TRANSLATION OF A FEW PASSAGES FROM THE ABOVE.
. . . . But the Theosophical Society rejects the idea, and not merely for the sake of argument, of` having been formed in order “to spread the dogmas of the Buddha.” Our mission does not consist in spreading any dogmas, whether Buddhist, Vedic or Christian; we are independent of any formula, any ritual, any exotericism. We have been able to counteract by means of the noble principles of Buddhist ethics the attempts at invasion made by over-zealous Christians. The Chief Officers of the Society have declared themselves personally to be Buddhists, and this has been held against them rather strongly. One of them has devoted his life to the regeneration of this religion on its native soil. Let those who do not understand the needs of present-day India, and do not yearn for the upliftment of` this ancient fatherland of virtues, throw stones at him. This, however, does not commit the whole body of Theosophists, as such, to
ecclesiastical Buddhism, no more than the Christianity of some of its members commits it to any of the Christian churches. Just because present-day Buddhism is in need of being regenerated and disencumbered from all the superstitions and restrictions which have invaded it like parasites, we would be quite wrong in trying to graft a young and healthy shoot on a branch which has lost its vitality, even though it be less withered than some other branches. It is far wiser to go at once to the root itself, to the unalterable and pure source whence Buddhism itself has drawn its powerful sap. We can enlighten ourselves directly with the pure “Light of Asia”; why then should we linger among its deformed shadows? In spite of the synthetic and theosophical character of primitive Buddhism, present-day Buddhism has become a dogmatic religion, and has fragmented itself into numerous and heterogeneous sects. The history of` this and other religions is before us as a warning against half-measures. Look at the partial reform called Protestantism: arc its results satisfactory enough to encourage us in trying to mend things? The Ârya Samâj itself is after all but a national effort, while the essential attitude of the Theosophical Society is to declare and maintain the Truth common to all religions, the real Truth, unsoiled by the inventions, the passions, and the requirements of the ages, and to invite all men to partake of it, without distinction of sex, colour or rank, and, which is much more, of beliefs.
É. Burnouf warns us against indifference. Whence does it originate? First from indolence, this scourge of humanity; then from discouragement . And if man is tired of symbols and ceremonies which the priest never explains, while deriving handsome benefits from them, it is not by substituting bonze chapels for our own that we will shake off this torpor. The time has come when all the bells have the same sound: the sound of boredom. To pretend reinstating the religion of Buddha on the ruins of that of Jesus, would be like giving to a dead tree the support of a dried up stick. Our critic himself tells us that humanity is tired of even the words God and Religion. . . . .
No, the Sangha of the Buddhists cannot be re-established in our civilization. As to the Buddha himself, we revere him as the greatest sage and benefactor of humanity, and we will not lose any opportunity of claiming for him the right to universal admiration. Faced, however, with that terrible law in accordance with which admiration ever degenerates into adoration, and the latter into superstition, and with that hopeless crystallization which takes place in brains inclined to idolatry, would it be wise to claim for the elder brother of Jesus the narrow confines wherein the latter is subjected to a sacrilegious cult? Alas, is it possible that there be men sufficiently egotistical to love but one being, and sufficiently servile to wish to serve but one master alone?
Now as to the Dharma: we have already stated how high we hold Buddhist ethics. Theosophy, however, has to do with something else than just rules of conduct. It achieves the miracle of uniting pre-Buddhist ethics with pre-Vedic metaphysics, and pre-Hermetic science. Theosophical development calls upon all the principles of man, upon his intellectual as well as his spiritual faculties, and the last two objects of our programme have more importance than É. Burnouf seems to grant them. We can assure him that were our Society to receive the support of a large number of people of his own worth, it would become the channel of a torrent of new ideas borrowed from ancient sources; a torrent of artistic, economic, literary, scientific and philosophical innovations, more fruitful for the future than w as the Renaissance. It would be far more than just an academic tendency; the Academy itself would learn the alphabet which permits one to read clearly, and between the lines, the obscure and often seemingly insignificant meaning of ancient Scriptures. That key is within reach of those who have the courage to lift their hand to grasp it; Buddha had that key, as he was an adept of very high status. . . . .