The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
The Key to Theosophy
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
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
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
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
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.,
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 lie
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