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“The Key to Theosophy” – Book Study 12

“Popular folk-lore and traditions, however fanciful at times, when sifted may lead to the discovery of long-lost, but important, secrets of nature.”

This week, we finish up Section III, on page 47 of the original text.

Wherever two or more are gathered there are at least three points of view vying to be crowned. Since The Key to Theosophy” was published 130 years ago, the Theosophical Society, like countless other organisations has undergone its share of changes, splits and divisions, involving a multitude of personalities, properties and allegations. It is my understanding that true Theosophical work takes place within, without a requirement for man-made buildings, structures or structure.

“Man requires but one church, the Temple of God within him.” ~ HPB

Egoic competition among the perceived elite, academic or otherwise is a waste of time. The world has changed and the libraries of the sacred texts sought to be gathered exclusively at Adyar ~ can now be accessed by most everyone all over the globe via the internet.

 

Below is the text if you wish to print out and/or read along.

 

“OUR OTHER OBJECTS

ENQUIRER. Will you now explain the methods by which you propose to carry out the second object?

THEOSOPHIST. To collect for the library at our head quarters of Adyar, Madras, (and by the Fellows of their Branches for their local libraries,) all the good works upon the world’s religions that we can. To put into written form correct information upon the various ancient philosophies, traditions, and legends, and disseminate the same in such practicable ways as the translation and publication of original works of value, and extracts from and commentaries upon the same, or the oral instructions of persons learned in their respective departments.

ENQUIRER. And what about the third object, to develop in man his latent spiritual or psychic powers?

THEOSOPHIST. This has to be achieved also by means of publications, in those places where no lectures and personal teachings are possible. Our duty is to keep alive in man his spiritual intuitions. To oppose and counteract — after due investigation and proof of its irrational nature — bigotry in every form, religious, scientific, or social, and cant above all, whether as religious sectarianism or as belief in miracles or anything supernatural. What we have to do is to seek to obtain knowledge of all the laws of nature, and to diffuse it. To encourage the study of those laws least understood by modern people, the so-called Occult Sciences, based on the true knowledge of nature, instead of, as at present, on superstitious beliefs based on blind faith and authority. Popular folk-lore and traditions, however fanciful at times, when sifted may lead to the discovery of long-lost, but important, secrets of nature. The Society, therefore, aims at pursuing this line of inquiry, in the hope of widening the field of scientific and philosophical observation.

ON THE SACREDNESS OF THE PLEDGE

ENQUIRER. Have you any ethical system that you carry out in the Society?

THEOSOPHIST. The ethics are there, ready and clear enough for whomsoever would follow them. They are the essence and cream of the world’s ethics, gathered from the teachings of all the world’s great reformers. Therefore, you will find represented therein Confucius and Zoroaster, Laotze and the Bhagavat-Gita, the precepts of Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, of Hillel and his school, as of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and their schools.

ENQUIRER. Do the members of your Society carry out these precepts? I have heard of great dissensions and quarrels among them.

THEOSOPHIST. Very naturally, since although the reform (in its present shape) may be called new, the men and women to be reformed are the same human, sinning natures as of old. As already said, the earnest working members are few; but many are the sincere and well-disposed persons, who try their best to live up to the Society’s and their own ideals. Our duty is to encourage and assist individual fellows in self-improvement, intellectual, moral, and spiritual; not to blame or condemn those who fail. We have, strictly speaking, no right to refuse admission to anyone — especially in the Esoteric Section of the Society, wherein “he who enters is as one newly born.” But if any member, his sacred pledges on his word of honour and immortal Self notwithstanding, chooses to continue, after that “new birth,” with the new man, the vices or defects of his old life, and to indulge in them still in the Society, then, of course, he is more than likely to be asked to resign and withdraw; or, in case of his refusal, to be expelled. We have the strictest rules for such emergencies.

ENQUIRER. Can some of them be mentioned?

THEOSOPHIST. They can. To begin with, no Fellow in the Society, whether exoteric or esoteric, has a right to force his personal opinions upon another Fellow. “It is not lawful for any officer of the Parent Society to express in public, by word or act, any hostility to, or preference for, any one section *(A “branch,” or lodge, composed solely of co-religionists, or a branch in partibus, as they are now somewhat bombastically called.), religious or philosophical, more than another. All have an equal right to have the essential features of their religious belief laid before the tribunal of an impartial world. And no officer of the Society, in his capacity as an officer, has the right to preach his own sectarian views and beliefs to members assembled, except when the meeting consists of his co-religionists. After due warning, violation of this rule shall be punished by suspension or expulsion.” This is one of the offences in the Society at large. As regards the inner section, now called the Esoteric, the following rules have been laid down and adopted, so far back as 1880. “No Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge communicated to him by any member of the first section (now a higher ‘degree’); violation of the rule being punished by expulsion.” Now, however, before any such knowledge can be imparted, the applicant has to bind himself by a solemn oath not to use it for selfish purposes, nor to reveal anything said except by permission.

ENQUIRER. But is a man expelled, or resigning, from the section free to reveal anything he may have learned, or to break any clause of the pledge he has taken?

THEOSOPHIST. Certainly not. His expulsion or resignation only relieves him from the obligation of obedience to the teacher, and from that of taking an active part in the work of the Society, but surely not from the sacred pledge of secrecy.

ENQUIRER. But is this reasonable and just?

THEOSOPHIST. Most assuredly. To any man or woman with the slightest honourable feeling a pledge of secrecy taken even on one’s word of honour, much more to one’s Higher Self — the God within — is binding till death. And though he may leave the Section and the Society, no man or woman of honour will think of attacking or injuring a body to which he or she has been so pledged.

ENQUIRER. But is not this going rather far?

THEOSOPHIST. Perhaps so, according to the low standard of the present time and morality. But if it does not bind as far as this, what use is a pledge at all? How can anyone expect to be taught secret knowledge, if he is to be at liberty to free himself from all the obligations he had taken, whenever he pleases? What security, confidence, or trust would ever exist among men, if pledges such as this were to have no really binding force at all? Believe me, the law of retribution (Karma) would very soon overtake one who so broke his pledge, and perhaps as soon as the contempt of every honourable man would, even on this physical plane. As well expressed in the N. Y. “Path” just cited on this subject, “A pledge once taken, is for ever binding in both the moral and the occult worlds. If we break it once and are punished, that does not justify us in breaking it again, and so long as we do, so long will the mighty lever of the Law (of Karma) react upon us.” (The Path, July, 1889.)”

 “The Path” was a New York based Theosophical Magazine published from 1886 to 1896 and edited by William Q Judge, a co-founder of the Theosophical Society. “The Path” was dedicated to the Brotherhood of Humanity, Theosophy in America, the Study of Occult Science and Philosophy and Aryan (holy, noble, distinguished… from the Sanskrit – “Ârya”) Literature.

William Q. Judge

 

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Link to Google’s digitised original text of “The Key to Theosophy” from 1889:

 

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