism - belief in the infallibility of the Masters.” [1]

How can any Theosophist claim infallibility for his Voice of Authority in the face of these words? And yet there are those who wish to evade the issue of infallibility - obviously because it damages their premise that H.P.B.’s writings are infallible, and any writings which do not conform to them are to be repudiated. From this premise arise the terms ‘pure-Theosophy’ and ‘neo-Theosophy,’ and many of the doctrinal differences [231] which have been given an altogether untheoso­phical emphasis.

Madame Blavatsky said that there were errors in her greatest work The Secret Doctrine:

“No true Theosophist, from the most ignorant up to the most learned, ought to claim infallibility for anything he may say or write upon Occult matters ... More than one mistake is likely to be found in the present work. This cannot be helped. For a large or even a small work on such abstruse subjects to be entirely exempt from error and blunder, it would have to be written from its first to its last page by a great Adept, if not by an Avatara. But so long as the artist is imperfect, how can his work be perfect?”

The important thing to remember is that all Theosophists are in agreement on the fundamental propositions laid down by H.P.B. in her great work, not that errors may be found, or that students may disagree on details of interpretation. These are an insufficient cause for disunity.

In his Inaugural Address delivered on November 17, 1875 President Olcott said:

“We are investigators ... who study all things, prove all things, and hold fast to that which is good. We seek, inquire, reject nothing without cause, accept nothing without proof: we are students, not teachers.” (Italics added).

On this broad basis it is not proper to set up certain works as infallible and others as worthless. All students are to inquire, write theses, and their efforts are to be respected, if sincere.

Colonel Olcott felt, early in the Society’s growth, that it was necessary to strongly fight against any attempt to set up any not-to-be-questioned Authority in the framework of the Society’s activities. In the London Spiritualistic journal Light, Vol. I, October 11, 1881, he wrote: [232]

“Yes, I insist again that the teaching of a Mahatma is no more and no less true because he is one. It is either true or false, and must be determined upon its intrinsic merit. The Theosophical Society was distinctly founded upon that hypothesis, and every tendency shown of late to convert it into a sect, following inspired revelations, is a strict debasement of its character.”

He added that H.P.B. and he had not undergone so much labor, expense, and mental suffering “to add another wretched sect to the multitude that already curse the world,” and that both of them intended to crush every attempt to make one out of the T.S.

He applied this to himself as well, and shows in the quote which follows that he wanted no hero-worship.

“If Theosophy has suffered from my blunders, who profess to be among its most earnest advocates, its mouth-piece, so has the progress of our Society suffered through the inexcusable heedlessness of our associated fellows and members in holding such extravagant views of the Founders, and expecting them to be above the weaknesses of mortality.” [2]

Colonel Olcott relates that the controlling impulse to write Old Diary Leaves was his desire “to combat a growing tendency ... to deify Mme. Blavatsky and to give her commonest literary productions a quasi-inspirational character.” He says her transparent faults were being ignored “and the pinchbeck screen of pretended authority drawn between her actions and legitimate criticism.” [3]

For several years Colonel Olcott was himself “connected in pupilage” with the African section of the White Lodge, but was later transferred to the Indian Section. In his Preface to his Diary he pays a tribute to H.P.B. while calling attention to her shortcomings:

“Where can we find a personality so remarkable and so dramatic; one which so clearly presented at its opposite sides the divine and the human? Karma forbid that I should do her [233] a feather-weight of injustice, but if there ever existed a person in history who was a greater conglomeration of good and bad, light and shadow, wisdom and indiscretion, spiritual insight and lack of common sense, I cannot recall the name, the circumstances or the epoch. To have known her was a liberal education, to have worked with her and enjoyed her intimacy, an experience of the most precious kind. She was too great an occultist for us to measure her moral stature. She compelled us to love her, however much we might know her faults; to forgive her, however much she might have broken her promises and destroyed our first belief in her infallibility.” [4]

In speaking of the Beings who wrote through H.P.B. he said:

“But I wish to say again, as distinctly as possible, that, not even from the wisest and noblest of these H.P.B. Somebodies did I ever get the least encouragment to either regard them as infallible, omniscient, or omnipotent. There was never the least show of a wish on their part that I should worship them, mention them with bated breath, or regard as inspired what they either wrote with H.P.B.’s body, or dictated to her as their amanuensis. I was made simply to look upon them as men, my fellow-mortals; wiser, truly, infinitely more advanced than I, but only because of their having preceded me in the normal path of human evolution. Slavishness and indiscriminate adulation they loathed, telling me that they were usually but the cloaks to selfishness, conceit, and moral limpness.” [5]

Writing on ‘Infallibility’ in The Theosophist as far back as June, 1885, Col. Olcott affirmed the necessity of individual research and the dignity of private judgment in the search for truth. He showed no sympathy for infallible teachings and held only repugnance for the idea of any thinking person giving up his sovereign right of inquiry to any other person, adept or non-adept. He had the right idea, and Theosophists today should return to this critical approach to Theosophy and its literature.

Again in his Annual Address of 1891 he denounced the tendency to idolatry in the Society and protested [234] against the temptation to elevate the Masters or their agents to divine status. He wanted no Bible made out of H.P.B.’s “magnificent though not infallible writings.”

Shortly after her death there were evidences that an H.P.B. cult was springing up and Col. Olcott did his best to stop it. He continued this fight against turning the Society into a sect of hero-worshippers and besought liberty of speech and thought instead. He felt that it was “a most unfriendly act” to try to make of H.P.B. “a being above humanity,” and pointed out that “the more infallible insight they ascribe to her, the more mercilessly will men hold her accountable for her ... inaccuracies in statement” and her every act. (Old Diary Leaves, I, p.137)

One Theosophical scholar pointed out that worship of H.P.B. would inevitably produce an anti-H.P.B. movement - and perhaps that is just what happened. During one period of Theosophical history the works of Madam Blavatsky were not being given the attention which they deserved as the original text-books on Theosophy, and as works which were writen through her by the Masters.

*  *  *

On February 17, 1904, Annie Besant wrote The Blavatsky Lodge in London protesting against the tendency to consider herself as “a sacrosanct personality beyond and above criticism.” She said the idea deserved “the uttermost condemnation,” and that holding such a theory would endanger the Society. Believing that “the fullest freedom in criticising opinions” was necessary for the preservation and growth of the Society, she said she made mistakes like everyone [235] else, and declared that “it is a poor service to me to confirm me in these mistakes by abstaining from criticism.” All her life, she said, she had read the harshest criticisms with a view to utilizing them, and she begged her listeners to repudiate the idea that she was infallible, feeling that the growth of any form of personal idolatry in the Society would be “fatal to its usefulness to the world.”

Subsequent pronouncements of Mrs. Besant, however, suggest that later years and experience induced her to move somewhat away from this excellent concept.

“Unreasoning, blind, and obedient assent to the Voice of Authority, is something which is inadmissible in genuine Theosophical work, study and life,” declares a well-written pamphlet published by the T.S. (Point Loma). But it is undeniable that several Theosophical groups have established Voices of Authority which are deemed infallible, and that to doubt them is considered disloyal. The situation is worsened by the fact that these Authorities are deemed to be the exclusive agents of the White Lodge. This automatically casts doubt on the genuineness of all other authorities. Those who hold this Dogmatic Assumption have no use for other groups of Theosophists because the holding of their dogma closes off any desire to listen to any Voice but their own. How can the Objects of the Society gain effective support under such conditions?

This situation is reminiscent of the days after Pythagoras’ death when his disciples made his teachings an unchallengeable authority. The term ‘ipse dixit’ or its Greek equivalent came into use as a result of this crystallization. “He himself said so” - how much woe [236] has befallen the world because of this bigoted attitude!

Likewise the early Christian Fathers standardized and crystallized the ideas of Aristotle into a rigid form. From this fanaticism arose the Aristotelian Law of the Excluded Middle, which has been responsible for so much unhappiness in the world. This rigidity is given expression in the following lines which were used as a motto in some of the Christian schools:

“Everyone from here is barred, everyone rejected,
Who comes not with Aristotle’s armour protected.”

Finally Francis Bacon, a sixteenth century philosopher saw the error of this Aristotelian Law, and directed his efforts to challenge it. Previous to his time the earth was conceived to be the center around which the planets and sun revolved, and when Copernicus offered proof that the sun was the center, his ideas were proclaimed heretical. It was also in this period that the earth was thought to be flat, for otherwise the people on the other side of the world would be standing on their heads. Martin Luther said of Copernicus:

“This fool desires to overthrow the entire system of astronomy; but Holy Writ tells us that Joshua commanded the sun to stand still, and not the earth.”

Ergo! the sun revolves around the earth.

And Melanchthon, a contemporary, added his condemnation:

“Our eyes themselves prove to us that the heavens revolve around the earth in twenty-four hours. But certain men, whether from love of novelty, or in order to display their ingenuity, are teaching that it is the earth that moves ... It is simply a lack of honesty and decency to declare such fantasies in public, and the example is pernicious.”

It is this blind reliance on “Holy Writ” as an unchallengeable Voice of Authority which can never err, [237] which withers our own reasoning powers. Nothing remains static. The Theosophical Society of 1875 is not the Theosophical Society of 1957. When asked what was Truth, Jesus gave no answer. There is no ultimate Authority to which one can appeal. One cannot be absolutely certain of anything except uncertainty, it would seem. Einstein expressed this idea when he said: “As far as the laws of mathematics refer to reality, they are not certain; and as far as they are certain, they do not refer to reality.”

This tendency on the part of Theosophists to dogmatism, is referred to by Master K.H. in a letter to Mr. Sinnett:

“You share with all beginners the tendency to draw too absolutely strong inferences from partly caught hints, and to dogmatize thereupon as though the last word had been spoken. You will correct this in due time.” [7]

Mr. C. Jinarajadasa, late President of The Theosophical Society (Adyar), in his opening address to the School of Wisdom on October 1, 1950, said:

“If a School of the Wisdom in which the students are Theosophists erects any dictum, or even the greatest Teachers, into an unchallengeable metron or standard, within a generation or two the School will have lost its true purpose. To erect any kind of a ‘ring pass-not’ round the system of any Teacher, however great, is to transform a School of the Wisdom into a body of seekers pledged to an orthodoxy who seek merely the details of knowledge.”

Some of us have not sufficiently taken to heart the words of the Master M about the shortcomings of H.P.B., and also Colonel Olcott. Speaking of these two he wrote:

“In casting about we found in America the man to stand as leader - a man of great moral courage, unselfish, and having other good qualities. He was far from being the best, but (as Mr. Hume speaks in H.P.B.’s case) - he was the best one [238] available. With him we associated a woman of most exceptional and wonderful endowments. Combined with them she had strong personal defects, but just as she was, there was no second to her living fit for this work.” [8]

In her defence, Master K.H. wrote:

“We, on the other hand, under the garb of eccentricity and folly - we find a profounder wisdom in her inner Self than you will ever find yourselves able to perceive ... However crazy an enthusiast, I pledge to you my word of honor, she was never a deceiver; nor has she ever willfully uttered an untruth …” [9]

The Master K.H. lashes out against the dogmatism of religion and what we have termed the Voice of Authority, in the same work:

“I will point out the greatest, the chief cause of nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power. It is religion under whatever form and in whatever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches. It is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind.”

Religion as unchallengeable, infallible Authority, is the real target of these words. The normal and proper drive of men for communal worship is not, we think, what is referred to. Most religions have a base of ‘revelation.’ This becomes the infallible, unchangeable metron of each. With the passing years this rigidity becomes inflexible; hence it cannot reflect the realities of everyday life, which constantly change. Thus ensues an inevitable conflict between the ‘authorities’ of the church and the free-thinkers: the Bacons, the Galileos, the Darwins, the H.P.B.s - those who ratiocinate despite proscription and interdiction by ‘authorities’.

Again referring to H.P.B. and H.S. Olcott the Master K.H. said: [239]

“Those two are, say, far from perfect - in some respects, quite the opposite. But they have that in them (pardon the eternal repetition but it is being as constantly overlooked) which we have but too rarely found elsewhere - UNSELFISHNESS and an eager readiness for self-sacrifice for the good of others; what a ‘multitude of sins’ does this not cover!” [10]

From this we know what attributes are essential for useful work in the service of the Lodge. They are: Moral courage, unselfishness, self-sacrifice and most importantly, an inability to deceive or make false statements knowingly. Perfection is not essential, as can be seen from these words of K.H.:

“She (H.P.B.) is a fanatic in her way, and is unable to write with anything like system and calmness, or to remember that the general public needs all the lucid explanations that to her may seem superfluous.”

With our proclivity to hero-worship we often overlook the fact that our heroes are human beings subject to human error. Having this in mind, the following words from the Master K.H. should not be too much of a shock:

“To quiet the anxiety I see lurking within your mind, and which has even a more definite form than you have expressed, let me say that I will use my best endeavors to calm our highly sensitive - not always sensible old friend (H.P.B.), and make her stop at her post. Ill health resulting from natural causes, and mental anxiety have made her nervous to an extreme degree and sadly impaired her usefulness to us. For a fortnight past she has been all but useless and her emotions have sped along her nerves like electricity through a telegraphic wire.”

It is important that Theosophists realize that even the Masters are not free from error. We often overlook this, and render a childlike obedience to those in positions of prominence in our Society, in the mistaken view that because they are supposed to be pupils [240] of the Masters, therefore they are incapable of error. The Master K.H. himself discredits this dogma with the assertion that he himself is imperfect, hence not infallible. Here are his words:

“There is a hero-worshipping tendency clearly showing itself, and you my friend are not quite free from it yourself ... If you would go on with your occult studies and literary work, then learn to be loyal to the Idea rather than to my poor self. When something is to be done never think whether I wish it, before acting; … I am far from being perfect, hence infallible in all I do … You have seen that even an Adept when acting in his body, is not beyond mistakes due to human carelessness.” [11]

In the same collection of letters the Master reminds us of the formidable difficulties in learning all there is to know on even one phase of Theosophy - Evolution:

“As our Pondichery chela significantly says, neither you nor any other man across the threshold has had or ever will have the ‘complete theory’ of Evolution taught him; or get it unless he guesses it for himself. If anyone can unravel it from such tangled threads as are given him very well; and a fine proof it would indeed be of his or her spiritual insight. Some - have come very near it. But yet there is always with the best of them just enough error, - colouring and misconception; the shadow of Manas projecting across the field of Buddhi - to prove the eternal law that only the unshackled Spirit shall see the things of the Spirit without a veil.” [12]

It is folly for any of us to feign complete knowledge of any aspect of the philosophy, for it is the nature of Truth not to reveal itself completely. It is not possible to know all the facts. There is always a horizon more distant to be discovered. This is fortunate, for it means that after one goal is reached there is another beyond, and yet another, with new increments of growth and power accruing to us with each successive effort made. This brings to mind a story to be found in The Book of the Dead. It is there related that the ultimate goal [241] of Initiations was to allow the Initiate to face Isis unveiled. The more the aspirant advanced the closer he approached the veil or curtain. When he reached his goal and the great day came to lift the veil and see Isis, the curtain dropped and nothing was seen; nothing was behind the veil. This is symbolic, meaning that if the Creator is infinite, men who are finite cannot understand or see Him; if God is immeasurable, he cannot be comprehended by the measurable; if God is imperishable, he cannot be understood by the perishable.

In the light of the foregoing the Theosophist should examine his beliefs to see if any of them rest upon the declaration of some Voice of Authority, some “ipse dixit,” some dogmatic statement, by a ‘leader’ or ‘teacher.’ If so, he is advised to hold these beliefs up to the light of sound reason, good judgment, and not to be carried away by the present prestige of the declarer as a ‘teacher’ or ‘authority,’ nor to his assertion that the declaration is being given out “in the Master’s name” and is occult. Is it really likely that occult knowledge - which has to do with the use of hidden, secret and powerful forces - would be printed and handed out in this form to those who merely promise to keep it secret?

All students of psychology know that when a dogma is rigidly held, it tends to make that person difficult to deal with, maladjusted. Particularly is this true in the religious area. Dogmatism spawns bigotry and bigotry, fanaticism. We do a distinct disservice to Theosophy when we become so dogmatic that we enter the area of fanaticism. George Santayana once defined a fanatic as a man who redoubles his efforts after he has forgotten his aims. [242]

If we probe into the dogmatic assertions of our Voices, of Authority we will find that these assertions are often in the nature of a smoke-screen to hide a position of weakness, even ignorance. We must cease the falsity of hiding behind these dogmatic assertions, which are intended to shroud the maker in an aura of spiritual respectability greater than that of his hearer - and always greater than he deserves. Its obvious purpose is to use the aura of the Masters to impress those of us who are mere lay members. Those who fraudulently make assertions in the name of the Masters are guilty of dishonorable conduct which debases and corrupts the Society wherein they take a prominent part. It is a crime against the integrity of all those sincere if misguided people who pay them and their utterances a greater respect than they deserve. Let us once and for all do away with this cant and this hero-worship of not infallible ‘teachers,’ ‘leaders’ or gurus of any description. There should be no sacred cows in the Theosophical Movement. We have here learned on the highest authority that all are fallible.

The worship of any idol is not conducive to normalcy and good inter-relations, because idol-worshipers tend to exclude the idols of competing groups. Conflicting interests then spring up while each emulates the center of his interest. Distance between the groups tends to widen, and the whole process tends to separate rather than join people together. Hence it can be termed non-Theosophical, working towards segregation rather than inter-relations. This is contrary to the Original Program of the Theosophical Society.

What is the difference, we ask, between the assertion made by one group leader, that “Ours is the only formal organization through which the Masters work,” and [243] the well-known assertion made by a prominent church:

“Outside the Blank Church there is no salvation”? These attitudes perpetuate disunity, unbrotherliness, false pride, and egoism. Strong is the censure which must be applied to those who encourage and foster them! They are hurtful to the Movement and to those who are misled by them. They move contrary to everything which the White Lodge has uttered through any responsible agent. A removal of this barrier to real fraternity among Theosophists is imperative. It is not on the level of teachings that we should look for the cause of our inter-group problems, but in these Dogmatic Assumptions. The ash-heap of Theosophical history will be strewn with the remains of this and other dogmas soon - the time-table depending upon when we return to H.P.B.’s Original Program of the T.S.

The idolatry given by some groups to their ‘leader’ is akin to henotheism. Those who claim occult ‘status’ are using hypnotic suggestion, a form of violence on the mental plane. The practice browbeats students into a state of mind in which reason is abandoned and irrational, unscientific, unthinking superstition moves in to replace it.

Just as we claim for our particular group a certain validity, so should we allow the same to all other groups of Theosophists. Can we refuse to others a conviction that they are following a true course of action in their own Societies? If we have what constitutes proof to us, others must have what constitutes proof to them. Would it not be more brotherly to say that there are worthwhile values in all the Theosophical Societies, rather than assume the arrogant position of infallibility contained in the assertion that outside our group there is no salvation? [244]

The least that should be done now is for those who have made these assertions in the past, to come right out and publicly recant. Let them proclaim instead and anew the Evangel of Brotherhood, which structures the modern Theosophical Movement. For the earnest, humble student, who joins a Theosophical society in good faith, should be protected from exposure to the dogma we are dealing with.

In speaking thus forcefully I do not wish to be unkind, but I want SORELY to prevent anyone from being exposed to the dogma of the infallibility of any teacher or leader of any Theosophical group, or to any dogmatic assertion that the Masters work exclusively through one organization. The effects of this exposure can corrupt the mind and will certainly prevent the functioning of the cortex or think-part of the brain. Certainly there is no salvation of any kind for the one who is tyrannized by these dogmas.

*  *  *

The present writing is a challenge to the tradition in which several generations of Theosophists have been grounded, a tradition tolerant of the very conditions which the Founders wanted to avoid. We should not give acceptance to an idea merely because it is traditional. Does tradition guarantee the wisdom of an idea or situation? The evidence of all human progress asserts the contrary. What principle or law then, can give us the kind of certainty such that when we look out over the history of events which brought disruption and incoherence to our Movement, we will be able to extract significant meaning out of the confusion? It is Human Reason, undisturbed by the lower emotions.

It is recognized that it is painful for a human being [245] to move away from cherished ideas. We feel comfortable in their presence. It requires effort and education to remove them after our reason proves them unsound. Plato, in his Parable of the Cave, emphasizes how painful it is to be educated. Woodrow Wilson once wrote that he was “amazed at the capacity of the average individual to resist instruction.” All of us are caught up in erroneous ideas at times and can be sympathetic to those who must now face the challenge of a new idea in the Theosophical Movement which bids fair to oust the old and erroneous one.

Recognizing the difficulty involved, we present here some pertinent ideas from modern schools of philosophy which might aid in the replacement of the old.

There are two traditions in philosophy:

a. Constructive, synthetic, positive
b. Destructive, analytical, critical, skeptical

Many schools of thought believe the first is the most important; but others, including the University of California, feel that it is the second approach that is essential. It involves the method of examination and questioning; a refusal to accept ideas merely because they were familiar or the accepted views of the time. Many will recognize in this the Socratian method. Where, one could ask, would modern medicine, physics and chemistry be today if they had not been skeptical of previous theories? Solid progress has been recorded. Equal progress in solving our own problem can probably be made, if the territory surrounding it is explored with the same philosophical skepticism for accepted theories. As long as our present theories are not productive of harmony, they should be fair game for our inquiry. [246]

The kind of skepticism referred to is the Methodological, that which questions ideas as a means to an end. It is the method which feels that in this world of constant change the human mind should periodically examine all its customary ideas, hold them up for scrutiny, to see if they need revising or discarding. The Metaphysical Skepticism which doubts merely for the sake of doubting, as in the case of the Greek Sophists or a Schopenhauer or Hume, is not what is being recommended here. After all, are any of our ideas convincing, sound and true, until they have stood up under the closest questioning in an effort to prove them false? The destructive approach can be used for a constructive end. This is what John Stuart Mill referred to when he said:

“It is the fashion of the present time to disparage negative logic - that which points out weaknesses in theory or errors in practice, without establishing positive truths. Such negative criticism would indeed be poor enough as an ultimate result; but as a means to attaining any positive knowledge or conviction worthy the name, it cannot be valued too highly.”

We are being urged here to use Methodological Skepticism as a device for questioning old traditional concepts - such as the infallibility of our Voice of Authority, gurus. If they are in conflict with the pure metaphysics of Theosophy we should discard them. This skepticism should be used for coming to terms with the Number One problem in the Movement today. It is to be understood that it is purely preparatory and for the purpose of cleaning the slate of all prejudices and assumptions which clash with the Movement’s substructure. When this is done we will need a new set of ideas by which we can achieve a closer approximation to the brotherhood ideal demanded of [247] us by our membership in the Movement. Let us not be afraid to probe into the old and accepted beliefs to see if there is anything unsound in them, when the light of reason is turned on them. Rene Descartes, seventeenth century philosopher, recommended in such cases that we examine all our ideas, and consider false, all those which we do not know to be absolutely true. We must remember that it is just as dogmatic to be sure that an idea is true as to be sure that it is not true. We should allow nothing in our thinking except what is presented to our individual mind so clearly as to exclude all doubt.

It is believed that one of the greatest barriers to a rapprochement of all Theosophists is the dogmatic belief in the infallibility of certain leaders, prominent Theosophists of the past and present, such as H.P.B., Col. Olcott, W.Q. Judge, Annie Besant, G. de Purucker, C.W. Leadbeater and others. No one, even an Adept, knows the whole truth. Any teaching is an imperfect statement and should not be taken as a dogma. People have a tendency to build up their own importance by setting up an idol and then worshipping it. Then they sit in the sunshine of this idol and it pours light on them and they are thereby enlarged. Students of history are familiar with this line: The Society is something to worship, the headquarters of the Society are something to worship, the leaders are something to worship. But H.P.B.’s writings are full of the rejection of orthodoxy, infallible authority, dogmatism, creed and sacred cows. If the Movement is to survive it is mandatory that this blockage to a real fraternity be removed. It is a curse which breeds suspicion of other groups than one’s own. It is exclusive by nature. The Masters condemned exclusiveness and selfishness as the [248] evils which killed India. Exclusiveness of any kind is inimical to brotherhood. Claims to infallibility are a form of bigotry. Bigotry has no head and cannot think; it has no eyes and cannot see.

Theosophists should be fearful of rendering inadequate service to values they hold to be true. But how can any of us claim to adequately serve our Cause if we espouse in any form the very bigotry we seek to destroy?


CHAPTER VI
REFERENCE NOTES

[1] The Original Programme of the T.S. by H.P. Blavatsky, pp.5-6, 1931, The Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar, Madras, India
[2] Theosophy, Religion and Occult Science by H.S. Olcott, p.185, Published by George Redway, London, 1885
[3] Old Diary Leaves by H.S. Olcott, I, p. viii, 1941
[4] Ibid, I, p. x
[5] Ibid, I, pp.249-250
[6] Ibid, I, p.137
[7] The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, p.348
[8] Ibid, p.263
[9] Ibid, p.314
[10] Ibid, p.370
[11] Ibid, p. xi
[12] Ibid, p.348

CHAPTER VII
CAN PRESENT MALADJUSTMENTS BE RESOLVED?

“If therefore, thou offer thy gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy brother hath anything against thee; leave there thy offering before the altar and go first to be reconciled to thy brother; and then coming, thou shalt offer thy gift.”
(Sermon on the Mount, MATTHEW 5, 22-24)

THE Theosophist, by nature eclectic, will be disposed to turn to all possible sources for help in solving his problems, particularly those problems which arrest the progress of the Movement he loves. It is suggested that one such source is the one which H.P.B. praised as a field worthy of real study - that of psychology. Through a great deal of experimental research, psychologists and students of human relations have made significant contributions towards resolving problems of inter-relatedness. As compared with a few years ago, we are today in a period of much better human relations - notably in the employer-employee field. Much of the credit for this is due to the studies of those who specialize in this highly interesting new field. Their arguments hold much from which we may profit.

Today the whole world is getting a feeling of global consciousness. We are becoming more and more aware of unsatisfactory conditions in other lands and are opening our hearts to do something about them. [250] Individual Theosophists doubtless are doing their share nobly, but in the area of inter-Theosophical relations we seem frozen onto the patterns of yesterday.

But yesterday was the day of schisms, the era of rugged individualism. Today is the era of cooperative endeavor, with the world compelled by advances in science and communication systems to move away from the outmoded type of separative thinking.

Why, then, do the Theosophists lag in this new culture pattern? Why should we be content with an unsatisfactory status quo instead of returning to the conditions laid down for us by the Masters through H.P.B.? Why in the face of this global progress should the Theosophist remain rigid in his refusal to cooperate with other Theosophists?

Why should we “blow off” with emotional discharge whenever we reach the area of our group differences? Should we not feel embarrassed at the immaturity which this evidences? Why can we not sit down and talk to each other across the table as so many other groups do who find themselves with problems of inter-relatedness? Is it our very familiarity with these conditions of ruptured fraternal relations in the Movement which permits us to tolerate the very situation that H.P.B. begged us to avoid? Many of us were even born into it and we have become so accustomed to it that we accept it without protest. But the new generation of Theosophists need not accept a condition which does violence to the Original Program and thus reflects on their own integrity - and perhaps even contains the seeds of self-destruction.

Lack of communication is stressed more and more by leading authorities as the prime cause of inability to resolve problems of inter-relatedness. One such [251] authority recently declared that even insanity was nothing but the breakdown of the ability to communicate. If it is conflicting ‘loyalties’ which bar us from challenging this uncommunicativeness, how about the ‘loyalties’ which have been given all down the centuries to certain discredited political characters - particularly some of the more recent ones? Should we become rigid in these ‘loyalties’ to the point where we cannot recognize that they are less useful than a greater loyalty, a loyalty which conforms to the Original Program of the Theosophical Society, to the Masters and to H.P.B.? A more vacuous and unmeaningful phrase was never written, than that we were to be ‘loyal to loyalty.’ And yet such a phrase was used recently by one of the groups at a time of internal stress. Are we not advancing the cause of progress and brotherhood if we scrutinize everyone of our ‘loyalties’ periodically in order to discard those which do not conform to the ideal pattern - that of the Original Program of the Masters? Even the Masters asked us not to express ‘loyalty’ to themselves but rather to the Idea which they espoused.

A first step in the process of reintegration would well be to acknowledge that those in the ‘other groups’ are acting in a manner which they believe to be proper, wishing to promote the Movement but not knowing how to overcome the spastic condition which has taken hold of it and which thwarts the flow of fraternal bonds between all units. And sometimes we wonder if the maladjustment is not made more acute by an inner awareness that the condition runs contrary to the objectives of the Original Program. This condition does violence to our reason, for since no adequate cause exists which can fit into the Theosophical frame of [252] reference we are compelled to resort to irrationality. Perhaps it is not improper to say that this is a case of using spiritual doublethink, a word coined by the late George Orwell to mean “the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously and accepting both of them.” For are we not caught on the horns of a dilemma when we find ourselves on the one hand wishing to respond to the call of brotherhood, and on the other faced with another commitment, a ‘loyalty’ which binds us to a course actually repulsive to the first commitment of brotherhood? The second would seek to impose a prior loyalty on us to ‘take sides’ and be on the side of our own little group exclusively, if there is any conflict present. But this kind of loyalty robs us of our vital integrity as Theosophists. It forces us to make the poorest choice available. It is an affront to our integrity as free men, capable of ratiocinating as divine beings.

Doctor Emmet Fox, well-known pastor of the Church of the Healing Christ, New York, once said:

“An organized church is always in danger of developing into an ‘industry’ which has to provide a living for numerous officials. When this happens the rank and file are sure to be severely discouraged from seeking spiritual things for themselves at first hand. A tradition of ‘loyalty’ to the organization is built up as a means of self protection. Not loyalty to Truth or to your own soul, be it remarked, but to the organization. Thus the means becomes an end in itself and spiritual power then fades out. Rash promises and vague claims take the place of real verifiable demonstrations.”

It is precisely this type of ‘loyalty’ to personalities who represent the organization and who take a prominent part in it, which is often in conflict with the greater loyalty to “The Original Program of the Theosophical Society,” And what about loyalty to other Theosophists and to humanity as a whole? Doctor Fox continues: [253]

“In the case of leaders who exploit their own personalities, the student is discouraged from going elsewhere for enlightenment or help; and here again ‘loyalty’ to something other than God is allowed to block the avenue of Truth, and therefore becomes anti-Christ. What is this but the jealousy of the petty tradesman who warns a doubtful customer of the danger he runs in going to the ‘shop next door’.”

*  *  *

There always will be conflicts wherever human beings are thrown together because of the differences they manifest. But it is of the very essence of the Theosophical Movement that we are to integrate these differences, chop them down to size, work on them, give a little here and there, be tolerant in so doing, so that out of this forge of the clash of differences will emerge a stronger weapon with which to advance progress. All of the progress that has been made in human endeavors has come through this process. Why do the Theosophists attempt to freeze onto a different pattern - one which was discarded in the Middle Ages by forward-thinking philosophers who hacked through the thick woods of bigotry and intolerance to the open fields of progress? Is it our leaders who allow or encourage the co-existence of two such opposite commitments that they mis-shape and torture the personalities who have to bear the conflict between them?

It is proper to question loyalties which conflict with the basic purposes of the Movement. We should not be extremists, non-resilient and uncompromising when the welfare of our fellowmen is involved. The Movement does not require unanimity of us except in the case of our commitment to Brotherhood and the Objects of the Society. Should it not then be ALARMING to us that some of our leaders call upon us to show loyalty [254] to personalities, when even the Masters reject this? Is this injection of a ‘loyalty’ not insidiously dangerous to our progress? To what extent is the non-discouragement of these loyalties to different groups, a boon to the personalities of the leaders and an aid to the continuance of unfriendliness among Theosophists?

Our leaders have an obligation to promote arrangements which will encourage love and diminish hates. Any group organized to promote Brotherhood has this as its most important directive. If arrangements fail to achieve this and actually do the opposite, demand should be made for their revision, and those responsible should be made accountable for the damage. Unless an authentic Theosophical life is encouraged by the activities which our leaders are largely responsible for, WE, THE LAY MEMBERS, HAVE AN OBLIGATION TO FORCE A CHANGE, so that we too will not share in the responsibility for sustaining unsatisfactory, hate-breeding situations.

*  *  *

In the September 1956 issue of The American Theosophist there appears a letter to the Editor in which protest is made against “the dogma of a coming Messenger.” It is stated that “with some it is an article of Theosophical faith” that such a Messenger would appear in the last quarter of each century. This belief is based on a statement made by H.P. Blavatsky that the White Lodge makes an effort to promote greater wisdom among men during the last quarter of each century. But this does not mean that such efforts are not made earlier or later than this. Yet the belief is fairly universally held, and some are becoming anxious that the Theosophical house be set in order [255] before 1975 so that it will be found a tool worthy of their use.

But let us not assume that we are at present worthy of receiving another Messenger. On the contrary there is evidence that we are at the moment unworthy, for we obviously fall short of the standards of brotherhood which have been laid down for us. There is time to change this, but to achieve a position of worthiness it is necessary for us to cleanse ourselves, perhaps to bathe in a spirit of contrition and humility, recognizing that we have all made mistakes. The present inter-group situation brings to mind George Eliot’s words that “the peoples of the world are islands, shouting at one another across seas of misunderstanding.” We propose that these misunderstandings be explored and at least narrowed to a manageable width. For reasonable men, we repeat, will always find agreement if they will discuss their problems together in a spirit of friendliness and mutual tolerance. Our ability to relate ourselves constructively and happily to those with whom we disagree is a measure of our maturity. Its reverse measures our immaturity.

Some of the characteristics of people who enjoy good mental health have been outlined by The National Association for Mental Health in New York:

1. They have a tolerant, permissive attitude towards others; they can laugh at themselves
2. They are able to give love to others and consider their interests
3. They respect the many differences they find in people
4. They welcome new experiences and new ideas
5. They expect to like and trust others, and take it for granted that others will like and trust them. [256]

While it is generally recognized that very few people act within these standards at all times, still it is greatly feared that in their inter-group relationships many of the Theosophists fall considerably behind the averages. This is evidenced by the prevalance of:

a. Roadblocks to understanding
b. Failure to communicate
c. Unfounded prejudices against other groups
d. Seclusive, asocial attitudes producing lack of normal gregariousness

How can the existence of these maladjustments be reconciled with groups whose primary objective is the creation of a nucleus of Universal Brotherhood? Do the Theosophists not realize the damage which their hostilities and non-cooperation do to the Movement? If so, why do the groups not turn toward each other for that understanding which leads to strength? The student of human relations would say that this condition is symptomatic of certain maladjustments which can be corrected if the disposition to do so is present.

A thought which has proved helpful is that life is a process, a continual change. Heraclitus the Greek philosopher (535-475 B.C.) expressed this idea beautifully when he said that a man cannot step into the same river twice - the water is constantly changing. All things flow. Our judgments of other people need frequent revision. Conclusions reached in the past are not necessarily true today. Rigidity of attitude makes us unable to cope with changing daily situations.

There is evidence that the leaders of some of the Theosophical groups are continuing the thoroughly discredited attitudes and assumptions of their Voices of Yesterday, without revision, and without exposing [257] themselves to the continuous stream of new information so essential to a successful and honest conduct of their operation as managers of the Theosophical business. If these same leaders were to be in a commercial business and apply these standards of conduct to their affairs they would shortly bankrupt their firms.

The dogmas held by some groups are perhaps the most maladjustive of all influences: “My group is the only one accredited to the White Lodge”; “my leader has an exclusive pipeline to the Masters”; “my group is the only one following the pure teachings.” These are examples of some of the fantasies held, and which support the basic policies of those involved. They produce segregation among Theosophists. Segregation is not Brotherhood. Now if we transfer these assumptions from the level of certainties to the level of Theory, this is in itself an act of adjustment which produces greater normalcy, greater fraternity.

Sociologists have found that if they can destroy the terminology of a maladjustment, they are better able to destroy the maladjustment itself. For example, if a person presents himself with a failure complex, a device will be used called indexing. The word failure will be dated. By this adjustment he can get the individual to realize that he may be a failure in 1957, but he is not yet a failure in 1958, nor does it mean that he was a failure in 1956.

Theosophists who experience difficulty in rejecting an old Map of, for example, the “X” Society, should use this device. Let them date this Map by adding the year, thus: The “X” Society (1957). Let them then arbitrarily reject all former maps corresponding to The “X” Society (1956 and earlier) and then really get acquainted with the “X” Society (1957) by reading [258] their standard books and by going to their meeting places and getting personally acquainted with their members. This positive action should be continued for several months. It is certain that the new map thus obtained will be closer to the reality than the old map. Not until then will he be in a position to know the actual situation existing in the other society. Was it not Abraham Lincoln who said that anyone who condemned another without having thoroughly investigated the situation was dishonest? It is believed that many of us have been guilty of this dishonesty and are accepting, on hearsay only, condemnation of other groups, based on estimates that are long out of date.

Theosophists are urged to cultivate the faculty of recognizing Maps which Misrepresent the Territory. We must check our Maps, our Assumptions, our Beliefs, regularly, to see if they are on the beam today. It may have been true in H.P.B.’s time that an archaeologist would bury a set of bones in six feet of earth if his new discovery would upset the carefully tested theories (in 1875) of the age of man, but it is very doubtful if such an attitude could be found among scholars today. It may have been true in H.P.B.’s time that if Jesus were to appear in some Fifth Avenue Church and teach the same doctrine which he taught two thousand years ago he would be treated as a charlatan; but it is not necessarily true today.

Sociologists are unanimous in stressing the need for companionship and sociability in human relationships, qualities recognized as signs of normalcy, good emotional health. Seclusive individuals are regarded as less than normal. But the Theosophical groups do not commingle. They do not attend each others’ affairs. They act as though their present disunity has a basis [259] in something which is real, which is defendable. But we cannot live in artificial separation from those people to whom by nature, by similar belief and study, by common tradition, we belong.

In this connection there is an interesting article in the July 1951 issue of The American Theosophist, entitled “Statements by Experts on Race Problems,” being extracts from the Statements by Experts on Race Problems, issued by UNESCO, Paris, July 20, 1950. From this we quote:

“Lastly, biological studies lend support to the ethic of universal brotherhood; for man is born with drives toward cooperation, and unless these drives are satisfied, men and nations alike fall ill. Man is born a social being who can reach his fullest development only through interaction with his fellows. The denial at any point of this social bond between men and man brings with it disintegration. In this sense every man is his brother’s keeper.”

It is believed that pride and egotism are involved in the unnatural, irrational lack of sociability in inter-Theosophical relations. The Master K.H. once said:

“Friends, beware of Pride and Egoism, two of the worst snares for the feet of him who aspires to climb the high paths of knowledge and Spirituality.” [1]

Some of the “carping corroding criticisms” (referred to by G. de Purucker in a plea for unity among Theosophists) made by previous generations of Theosophists, should horrify the more scientifically and cooperatively oriented people of today. But to a lesser degree they still persist and represent the echoes of the Voice of Unbrotherhood with which the Voice of Yesterday disgraced Theosophical history. And as one highly intelligent Theosophist once remarked, it is always the person least sure of his own position who is the most [260] persistent in his condemnation of his opponent’s position.

Condemnation of other Theosophists denotes pride and a belief that we are superior to the group we condemn. From this we derive a sense of separateness which our philosophy condemns. It is recommended that Theosophists cultivate greater gregariousness in their inter-group relationships.

It is a common human trait to follow a leader somewhat blindly and uncritically. When he speaks we follow. If he speaks disparagingly of other groups, we treat his utterances with greater respect than is due them, because he is our Voice. Whether or not his statements are accurate, they are treated as facts. As long as they are accepted uncritically, we are at his mercy and he can lead us away from our goal of Universal Brotherhood. Unquestioned obedience to any Voice of Authority is not in keeping with the rules of occultism, in which all the acts of the students are voluntary from beginning to end. No duress of any kind is imposed.

It is a characteristic of these Voices of Authority on Theosophical matters that they speak as though with the sanction of a Master. But it has been pointed out that Edgar Bergen ventriloquizes in this same manner through his wooden second selves, Charlie McCarthy and Mortimer Snerd. The hearer tends to believe it is hearing words of value from a Master instead of just Charlie and Mortimer. (For the benefit of readers outside the United States, this refers to a popular radio and television program which has entertained listeners for years, involving a clever and highly amusing ventriloquist.)

It is recommended that we attach only such value [261] to these utterances as a fair analysis of their content shows they deserve. Such evaluative thinking will help to uproot many of our Dogmatic Assumptions and thus enable us more easily to inter-relate ourselves with other Theosophical groups. This use of our discriminative faculties will generate more self-reliance, a quality much needed if we are to succeed in our occult studies.

In his address on “Criteria of Emotional Health” to the San Francisco Mental Health Society on June 21, 1954, William C. Menninger, well known in the field of Psychology, stated that much of the trouble in the world today is due to our ignorance of how to handle our hate drives. “It is only the emotionally mature person that can handle his hostilities in a constructive way,” he said. None of us are free of these drives, he pointed out, but we have to develop a technique which will enable us to use them for doing things that are helpful.

Bertrand Russell once said: “If an opinion contrary to your own makes you angry, that is a sign that you are subconsciously aware of having no good reason for thinking as you do.” Is it not true that we exhibit more indignation when we don’t know what we are talking about than when we do? It is a defence mechanism at work, seeking to protect us against the exposure of our ignorance or of our inherently weak stand.

Perhaps this accounts for the hostilities some of us bear towards other groups, and our condemnations of them. We want to protect a colossal error in judgment made in the past, and in which we find ourselves involved - the violation of the rationale of the Movement by dividing it and keeping it divided - so we unloose our hostilities and strike back at the other parts [262] of the Movement and denounce them. The implication of our criticism is that we are the only ones “on the right path,” the ones the Masters work through, the group which will be the chosen instrument in 1975. Stemming from this, two important questions naturally arise:

1. Is it possible that the Masters reveal themselves and their wisdom to various groups?
2. Could they possibly reveal themselves and their Wisdom to various groups having the same name (Theosophical) and discrediting each other?

To the first question we must answer YES, they will inspire and reveal their wisdom to all worthy groups who sacrifice and aspire towards spiritual unfoldment.

To the second question the answer is NO, they do not reveal their wisdom to these groups. The reason is that if they all claim that they derive their revelation from the Masters and that they alone are the channel through which the Masters communicate, then the layman will ask: “WHICH of these Societies is the one that receives such revelation? It is not up to me to find this out. Let them get together in agreement in their inter-Society problems; let them communicate with each other, fraternize, unite, merge their Societies into one, before teaching Universal Brotherhood to the public. Let them first act as brothers before going before the people with the Brotherhood message.” And who of us will say that the layman is wrong?

Now most of us have bought stocks on the market in our day, and we have doubtless found that some of them have proved to be worthless. Similarly some of our ideological stocks are equally without value, for instance some of those already mentioned in this [263] chapter, just because they are incompatible with the metaphysics of Theosophy - Brotherhood, harmony, integration of differences. So let us discard them. How can a well-integrated person allow these worthless ideological stocks to remain in his portfolio when they so patently clash with the principles which structure the Movement he loves? May it not be that some of our troubles have their roots in this clash of our fantasies with these principles? A devotion to opposing ideologies tends to pull us in two different directions, giving us a misshaped personality.

To help break down the disgraceful and unbrotherly barriers presently blocking normal communication between Theosophists of differing affiliations, the following procedures are recommended:

a. Visit the Lodges of other affiliations regularly;
b. Get acquainted personally with their members;
c. Invite the ladies and gentlemen of these groups to your own homes for social pleasure;
d. Do not invite them to your Lodge; let the desire to repay your visit spring from their heart;
e. Read and even subscribe to their monthly publications - all are full of Theosophical interest;
f. When travelling do not fail to enjoy a visit with all the Lodges in every city; this is very broadening;
g. Make a monthly checkup and revision of all your Theosophical Maps, opinions, beliefs, theories.
h. Carefully note if any Theosophist of prominence discourages any of these procedures to normalcy. If so, perhaps this discloses a weak position, or possibly it is an effort to avoid exposing a dogma.

When we close up the bonds of our compassion for other Theosophists by a refusal even to communicate [264] with them, something goes out of our own lives; we lose some of our integrity. But when we minister to the needs of other Theosophists, when we enter into brotherly communication with them as required in The Original Program of the Theosophical Society, we put ourselves in line for certain benediction, certain rewards for being gracious to our brothers and sisters in the same Movement. This benediction will pour into the matrix of our inter-Theosophical endeavors all the rich overtones of a philosophy bounteous with love and divine inspiration.

So let us reopen the frontiers between the Theosophical groups if only for the blessings which will accompany such action!


CHAPTER VII
REFERENCE NOTES

[1] The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, p.369

CHAPTER VIII
ONE WORLD THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY - PREVIOUS ATTEMPTS

“The word heaven means harmony. The word hell is from the old English hell, meaning to build a wall around, to separate;
to be helled was to be shut off from.” [1]

IT is a matter of record that the first large-scale public attempt to bring the disjecta membra of the original Theosophical Society together was made by C. de Purucker shortly after he assumed the office of leader of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) on July 11, 1929. There were other sincere but smaller efforts made. For example Mr. Pekka Ervast, a Finnish gentleman, wrote a pamphlet some years before Dr. de Purucker’s effort began, in which he called attention to some of the advantages to be gained by a reunification of the different Theosophical Societies. Then there was a pamphlet published in June 1930 by the well-known Theosophist Mr. William Kingsland, entitled “Essentials and Non-Essentials of a Theosophical Organization.” It deals with the problem in an able manner and is noteworthy as coming from a recognized student of H.P.B. Nor should one overlook the hopes of large numbers of Theosophists the world over who have always deplored the disunity for which they were not responsible. Their feelings have shown themselves in numerous conversations and writings. [266]

These hopes received their first real encouragement when C. de Purucker announced that the Masters had asked him to begin the Fraternization Movement among all Theosophists. The ultimate purpose was an eventual reunion of all Theosophical societies. [2] It has been suggested that he was motivated by a desire to strengthen the all but broken financial structure of the society he had inherited. But as one who had a personal acquaintance with him, the present writer would disagree with that view, feeling that this motive was not present to any noticeable degree at the time of launching the fraternization effort.

In his letter to his members throughout the world dated February 17, 1930, he stated that if the Theosophical Movement was to succeed and do its best work, “we must come together and work shoulder to shoulder.” He exhorted one and all to lay aside all personal opinions and society differences so that the common goal could be approached.

In his letter of September 21, 1930, C.deP., as he was called by his associates, stated that he saw a still greater goal than merely arousing a more kindly feeling among the different Theosophical Societies, “and this greater goal is the bringing to pass, in the future, of a Theosophical Society of the World ...” Spade-work would have to be done before such a vision could materialize, and he proposed “the spreading of kindly feeling, emphasis upon brotherhood, the increase of mutual understanding, and the destroying of doubt and suspicion” as some of the preliminary steps which had to be taken before the greater consummation could be achieved.

He spoke of a “Pan-Theosophical gathering” at Point Loma to take place in honor of the Centenary of H.P.B. A meeting of the heads of the various Societies [267] would be “an enormous step towards the reunification of the various Theosophical Societies composing the Theosophical Movement.”

We must now revert to C.deP.’s reference to what he terms a “Theosophical Society of the World.” In closing his letter of February 17, 1930, addressed “to the members of the T.S. throughout the world, and to members of the E.S.” we find a very important sentence:

“Our ideal will be ultimately to make our beloved T.S. the Theosophical Society of the World.”

This sentence is of great significance, for it reveals clearly that the Fraternization effort was tied to a basic idea which was completely impractical. Obviously a society with the strength deriving from 43,000 members (in 1929), and the dominant Theosophical power, could hardly be expected to cooperate in a plan to join a society which had hardly a thousand members. In A Short History of the T.S. [3] Josephine Ransom states that “in 1925 all those who belonged to various organizations which are offshoots of the Judge secession number less than 1000, not only in America but throughout the whole world.” In the issue of January 1935 the magazine Theosophy stated that between 1896 and 1908 the membership of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) shrank eighty percent. Thus there must have been present in C.deP.’s mind an assumption that his society was of greater quality and that this made up for its lack of quantity. No one could have anything but praise for a plan to reunite all the societies; but if his bid was interpreted as an effort to induce members of other groups to join his tiny society, what sort of success could be expected for it? One must bear this in mind when following the [268] narrative because it throws light on its final lack of success.

In a letter of April 20, 1930, addressed to his members C.deP. stated that he was “deeply touched and gratified” at the measure of success which his appeal for union and brotherhood had received, but it had not been as great as he had hoped for. “The time will come,” he said, when the members of other societies would realize that he was “absolutely sincere” in his appeal to them “to unite with us under one common Theosophical banner” in order that all together might work toward one goal. “To you ... my Brothers of other Theosophical Societies,” his appeal continued, “do I now issue the same urgent appeal for union, for cooperation, for harmony ... in order that the Theosophical Movement as such may do the work in the world which it was organized rightfully to do.” He hoped to bring about soon “the reunion of all ... into one common Theosophical Brotherhood, under one Head whom all can trust and to whom they all can safely give the devotion of their hearts and the allegiance of their minds.”

The idea of reunion was electric in its effect on members throughout the world. It raised their hopes to a high point - for here was a sincere appeal, made by the group which first schismed off from the Parent Society, to reunite as in the days of H.P.B. A great deal of hard work was put into this effort by members of both the T.S. (Adyar) and the T.S. (Point Loma), and these efforts extended even beyond the time when success for the particular project was possible. The United Lodge of Theosophists made no effort to further the movement, though scattered individual members heard about it and did their share. Among the prominent [269] members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) who gave it enthusiastic support were Mr. and Mrs. Henry Hotchener. Mrs. Hotchener had undertaken the publication in California of the magazine The Theosophist, founded in India in 1879 by H.P.B. and Colonel Olcott. In the first issue of July, 1930 in an article entitled “Theosophical World Peace,” she decried past differences and stated that many Theosophists were wondering why, in the face of a world-wide trend towards understanding and unity, the Theosophists “should not have felt and responded first to the same tendency.” She spoke of “a new phase of Theosophical brotherhood and understanding” which seemed opening up as a result of C.deP.’s new policy. She quoted from his letter of February 17, 1930:

“I call upon you all to realize the imperative need of union as contrasted with disunion, of Theosophical good fellowship and good feeling as contrasted with differing and, alas, sometimes antagonistic, personal views and opinions.”

As if to counter some of the bitter denunciations made in the past by his group, under a previous regime, he pointed out that:

“In no case would we be manifesting the true spirit of Charity and Fidelity to our Masters’ admonitions were we to call a Brother-Theosophist by names suggesting ignominy, such as ‘traitor,’ ‘impostor,’ ‘insincere,’ etc. Outside of anything else, all this is very bad psychology, if not worse; and it certainly is not the way by which to reform any abuses that may have crept into the Theosophical Movement.” [4]

This was a dramatic change of policy from the previous administration and called forth a number of favorable responses, among them a spontaneous letter from L.W. Rogers, President of the American Section of the T.S. (Adyar), dated March 18, 1930, which reads: [270]

“Dear Dr. de Purucker:
“I have recently heard from some of our local Lodges that members of your local Lodges have made friendly calls, and I hail this as evidence of a new era of good will and harmony among all Theosophists. I have always deeply regretted the unfortunate impression made upon the public when Theosophists assume an unfriendly attitude toward each other, and I have never been able to understand why the half dozen different Theosophical Societies which exist in the United States should not live at least as harmoniously in the same country as the various orthodox denominations. So long as the present administration of this particular organization lasts, no expression of animosity or censorious criticism will issue from it.
“With heartiest congratulations upon your accession to a position so important and responsible in the Theosophical world, and with all good wishes, I am,
“Yours most cordially, (Sgd.) L.W. ROGERS, Pres., American Section, T.S.”

To this Dr. de Purucker replied in part:

“Dear Mr. Rogers - and My Brother:
“This evening’s mail brought to me your most fraternal, kindly, and wise letter of March 18, 1930. I have taken due note of your thoughtful and generous spirit, and in the name of our common Brotherhood and for fraternal minds everywhere, I thank you for so sincerely accepting my outstretched hand of good fellowship ...
“It is deeply to be deplored that misunderstanding and human weaknesses have so long kept asunder spiritual forces which in all right and justice should be united in our work for our sublime cause.
“I ask you kindly to read into these my words more than the conventional formalities of correspondence by letter enable me to express. I shall esteem it both a pleasure and a privilege to hear from you again whenever you may choose to write to me.”

As a result of this entente cordiale a number of positive results occurred: Conferences were held between the officers of the Boston lodges of the Adyar and Point Loma societies, resulting in unanimous approval of arrangements for a joint White Lotus Day celebration. A similar arrangement was made in [271] New York and other large centers. In Los Angeles a large number of members of the Theosophical Society (Adyar) motored down to Point Loma, a distance of 125 miles, on May 4, 1930 in order to attend a lecture by Dr. de Purucker. Questions were asked: How far would the movement be carried? Would it result in the fusion of all Theosophical societies into one large society?

Mrs. Hotchener’s narrative continued by pointing out to her readers that G.deP. had requested her to bear the greetings of his society to Dr. Besant and the delegates of the Federation of the European Sections of her society who planned to meet in Convention at Geneva in June 1930. She gladly agreed to this “in the hope that it might further this great ideal of peace, cooperation, and understanding among all Theosophists throughout the world.” She said that the new approach gave her “the profound hope” that separative criticism would in future be avoided while cooperation in all ways that are practical would prevail.

J.H. Fussell, Secretary-General of the T.S. (Point Loma) had in the meantime sent Mrs. Hotchener an announcement, which she printed in the article being reviewed, asking her “to extend this invitation to Adyar, to the Geneva Federation, and to all Theosophists I meet, and I am gladly doing so.” It reads:

“At the Temple service at Point Loma yesterday afternoon Dr. G. de Purucker announced that he proposed to commemorate the centennial of the birthday of H.P. Blavatsky, next year (1931), by calling a World Convention of Theosophists to meet at Point Loma and extending an invitation to all the Theosophical Societies of the world to meet on common Theosophical grounds of brotherhood in an attempt to see if they cannot arrive at an understanding and work together. He said: [272]
“I have not yet decided on the psychological moment when to send out the official invitation. H.P. Blavatsky was born in Russia on July 31, according to the old style of the Julian calendar. Therefore the celebration of her birthday should be held on August 11th (N.S.). And I am thinking of this date for the opening of our Convention of all Theosophists at Point Loma’.”

Mrs. Hotchener then pointed to the joint celebration of White Lotus Day as “a delightfully friendly gathering.” Invitations were extended for a similar affair the following year.

Early in June 1930, while enroute to the European Convention, Mrs. Hotchener addressed a meeting of the New York Federation of Lodges, saying that she felt that “the time had come for a greater spirit of cooperation and for the end of the unfortunate era of separation amongst Theosophists which have prevented their coming together in a World Peace of Theosophists.”

In the August 1930 issue of The Theosophist appeared an article entitled “An Important Event at the Geneva Congress.” Herein Mrs. Hotchener states that Dr. de Purucker had sent his representative Professor Lars Eek to Geneva to meet her and he hoped that she could arrange an interview with Dr. Besant and obtain for him an invitation to the Congress. On hearing of this during the Congress, Dr. Besant “arose, invited Professor Eek to the platform, and then said to the hundreds of assembled delegates:

“‘I am sure that you will be as glad as I am to know that we have with us the representative of the Point Loma T.S., and that I have a most friendly letter of greeting from Dr. de Purucker, the present head of the T.S. there. I think we both hope so to work that eventually there will be really only one T.S. in the world’.” [273]

Mrs. Hotchener then addressed the meeting and delivered the greetings with which she had been entrusted from Dr. de Purucker and the T.S. (Point Loma). Dr. Besant then asked Professor Eek to speak. He said:

“Dr. Besant and comrades in our Theosophical work: It is a wonderful privilege to me to stand here tonight as the representative of the T.S. at Point Loma and to be here in the presence of your illustrious and lovable leader, Dr. Annie Besant; and I wish to assure you, each and everyone present, that our hand is stretched out to you and to your President and Society, as a hand of brotherly love, fellowship, and understanding.
“... We hope, we feel certain, that in time all of us may visit each other just as if we belonged to one great Society, one great Movement, and we all feel that the spirit of love and fraternity which has gone out from your Society will unite with that which is going out from ours, and make one great splendid Brotherhood working for, striving for, fighting for love amongst human beings - amongst all humanity ...
“These are the hopes of our Leader, Dr. de Purucker. We hope that you can accept his invitation to a World Conference of Theosophists of all Societies to meet at Point Loma, California, on August 11th of next year, which is the centennial of the birth of our great Leader, H.P. Blavatsky. We hope it will be possible for your beloved President, Dr. Besant, Bishop Leadbeater, and the heads of all your National Societies to be personally present, as well as other members from all over the world ...
“With these words I have tried to express what is in Dr. de Purucker’s heart and my own. Let me thank you again for so kindly receiving me, and for all the splendid work your Society and all its members have done and are doing for humanity in our great Theosophical Cause.”

In response, Dr. Besant said:

“May I add, as President of what I will call, for simple distinguishment where there is none, the Theosophical Society whose headquarters are at Adyar, that I heartily reciprocate the kind sentiments that have been expressed by the personal representative of the Leader of the Point Loma Society. [274]
“There is no reason why we should not link hands, no reason why we should talk of Universal Brotherhood and then say, in brackets, except the other Theosophical Societies. If Theosophy is to remain the truth, that is a denial of Brotherhood.
“Therefore I am very, very glad to meet on this platform the representative from Point Loma, and I reciprocate heartily the words of desire for friendship among the Societies which have been written and spoken by the Head there.
“Our headquarters at Adyar will, I am sure, heartily endorse my words, and I would ask the representative from Point Loma to take back my greetings in the name of the Theosophical Society here, so that we may join into a single band working along the many different lines that are wanted in the world’s helping, but working in unity as a living example of how brothers can work.”

Later, and after a further conference with Professor Eek, Dr. Besant sent the following cablegram to Dr. de Purucker at Point Loma:

“Geneva, June 28, 1930
“G. de Purucker,
Point Loma, California
“The Federation of National Theosophical Societies in Europe convening in Geneva and I myself personally have heartily welcomed Professor Eek bearing your message of goodwill and cooperation amongst all Theosophical Societies and we cordially reciprocate those sentiments. I shall gladly cooperate in the plan to issue a Centennial Edition of the complete works of Madame Blavatsky. I also accept personally as does my Brother Bishop Leadbeater the invitation to be present at Point Loma on August eleventh next year to celebrate the centennial of the birth of our great Teacher Madame Blavatsky.
ANNIE BESANT”

On the following day Dr. Besant read to the delegates a letter she had received from Dr. de Purucker in which he appealed for her cooperation in the plan for greater unity among all Theosophical Societies and which concluded with these words:

“I appeal to all Theosophists to form again one Theosophical Society as it was in the days of H.P.B.” [275]

Dr. Besant had previously stated her full agreement with Dr. de Purucker’s proposal and she added that she knew it had the approval of the Chohan. [5] The (The “Chohan” is one of the heads of the hierarchy of Masters). In commenting on Dr. de Purucker’s letter she said there were no insuperable difficulties in the way of joining hands in making a single brotherhood “if we all put out of our hearts any memory of the past which is not friendly.” She pointed out that the Point Loma group had taken a fine initiative by burning all controversial pamphlets which it had published some years previously. She felt the Centennial Edition of the writings of H.P.B. was a fitting memorial and beneficial to the Society “of which she was the Great Teacher.” She added:

“We cannot exaggerate the debt that we owe H.P.B. She brought us the Light ... and we can best carry on her work by remembering the gratitude that we owe her ...”

As evidence of the seriousness with which Dr. de Purucker’s proposals were greeted, some informal conversations took place between four officials of the European Federation Council and Professor Eek, and a meeting was held on June 28, 1930, out of which evolved the following “Memorandum of Proposed Cooperation between all Theosophical Societies in the World”:

“1. That Theosophy - not depending on personal views, however revered - should never be restricted to personal opinions, but that the greatest liberty of expression and freedom in the Search for Truth be encouraged as the basis of mutual cooperation.
“2. That a list be made of all known Theosophical Societies and bodies having similar objects and ideals. (Steps to this end have already been taken and additional ones known should be sent to Mr. Peter Freeman, Member of Parliament, House of Commons, London). [276]
“3. That a Meeting be held at an early date, at the most convenient place and time, of three official representatives of all known Theosophical Societies for the mutual exchange of opinions with the purpose of fraternal cooperation. (May 1931 was proposed by Professor Eek, and the following towns are suggested as possible places of meeting: Geneva, Paris, London, Berlin. It was suggested that Dr. Besant, as representing the largest number of Theosophical members, be invited to act as Convener; and on being consulted, Dr. Besant agreed to act if invited, but intimated that she should in no way object to Dr. de Purucker or other individual taking the initiative of summoning this preliminary meeting.)
“4. That a joint public pronouncement be made on this matter as soon as possible afterwards, on any agreement reached.
“5. That all Theosophical Societies be invited forthwith to encourage fraternal delegates to be present and to convey greetings to and from their respective Societies at all Lodge, Branch, Federation, National and International Conventions and Congresses wherever suitable.
“6. Wherever practicable, joint celebrations be organized for such purposes as ‘White Lotus Day,’ on which occasion Theosophical Workers who have ‘passed into greater Light’ are kept in memory.
“7. That Dr. Besant’s message of welcome, Professor Eek’s reply to greetings given to the European Federation, together with a copy of Dr. Besant’s telegram to Dr. de Purucker at Point Loma, be printed and forwarded forthwith, together with this Memorandum, to all known Theosophical Societies.
“Signed as an agreed Statement:
“For the Theosophical Society, Point Loma, U.S.A.: LARS EEK
“For the Theosophical Society, Adyar, Madras, India: PETER FREEMAN.”

The Honorable Peter Freeman later reported that he had already found that there are twenty-two independent Theosophical Societies in the world. This was unexpected “and caused feelings of shame and regret,” according to the Editor of The Theosophist. “No wonder,” she said, “Theosophy has suffered so many hindrances, especially from the world’s point of view, with twenty-two Societies divided against themselves!” But she stated it as her personal opinion “that Dr. de [277] Purucker ... is now being used as an instrument” of the White Lodge in promoting Theosophical unity. It may take time to bring about, “but it is to be” and “its fulfillment is sure” because of the spontaneous way in which Dr. Besant had pledged her complete agreement.

*  *  *

Up to this juncture everything had gone smoothly. Hopes were high, and events moved swiftly towards a tangible expression of concord. An informal Memorandum of Cooperation had been quickly drawn up and agreed to. It was so general and broad that there could be nothing in it to which a reasonable person could object. Professor Eek had accomplished his agreeable mission admirably well.

But it was not to be. In the August 15, 1930, issue of The Theosophical Forum the Plan, so admirably conceived by G.deP., so excellently carried out to this point, received a stunning blow - and in the light of subsequent events it must be characterized as a death blow - through the publication of an article by Dr. de Purucker giving his ideas for cooperation among Theosophical Societies and his plans for the celebration at Point Loma of the centenary of H.P.B.’s birth. Referring to this article, the Co-Editor wrote in the October 1, 1930 issue of The Theosophist:

“His statements seemed so different from the one herein quoted, which urges that all past differences be laid aside and forgotten and appeals to Theosophists everywhere to cooperate with him in helping to bring unity where there is now separation. What he said in this later article voiced objections to the ‘Memorandum’ drawn up at the Geneva Congress (Italics added) and signed by Professor Eek and the Hon. Peter Freeman. And there were other criticisms in the same ‘Forum’ [278] that reflected directly and indirectly upon Dr. Besant and Bishop Leadbeater; our members are much disturbed about them.”

One disinterested author describes this article as “an astonishing rebuff to the Adyar leader.” The article reads in part:

“I will have naught to do with bringing down spiritual truths and efforts in order to subject them to the brain-mind sanctions of merely parliamentary proceedings. Our Theosophical Work reposes on the Laws of the Universe, and if the appeal that has been made, going out from Point Loma, cannot reach sympathetic human hearts and minds without having to pass through the distorting prisms of brain-mind preconceptions and prejudices, then we shall continue on our sublime way alone.” [6]

This was an unfriendly rejoinder to the natural flow of events which produced the “Memorandum of Cooperation” signed by duly accredited representatives of both Societies and can only be regarded as a colossal blunder on Dr. de Purucker’s part. From that time forward favorable action on the official level of both societies was stymied. The rank and file continued their admirable efforts towards Fraternization for years, though the results were meagre because it needs official sanction to produce effective action of this type, and this was lacking.

One can only speculate how such a sad psychological error could have been committed. Was it a regression into a mode of conduct so familiar to the old administration at Point Loma? Was G.deP. taken aback at the prompt implementation of his proposals by Adyar which took the form of the Memorandum signed by his representative? Why did he not stand back of and approve the broad action taken by his own agent? This must have been seriously embarrassing to Professor [279] Eek. Why were the articles in this Memorandum unacceptable? They were apparently in keeping with C.deP.’s proposals? Was it because his way, the Point Loma way, was to decide ex cathedra what was to be done? Was his objection to normal parliamentary procedures sound? And if so, why? The reaction of each society to the first tangible expression of the new era of cooperation, it is interesting to note, was exactly according to the Governing Rules or Constitution of each - in the case of the Adyar Society the democratic choice was made; while in the case of the Point Loma Society the response was an authoritarian rebuff to the usual democratic process.

This rebuff was the core of the failure of this effort to reunite these Theosophical societies. So it deserves some study that we may avoid its repetition. It came from one who was primarily a scholar. His life had been spent with his books, in a twenty-five year isolation from all people at Point Loma and elsewhere which was so complete that he used to ask some of us who occasionally assisted him if the students did not think he was really queer, inasmuch as he never associated with nor even spoke to any of them. Under this curtain of solitary confinement he may have found it difficult to drop the idea that his group was the only group accredited to the Masters. The few who surrounded him likewise held this view. From this situation - one which was devoid of realism - his action was understandable if undefendable. It derived from a life spent in an authoritarian atmosphere. The Maps of Bishop Leadbeater, created by his assistant J.H. Fussell, were not easily discarded. The very mention of the name in the cable sent him by Dr. Besant, probably produced immediate unfavorable reactions. He [280] objected to parliamentary procedures - an unreal and fatuous objection to what everyone takes for granted. But this was the confused outer shell of C.deP. talking. It had been created by years of unquestioned obedience to his Voice of Authority. Did he expect Dr. Besant to capitulate on his terms? An inquiry developed the fact that only one of his advisors asked him to refrain from this action, telling him that it would kill all chance of success. This lack of realism, however, was to be expected from people who had themselves spent long years in isolation, out of touch with realities.

As to those who were to be invited to the Point Loma Congress C.deP. had this to say:

“Nobody will be invited ... who is not a Theosophist ... It is not a congress for Christians, nor for Buddhists, nor for Brahmanists, nor for ‘Liberal Catholics’ so called, nor for Krishnamurti-ites, nor for Christian Scientists, nor for atheists, nor for Free-Thinkers, nor for anyone else except Theosophists.” [7]

His pattern for union could be vaguely discerned from the following:

“I am looking forward to a super-society without officers, except one - a society held together by bonds of love, understanding, brotherhood, and ethical principles; that one official to have no power to meddle in the internal affairs of any of the societies composing this Spiritual Brotherhood; but he will stand as a Teacher and Leader by the right of training and by the right of having gained the love and confidence of the component elements who and which have conjoined to form this Spiritual Brotherhood.” [8]

A “super-society without officers except one!” and “held together by bonds of love!” - Could anything be more artless and unsophisticated? Here was a notable Theosophical scholar who was patently out of his element. He needed help badly, but none was at hand. All the members at Point Loma shared his [281] unrealism and fantasies, to the extent that they accepted uncritically everything which he did and said, and held as a Basic Assumption that their group was the only society accredited to the White Lodge and therefore was superior to the others.

The Theosophical Society (Adyar) had accepted his proffered hand of friendship unreservedly. When the blow of his statement of rebuff fell, they moved equally, in official quarters, in the opposite direction and thenceforth ignored him and his plan. The wisdom of the policy may be questioned. Had an official of the Adyar Society undertaken to talk the matter over with G.deP. with much patience and understanding some solid gains might have resulted tending in the direction of the original plan. G.deP. was a reasonable and splendid fellow. It was the outer mask only which was sometimes difficult to understand. It had been fashioned in the anvil of authoritarian ways for so long that correspondingly automatic and unusual actions should have been expected from it. But the splendid core of gentleman and scholar that we all knew was there all the time, was scarcely hidden. It could have been reached. It was worth the try. But none was made.

Months went by without word from Dr. Besant. This silence was ominous in view of her previous whole-hearted cooperation. Finally J.H. Fussell, Secretary-General of the Theosophical Society (Point Loma) forced the issue by writing to Bishop Leadbeater on November 29, 1930, as follows:

“... we understand that you will be attending the said Congress as one of the duly accredited delegates of your Society.
“Will you kindly acknowledge receipt of this and signify your intention of accepting or otherwise.” [282]

With a finality of tone that put an end to further hopes of sanction for reunification, Dr. Besant published the following in January 1931:

“I have decided to celebrate H.P.B.’s Centenary at Adyar on August 11, 1931. Adyar was chosen by the Hierarchy as the Centre for the Movement inaugurated in the last quarter of the Nineteenth Century ...
“P.S. - Last July, in Geneva, I accepted the invitation of Dr. de Purucker of Point Loma to attend the celebration which he was organizing. But as he has pointed out that my acceptance of his invitation was too precipitate, and as I think that his criticism was just, this change of plan and the decision ... should suit him.” [9]

Marie R. Hotchener, Co-Editor of The Theosophist, wishing to know more about the reasons underlying Dr. de Purucker’s article which had so disturbed the members of her society, accepted an invitation from Point Loma to discuss the matter. During the conversation G.deP. summarized his most important objections as follows:

“1. He did not approve of arranging for a meeting in May 1931, somewhere in Europe, of three representatives from all known Theosophical Societies for the mutual exchange of opinions with the purpose of fraternal cooperation, as suggested in the ‘Memorandum.’ He did not desire his hopes for cooperation brought into a council-chamber and debated upon, however well-meant such procedure might be. ‘No spiritual reality has ever been determined or decided in mere parliaments,’ etc., are his feelings about such councils.
“2. He said that he did not desire thousands to attend the Centenary Celebration at Point Loma in 1931, but if they came, well and good, and the hand of brotherly love and friendship would be extended to all. But what he really desired was that Heads of Societies and representatives be invited by him officially and attend as such.
“3. The World-Convention of Theosophists that he is calling at Point Loma ‘is to be a Convention of Theosophists, and of Theosophists alone’: the reason being that he desires to concentrate on Theosophic purposes and work only. He considers that the Krishnamurti movement, Liberal Catholicism, [283] Rosicrucianism, and other such movements are foreign to Theosophy. Members who attend must come as ‘Theosophists,’ and not because they happen to be members of other organizations. He says that Dr. Besant may not have understood this because she included Bishop Leadbeater in her telegram when accepting his invitation to attend the 1931 Celebration; that if he comes he would be made welcome, but it must be as a duly accredited delegate of some Section or Lodge.”

He made it plain that the Point Loma Society preferred “unadulterated Theosophy” and he wanted all other Theosophists to realize that this was the purpose of his Society.

Perhaps the least valid of G.deP.’s objections was his dislike of the democratic process. His rejection of it was tantamount to a repudiation of the processes in civilization which have done the most to advance progress. Only a devotee of the authoritarian approach could find anything to favor in this unreasonable attitude. Is it possible that he was afraid of sudden exposure to the opinions and views of others, equally devoted to Theosophical principles? It would seem that his rejection of others’ views through the parliamentary process was either due to ignorance of this process or to an intellectual arrogance which could not admit value in listening to others. His reaction was dislike, fear of the unfamiliar. In the clash of the two ideologies, the free and the authoritarian, his choice was an automatic response, inevitable because his previous life had been fashioned to make such responses. A little more patience and astuteness in understanding the reasons for his reactions might have resulted ultimately in working out a satisfactory solution, for G.deP. was one of the most excellent of men and we should only condemn the fatal action he took, and not the man himself. Some blame for the collapse [284] of his admirable scheme should be attached to those who did not appreciate the situation for what it was - a serious mistake made by a good man who thought he was acting in the best interests of the Movement, but who was caught up in the particular fantasies to which his group was attached. For we insist that reasonable men can resolve their problems if they will sit down and talk out their differences with an attitude of tolerance and a desire for a solution. The time element involved also can be shortened if knowledge is used which has been made available through the studies of the general semanticist, the sociologist, and the psychologist.

I was discussing this situation with a well-known attorney in San Francisco some months ago. His thoughts were apt and cogent. All authoritarian movements, he said, attempt to obtain unity by conformity. Among these can be mentioned many of the more dogmatic religions, as well as movements of a political character such as fascism and its equivalent, under whatever name. But in an expanding and evolving world we achieve a continuing unity through diversity; and people of differing viewpoints should have the humility, the courage, and the broad-minded consideration for viewpoints other than their own, to welcome frank and open discussion of differing attitudes, giving their opponents the courteous hearing which they would like for themselves. The truth will come out of the beating it takes on the anvil of discussion. And it is quite likely to show up midway between the two extremes.

As to G.deP.’s second objection, the accommodations at Point Loma were quite limited, and his fear of an influx of thousands of delegates was understandable. [285] Point Loma had become widely known as a place of beauty and it was conceivable that many more delegates would have wanted to register than it was possible to accommodate.

The third objection overshadows the others, for it is here wherein lay some solid differences. G.deP. wanted to restrict all activity to purely questions of Theosophy “in the H.P.B. tradition.” This, many now claim, represents an orthodoxy in Theosophy, and it follows that it is restrictive in character. In an expanding and dynamic world, and in a society as broadly based as the Theosophical Society, this restriction can not well be justified. All young scholarly movements must expand, must welcome new ideas, give them a hearing; must be ready to tryout new theories, hypotheses, methods, techniques. The Theosophists should not feel that because they receive a few revelatory doctrines from the Masters through H.P.B., that thereby they had attained the heights of knowledge. There are yet vast areas to be explored. Progress for the Theosophical Movement has only just begun, unless we limit it by authoritarian dogmatism within our ranks.

We are not to infer from this that everything new is to be accepted uncritically, or that it constitutes revelation or wisdom. No; it must be subjected to proper questioning on the anvil of discussion.

It must again be stressed that The Theosophical Society must stand on its Objects. There is no requirement in any of these objects in any of the groups, that we must teach Theosophy. Obviously its study will help us to attain those objects, and the closer we adhere to wisdom in our studies, the less likely we are to get “off the beam.”

We feel it was unfortunate that G.deP. made this [286] objection and that it was laid down as a proposition which was not to be optional with the delegate. Would assent not have been easier to achieve if the idea had been put forward as a desirable aim? As proposed, it tended to solidify and congeal differences rather than to liquidate them. It set in motion opposing energies again. For there are great pent-up energies latent in the Theosophical Movement, but at present the force of this potential is dissipated because the pulls which each group makes in different directions tend to cancel out the good which each group separately does. How long will the average Theosophist tolerate this grave loss of the Movement’s power? The thought of differences made whole, which should be basic in Theosophical activity, was never better expressed than by the learned Chinese scholar Hiouen Thsang when he said:

“The schools of philosophy are always in conflict, and the noise of their passionate discussions rises like the waves of the sea. Heretics of the different sects attach themselves to particular teachers, and by different routes walk to the same goal.”

But despite these setbacks, efforts to carry out the program of Fraternization continued. On June 24, 1931, we find Dr. de Purucker addressing an H.P.B. Centennial Conference at London at which were present representatives of several Theosophical groups. He said:

“It has been a shameful thing that in the past any inter-Theosophical misunderstandings and disagreements should have arisen which in some instances have taken the form of aggressively unfriendly action.” [10]

Theosophists had established a precedent, he thought, “of momentous historical importance,” and he was happy it had come about. “I foresee,” he said: [287]

“in the future a reunification of the various Theosophical Societies into one Universal Brotherhood, more or less precisely as it was in H.P.B.’s own time.” [11]

He wanted all to reunite, he said, “with her (H.P.B.’s) teachings as the foundation of its life and its activity.” (Op.Cit.p.27). This shows he wanted other groups to move away from later expositions of Theosophy. But in a speech in London on October 16, 1932, he said:

“The platform of the Theosophical Society is wide enough to accommodate all kinds and shades and varieties of human opinion. There is but one prerequisite to Fellowship - the acceptance of the fact of Universal Brotherhood; and I challenge anyone, if he wishes to do right as a Theosophist, to restrict this platform to any smaller compass than that.” [12]

This is incompatible with his wish to restrict activity to the “H.P.B. tradition.” Why then, one might ask, did C.deP. attempt to impose his own smaller compass, consisting solely of the teachings of H.P.B., when even H.P.B. herself did not make such a restriction? Why did he not realize that this would condemn his entire effort in advance, since he knew that the largest majority, equally devoted to the Objects of the Society as he was, were more or less in favor of no restrictions? Obviously he was unable to move outside the radius of his own restrictions. One of the latter was the authoritarian Constitution under which his Society operated. He actually stated that this instrument, with its provisions for ‘successors’ and ‘leaders,’ and which virtually amounts to an ecclesiastical dictatorship or theocracy, would be the best instrument for the proposed World Theosophical Society. “Our own Constitution,” he declared

“is so broad in its foundations and in spirit so esoteric, as well as being so generous in its provisions for achieving what I have in mind, that I do believe that it is a model instrument [288] under which every devoted believer in Theosophical teachings can work, no matter to what particular Theosophical Society he may belong.” [13]

*  *  *

Criticism of the fraternization effort increased as time went on, for we find C.deP. writing to the European Convention in London, England on August 2 and 3, 1936, deploring the fact that efforts had been made “to cast slurs upon it.” It was not begun, he protested, for the purpose of stealing members from other societies, nor in the hope that “Point Loma would sit astride the Theosophical pyramid, with its Leader topping all!” In reflecting upon the effect of the Fraternization Movement he had envisaged a time in the future when various of the Theosophical Societies would agree to unite into one group, but he did not intend to lay down a program wherein the leader of the Point Loma group would be “the official chief of such possible union of different Theosophical bodies.” But he added: “In fact it would be fine if it were so, and I do not mind saying so, nor do I hesitate in so stating, so greatly am I convinced of the justice of our Cause ... and of the further fact that we are so completely faithful to the original tradition of the Masters and of H.P.B ...”

The idea of uniting all Theosophical Societies was excellent. No one could argue against it. But it is clear that while C.deP. hoped for a merger of all Societies, he thought it would be best for his group to lead by means of the simple expedient of having the World T.S. adopt the Point Loma Constitution and in addition having its Leader named the official chief of the unified group. It seems clear, too, that he was completely sincere in this belief that such an eventuality [289] would be best for the Theosophical Cause simply because his group was considered by him to follow most faithfully the H.P.B. tradition. He felt, in other words, that the Point Loma T.S. was better qualified to head up the unified societies. His sincerity was attested to by the fact that he did not expect to see such a united group in his lifetime and so could not have had any personal ambitions to lead such a group. He was, then, solely interested to see that such a united group had the best available leadership.

Obviously G.deP.’s “One World Theosophical Society” would have succeeded if he had been agreeable to merge his very much smaller group into that of the Parent body, provided of course, that other smaller societies would follow suit. His real worth as a scholar would undoubtedly have been recognized in providing him a suitable post in the World Society. G.deP. was greatly admired by his followers (among whom is the writer), and there can be no doubt that they would have followed him into the Parent Society if he expressed such a wish. It is even conceivable that his superior vision and services would have received recognition to a point where he would have had enormous influence - working cooperatively within the Theosophical Society (Adyar) - in achieving notable return to the “Blavatsky tradition” which he so emulated. This World Society would in fact have been compelled to listen to his pleas in this regard after he became associated with them because the Theosophical Society (Adyar) operates under a democratic set of Rules and By-Laws and the opinion of each member must be heard. Furthermore, his would have been the distinction of having achieved a desire of H.P.B.’s and of having corrected a serious error in the Movement. Besides, [290] his noble example would unquestionably have led other groups to take the same course.

As it was he failed. Thus was lost a wonderful opportunity to reunite the Theosophists some twenty-five years ago. The Causes of Failure were without doubt the Basic Assumptions in the promoter’s mind:

a. That the Point Loma group was superior to the other groups, because it had adhered more closely than the other groups to the original program of the Masters
b. That it would be a good thing if the Point Loma Society were to be the Theosophical Society of the world, in the future amalgamation
c. That the authoritarian Constitution of the Point Loma Society was a model instrument under which the reunited Societies could work
d. Belief that the Point Loma T.S. was the exclusive representative of the White Lodge.

It is also due to the allegiance required of the Esoteric Section member that we can attribute some of the program’s failure. The allegiance exacted was ironclad, as evidenced by his letter of February 17, 1930, in which G.deP. wrote, while speaking of his Esoteric School:

“From immemorial time it has been a standing rule ... that no student in this School of occult and mystical teaching and training, could belong to any other body or school ... professing to teach ... occult, esoteric, or mystical subjects.”

The reader is urged to contrast these words with those of King David, a Holy Man of Antiquity who is looked upon with great reverence as an Initiate of high degree:

“From all my teachers I have gained wisdom.” [291]

It should be noted that the rule forbidding the student to attend other esoteric schools, is to be found in the rules of some of the other esoteric schools affiliated with other Theosophical Societies. This makes each school mutually exclusive. This rule was all right in H.P.B.’s day when there was only one such school, but when two or more exist it results in the claim being made that it is only one particular school which is accredited to the White Lodge. Inherent in such a prohibition is a potential belittlement of other esoteric schools. This is a fertile cause of disunity. There is no evidence that there cannot be many such schools, all of them advancing ideals and wisdom to the extent of their capacity, and thus contributing to Theosophical progress. By associating himself with anyone of these schools the student can derive benefit, unless he is also exposed to dogmatic beliefs which make him exclusive, unwilling to communicate with a brother Theosophist in other groups, whether esoteric or exoteric.

Some who are not members of any of these schools, and yet whose Theosophical excellence is universally recognized, have stated that there is a tendency on the part of some members of the schools to become distant and cold with non-members. This is regrettable indeed, if true, but is the fault of the student and not the school, for the latter teach that pride in all its forms is a serious enemy to true progress. It must be remembered that Col. Olcott was not a member of this school, but yet he had been a pupil of the Masters for many years. How do we know that others, likewise not members of an esoteric school, may not be in the same position? Pride appears in many subtle forms, even under the guise of humility. “How much [292] pride you expose to view, Diogenes, in seeming not to be proud!” said Plato once. The true Theosophist is disposed to consider aristocracy of character as his touchstone of worthwhileness, not membership in this or that group. Mankind is evolving to a point where there is a much broader acceptance of spiritual ideas than ever before. This tends to make the esoteric exoteric. Why do we have esotericism if not to protect an idea which would be crushed? But if mankind has made progress, it is fit to receive in exoteric circles what was formerly of necessity esoteric.

As a cautionary thought it is well to point out that merely because H.P.B. stated that she was the Outer Head and the ‘channel’ to and from the White Lodge, it does not necessarily follow that this channel will be left open indefinitely in the same manner in which it was left open through her. The Theosophical Movement (1891) is not the same as The Theosophical Movement (1957). It is at least a possibility that the channel may not have been used since H.P.B.’ s death, at least in the same manner as it was used when she was with us. Such an abundance of teaching was made available by her that possibly there is no necessity, at the moment, for further use of the channel above referred to. The existence of an “O.H.” in 1891 is no guarantee that the same exists in 1957.

Finally, we ask, was the Fraternization effort a complete failure? We would not say so. While the main objective was sadly missed some other gains were realized. Perhaps these could be best summarized by quoting from a letter written by one who was a participant during the entire period from 1929-1945. W.E. Small, one of the editors of The Theosophical Forum during that period, wrote: [293]

“It is of definite record that during this time members of the Point Loma T.S. did not speak unkindly or unjustly of other Theosophical groups or individuals; but every effort was made to heal old wounds, to stress the good Theosophical work accomplished by others, to cement individual bonds of understanding and friendship between members of various societies - in short, to work towards an eventual union. The atmosphere of fraternization was sustained and encouraged all through the years just mentioned.”

Thus the abrasive relations which existed during the previous administration were altogether repudiated. The idea of inter-relatedness was fashioned into an acceptable one, by the sustained efforts which are referred to in the above letter. And though this fraternal attitude was later repudiated by administrations of the Point Loma Society after 1946, it has become more and more characteristic of an increasing number of individuals in all Theosophical Societies who with frankness and vision face the realities of the day.

*  *  *

Due acknowledgment is here given to the good work done in the thirties by many devoted members in achieving the measure of success which has been indicated herein towards Theosophical inter-relatedness. The present goal is more all-embracing. It seeks to reunite in One World Theosophical Society every existing group which took fire from the writings of the Masters through H.P. Blavatsky, whose Objects are those of the present Theosophical Societies, and who agree to observe the spirit, if not the letter, of “The Original Program of the Theosophical Society” written by H.P. Blavatsky.

Basic Assumptions which support the present effort are: [294]

a. All Theosophical societies have contributed in some measure to the total progress which has resulted from the Theosophical Movement, though all have made their share of mistakes
b. No group has a right to claim that its contribution to the Theosophical Cause is greater than the contributions of any other group
c. It is not essential that all groups agree precisely on teachings
d. The best instrument for the reunited body to operate under is one comprising the democratic process, not the authoritarian
e. The Masters do not work exclusively through any particular group.

We want to present to the White Lodge an earnest of our sincerity in joining the Society which they began. We can best do this by uniting, despite our diversity of views, and by being tolerant of our neighbor’s views as to what Theosophy is and what it is not - or his creed, no matter what it is. In so doing we will again merit their attention. Our needs are many, and if we provide a dignified and strong vehicle for their use, with all units working harmoniously in support of the Objects, we feel it is reasonable to expect their prompt support. For the strength of the Movement lies in what they gave us - a Society founded by them, with Objects chosen by them, and enough enlightenment in the form of writing to support these.

The inevitable conclusion we reach from the above study is that the Reunification of all Theosophical Societies into One World Society is feasible and practical. The best evidence of this is the immediate welcome [295] which the idea received in 1930 and its initial rapid progress. In the past two decades similar dynamic progress has been made in every sphere of human activity towards world union, particularly in the religious area. Should Theosophists allow themselves to come in last in this race towards strength and wholeness?


CHAPTER VIII
REFERENCE NOTES

[1] In Tune with the Infinite by Ralph Waldo Trine, p.10, Published by Thomas Y. Crowell & Co., N.Y.C., 1897
[2] Theosophical Forum III, Dec. 15, 1931, p.90
[3] A Short History of the T.S. by Josephine Ransom, p.506-519
[4] Messages to Conventions by G. de Purucker, pp.241-242
[5] Theosophical Forum I, August 15, 1930
[6] Ibid, pp.20-21
[7] Ibid, pp.20-21
[8] Ibid, I, July 15, 1930, p.2
[9] Theosophist, LII, January 1931, p.163
[10] Messages to Conventions by G. de Purucker, p.9
[11] Ibid, pp.10-11
[12] Ibid, p.45
[13] Letter to Members from G. de Purucker, dated February 17, 1930

CHAPTER IX
SOME COOPERATIVE TRENDS AMONG RELIGIONS TODAY

“Every kingdom divided against itself shall be made desolate,
and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand.
- MATTHEW, 12, 25

THE trend away from the individualism of the last century towards the more cooperative pattern of the twentieth century is perhaps nowhere more evident today than in the religious area. This reverses the direction taken in previous centuries wherein religious wars and dissensions were so prevalent. Theosophists, however, have until now repeated the earlier pattern of religious Protestantism with its numerous and conflicting sects, but with no real justification. Adherence to the broad platform of the Founders would have preserved unity. The first dichotomy resulted from a clash of strong personalities. This and later schisms were unjustified and instead of being engineered from above, as one writer suggests, it is more rational to conclude that they were plotted from below.

“Living together as a single family is the only future that Mankind can have,” said the famous English historian Arnold Toynbee in a lecture quoted in “The Saturday Review” of January 7, 1956 (pp.64-65). We have suddenly, he said, become next door neighbors through technological advances, but “our hearts and [297] minds remain still far apart.” He then points out what the researches of psychologists have established - that ignorance of one another breeds fear leading to hostility. He pleads for time in which men can become familiar with one another’s differences, learn to tolerate them “and then to appreciate them as parts of a unified Mankind’s common future heritage.”

These same ideas were stressed by the Founders of the Theosophical Society at the time of its formation. The religious bodies of today are aware of the necessity for tolerance and understanding, and are supporting policies which result in giant mergers of formerly irreconcilable elements, as the evidence which follows amply indicates. But we Theosophists have leaned back in our chairs and decided that it is impossible to achieve the unity which H.P.B. implored us to preserve. The problems of the Movement are familiar to us and we have settled for them. Previous unsuccessful attempts to change them confirm us in our judgment. But three circumstances force a challenge to the situation:

1. The status quo is inherently reprehensible
2. The approach of the last quarter of the century, when it is believed a new impetus to the Movement will be attempted by the White Lodge
3. The constant pressure from numerous lay members to rectify a situation so patently inimical to the Original Program of the Theosophical Society.

Francis Bacon said that once human understanding has adopted an opinion “it draws all things else to support and agree with it. And though there be a greater number and weight of instances to be found on the other side, yet these it either neglects and despises, [298] or else by some distinction sets aside and rejects; in order that by this great and pernicious predetermination the authority of its former conclusions may remain inviolate.” Some of us bring this kind of pre-judgment with us when attempting to deal with the problems of unity among Theosophists.

There are also those who disavow organizations, claiming that they are the root of our troubles. These attitudes make more difficult the task of reunification. Madam Blavatsky once wrote:

“... To say that the Theosophy has no need of a Society - a vehicle and center thereof, - is like affirming that the Wisdom of the Ages collected in thousands of volumes, at the British Museum has no need of either the edifice that contains it, nor the works in which it is found.” [1]

She also asked her readers “where would Theosophy be heard of now, had not its Society been organized ...” [2]

* * *

The human being is apt to be timid in coming to terms with a difficult problem of inter-relatedness, but if it is shown that many others are composing their differences and moving towards cooperation in the religious field, some of this passive resistance will be removed, because we all like to feel that we are in good company and doing what other human beings are doing. For this reason some recent examples are given of cooperation on the part of religious bodies. These Movements towards cooperation are generally of three types:

A. Denominational Mergers
B. Council or Ecumenical Movements
C. Inter-Religious Activities [299]

DENOMINATIONAL MERGERS

Despite some biting differences in belief between certain of the Protestant denominations, several large inter-denominational mergers have taken place in the past few years. During 1939 the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant Church, and the M.E. Church, South, were merged. Their total combined membership on June 22, 1953 was 9,065,727.

In February of 1949 the General Council of the Congregational Christian Churches voted to merge with the Evangelical and Reformed Church. The two will be combined in a ceremony to take place on June 25, 1957. This will mark the climax of a decade of negotiations. The new body will be known as the United Church of Christ. It will have more than 2,000,000 members, 1,263,000 from the Congregational Christian Churches and 775,000 from the Evangelical and Reformed Church. Even before the merger is consummated the two denominations will conduct joint projects.

On May 31, 1954, the ninety-fourth General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (Southern), with 718,791 members, voted to join with the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (2,581,580 members), and the United Presbyterian Church (222,201 members) to form a unified organization. The plan of union now goes to the church’s 256 presbyteries. Two-thirds of these must approve. The move for union of the three and one half million Presbyterians represented sixteen years of planning. Opposition to the plan was strong at first but it gained almost unanimous approval later at the General Assembly level. The actual union is probably two years off, [300] but it is slowly succeeding through many discussions and difficulties.

Early in 1955 two branches of the Society of Friends (Quakers) - the Orthodox and the Hichsites - reunited as a single Philadelphia Yearly Meeting after 128 years of disunity because of disagreements about discipline, doctrine, and dress. [3]

In August of 1953 some delegates of the American Unitarian Association and the Universalist Church of America, with a combined membership of 152,395, voted for federal union. Negotiations are progressing satisfactorily for the completion of this union. Merger of the Publications Section of each has already been accomplished.

The Religious Newsweekly of May 1, 1956, (organ of the National Council of Churches), states that “a Methodist church study group has proposed a new plan for effecting ecclesiastical ties with the Protestant Episcopal Church ...

“Bishop Ivan Lee Holt, St. Louis, chairman of the Church Union Commission, pictured the plan as part of a move toward bringing ‘the entire Christian family together’.” (Italics added).

In its July 2, 1956, issue Time magazine reported that the Evangelical Lutheran Church (membership 1,000,000) voted at its Convention to join the World Council of Churches, thus removing the last barrier to merger with the American Lutheran Church (862,000 members) and the United Evangelical Lutheran Church (57,000 members). The united body, to be called the American Lutheran Church, will probably emerge in 1960, and its nearly 2,000,000 membership will make it the third largest branch of Lutheranism in the U.S.A.

During the week of October 22, 1956 the United [301] Lutheran Church in America called upon sixteen branches of U.S. Lutheranism to unite in one denomination the various Lutheran bodies with their 7,250,000 members. A special commission was authorized to meet with representatives of other groups to initiate steps toward this union.

Judaism is also represented in this great effort to compose differences and work together cooperatively. Rabbi Philip S. Bernstein speaks of this trend in an article entitled “What the Jews Believe” appearing in Life, issue of September 11, 1950, page 174:

“Of late the difference in observance between many Conservatives and Reform Jews has narrowed very much, and there have been proposals advanced for merging the two groups. Such would certainly seem to be the trend in the Reconstructionist Movement, which is a radical wing within Conservative Judaism but secures some support from traditional Reformers of modern Orthodox as well.”

Representatives of Germany’s Protestants met early in 1948 and formed the constitution of the Evangelical Church of Germany, thus uniting the Lutherans and the Calvinists of the Reformed faith. [4]

The Christian Century of June 15, 1955 contained a dispatch from Mexico City to the effect that formal conversations looking toward “union of the Associated Reformed Presbyterian, Congregationalist and Disciples of Christ groups in Mexico have reached the point where definite progress can be reported ... This is the first such church union project in Mexico, and indeed the like of it has seldom been seen in all of Latin America.” The three denominations had frequently talked informally about their common problems in a cooperative spirit, so the union should not be too difficult to achieve.

The Ecumenical Courier of July-August 1956 reported [302] a merger of the Methodist, Congregational and Presbyterian Churches in Australia’s Northern Territory, resulting in the formation of a new body called the United Church of North Australia.

The same organ reported the convening in Djakarta, Indonesia, from July 8-17, 1956, of 150 delegates from thirty church bodies, representing a membership of 2,672,000 Protestants, for the third Assembly of the Indonesian Council of Churches. “The constitutional purpose of this body,” the report reads, “is to effect a united Church in Indonesia.”

In previous years the several Presbyterian groups in Scotland became the Church of Scotland; and the various Protestant churches of France became the Reformed Church of France. In Canada the Methodist, Congregational, and Presbyterian churches have joined together to form the United Church of Canada. The South India, the Anglican and the Methodist Churches in India have now become the United Church of South India.

Cooperative efforts between churches of different denominations have had some success recently in Brazil, China, Japan, and the Philippines.

Negotiations for greater church union are under way in other countries including Celyon, Iran, Madagascar, Nigeria, North India, and South Africa.

The Christian Century reported in its July 27, 1955 issue that a recent assembly of the Church of England voted unanimous approval of a report favoring closer relations with the Methodist Church in England, as a first step towards eventual union.

As a further indication of the growing trend towards large mergers of religious groups, a Gallup Poll taken some six years ago revealed that more and more Protestants are in favor of merging all Protestant [303] denominations into a single church. The poll showed that 50% favored the merger as contrasted with only 40% in 1937 - a 25% increase. This also proves a desire, on the part of the church members at least, to keep in touch with the realities of today, to grow broad, to whack away at the dogmas that have so long held Christians apart.

It is distressing to turn from these gigantic reunified groups to the small disunited Theosophical groups. These are painful to behold. And what is even more cheerless is to hear the pathetic arguments that are put forth in justification of such small groups: That Theosophy can never be understood by large numbers of people and is therefore doomed to be small. But surely Theosophists should aspire, at least, to the over-one-million size. There is evidence that large numbers of people do want what we have to offer, but we are not reaching them.

COUNCIL OR ECUMENICAL MOVEMENTS

This Movement is relatively young but it is the most significant phenomenon in the Protestant world today. It is the cooperative effort which says that there are some things which can be done better as a group working together than can be done denominationally. It is the belief that the strength of the community comes out of union of diverse beliefs working toward common goals.

Perhaps the most important of the groupings which embody this spirit is the National Council of Churches. This is a fellowship of thirty Protestant and Eastern Orthodox church bodies having a membership of 36,719,786 members in 144,000 local congregations, [304] that desire to cooperate in all their common tasks. [5] The Council is not something apart from the churches, but the churches themselves doing together those things which can be better done unitedly than separately. The Council was created in 1950 after nine years of planning, when a constitution was officially ratified by each of the member communions and when a corporate charter was obtained from the State of New York. It is not a super-church. It depends wholly on the principles of voluntary cooperation through democratic processes. It rejects enforced uniformity and seeks that unity which is consistent with liberty and diversity. As its leaders work together they find that the “convictions and interests which they have in common are far more important than their differences.” [6]

In addition to the National Council there are active Regional, State and Local Councils which provide instruments through which cooperation is maintained on each of the various levels. For instance, the Northern California - Nevada Council of Churches, at the regional level, has a program which operates through four Departments and twenty-three Commissions. These include a Commission on Migrants, Commission on International Justice and Goodwill, Department of Overseas Relief, Heifer Commission (which specializes in shipping live animals to needy areas), Refugee and Resettlement Commission, and others.

On the local level there is the San Francisco Council of Churches which is approximately what the National Council is on the national level. This Council is now studying the possibility of a Covenant of Brotherhood among the churches. They are experimenting with a formula which will get around all blockages.

The World Council of Churches, at the time of [305] formation in 1948, consisted of 160 Protestant and Orthodox church bodies in 44 countries. It now comprises 164 Anglican, Orthodox, and Protestant communions in forty-seven countries. At its annual meeting in April 1956, Doctor J. Robert Nelson, Secretary of the World Council’s Department of Faith and Order in Geneva, Switzerland, reported that twenty-eight church union negotiations are now in progress in the world, and an increasing number are negotiating on ways to closer fellowship, intercommunion, or merger.

At the Second Assembly of the World Council of Churches held at Evanston, Illinois, August 15 through 31, 1954, the meeting was divided into six Sections which dealt with the major issues discussed. Item Four of the report issued by Section One, reads: “We must speak the truth in love with one another and practise that love towards those with whom we disagree ...”

Late in September 1955 forty leading European churchmen met in Brussels, Belgium, to lay plans for closer cooperation among their respective communions. They concluded that present-day needs compelled all European churches to face their responsibilities together. The idea of teamwork among all European Protestant Churches was first considered seriously at the European Christian Laymen’s Conference at Bad Boll, Germany, in the summer of 1951.

At a welcoming dinner to eight Russian clergymen who arrived in the U.S.A. on June 2, 1956, to resume conversations with American churchmen begun in Moscow some months before, Doctor Eugene C. Blake, President of the National Council of Churches, said that differences in the world today “should not indefinitely [306] prevent people from talking with one another ...” Without such contacts, he said, “differences would constitute insurmountable barriers and separating hostilities, which would be assumed to be fixed forever.” He assured the Russian churchmen that both they and the U.S. Protestant leaders “are engaged in the most important work in the world in our generation - the effort to break down barriers by reaching mutual understanding based upon right principles.” [7]

INTER-RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES

The activities which cut right across credal barriers and result in the phenomena of inter-faith activities, are perhaps the most convincing and striking indication of modern mans determination to break with the old traditions of the past and promote the new evangel of brotherhood and cooperation among men. Outstanding in this connection was “A Festival of Faith” held in San Francisco, California, on June 19, 1955. This Festival was “a Service of Prayer for Peace and Divine Guidance to the United Nations” as a fitting prelude and framework for the world’s political and diplomatic leaders who had assembled for the tenth anniversary session of the United Nations during the following week. The Festival was a spiritual service magnificently staged in which representatives of Christians and Jews, Hindus and Moslems, Buddhists, followers of Confucius, and the Bahai faith, all took part in complete cooperation. Few, if any, of the congregation of fifteen thousand, are·ever likely to forget the event. Of particular significance was a gesture of simple faith, but superb in its import and possibilities: [307] Representatives of the seven world religions stepped onto the stage, joined hands, while the congregation rose silently around them and prayed for peace and a lasting brotherhood of men. It was an impressive example of unity and brotherhood. It climaxed stirring music by a choir of sixteen hundred voices which sang Tennyson’s poem “A Vision of the World” to the accompaniment of two bands and an organ; also appeals for tolerance and cooperation from John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State of the United States, and Sir Leslie Munro, delegate to the United Nations from New Zealand.

The Prayers of each faith were followed by Resolutions drawn up by leaders of each religion represented. Each stressed the brotherhood of humanity. Some ideas embodied in the Buddhists’ Resolution are so pertinent to our problem that they are quoted:

“We believe that the existence of conflict between apparently hostile ideologies, is the result of fear and suspicion bred by misunderstanding through the mutual exclusiveness among the groups concerned. We firmly believe that mankind has no problems incapable of solution by discussion, negotiation and arbitration, if conducted without rancour and conceited self-righteousness.”

Throughout the week of deliberations, another “Assembly of Prayer” was held a few blocks distant from the U.N. sessions. Leaders of over a score of faiths including the Bahai, Christian, Judaism, Sufi, Theosophy, Unity, and Vedanta, spoke from the same dais daily. The theme for all was: World Peace and the Brotherhood of Man.

*  *  *

Another effort towards inter-religious harmony was made known in October, 1955, when the Jewish Theological [308] Seminary of New York, headquarters of Conservative Judaism, announced plans to raise $32,000,000 for a ten-year period to establish a Human Brotherhood Center at the seminary with branches in Los Angeles and Jerusalem. Curriculum of the new center’s Institute for Religious and Social Studies will include the areas of belief common to Protestants, Catholics, and Jews.

It was reported on January 30, 1956, that Boston’s Archbishop Richard J. Cushing warned Roman Catholics that they should not look upon their non-Catholic neighbors as “wayward rebels who have deliberately rejected Christ’s teachings. The unbending severity of the thirteenth century is not appropriate today,” he declared, and “we must act on the assumption that their heart is right and their intentions honest ...”

Among the most striking evidences of the dynamic trend in the direction of unity in church bodies, is a recent indication from an official Catholic source that possibly the Protestants are not entirely to blame for the centuries old split in the Mother Church. This is an astonishing confession for the Catholics to make, contrary as it is to their traditional policy. One wonders if at last the door has been left ajar as a basis for a possible future reunification of these two erstwhile bitter adversaries. Writing in the September, 1949, issue of the Catholic monthly, “Orate Fratres,” of Collegeville, Minnesota (p.455), under the title “The Catholic Attitude Towards the Reformation,” the Rev. Joseph Lortz, professor of church history at Germany’s Munster University in Westphalia, says that long before Luther:

“There existed in the Catholic Church herself much that fore-shadowed the Reformation ... In other words, the [309] so-called ‘causes’ of the Reformation had their origin within the limits of the Catholic Church ... That means the Reformation had important Catholic roots.”

But must Theosophists show less tolerance of each other than the very groups they have in the past criticized? The article continues:

“The Reformation and the division of Christendom are the result of a failure of Catholic forces and of a failure on the part of the Reformers. Catholics and Protestants both are guilty of the scandalous division which makes of us and of the message of Christ an object of ridicule in the eyes of mankind.”

Just replace the relative Christian words by Theosophical words, and we have a true statement of the “scandalous division” which makes of us and of the message of Brotherhood of The Masters “an object of ridicule.”

The bastions of intolerance are crumbling all along the religious front. An incident like this is one for rejoicing, for it heralds a more tolerant attitude towards all religious faiths by the church which has been perhaps the most severe in its attitude towards other church bodies. Let the Theosophist applaud this change in attitude. And may his admiration for this change find a counterpart in his attitudes towards the Theosophists of all affiliations, is the prayer of the sponsors of reunification.

A beautiful and touching expression of inter-faith tolerance was evidenced on December 2, 1954, by a gathering of Orthodox and Protestant Christians affiliated with the National Council of Churches. A dramatic halt was called in the proceedings to offer prayers for the recovery of Pope Pius XII, head of the Roman Catholic Church which is not represented in the Council. Some twelve hundred delegates stood in [310] silence with heads bowed after being informed by the Council’s new President-elect, Dr. Eugene C. Blake, of the serious illness of the Pope. The delegates unanimously approved a message to Vatican City through Archbishop Richard J. Cushing of Boston, reading:

“The National Council of Churches ... expresses its sympathy with Roman Catholic friends in their anxiety over the illness of her spiritual leader.”

What a charitable expression of toleration this displays!

Another heartening instance of the growth of inter-faith tolerance was the generosity shown recently by people of all faiths when St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Cathedral of Hartford, Connecticut, was destroyed by fire on December 31, 1956. Archbishop Henry J. O’Brien stated, according to the “Religious News Weekly” of January 7, 1957, that “he had received unsolicited gifts totaling $26,263. - from persons of various faiths” during the first few days after the fire. He added that these gifts included very generous donations by Episcopal Bishop Walter H. Gray of Connecticut and Mrs. Beatrice Fox Auerbach, a Jewish department store owner. The Archbishop also had high praise for the Protestant churches of many denominations who “immediately invited us to use their buildings” for services.

*  *  *

The following was related on July 16, 1955, by Karl Bennett Justus, Vice-President of the National Conference of Christians and Jews:

“From Manchester, New Hampshire, comes a tale of an unusual gesture of good will. Members of the city’s Grace Episcopal Church held what they called a Christian Pilgrimage [311] to the new St. George’s Catholic Church. The Rev. Bradford Young, rector of the Episcopal Church, and forty parishioners marched in a body to Saint George’s. They sat in pews reserved for them by the Catholic pastor, Father John F. Morin. After his sermon, the priest praised the visitors, describing their pilgrimage as an act of Christian fellowship.
“In inviting his congregation to join the pilgrimage, the Rev. Young said: ‘We need to become familiar with the worship of our Roman Catholic neighbors and to show our brotherly love toward them, because there is still much ignorance and prejudice among us’.”

Another outstanding example of inter-religious activity is the organization known as The National Conference of Christians and Jews, founded in 1928. Their attempt is to bring together men of good will from all religions to work together on common community and civic concerns, and to build bridges of good will and understanding between Catholics, Jews, and Protestants. Since 1934 the Conference has sponsored the annual observance of Brotherhood Week. They have published a “Books for Brotherhood” bibliography. It represents one of the important projects of an N.C.C.J. Commission established to work with fraternal, welfare, and other organizations and libraries from coast to coast, “to help make real Brotherhood the pattern of American living in every neighborhood.”

The N.C.C.J. sponsored an intercultural travel seminar for American youth from July 2 to August 7, 1955. Seminar members took part in youth sessions of the World Brotherhood assembly at Brussels. The seminar was aimed at creating stronger bonds of good will and understanding among young people of different racial and religious backgrounds.

An excellent pamphlet is published by the N.C.C.J. entitled “The American Dream”, by John A. O’Brien, [312] S.J. It is redolent of the spirit of toleration and nobility and should be read by all who are interested in better human relations. In a Foreword the Hon. Herbert Hoover says:

“National unity in the midst of cultural pluralism has become the ideal of our American democracy.
“To preserve that ideal it is of supreme importance that tolerance, respect, good will and friendship prevail among our citizens of various racial origins, of different religious creeds and diverse political faiths.”

Can the Theosophists not embrace the same kind of unity in the midst of cultural or ideological pluralism by means of the same attitudes urged by Mr. Hoover, thus blending and integrating their differences into strength?

Unique in the annals of inter-religious activity is the Covenant of Brotherhood between the Rev. Jesse W. Stitt, Minister of the Village Presbyterian Church on 13th Street, New York City, and Rabbi Irving J. Block of The Brotherhood Synagogue. Both are dedicated to the ideal of Universal Brotherhood as basic to the religion of all faiths. Both have, since July 1954, talked from the same pulpit, from the same public platform and before large radio and television audiences, on the subject of brotherhood.

The Presbyterian Church building was architecturally redesigned to serve as a synagogue on Sabbath and a church on Sundays. This phenomena promises a development of historic significance in inter-faith relations, and newspapers have editorialized it as an important chapter in the story of brotherhood consciousness.

Parts of the “Covenant of Brotherhood” between the Presbyterian minister and the Rabbi read like a Theosophical document: [313]

“We consecrate ourselves to a program of brotherhood.
“We commit ourselves to a joint service for the community of man.
“We engage ourselves to do whatsoever the hand findeth to do for human welfare, without preference for or prejudice to race, creed or color.
“We undertake this endeavor before God to the end that the truth of universal brotherhood may be established in full measure upon the earth, and man’s responsibility to man be accepted as the mandate of God.
“We moreover pledge that all our activities and programs jointly sponsored and implemented are to be undertaken without compromise to the religious conscience or the established traditions of our respective congregations.
“We believe in this, Our Covenant of Brotherhood, and we invoke God’s blessings upon our endeavors that peace and good will may obtain among all the inhabitants of our world and that religion may spread its blessings among us all.”

Bravo! we say, on behalf of all Theosophists to these two noblemen among religious leaders. For it is precisely this kind of realistic approach to the problem of religious intolerance which H.P.B. and the Masters would applaud. And it is in this direction that they directed the Theosophical Society. Godspeed to this effort of two broad-visioned leaders, and to their congregations who support their excellent program!

The Brotherhood Council is the agency for community activity of the Village Presbyterian Church and The Brotherhood Synagogue. It affirms that a world of brotherhood is a world of love and peace among all men. One of the interesting developments in this unique joint effort is that the agreement does not modify the other person’s central convictions, but it serves to break down old credal barriers which formerly kept the two faiths apart.

There is also a splendid feeling of mutuality between the churches and synagogues in many parts of Brooklyn, New York. The most notable understanding is that [314] existing between the Cuyler Presbyterian Church of which the Reverend Thomas J. Denier is minister, and the Congregation Mt. Sinai, of which Rabbi Isadore A. Aaron is rabbi. For almost twenty years these two congregations of different faiths, have cooperated closely in the exchange of ministers, in the observance of one another’s holidays, and in general good fellowship, even to the point of frequently borrowing each other’s furniture. They have continuously cooperated in projects of mutual welfare.

Reference is made to “Denominational Statements with reference to a Racially Inclusive Fellowship,” compiled by the Department of Racial and Cultural Relations of the National Council of Churches, in February 1955. Herein nineteen big religious bodies affirm their devotion to the principle of racial tolerance, mutual respect, and the Brotherhood of Man under the Fatherhood of God.

An interesting and practical demonstration of the feasibility of inter-racial activity is given by the Highlander Folk School of Monteagle, Tennessee, Myles Horton, Director. For more than twenty years this school has welcomed thousands of adults and children of all races and faiths to share an experience of living and learning together. The school develops people to take leadership and responsibility for the causes in which they believe.

In the Spring of 1956 a group of delegates from Burma, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaya, Pakistan, Philippines, and Siam arrived in San Francisco for a tour of the United States under the auspices of UNESCO. They all came with serious questions as to how we propose to interrelate ourselves with them, culturally, economically, religiously, and in other ways. [315] They had their two-year and five-year plans, and they wanted to know what we are going to do about them . They were most determined in standing together for peace. It was quite apparent that the old missionary techniques were antiquated and unwanted. The Buddhists were interested in mass education, and other delegates were in favor of throwing out old superstitions which have tied them to a pattern which they now consider unsuitable for today’s needs. Their attempt was to try to see how our Government, our cultures, our religions, could relate to theirs.

At a recent meeting of the Friends Service Committee honoring one of their number who had just returned from Japan, it was stated that as the young people in the Orient are educated in Western science they tend to fall away from their old beliefs, thus leaving a sort of moral vacuum. But in their favor, he said that in the Orient it is not unusual for a person to belong to several religions and no one thinks anything about it, whereas the tendency of the Western world is to crystallize around one religion and not exchange views with any other group. This leads to dogmatism and in turn the loss of a great deal of knowledge and inspiration which might otherwise be available.

High on the list of interesting interdenominational and inter-racial activities are the annual Christian Ashrams begun some twenty years ago by Dr. E. Stanley Jones, a Methodist minister. Having spent much of his career as a missionary in India, he adapted to Christianity the centuries-old ashram plan of the Hindus. According to The Religious Newsweekly of May 14, 1956, fourteen hundred people from all walks [316] of life will, “like their Hindu predecessors, seek spiritual growth and peace of mind in disciplined living ... meditation and unhurried talk with likeminded people.”

The interracial efforts of the churches would also have been applauded by H.P. Blavatsky, for they represent Brotherhood in action. A local example is “The Church for the Fellowship of All Peoples.” Begun by Doctor Howard Thurman who is considered one of the outstanding ministers of today, its fellowship comprises about 730 members equally divided between Africans and Caucasians and a few Orientals. This church cuts right across the dividing lines of race, color and creed. This extract from the Commitment of this church could very well be a quotation from a Theosophical text:

“I affirm my need for a growing understanding of all men as sons of God, and I seek after a vital experience of God as revealed in Jesus of Nazareth and other great religious spirits whose fellowship with God was the foundation of their fellowship with men.
“I desire to share in the spiritual growth and ethical awareness of men and women of varied national, cultural, racial, and credal heritage united in a religious fellowship.”

*  *  *

In the face of these giant mergers of religious bodies and dynamic movements towards inter-religious activities, it is absurd for the strength of the Theosophical Movement, numerically so modest, to be split up into a dozen or more small groups. It ill befits the dignity of a cause as vital as ours, to so shamefully ignore the trend of the times, especially in view of the enormously increased interest in religion which is everywhere evident today. This powerful hunger for the [317] spiritual is actually a new and splendid opportunity for the Theosophists. But despite the noble efforts of dedicated members in all the Theosophical Societies, we are not sharing in the growth which other groups are enjoying. Our numbers remain comparatively small. Why - in view of this growth all around us? Could this static condition be due again to our disunities which waste the strength of the Movement?

Here are some of the latest available figures, illustrating the growth of the churches in the United States, taken from the Yearbook of American Churches for 1958, published by the Office of Publication and Distribution, National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America:

a. Total church membership is 103,224,954 persons in 258 religious bodies (compared with 100,162,529 in the previous year). This is a gain of 3.06 per cent for the year. The population gain was 1.7 per cent.
b. The proportion of church members in the population is at a new high - 62 per cent.
c. The six major groups report members as follows:

Buddhist
63,000
Old Catholic and Polish National Catholic
351,068
Eastern Orthodox
2,598,055
Jewish
5,500,000
Roman Catholic
34,563,851
Protestant
60,148,980

d. The number of local churches reported by all faiths is 308,647, a gain of one per cent.
e. There is a total enrollment of 39,904,276 persons in 270,606 Sunday or Sabbath schools - up 2.5 per cent for the year. [318]

Dean Liston Pope of the Yale Divinity School believes that in the next twenty years American Protestantism will enlarge its numbers by one third; and though he feels it unlikely that there will be only one church in the foreseeable future, he predicts that “the tendency to fragmentation will be reversed in the next generation.”

There is a vastly increased interest in religion among college students today. According to “Information Service,” issue of September 22, 1956, there are now more than 3000 student religious groups with 1200 full-time employees, as compared with some 200 such employees twenty years ago. James L. Stoner, director of the National Council’s University Christian Mission, reports that there is far greater interest in religious courses in college curriculums than there was twenty years ago. “Yale, for instance, has 500 undergraduates (out of 4000) in courses on religion, as compared with about 50 out of 2800 twenty years ago. Princeton, where an undergraduate course in religion was offered in 1939-1940 with 21 students, now has 700 students in such courses ...” Stanley Rowland Jr., writing in the New York Times of October 22 and 24, 1955, says that “student concern for religion is a serious attempt to find a spiritual basis for action in the modern world.”

Evidence of this increased interest in religion is the fact that publishers estimate that Americans bought six million copies of the Bible in 1955, according to an article in the Wall Street Journal of March 27, 1956. It is known too that more and more religious books are making the best-seller list.

In its issue of January 24, 1955, Newsweek reported that “last week” a complete blueprint “for one great [319] Protestant church for the whole United States” was revealed at a meeting of Methodist groups in Cincinnati. Prepared by a Methodist Bishop and a Methodist layman and lawyer, it would permit the three forms of church government to co-exist without losing their essential characters.

The skeptical view of the religious boom has been presented by some, and a few of the top leaders are asking whether this boom is shadow without substance, - a spiritual bust. Dr. Eugene C. Blake, President of the National Council of Churches states that the evidence of a religious boom is overwhelming. But in the magazine Look for September 20, 1955, he asks: “Has joining a church become simply ‘the thing to do’? Is our resurgence of religious motivation brought about through fear, selfishness, a longing for security? Is this a mature religious faith, or is it the parallel of foxhole religion in the age of atomic fission?” He concludes that a competent and dedicated ministry will keep “the old idols away from the altars” - such idols as “Believe in ‘the Man upstairs’ and he will make you prosperous and successful.”

The Rt. Rev. Henry Knox Sherrill, first President of the National Council of Churches, is quoted by Look as believing that “much of this apparent revival of religious interest seems to place the emphasis on using God for our own purposes of success, of health, of freedom from burdens and strains.”

Some answers to these questions are to be found in a report of the American Institute of Public Opinion of December 17, 1954. A poll of adults was made, seeking an answer to the question: “How do you account for the present increase in church-going?” Their replies: [320]

“Fear, unrest, uncertainty of future
30
%
Renewed faith in God as Supreme Being
19
 
Postwar reaction, effect of religion on military personnel
11
 
Church program, publicity better
9
 
Eisenhower influence
2
 
Miscellaneous
12
 
Don't know
22
 
 
105
%

“The table adds to more than 100% because some people gave more than one explanation.”

*  *  *

So we see that as the other religious groups move forward to greater harmony and strength, vision and fraternity, the Movement we love, to which we are dedicated, grows relatively more impotent as the years go by. We need the prod of having our own ‘disgrace’ pointed out to us, for there is not one scintilla of excuse for us not discarding our old policies of generations ago, and uniting so as to attain greater strength and dignity.

Now, therefore, let us create a new and better policy more suited to the times and to the modern man who is a part of them, unfettered by dogmas which make a mockery of Brotherhood, and wherein it will be the daily occurrence rather than the “only on White Lotus Day” event, that we grasp the hands of all our brothers in the Theosophical Movement and freely converse with them on matters we hold in mutual high regard.

It is the policies of our respective groups which must be re-examined in the light of the realities of 1957. None of us keep in our wardrobes outmoded 1895 hoop-skirts or tall beaver hats. But why do we refuse to change the style of our institutions, like every-one [321] else is doing, to conform to the better, more cooperative patterns of today?

*  *  *

Thirty odd years ago some Theosophists were wont to call the attention of their audiences to the general falling off in attendance at the churches, as evidence of spiritual decay. Today the position is reversed. Whereas the churches used to lament: “What must we do to survive?” they now confidently ask “What must we do to triumph?”

Particular attention is called to the great growth reported by the churches in their educational work among children. Figures for Theosophical education among children are not obtainable, but it is believed that in most groups little progress has been attained despite the love and care bestowed on this activity by a few. Some outstanding exceptions are the Theosophy Schools for children conducted by the United Lodge of Theosophists in various cities. From their communication of October 11, 1956, we learn that the attendance in the Parent Theosophy School at Los Angeles averages between two and three hundred. In New York it is slightly lower.

After a visit to the New York Theosophy School the writer urged his fellow-members of the Point Loma Theosophical Society to support the school by sending their own children there. He now urges the members of all affiliations to do likewise, particularly if there exist no similar schools conducted by Theosophists of other affiliations in their communities. All will agree that the U.L.T. have made a fine contribution to Theosophical progress in the conduct of these Schools. It would be [322] folly if we were to deprive our children of the ennobling influence of Theosophy merely because of sectarian bias. This work for the children is of high importance, for obviously the future of Theosophy depends to a large degree upon bringing it to the young age groups. Participation in them would be a blessing to both parent and children. It would also show that we are big enough and broadminded enough to bypass our sectarian bias by a surrender to our nobler parts, thereby achieving a benediction for our children.

*  *  *

It must now be evident that we Theosophists are not sharing in the general progress indicated by the foregoing presentation of facts. We could have a strong voice were all Theosophical efforts activated through one Theosophical Society.

There can be no question but that there are in the Theosophical ranks very many people of good will who belong to different societies, and no matter what their leaders believe, those members want to have unity, reconciliation and fraternity among all members of the Theosophical family. For it is believed that the overwhelming number of the latter are anxious to bring about harmonious relations between all the members of all the societies. For all of us must be interested in reducing animosities and in encouraging love and goodwill, since this is the obligation of every Theosophist who pays respect to his commitment to Brotherhood.

Besides the mass movement towards unity and strength it has been reported that there is even a movement to create a sort of super-faith which will be [323] a kind of distilled essence of all religious beliefs, - one which will be of such a nature that all the different religions can agree. This is an exciting possibility and one which stimulates the imagination. A reunited Theosophical Movement might even provide the lead in working on a commitment to which all religions could subscribe. But alas, we are too busy at present keeping our own ideological fences repaired. These require our constant attention for if we are not careful some perfectly reasonable person might destroy them with the perfectly logical statement that the Original Program of the Theosophical Society does not allow for such disunities as are present in the Movement today.

It was in 1948, after much world travel and making contact with Theosophists of many affiliations, that the idea of a fully reunited World Theosophical Society first presented itself. We were all united in the beginning. Why not again? This would bring us in line with H.P.B.’s admonition that we were to remain united. In pursuit of this objective some letters were exchanged with Colonel Conger and other officials of the Point Loma T.S. Their purpose was to urge the merging of this Society with the Parent Theosophical Society. This exchange is to be found in the Appendix. Little headway was made at that time, though the idea of reunion was registered and has been gradually making headway, finding a ready acceptance now among the progressive members of most affiliations.

*  *  *

The temptation to liken the present situation in the Theosophical Movement to what a visitor sees at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, is too great to suppress, [324] and the discussion is completed with this presentation, which is an entry in the writer’s diary dated Jerusalem, Palestine, September 10, 1944:

“This Wailing Wall is reputed to be the only part of Solomon’s Temple which is left and is worshipped by innumerable religious sects as being Holy. On arrival there was one little group of three men in monkly attire reading aloud and in unison from a prayer-book. Soon a second, and later a third and fourth group arrived, each garbed in a distinct dress of its own, denoting a different sect, and each bringing its own prayer-book and reading therefrom. All groups faced the Wall and paid no attention to the ones already present. Each began its prayers with no regard to the group already praying. As the numbers increased the babel of voices became progressively louder - they finally almost had to shout. First one, then the other group, paused in their reading to go forward and kiss the Wall. Doubtless all were paying homage to King Solomon, but to the spectator there was only confusion and noise from which nothing could be heard. To add to the discord and humor of the situation, a Jewish girl continued to cook what appeared to be frankfurters on one side of the level where all were standing, and she too would occasionally drop her labors, go to the Wall and kiss it and utter some prayers.”

This droll scene brought to mind the oft-told story of the blind men and the elephant, and their wrangling over the separate descriptions made by each. It also brought to mind the situation in the Theosophical Movement today. The serious and sincere faces of those worshippers at the Wailing Wall was marked. Each group had some strong attachments, and worshipped [325] the same God, yet there were obstacles preventing communication between them. They had perhaps never heard the words of the neo-Platonic philosopher Plotinus when he said: “If we are in unity with the Spirit we are in unity with each other and so we are all one.”


CHAPTER IX
REFERENCE NOTES

[1] The Original Programme of the T.S. by H.P. Blavatsky, p.29
[2] Ibid, p.43
[3] Newsweek magazine, issue of April 11, 1955
[4] Time magazine, issue of April 6, 1953, p.71
[5] Figures are taken from NEWS, bulletin of the National Council of Churches, issue of Sept. 19, 1956
[6] Taken from: The National Council of Churches - What is it? What Does it Do?, p.7
[7] Taken from The Religious Newsweekly issue of June 4, 1956


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