A Living Philosophy For Humanity

Volume XVII
No. 4 (86) - Spring 1961

[Cover photo: William Quan Judge, April 13, 1851 - March 21, 1896.]


A Living Philosophy for Humanity

Published every Three Months. Sponsored by an International Group of Theosophists.
Objectives: To uphold and promote the Original Principles of the modern Theosophical Movement, and to disseminate the teachings of the Esoteric Philosophy as set forth by H.P. Blavatsky and her Teachers.
Editor: Boris de Zirkoff.
Subscriptions: $1.50 a year (four issues); single copy 40 cents. Send all subscriptions, renewals and correspondence to: 615 South Oxford Avenue, Los Angeles 5, California. Make checks and money orders payable to "Theosophia."

None of the organized Theosophical Societies, as such, are responsible for any ideas expressed in this magazine, unless contained in an official document. The Editor is responsible for unsigned articles only.



"You may take my word for it, that no advancement of any kind is ever useful which does not come by the slow and orderly processes of growth; and, so far as my experience goes, I find that the best condition for illumination is when I have quite stilled my physical, emotional, and mental bodies, and have then made some contact through my spiritual self with still higher planes of being. The secret of intuition - the surest guide to new knowledge is obtained when we correlate the lower bodies with the spiritual and bring them into harmony." - Thomas Alva Edison, in Bibby's Annual, 1915, p. 122.

"I spoke ... of the wonderful possibilities that at the present fateful juncture lie before humanity. They depend for their realization upon reaching a state of peace, but peace, in the hearts of men as well as peace in their relations. This peace can come into being only through unadulterated good will and brotherliness, the realization that it is the same life that manifests itself in all behind the superficial differences. The gospel of universal Brotherhood is really a version of the gospel of the inner unity of all. In so far as we realize this unity, we are saved, in a very real sense. It is the same life in different forms which gives rise to all the richness that exists, which like music, is brought out by different notes in different relationships. But each note has to be pure and clear, the note being each one's true distinctiveness, his innate and true individuality, the manifestation of which depends upon his freeing himself from various artificial and extraneous influences. When each is himself in a true sense, then by a wonderful process of magnetization each comes into his true relations with all, which relations are Brotherhood, which relations will also spell a beautiful and ever-enriching peace ..." - N. Sri Ram, The Theosophist, January, 1961, p. 228. [3]


Boris de Zirkoff

For many years past it has been customary in some Theosophical circles in various parts of the world to disregard the role played by William Quan Judge in the formation of the Theosophical Society, and often to belittle his personality and influence in the early history of the Movement.

The reasons for this attitude are somewhat confused, but there can be little doubt that they arise from the personal idiosyncrasies of the members and the ignorance which prevails among most of them with regard to the history of their own Movement.

Among the curious ideas which have been allowed to grow through the years is one which has been more than once expressed both verbally and in print, to the effect that Mr. Judge could hardly be considered as one of the Founders of the Society, and that H.P. Blavatsky and Col. Henry S. Olcott were actually the only people who should be called its Co-Founders.

We can afford to disregard such statements when they come from incompetent sources engaged, perchance, upon the pursuit of their own vested interests. But when the statement is made by people of wide erudition and high standing within the Movement, it calls for correction in the light of existing facts.

Even such a splendid and noble-minded Theosophist as the recently deceased Josephine Ransom, seems to have gone astray on this subject in her valuable work, A Short History of The Theosophical Society * (* Theos. Pub. House, Adyar, 1938, p. 78.) wherein, after a brief outline of the formation of the Society in 1875, she says:

"Col. Olcott afterwards reserved the word 'Founders' for those who worked hard and self-sacrificingly through the years to lay the Society's foundations, and described as 'formers' (sometimes 'institutors' by H.P.B.) those who gave in their names at this meeting, but for one reason or another ceased to be active or resigned. Only H.P.B. and Col. Olcott remained to the end. Judge, after years of fine work, seceded from the Society a year before his passing in 1896. The title therefore of 'Founders' usually means only H.P. Blavatsky and H.S. Olcott - who in time became known as the President-Founder ..."

Quite apart from the subject of the so-called "secession" which does not have to be discussed here, it would appear from the above curious statement that Judge did not work "hard and self-sacrificingly" enough to be called a Founder, which would have been contradicted even by Col. Olcott himself, to judge by various statements of his own on this very subject. In addition to being unjust to Judge, the statement is unjust to Col. Olcott himself. Printed as it is in a work which has official standing in The Theosophical Society [4] (Adyar), it carries far more weight than do casual pronouncements by people who hardly know what it is all about.

Now let us consider the evidence.

Writing to Mr. Judge from Ostende, July 27, 1886, at a time when she was rather sick and uncertain of the future, H.P.B. speaks of his magazine The Path, and says in part:

"... I will begin to work from this day to bring Olcott to let you have 50 monthly for your Path. They must be found - for if we were three original ones to this day, very soon we will be two ..."* (* From an unpublished letter of H.P.B.'s.) Meaning of course Mr. Judge and Col. Olcott.

In her letter to Mr. Judge dated from the same place on August 22, 1886, H.P.B. bluntly declares:

"... And you, you are one of the original Founders ..."* (* Originally published in The Theosophical Forum, Point Loma, Calif., Vol. V. November, 1933.)

H.P.B.'s important Letter to the Second Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society, American Section, held at Chicago, April 22-23, 1888, is addressed to William Q. Judge whom she calls "My Dearest Brother and Co Founder of the Theosophical Society."* (* See Report of Proceedings, Re-published many limes.) It is signed with the three dots emblematic of H.P.B.'s occult status, and should therefore be considered as an official document.

When The Theosophist published the official Report of that Convention, it gave some pertinent data about W.Q. Judge, as its President and Secretary. The writer stated:

"... He is one of the founders of the Theosophical Society, having been present at the social gathering in Madame Blavatsky's drawing-room when the idea of forming such a Society was broached by Colonel Olcott, and he moved the selection of the latter gentleman as temporary President ..."* (* Vol. IX, July, 1888, pp. 620-21.) Writing to Richard Harte from London, September 12, 1889, H.P.B., strongly objecting to certain policies followed at the time in the pages of The Theosophist, mainly by R. Harte himself, expressed herself thus:

"... I will not permit Judge to be lowered or humiliated in it. Judge is one of the Founders and a man who has ever been true to the Masters ..."* (* Originally published in The Theosophical Forum, Point Loma, Calif., Vol. V, January 15, 1934, pp, 132-33.)

In her "Preliminary Explanations" to E.S. Instruction No. III, written by H.P.B. at the time of a grave crisis through which the Movement was passing in 1889-90, due to treachery within and relentless attacks from without, [5] especially in America, she boldly comes out and states with regard to W.Q. Judge:

"... He is one of the three founders of the Theosophical Society, the only three who have remained as true as rock to the Cause ..."

Referring at a later date to her spirited defence of Judge in the pages of the above-mentioned document, she said in a letter:

"... Let them read Master's letter in the preliminary ... All that which I said about W.Q.J. was from His words in His letter to me ..."* (* Letters That Have helped Me, Vol. II, p. 117.)

In December, 1889, Richard Harte, reporting on Theosophical affairs in America, speaks in The Theosophist * (* Vol. XI, Suppl. to December, 1889, p. xlii.) of the consolidating process going on there under Mr. Judge. He says:

"... This is good news, for Mr. Judge is an old and staunch Theosophist, and is always acknowledged and treated by Madame Blavatsky and Col. Olcott as 'one of the Founders..."

A month after H.P.B.'s passing, her magazine Lucifer published a statement dated London, May 19, 1891, to counteract certain slanderous imputations on the part of some newspapers. This document was signed by ten prominent workers of the Movement in England, Mrs. Annie Besant heading the list of names. Among other things, it stated that:

"... In conjunction with Col. H.S. Olcott, the President of the Society, and Mr. William Q. Judge, a prominent New York lawyer, Vice-President and leader of the movement in America. Madame Blavatsky was the founder of the Theosophical Society, and this is a position that cannot well be carried either by a coup d'etat or otherwise ..."* (* Vol. VIII, June, 1891, pp. 319-20.)

Reporting on the passing of H.P.B., and the arrival of various officials in London, The Theosophist published a letter received from London which described the events in the Society, and the reaction of the Press to the passing of H.P.B. The writer dwells on the arrival of Mrs. A. Besant and W.Q. Judge, and says in part:

"... Mr. Judge will remain in England until Col. Olcott's arrival early in July; his presence with us at such a sad time is most welcome, for all who have the privilege of Knowing the Vice-President and Co-Founder of the Theosophical Society will at once realize how we must value the sense of strength, courage and hope, which he inspires wherever and with whomsoever he is."* (* The Theosophist, Vol. XII, July, 1891, p. 634.)

After his arrival in London, Col. H.S. Olcott addressed the First Annual Convention of the Theosophical Society in Europe held there July 9 and 10, 1891. In his Presidential Address, he explained how he had heard of H.P.B.'s [6] passing while he was in Sydney, Australia, and how he had altered his plans and had started almost immediately for Europe. He said in part:

"... I immediately determined to alter my plans and come on here, and summoned by telegraph my old associate and co-founder, Mr. Judge, to meet me here and consult with other friends upon the future of the Society ..."* (* Ibid., September, 1891, p. 707.)

This statement at least should settle once for all Col. H.S. Olcott's own opinion of whether Judge was or was not a "Founder."

On the 7th of October, 1891, Col. Olcott was in San Francisco, on his way back to India. Mr. Judge was there also, as he was touring the country at the time on behalf of the Movement. At the reception given to the President Founder, Mr. Judge was of course present. As the proceedings were about to start, Col. Olcott said to him: "Take your seat by my side as you did at New York in 1875: we were one in the work then and are now."* (* The Path, New York, Vol. VI, November, 1891, p. 260.)

Reporting on the same trip West of both Col. Olcott and Mr. Judge, Allen Griffiths, one of the most indefatigable workers in America, describes the meeting of the two Officials at Oakland. He writes:

"... Here was a sight to cheer the hearts of all true Theosophists - the President and Vice-President, the two remaining Founders of the T.S., meeting on these distant shores of the Pacific, grasping hands and greeting each other as brothers bound by no common tie."* (* Lucifer, Vol. IX, November, 1891, p. 259.)

We have seen now that both H.P.B. and Col. H.S. Olcott entertained no doubt as to whether Judge was a Co-Founder of the Society with them, and they are supposed to have known the score better than anybody else.

But if any further evidence is desired, it might be useful and interesting, historically speaking, to quote in extenso the text of a Circular which was issued in printed form to the Members of the Blavatsky Lodge, on March 11, 1892, and signed by Annie Besant, as President of said Lodge. The occasion was the prospective resignation of Col. Olcott as President of the T.S., a resignation which he later withdrew. The Circular is as follows:

19, Avenue Road,
Regent's Park, London, N.W.
March 11th, 1892

My dear Colleagues,
For the first time in the history of the Theosophical Society we are called upon to elect a President. When the Society was founded in 1875 by H.P. Blavatsky, H.S. Olcott, and William Q. Judge, H.S. Olcott was [7] appointed its President, and has held that office down to the present year. Now the office is vacant, by his resignation, and it devolves upon us to fill it.
Having in view the importance to the whole Society of a wise choice of our chief officer, I feel that you may fairly claim at my hands, as President of this Lodge, some expression of opinion, not as determining your votes, but as a factor in the formation of your judgment. I therefore frankly say to you that, in my view, the present Vice-President, and remaining co-founder of the Society, William Quan Judge, is the most suitable person to guide the Society, and one who cannot with justice be passed over. He is not only the Vice-President and a founder, but he was the trusted friend and colleague of H.P. Blavatsky from 1875 until she passed away. Belonging to the old country by his birth, he has gained the confidence of the American Section by his faithful work, and will doubtless command its unanimous support.
Having thus placed my own views at the service of the Lodge, I leave the matter in your hands.
Annie Besant,
President of the Blavatsky Lodge

Against this background of historical data any uncertainty concerning the status of W.Q. Judge in the framework of the original Theosophical Society becomes entirely needless, and any reluctance to recognize facts for what they are, or any squeamishness in placing them in their correct light in the historical perspective, are not only useless but positively harmful to the cause of Truth and fair play.

On the day when everyone of the active Theosophical Organizations in the world will have emblazoned the name of William Quan Judge, side by side with those of H.P. Blavatsky and Col. Henry S. Olcott, on their official documents and letterheads, as chief Founders of the Theosophical Society, a major step will have been taken in the cause of Theosophical unification, goodwill and solidarity the world over.

It is indeed high time that this step be taken as an act of ordinary justice. It is called for, no less by historical facts than by our sense of fairness, truthfulness, and unimpeachable accuracy, as students of Theosophy, whose aim should at all times be strict adherence to Truth irrespective of consequences, and an undisguised eagerness to give credit where credit is due. It is better to have done this as a voluntary measure arising from a sense of fair play, than to have it forced upon some of us by the ineluctable logic of historical events, and the subtle workings of karmic justice.

Echoing our first and foremost flag-bearer, H.P.B., we demand "for a spoliated past, that credit for its achievement which has been too long withheld," and call "for a restitution of borrowed robes, and the vindication of calumniated but glorious reputations." [8]


Lawrence Easterbrook
[Reprinted from the News Chronicle, London, October 8, 1960.]*

*This remarkable article appeared in a publication the circulation of which is listed as being 1,169,000, and received wide acclaim from readers. An instance of what can be done by active and enthusiastic Theosophists is exemplified by the fact that two of our Canadian Theosophists, Eurith Goold and Greta Chambers, sent a reproduction of this article to the Editors of all Canadian daily newspapers (88) and weeklies (531) with a covering letter asking them to reprint it. One of the results was that the Halifax Chronicle-Herald, with a circulation of 65 thousands, spread it over five columns under the bold-face heading "Eminent Writer Discusses Reincarnation." This indicates a vast field of Theosophical endeavor which can be investigate by any active theosophical mind - a field of service to the Cause which in a great many places lies completely fallow. For anyone interested to find out how best to do it, we append the address of one of the ladies: Miss Frances Eurith Goold, 531 Bay Street, Ottawa 4, Ont., Canada. - Editor, Theosophia.

Most of us at one time or another have envied some and been sorry for others. How wonderful, we think, to be able to spend L5,000 on a party and pay a secretary to do the work.

How terrible, we say on another occasion, to be born blind, like that poor chap, never to see the excitement of a football match or the beauty of a rose. The strange thing is, however, that if you come to know such people things are seldom as you expected them.

As often as not the millionaires are restless, anxious, unhappy people haunted by fears of ulcers, of losing their money or of being liked only for their wealth.

The blind seem to find a way to a serenity that no money could buy and one of their worries is that people will insist upon expressing pity for them.

On the other hand I have met rich men who can enjoy the simple pleasures of life, like you and me; and it would be untrue to say that all blind men are happy. Obviously, then, this is not such a straightforward matter as we are inclined to think.

The lucky and the unlucky do not fall into those neat divisions where we are apt to place them by applying our own standard of values.

Happiness is something that we carry within us, not necessarily dependent upon prosperity, or even upon good health. But how does this happen and why are things arranged like that?

Soul Factory

If you believe that every person at birth is a brand new product from a kind of celestial soul factory, who plays his little part for 70 years or so and is then swept up in the dustpan of oblivion, I can see no answer to such questions. It does seem to make the world a very unfair place.

For even if you discard the material factors one thinks should make for happiness it would be no less unfair that some people should be born with a gift for being happy while others are debarred from it.

To be born a great artist or a great orator is at least as much a favored condition of birth as to be born into wealthy surroundings.

If you think that we come from nowhere and finish here you are admitting, it seems to me, that our lives are accidental; that we are the only [9] illogical, unordered factors in a plainly ordered universe.

Key to Riddle

Each must work out his beliefs for himself and it is a mistake to accept things on external authority.

But it need not be a hopeless quest, even for the humblest. For we have been assured by the wisest man who ever lived, that those who seek shall find.

Speaking only for myself, I found long ago that the only satisfying key to the riddle seemed to be to regard this world as a preparatory school in which the immortal "I" in every man sought experiences of his own choice in his long journey to perfection.

Perhaps we come back here many times; perhaps we're here only once, obtaining further experience elsewhere.

In either case, one earthly life is only an incident in our "education." I have always imagined that what happens may be something like this. When we "die" (i.e., come to the end of an earthly term) we review our life, rather as one might look at a film of a summer holiday. We see our successes and our failures, together with those whom we have loved and those we may have treated badly.

We find ourselves wishing we could have another chance where we had failed and wanting to strengthen a weakness in our character here, develop some particular side of it there.

We should like to make amends for misdeeds, to repay debts of kindness, to atone where we might have been unjust or unkind and to maintain, if possible, some personal association.

Our Choice

From those desires the pattern of our next incarnation wherever it may be, begins to evolve.

And so it is that when that incarnation comes our life follows a general course that was freely chosen by us and can be altered for good or ill when we come to live it, but is likely to conform to a pre-arranged pattern.

The psychologists tell us that there is a subconscious part of ourselves that lies deeper than the memories we can call to mind and deeper than our ordinary daily consciousness.

Somewhere in those realms of mind the true "I" that is each of us resides. It could very well be that this part of our being is subconsciously aware of the path we have chosen and, therefore, can accept the apparent injustice of being born blind, or otherwise handicapped, with an equanimity that surprises the rest of us who have not chosen those particular difficulties to contend with.

This is the doctrine of reincarnation, fundamental to Hinduism and Buddhism, taught by Plato to the Greeks and by the Ancient Druids of Gaul. There is evidence that it was accepted by the early Christian Church. But it was declared heretical by the Second Council of Constantinople in A.D. 553.

It would be incompatible with ecclesiastical Christianity because, by making the individual responsible for his own salvation, it eliminates the function of all ecclesiastical intermediary in remitting his sins.

On the, contrary, bad deeds must be atoned for by good deeds, if you accept reincarnation. It is not so much a question of getting someone to tell us that God has forgiven us as showing us by our lives that we have forgiven ourselves.

It is the law of cause and effect, worked out for himself by every man. I am not asking anyone to believe this, for I could not deprecate too strongly the practice of handing people their religion on a plate and telling them they ought to accept it because you think it is true.

It does not bring true conviction and it encourages apathy in these matters.

Worth Study

I should have thought that spiritual enlightenment came from meditation, from reading, from the exchange of ideas and, not least, perhaps from the individual "wanting to know." [10]

But a doctrine acceptable to the Buddha, to Plato and Pythagoras, to Swedenborg, Goethe, Tagore and many more of the world's inspired philosophers must certainly be worthy of study; especially if it seems to make sense of apparent injustice and fit in with an ordered scheme of things.

The principle is simple and logical in the extreme. The application of it is as complicated and varied as the diversity of all living things.

That again seems to be one of the hallmarks of truth.


Josephine Ransom

[The following excerpts are from an article originally published in the well known Bibby's Annual, London, No. 10, 19I5, p. 72. The author of it was one of the stalwarts of the modern Theosophical Movement who passed away but a few months ago, after a life-time of noble service to the great Cause. Mrs. Josephine Ransom became in the last year of her life the Vice-President of the Theosophical Society (Adyar). She was the historian of the Movement, having written a great deal on this subject. Her best known work is A Short History of The Theosophical Society, published in 1938.]

All wars, great or small, have hitherto proved to be but preludes to yet more wars. There has never been but temporary sharpness and appearance of finality about them. They have always been terrible experiences, making havoc of individual and national life, though there is not much record of what ancient people thought of the devastation caused by war; so far as we can make out they seem to have been able to ignore the terrible tragedies and remember only its triumphs.

Warfare, as such, cannot be expected to have its guidance in humanitarian principles. Yet warfare - by the long sorrows it entails, by the miseries it inflicts, the naked horrors it thrusts upon combatants and non-combatants alike has beaten into our consciousness a growing pity, a swelling desire to minimize the consequences of deliberate and organized destruction.

So, side by side with the growth of militarism has developed a keen fear of its hard and harsh facts, till, in some people, that fear has come to be a longing for peace at almost any price. Yet even in many who feel this, duty and the ideal count for still more, are stronger than any fear, and they fling their lives into the ... turmoil. They hear the call of country and of human need, their hearts take fire, and they judge that to crush militarism will be to secure the peace they prize so highly.

In those who fight for peace is made manifest the spirit of the knights of old who went abroad "redressing human wrongs," they do it now as did the knights, by way of bloodshed and death; But now they hate the method where aforetimes they took it as part of the game ... [11]

If Reincarnation be true, then both men and women have been equally through the long grind, and stand revealed as witnesses of the virility and power to accomplish which the struggle of the past has developed in them, and also of what the future may expect of them.

For the spirit of struggle shall not die out. Were that so, then evolution would stop short. But we need to make more clear, impressive, and inspiring the reasons for the struggle. So far, it has expressed itself as the determination to be uppermost at any cost, and has culminated in the fearful conditions that now make the whole world anxious, uneasy, and even afraid as to the issues.

In place of this we must make service the source of our future activities. Already it has made itself felt as the force which has crept into every effort to ameliorate suffering; dictated every sacrifice of personality to principle; banded men and women into co-operative efforts; inspired brotherhoods of all sorts, and here and there flashed out into power to subordinate differences, to the serving of the ideal.

Service, to be real and effective, must be based upon self-control. Here is the point where the old desire to seek for selfish ends is transmuted into the new aspiration to sacrifice self in the helping of others, and which is, indeed, the guarantee of stability in any peace that is to come.

The ways of peace in the past have lacked this base; therefore, they have turned to self-pandering and to exploitation of the weak. So, students of history correctly see that peace has been fraught with even more dangers than war. Peace weakened - morally, socially, intellectually, war made strong, virile, successful. Peace meant worship of sensuous delights, the wine of life spilled on the altars of unholiness, then war, a bitterly painful, but cleansing, corrective came down and routed the worshipers.

Peace must be stern and progressive, and rely - as does an army - upon self-control and discipline for attaining its purposes. Deep students of human affairs prophesy an international police force to control the restlessness of nations, and which shall eliminate our desperate need of armaments and keep wholesome the intercourse of the world. But the fighting spirit is a human asset of inestimable value. We do not want to get rid of it - we want to use it, to put it at the disposal of peace, as it has ever been at the disposal of war. So far, it has been obedient to the dictates of militarism; now it must be made obedient to an ideal, to unity of purpose and elasticity of organization - elasticity because progress is strangely elusive, the moment it is captured, that moment it escapes to vivify other endeavors.

Soon there will be once more amongst us men and women, and especially men, who have faced big facts, taken part in tremendous issues, felt the fate of nations to be in their hands, thrilled to gigantic tasks. They have a new strength, an added knowledge, calmness, and courage in great measure, all qualities which war shall make no further demands upon, but which must not, therefore, be allowed to lie fallow when there is so vast a work to accomplish.

Yet there are thousands everywhere to whom these things are unknown - the helpless, the ignorant, the slothful, [12] the foolish, and numbers more to whom no impetus is given, and who have, therefore, no place in the ranks of those to whom citizenship is a privilege and the State an ideal to be served.

Here is outlet enough for the spirit of the fighter, for that spirit knows no fear of squalor or degradation, counts no condition too hard to attack and change, is well equipped with courage to descend into the hells of human misery and sloth, and battle there for happiness and worth. That spirit, the old vigorous spirit of martial ardor, but now purified of its blood-lust, will fight for the preservation of life, will live for the triumph of Right, and not only slay and be slain for the sake of it.

The ideal fighter of the future shall be he who will apply his knowledge to prevent children being taught according to the greedy competitive system now in vogue, and will foster in its place the spirit of service; who will turn his energy to checking the cruel eagerness to gain at the cost of another's failure; who will carry his fighting valour into social re-adjustment, where many "evils" can be uprooted only by dint of prodigious strength and patience; who will see beneath party selfishness and littleness in politics the essential greatness and solidarity of the human race and will work steadfastly for their manifestation in all things; who in religion will raise up men to a wholehearted worship of God which shall cleanse them of all narrowness of creed, system, or dogma.

In short, the precious strength generated by wars, and the need of wars, in all times, must be turned to vigorous service. If not, then it must corrode where it lies unused, must rot where it cannot be active, or else will seek familiar outlet on fields of slaughter. We must plan such a peace as shall never again conduce to weakness, a peace which shall be armed at all points with the grandeur of the transmuted fighting spirit, and therefore wonderfully prepared to wage unceasing, vigilant war against all ignorance, or foulness of body, and all darkness or wickedness of mind.



Reluctantly, we have to ask our many friends and subscribers in Canada not to send us Canadian cash or checks on Canadian banks. Both of these result in monetary loss at this end of the line, as the Canadian dollar is discounted at the present moment. In addition to that, no Canadian cash or checks can be deposited in the bank without first having been exchanged into U.S.A. money. It is all right to send us, as before, Canadian checks on U.S.A. banks, and Canadian Money Orders which are cashed at par. Thank you in advance for helping us out in this matter. - Editor, Theosophia. [13]


Harold W. Dempster

This is a universally interesting question. It is a profound question. It makes us think. Therefore, it requires more than a superficial answer. It is one of those posers like the definition of consciousness or life. No one has ever been able adequately to define life. We say life is: and we are obliged to stop there. The same with consciousness: consciousness is. It is therefore a temptation to say: truth is, and this subject would be disposed of for all time.

We might even go so far as to say that truth is reality; but who knows what reality is?

This reminds me of a conversation I had sometime ago with a student. I asked this friend, 'what is your definition of God?' Her answer was: 'God is love.' Not being satisfied, I asked, 'what is love?' 'Love is God', came the reply. And so, I found myself right hack where I was before. If I knew what love was, I would know what God was, and if I knew what God was, I would know the meaning of love.

What about truth? Must we evade answering it? or isn't there a method of arriving at an understanding of what it means to us? Does it mean the same to all men? Or is it something that is true to one and not to another?

You remember what Pontius Pilate said at the trial of Jesus. He said, and possibly with a shrug of the shoulders, 'what is truth?' - as much as to say, 'who knows what truth is?;' in which statement I think he was purposefully evading the issue. And so, if I would not repeat Pilate's attitude, I must give an answer. People really want to know what truth is, because it intrigues them. There is something inside, within the deeper recesses of the human soul, that cries out: 'I want to know the facts of life', 'I seek to know the truth'. And such a yearning within the human heart cannot be dispelled by evasion, or by saying it is too abstract for definition. And so, we are faced with the problem of offering an answer to that legitimate yearning or desire to know.

One way of approaching a deeper understanding of what is meant by truth is to examine some of truth's characteristics, so to speak. The most outstanding of which is the fact that truth is universal. If a particular truth is a fact in regard to one human being, it is a fact as related to all mankind. An example of this is the fundamental law of cause and effect, or karman, for it applies to everything in the universe. Karman is a truth as regards the atoms as it is a truth in regard to all the kingdoms of nature, from the elemental to the most complex galaxy. This gives us something to cling to. It clearly shows that basic truth is universally true, regardless of whether it is universally accepted.

In a more concrete way, we know that the laws of electricity, or of radio, or mechanics are basically true everywhere. The aborigine may not be aware of the fact that high voltage will kill him if he comes in direct contact with it, even though he may have been warned by those who knew.

Another method of increasing our knowledge of what truth is, then, is [14] the fact that there are certain known laws of the universe, as well as of electricity and mechanics, that are true everywhere. Hence, it would be well for us to examine some of these basic laws of the universe, and at the same time remember their universal application.

One of the most apparent of these laws or habits of nature is that of cycles. Everyone knows that the seasons of the year follow each other regularly and periodically. That day and night change places with each other. Certain cycles of the moon are beneficent and others maleficent, running in periods of 14 days each. We have even cycles of wars, followed by a generation or an age of peace.

If mankind was more aware today of the fact that the present world conditions are the direct result of its own thinking or lack of thinking, individually and collectively, it would certainly be engrossed in an all-out effort so to live according to a deeper knowledge of the laws of nature, that international warfare as a method of readjusting the scales of world trade would be an impossibility. Why is man not more aware of it? Because he has not been effectively taught to know scientifically that it is impossible to live and act unethically, either in small or large ways, without results of such actions returning to the originator. What kind of an ethical standard do we live by today? What unworthy thoughts and feelings have we originated that eventually come back upon us in this or future lives? Is this a mere fanciful theory? Or is it a basic and universal truth, applying to all races and to all nations and to all individuals? That is what we mean by truth.

Speaking of future lives, we have a long, long way to go yet to reach the goal of relative perfection at the end of the seventh round of evolution. We are in the fourth round today, just a little past the half-way point. We have been aeons of years reaching the present stage of development, and it shall be aeons of years before we reach the end of this great seven-round-period. Some say: 'Oh! there's plenty of time to think about this business of learning about the fundamental truths of nature. Why, I'll reincarnate thousands of times yet.' Well, one might just as well say that one did not care about obtaining any education, on the grounds that it wasn't necessary. Can you picture the difficulties of the uneducated man in the world of today? It is not difficult to visualize the problems of the one who thinks he has plenty of time to learn about the laws, the simple truths, of life. That is one of man's great stumbling blocks. Indifference and mental laziness.

Now let's consider this question of truth from the examination of another great universal truth: evolution. We have heard a lot about evolution, ever since Darwin's time. The unfortunate part of it is that this "monkey business" has been going on long enough. It's time for the next great scene in the cosmic drama of time and space. The scenery has to be very radically shifted. Instead of viewing evolution from the outside, our cyclic clock calls for treating the subject from a new, and yet very, very old point of view. What is this new viewpoint regarding evolution?

That evolution or growth proceeds from within outwards has been the teaching of the mystery schools from [15] time immemorial. That man's origin is divinity and not an ape, as has been erroneously taught these many years, since Darwin collected a voluminous amount of material dealing with transformism, which caused man - who is judging only from appearances, a dangerous method of approaching basic truth - to believe that he had descended or ascended, whichever you like better, from the anthropoids. There was a similarity, and small wonder since the anthropoid ape came from man and not man from the anthropoid.

The masters of wisdom, who have always been behind the mystery schools, know from first hand knowledge, as well as that which has been handed down to them by their great predecessors, and which they have tested and verified for themselves, that all evolution proceeds from within the consciousness of all entities. This inner growth of the consciousness requires new bodies, new forms to express itself through as it progresses along the pathway that leads back to its source: divinity, the heart of the universe. All things have had their origin in that heart and all things return to that heart. That is all there is to it. There is no need to make a complicated external approach to it. It is very simple, like all the great fundamental truths. That is one reason why they have not been readily found.

There is a story told in connection with the gods of long ago, when the gods were young in evolutionary status, so to speak. At this time, man of that day claimed kinship with these gods. The gods admitted that man's claim of relationship was a just one, but they became alarmed over the matter. So they took from him the spark of divinity that be possessed and sought to hide it where he could never find it, in order that man would not become their equal. With great ingenuity did they seek to find a suitable place. But, no place could they decide upon, neither on the earth, nor in the heavens. So the great father seeing their dilemma, said: "Give it to me and I will hide it in a very safe place. I will hide it within man himself." And the gods excitedly asked, "Whereabouts within man?" "That is my secret," replied the great father, "And always will be until man discovers it for himself."

What, is the reason why he has not found it within himself? Because he has been looking for it outside. This great universal truth of man having divinity within his own heart is one of the lost chords of modern thinking. God, or divinity, is within man. It is that internal fountain of wisdom inspiration, love and peace, that lies within every human heart. It is the 'Still small voice within,' the intuition, the divine or inner flame. It is the knower within. The discriminator - that which enables us to know and to understand what it is that we speak of as truth. To lose conscious contact with this internal spiritual essence or energy, is to lose all that is human, high, noble and grand. It is our divine birthright and it is our duty to arouse ourselves and others from the sleep that obscures it from our consciousness. If we would do big things, we must endeavor to unite ourselves more closely with it and allow it to manifest itself through all the lower vehicles, such as the intellect or reasoning, the mind, the emotions, the vitality, and the astro-physical body. It is the source; all the others are its tributaries. Look for it in the [16] eyes and the actions of your fellows. You will find it often in human souls where you may have least expected it. Nurture and cultivate it and peace of mind and courage of heart will be yours ... and greater things shall ye do because of it. This is also what we mean by truth.



Is it necessary for the student to attain a clear grasp of the deeper scientific and philosophic doctrines of Theosophy, in order to put into practice the ethical teachings?

Of course. The ethical teachings - which, to a very large extent, are identical with the precepts of all the great religions of the world - have no sound foundation without the deeper philosophical and scientific doctrines of the Esoteric Philosophy. Devoid of these, the ethical precepts sound very beautiful but provide no reason why they should be followed.

Basically, all ethics are grounded on the idea of Brotherhood, but why should men feel brotherly towards each other, unless they understand something about their fundamental oneness, as to origin, evolutionary pilgrimage, and future destiny. And it is precisely these ideas which involve the deeper philosophical and scientific teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. To feel brotherly towards others just because it is good to do so; or to live an ethical life just because it has been said in the past that it is right to do so - are no sound reasons for men endowed with the power of creative thinking and intellectual analysis. If it were different, then the Christian world, after centuries of lofty-sounding preaching and teaching, would be a paragon of virtues. As it is, there is hardly anything in the Christian view of life which might explain the reasons why the Christian ethics should be practiced. And the same is applicable to any other religion in its exoteric aspect.

The man who acquires at least some grasp over the teachings of causation, reincarnation, the evolution of races, the cyclic periodicity in nature, the inner god of every human being, the divine life in all that evolves and grows, the existence of higher beings beyond us in their evolutionary journey - that man gets in possession of intellectual and spiritual key-thoughts which alone can give him basic reasons for living a life of brotherhood, a life solidly rooted in a lofty ethical conduct.


"And he gave it for his opinion that whoever could make two blades of grass grow upon a spot of ground where only one grew before, would deserve better of mankind, and do more essential service to his country, than the whole race of politicians put together." - Jonathan Swift.