By Shikar Agnihotri
Writing on this theme of ‘Listening to the march of the future’, in context of strengthening the TS for such a learned and experienced readership is like showing the lamp to the sun. But I will still give it a try.
This is a subject which deals with the very existence of someone or somebody or in this case the TS, because we are in a changing world. Everything is changing within and without. So, one has to constantly listen to the march of the future, to remain relevant to the contemporary needs and requirements but not at the cost of diluting the teachings, instead making them more appealing to the prevailing times, taking the help of Intuition if possible.
But we cannot listen to the future without giving the due attention to the past. Because the past is the basis of the present and the present is the seed for the future. From the past I want to emphasize on the aim with which the TS was founded. Not in the terms of its objects but rather the approach that is to be taken. And a very good expression of that I read in the foreword to the small but valuable booklet by the name of “Five messages” by HPB to American section. It says Theosophy commands us to work for Humanity: that service is of a particular character; its nature is spiritual; the method whereof is two-fold:
Firstly, to watch the steps of erring humanity and erect signposts against certain pitfalls.
Secondly, to hold aloft the beacon light of Instruction which cheers the weary pilgrim and inspires him to make his very own the Power which is Peace, and the Service which is Joy.
We all are trying to do this by using the various resources available which include writing articles in the newspapers, arranging lectures for the public and college students etc. Apart from that most of us by this time are aware of the fast pace with which the technology of the modern science has over run our lives. We are becoming so used to it that we just cannot imagine our lives without it. Due to this fact, I feel that to better our effort in propagation of theosophy and which is already being done, is use of technology, as much as possible. Because today it is much more convenient for a person to read an update on a social net working site or e-mail rather than taking time out for a two day or three day study course, for which may be he gets time only once a year. For a few weeks now we have been posting the synopsis of our lodge meetings on the social net working site. And believe me it does have its effects. It serves two purposes. Firstly, the members who could not attend the meeting also can read the synopsis and at least get an idea about the subject. Secondly those who are not yet members but who are interested in such subjects are also attracted to study.
At the national and international level we have already seen a considerable development in this direction. The Society’s webpage is now very informative and suggestive with minute details. And this is the most astonishing effect of the technology, if properly used, that it tends to develop in us, the members in different geographical areas, a sense of connectedness, a sense of family which is the real source of strength of the Society. Now everyone is just a click away and no doubt it does make the bond of friendship stronger by removing the hesitation.
In the same light, the second object of the TS gives us a direction. To encourage study of comparative Religion, Philosophy and Science. Practically the number of Religions and Philosophies are limited and so there is one aspect which is ever reinventing itself and that is Science. But very unfortunately science has brought the same limitation which the organised Religion did for centuries. And that is Blind faith. Today anything that is told to us in the name of scientific research, we tend to believe it, no matter what. Not even the fact that the next research will contradict the previous one and more so, that many such researches are sponsored to have a desired outcome. All these causes put together but we still believe when we are told something in the name of science. So, as a theosophist, being in possession of such a large amount of knowledge in the form of Isis unveiled, The Secret Doctrine and The Mahatma letters it is our duty to gradually acquaint our self with this knowledge so that we can not only correlate it with the modern scientific findings but also point out its limitations and thus try to awake a few scientific minds that it is not only through the side of matter that we can find the secrets of existence. And create as well as strengthen a platform where such correlations can be explained and discussed with people at large to open their mind to the divine wisdom which is theosophy.
But is that enough? Yes it is true that by making Theosophy more visible by various means it is possible to give a ray of hope to those who have developed their mental faculties to some extent and have faced or are facing their share of high’s and low’s in life and looking for answers.
But there is a greater challenge when it comes to those, who although having a religious bent of mind do not think that such teachings can be implemented in daily life by an average householder. That, it is the work designated only for some great souls and we are here just to worship them. It is this mentality that we have to fight, within and without, because it does not let us make a whole hearted effort. This comes up very often during the day to day conversations that reactions like anger, irritation, greed, etc. are part of human nature and cannot be gotten rid off. Why this mentality has become so common? Because there is a tendency of the mind to compare itself with its surroundings and when the mind sees the majority going in a particular direction it assumes that to be the correct path and to make the matter worse it does not find any real life examples in its immediate surroundings.
In this case, the work as a theosophist is all the more difficult because unlike some other organizations working with similar objects, there is no uniform, set of rituals or way of greeting by which a theosophist can be recognised which is also the beauty of the TS as it has carefully kept itself free from any creed. At the same time it is the test that a theosophist has to solely depend upon his behaviour or character to convincingly convey his words. Because this behaviour or character is not just limited to the lodge or the campus of the TS. It extends far and beyond. It permeates each and every aspect of our daily life. And it is this behaviour and character of a person which is perceived first by the surrounding people.
We may say that this is nothing new. We have been doing this for long. I too think the same. But I am sure we all understand that there are no short cuts to this work. And it is in this “Sincere Effort Making” process that we develop Patience and Perseverance, Hope and Strength, Love and Wisdom, which begins to reflect outside in the form of various efforts and in its turn strengthens the organisation.
Many of us here may assert this fact by their personal experiences that when we begin to work on ourselves, with every step that we take ahead we see someone asking for assistance from the step that we left behind. For the simple reason that One life pervades all and all units of consciousness have this inherent thirst for Growth, and if there is a little bit of progress made at some unit, the other unit is automatically directed towards it. That is my understanding of the statement, “where there is honey, the bees will come.”
And this is the only way to fight this pessimism or inertia that ideals are for worshipping and not for living. I am not at all saying that we become perfect in the first attempt. We may and we will fail miserably innumerable times but that does not matter because I have this firm conviction that “failing while trying is not failure but failing to try is the real failure” and it is this inertia of not trying whole heartedly that we have to shake off ourselves. And it can start right where we live, whatever situations we are facing. This attitude completely removes the doubt that what is the value of my effort as a member? That is why I wish to include the following statement by Col. HSO. A very powerful statement which gives me energy and hope every time I read it. He says, ” I wish that everybody in the society could realise how certain it is that those Great Brothers who are behind our work keep a vigilant eye upon all of us who with a pure heart and unselfish mind throw our energies into it.” I do not think we can ask for any more persuasion about the significance of even a small effort made with an altruistic attitude for the society.
Another kind of inertia that very often overcomes us as a member is that it is the job of the office bearers, whether at the federation or the section or international level to do everything. Yes, it is true that the growth of a unit depends a lot on the enthusiasm and ability of the office bearer but each and every effort, however small, by any member bears an equal significance because it is not the President or the Secretary of the TS or a section that comes in a day to day contact with the people. It is the members like you and me who are the ambassadors of the TS in our immediate surroundings. So we can very easily estimate the amount of responsibility that lies with us as an individual that how we would like to represent Theosophy and the TS in our surroundings and here comes the importance of a lodge.
My personal view is that although the headquarters whether national or international have a significant role to play as a nucleus by being a source of inspiration and vitality but a lodge is that organ of the society which deals with the immediate surroundings on a day to day basis. Although not everyone gets the responsibility to work in the headquarters due to individual karma. But the very same karma gives us an opportunity to work with similar zeal and enthusiasm in our lodges if we are willing.
A lodge is that nucleus which is the very source and a channel of subtler forms of energies and without a doubt a blessing for that society or area. So, an effort is to be made consciously to have more and more of such vital nucleuses. We may think that easier said than done. Of course it is not easy. A lot of effort has to be put in. And here comes the role of the lodges or members who are old enough to give birth to new ones, not as a replacement but as a supplement. There is no quick fix or short cut that will offer us to strengthen us as an organisation. In words of HPB to WQJ in 1888:-
“The multiplication of local centres should be a foremost consideration in your minds, and each man should strive to be a centre of work in himself. When his inner development has reached a certain point, he will naturally draw those with whom he is in contact under the same influence; a nucleus is formed, round which other people will gather, forming a centre from which higher influences are directed.”
To give an example I feel that ten centres with seven members each is much more beneficent, than having one centre with 70 members. On the first look it seems that a gathering of 70 members at one place is a lot better than seven members because we all are aware of how the power of thought increases geometrically with the number of people. Very true. But on giving it a deeper look we can easily make out that due to various deterrents like old age, lack of conveyance, timings, traffic, travelling time etc. out of that 70 only 10-15 are able to attend the weekly study meetings on a regular basis. The rest of the logic becomes very clear that if there are more number of centres, strategically located, may be not a society building, the meetings can be done at some member’s home on a rotational basis, which is very practical, we would be able to deter the deterrents that we just talked about and not only the number of members attending the study will increase but also it will make its influence felt in that area as well.
There is one more aspect to this effort of ours. And that aspect is Motive. What is the motive behind doing all this? Because being the students of theosophy we all know that it is the motive which is the real weaver of karma, whether individually or collectively as an organisation. So how are we listening to the future? Are we doing it as a CEO of a private company does? That is, how to make more and more profit. Profit in this case, being the number of members. Or I want to do this because “I” am related to this organisation and in which case “I” is more important than the teachings promulgated. If that is the only purpose, then it may not be enough. How can that be, if the essence of theosophy is altruism. Is this not a better motive; “to bring theosophy to more and more people whether or not they become member. To bring the light of theosophy to the souls caught in between the brutal materialism and exploitative spiritualism.” Also not because “I” am related to the society but because it is the right thing to do because the TS was founded as a channel for diffusing the knowledge of Theosophy and student of theosophy can very easily identify that the teachings and principles of Theosophy are ALL INCLUSIVE. And only that which is all inclusive could offer a solution to any possible situation which is called a problem in any aspect of life of an individual, society, country or the planet. Be it the problem of climate change, of terrorism, of religious intolerance and sectarian violence, violence against children, women and elderly etc. So, when we work for theosophy and the TS we are actually performing our universal responsibility. If that, selfless devotion to the cause of theosophy be the motive, which I assume all of us present here have, then we generate a force beyond the mental plane which practically moves unopposed and which as per the law of retribution will bring its consequences. The consequences which will not only be positive but also long lasting.
As far as the membership is concerned I feel there will always be sufficient embodied souls to continue the work of the TS who by their karmic link whether to the society or the teachings will get attracted towards it and many of us may be having the real life examples how someone just saw the board of the theosophical lodge, contacted and very soon became a willing student of theosophy.
Last but not the least, working together for some social cause also tends to bring the members closer and TOS is really an asset in this. So ideally I feel that with every TS lodge either there should be a TOS group as well or if not a formal group then at least the TS lodge should engage in some TOS activities. Because then as a group we try to make theosophy a living wisdom which makes the bond stronger among the members.
Lastly, HPB warns us against the dangers of craze for psychic development (without the foundation of moral strength) which has once again become or gradually becoming the source of exploitation of sincere aspirants. And various entities are offering instant Yoga or Nirvana by some short cut. We as a theosophist shall not only remain vigilant of our temptation for such things but also try to communicate the related dangers at least to those who come in our contact. Because the Ethics of Theosophy are even more necessary than the scientific aspects of the psychic facts of nature and man.
We all can and are contributing in this effort, whether by sharing our time or finances, by sharing our views in the form of a lecture, by writing an article, by acts of charity, by spreading the theosophical literature, by attending a study class, by starting a study centre or a lodge, by meditation or by any other means available.
And very clearly this has been stated by HPB in The Key to Theosophy, “The future of the TS will depend almost entirely upon the degree of selflessness, earnestness, devotion and last but not least, on the amount of knowledge and wisdom possessed by those members, on whom it will fall to carry on the work.”