« AnteriorContinuar »
Inquiry. Colonel Olcott, whose hostility to Mr. Judge colors all his later writings, was entirely willing to appoint the Committee. It was appointed, and met, with Colonel Olcott as Chairman, in London, in the summer of 189
Colonel Olcott should have seen that his procedure was entirely unconstitutional, and against the whole spirit of the Theosophical Movement. He should have seen that all views as to the existence of Masters, their power, and their part in any phenomena or messages, were, in fact, matters of religious belief, and as such, privileged under the Constitution of the Society, which secures to every member the right to believe or disbelieve any teaching whatever, and to assert his belief or disbelief, without in any way impairing his standing in the Society. Colonel Olcott should further have seen that he had no more right, morally and theosophically, to question Mr. Judge's good faith, than he had to question the good faith of some other member, who may have professed his belief in the miracles of the New Testament, the wonders of Buddha's paradise, or the views of Zöllner concerning the fourth dimension of space. But Colonel Olcott saw none of these things. He carried the Committee of 'Inquiry forward, and Mr. Judge appeared before it. What happened may be recorded in Colonel Olcott's own words.
"Mr. Judge's defense is that he is not guilty of the acts charged; that Mahatmas exist, are related to our Society, and in personal connection with himself; and he avers his readiness to bring many witnesses and documentary proofs to support his statements. You will at once see whither this would lead us. The moment we entered into these questions we should violate the most vital spirit of our federal compact, its neutrality in matters of belief. . . For the above reason, then, I declare as my opinion, that this enquiry must go no further; we may not break our own laws for any consideration whatsoever.”
Admirable words. One wonders, though, how Colonel Olcott failed to see, months before, that “the moment we entered into these questions we should violate the most vital spirit of our federal compact, its neutrality in matters of belief.” Had he seen that, he would have seen that he was wrong in appointing the Committee; wrong in allowing the matter to be brought before him in his official capacity, and kept before him; wrong in not pointing out, at the outset, that the bringing of such charges was “a violation of the most vital spirit of the Theosophical Society, its neutrality in matters of belief."
The Committee of Inquiry was dissolved. But, unfortunately, neither the letter nor the spirit of Colonel Olcott's wise words was adhered to in the months that followed. Public and private attacks were directed against Mr. Judge, in the newspapers, in letters, and in other ways even more prejudicial. In spite of the warning of Colonel Olcott that such attack was a violation of the most vital spirit of the Theosophical Society,
Mr. Judge was denounced, with growing bitterness, by those who should have been the first to uphold the Theosophical ideal of "neutrality in matters of belief," of tolerance, of charity. These attacks went so far that those who adhered to the ideals expressed, but not acted on, by Colonel Olcott, joined with Mr. Judge in 1895 in forming a separate society, the Theosophical Society in America, to carry on the work on these true and enduring lines. From this time forward, Colonel Olcott wholly forgot what he had so truly said of neutrality, and began a series of bitter attacks on Mr. Judge which he continued long after Mr. Judge's death, early in 1896. Nor was he alone in thus violating the most vital spirit of the Theosophical Society. Attacks multiplied, and grew in bitterness; and, as is almost invariably the case with the spirit of persecution, these attacks were nominally made in the interest of pure morals, and to defend the Theosophical cause. One fails to see how the Theosophical cause could be defended by violating its most vital spirit. Nor can one say much more for the claim that these attacks were in the interest of good morals, and to defend members of the Society from delusion and “psychic tyranny.”
In a society of students, banded together in the search for truth, in the spirit of tolerance and good will, what place is there for this patronizing attitude on the part of a few, who undertake to guard the rest against delusions? Is not that attitude an entire mistake, perhaps a somewhat questionable assumption of superior virtue and wisdom? Or let us look at the matter in another way: Was the persecution of Mr. Judge justified by its results? Those who took part in public or private attacks on Mr. Judge have since been prominent in the Adyar Society. Will they venture to say that the persecution of Mr. Judge, the bitter attacks on him after Colonel Olcott's declaration of neutrality, did, in fact, secure their society against delusion, against astral dangers, against "psychic despotism?” Once more, these attacks were made, we were told, to protect “the victims of Mr. Judge,” those who believed in Mr. Judge, his ideals, his good faith, his work. As one who thus believed and believes, I should like to ask whether those who hold the same view have showed any marked symptoms of moral or mental deliquesence? Are these painfully manifest in their works? Take a concrete case: THE THEOSOPHICAL QUARTERLY for April is in the hands of the public. It is, to a large degree, the work of those who believe in Mr. Judge. Does it show, in a marked degree, a weakness of morals and intellect, as compared, let us say, with the April numbers of the magazines which represent the party hostile to Mr. Judge, the party of inquisition and prosecution ? These magazines are also in the hands of the public. I am perfectly content to leave the decision to those who read them.
These considerations should make it clear to all that the attacks
on Mr. Judge were exactly what Colonel Olcott called them, a violation of the most vital spirit of the Theosophical Society. They were so, in two ways. They were a violation of the spirit of charity, of tolerance, of brotherly love, of that kindly affection which seeks virtues and not deficiencies, which looks for faults at home, and not in others, which seeks not its own, and thinks no evil. They were also a violation of the vital spirit of the Theosophical Society, since that Society is a body of students, of seekers after truth, on perfectly equal terms; a body of students, each of whom has an entire right to hold any belief or unbelief that commends itself to him, and to express that belief or unbelief; as indeed must be the case in all free search after truth.
And this brings me to the closing portion of my subject: the Theosophical Society and its work in the world. For I have hitherto spoken of something larger and more inclusive: the Theosophical Movement. Mme. Blavatsky always spoke of the Theosophical Movement as being, as it were, a wave of force, set in motion by Masters, the Elder Brothers of humanity, and destined to bring spiritual life to the hearts of men. The Theosophical Movement has many expressions. Of these, the Theosophical Society is one. If I were asked what the Theosophical Society is, I should be inclined to say that, for me, it stands for a state of mind, or rather an attitude of the heart. That attitude is essentially this: To put my own interest as secondary and the interest of my friend as primary; to be more willing to hear than to speak; to endeavor always to see the truth in my neighbor's heart, rather than to seek to impose my own view of truth. Instead of antagonism, the Theosophical Society should bring unity of heart. When in action we make the interests of others primary, and keep our own interests in the second place, we bring unity. We must by no means fall into the error of thinking that this will mean giving way to our neighbor, letting him get the better of us, yielding to him in a servile way. That could never be for his interest, and, in doing this we should by no means be putting his interest first. Cowardice is one thing. Devotion to the interests of another is a quite different thing, and one calling for high courage as well as self-sacrifice. Gently to hear, kindly to judge: this is the principle for which the Theosophical Society stands; genuine toleration, an entire willingness to hear the other side; a readiness to accept new truth. This attitude in action is well described in the primary object of the Theosophical Society:
"To form the nucleus of a Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, caste, color or sex.”
One may ask, is not this exactly what the Churches are doing? Happily, yes; and to an ever increasing degree. Among many branches of the more liberal Churches, the spirit of toleration and reconciliation has already gone far, and will, let us hope, go much farther. Yet there are still many directions in which mediation is needed. For example, do the older branches of the Church, the Eastern and Western, freely admit each other's equality, each other's possession of spiritual truth? Or do the Christian Churches, as a whole, approach the non-Christian religions in a brotherly and kindly spirit, not claiming any superiority, not demanding any paramount position, not insisting on deep differences, but seeking rather the truths which are common to all? Again, we have much liberty and light, on the one hand, among the followers of science; and on the other, within the Churches. But do the Churches render full justice to the votaries of science? Do these see what are the ideals, the hopes, the aspirations of the Churches? Here is still great need for mediation, for reconciliation.
And whence can come mediation and reconciliation, but through mutual understanding? And how can mutual understanding come about, except through gentle listening, a willingness to hear the other side, a wish to learn and enter into the other's truth, rather than to impose our own. This, if I am right, is the Theosophical method, the method
. for which the Theosophical Society exists.
Tolerance, brotherly love, conciliation, spiritual unity: such are the ideals of the Theosophical Society. For those who hold these ideals, great horizons open, wide vistas of work and hope spread before them. These vistas, this work, this hope, are not the mere private concern of our members. They are common and universal. And in closing, I cannot do better than advise all whose concern these things are, to attend to them.
The Mathematician: In the discussion following Mr. F-'s talk at our last meeting, the question arose as to the propriety of attributing any moral element to nature. Man finds within his own heart certain ethical standards and moral ideals. Are these only the expression in him of a moral law acting throughout all the universe? Or does their presence in man serve to differentiate him from the rest of nature, and set him, as a moral being, in opposition to natural law and natural forces, to play a lone hand for his own ideals?
Each of these views found its advocates; as did many intermediate shades of opinion. Of these latter, one of the most interesting and suggestive was put forward by Professor D— He stated that, as a biologist, he was forced to view nature as cruel and wasteful and that he could see no conformity to moral ideals in its processes. Yet while thus advocating the essential immorality of natural conditions he asserted that our moral ideals were themselves but the evolutionary derivatives of biological principles. As the tenor of the discussion did not then admit of the elaboration of this latter theory or the attempt to reconcile the two statements (which I confess seem to me inconsistent), I have asked him to start our discussion this evening by giving us the logical development of his doctrine, and to trace for us the origin and evolution of our ethical concepts from the biological standpoint.
The Zoologist: I think Professor A- is putting a rather doubtful construction upon one part of what I said and that the antithesis he mentions does not really exist in my view. It will, however, probably be more fruitful not to attempt a retrospective explanation of what I did or did not say, but to speak afresh directly to the subject given me. This subject may be stated as the “Natural History of Ethics;" i. e., the nature of human ideas of right and wrong as clarified by the evolutionary development of these ideas.
Really there are two subjects or subdivisions of the whole problem. The first is the historical justification of human standards. The second is the relation of "natural" or "biological" ethics to the other elements that enter into the modern complex-religion. Here I would have to trespass upon the territory of the anthropologists, of Professor and others.
The Mathematician: I do not think that any of us need fear trespassing upon the ground of others. Indeed our points of view are so