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 “For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbour’s garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from his own, and so this garden of the gods — Humanity — shall blossom as a rose”

My sincere apologies for the hiatus between book studies, I was called away to the states to look after my beloved father. All is well and good.

 

This week we begin Section IV on page 52 of the original text covering:

 

“THE RELATIONS OF THE THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY TO THEOSOPHY

 

ON SELF-IMPROVEMENT

 

ENQUIRER. Is moral elevation, then, the principal thing insisted upon in your Society?

THEOSOPHIST. Undoubtedly! He who would be a true Theosophist must bring himself to live as one.

ENQUIRER. If so, then, as I remarked before, the behaviour of some members strangely belies this fundamental rule.

THEOSOPHIST. Indeed it does. But this cannot be helped among us, any more than amongst those who call themselves Christians and act like fiends. This is no fault of our statutes and rules, but that of human nature. Even in some exoteric public branches, the members pledge themselves on their “Higher Self” to live the life prescribed by Theosophy. They have to bring their Divine Self  to guide their every thought and action, every day and at every moment of their lives. A true Theosophist ought “to deal justly and walk humbly.”

ENQUIRER. What do you mean by this?

THEOSOPHIST. Simply this: the one self has to forget itself for the many selves. Let me answer you in the words of a true Philaletheian, an F. T. S., who has beautifully expressed it in the Theosophist: “What every man needs first is to find himself, and then take an honest inventory of his subjective possessions, and, bad or bankrupt as it may be, it is not beyond redemption if we set about it in earnest.” But how many do? All are willing to work for their own development and progress; very few for those of others. To quote the same writer again: “Men have been deceived and deluded long enough; they must break their idols, put away their shams, and go to work for themselves — nay, there is one little word too much or too many, for he who works for himself had better not work at all; rather let him work himself for others, for all. For every flower of love and charity he plants in his neighbour’s garden, a loathsome weed will disappear from his own, and so this garden of the gods — Humanity — shall blossom as a rose. In all Bibles, all religions, this is plainly set forth — but designing men have at first misinterpreted and finally emasculated, materialised, besotted them. It does not require a new revelation. Let every man be a revelation unto himself. Let once man’s immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body, drive out the money-changers and every unclean thing, and his own divine humanity will redeem him, for when he is thus at one with himself he will know the ‘builder of the Temple.'”

ENQUIRER. This is pure Altruism, I confess.

THEOSOPHIST. It is. And if only one Fellow of the T. S. out of ten would practise it ours would be a body of elect indeed. But there are those among the outsiders who will always refuse to see the essential difference between Theosophy and the Theosophical Society, the idea and its imperfect embodiment. Such would visit every sin and shortcoming of the vehicle, the human body, on the pure spirit which sheds thereon its divine light. Is this just to either? They throw stones at an association that tries to work up to, and for the propagation of, its ideal with most tremendous odds against it. Some vilify the Theosophical Society only because it presumes to attempt to do that in which other systems — Church and State Christianity pre- eminently — have failed most egregiously; others because they would fain preserve the existing state of things: Pharisees and Sadducees in the seat of Moses, and publicans and sinners revelling in high places, as under the Roman Empire during its decadence. Fair-minded people, at any rate, ought to remember that the man who does all he can, does as much as he who has achieved the most, in this world of relative possibilities. This is a simple truism, an axiom supported for believers in the Gospels by the parable of the talents given by their Master: the servant who doubled his two talents was rewarded as much as that other fellow-servant who had received five. To every man it is given “according to his several ability.”

ENQUIRER. Yet it is rather difficult to draw the line of demarcation between the abstract and the concrete in this case, as we have only the latter to form our judgment by.

THEOSOPHIST. Then why make an exception for the T. S.? Justice, like charity, ought to begin at home. Will you revile and scoff at the “Sermon on the Mount” because your social, political and even religious laws have, so far, not only failed to carry out its precepts in their spirit, but even in their dead letter? Abolish the oath in Courts, Parliament, Army and everywhere, and do as the Quakers do, if you will call yourselves Christians. Abolish the Courts themselves, for if you would follow the Commandments of Christ, you have to give away your coat to him who deprives you of your cloak, and turn your left cheek to the bully who smites you on the right. “Resist not evil, love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you,” for “whosoever shall break one of the least of these Commandments and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven,” and “whosoever shall say ‘Thou fool’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” And why should you judge, if you would not be judged in your turn? Insist that between Theosophy and the Theosophical Society there is no difference, and forthwith you lay the system of Christianity and its very essence open to the same charges, only in a more serious form.

ENQUIRER. Why more serious?

THEOSOPHIST. Because, while the leaders of the Theosophical movement, recognising fully their shortcomings, try all they can do to amend their ways and uproot the evil existing in the Society; and while their rules and bye-laws are framed in the spirit of Theosophy, the Legislators and the Churches of nations and countries which call themselves Christian do the reverse. Our members, even the worst among them, are no worse than the average Christian. Moreover, if the Western Theosophists experience so much difficulty in leading the true Theosophical life, it is because they are all the children of their generation. Every one of them was a Christian, bred and brought up in the sophistry of his Church, his social customs, and even his paradoxical laws. He was this before he became a Theosophist, or rather, a member of the Society of that name, as it cannot be too often repeated that between the abstract ideal and its vehicle there is a most important difference.”

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

 

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