A Correspondent from New York writes:
. . . . The Editors of LUCIFER would confer
a great benefit on those who are attracted to the movement which
they advocate, if they would state:
(I) Whether a would-be-theosophist-occultist is required to abandon
his worldly ties and duties such as family affection, love of
parents, wife, children, friends, etc.?
I ask this question because it is rumoured here that some theosophical
publications have so stated, and would wish to know whether such
a sine quâ non condition really exists in
your Rules? The same, however, is found in the New Testament.
"He that loveth father or mother more than Me, is not worthy
of Me; and he that loveth son or daughter more than Me is not
worthy of Me, etc., etc," is said in Matthew (x. 37). Do
the MASTERS of Theosophy demand as much?
Yours in the Search of Light,
L. M. C.
This is an old, old question, and a still older charge against
theosophy, started first by its enemies. We emphatically answer,
NO; adding that no theosophical publication
could have rendered itself guilty of such a FALSEHOOD
and calumny. No follower of theosophy, least of all a disciple
of the "Masters of Theosophy" (the chela of a
guru), would ever be accepted on such conditions. Many
were the candidates, but "few the chosen." Dozens were
refused, simply because married and having a sacred duty to perform
to wife and children.1 None have ever been asked to
forsake father or mother; for he who, being necessary to his parent
for his support, leaves him or her to gratify his own selfish
consideration or thirst for knowledge, however great and sincere,
is "unworthy" of the Science of Sciences,
"or ever to approach a holy MASTER."
Our correspondent must surely have confused in his mind Theosophy
with Roman Catholicism, and Occultism with the dead-letter teachings
of the Bible. For it is only in the Latin Church that it has become
a meritorious action, which is called serving God and Christ,
to "abandon father and mother, wife and children," and
every duty of an honest man and citizen, in order to become a
monk. And it is in St. Luke's Gospel that one reads the terrible
words, put in the mouth of Jesus: "If any man come
to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children,
and brethren, and sisters, yea, his own life also,
HE CANNOT BE MY DISCIPLE.
Saint (?) Jerome teaches, in one of his writings, "If
thy father lies down across thy threshold, if thy mother uncovers
to thine eyes the bosom which suckled thee, trample on thy
father's lifeless body, TRAMPLE ON THY MOTHER'S
BOSOM, and with eyes unmoistened and dry, fly to
the Lord, who calleth thee!"
Surely then, it is not from any theosophical publication
that our correspondent could have learnt such an infamous charge
against theosophy and its MASTERS but rather
in some anti-Christian, or too dogmatically "Christian"
Our society has never been "more Catholic than the Pope."
It has done its best to follow out the path prescribed by the
Masters; and if it has failed in more than one respect to fulfil
its arduous task, the blame is certainly not to be thrown on either
Theosophy, nor its Masters, but on the limitations of human nature.
The Rules, however, of chelaship, or discipleship,
are there, in many a Sanskrit and Tibetan volume. In Book IV of
Kiu-ti, in the chapter on "the Laws of Upasans"
(disciples), the qualifications expected in a "regular
chela" are: (1) Perfect physical health.2
(2) Absolute mental and physical purity. (3) Unselfishness of
purpose; universal charity; pity for all animate beings. (4) Truthfulness
and unswerving faith in the laws of Karma. (5) A courage undaunted
in the support of truth, even in face of peril to life. (6) An
intuitive perception of one's being the vehicle of the manifested
divine Atman (spirit). (7) Calm indifference for, but a
just appreciation of, everything that constitutes the objective
and transitory world. (8) Blessing of both parents3
and their permission to become an Upasan (chela); and (9)
Celibacy, and freedom from any obligatory duty."
The two last rules are most strictly enforced. No man convicted
of disrespect to his father or mother, or unjust abandonment
of his wife, can ever be accepted even as a lay chela.
This is sufficient, it is hoped. We have heard of chelas who,
having failed, perhaps in consequence of the neglect of
some such duty, for one or another reason, have invariably thrown
the blame and responsibility for it on the teaching of the Masters.
This is but natural in poor and weak human beings who have not
even the courage to recognise their own mistakes, or the rare
nobility of publicly confessing them, but are always trying to
find a scapegoat. Such we pity, and leave to the Law of Retribution,
or Karma. It is not these weak creatures, who can ever be expected
to have the best of the enemy described by the wise Kirátárjuniya
The enemies which rise within the body,
Hard to be overcome the evil passions
Should manfully be fought, who conquers these
Is equal to the conqueror of worlds. (xi. 32.)
We have received several communications for publication, bearing
on the subjects discussed in the editorial of our last issue,
"Let every man prove his own work." A few brief remarks
may be made, not in reply to any of the letters which, being
anonymous, and containing no card from the writers, cannot be
published (nor are such noticed, as a general rule) but to
the ideas and accusations contained in one of them, a letter signed
"M." Its author takes up the cudgels on behalf of the
Church. He objects to the statement that the institution lacks
the enlightenment necessary to carry out a true system of philanthropy.
He appears, also, to demur to the view that "the practical
people either go on doing good unintentionally and often do harm,"
and points to the workers amid our slums as a vindication of Christianity which,
by-the-bye, was in no sense attacked in the editorial so criticized.
To this, repeating what was said, we maintain that more mischief
has been done by emotional charity than sentimentalists care to
face. Any student of political economy is familiar with this fact,
which passes for a truism with all those who have devoted attention
to the problem. No nobler sentiment than that which animates the
unselfish philanthropist is conceivable; but the question at issue
is not summed up in the recognition of this truth. The practical
results of his labours have to be examined. We have to see whether
he does not sow the seeds of a greater while relieving a lesser evil.
The fact that "thousands are making great efforts in all
the cities throughout our land" to meet want, reflects immense
credit on the character of such workers. It does not affect their
creed, for such natures would remain the same, whatever the prevailing
dogmas chanced to be. It is certainly a very poor illustration
of the fruits of centuries of dogmatic Christianity that England
should be so honeycombed with misery and poverty as she is especially
on the biblical ground that a tree must be judged by its fruits!
It might, also, be argued, that the past history of the Churches,
stained as it is with persecutions, the suppression of knowledge,
crime and brutality, necessitates the turning over of a new leaf.
The difficulties in the way are insuperable. "Churchianity"
has, indeed, done its best to keep up with the age by assimilating
the teachings of, and making veiled truces with, science, but
it is incapable of affording a true spiritual ideal to the world.
The same Church-Christianity assails with fruitless pertinacity,
the ever-growing host of Agnostics and Materialists, but is as
absolutely ignorant, as the latter, of the mysteries beyond the
tomb. The great necessity for the Church, according to Professor
Flint, is to keep the leaders of European thought within its fold.
By such men it is, however, regarded as an anachronism. The Church
is eaten up with scepticism within its own walls; free-thinking
clergymen being now very common. This constant drain of vitality
has reduced the true religion to a very low ebb, and it is to
infuse a new current of ideas and aspirations into modern thought,
in short, to supply a logical basis for an elevated morality,
a science and philosophy which is suited to the knowledge of the
day, that Theosophy comes before the world. Mere physical philanthropy,
apart from the infusion of new influences and ennobling conceptions
of life into the minds of the masses, is worthless. The gradual
assimilation by mankind of great spiritual truths will alone revolutionize
the face of civilization, and ultimately result in a far more
effective panacea for evil, than the mere tinkering of superficial
misery. Prevention is better than cure. Society creates its own
outcasts, criminals, and profligates, and then condemns and punishes
its own Frankensteins, sentencing its own progeny, the "bone
of its bone, and the flesh of its flesh," to a life of damnation
on earth. Yet that society recognises and enforces most hypocritically
Christianity i.e., "Churchianity." Shall we
then, or shall we not, infer that the latter is unequal to the
requirements of mankind? Evidently the former, and most painfully
and obviously so, in its present dogmatic form, which makes of
the beautiful ethics preached on the Mount, a Dead Sea fruit,
a whitened sepulchre, and no better.
Furthermore, the same "M.," alluding to Jesus as one
with regard to whom there could be only two alternatives, writes
that he "was either the Son of God or the vilest impostor
who ever trod this earth." We answer, not at all. Whether
the Jesus of the New Testament ever lived or not, whether he existed
as an historical personage, or was simply a lay figure around
which the Bible allegories clustered the Jesus of Nazareth of
Matthew and John, is the ideal for every would-be sage and Western
candidate Theosophist to follow. That such an one as he, was a
"Son of God," is as undeniable as that he was neither
the only "Son of God," nor the first one, nor
even the last who closed the series of the "Sons of God,"
or the children of Divine Wisdom, on this earth. Nor is that other
statement that in "His life he (Jesus) has ever spoken of
himself as co-existent with Jehovah, the Supreme, the Centre of
the Universe," correct, whether in its dead letter, or hidden
mystic sense. In no place does Jesus ever allude to "Jehovah";
but, on the contrary, attacking the Mosaic laws and the alleged
Commandments given on Mount Sinai, he disconnects himself and
his "Father" most distinctly and emphatically from the
Sinaitic tribal God. The whole of Chapter V, in the Gospel of
Matthew, is a passionate protest of the "man of peace, love
and charity," against the cruel, stern, and selfish commandments
of "the man of war," the "Lord" of Moses (Exod.
xv., 3). "Ye have heard that it was said by them of old times," so
and so "But I say unto you," quite the reverse.
who still hold to the Old Testament and the Jehovah of the Israelites,
are at best schismatic Jews. Let them be that, by all means,
if they will so have it; but they have no right to call themselves
even Chréstians, let alone Christians.4
It is a gross injustice and untruth to assert, as our anonymous
correspondent does, that "the freethinkers are notoriously
unholy in their lives." Some of the noblest characters, as
well as deepest thinkers of the day, adorn the ranks of Agnosticism,
Positivism and Materialism. The latter are the worst enemies of
Theosophy and Mysticism; but this is no reason why strict justice
should not be done unto them. Colonel Ingersoll, a rank materialist,
and the leader of free-thought in America, is recognised, even
by his enemies, as an ideal husband, father, friend and citizen,
one of the noblest characters that grace the United States. Count
Tolstoi is a freethinker who has long parted with the orthodox
Church, yet his whole life is an exemplar of Christ-like altruism
and self-sacrifice. Would to goodness every "Christian"
should take those two "infidels" as his models
in private and public life. The munificence of many freethinking
philanthropists stands out in startling contrast with the apathy
of the monied dignitaries of the Church. The above fling at the
"enemies of the Church," is as absurd as it is contemptible.
"What can you offer to the dying woman who fears to tread
alone the DARK UNKNOWN?" we are asked.
Our Christian critic here frankly confesses (a) that Christian
dogmas have only developed fear of death, and (b) the
agnosticism of the orthodox believer in Christian
theology as to the future post-mortem state. It is, indeed,
difficult to appreciate the peculiar type of bliss which orthodoxy
offers its believers in damnation.
The dying man the average Christian with a dark retrospect
in life can scarcely appreciate this boon; while the Calvinist
or the Predestinarian, who is brought up in the idea that God
may have pre-assigned him from eternity to everlasting misery,
through no fault of that man, but simply because he is God, is
more than justified in regarding the latter as ten times worse
than any devil or fiend that unclean human fancy could evolve.
Theosophy, on the contrary, teaches that perfect, absolute
justice reigns in nature, though short-sighted man fails to
see it in its details on the material and even psychic plane,
and that every man determines his own future. The true Hell is
life on Earth, as an effect of Karmic punishment following the
preceding life during which the evil causes were produced. The
Theosophist fears no hell, but confidently expects rest
and bliss during the interim between two incarnations,
as a reward for all the unmerited suffering he has endured
in an existence into which he was ushered by
Karma, and during which he is, in most cases, as helpless as a
torn-off leaf whirled about by the conflicting winds of social
and private 1ife. Enough has been given out at various times regarding
the conditions of post-mortem existence, to furnish a solid block
of information on this point. Christian theology has nothing to
say on this burning question, except where it veils its ignorance
by mystery and dogma; but Occultism, unveiling the symbology of
the Bible, explains it thoroughly. [ED.
Lucifer, December, 1887
H. P. Blavatsky
1 We know but two cases of married
"chelas"being accepted; but both these were Brahmins and had child-wives,
according to Hindu custom, and they were Reformers more
than chelas, trying to abrogate child-marriage and slavery.
Others had to obtain the consent of their wives before entering
the "Path," as is usual in India since long ages.
2 This rule 1 applies only to the "temple
who must be perfect.
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3 Or one, if the other is dead.
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4 See "The Esoteric Character of the Gospels,"
in this number.
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