THEOSOPHY, Vol. 19, No. 11, September, 1931 (Pages 502-504; Size: 8K)
TEACHERS AND TEACHINGS
THOSE who devote all their conscious efforts to a certain end will, under law, become one with that object. We do not say of one trained in the legal profession that he is working as a lawyer; he is a lawyer, and mention of his name in quarters where he is known at once serves to identify him for what he is. Some outstanding characters in each line of human endeavor have each become so merged, mentally and physically, with the business or profession each represents that mention of that business or profession brings up by association of ideas the name of its exponent: thus, the words sugar, oil, meat, razors, perfume, art, surgery, each brings about a mental connection with the names of certain persons.
If we contemplate the ideas expressed in the words, "teachings of Theosophy," we may find an association of ideas worth dwelling upon, for "teachings" imply at once the idea of Teachers, and the additional association of ideas given by the words, "of Theosophy" points the way to enlightenment: if teachings are many, Theosophy is one. There are not various "schools" of Theosophy nor are its teachings subject to any greater scope of interpretation than are the multiplication tables.
Teachers and the Teachings are one. This may be said because law and analogy confirm it. A sectarian preacher who fails to practice what he preaches may for all that continue to be a preacher. Those whom we know as teachers of Theosophy earned their right to be such by becoming one with Theosophy. To speak of H.P.B. and Wm. Q. Judge as embodiments of Theosophy is not an idle use of words. Were they not such, we of this generation would not know them as Teachers. By means of the practical, devotional doctrine, the use of which is proved by their teachings, these two are shown to preach by practicing. Every item of the great philosophical and ethical system brought out by these Teachers is found related to the fundamental propositions they continually expound.
In fraternal and mystical Societies the candidate for advancement is said to take his degrees. He who advances in Theosophical work does not "take" his degrees -- he becomes them: "The adept becomes, he is not made." This distinction, when understood, will explain H.P.B.'s antipathy to apostolic succession. History will furnish examples of unworthiness in the matter of conferring degrees and what we speak of as human nature will make comment upon the receiving of degrees or appointments unnecessary.
By means of ordinary educational methods one may become proficient in his chosen trade, art or profession; constant exercise of his powers will make of him an expert. Something more than these is needed to make him a Master. It is impossible that the greatest geniuses in art or music that the world has ever known should have lived until they had realized the scope of the art they represented. It is also impossible that by repeated incarnations into bodies and circumstances favorable to continual development one could learn all that could be known about any subject. For the universe is in a condition of constant change and evolution is ever progressive. The very Masters themselves represent only what they have mastered -- or become -- great as their becoming may be, and is. Beyond their evolution are still greater fields of attainment, and beings who have attained greater degrees. We cannot set, even within the bounds of any state attained, limits to the evolutionary processes of any septenary being. The mystic number seven is capable of unlimited combinations; the use of the simple musical scale of seven notes demonstrates this.
Humanity -- ourselves -- having reached a certain state of self-consciousness, is in a peculiar position to gain a preview of its own evolutionary possibilities and responsibilities. For while beings below mankind in the evolutionary scale cannot yet realize their connection with and their dependence upon other classes of beings, or other degrees of consciousness, man is beginning to look for an intelligent scheme of things and the "author" of that scheme. Because his progress up to the present stage has been marked by effects of causes reaching him, as he thinks, from without, he continues to look without for causes that will further his progress out of and beyond his present condition. Thus are false religions and false gods fostered and developed. But the true religion, the awakening of the god within, the Self of all creatures, and the true god, the undivided Life in every atom in the universe, give each man the power to sense cause and effect operating within the nature of each creature that experiences cause and effect. The "intelligent scheme of things" is thus found in one unlimited and unvarying life principle of the cosmos -- one universal process of experience and evolution for all beings, and, quite logically, one essential identity between all beings who represent the one life-principle and are subject to one universal law of evolution.
But, since all souls who are related by reason of fundamental identity are One Soul, One Life, the connection between all individuals requires mutual assistance to carry out the scheme of things. For this reason the "higher degrees of consciousness work in, through and upon the lower, thus impelling them in the direction of the higher." For this reason mankind, at the proper time and place, has received the teachings of Theosophy; for this reason certain ones became -- what it was necessary for them to become -- in order to be Teachers; for this reason Theosophy is now being studied and practiced, and it was for this reason that another Teacher said, expressing the motive of the Theosophist, "If I be lifted up I will draw all men to me."
It is to-day as difficult as ever it has been for men to discriminate between the true and the false teaching, between their embodiments in human beings. Yet the criterion must exist within every man, else the hope of finding truth pure and undefiled is of all illusions the vainest. No man is willingly deceived yet all are constantly being undeceived; no man will claim to be infallible, yet each man continually acts as if he were, until he is undeceived -- by force of circumstances, not by his own will and self-examination. Is there no clue here to our intellectual and moral fallibility? Genuine and counterfeit circulate unimpeded side by side in the mental and moral currency of ideas. What does each man do but accept or reject what is tendered, by the criterion of his own ideas -- originally acquired by heredity, by education, or from his environment? Has he tested them -- his own ideas, and if so, by what standards?
The primary value of the fundamental propositions of Theosophy is that they enable a man to test his own ideas, and thus clear up his own mind. As that is done, and only as that is done, is the man able to discriminate in any but a relative sense. He does not acquire Truth, he becomes it. Such are the Masters of Wisdom.
Call It By Name