Q. You mean, then, that we have all lived on earth before, in many past incarnations, and shall go on so living?
A. I do. The life cycle, or rather the cycle of conscious life, begins with the separation of the mortal animal-man into sexes, and will end with the close of the last generation of men, in the seventh round and seventh race of mankind. Considering we are only in the fourth round and fifth race, its duration is more easily imagined than expressed.
Q. And we keep on incarnating in new personalities all the time?
A. Most assuredly so; because this life cycle or period of incarnation may be best compared to human life. As each such life is composed of days of activity separated by nights of sleep or of inaction, so, in the incarnation cycle, an active life is followed by a Devachanic rest.
Q. And it is this succession of births that is generally defined as reincarnation?
A. Just so. It is only through these births that the perpetual progress of the countless millions of Egos toward final perfection and final rest (as long as was the period of activity) can be achieved.
Q. And what is it that regulates the duration, or special qualities of these incarnations?
A. Karma, the universal law of retributive justice.
Q. Is it an intelligent law?
A. For the Materialist, who calls the law of periodicity which regulates the marshaling of the several bodies, and all the other laws in nature, blind forces and mechanical laws, no doubt Karma would be a law of chance and no more. For us, no adjective or qualification could describe that which is impersonal and no entity, but a universal operative law. If you question me about the causative intelligence in it, I must answer you I do not know. But if you ask me to define its effects and tell you what these are in our belief, I may say that the experience of thousands of ages has shown us that they are absolute and unerring equity, wisdom, and intelligence. For Karma in its effects is an unfailing redresser of human injustice, and of all the failures of nature; a stern adjuster of wrongs; a retributive law which rewards and punishes with equal impartiality. It is, in the strictest sense, "no respecter of persons," though, on the other hand, it can neither be propitiated, nor turned aside by prayer. This is a belief common to Hindus and Buddhists, who both believe in Karma.
Q. In this Christian dogmas contradict both, and I doubt whether any Christian will accept the teaching.
A. No; and Inman gave the reason for it many years ago. As he puts it, while
. the Christians will accept any nonsense, if promulgated by the Church as a matter of faith . the Buddhists hold that nothing which is contradicted by sound reason can be a true doctrine of Buddha.
They do not believe in any pardon for their sins, except after an adequate and just punishment for each evil deed or thought in a future incarnation, and a proportionate compensation to the parties injured.
Q. Where is it so stated?
A. In most of their sacred works. Consider the following Theosophical tenet:
Buddhists believe that every act, word, or thought has its consequence, which will appear sooner or later in the present or in the future state. Evil acts will produce evil consequences, good acts will produce good consequences: prosperity in this world, or birth in heaven (Devachan) . in the future state.
Q. Christians believe the same thing, don't they?
A. Oh, no; they believe in the pardon and the remission of all sins. They are promised that if they only believe in the blood of Christ (an innocent victim!), in the blood offered by Him for the expiation of the sins of the whole of mankind, it will atone for every mortal sin. And we believe neither in vicarious atonement, nor in the possibility of the remission of the smallest sin by any god, not even by a "personal Absolute" or "Infinite," if such a thing could have any existence. What we believe in, is strict and impartial justice. Our idea of the unknown Universal Deity, represented by Karma, is that it is a Power which cannot fail, and can, therefore, have neither wrath nor mercy, only absolute Equity, which leaves every cause, great or small, to work out its inevitable effects. The saying of Jesus: "With what measure you mete it shall be measured to you again," neither by expression nor implication points to any hope of future mercy or salvation by proxy. This is why, recognizing as we do in our philosophy the justice of this statement, we cannot recommend too strongly mercy, charity, and forgiveness of mutual offenses. Resist not evil, and render good for evil, are Buddhist precepts, and were first preached in view of the implacability of Karmic law. For man to take the law into his own hands is anyhow a sacrilegious presumption. Human Law may use restrictive not punitive measures; but a man who, believing in Karma, still revenges himself and refuses to forgive every injury, thereby rendering good for evil, is a criminal and only hurts himself. As Karma is sure to punish the man who wronged him, by seeking to inflict an additional punishment on his enemy, he, who instead of leaving that punishment to the great Law adds to it his own mite, only begets thereby a cause for the future reward of his own enemy and a future punishment for himself. The unfailing Regulator affects in each incarnation the quality of its successor; and the sum of the merit or demerit in preceding ones determines it.
Q. Are we then to infer a man's past from his present?
A. Only so far as to believe that his present life is what it justly
should be, to atone for the sins of the past life. Of course-seers
and great adepts excepted-we cannot as average mortals know what
those sins were. From our paucity of data, it is impossible for
us even to determine what an old man's youth must have been; neither
can we, for like reasons, draw final conclusions merely from what
we see in the life of some man, as to what his past life may have
What is Karma?
Q. But what is Karma?
A. As I have said, we consider it as the Ultimate Law of the Universe, the source, origin, and fount of all other laws which exist throughout Nature. Karma is the unerring law which adjusts effect to cause, on the physical, mental, and spiritual planes of being. As no cause remains without its due effect from greatest to least, from a cosmic disturbance down to the movement of your hand, and as like produces like, Karma is that unseen and unknown law which adjusts wisely, intelligently, and equitably each effect to its cause, tracing the latter back to its producer. Though itself unknowable, its action is perceivable.
Q. Then it is the "Absolute," the "Unknowable" again, and is not of much value as an explanation of the problems of life?
A. On the contrary. For, though we do not know what Karma is per se, and in its essence, we do know how it works, and we can define and describe its mode of action with accuracy. We only do not know its ultimate Cause, just as modern philosophy universally admits that the ultimate Cause of anything is "unknowable."
Q. And what has Theosophy to say in regard to the solution of the more practical needs of humanity? What is the explanation which it offers in reference to the awful suffering and dire necessity prevalent among the so-called "lower classes."
A. To be pointed, according to our teaching all these great social evils, the distinction of classes in Society, and of the sexes in the affairs of life, the unequal distribution of capital and of labor-all are due to what we tersely but truly denominate Karma.
Q. But, surely, all these evils which seem to fall upon the masses somewhat indiscriminately are not actual merited and individual Karma?
A. No, they cannot be so strictly defined in their effects as to show that each individual environment, and the particular conditions of life in which each person finds himself, are nothing more than the retributive Karma which the individual generated in a previous life. We must not lose sight of the fact that every atom is subject to the general law governing the whole body to which it belongs, and here we come upon the wider track of the Karmic law. Do you not perceive that the aggregate of individual Karma becomes that of the nation to which those individuals belong, and further, that the sumtotal of National Karma is that of the World? The evils that you speak of are not peculiar to the individual or even to the Nation, they are more or less universal; and it is upon this broad line of Human interdependence that the law of Karma finds its legitimate and equable issue.
Q. Do I, then, understand that the law of Karma is not necessarily an individual law?
A. That is just what I mean. It is impossible that Karma could readjust the balance of power in the world's life and progress, unless it had a broad and general line of action. It is held as a truth among Theosophists that the interdependence of Humanity is the cause of what is called Distributive Karma, and it is this law which affords the solution to the great question of collective suffering and its relief. It is an occult law, moreover, that no man can rise superior to his individual failings, without lifting, be it ever so little, the whole body of which he is an integral part. In the same way, no one can sin, nor suffer the effects of sin, alone. In reality, there is no such thing as "Separateness"; and the nearest approach to that selfish state, which the laws of life permit, is in the intent or motive.
Q. And are there no means by which the distributive or national Karma might be concentrated or collected, so to speak, and brought to its natural and legitimate fulfillment without all this protracted suffering?
A. As a general rule, and within certain limits which define the age to which we belong, the law of Karma cannot be hastened or retarded in its fulfillment. But of this I am certain, the point of possibility in either of these directions has never yet been touched. Listen to the following recital of one phase of national suffering, and then ask yourself whether, admitting the working power of individual, relative, and distributive Karma, these evils are not capable of extensive modification and general relief. What I am about to read to you is from the pen of a National Savior, one who, having overcome Self, and being free to choose, has elected to serve Humanity, in bearing at least as much as a woman's shoulders can possibly bear of National Karma. This is what she says:
Yes, Nature always does speak, don't you think? only sometimes we make so much noise that we drown her voice. That is why it is so restful to go out of the town and nestle awhile in the Mother's arms. I am thinking of the evening on Hampstead Heath when we watched the sun go down; but oh! upon what suffering and misery that sun had set! A lady brought me yesterday a big hamper of wild flowers. I thought some of my East-end family had a better right to it than I, and so I took it down to a very poor school in Whitechapel this morning. You should have seen the pallid little faces brighten! Thence I went to pay for some dinners at a little cookshop for some children. It was in a back street, narrow, full of jostling people; stench indescribable, from fish, meat, and other food, all reeking in a sun that, in Whitechapel, festers instead of purifying. The cookshop was the quintessence of all the smells. Indescribable meat-pies at 1d., loathsome lumps of 'food' and swarms of flies, a very altar of Beelzebub! All about, babies on the prowl for scraps, one, with the face of an angel, gathering up cherrystones as a light and nutritious form of diet. I came westward with every nerve shuddering and jarred, wondering whether anything can be done with some parts of London save swallowing them up in an earthquake and starting their inhabitants afresh, after a plunge into some purifying Lethe, out of which not a memory might emerge! And then I thought of Hampstead Heath, and-pondered. If by any sacrifice one could win the power to save these people, the cost would not be worth counting; but, you see, they must be changed-and how can that be wrought? In the condition they now are, they would not profit by any environment in which they might be placed; and yet, in their present surroundings they must continue to putrefy. It breaks my heart, this endless, hopeless misery, and the brutish degradation that is at once its outgrowth and its root. It is like the banyan tree; every branch roots itself and sends out new shoots. What a difference between these feelings and the peaceful scene at Hampstead! and yet we, who are the brothers and sisters of these poor creatures, have only a right to use Hampstead Heaths to gain strength to save Whitechapels.
Q. That is a sad but beautiful letter, and I think it presents with painful conspicuity the terrible workings of what you have called "Relative and Distributive Karma." But alas! there seems no immediate hope of any relief short of an earthquake, or some such general engulfment!
A. What right have we to think so while one-half of humanity is in a position to effect an immediate relief of the privations which are suffered by their fellows? When every individual has contributed to the general good what he can of money, of labor, and of ennobling thought, then, and only then, will the balance of National Karma be struck, and until then we have no right nor any reasons for saying that there is more life on the earth than Nature can support. It is reserved for the heroic souls, the Saviors of our Race and Nation, to find out the cause of this unequal pressure of retributive Karma, and by a supreme effort to readjust the balance of power, and save the people from a moral engulfment a thousand times more disastrous and more permanently evil than the like physical catastrophe, in which you seem to see the only possible outlet for this accumulated misery.
Q. Well, then, tell me generally how you describe this law of Karma?
A. We describe Karma as that Law of readjustment which ever tends to restore disturbed equilibrium in the physical, and broken harmony in the moral world. We say that Karma does not act in this or that particular way always; but that it always does act so as to restore Harmony and preserve the balance of equilibrium, in virtue of which the Universe exists.
Q. Give me an illustration.
A. Later on I will give you a full illustration. Think now of a pond. A stone falls into the water and creates disturbing waves. These waves oscillate backwards and forwards till at last, owing to the operation of what physicists call the law of the dissipation of energy, they are brought to rest, and the water returns to its condition of calm tranquility. Similarly all action, on every plane, produces disturbance in the balanced harmony of the Universe, and the vibrations so produced will continue to roll backwards and forwards, if its area is limited, till equilibrium is restored. But since each such disturbance starts from some particular point, it is clear that equilibrium and harmony can only be restored by the reconverging to that same point of all the forces which were set in motion from it. And here you have proof that the consequences of a man's deeds, thoughts, etc. must all react upon himself with the same force with which they were set in motion.
Q. But I see nothing of a moral character about this law. It looks to me like the simple physical law that action and reaction are equal and opposite.
A. I am not surprised to hear you say that. Europeans have got so much into the ingrained habit of considering right and wrong, good and evil, as matters of an arbitrary code of law laid down either by men, or imposed upon them by a Personal God. We Theosophists, however, say that "Good" and "Harmony," and "Evil" and "Dis-harmony," are synonymous. Further we maintain that all pain and suffering are results of want of Harmony, and that the one terrible and only cause of the disturbance of Harmony is selfishness in some form or another. Hence Karma gives back to every man the actual consequences of his own actions, without any regard to their moral character; but since he receives his due for all, it is obvious that he will be made to atone for all sufferings which he has caused, just as he will reap in joy and gladness the fruits of all the happiness and harmony he had helped to produce. I can do no better than quote for your benefit certain passages from books and articles written by our Theosophists-those who have a correct idea of Karma.
Q. I wish you would, as your literature seers to be very sparing on this subject?
A. Because it is the most difficult of all our tenets. Some short time ago there appeared the following objection from a Christian pen:
Granting that the teaching in regard to Theosophy is correct, and that "man must be his own savior, must overcome self and conquer the evil that is in his dual nature, to obtain the emancipation of his soul," what is man to do after he has been awakened and converted to a certain extent from evil or wickedness? How is he to get emancipation, or pardon, or the blotting out of the evil or wickedness he has already done?
To this Mr. J.H. Conelly replies very pertinently that no one can hope to "make the theosophical engine run on the theological track." As he has it:
The possibility of shirking individual responsibility is not among the concepts of Theosophy. In this faith there is no such thing as pardoning, or "blotting out of evil or wickedness already done," otherwise than by the adequate punishment therefore of the wrong-doer and the restoration of the harmony in the universe that had been disturbed by his wrongful act. The evil has been his own, and while others must suffer its consequences, atonement can be made by nobody but himself.
The condition contemplated . in which a man shall have been "awakened and converted to a certain extent from evil or wickedness," is that in which a man shall have realized that his deeds are evil and deserving of punishment. In that realization a sense of personal responsibility is inevitable, and just in proportion to the extent of his awakening or "converting" must be the sense of that awful responsibility. While it is strong upon him is the time when he is urged to accept the doctrine of vicarious atonement.
He is told that he must also repent, but nothing is easier than that. It is an amiable weakness of human nature that we are quite prone to regret the evil we have done when our attention is called, and we have either suffered from it ourselves or enjoyed its fruits. Possibly, close analysis of the feeling would show us that thing which we regret is rather the necessity that seemed to require the evil as a means of attainment of our selfish ends than the evil itself.
Attractive as this prospect of casting our burden of sins "at the foot of the cross" may be to the ordinary mind, it does not commend itself to the Theosophic student. He does not apprehend why the sinner by attaining knowledge of his evil can thereby merit any pardon for or the blotting out of his past wickedness; or why repentance and future right living entitle him to a suspension in his favor of the universal law of relation between cause and effect. The results of his evil deeds continue to exist; the suffering caused to others by his wickedness is not blotted out. The Theosophical student takes the result of wickedness upon the innocent into his problem. He considers not only the guilty person, but his victims.
Evil is an infraction of the laws of harmony governing the universe, and the penalty thereof must fall upon the violator of that law himself. Christ uttered the warning, "Sin no more, lest a worse thing come upon thee," and St. Paul said, "Work out your own salvation. Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." That, by the way, is a fine metaphoric rendering of the sentence of the Pur as far antedating him-that "every man reaps the consequences of his own acts."
This is the principle of the law of Karma which is taught by Theosophy. Sinnett, in his Esoteric Buddhism, rendered Karma as "the law of ethical causation." "The law of retribution," as Mme. Blavatsky translates its meaning, is better. It is the power which
Just though mysterious, leads us on unerring
Through ways unmarked from guilt to punishment.
But it is more. It rewards merit as unerringly and amply as it punishes demerit. It is the outcome of every act, of thought, word, and deed, and by it men mold themselves, their lives and happenings. Eastern philosophy rejects the idea of a newly created soul for every baby born. It believes in a limited number of monads, evolving and growing more and more perfect through their assimilation of many successive personalities. Those personalities are the product of Karma and it is by Karma and reincarnation that the human monad in time returns to its source-absolute deity.
E.D. Walker, in his Reincarnation, offers the following explanation:
Briefly, the doctrine of Karma is that we have made ourselves what we are by former actions, and are building our future eternity by present actions. There is no destiny but what we ourselves determine. There is no salvation or condemnation except what we ourselves bring about . Because it offers no shelter for culpable actions and necessitates a sterling manliness, it is less welcome to weak natures than the easy religious tenets of vicarious atonement, intercession, forgiveness, and deathbed conversions . In the domain of eternal justice the offense and the punishment are inseparably connected as the same event, because there is no real distinction between the action and its outcome . It is Karma, or our old acts, that draws us back into earthly life. The spirit's abode changes according to its Karma, and this Karma forbids any long continuance in one condition, because it is always changing. So long as action is governed by material and selfish motives, just so long must the effect of that action be manifested in physical rebirths. Only the perfectly selfless man can elude the gravitation of material life. Few have attained this, but it is the goal of mankind.
And then the writer quotes from The Secret Doctrine:
Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving, thread by thread, around himself, as a spider does his cobweb, and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the network of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny . An Occultist or a philosopher will not speak of the goodness or cruelty of Providence; but, identifying it with Karma-Nemesis, he will teach that, nevertheless, it guards the good and watches over them in this as in future lives; and that it punishes the evil-doer-aye, even to his seventh rebirth-so long, in short, as the effect of his having thrown into perturbation even the smallest atom in the infinite world of harmony has not been finally readjusted. For the only decree of Karma-an eternal and immutable decree-is absolute harmony in the world of matter as it is in the world of spirit. It is not, therefore, Karma that rewards or punishes, but it is we who reward or punish ourselves according to whether we work with, through and along with nature, abiding by the laws on which that harmony depends, or-break them. Nor would the ways of Karma be inscrutable were men to work in union and harmony, instead of disunion and strife. For our ignorance of those ways-which one portion of mankind calls the ways of Providence, dark and intricate; while another sees in them the action of blind fatalism; and a third simple chance, with neither gods nor devils to guide them-would surely disappear if we would but attribute all these to their correct cause . We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making and the riddles of life that we will not solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us. But verily there is not an accident of our lives, not a misshapen day, or a misfortune, that could not be traced back to our own doings in this or in another life . The law of Karma is inextricably interwoven with that of reincarnation . It is only this doctrine that can explain to us the mysterious problem of good and evil, and reconcile man to the terrible and apparent injustice of life. Nothing but such certainty can quiet our revolted sense of justice. For, when one unacquainted with the noble doctrine looks around him and observes the inequalities of birth and fortune, of intellect and capacities; when one sees honor paid to fools and wastrels, on whom fortune has heaped her favors by mere privilege of birth, and their nearest neighbor, with all his intellect and noble virtues-far more deserving in every way-perishing for want and for lack of sympathy-when one sees all this and has to turn away, helpless to relieve the undeserved suffering, one's ears ringing and heart aching with the cries of pain around him-that blessed knowledge of Karma alone prevents him from cursing life and men as well as their supposed Creator . This law, whether conscious or unconscious, predestines nothing and no one. It exists from and in eternity truly, for it is eternity itself; and as such, since no act can be coequal with eternity, it cannot be said to act, for it is action itself. It is not the wave which drowns the man, but the personal action of the wretch who goes deliberately and places himself under the impersonal action of the laws that govern the ocean's motion. Karma creates nothing, nor does it design. It is man who plants and creates causes, and Karmic law adjusts the effects, which adjustment is not an act but universal harmony, tending ever to resume its original position, like a bough, which, bent down too forcibly, rebounds with corresponding vigor. If it happen to dislocate the arm that tried to bend it out of its natural position, shall we say it is the bough which broke our arm or that our own folly has brought us to grief? Karma has never sought to destroy intellectual and individual liberty, like the god invented by the Monotheists. It has not involved its decrees in darkness purposely to perplex man, nor shall it punish him who dares to scrutinize its mysteries. On the contrary, he who unveils through study and meditation its intricate paths, and throws light on those dark ways, in the windings of which so many men perish owing to their ignorance of the labyrinth of life, is working for the good of his fellowmen. Karma is an absolute and eternal law in the world of manifestation; and as there can only be one Absolute, as one Eternal, ever-present Cause, believers in Karma cannot be regarded as atheists or materialists, still less as fatalists, for Karma is one with the Unknowable, of which it is an aspect, in its effects in the phenomenal world.
Another able Theosophic writer says:
Every individual is making Karma either good or bad in each action and thought of his daily round, and is at the same time working out in this life the Karma brought about by the acts and desires of the last. When we see people afflicted by congenital ailments it may be safely assumed that these ailments are the inevitable results of causes started by themselves in a previous birth. It may be argued that, as these afflictions are hereditary, they can have nothing to do with a past incarnation; but it must be remembered that the Ego, the real man, the individuality, has no spiritual origin in the parentage by which it is reembodied, but it is drawn by the affinities which its previous mode of life attracted round it into the current that carries it, when the time comes for rebirth, to the home best fitted for the development of those tendencies . This doctrine of Karma, when properly understood, is well calculated to guide and assist those who realize its truth to a higher and better mode of life, for it must not be forgotten that not only our actions but our thoughts also are most assuredly followed by a crowd of circumstances that will influence for good or for evil our own future, and, what is still more important, the future of many of our fellow-creatures. If sins of omission and commission could in any case be only self-regarding, the fact on the sinner's Karma would be a matter of minor consequence. The effect that every thought and act through life carries with it for good or evil a corresponding influence on other members of the human family renders a strict sense of justice, morality, and unselfishness so necessary to future happiness or progress. A crime once committed, an evil thought sent out from the mind, are past recall-no amount of repentance can wipe out their results in the future. Repentance, if sincere, will deter a man from repeating errors; it cannot save him or others from the effects of those already produced, which will most unerringly overtake him either in this life or in the next rebirth.
Mr. J.H. Conelly proceeds-
The believers in a religion based upon such doctrine are willing it should be compared with one in which man's destiny for eternity is determined by the accidents of a single, brief earthly existence, during which he is cheered by the promise that "as the tree falls so shall it lie"; in which his brightest hope, when he wakes up to a knowledge of his wickedness, is the doctrine of vicarious atonement, and in which even that is handicapped, according to the Presbyterian Confession of Faith.
By the decree of God, for the manifestation of his glory, some men and angels are predestinated unto everlasting life and others foreordained to everlasting death.
These angels and men thus predestinated and foreordained are particularly and unchangeably designed; and their number is so certain and definite that it cannot be either increased or diminished . As God hath appointed the elect unto glory . Neither are any other redeemed by Christ effectually called, justified, adopted, sanctified, and saved, but the elect only.
The rest of mankind God was pleased, according to the unsearchable counsel of his own will, whereby he extendeth or withholdeth mercy as he pleaseth, for the glory of his sovereign power over his creatures, to pass by and to ordain them to dishonor and wrath for their sin to the praise of his glorious justice.
This is what the able defender says. Nor can we do any better than wind up the subject as he does, by a quotation from a magnificent poem. As he says:
The exquisite beauty of Edwin Arnold's exposition of Karma in The
Light of Asia tempts to its reproduction here, but it is too long
for quotation in full. Here is a portion of it:
Karma-all that total of a soul
Which is the things it did, the thoughts it had,
The "self" it wove with woof of viewless time
Crossed on the warp invisible of acts.
* * * * *
Before beginning and without an end,
As space eternal and as surety sure,
Is fixed a Power divine which moves to good,
Only its laws endure.
It will not be despised of anyone;
Who thwarts it loses, and who serves it gains;
The hidden good it pays with peace and bliss,
The hidden ill with pains.
It seeth everywhere and marketh all;
Do right-it recompenseth! Do one wrong-
The equal retribution must be made,
Though Dharma tarry long.
It knows not wrath nor pardon; utter-true,
Its measures mete, its faultless balance weighs;
Times are as naught, tomorrow it will judge
Or after many days.
* * * * *
Such is the law which moves to righteousness,
Which none at last can turn aside or stay;
The heart of it is love, the end of it
Is peace and consummation sweet. Obey.
And now I advise you to compare our Theosophic views upon Karma, the law of Retribution, and say whether they are not both more philosophical and just than this cruel and idiotic dogma which makes of "God" a senseless fiend; the tenet, namely, that the "elect only" will be saved, and the rest doomed to eternal perdition!
Q. Yes, I see what you mean generally; but I wish you could give some concrete example of the action of Karma?
A. That I cannot do. We can only feel sure, as I said before, that our present lives and circumstances are the direct results of our own deeds and thoughts in lives that are past. But we, who are not Seers or Initiates, cannot know anything about the details of the working of the law of Karma.
Q. Can anyone, even an Adept or Seer, follow out this Karmic process of readjustment in detail?
A. Certainly: "Those who know" can do so by the exercise
of powers which are latent even in all men.
Who Are Those Who Know?
Q. Does this hold equally of ourselves as of others?
A. Equally. Aa just said, the same limited vision exists for all, save those who have reached in the present incarnation the acme of spiritual vision and clairvoyance. We can only perceive that, if things with us ought to have been different, they would have been different; that we are what we have made ourselves, and have only what we have earned for ourselves.
Q. I am afraid such a conception would only embitter us.
A. I believe it is precisely the reverse. It is disbelief in the just law of retribution that is more likely to awaken every combative feeling in man. A child, as much as a man, resents a punishment, or even a reproof he believes to be unmerited, far more than he does a more severe punishment, if he feels that it is merited. Belief in Karma is the highest reason for reconcilement to one's lot in this life, and the very strongest incentive towards effort to better the succeeding rebirth. Both of these, indeed, would be destroyed if we supposed that our lot was the result of anything but strict Law, or that destiny was in any other hands than our own.
Q. You have just asserted that this system of Reincarnation under Karmic law commended itself to reason, justice, and the moral sense. But, if so, is it not at some sacrifice of the gentler qualities of sympathy and pity, and thus a hardening of the finer instincts of human nature?
A. Only apparently, not really. No man can receive more or less than his deserts without a corresponding injustice or partiality to others; and a law which could be averted through compassion would bring about more misery than it saved, more irritation and curses than thanks. Remember also, that we do not administer the law, if we do create causes for its effects; it administers itself; and again, that the most copious provision for the manifestation of just compassion and mercy is shown in the state of Devachan.
Q. You speak of Adepts as being an exception to the rule of our general ignorance. Do they really know more than we do of Reincarnation and after states?
A. They do, indeed. By the training of faculties we all possess, but which they alone have developed to perfection, they have entered in spirit these various planes and states we have been discussing. For long ages, one generation of Adepts after another has studied the mysteries of being, of life, death, and rebirth, and all have taught in their turn some of the facts so learned.
Q. And is the production of Adepts the aim of Theosophy?
A. Theosophy considers humanity as an emanation from divinity on its return path thereto. At an advanced point upon the path, Adeptship is reached by those who have devoted several incarnations to its achievement. For, remember well, no man has ever reached Adeptship in the Secret Sciences in one life; but many incarnations are necessary for it after the formation of a conscious purpose and the beginning of the needful training. Many may be the men and women in the very midst of our Society who have begun this uphill work toward illumination several incarnations ago, and who yet, owing to the personal illusions of the present life, are either ignorant of the fact, or on the road to losing every chance in this existence of progressing any farther. They feel an irresistible attraction toward occultism and the Higher Life, and yet are too personal and self-opinionated, too much in love with the deceptive allurements of mundane life and the world's ephemeral pleasures, to give them up; and so lose their chance in their present birth. But, for ordinary men, for the practical duties of daily life, such a far-off result is inappropriate as an aim and quite ineffective as a motive.
Q. What, then, may be their object or distinct purpose in joining the Theosophical Society?
A. Many are interested in our doctrines and feel instinctively
that they are truer than those of any dogmatic religion. Others
have formed a fixed resolve to attain the highest ideal of man's
The Difference Between Faith and Knowledge, Or Blind and Reasoned Faith
Q. You say that they accept and believe in the doctrines of Theosophy. But, as they do not belong to those Adepts you have just mentioned, then they must accept your teachings on blind faith. In what does this differ from that of conventional religions?
A. As it differs on almost all the other points, so it differs on this one. What you call "faith," and that which is blind faith, in reality, and with regard to the dogmas of the Christian religions, becomes with us "knowledge," the logical sequence of things we know, about facts in nature. Your Doctrines are based upon interpretation, therefore, upon the secondhand testimony of Seers; ours upon the invariable and unvarying testimony of Seers. The ordinary Christian theology, for instance, holds that man is a creature of God, of three component parts-body, soul, and spirit-all essential to his integrity, and all, either in the gross form of physical earthly existence or in the etherealized form of post-resurrection experience, needed to so constitute him forever, each man having thus a permanent existence separate from other men, and from the Divine. Theosophy, on the other hand, holds that man, being an emanation from the Unknown, yet ever present and infinite Divine Essence, his body and everything else is impermanent, hence an illusion; Spirit alone in him being the one enduring substance, and even that losing its separated individuality at the moment of its complete reunion with the Universal Spirit.
Q. If we lose even our individuality, then it becomes simply annihilation.
A. I say it does not, since I speak of separate, not of universal individuality. The latter becomes as a part transformed into the whole; the dewdrop is not evaporated, but becomes the sea. Is physical man annihilated, when from a fetus he becomes an old man? What kind of Satanic pride must be ours if we place our infinitesimally small consciousness and individuality higher than the universal and infinite consciousness!
Q. It follows, then, that there is, de facto, no man, but all is Spirit?
A. You are mistaken. It thus follows that the union of Spirit with matter is but temporary; or, to put it more clearly, since Spirit and matter are one, being the two opposite poles of the universal manifested substance-that Spirit loses its right to the name so long as the smallest particle and atom of its manifesting substance still clings to any form, the result of differentiation. To believe otherwise is blind faith.
Q. Thus it is on knowledge, not on faith, that you assert that the permanent principle, the Spirit, simply makes a transit through matter?
A. I would put it otherwise and say-we assert that the appearance of the permanent and one principle, Spirit, as matter is transient, and, therefore, no better than an illusion.
Q. Very well; and this, given out on knowledge not faith?
A. Just so. But as I see very well what you are driving at, I may just as well tell you that we hold faith, such as you advocate, to be a mental disease, and real faith, i.e., the pistis of the Greeks, as "belief based on knowledge," whether supplied by the evidence of physical or spiritual senses.
Q. What do you mean?
A. I mean, if it is the difference between the two that you want to know, then I can tell you that between faith on authority and faith on one's spiritual intuition, there is a very great difference.
Q. What is it?
A. One is human credulity and superstition, the other human belief and intuition. As Professor Alexander Wilder says in his "Introduction to the Eleusinian Mysteries,"
It is ignorance which leads to profanation. Men ridicule what they do not properly understand . The undercurrent of this world is set towards one goal; and inside of human credulity . is a power almost infinite, a holy faith capable of apprehending the most supreme truths of all existence.
Those who limit that "credulity" to human authoritative dogmas alone, will never fathom that power nor even perceive it in their natures. It is stuck fast to the external plane and is unable to bring forth into play the essence that rules it; for to do this they have to claim their right of private judgment, and this they never dare to do.
Q. And is it that "intuition" which forces you to reject God as a personal Father, Ruler, and Governor of the Universe?
A. Precisely. We believe in an ever unknowable Principle, because blind aberration alone can make one maintain that the Universe, thinking man, and all the marvels contained even in the world of matter, could have grown without some intelligent powers to bring about the extraordinarily wise arrangement of all its parts. Nature may err, and often does, in its details and the external manifestations of its materials, never in its inner causes and results. Ancient pagans held on this question far more philosophical views than modern philosophers, whether Agnostics, Materialists, or Christians; and no pagan writer has ever yet advanced the proposition that cruelty and mercy are not finite feelings, and can therefore be made the attributes of an infinite god. Their gods, therefore, were all finite. The Siamese author of the Wheel of the Law, expresses the same idea about your personal god as we do; he says:
A Buddhist might believe in the existence of a god, sublime above all human qualities and attributes-a perfect god, above love, and hatred, and jealousy, calmly resting in a quietude that nothing could disturb, and of such a god he would speak no disparagement not from a desire to please him or fear to offend him, but from natural veneration; but he cannot understand a god with the attributes and qualities of men, a god who loves and hates, and shows anger; a Deity who, whether described as by Christian Missionaries or by Mohammedans or Brahmins, or Jews, falls below his standard of even an ordinary good man.
Q. Faith for faith, is not the faith of the Christian who believes, in his human helplessness and humility, that there is a merciful Father in Heaven who will protect him from temptation, help him in life, and forgive him his transgressions, better than the cold and proud, almost fatalistic faith of the Buddhists, Vedantins, and Theosophists?
A. Persist in calling our belief "faith" if you will. But once we are again on this ever-recurring question, I ask in my turn: faith for faith, is not the one based on strict logic and reason better than the one which is based simply on human authority or-hero-worship? Our "faith" has all the logical force of the arithmetical truism that two and two will produce four. Your faith is like the logic of some emotional women, of whom Tourgenyeff said that for them two and two were generally five, and a tallow candle into the bargain. Yours is a faith, moreover, which clashes not only with every conceivable view of justice and logic, but which, if analyzed, leads man to his moral perdition, checks the progress of mankind, and positively making of might, right-transforms every second man into a Cain to his brother Abel.
Q. What do you allude to?
Has God the Right to Forgive?
A. To the Doctrine of Atonement; I allude to that dangerous dogma in which you believe, and which teaches us that no matter how enormous our crimes against the laws of God and of man, we have but to believe in the self-sacrifice of Jesus for the salvation of mankind, and his blood will wash out every stain. It is twenty years that I preach against it, and I may now draw your attention to a paragraph from Isis Unveiled, written in 1875. This is what Christianity teaches, and what we combat:
God's mercy is boundless and unfathomable. It is impossible to conceive of a human sin so damnable that the price paid in advance for the redemption of the sinner would not wipe it out if a thousandfold worse. And furthermore, it is never too late to repent. Though the offender wait until the last minute of the last hour of the last day of his mortal life, before his blanched lips utter the confession of faith, he may go to Paradise; the dying thief did it, and so may all others as vile. These are the assumptions of the Church, and of the Clergy; assumptions banged at the heads of your countrymen by England's favorite preachers, right in the "light of the nineteenth century," .
-this most paradoxical age of all. Now to what does it lead?
Q. Does it not make the Christian happier than the Buddhist or Brahmin?
A. No; not the educated man, at any rate, since the majority of these have long since virtually lost all belief in this cruel dogma. But it leads those who still believe in it more easily to the threshold of every conceivable crime, than any other I know of. Let me quote to you once more:
If we step outside the little circle of creed and consider the universe as a whole balanced by the exquisite adjustment of parts, how all sound logic, how the faintest glimmering sense of Justice, revolts against this Vicarious Atonement! If the criminal sinned only against himself, and wronged no one but himself; if by sincere repentance he could cause the obliteration of past events, not only from the memory of man, but also from that imperishable record, which no deity-not even the most Supreme of the Supreme-can cause to disappear, then this dogma might not be incomprehensible. But to maintain that one may wrong his fellowman, kill, disturb the equilibrium of society and the natural order of things, and then-through cowardice, hope, or compulsion, it matters not-be forgiven by believing that the spilling of one blood washes out the other blood spilt-this is preposterous! Can the results of a crime be obliterated even though the crime itself should be pardoned? The effects of a cause are never limited to the boundaries of the cause, nor can the results of crime be confined to the offender and his victim. Every good as well as evil action has its effects, as palpably as the stone flung into calm water. The simile is trite, but it is the best ever conceived, so let us use it. The eddying circles are greater and swifter as the disturbing object is greater or smaller, but the smallest pebble, nay, the tiniest speck, makes its ripples. And this disturbance is not alone visible and on the surface. Below, unseen, in every direction-outward and downward-drop pushes drop until the sides and bottom are touched by the force. More, the air above the water is agitated, and this disturbance passes, as the physicists tell us, from stratum to stratum out into space forever and ever; an impulse has been given to matter, and that is never lost, can never be recalled! .
So with crime, and so with its opposite. The action may be instantaneous, the effects are eternal. When, after the stone is once flung into the pond, we can recall it to the hand, roll back the ripples, obliterate the force expended, restore the etheric waves to their previous state of non-being, and wipe out every trace of the act of throwing the missile, so that Time's record shall not show that it ever happened, then, then we may patiently hear Christians argue for the efficacy of this Atonement,
-and cease to believe in Karmic Law. As it now stands, we call upon the whole world to decide, which of our two doctrines is the most appreciative of deific justice, and which is more reasonable, even on simple human evidence and logic.
Q. Yet millions believe in the Christian dogma and are happy.
A. Pure sentimentalism overpowering their thinking faculties, which no true philanthropist or Altruist will ever accept. It is not even a dream of selfishness, but a nightmare of the human intellect. Look where it leads to, and tell me the name of that pagan country where crimes are more easily committed or more numerous than in Christian lands. Look at the long and ghastly annual records of crimes committed in European countries; and behold Protestant and Biblical America. There, conversions effected in prisons are more numerous than those made by public revivals and preaching. See how the ledger-balance of Christian justice (!) stands: Red-handed murderers, urged on by the demons of lust, revenge, cupidity, fanaticism, or mere brutal thirst for blood, who kill their victims, in most cases, without giving them time to repent or call on Jesus. These, perhaps, died sinful, and, of course-consistently with theological logic-met the reward of their greater or lesser of fences. But the murderer, overtaken by human justice, is imprisoned, wept over by sentimentalists, prayed with and at, pronounces the charmed words of conversion, and goes to the scaffold a redeemed child of Jesus! Except for the murder, he would not have been prayed with, redeemed, pardoned. Clearly this man did well to murder, for thus he gained eternal happiness! And how about the victim, and his, or her family, relatives, dependents, social relations; has justice no recompense for them? Must they suffer in this world and the next, while he who wronged them sits beside the "holy thief" of Calvary, and is forever blessed? On this question the clergy keep a prudent silence. (Isis Unveiled) And now you know why Theosophists-whose fundamental belief and hope is justice for all, in Heaven as on earth, and in Karma-reject this dogma.
Q. The ultimate destiny of man, then, is not a Heaven presided over by God, but the gradual transformation of matter into its primordial element, Spirit?
A. It is to that final goal to which all tends in nature.
Q. Do not some of you regard this association or "fall of spirit into matter" as evil, and rebirth as a sorrow?
A. Some do, and therefore strive to shorten their period of probation
on earth. It is not an unmixed evil, however, since it ensures the
experience upon which we mount to knowledge and wisdom. I mean that
experience which teaches that the needs of our spiritual nature
can never be met by other than spiritual happiness. As long as we
are in the body, we are subjected to pain, suffering and all the
disappointing incidents occurring during life. Therefore, and to
palliate this, we finally acquire knowledge which alone can afford
us relief and hope of a better future.
Q. Why, then, the need for rebirths, since all alike fail to secure a permanent peace?
A. Because the final goal cannot be reached in any way but through life experiences, and because the bulk of these consist in pain and suffering. It is only through the latter that we can learn. Joys and pleasures teach us nothing; they are evanescent, and can only bring in the long run satiety. Moreover, our constant failure to find any permanent satisfaction in life which would meet the wants of our higher nature, shows us plainly that those wants can be met only on their own plane, to wit-the spiritual.
Q. Is the natural result of this a desire to quit life by one means or another?
A. If you mean by such desire "suicide," then I say, most decidedly not. Such a result can never be a "natural" one, but is ever due to a morbid brain disease, or to most decided and strong materialistic views. It is the worst of crimes and dire in its results. But if by desire, you mean simply aspiration to reach spiritual existence, not a wish to quit the earth, then I would call it a very natural desire indeed. Otherwise voluntary death would be an abandonment of our present post and of the duties incumbent on us, as well as an attempt to shirk Karmic responsibilities, and thus involve the creation of new Karma.
Q. But if actions on the material plane are unsatisfying, why should duties, which are such actions, be imperative?
A. First of all, because our philosophy teaches us that the object of doing our duties to all men and to ourselves the last, is not the attainment of personal happiness, but of the happiness of others; the fulfillment of right for the sake of right, not for what it may bring us. Happiness, or rather contentment, may indeed follow the performance of duty, but is not and must not be the motive for it.
Q. What do you understand precisely by "duty" in Theosophy? It cannot be the Christian duties preached by Jesus and his Apostles, since you recognize neither?
A. You are once more mistaken. What you call "Christian duties" were inculcated by every great moral and religious Reformer ages before the Christian era. All that was great, generous, heroic, was, in days of old, not only talked about and preached from pulpits as in our own time, but acted upon sometimes by whole nations. The history of the Buddhist reform is full of the most noble and most heroically unselfish acts.
Be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another; love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous; not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise, blessing .
-was practically carried out by the followers of Buddha, several centuries before Peter. The Ethics of Christianity are grand, no doubt; but as undeniably they are not new, and have originated as "Pagan" duties.
Q. And how would you define these duties, or "duty," in general, as you understand the term?
A. Duty is that which is due to Humanity, to our fellowmen, neighbors, family, and especially that which we owe to all those who are poorer and more helpless than we are ourselves. This is a debt which, if left unpaid during life, leaves us spiritually insolvent and morally bankrupt in our next incarnation. Theosophy is the quintessence of duty.
Q. So is Christianity when rightly understood and carried out.
A. No doubt it is; but then, were it not a lip-religion in practice, Theosophy would have little to do amidst Christians. Unfortunately it is but such lip-ethics. Those who practice their duty towards all, and for duty's own sake, are few; and fewer still are those who perform that duty, remaining content with the satisfaction of their own secret consciousness. It is-
. the public voice
Of praise that honors virtue and rewards it,
-which is ever uppermost in the minds of the "world renowned" philanthropists. Modern ethics are beautiful to read about and hear discussed; but what are words unless converted into actions? Finally: if you ask me how we understand Theosophical duty practically and in view of Karma, I may answer you that our duty is to drink without a murmur to the last drop, whatever contents the cup of life may have in store for us, to pluck the roses of life only for the fragrance they may shed on others, and to be ourselves content but with the thorns, if that fragrance cannot be enjoyed without depriving someone else of it.
Q. All this is very vague. What do you do more than Christians do?
A. It is not what we members of the Theosophical Society do-though some of us try our best-but how much farther Theosophy leads to good than modern Christianity does. I say-action, enforced action, instead of mere intention and talk. A man may be what he likes, the most worldly, selfish and hard-hearted of men, even a deep-dyed rascal, and it will not prevent him from calling himself a Christian, or others from so regarding him. But no Theosophist has the right to this name, unless he is thoroughly imbued with the correctness of Carlyle's truism: "The end of man is an action and not a thought, though it were the noblest"-and unless he sets and models his daily life upon this truth. The profession of a truth is not yet the enactment of it; and the more beautiful and grand it sounds, the more loudly virtue or duty is talked about instead of being acted upon, the more forcibly it will always remind one of the Dead Sea fruit. Cant is the most loathsome of all vices; and cant is the most prominent feature of the greatest Protestant country of this century-England.
Q. What do you consider as due to humanity at large?
A. Full recognition of equal rights and privileges for all, and without distinction of race, color, social position, or birth.
Q. When would you consider such due not given?
A. When there is the slightest invasion of another's right-be that other a man or a nation; when there is any failure to show him the same justice, kindness, consideration, or mercy which we desire for ourselves. The whole present system of politics is built on the oblivion of such rights, and the most fierce assertion of national selfishness. The French say: "Like master, like man." They ought to add, "Like national policy, like citizen."
Q. Do you take any part in politics?
A. As a Society, we carefully avoid them, for the reasons given
below. To seek to achieve political reforms before we have effected
a reform in human nature, is like putting new wine into old bottles.
Make men feel and recognize in their innermost hearts what is their
real, true duty to all men, and every old abuse of power, every
iniquitous law in the national policy, based on human, social, or
political selfishness, will disappear of itself. Foolish is the
gardener who seeks to weed his flowerbed of poisonous plants by
cutting them off from the surface of the soil, instead of tearing
them out by the roots. No lasting political reform can be ever achieved
with the same selfish men at the head of affairs as of old.
The Relations of the T.S. to Political Reforms
Q. The Theosophical Society is not, then, a political organization?
A. Certainly not. It is international in the highest sense in that its members comprise men and women of all races, creeds, and forms of thought, who work together for one object, the improvement of humanity; but as a society it takes absolutely no part in any national or party politics.
Q. Why is this?
A. Just for the reasons I have mentioned. Moreover, political action must necessarily vary with the circumstances of the time and with the idiosyncrasies of individuals. While from the very nature of their position as Theosophists the members of the T.S. are agreed on the principles of Theosophy, or they would not belong to the society at all, it does not thereby follow that they agree on every other subject. As a society they can only act together in matters which are common to all-that is, in Theosophy itself; as individuals, each is left perfectly free to follow out his or her particular line of political thought and action, so long as this does not conflict with Theosophical principles or hurt the Theosophical Society.
Q. But surely the T.S. does not stand altogether aloof from the social questions which are now so fast coming to the front?
A. The very principles of the T.S. are a proof that it does not-or, rather, that most of its members do not-so stand aloof. If humanity can only be developed mentally and spiritually by the enforcement, first of all, of the soundest and most scientific physiological laws, it is the bounden duty of all who strive for this development to do their utmost to see that those laws shall be generally carried out. All Theosophists are only too sadly aware that, in Occidental countries especially, the social condition of large masses of the people renders it impossible for either their bodies or their spirits to be properly trained, so that the development of both is thereby arrested. As this training and development is one of the express objects of Theosophy, the T.S. is in thorough sympathy and harmony with all true efforts in this direction.
Q. But what do you mean by "true efforts"? Each social reformer has his own panacea, and each believes his to be the one and only thing which can improve and save humanity?
A. Perfectly true, and this is the real reason why so little satisfactory social work is accomplished. In most of these panaceas there is no really guiding principle, and there is certainly no one principle which connects them all. Valuable time and energy are thus wasted; for men, instead of cooperating, strive one against the other, often, it is to be feared, for the sake of fame and reward rather than for the great cause which they profess to have at heart, and which should be supreme in their lives.
Q. How, then, should Theosophical principles be applied so that social cooperation may be promoted and true efforts for social amelioration be carried on?
A. Let me briefly remind you what these principles are-universal Unity and Causation; Human Solidarity; the Law of Karma; Reincarnation. These are the four links of the golden chain which should bind humanity into one family, one universal Brotherhood.
A. In the present state of society, especially in so-called civilized countries, we are continually brought face to face with the fact that large numbers of people are suffering from misery, poverty, and disease. Their physical condition is wretched, and their mental and spiritual faculties are often almost dormant. On the other hand, many persons at the opposite end of the social scale are leading lives of careless indifference, material luxury, and selfish indulgence. Neither of these forms of existence is mere chance. Both are the effects of the conditions which surround those who are subject to them, and the neglect of social duty on the one side is most closely connected with the stunted and arrested development on the other. In sociology, as in all branches of true science, the law of universal causation holds good. But this causation necessarily implies, as its logical outcome, that human solidarity on which Theosophy so strongly insists. If the action of one reacts on the lives of all, and this is the true scientific idea, then it is only by all men becoming brothers and all women sisters, and by all practicing in their daily lives true brotherhood and true sisterhood, that the real human solidarity, which lies at the root of the elevation of the race, can ever be attained. It is this action and interaction, this true brotherhood and sisterhood, in which each shall live for all and all for each, which is one of the fundamental Theosophical principles that every Theosophist should be bound, not only to teach, but to carry out in his or her individual life.
Q. All this is very well as a general principle, but how would you apply it in a concrete way?
A. Look for a moment at what you would call the concrete facts of human society. Contrast the lives not only of the masses of the people, but of many of those who are called the middle and upper classes, with what they might be under healthier and nobler conditions, where justice, kindness, and love were paramount, instead of the selfishness, indifference, and brutality which now too often seem to reign supreme. All good and evil things in humanity have their roots in human character, and this character is, and has been, conditioned by the endless chain of cause and effect. But this conditioning applies to the future as well as to the present and the past. Selfishness, indifference, and brutality can never be the normal state of the race-to believe so would be to despair of humanity-and that no Theosophist can do. Progress can be attained, and only attained, by the development of the nobler qualities. Now, true evolution teaches us that by altering the surroundings of the organism we can alter and improve the organism; and in the strictest sense this is true with regard to man. Every Theosophist, therefore, is bound to do his utmost to help on, by all the means in his power, every wise and well-considered social effort which has for its object the amelioration of the condition of the poor. Such efforts should be made with a view to their ultimate social emancipation, or the development of the sense of duty in those who now so often neglect it in nearly every relation of life.
Q. Agreed. But who is to decide whether social efforts are wise or unwise?
A. No one person and no society can lay down a hard-and-fast rule in this respect. Much must necessarily be left to the individual judgment. One general test may, however, be given. Will the proposed action tend to promote that true brotherhood which it is the aim of Theosophy to bring about? No real Theosophist will have much difficulty in applying such a test; once he is satisfied of this, his duty will lie in the direction of forming public opinion. And this can be attained only by inculcating those higher and nobler conceptions of public and private duties which lie at the root of all spiritual and material improvement. In every conceivable case he himself must be a center of spiritual action, and from him and his own daily individual life must radiate those higher spiritual forces which alone can regenerate his fellowmen.
Q. But why should he do this? Are not he and all, as you teach, conditioned by their Karma, and must not Karma necessarily work itself out on certain lines?
A. It is this very law of Karma which gives strength to all that I have said. The individual cannot separate himself from the race, nor the race from the individual. The law of Karma applies equally to all, although all are not equally developed. In helping on the development of others, the Theosophist believes that he is not only helping them to fulfill their Karma, but that he is also, in the strictest sense, fulfilling his own. It is the development of humanity, of which both he and they are integral parts, that he has always in view, and he knows that any failure on his part to respond to the highest within him retards not only himself but all, in their progressive march. By his actions, he can make it either more difficult or more easy for humanity to attain the next higher plane of being.
Q. How does this bear on the fourth of the principles you mentioned, viz., Reincarnation?
A. The connection is most intimate. If our present lives depend
upon the development of certain principles which are a growth from
the germs left by a previous existence, the law holds good as regards
the future. Once grasp the idea that universal causation is not
merely present, but past, present, and future, and every action
on our present plane falls naturally and easily into its true place,
and is seen in its true relation to ourselves and to others. Every
mean and selfish action sends us backward and not forward, while
every noble thought and every unselfish deed are stepping-stones
to the higher and more glorious planes of being. If this life were
all, then in many respects it would indeed be poor and mean; but
regarded as a preparation for the next sphere of existence, it may
be used as the golden gate through which we may pass, not selfishly
and alone, but in company with our fellows, to the palaces which
Q. Is equal justice to all and love to every creature the highest standard of Theosophy?
A. No; there is an even far higher one.
Q. What can it be?
A. The giving to others more than to oneself-self-sacrifice. Such was the standard and abounding measure which marked so preeminently the greatest Teachers and Masters of Humanity-e.g., Gautama Buddha in History, and Jesus of Nazareth as in the Gospels. This trait alone was enough to secure to them the perpetual reverence and gratitude of the generations of men that come after them. We say, however, that self-sacrifice has to be performed with discrimination; and such a self-abandonment, if made without justice, or blindly, regardless of subsequent results, may often prove not only made in vain, but harmful. One of the fundamental rules of Theosophy is, justice to oneself-viewed as a unit of collective humanity, not as a personal self-justice, not more but not less than to others; unless, indeed, by the sacrifice of the one self we can benefit the many.
Q. Could you make your idea clearer by giving an instance?
A. There are many instances to illustrate it in history. Self-sacrifice for practical good to save many, or several people, Theosophy holds as far higher than self-abnegation for a sectarian idea, such as that of "saving the heathen from damnation," for instance. In our opinion, Father Damien, the young man of thirty who offered his whole life in sacrifice for the benefit and alleviation of the sufferings of the lepers at Molokai, and who went to live for eighteen years alone with them, to finally catch the loathsome disease and die, has not died in vain. He has given relief and relative happiness to thousands of miserable wretches. He has brought to them consolation, mental and physical. He threw a streak of light into the black and dreary night of an existence, the hopelessness of which is unparalleled in the records of human suffering. He was a true Theosophist, and his memory will live forever in our annals. In our sight this poor Belgian priest stands immeasurably higher than-for instance-all those sincere but vain-glorious fools, the Missionaries who have sacrificed their lives in the South Sea Islands or China. What good have they done? They went in one case to those who are not yet ripe for any truth; and in the other to a nation whose systems of religious philosophy are as grand as any, if only the men who have them would live up to the standard of Confucius and their other sages. And they died victims of irresponsible cannibals and savages, and of popular fanaticism and hatred. Whereas, by going to the slums of Whitechapel or some other such locality of those that stagnate right under the blazing sun of our civilization, full of Christian savages and mental leprosy, they might have done real good, and preserved their lives for a better and worthier cause.
Q. But the Christians do not think so?
A. Of course not, because they act on an erroneous belief. They think that by baptizing the body of an irresponsible savage they save his soul from damnation. One church forgets her martyrs, the other beatifies and raises statues to such men as Labro, who sacrificed his body for forty years only to benefit the vermin which it bred. Had we the means to do so, we would raise a statue to Father Damien, the true, practical saint, and perpetuate his memory forever as a living exemplar of Theosophical heroism and of Buddha- and Christ-like mercy and self-sacrifice.
Q. Then you regard self-sacrifice as a duty?
A. We do; and explain it by showing that altruism is an integral part of self-development. But we have to discriminate. A man has no right to starve himself to death that another man may have food, unless the life of that man is obviously more useful to the many than is his own life. But it is his duty to sacrifice his own comfort, and to work for others if they are unable to work for themselves. It is his duty to give all that which is wholly his own and can benefit no one but himself if he selfishly keeps it from others. Theosophy teaches self-abnegation, but does not teach rash and useless self-sacrifice, nor does it justify fanaticism.
Q. But how are we to reach such an elevated status?
A. By the enlightened application of our precepts to practice. By the use of our higher reason, spiritual intuition, and moral sense, and by following the dictates of what we call "the still small voice" of our conscience, which is that of our Ego, and which speaks louder in us than the earthquakes and the thunders of Jehovah, wherein "the Lord is not."
Q. If such are our duties to humanity at large, what do you understand by our duties to our immediate surroundings?
A. Just the same, plus those that arise from special obligations with regard to family ties.
Q. Then it is not true, as it is said, that no sooner does a man enter into the Theosophical Society than he begins to be gradually severed from his wife, children, and family duties?
A. It is a groundless slander, like so many others. The first of the Theosophical duties is to do one's duty by all men, and especially by those to whom one's specific responsibilities are due, because one has either voluntarily undertaken them, such as marriage ties, or because one's destiny has allied one to them; I mean those we owe to parents or next of kin.
Q. And what may be the duty of a Theosophist to himself?
A. To control and conquer, through the Higher, the lower self. To purify himself inwardly and morally; to fear no one, and nought, save the tribunal of his own conscience. Never to do a thing by halves; i.e., if he thinks it the right thing to do, let him do it openly and boldly, and if wrong, never touch it at all. It is the duty of a Theosophist to lighten his burden by thinking of the wise aphorism of Epictetus, who says:
Be not diverted from your duty by any idle reflection the silly world may make upon you, for their censures are not in your power, and consequently should not be any part of your concern.
Q. But suppose a member of your Society should plead inability to practice altruism by other people, on the ground that "charity begins at home," urging that he is too busy, or too poor, to benefit mankind or even any of its units-what are your rules in such a case?
A. No man has a right to say that he can do nothing for others, on any pretext whatever. "By doing the proper duty in the proper place, a man may make the world his debtor," says an English writer. A cup of cold water given in time to a thirsty wayfarer is a nobler duty and more worth, than a dozen of dinners given away, out of season, to men who can afford to pay for them. No man who has not got it in him will ever become a Theosophist; but he may remain a member of our Society all the same. We have no rules by which we could force any man to become a practical Theosophist, if he does not desire to be one.
Q. Then why does he enter the Society at all?
A. That is best known to him who does so. For, here again, we have
no right to prejudge a person, not even if the voice of a whole
community should be against him, and I may tell you why. In our
day, vox populi (so far as regards the voice of the educated, at
any rate) is no longer vox dei, but ever that of prejudice, of selfish
motives, and often simply that of unpopularity. Our duty is to sow
seeds broadcast for the future, and see they are good; not to stop
to enquire why we should do so, and how and wherefore we are obliged
to lose our time, since those who will reap the harvest in days
to come will never be ourselves.
Q. How do you Theosophists regard the Christian duty of charity?
A. What charity do you mean? Charity of mind, or practical charity in the physical plane?
Q. I mean practical charity, as your idea of Universal brotherhood would include, of course, charity of mind.
A. Then you have in your mind the practical carrying out of the commandments given by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount?
Q. Precisely so.
A. Then why call them "Christian"? Because, although your Savior preached and practiced them, the last thing the Christians of today think of is to carry them out in their lives.
Q. And yet many are those who pass their lives in dispensing charity?
A. Yes, out of the surplus of their great fortunes. But point out to me that Christian, among the most philanthropic, who would give to the shivering and starving thief, who would steal his coat, his cloak also; or offer his right cheek to him who smote him on the left, and never think of resenting it?
Q. Ah, but you must remember that these precepts have not to be taken literally. Times and circumstances have changed since Christ's day. Moreover, He spoke in Parables.
A. Then why don't your Churches teach that the doctrine of damnation and hellfire is to be understood as a parable too? Why do some of your most popular preachers, while virtually allowing these "parables" to be understood as you take them, insist on the literal meaning of the fires of Hell and the physical tortures of an "Asbestos-like" soul? If one is a "parable," then the other is. If Hellfire is a literal truth, then Christ's commandments in the Sermon on the Mount have to be obeyed to the very letter. And I tell you that many who do not believe in the Divinity of Christ-like Count Leo Tolstoi and more than one Theosophist-do carry out these noble, because universal, precepts literally; and many more good men and women would do so, were they not more than certain that such a walk in life would very probably land them in a lunatic asylum-so Christian are your laws!
Q. But surely everyone knows that millions and millions are spent annually on private and public charities?
A. Oh, yes; half of which sticks to the hands it passes through before getting to the needy; while a good portion or remainder gets into the hands of professional beggars, those who are too lazy to work, thus doing no good whatever to those who are really in misery and suffering. Haven't you heard that the first result of the great outflow of charity towards the East-end of London was to raise the rents in Whitechapel by some twenty percent?
Q. What would you do, then?
A. Act individually and not collectively; follow the Northern Buddhist precepts:
Never put food into the mouth of the hungry by the hand of another.
Never let the shadow of thy neighbor (a third person) come between thyself and the object of thy bounty.
Never give to the Sun time to dry a tear before thou hast wiped it.
Never give money to the needy, or food to the priest, who begs at thy door, through thy servants, lest thy money should diminish gratitude, and thy food turn to gall.
Q. But how can this be applied practically?
A. The Theosophical ideas of charity mean personal exertion for
others; personal mercy and kindness; personal interest in the welfare
of those who suffer; personal sympathy, forethought and assistance
in their troubles or needs. It is important to note that we Theosophists
do not believe in giving money, if we had it, through other people's
hands or organizations. We believe in giving to the money a thousandfold
greater power and effectiveness by our personal contact and sympathy
with those who need it. We believe in relieving the starvation of
the soul, as much if not more than the emptiness of the stomach;
for gratitude does more good to the man who feels it, than to him
for whom it is felt. Where's the gratitude which your "millions
of pounds" should have called forth, or the good feelings provoked
by them? Is it shown in the hatred of the East-End poor for the
rich? In the growth of the party of anarchy and disorder? Or by
those thousands of unfortunate working girls, victims to the "sweating"
system, driven daily to eke out a living by going on the streets?
Do your helpless old men and women thank you for the workhouses;
or your poor for the poisonously unhealthy dwellings in which they
are allowed to breed new generations of diseased, and rickety children,
only to put money into the pockets of the insatiable Shylocks who
own houses? Therefore it is that every sovereign of all those "millions,"
contributed by good and would-be charitable people, falls like a
burning curse instead of a blessing on the poor whom it should relieve.
We call this generating national Karma, and terrible will be its
results on the day of reckoning.
Theosophy for the Masses
Q. And you think that Theosophy would, by stepping in, help to remove these evils, under the practical and adverse conditions of our modern life?
A. Had we more money, and had not most of the Theosophists to work for their daily bread, I firmly believe we could.
Q. How? Do you expect that your doctrines could ever take hold of the uneducated masses, when they are so abstruse and difficult that well-educated people can hardly understand them?
A. You forget one thing, which is that your much-boasted modern education is precisely that which makes it difficult for you to understand Theosophy. Your mind is so full of intellectual subtleties and preconceptions that your natural intuition and perception of the truth cannot act. It does not require metaphysics or education to make a man understand the broad truths of Karma and Reincarnation. Look at the millions of poor and uneducated Buddhists and Hindus, to whom Karma and reincarnation are solid realities, simply because their minds have never been cramped and distorted by being forced into an unnatural groove. They have never had the innate human sense of justice perverted in them by being told to believe that their sins would be forgiven because another man had been put to death for their sakes. And the Buddhists, note well, live up to their beliefs without a murmur against Karma, or what they regard as a just punishment; whereas the Christian populace neither lives up to its moral ideal, nor accepts its lot contentedly. Hence murmuring and dissatisfaction, and the intensity of the struggle for existence in Western lands.
Q. But this contentedness, which you praise so much, would do away with all motive for exertion and bring progress to a stand-still.
A. And we, Theosophists, say that your vaunted progress and civilization are no better than a host of will-o'-the-wisps, flickering over a marsh which exhales a poisonous and deadly miasma. This, because we see selfishness, crime, immorality, and all the evils imaginable, pouncing upon unfortunate mankind from this Pandora's box which you call an age of progress, and increasing pari passu with the growth of your material civilization. At such a price, better the inertia and inactivity of Buddhist countries, which have arisen only as a consequence of ages of political slavery.
Q. Then is all this metaphysics and mysticism with which you occupy yourself so much, of no importance?
A. To the masses, who need only practical guidance and support, they are not of much consequence; but for the educated, the natural leaders of the masses, those whose modes of thought and action will sooner or later be adopted by those masses, they are of the greatest importance. It is only by means of the philosophy that an intelligent and educated man can avoid the intellectual suicide of believing on blind faith; and it is only by assimilating the strict continuity and logical coherence of the Eastern, if not esoteric, doctrines, that he can realize their truth. Conviction breeds enthusiasm, and "Enthusiasm," says Bulwer Lytton, "is the genius of sincerity, and truth accomplishes no victories without it;" while Emerson most truly remarks that "every great and commanding movement in the annals of the world is the triumph of enthusiasm." And what is more calculated to produce such a feeling than a philosophy so grand, so consistent, so logical, and so all-embracing as our Eastern Doctrines?
Q. And yet its enemies are very numerous, and every day Theosophy acquires new opponents.
A. And this is precisely that which proves its intrinsic excellence and value. People hate only the things they fear, and no one goes out of his way to overthrow that which neither threatens nor rises beyond mediocrity.
Q. Do you hope to impart this enthusiasm, one day, to the masses?
A. Why not? Since history tells us that the masses adopted Buddhism
with enthusiasm, while, as said before, the practical effect upon
them of this philosophy of ethics is still shown by the smallness
of the percentage of crime amongst Buddhist populations as compared
with every other religion. The chief point is, to uproot that most
fertile source of all crime and immortality-the belief that it is
possible for them to escape the consequences of their own actions.
Once teach them that greatest of all laws, Karma and Reincarnation,
and besides feeling in themselves the true dignity of human nature,
they will turn from evil and eschew it as they would a physical
How Members Can Help the Society
Q. How do you expect the Fellows of your Society to help in the work?
A. First by studying and comprehending the theosophical doctrines, so that they may teach others, especially the young people. Secondly, by taking every opportunity of talking to others and explaining to them what Theosophy is, and what it is not; by removing misconceptions and spreading an interest in the subject. Thirdly, by assisting in circulating our literature, by buying books when they have the means, by lending and giving them and by inducing their friends to do so. Fourthly, by defending the Society from the unjust aspersions cast upon it, by every legitimate device in their power. Fifth, and most important of all, by the example of their own lives.
Q. But all this literature, to the spread of which you attach so much importance, does not seem to me of much practical use in helping mankind. This is not practical charity.
A. We think otherwise. We hold that a good book which gives people
food for thought, which strengthens and clears their minds, and
enables them to grasp truths which they have dimly felt but could
not formulate-we hold that such a book does a real, substantial
good. As to what you call practical deeds of charity, to benefit
the bodies of our fellowmen, we do what little we can; but, as I
have already told you, most of us are poor, whilst the Society itself
has not even the money to pay a staff of workers. All of us who
toil for it, give our labor gratis, and in most cases money as well.
The few who have the means of doing what are usually called charitable
actions, follow the Buddhist precepts and do their work themselves,
not by proxy or by subscribing publicly to charitable funds. What
the Theosophist has to do above all is to forget his personality.
What a Theosophist Ought Not to Do
Q. Have you any prohibitory laws or clauses for Theosophists in your Society?
A. Many, but-alas!-none of them are enforced. They express the ideal of our organization, but the practical application of such things we are compelled to leave to the discretion of the Fellows themselves. Unfortunately, the state of men's minds in the present century is such that, unless we allow these clauses to remain, so to speak, obsolete, no man or woman would dare to risk joining the Theosophical Society. This is precisely why I feel forced to lay such a stress on the difference between true Theosophy and its hard-struggling and well-intentioned, but still unworthy vehicle, the Theosophical Society.
Q. May I be told what are these perilous reefs in the open sea of Theosophy?
A. Well may you call them reefs, as more than one otherwise sincere and well-meaning F.T.S. has had his Theosophical canoe shattered into splinters on them! And yet to avoid certain things seems the easiest thing in the world to do. For instance, here is a series of such negatives, screening positive Theosophical duties:
No Theosophist should be silent when he hears evil reports or slanders spread about the Society, or innocent persons, whether they be his colleagues or outsiders.
Q. But suppose what one hears is the truth, or may be true without one knowing it?
A. Then you must demand good proofs of the assertion, and hear both sides impartially before you permit the accusation to go uncontradicted. You have no right to believe in evil, until you get undeniable proof of the correctness of the statement.
Q. And what should you do then?
A. Pity and forbearance, charity and long-suffering, ought to be always there to prompt us to excuse our sinning brethren, and to pass the gentlest sentence possible upon those who err. A Theosophist ought never to forget what is due to the shortcomings and infirmities of human nature.
Q. Ought he to forgive entirely in such cases?
A. In every case, especially he who is sinned against.
Q. But if by so doing, he risks to injure, or allow others to be injured? What ought he to do then?
A. His duty; that which his conscience and higher nature suggests to him; but only after mature deliberation. Justice consists in doing no injury to any living being; but justice commands us also never to allow injury to be done to the many, or even to one innocent person, by allowing the guilty one to go unchecked.
Q. What are the other negative clauses?
A. No Theosophist ought to be contented with an idle or frivolous life, doing no real good to himself and still less to others. He should work for the benefit of the few who need his help if he is unable to toil for Humanity, and thus work for the advancement of the Theosophical cause.
Q. This demands an exceptional nature, and would come rather hard upon some persons.
A. Then they had better remain outside the T.S. instead of sailing under false colors. No one is asked to give more than he can afford, whether in devotion, time, work, or money.
Q. What comes next?
A. No working member should set too great value on his personal progress or proficiency in Theosophic studies; but must be prepared rather to do as much altruistic work as lies in his power. He should not leave the whole of the heavy burden and responsibility of the Theosophical Movement on the shoulders of the few devoted workers. Each member ought to feel it his duty to take what share he can in the common work, and help it by every means in his power.
Q. This is but just. What comes next?
A. No Theosophist should place his personal vanity, or feelings, above those of his Society as a body. He who sacrifices the latter, or other people's reputations on the altar of his personal vanity, worldly benefit, or pride, ought not to be allowed to remain a member. One cancerous limb diseases the whole body.
Q. Is it the duty of every member to teach others and preach Theosophy?
A. It is indeed. No fellow has a right to remain idle, on the excuse that he knows too little to teach. For he may always be sure that he will find others who know still less than himself. And also it is not until a man begins to try to teach others, that he discovers his own ignorance and tries to remove it. But this is a minor clause.
Q. What do you consider, then, to be the chief of these negative Theosophical duties?
A. To be ever prepared to recognize and confess one's faults. To rather sin through exaggerated praise than through too little appreciation of one's neighbor's efforts. Never to backbite or slander another person. Always to say openly and direct to his face anything you have against him. Never to make yourself the echo of anything you may hear against another, nor harbor revenge against those who happen to injure you.
Q. But it is often dangerous to tell people the truth to their faces. Don't you think so? I know one of your members who was bitterly offended, left the Society, and became its greatest enemy, only because he was told some unpleasant truths to his face, and was blamed for them.
A. Of such we have had many. No member, whether prominent or insignificant, has ever left us without becoming our bitter enemy.
Q. How do you account for it?
A. It is simply this. Having been, in most cases, intensely devoted to the Society at first, and having lavished upon it the most exaggerated praises, the only possible excuse such a backslider can make for his subsequent behavior and past short-sightedness, is to pose as an innocent and deceived victim, thus casting the blame from his own shoulders onto those of the Society in general, and its leaders especially. Such persons remind one of the old fable about the man with a distorted face, who broke his looking-glass on the ground that it reflected his countenance crookedly.
Q. But what makes these people turn against the Society?
A. Wounded vanity in some form or other, almost in every case. Generally, because their dicta and advice are not taken as final and authoritative; or else, because they are of those who would rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. Because, in short, they cannot bear to stand second to anybody in anything. So, for instance, one member-a true "Sir Oracle"-criticized, and almost defamed every member in the T.S. to outsiders as much as to Theosophists, under the pretext that they were all untheosophical, blaming them precisely for what he was himself doing all the time. Finally, he left the Society, giving as his reason a profound conviction that we were all (the Founders especially)-Frauds! Another one, after intriguing in every possible way to be placed at the head of a large Section of the Society, finding that the members would not have him, turned against the Founders of the T.S., and became their bitterest enemy, denouncing one of them whenever he could, simply because the latter could not, and would not, force him upon the Members. This was simply a case of an outrageous wounded vanity. Still another wanted to, and virtually did, practice black-magic-i.e., undue personal psychological influence on certain Fellows, while pretending devotion and every Theosophical virtue. When this was put a stop to, the Member broke with Theosophy, and now slanders and lies against the same hapless leaders in the most virulent manner, endeavoring to break up the society by blackening the reputation of those whom that worthy "Fellow" was unable to deceive.
Q. What would you do with such characters?
A. Leave them to their Karma. Because one person does evil that is no reason for others to do so.
Q. But, to return to slander, where is the line of demarcation between backbiting and just criticism to be drawn? Is it not one's duty to warn one's friends and neighbors against those whom one knows to be dangerous associates?
A. If by allowing them to go on unchecked other persons may be thereby injured, it is certainly our duty to obviate the danger by warning them privately. But true or false, no accusation against another person should ever be spread abroad. If true, and the fault hurts no one but the sinner, then leave him to his Karma. If false, then you will have avoided adding to the injustice in the world. Therefore, keep silent about such things with everyone not directly concerned. But if your discretion and silence are likely to hurt or endanger others, then I add: Speak the truth at all costs, and say, with Annesly, "Consult duty, not events." There are cases when one is forced to exclaim, "Perish discretion, rather than allow it to interfere with duty."
Q. Methinks, if you carry out these maxims, you are likely to reap a nice crop of troubles!
A. And so we do. We have to admit that we are now open to the same taunt as the early Christians were. "See, how these Theosophists love one another!" may now be said of us without a shadow of injustice.
Q. Admitting yourself that there is at least as much, if not more, backbiting, slandering, and quarreling in the T.S. as in the Christian Churches, let alone Scientific Societies-What kind of Brotherhood is this? I may ask.
A. A very poor specimen, indeed, as at present, and, until carefully sifted and reorganized, no better than all others. Remember, however, that human nature is the same in the Theosophical Society as out of it. Its members are no saints: they are at best sinners trying to do better, and liable to fall back owing to personal weakness. Add to this that our "Brotherhood" is no "recognized" or established body, and stands, so to speak, outside of the pale of jurisdiction. Besides which, it is in a chaotic condition, and as unjustly unpopular as is no other body. What wonder, then, that those members who fail to carry out its ideal should turn, after leaving the Society, for sympathetic protection to our enemies, and pour all their gall and bitterness into their too willing ears! Knowing that they will find support, sympathy, and ready credence for every accusation, however absurd, that it may please them to launch against the Theosophical Society, they hasten to do so, and vent their wrath on the innocent looking-glass, which reflected too faithfully their faces. People never forgive those whom they have wronged. The sense of kindness received, and repaid by them with ingratitude, drives them into a madness of self-justification before the world and their own consciences. The former is but too ready to believe in anything said against a society it hates. The latter-but I will say no more, fearing I have already said too much.
Q. Your position does not seem to me a very enviable one.
A. It is not. But don't you think that there must be something very noble, very exalted, very true, behind the Society and its philosophy, when the leaders and the founders of the Movement still continue to work for it with all their strength? They sacrifice to it all comfort, all worldly prosperity, and success, even to their good name and reputation-aye, even to their honor-to receive in return incessant and ceaseless obloquy, relentless persecution, untiring slander, constant ingratitude, and misunderstanding of their best efforts, blows, and buffets from all sides-when by simply dropping their work they would find themselves immediately released from every responsibility, shielded from every further attack.
Q. I confess, such a perseverance seems to me very astounding, and I wondered why you did all this.
A. Believe me for no self-gratification; only in the hope of training a few individuals to carry on our work for humanity by its original program when the Founders are dead and gone. They have already found a few such noble and devoted souls to replace them. The coming generations, thanks to these few, will find the path to peace a little less thorny, and the way a little widened, and thus all this suffering will have produced good results, and their self-sacrifice will not have been in vain. At present, the main, fundamental object of the Society is to sow germs in the hearts of men, which may in time sprout, and under more propitious circumstances lead to a healthy reform, conducive of more happiness to the masses than they have hitherto enjoyed.