THE SEAL OF THE MYSTERIES
We will be at cross purposes in our correspondence until it has been made entirely plain that occult science has its own methods of research as fixed and arbitrary as the methods of its antithesis, physical science, are in their way. If the latter has its dicta so also has the former; and he who would cross the boundary of the unseen world can no more prescribe how he will proceed than the traveller who tries to penetrate to the inner subterranean recesses of L'Hassa - the blessed - could show the way to this guide. The mysteries never were, never can be, put within the reach of the general public, not, at least, until that longed for day when our religious philosophy becomes universal. At no time have more than a scarcely appreciable minority of men possessed nature's secret, though multitudes have witnessed the practical evidences of the possibility of their possession. The adept is the rare efflorescence of a generation of enquirers; and to become one, he must obey the inward impulse of his soul irrespective of the prudential considerations of worldly science or sagacity. . . .
He who would lift up high the banner of mysticism and proclaim its reign near at hand must give the example to others. He must be the first to change his modes of life; and, regarding the study of the occult mysteries as the upper step in the ladder of Knowledge, must loudly proclaim it such despite exact science and the opposition of society. "The Kingdom of Heaven is obtained by force", say the Christian mystics. It is but with armed hand, and ready to either conquer or perish that the modern mystic can hope to achieve his object.. . . The first and chief consideration in determining us to accept or reject your offer lies in the inner motive which propels you to seek our instructions, and in a certain sense - our guidance. . . . Now, what are your motives? I may try to define them in their general aspect, leaving details for further consideration. They are: (1) The desire to receive positive and unimpeachable proofs that there really are forces in nature of which science knows nothing; (2) the hope to appropriate them some day - the sooner the better, for you do not like to wait - so as to enable yourself - (a) to demonstrate their existence to a few chosen western minds; (b) to contemplate future life as an objective reality built upon the rock of Knowledge - not of faith; and (c) to finally learn - most important this, among all your motives, perhaps, though the most occult and the best guarded -the whole truth about our Lodges and ourselves; to get, in short, the positive assurance that the "Brothers" - - of whom everyone hears so much and sees so little - are real entities, not fictions of a disordered, hallucinated brain. Such, viewed in their best light, appear to us your 'motives' for addressing me. And in the same spirit do I answer them, hoping that my sincerity will not be interpreted in a wrong way or attributed to anything like an unfriendly spirit.
To our minds, then, these motives, sincere and worthy of every serious consideration from the worldly standpoint, appear - selfish. (You have to pardon me what you might view as crudeness of language, if your desire really is that which you profess - to learn truth and get instruction from us - who belong to quite a different world from the one you move in.) They are selfish because you must be aware that the chief object of the T.S. is not so much to gratify individual aspirations as to serve our fellow men; and the real value of this term 'selfish', which may jar upon your ear, has a peculiar significance with us which it cannot have with you; therefore, and to begin with, you must not accept it otherwise than in the former sense. Perhaps you will better appreciate our meaning when told that in our view the highest aspirations for the welfare of humanity become tainted with selfishness if, in the mind of the philanthropist, there lurks the shadow of desire for self-benefit or a tendency to do injustice, even when these exist unconsciously to himself. Yet, you have ever discussed but to put down the idea of a universal Brotherhood, questioned its usefulness, and advised to remodel the T.S. on the principle of a college for the special study of occultism. This, my respected and esteemed friend and Brother - will never do!
Having disposed of 'personal motives', let us analyze your 'terms' for helping us to do public good. Broadly stated these terms are - first; that an independent Anglo-Indian Theosophical Society shall be founded through your kind services, in the management of which neither of our present representatives shall have any voice; and second, that one of us shall take the new body "under his patronage", be "in free and direct communication with its leaders", and afford them "direct proof that he really possessed that superior knowledge of the forces of nature and the attributes of the human soul which would inspire them with proper confidence in his leadership". I have copied your own words, so as to avoid inaccuracy in defining the position.
From your point of view, then, those terms may seem so very reasonable as to provoke no dissent; and, indeed, a majority of your countrymen - if not of Europeans - might share that opinion. What, will you say, can be more reasonable than to ask that teacher - anxious to disseminate his knowledge - and pupil - offering him to do so - should be brought face to face and the one give the experimental proofs to the other that his instructions were correct? Man of the world, living in, and in full sympathy with it, you are undoubtedly right. But the men of this other world of ours, untutored in your modes of thought, and who find [it] very hard at times to follow and appreciate the latter, can hardly be blamed for not responding as heartily to your suggestions as in your opinion they deserve. . . .
The first and most important of our objections is to be found in our Rules. True, we have our schools and teachers, our neophytes and shaberons (superior adepts), and the door is always opened to the right man who knocks. And we invariably welcome the newcomer; only, instead of going over to him he has to come to us. More than that; unless he has reached that point in the path of occultism from which return is impossible, by his having irrevocably pledged himself to our association, we never - except in cases of utmost moment - visit him or even cross the threshold of his door in visible appearance.
Is any of you so eager for knowledge and the beneficent powers it confers as to be ready to leave your world and come into ours? Then let him come; but he must not think to return until the seal of the mysteries has locked his lips even against the chances of his own weakness or indiscretion. Let him come by all means, as the pupil to the master, and without conditions; or let him wait, as so many others have, and be satisfied with such crumbs of knowledge as may fall in his way. Ingratitude is not among our vices.