THE BESETTING SIN OF THEOSOPHY.
The influence which the Theosophical teachings have exerted upon modern philosophical and religious thought is so great that it is necessary to consider what effect they have produced on their adherents and society in general. It seems to be a law of nature that every form of goodness develops a corresponding form of evil. In fact the more sublime the effort of man at righteous conduct, the greater is the chance of fall; and the measure of degradation also seems to be greater in a corresponding degree. It will be very profitable to know what the special nature of the evil is, which Theosophical metaphysics and Theosophical ethics are the source of.
The first object of the Society is to form a nucleus of the universal brotherhood of humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color. The only condition for membership insisted on is the unconditional acceptance of this doctrine of Universal Brotherhood. If therefore a member of the Society is guilty of a breach of the observance of this rule of conduct, he deserves to be forthwith expelled from the Society. We may take it, that the Society requirement only a mere profession of belief in the doctrine, but an actual observance of it in practice. What is the meaning of this universal brotherhood of humanity? It means a recognition that all human beings, to whatever race they may belong, whether they are men or women and whatever religion they may profess, are capable of attaining the same level spirituality and morally. This necessitates a surrender of race-pride and all special claims to heaven by virtue of belonging to a particular religion or caste. Now, how is this Brotherhood manifested in the Theosophists? It is a fact, too well known to require any proof, that the white man can never renounce his sense of racial superiority. The Western Theosophists and the Eastern Theosophists have not as yet come to very close quarters. They still continue to live in different worlds as it were. It therefore, remains to be seen, what amicable result will be produced by the interaction of the sense of the innate superiority of the white man and the exclusive spirit of the Hindu. It is not intended to suggest that the Hindu is altogether incapable of rising above his exclusiveness. In a moment of spiritual exaltation, he may rise above conventionalities. The whole Hindu community ought to take pride in the fact, that it was the members of the highest caste that bore the dead body of the revered founder of the Society to the funeral pyre. But such actions are only the unconscious result of the revolt of the human nature against unnatural and stupid restraints. But the Hindu nature, with its morbid avidity for exclusiveness, does not long sustain its efforts at cosmopolitanism. The Adyar Head Quarters is the hot-bed of caste prejudices. The statement does not require to be proved; for it would be amounting to a want of a due sense of honesty, if ever the inmates of the time-honored haunt of the Mahatmas should think of denying the charge. It would further appear that the caste prejudices have been sanctified by a certain class of Theosophic teachings. The ideas about the human auras are made use of by the orthodox Brahman members to lead sanction and justify the caste tyrannies. The Brahman has a pure auric zone about him and the Panchama an impure one – not to speak of the various gradations of purity and impurity in the auras; and it works against the final good of the Universe or Brahman if the aura of the twice-born should intermingle with the aura of the low-caste man. The sophistry of the Theosophical teachings, as interpreted and expounded by oriental ingenuity, have taken under their safe protection many a superstition which would have long been dead, had not Theosophy invaded India – in its ambition for a worldwide Empire. Now a profession of Universal Brotherhood by the Hindu who does not want to give up his caste prejudices, is certainly a form of dishonesty. The Panchama is not treated as a younger brother, who requires to be helped by those of higher development but as a walking embodiment of plague whose very touch contaminates. The life-long labors of the venerable founder of the Theosophical Society at the amelioration of the condition of the down-trodden classes have not brought the Adyar Brahman even a millimeter nearer in sympathy towards the despised Pariah. So the pretensions of universal brotherhood must continue to be a sham as long as the present attitude of the high caste Theosophist continues towards the low-caste members of the Society. The scene presented by the annual convention-festival of the Society is but a parable enacted to prove the unwillingness of the members to carry out in practice their vaunted ideal of the universal brotherhood of humanity. The caste barriers remain as insuperable as ever, and a special anxiety is evinced lest the sense of an overflowing love for one's brother should lead to a breach of any discipline as to eating or bathing. It would look as though the Hindu thought that spirituality was either centered in one's stomach or hovered about one's skin. The great ambition of the Theosophist seems to consist in a discovery of man's relation to his lunar pitris and matters of a similar sort. He seems to suffer from a helpless craving for spiritual things. It seems to fasten itself on him just as a craving for tobacco or alcohol does. An indulgence in spiritual talk seems to act as a sedative and soothe his troubled feelings; and like all sedatives it wrecks the brain and renders it unfit to discharge its normal functions. The constant dwelling of the mind on idea not translated into practice makes it acquire a habit of mental insincerity.
The third object of the Society viz.-To investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the powers latent in man, has also been a fruitful source of this form of evil. That, under the guise of psychical investigation, a great deal of objectionable practices are had recourse to is a fact known to all; and spiritualistic phenomena, wherever they have been examined, have been proved to be due to the credulity of the persons imposed upon. There may be spirit, and, for a certainty, there may be powers latent in the human soul; but, unfortunately, men have always shown a weakness for deceiving their fellowmen, when they have embarked on a voyage of psychic discovery. Theosophists have not proved themselves to be exceptions to this general fact of observation, in spite of their motto, "There is no religion higher than Truth."
An examination of the question of the Mahatmas and the speculation of the Theosophists on matters supernatural will lead one to doubt their sincerity. The Mahatmic affair is now a matter of history and fresh light has been thrown on it in connection with the recent wrangle about the Presidentship of the Society consequent on the death of the late President Founder. In the days of Madam Blavatsky, the Mahatmas appeared to 'several dozens' of chelas, dropped letters from the ceilings of rooms, on one occasion even flung a Phoenix Almanac and Diary at the head of someone 'with some force as if from the sky overhead, in her presence and indeed so great was their solicitude for the Theosophic Priestess that they would descend from their Himalayan heights to attend to the repair of a broken saucer which she dearly loved. They appeared in visions and in their astral bodies as well as in gross material bodies while awake, to suit the convenience of their disciples. Such was the state of matters in the days previous to the trouble with the coulombs. Then in the interval, up to the time of the illness of the President Founder, the Mahatmas seem to have fought shy of the idle gaze of the adherents of Theosophy. The Theosophic literature of the interval does not record the excursions of the elder brothers of Humanity into the work-a-day world. When an account of the visits of the Mahatmas to Col. Olcott was published, there was an outburst of doubt and suspicion as to the genuineness and authenticity of the manifestations from the members themselves. And it is a significant fact that those who had now misgivings, viz., Messers. Bertram Keightley, Upendranath Basu and G.R.S. Mead do not figure in the lists of persons who bore testimony to the genuineness and authenticity of the phenomena which were exposed by Madam Coulomb. The doubting consciences of these gentlemen seem to have been dormant all the time. Their passive acquiesce amounted to an acceptance before the world of the veracity of such occurrence. It would be of immense advantage, if these people would state their views on the Mahatmic usurpation of the functions of the postal authorities and such tricks as repairing broken saucers &c. There has been fraud perpetrated in the name of the Mahatmas; and once no less a person than Mr. William Q. Judge, a late President of the American section had to be expelled in connection with letters alleged to have been received from the Mahatmas. There has been immortality; and Mr. Leadbeater the redoubtable pilgrim into the astral plane has been accused of corrupting youthful persons. These facts make one wish that the Theosophists had never set about their researches into these supernatural matters.
The speculations of the chief exponents of Theosophy about the denizens of the different planes, the forms and colors with which the thoughts and auras are said to clothe themselves, all bear on their face the stamp of the improbable. And the climax of insincerity is reached when the exponents claim but to be the mouth pieces of the Mahatmas. Some may really be the victims of strong hallucination, but the temptation is so great and human nature so vain that may a person must only be deceiving others when propounding such teachings with authority.
What is the result of objectionable practices, unverifiable speculations and attempts at unattainable ideals, which Theosophy has taken upon itself to work at and teach to the world, seemingly in all earnestness and sincerity? One thing is certain, viz, that all these exercise a slow but potent influence upon society not only upon the chosen members of the federation but upon those who are outside their precincts as well. Now insincerity in conduct is the disease that threatens the life of the Society and it behooves the Theosophists to devote their attention to cultivate integrity in conduct before trying to discover the psychic powers latent in man.