The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
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
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
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.
Again 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;
personalmercy 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.
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