by an [Old Asiatic] Indian Theosophist

Originally published in "The Theosophist" of June 1885
under the title of "The Standpoints of the Theosophists"

and republished in "Theosophical Siftings" Volume - 3 -

" THE differences between men are profound, and can only be saved from living in blind unconsciousness of our own mental peculiarities by the habit of informing ourselves as well as we can of those of others." These words, used by a well-known modern scientific investigator of the human faculty, are worthy of note. Those that try to inform themselves of unfamiliar things must be prepared to face a certain amount of opposition, which may often assume the form of unjust accusations; but such as truly wish to increase their store of knowledge are not to be deterred by sensational episodes about persons who happen to be mixed up with a few important facts.

The higher races of men are characterized by their energy, which is "the measure of the fulness of life", and to call forth the dormant energy of a nation in an important direction is no easy task. Many a mistake must occur in the steps taken to promote such an object, which has to be approached from various sides.

Unless a typical centre be found to work from, honest efforts, instead of evoking sympathy, raise up hostility, causing disappointment and annoyance to many.

There is an erroneous opinion fostered in various quarters that the Theosophists are a sect whose errors must be exposed, and whose work must be put a stop to. Criticism of all sorts has been directed towards the annihilation of the Society, which, however, has remained intact for [Page 25] the simple reason that it has no beliefs, and never regarded anything said by any of the members — great or small — as anything but the expression of the views or experiences of particular individuals.

The Theosophical Society has met with great opposition owing to the act that one of its founders has been reported to have shown some wondrous phenomena, and to have learnt occultism from the Thibetan Brotherhood of adepts. It is a very natural thing to assume in the first instance that fraud must have been resorted to as a means of counterfeiting so-called phenomena, and numerous theories have been started to support the view taken under pre-conceived opinions of trickery. The first theory was that everybody had been duped for a series of years in numerous places by a single lady, with the help of no one else but two housekeepers.

The latest development of this crude theory is that numerous persons were at first duped and afterwards they became confederates, and have remained so to cheat everybody else ! Although several doubts may with plausibility be suggested at a late hour of the day by going to collect accounts at haphazard regarding incidents that took place some time ago, it may be stated without fear of contradiction that there is not a single instance on record in connection with which actual trickery or fraud of any description could be brought home to anyone connected with the phenomenon. A good deal has been said about the scientific examination of Psychic phenomena, but no one can well define what scientific examination in such cases ought to be. Critical inquiry has not been wanting, and all sorts of doubts have been in numerous cases from the beginning suggested by the Theosophists themselves, to guard against self-deception, unconscious errors and dishonesty. Those same doubts clothed in a new form are being retailed to sow dissensions by narrow-minded persons, to whom the spread of Theosophy is obnoxious, and what phases of hostility their unscrupulous minds will concoct in future remains yet to be seen.

Numerous persons have in course of time entered, and some few have left the Society, and this must always happen. The grief of the disappointed persons is of their own creating. In minds dominated by self-interest, healthy co-operation is always wanting, whereas it is joint effort on a broad basis that is needed to push forward a philanthropic movement. In spite of all obstacles a strong foundation has been laid, and the following may be said to be the attitude, feeling and purpose of the general body of the Theosophists in this country.

A right feeling of respect for ourselves, our religion, traditions, literature, and country, has led us to join the Theosophical Society, which is a free institution where no dogma prevails. [Page 26]

Two foreigners from the West took the initiative in the movement, sacrificing all that men hold dear in furtherance of its objects, and we feel thankful to them. Their personalities have necessarily become prominent, but while they command our entire respect for the many noble qualities they possess, they have their human infirmities, which they freely confess, and of which we are all aware.

We require all the good that we could get out of them, and without the advice of wolves in sheep's clothing, we are sufficiently able to judge for ourselves how far we should trust and be guided by them.

"No effort is ever lost. Every cause must produce its effects. The result may vary according to the circumstances which form a part of the cause, but it is always wiser to work and force the current of events than to wait for time". Acting upon this advice of an Indian sage, we have manfully determined to work onwards, irrespective of the treachery and meanness that stoops to all sorts of artifices to hamper our work.

As to phenomena, we hold that "those who are carried away by them are generally the ones who, being under the dominion of Maya, are thus unable and incompetent to understand the philosophy. Exhibition of phenomena is not only a waste of power but positively injurious. In some it encourages superstition, while in others it develops the latent germ of hostility towards those who require such phenomena to be shown. Both these extremes are prejudicial to real human progress, which is happiness. For a time wonders may attract a mob, but that is no step towards the regeneration of humanity". Our object is not to believe in tales of wonderful events, but to find out the real significance and scope of untried human powers.

Each of us is willing to enlarge the circle of his sympathies, to learn and unlearn where necessary, to understand more fully our responsibilities, and to work together for purposes of general usefulness.

No one member can be responsible for the faults of a fellow-worker, and those who vainly think to ruin the Society by misrepresenting the supposed faults of one of its prominent members, will find themselves mistaken.

We are working, not in darkness, under false pretences, but in the light of day; time will correct the errors that may have crept into the working of a large organization such as ours. We are free to confess our faults, but what we regard with contempt is that sneaking attempt at sympathy with which a certain body of disappointed men are vainly trying to deceive us.

Individual members or groups of members, according to their education, natural endowments, energy and perseverance must take up these branches of the several subjects, which the Society is desirous to investigate , [Page 27] and steady work continued for some length of time would show, results of which it were idle to speak at present.

The seeds of Theosophy must be thrown broadcast, and they will take root in congenial places. At the first gatherings there would now and again be indifferent crops; but these could easily be set aside, and culture on an improved plan resorted to.

No amount of pretended exposures and other annoyances will create panic or rupture amongst us, but on the contrary these vain efforts will bring us more closely to further the objects of the Society with vigour and lay bare the hollowness of those false doctrines which impede all liberal progress.

"There is nothing in any hesitation that may be felt as to the possibilities of receiving help and inspiration from an unseen world, to discredit the practice that is dearly prized by most of us of withdrawing from the crowd and entering into quiet communion with our heart, until the agitations of the moment have calmed down and the disporting mirage of a worldly atmosphere has subsided, and the greater objects and more enduring affections of our life have reappeared in their due proportions. We may then take comfort and find support in the sense of our forming part of whatever has existed or will exist, and this need be the motive of no idle reverie, but of an active conviction that we possess an influence which may be small but cannot be inappreciable, in defining the as yet undetermined possibilities of an endless future. It may inspire a vigorous resolve to use all the intelligence and perseverance we can command to fulfil our part as members of one great family that strives as whole towards a fuller and higher life."


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