“We cannot prevent people from doing the things they can do,” and would not use force even if we could, because the mind has to be free to choose; otherwise there would be no real progress. We might apply an analogy right here: let Oxygen represent the Truth, and Nitrogen purely terrestrial conceptions; the more nitrogenous the conception, the less room for “oxygenation” in any given vehicle. There can be no breath whatever without some oxygen, and a little is better than none at all. Perhaps the Tingley, Besant and other stripes of Theosophy have their place in the great economy of consciousness; they must have, or minds would not seize and hold that kind. If the “kind” does not bring the expected result or knowledge, a further search is indicated. “It is better to have no side, for it is all for the Master, and He will look out for all, if each does just right, even if, to our view, another seems not to do so. By not looking at their errors too closely the Master will be able to clear it all off and make it work well.”
– Robert Crosbie (Founder of ULT)
In response to the question, “What makes Theosophy different from anything else?” Robert Crosbie once said simply, it is “in fundamental principles, I should say.” Serious students find that the “fundamental principles” offer a philosophical groundwork not found elsewhere, appealing and nourishing to both mind and heart. A deepening understanding of the Philosophy of Theosophy naturally brings a broader conception of human nature and of one’s role in evolution, often leading to a desire to be of greater service — “to help and teach others.”
Our task, then, as students of Theosophy, is to continually work in the direction of “making clean and clear our mental conceptions and perceptions” so as to become better communicators. It is through such efforts freely undertaken “by study and otherwise,” and by the sharing of insights and discoveries along the way with our fellow students, that we can begin to more effectively embody these principles into the activities, thoughts, and practical pursuits of our daily lives, and to become more attuned to opportunities for assisting others in the Search for Truth.
Inquirers into Theosophy come from many and diverse backgrounds, conditions and needs, and there can be no predicting who might become more deeply interested, or what path their journey will take. Some are attracted by a particular answer to some burning question, some to the symmetry of what seems a unified system of thought, and many are drawn to the ideals and principles of association embodied in the ULT Declaration. When asked what appealed to them when they first encountered ULT, long-time students have often pointed to the spirit of freedom found in its Declaration. To such students, as to any thoughtful person, no sort of outside “authority” should ever take the place of one’s self-reliance or self-induced and self-devised efforts.
Students of Robert Crosbie know that he urged in the strongest possible terms the need for active companions in the work of spreading broadcast the teachings of Theosophy. He also pointed out the inherent dangers of following personal leaders. However, inquirers often ask: how can the Theosophical Movement progress without leaders? What sort of “leadership” would pertain to a seemingly unstructured group of students, none of whose names are published and who have no apparent authority to direct and govern?
Again, the Declaration both clarifies and provides clues for students and inquirers alike to explore these and similar questions. That there may be no one “right answer” to the question about leadership may be deduced from the phrase “independent devotion to the cause of Theosophy.” Leadership based on principles clearly laid out and explained far exceeds in value any benefit derived from having a single leader, or leaders, since it fosters individual initiative, self-reliance and growth. This necessarily leads to a decentralized approach, because without central authority there is a clear need for local study, effort and application.
In an article, “Each Member a Center,” William Q. Judge addressed this issue:
Remember that we are not fighting for any form of organization, nor for badges, nor for petty personal ends, but for Theosophy; for the benefit, the advantage and the good of our fellow-men. As was said not long ago, those of us who follow after and worship a mere organization are making fetishes and worshiping a shell. Unselfishness is the real keynote.
ULT might be described as a dynamic set of relationships among and between students, an “organism” so to speak, not dependent upon any one person or leader, no matter how apparently wise or benevolent. Does that mean that ULT stands for nothing, or that its basis changes with the individuals who interpret it? No, it simply means that it is based on principles, not personalities. Once the underlying principles in any given situation are discerned, then applications may be made, in terms suggested by Krishna to Arjuna near the end of the 18th Chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, “act as seemeth best unto thee.”
As one would expect, the basis for Theosophical work set forth in the ULT Declaration has led to many sorts of individual initiatives and approaches to local Lodge work. Notable in recent years has been the addition of theosophical content to the London, England and Indian Lodge websites, as well as to independent sites such as Theosophy Nexus, Universal Theosophy Magazine, Theosophy Watch, Blavatsky Theosophy and others, which continue to invite questions and discussion from inquirers and students alike. New students have also found ULT Lodges through unconventional (for ULT) means, such as Instagram and Facebook pages, which seem to have particular value in reaching younger minds.
If “Theosophy is for those who want it,” the paths taken towards its discovery may often surprise us. It is for us to ensure that “theosophy pure and simple” is always available to inquirers, free-thinkers, and free spirits of all sorts, regardless of the journey. Those having knowledge of such paths, whether in new forms or old, are welcome to share them for mention in future letters of this sort.
With fraternal greetings,
The United Lodge of Theosophists [Los Angeles, CA]
June 25, 2016
“I have noticed a disposition on the part of some members to often object to the methods of others or to their plans on the ground that they are unwise, or not suitable, or what not. These objections are not put in a spirit of discord, but more often arise merely from a want of knowledge of the working of the laws which govern our efforts. H.P.B. always said – following the rules laid down by high teachers – that no proposal for theosophical work should be rejected or opposed provided the proposer has the sincere motive of doing good to the movement and to his fellows.
“But no one method is to be insisted on. Each man is a potency in himself, and only by working on the lines which suggest themselves to him can he bring to bear the forces that are his. We should deny no man and interfere with none; for our duty is to discover what we ourselves can do without criticizing the actions of another. The laws of karmic action have much to do with this. We interfere for a time with good results to come when we attempt to judge according to our own standards the methods of work which a fellow member proposes for himself. Ramifying in every direction are the levers that move and bring about results, some of those levers – absolutely necessary for the greatest of results – being very small and obscure. They are all of them human beings, and hence we must carefully watch that by no word of ours the levers are obstructed. If we attend strictly to our own duty all will act in harmony, for the duty of another is dangerous for us. Therefore if any member proposes to spread the doctrines of theosophy in a way that seems wise to him, wish him success even if his method be one that would not commend itself to you for your own guidance.”
WILLIAM BREHON, F.T.S.
Path, August, 1891
THE Theosophical Society was founded to destroy dogmatism. This is one of the meanings of its first object – Universal Brotherhood. And Col. H. S. Olcott in his inaugural address in 1875, at Mott Memorial Hall, New York, said that such was the object in view, citing the bad effect that intolerance had had in the past. That address was read by Mme. H. P. Blavatsky before its delivery, or its contents were communicated to her, so that it had her assent, for she was present when it was delivered.
In the Key to Theosophy, in the “Conclusion,” H.P.B. again refers to this subject and expresses the hope that the Society might not, after her death, become dogmatic or crystallize on some phase of thought or philosophy, but that it might remain free and open, with its members wise and unselfish. And in all her writings and remarks, privately or publicly, she constantly reiterated this idea. Of this the writer has direct evidence as to her statements in private.
If our effort is to succeed, we must avoid dogmatism in theosophy as much as in anything else, for the moment we dogmatise and insist on our construction of theosophy, that moment we lose sight of Universal Brotherhood and sow the seeds of future trouble.
There is a great likelihood that members of the Society will insist on a certain orthodoxy in our ranks. They are already doing it here and there, and this is a note of warning to draw their attention to the danger. There is no orthodoxy in our Society. Even though nine-tenths of the members believe in Reincarnation, Karma, the sevenfold constitution, and all the rest, and even though its prominent ones are engaged in promulgating these doctrines as well as others, the ranks of the Society must always be kept open, and no one should be told that he is not orthodox or not a good Theosophist because he does not believe in these doctrines. All that anyone is asked to subscribe to is Universal Brotherhood, and its practice in the search for truth. For the efforts of those who are thus promulgating specific ideas are made under the sanction of the second object of the Society, which any one is free to follow or to refuse to follow as he sees fit. One may deny – undogmatically – reincarnation and other doctrines, or may assert belief in a personal or impersonal God, and still be a good member of the Society, provided Universal Brotherhood is subscribed to and put into practice.
If a member says he must formulate a God, or cannot believe in Reincarnation, none other should condemn or draw comparisons, or point to the writings of H.P.B. or any one else to show that such a member is untheosophical. The greatest minds on earth are puzzled by great ideas such as these, and yet, holding them, can still search for truth with others in a perfect spirit of toleration.
Path, January, 1892
“They cannot see why it [Lucifer Magazine] should not be a purely Theosophical magazine, in other words, why it refuses to be dogmatic and bigoted. Instead of devoting every inch of space to theosophical and occult teachings, it opens its pages “to the publication of the most grotesquely heterogeneous elements and conflicting doctrines.” This is the chief accusation, to which we answer – why not? Theosophy is divine knowledge, and knowledge is truth; every true fact, every sincere word are thus part and parcel of Theosophy. One who is skilled in divine alchemy, or even approximately blessed with the gift of the perception of truth, will find and extract it from an erroneous as much as from a correct statement. However small the particle of gold lost in a ton of rubbish, it is the noble metal still, and worthy of being dug out even at the price of some extra trouble. As has been said, it is often as useful to know what a thing is not, as to learn what it is.”
– H. P. Blavatsky
G.R.S. Mead pointed out in the London Occult Review of May 1927, that “It is always easier for fanaticism in ‘Theosophical’ matters to regard an honest opponent as an unscrupulous ‘enemy’ than to give up long-cherished convictions—no matter how flimsily founded.”
“The efforts of those members who benefit the Cause should never be impeded by criticism on the part of others who do nothing, but all should be encouraged and as much help given as is possible, even if that assistance be limited through circumstances to mere encouragement. Every sincerely based work for theosophy will bear good fruit, no matter how inappropriate it may appear in the eyes of those members who have set to themselves and everybody else only one definite plan of action.” – HPB
“It is well known that the first rule of the society is to carry out the object of forming the nucleus of a universal brotherhood. The practical working of this rule was explained by those who laid it down, to the following effect:-
“HE WHO DOES NOT PRACTISE ALTRUISM; HE WHO IS NOT PREPARED TO SHARE HIS LAST MORSEL WITH A WEAKER OR POORER THAN HIMSELF; HE WHO NEGLECTS TO HELP HIS BROTHER MAN, OF WHATEVER RACE, NATION, OR CREED, WHENEVER AND WHEREVER HE MEETS SUFFERING, AND WHO TURNS A DEAF EAR TO THE CRY OF HUMAN MISERY;
HE WHO HEARS AN INNOCENT PERSON SLANDERED, WHETHER A BROTHER THEOSOPHIST OR NOT, AND DOES NOT UNDERTAKE HIS DEFENCE AS HE WOULD UNDERTAKE HIS OWN – IS NO THEOSOPHIST.”
– H.P. Blavatsky