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.
Those who consider themselves to be "free" men and women hardly suspect the exploitation to which they are constantly subjected on the mental plane. Their minds are made up for them by their respective priests, politicians and social idols. The fetters of modern science, of art, of beliefs and pseudo-knowledge, and of a dozen other things, all prevent us from evaluating things correctly. Slavishly we adopt and follow those values of subjects and objects, of individuals and institutions, which parents, teachers, friends have formulated for our "benefit."
False valuation obtains even among those who call themselves Theosophists. Those who have not the courage to pursue and to come upon right values which belong to the Soul are but nominal Theosophists; they have not perceived the reality which is behind and beyond illusion. Because of them the pure Movement is corrupted. If there has been a vulgarization of the Message brought by H.P.B.—a fact obvious to anyone who cares to compare the extant literature of the early days with what passes for Theosophy in many quarters today—it is due to the weak-mindedness and lack of courage on the part of so-called Theosophists to seek true values within themselves, in consultation with their Souls.
Elimination of false values results in real inner conversion. He who has undergone this process and has come to recognize himself as Soul changes his habits, customs, manners, modes of life, to suit the demands of new values. The inner courage yields the outer courage to live according to the dictates of the Soul. And our changed mode and method of existence speaks more eloquently to the Souls around us than do words. Far too many students have fallen under the spell of mere words, and those who are most glib on subjects such as Rounds and Races, Pitris and Ah-hi, or even the Three Fundamentals, fail to reach those Souls who earnestly seek the Truth. If the world will not listen to Theosophy, if its message is misinterpreted and misapplied, if that "vitality which living truth alone can impart" has been largely lost, the responsibility for it rests emphatically on every student of the Teachings.
In this era of transition when we see about us the shattering of old forms of thought—religious, social, political, scientific—there is a profound need for the reproclamation of the vitalizing truth of Theosophy and its application by individual students to the urgent problems of the day. The future of Theosophy in the world depends largely upon the quality of its students. It is time we refrained from blaming a cold and hard-hearted generation that refuses to listen to what we have to say. That species of fault-finding with the world, except where it is our duty to point out injustice and hypocrisy, is too often an excuse for our own inaptitude and lack of fire. Ours the task of sowing the seed as best we know how. Those who watch and help our efforts with Their Compassion and Their Wisdom will see to the rightful harvest.
The world is tired of information; it cries out for the vitality of Truth, and the future of Theosophy is commensurate with the success of our effort to meet that need. The need may often be inarticulate; but it is none the less urgent. It is not necessary to be "spellbinders" in the oratorical sense. It is realization and understanding that give vitality to Truth. If the world appears to be disinclined to come to us for Theosophy, let us take Theosophy to it, not by forcing it down people's throats, but "by taking every opportunity of talking to others," "by assisting in circulating our literature" (The Key to Theosophy, p. 246); and for the truly earnest other ways open up. It is true that "Theosophy is for those who want it"; but are we infallible in our judgment as to who wants it? Ours the duty of offering it. If we do just that, with all the ability of which we are capable, we have done enough.
Student-servers must observe and take the line of least resistance. Let them not fancy that by pointing out their weakness to others they will arouse them to an appreciation of Theosophy, any more than by praising their goodness and virtues. Their problems must be sought; all who are evolving have them. People may not be consciously aware of their problems, but problems exist. After finding them out let us not say—this is your problem and this its solution. Meanwhile, such Theosophical truths can be put in their way as will arouse them. What our Movement needs is not mere explainers of the doctrine but those who think first of the needs of their hearers and suit their talk to them.
The lesson contained in the wise allegory printed by Mr. Judge in The Path for October 1893 needs to be borne in mind, for a grain of selfless heart endeavour is worth all the intellectual exposition in the world.
Walking within the garden of his heart, the pupil suddenly came upon the Master, and was glad, for he had but just finished a task in His service which he hastened to lay at His feet.
The Self alone is real. The world of the senses is superimposed upon it.