Motives for Effort


This article was transcribed from the November 2001 issue of “The Theosophical Movement,” a publication of Theosophy Company (India).
The term "Universal Brotherhood" is no idle phrase....It is the only secure foundation for universal morality. If it be a dream, it is at least a noble one for mankind; and it is the aspiration of the true adept.

Beware then of an uncharitable spirit, for it will rise up like a hungry wolf in your path, and devour the better qualities of your nature...Broaden instead of narrowing your sympathies; try to identify yourself with your fellows, rather than to contract your circle of affinity.

—A Master of Wisdom

As the inquirer goes on extending his reading of Theosophical literature, he gets a glimpse of the wonderful powers that come to him who advances along the Path of Occultism. Perhaps he has read Isis Unveiled and the Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali. He gets convinced that phenomenal powers bordering on what he calls miraculous do exist. He desires to acquire some of these powers. Has he not heard of successful experiments in thought-transference and mind-reading? Has he hot witnessed the power that the hypnotist wields over his subjects, forcing them into droll antics? Has he not read about mediums who seemingly summon denizens from spookland and secure startling messages from across the threshold? He finds all these and many more powers treated of and explained in Theosophical texts. His curiosity is aroused and he longs to have one or two such powers up his sleeve—if not for gain, then at least for the delectation of some few before whom he may condescend to demonstrate. The aim of such an inquirer is clear enough. He desires something for himself and resolves to get it from Theosophy, even though he is warned that selfish motives will lead to no success.

Then, there is another type, the trend of whose thoughts has always been to escape from the round of births and deaths. Reacting sharply against blind belief in either religion or science, he perceives that the way of life recommended by Theosophy will lead him to liberation and therefore to a forgetting of the woes of the world and of men for ever. His motive for effort is—himself. Though he may discourse most convincingly on Universal Brotherhood and even help other human beings, he does so to serve his own purpose. He has chosen a goal other than that presented by Theosophy—Renunciation; and though he may not know it and be indignant if so told, he separates himself from all others. He will help them, but only because by such action he enhances the chances of an early liberation.

Surpassing both these in his ambition is the shrewd inquirer who comes with wits sharpened from the world of Mammon. His ambition is for recognition, precedence and authority over men. He feels that these are easy of attainment in an organization most of whose members are not worldly-wise not cravers for positions. Any Theosophical administration would suit him admirably—or so he thinks. True, that in joining any such organization he has not only to subscribe to the idea of Universal Brotherhood, but to participate actively with others in forming the nucleus of such a brotherhood. He may recognize himself to be an orthodox religionist or one who despises the caste or religion of others, and be thus firmly fixed in the path of error. None the less, the vision of fruits to be plucked from the Theosophical tree is too tempting to be laid aside. So he resorts to the old, old game of make-believe. What he says to himself is that with all his leanings towards particular sects and creeds, he can still practice brotherhood among his chosen few. In these times, a glib talk of Brotherhood is always in the air and it would be advantageous even socially to declare oneself a staunch supporter of the principle. Joining in the effort to for a nucleus? Why, dear sir, most certainly. But suppose I postpone it till I have advanced far enough? I will then be in a far better position to volunteer the effort!

Such are the delusions that have gripped and enslaved many an otherwise promising head and heart.

Now, if Theosophy were like any other ism, the hidden motive or the lack of moral foundation would hardly make any difference. The person with selfish motive would then have prospered as do many politicians and men of business. But with Theosophy it is different. This is so because as one advances in this philosophy, one arouses into action nature's finer forces and these in colour and vibration reflect the innermost motives and thoughts of the person. They portray his moods and ambitions, his sympathies and antipathies, in a startlingly clear degree. Karma then steps in and surrounds him with such circumstances, temptations and difficulties that the subtlest of masks is torn from the face and the person stands naked and his worldly motives get pushed to the top and become revealed.

Theosophy is not like so many extant religions that, getting hardened after the departure of their respective founders, become fossilized under the rude impact of the materialism of centuries. The fountain-source from which all knowledge emanates remains intact, impartite, unpolluted from the dawn to dusk of humanity. It has its Custodians who, remaining consciously immortal in different bodies, have preserved themselves and their precious treasure from the ravages of time and death. When the receptivity of humanity permits, they send from among themselves one or more Initiates to guide humanity back towards paths of peace and progress. These Great Ones work in our world through accredited messengers as well as through "companions" selectected from out of the great concourse of men that is attracted by their Teachings. Each one who (even though in secret) lays his service at Their feet is known, recognized, and if found worthy, accepted. One who takes up the study of Theosophy in all earnestness, who records his desire to join in the effort to promote Universal Brotherhood, by that resolve projects a part of himself into the atmosphere where the Masters are.

The aspirant would avoid many a pitfall if he were to remember that in Occultism true enlightenment can come only when the aim of the candidate coincides with the Aim of the Theosophical Movement. If the two are divergent or even at some variance, then the lesser arm being always the weaker, is brushed aside and its votary is either thwarted or thrown completely off the track by the nemesis that follows upon the violation of the Law of Karma. This is so because the Wisdom that is Theosophy is living and its custodians have to be sure that it will not be defiled by misuse for unworthy ends.

The Theosophical Society was formed with the chief object of inviting men and women to join in the effort to form the nucleus of Universal Brotherhood. The dissemination of hitherto secret teachings about the constitution of the universe and man; of the states after death and of the powers latent in man—all these had the purpose of bringing the world to duty and benefiting mankind. He who sought advancement was expected to spread the truth and provoke others to correct thinking and a correct way of life. Men were wanted, not ceremony-masters, and what was expected was devotion and not mere observances.

Universal unity is a fact because there is only one source from which all spring and into which all must in time get merged. It is this idea that must be made to dominate all thought and action. He who would make reservations about caste, creed or colour sets himself up as something apart and distinct from those belonging to other castes, creeds and colours, and in so doing makes himself antagonistic to their advancement and interests. This antagonism and the feeling of class superiority debars him from the beneficence that ever flows from the planes of Soul and Spirit.

The aims for which the Theosophical Movement was launched into the public world may be gathered from the following extracts from Masters' letters:

  1. It is not the individual and determined purpose of attaining Nirvana—the culmination of all knowledge and absolute Wisdom, which is after all only an exalted and glorious selfishness—but the self-sacrificing pursuit of the best means to lead on the right path our neighbour, to cause to benefit by it as many of our fellow creatures as we possibly can, which constitutes the true Theosophist.
  2. The true Theosophist is a philanthropist—"not for himself but for the world he lives."
  3. Perish rather the Theosophical Society...than that we should permit it to become no better than an academy of magic, and a hall of Occultism!
  4. It is he alone who has the love of humanity at heart, who is cabable of grasping thoroughly the idea of a regenerating practical Brotherhood who is entitled to the possession of our secrets...A man who places not the good of mankind above his own good is not worthy of becoming our chela—he is not worthy of becoming higher in knowledge than his neighbour.
  5. We seek to bring men to sacrifice their personality—a passing flash—for the welfare of the whole humanity.
  6. Union and co-operation are indispensable. Union does indeed imply a concentration of vital and magnetic force against the hostile currents of prejudice and fanaticism.
  7. This is the moment to guide the recurrent impulse which must soon come, and which will push the age towards extreme atheism, or drag it back to extreme sacerdotalism, if it is not led to the primitive soul-satisfying philosophy of the Aryans...You and your colleagues may help to furnish the materials for a needed universal religious philosophy; one impregnable to scientific assault, because itself the finality of absolute science, and a religion that is indeed worthy of the name since it includes the relations of man physical to man psychical, and of the two to all that is above and below them. Is not this worth a little sacrifice?

Tao invariably takes no action, and yet there is nothing left undone. If kings and barons can keep it, all things will transform spontaneously. If, after transformation, they should desire to be active, I would restrain them with simplicity, which has no name. Simplicity, which has no name, is free of desire, it is tranquil. And the world will be at peace of its own accord.

Tao Te King

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