“Let us accept no creed, no practice, no institution which
does not answer the test of brotherhood.”
(N. Sri Ram, Thoughts for Aspirants)
If we want to respect this proposal, we find ourselves in front of a difficult task, as we have to ask ourselves: are there at all any objective measures which can help us to verify if the creed, practice or functioning of a definite institution is fraternal.
In the present paper I will try to find such objective measures in regard to the functioning of the Theosophical Society. Someone will agree with this view, some other will not, and for those who will think that such a verifying is not needful let me quote the following thought:
“Each must lead himself, which implies intelligence, a
clear purpose, a vision of his own, a willingness to determine his steps
for himself, the acceptance of one’s responsibility and the faculty of pure,
individual and uninfluenced judgment.”
(N. Sri Ram, Thoughts for Aspirants)
In first place let us see what a society actually is.
A society is a group of men who, during a definite process of an exchange of opinions, ascertain the need for the existence of a definite organization, determine the purpose of its existence and the objects for which they will strive. With the appropriation of definite ideas, principles, rules and activities they define their common interest.
On the other hand, a society is a group of individuals who, with their individual, partial interests, as more or less independent personalities, assume definite positions in the structure of this organization.
So we can say that every society is a sort of dynamic relation between the common interest and the partial interests of its members, and that the subordination of their partial interests to the common interest usually shows itself as prosperity of the organization, meanwhile the supremacy of their partial interests over the common interest usually shows itself as a decline, crisis or even as a split or decay of the organization.
Therefore it is very important that we are capable, if we want to understand what is taking place in a definite society, to distinguish between the common interest and the partial interests of its members and to observe the movement of this relation.
In addition, every society has a collection of ideas that explains how the society should work. This collection of ideas is called ideology and form the basis of the common sense.
“An ideology largely concerns itself with how to allocate power and to what ends it should be used. A certain ethic usually forms the basis of an ideology. An ideology can be thought of as a comprehensive vision, as a way of looking at things, as a set of ideas proposed by the dominant class of a society to all members of this society.” (Wikipedia)
“When the ideologies of the dominant class of a society are proposed to all members of that society in order to make the ruling class’ interests appear to be the interests of all and when most people in a society begin think alike about certain matters, or even forget that there are alternatives to the current state of affairs, we arrive at the concept of hegemony.” (Wikipedia)
The ideology of the Theosophical Society is quite unique. While on the normative plane it follows the tradition of French Revolution and American Declaration of Independence and Constitution of equality of men, freedom and brotherhood, on the philosophical plane it declares that the society doesn’t have an ideology at all, respectively that the only basic idea is search for Truth:
“Their (Members’) bond of union is not the profession of a common belief, but a common search and aspiration for Truth. They hold that Truth should be sought by study, by reflection, by purity of life, by devotion to high ideals, and they regard Truth as a prize to be striven for, not as a dogma to be imposed by authority.” (Declaration: The Theosophical Society)
“The Theosophical Society, … is and must remain an organization entirely independent …, not committed to any objects save its own, and intent on developing its own work on the broadest and most inclusive lines, so as to move towards its own goal as indicated in and by the pursuit of those objects and that Divine Wisdom which in the abstract is implicit in the title The Theosophical Society. Since Universal Brotherhood and Wisdom are undefined and unlimited, and since there is complete freedom for each and every member of the Society in thought and action, the Society seeks ever to maintain its own distinctive and unique character by remaining free of affiliation or identification with any other organization.” (Declaration: Freedom of the Society)
“… there is no doctrine, no opinion, by whomsoever taught or held, that is in any way binding on any member of the Society, none which any member is not free to apt or reject. .... No teacher or writer, from H. P. Blavatsky downwards, has any authority to impose his teachings or opinions on members. Every member has an equal right to attach himself to any teacher or to any school of thought which he may choose, but has no right to force his choice on any other.” (Declaration: Freedom of Thought)
Now, the founders of the Theosophical Society decided that the Society will profess its un-ideology with its three objects of functioning and that it is the first object alone which binds the candidates for membership to accept, i.e. the object to form the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood.
While the Society declares that “Universal Brotherhood is undefined and unlimited” it does not say how the formation of the nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood should take place. Therefore, it seems that it depends upon each actual management of the Society how it understands this process and how it will profess it. And, as there are no official documents on this issue, I will try to present my own view on this process.
The formation of the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood should obviously involve the formation of a group of people who are able to express fraternal feelings and behavior in mutual relations. And it is equally obvious that the ability to express such attitude is progressively acquired by moral evolution. But Dr. Annie Besant expressed her opinion that we, as human race, have already morally evolved to such a degree that we are capable to adopt such attitude in spite of our diversities in power, intellect and capacities.
Moving on, I propose that we can further define the ability to express fraternal feelings and behavior as the will of and the capacity for the expression of love in our mutual relations.
On love Dr. Annie Besant says:
“Love is characterized in all its manifestations by sympathy, self-sacrifice, the desire to give; these are its essential factors, whether as benevolence, as desire for mutual help, as reverence. … for sympathy is the feeling for another as one would feel for oneself; self-sacrifice is the recognition of the claim of the other, as oneself; giving is the condition of spiritual life.
“Love looking downwards is benevolence; love looking upwards is reverence; and these are the several common characteristics of love from superiors to inferiors, and from inferiors to superiors universally. … We see love showing itself as mutual tenderness and mutual trustfulness, as consideration, respect, and desire to please, as quick insight into and endeavor to fulfill the wishes of the other, as magnanimity, forbearance. … So we may say that the common characteristic of love between equals is desire for mutual help.
“Thus we have benevolence, desire for mutual help, and reverence as the three main divisions of the love-emotion, and under these all love emotions may be classified. For all human relations are summed up under the three classes: the relations of superiors to inferiors, of equals to equals, of inferiors to superiors.” (Annie Besant, A Study in Consciousness)
If we make another step forward then we could possibly say that the will of the expression of love represents the presence of certain principles (that what defines the orientation of thinking and acting, what emphasizes the essential) of our functioning. The presence of certain principles enables us to adopt appropriate fundamental attitude and provides the source from which love can extend.
But this is not enough, we need also the presence of the capacity for the expression of love, the presence of knowledge about the lawfulness, about the rules (that what defines the modes of thinking and acting) of our functioning, the knowledge about right and wrong acting.
Regarding the principles I. K. Taimni says the following:
“The fundamental principle which defines thinking and acting in theosophical movement is working out of a Great Plan for which realization are responsible the hierarchies of Angels and Adepts who from subtler planes guide the forces of Nature and bring about those changes and adjustments in human institutions which are needed for harmonious and efficient working of the Plan. … This principle is a source of inspiration which enables the members to stand firm and remain unaffected by periodical crises and to transcend any differences that may happen to arise with regard to the methods of work.” (I. K. Taimni, Principles of Theosophical Work)
While in regard to the rules we can say that a society is actually, in form, a collection of certain rules, a condensed knowledge a humanity has till now acquired about the right acting to assure the fundamental equality, freedom and fraternity of society’s members.
The appropriation of this fundamental principle and the knowledge of definite rules therefore offer the basic frame which enables members of the Society to strive towards brotherhood.
Now let us extend this fundamental frame with the principles and the rules which enables us to perform this task operatively.
“The first important principle we have to use in our work is the necessity of taking advantage of all the knowledge and the technique that are available in the world.
“The second principle is the adopting of the experimental attitude, because all precious acquisitions of humanity are the result of many continuous efforts and innumerable experiments.
“Such an attitude leads also to the greater importance of planning of our work. The importance of planning lies in the fact that it focuses all our forces on the definite objective which we have decided to reach.
“But the planning and the efficiency require also the services of trained workers equipped with knowledge which is necessary to realize this definite work. A theosophical worker should have a clear grasp of the fundamental principles of theosophy but at the same time s/he should have a sound knowledge of the thought currents prevailing in the world because this is the only way which enables him to make influence on them.” (I. K. Taimni, Principles of Theosophical Work)
And I. K. Taimni adds that the efficiency of the work can be attained only with the development of the power of taking initiative, with striving for perfection and also with the capability for tolerance and co-operation.
Let us now see the rules. We should endeavor to see them as living relations between the members of the Society and not just as a mere letter on the paper delivered by some alienated authority. With such endeavor they become living force in our relations which compels us to certain behavior. And the first Rule in the Rules and Regulations of the Theosophical Society says that the governing body which determines the policy of our Society is the General Council of the Theosophical Society as a representative body of all members of the Theosophical Society; in other words, that each member of the Society has the right and duty to participate in the work and contribute to the formation of the actual policy of the Theosophical Society.
There is one another reason for such interpretation of this first Rule. The main purpose for the incorporation of the Theosophical Society was namely to “give to the humanity certain deeper truths” and to create the suitable environment for further “dissemination of these truths” what should result in bringing about the “definite changes in the world”. And as the Theosophical Society does not have an ideology which should be uniformly presented to the world it is a task of members of the Society scattered around the world to find on their own the best possible ways to disseminate these “certain deeper truths” in the environment where they live and work.
In this way we can see that the formation of the nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood is not necessarily some hardly grasped thing or a matter of some individual judgment but the striving for a clear definition of the common interest and the will of and the capacity for the realization of this common interest. And this common interest of the members of the Theosophical Society can be defined with mentioned purpose of its incorporation and above principles and rules.
Till now we have somehow defined the appropriate forms which are needful so that we can realize the fraternal attitude in our mutual relations within the Society. But we have to fill these forms with an appropriate life if we want these forms to reflect our will and our capacity to express fraternal attitude.
And in this sense there is fundamental the presence of will to perform in a way that every our thinking, feeling and acting is subordinated to the aspiration to realize the great mission we have accepted.
But we need also the capacity, the use of a definite method. This method is possibly hidden in the word “method” itself, which derives from the Greek word “ methodos” and is composed of two words: “ hodos” - way, journey - and “meta” - after, beyond (what indicates a change, mutation, modification).
The meanings of the word “way” extend from characteristic or habitual manners of a certain society or group, a course of life, action or experience, point of view, approach, to a line leading to a place or point with related place, distance and time.
The word “meta” in Latin acquired also the meaning of cone, turning post, the point, object, which has to be reached.
Therefore the word “method” includes the “way” and the “object” of this journey, which is certain meeting with something beyond.
In Slovenian language a “meeting” is a happening that brings happiness. It is arranged meeting of certain group of people (collaborators, friends, lovers) where something is discussed, agreed upon, decided. But it also means facing with obstacles, troubles, shortage, competition and acquiring of certain knowledge.
Therefore our method should be an arranged meeting (in spirit) where we overcome, with expression of love, the competition, obstacles and troubles, and reach the feeling of happiness which coveys knowledge and change - a definite result, transformation (in form).
Or in other words: a dialog, on one side, with our own obstacles - fear of public expression of personal view or an excessive ambition, prejudices and established ways of thinking - thus with our lower nature - a dialog which causes in it the tension but also the possibility of separation; and a dialog, on the other side, with a co-members in the group of the Theosophical Society which symbolically represents the Spirit of Brotherhood and with which we can identify ourselves when we remove the obstacles which separate us from Him.
With these thoughts I conclude my search of objective measures which could possibly help us to verify if the functioning of definite institution is fraternal. So, let me finish this personal view on Principles and Rules which should govern the relations within the Theosophical Society with the conviction that from this perspective it is possible to throw proper light on every unfortunate episode or some unpleasant enduring policy in the history of our Society. That with its help we can discover that we can relate such episodes or policies to the supremacy of some partial interest over the common interest or to the intrusion of some ideology to all members of the Society. And more over, that every such acting was accompanied also with the violation of the Rules and Regulations of the Theosophical Society.
But for the sake of an objective analysis of such moments in the history of our Society it is equally important to bring all these events in the appropriate historical context and to not forget that the Theosophical Society has survived for 133 years and that this was made possible because of unselfish work of countless members who dedicated their lives to this noble cause.
"Theories of internationalism, being based on local point of view, can accomplish no more than to reduce all nations to one dead-level of suppression, leading ultimately to explosion more terrific than the outbursts of Vesuvius - matter seeking to imprison force. It is the Universal Law that makes possible the playing of Beethoven's magic compositions by orchestra of a hundred pieces. To compel the first and second violins to use their bows simultaneausly, would accomplish a result as futile in degree, and in its way, as any effort to bind the nations in one man-governed league. It is enough, and difficult enough, that nations should govern themselves; and they will never attain harmony by all striving to be the first violins. Order is attained by listening, self-government, and work; and not by listening to the next piece in the orchestra but to the universal symphony."
Last update: January 2009