from Adyar Bulletin Sept 1911
The Order of the Star in the East
Its Outer and Inner Work
by Professor E.A. Wodehouse, M.A.
Part II - back to part 1
Two things are necessary here - the cultivation of certain qualities, of a certain attitude of mind; and Unity.
Regarding the cultivation of an attitude of mind, we can surely do no better than quote from that wonderful lecture on "The Coming of a World-Teacher" to which reference has already been made. There, in words which, we hear, produced a never-to-be-forgotten effect upon the minds of her vast audience, Mrs. Besant spoke of the characteristics which, above all, were necessary for the recognition and the acceptance of the great Teacher of the Worlds. How, she asked, is that inner recognition to be assured?
The Teacher, I said, is justified by the teaching. How shall we be able to recognise the spirituality of the teaching, if it puts things in a different way from the way to which we are accustomed; if it presents some great spiritual truth from a new aspect and in a new light? First, by trying in our own selves to develop the spiritual above the intellectual life which will recognise its kin when it sees spirituality in its highest and most wonderful form. For the measures of heaven are not the measures of earth, and the divine scales differ very much from our human balances. We admire very often pride and high estate, splendour of intellect or magic of emotion. But the spiritual man is gentle, calm, meek and unresentful. How shall you, ever ready to prove you are in the right and the other in the wrong, ever eager to take up the weapon to strike when you have been struck, who think it unmanly to bear insult in silence - how shall you appreciate the majesty of the dignity which when accused remained silent before His judges, and to every threat and accusation made He answered not a word? Why! If you hear an accusation against anyone and that person remains silent and does not defend himself, you say he is guilty, otherwise he would defend himself, bring a suit for libel, or take some other means of that kind. But that is not the way of the spiritual life. Those are not the weapons of the great Ones of the race. "When He was reviled He reviled not again; when He suffered He threatened not, but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously". There is the spiritual secret; the law is sure, the law is just, the law is good; you do not need to avenge yourselves. If you have been wronged the great law will right you ; and none can harm you unless you have made the weapon for your striking; for only those who have wronged receive back the blow on themselves. And so, if you would know the Christ when He comes, cultivate the spirit of the Christ - to bear insult with forgiveness, to bear accusation in silence, to refrain from anger, not to return evil with evil but with good. And if in yourselves you can develop those Christlike qualities, then shall your vision be clear to recognise Him when He comes, for although in you they are imperfect and in Him perfection, still the nature will be the same and will know its own, and recognise the greatness that otherwise would blind the vision.
If you would know the Christ when He comes, try to develop in yourself not only that gentleness and patience, but all the qualities which go to the making of the spiritual man - the love for all you meet, whether attractive or unattractive; the patience which becomes more patient face to face with ignorance and stupidity; the love which becomes more gentle when it finds shyness, when it finds weakness in its way; the qualities that are sometimes laughed at as womanly - but would that every woman had them; the heart that feels and understands when misery is before it, and that keeps nothing back when it has aught to give.
If you would know Him when He comes, then check the tendency to decry the great , and to find faults in what is noble. So many people, looking at the sun, only see the spots, and no man, they say, is a hero to his valet de chambre. But why not? Not because he is not heroic, but because the heart of the valet de chambre cannot appreciate heroism. We criticise; we find petty faults; we lay stress on petty mistakes, and we miss the soul of goodness and of greatness, perchance, in those who be against the common feeling of the time. Be not ashamed to admire. Be not ashamed to be reverent to that which is greater, nobler than yourself, for the power to admire means really the faculty to achieve. That which you recognise to the noble, by the very recognition you rise nearer to it and become liker ot it. Reverence greatness wherever you see it, in outer life, in inner life, in the genius of the writer, the painter, the sculptor, in the holiness of the saint, in the compassion of the pitiful. In everyone that you meet try to see the best and not the worst. Meet everyone, be it even the criminal , as the potential saint; for by that love and respect to that which only exists in germ, the seed will burst, and presently will grow into flower and into fruit. God is in every man, and if you do not see Him it is your eyes that are blinded; and if you would see the divine in its mighty perfection in a Christ, then see the Christ in our poorest fellow-man or fellow-woman, and verily then you shall know Him when He comes.
When you are able to feel reverence, then do not put a check on the love that flows out to that which you see to be greater than yourself; but nourish the feeling of devotion which is ready to love, which is ready to give, which is able to give itself utterly to that which it knows to be greater than itself. Oh, they said of old that there were some who, when they met the Christ, left all and followed Him. And if, when He stands amongst us in our twentieth century, any of you would fain be among those who on seeing Him leave all and follow, then cultivate that feeling in your daily life while still He is not present, manifest amongst us. Thus practise the virtues that will burst into flower when you are in His presence. Try to realise what He must be, the Teacher of angels and men. Try to catch some touch of His spirit of perfect love, some gleam of His nature of perfect purity, some understanding of a power which conquers everything because it wins everything to knowledge and to answer.
If it be so amongst some of us, enough of us to influence the public opinion of our time, then when the Lord of Love comes again, it shall not be a Cross that will meet Him; then when He stands amongst us it shall not be hatred that shall be poured out against Him; not three brief years alone will He stay with us, but our love will not let Him go, for love fetters even the Lord of Love. Then we who have tried to grow into His likeness, we who have longed for the glory of His presence, we with our eyes shall behold the King in his beauty, and know the Supreme Teacher when again, ere very long He treads the roads of earth.
To these noble and eloquent words nothing can be added. It would be impossible to paint more vividly, or with more impressive effect, the lofty ideals of character and the utter desertion of all ordinary worldly standards of conduct, toward which members of the Order should even now begin to strive, if they would fit themselves to be accepted servants of the Lord when He comes.
All this, however, belongs, by its very nature, to the more intimate and personal side of the work of the Order; and in this region each member must, of necessity, shape his course according to his own ideals and opportunities and the promptings of his own inner self. For the purposes of the present very general article, therefore, we may leave this inner side of the work and pas on to another aspect of the Order, which seems to us to be of the highest importance; its aspect, namely, as an organised body.
The Order as an Organisation
Every organised body, in which large numbers of persons are banded together in pursuit of a common purpose, possesses, as we know, a significance as well as a strength quite over and above that embodied in the sum of the separate individuals concerned. An organisation, if it deserve the name, becomes verily an entity, and can do the work of an entity; and this is why, if efficient and united, it may have the advantage over a vastly greater amount of loose and uncorrelated opposing forces. This peculiar dynamic power, moreover, thus resident in all organised bodies, becomes intensified according, as both, the force of union on the one side, and the variety and multiplicity of activity on the other, are increased; the perfect organisation being one in which the highest unity of aim is combined with the utmost possible variety of faculty and outward expression and the utmost intensity of life and force.
Now it seems to the writer that in the Order of the Star in the East there are potentially present, in a very peculiar degree, all the elements which go to make the perfect organisation. We have here an Order, bound together by one common aim and - what is ever a yet more potent force for unity - finding its centre in a common Figure, and that Figure the mightiest of all Figures which might unite a world-wide organisation by links of passionate love and devotion, the Supreme Teacher of Gods and men. Round that Figure the Order is already gathering. He is already its centre in promise and potentiality, even though the time may not yet have come for Him to assume control in His own person. But even now the thought of Him is present. We look for His coming, although He is not here. And so, from the very birth of the Order, that all-compelling and dominating principle of unity is at work, which is one of the conditions of true organisation. Then as to the next condition, variety; nothing could conceivably be more various than the tasks of the Order amid the multitudinous conditions which it will have to meet in different parts of the globe. Each country, each religion, each race and community has its own problems, and for each the vision of the coming Teacher will have its own appropriate promise and significance. Each, therefore, must adapt itself to the future according to its own needs and according to its own interpretation of that future; and it is for this reason that it has been expressly laid down that in this Order "there are no rules". Such infinite variety demands, as its complement, the very fullest liberty - liberty of thought, liberty of action, liberty of organisation - in order that in every part of the world members of the Order may address themselves, unhampered by restriction or regulation from without, to the special problems which confront them in their own environment.
Two, then, of the conditions of the ideal organisation are here - a unifying force of almost infinite power and an almost infinite variety of work and expression. And may we not hope that the third condition - namely "intensity of life and force" - may also be found in an Order with so mighty a central aim and such an immensity of possibilities before it? All over the world the life is quickening today, in preparation for the coming of the Lord. May it not be that an Order, which definitely foresees that coming and seeks to make ready the way, shall focus and organise something of that force and so render it a little more definitely, and perhaps a little more widely, effective than it might otherwise be?
This, at least, is what the Order should strive to do; and it will perhaps do so with the greater energy and enthusiasm if it realise a certain very notable and significant fact: and that is, that there would seem to be opening before this Order an opportunity to which, so far as we know, the history of the world presents no parallel. The Supreme Teacher has many times come and gone. Great religions have sprung from His teaching. His mighty work has invariably achieved its purpose in the length of time. But never before has that work been heralded and prepared for, on the physical plane, by a world-wide organisation of men and women, definitely conscious of the future, seeking to tune themselves beforehand to the note which the Teacher shall sound forth, and striving to school themselves by actual service to be instruments in His hands when He comes. The conditions of to-day are new, perhaps unique; and so with these conditions new possibilities and new hopes arise. It is impossible, indeed, to conceive how great a difference the existence of such an Order as this might make if only it could avail itself of the great opportunity which opens before it. For let us consider what it might do. Such an organisation would, in the first place, be a vast generator of thought. Its existence for a number of years amongst men and its continual concentration on one central idea, would (quite apart from any outward work, even) help enormously to breed in the thought of our times an ever-growing and more definite expectation of the coming of a great Teacher; its own attitude towards that Teacher would help in Mrs. Besant's words, "to create an atmosphere of welcome and of reference", while, by declaring itself in advance and facing something of the world's antagonism before the actual coming of the Lord, it might have the glorious privilege of taking upon itself a little of that anguish and sorrow which every World-Teacher has to bear, and so enabling Him to stay, perchance, a little longer for the blessing of the world.
It is because all this is possible for the Order, and because the time in which it can be made possible in action is now so short, that it is most earnestly to be hoped that members will begin at once to develop and organise the life and work of the Order, as vigorously and whole-heartedly as they can, each in his own way and amid his own conditions. And here it is possible, perhaps, in quite a general way, to make a few suggestions.
- Wherever there are two or three members in a place, they should at once begin meeting together regularly for the purpose of bringing the Order and its work as a reality into their lives; and such meetings should be as frequent as possible, if only for the purpose of creating centres of thought which may serve as nuclei in preparing the general atmosphere for the future.
- The members in any locality should try to have a common time and (if it can be arranged) a common place for daily meditation on the subject of the coming Teacher and the work - such joint meditation being an exceedingly potent force upon the subtler planes.
- They should remember that, as has been already suggested, their work as members of the Order is first of all to impress upon the mind of those about them the intellectual possibility of such a manifestation in our times; secondly, to anticipate by taking thought of some of the probable difficulties which the great Teacher will have to meet, and to endeavour, so far as may be, to grapple with these beforehand; and thirdly, wherever intellectual assent to the possibility of His coming has been won, to do everything in their power to win over the person or persons so convinced to the attitude of mind and heart by which they will best be able to respond to the message of the Teacher when He comes.
- There will be many methods of doing all this work - by conversation, by public speaking, by correspondence or by published writings (articles, pamphlets, etc.) from which every member, or group of members, must choose what is most readily convenient. Whatever be the means selected, each member, wherever he may be, should feel that his usefulness must eventually be estimated by the members of those surrounding him whom he shall have succeeded in preparing intellectually and spiritually for the coming of the Lord, and he should shape his life and activities accordingly.
- It is desirable that means should be taken, through mutual reports of activities, etc. to keep different sections of the Order in communication and touch with one another, thus promoting that sense of unity through which so much of the life of the Order should be derived. It is also desirable that members everywhere should gradually grow to think of themselves as belonging to one large family, united under a common Father and Head, and that this feeling should, if possible, objectify itself in some actual code of fellowship and "Free-masonry", shaping itself tangibly and definitely on the physical plane.
- Finally, every member should feel that he has a certain responsibility in the way of searching out possible ways of usefulness, and giving the Order the benefit of his suggestions. There should, we think, be some kind of central bureau of activities, to which such suggestions could be sent. Also each member should note the chief difficulties which seem to confront him in his work; the chief arguments used against him, the points which he finds hardest to explain, or to put convincingly, and so forth - in order that, wherever possible, assistance should be given; or, even where assistance is not actually possible, the Order as a whole should have the benefit of the tried experience of its workers.
On these and a great many other points, it is to be hoped that very much more definite information and help may eventually be given by those who are in a position to do so. The present article is but a rough introductory sketch, intended merely to give to would-be members and applicants a general idea of the ideals and objects of the Order. As such, we may perhaps conclude it by alluding to one or two more detailed points which, we think, will be useful to intending applicants, and which may save both them and the officers of the Order many questions and answers respectively.
- An application for membership should be made to the Organising Secretary of the country to which the applicant belongs. In cases where no such Secretary has yet been appointed, the applicant is asked to wait until the appointment has been made, since it is intended to organise the Order on the basis of countries, each country being a separate and autonomous unit. All members, therefore, are primarily members of their own national section and stand, first of all, in relation to the officers of that section.
- It should be noted, in this connection, that the two chief officers of each country - namely, the Local Representative and the Organising Secretary - are, in every case, chosen by the Head of the Order, and by him alone. All such appointments, therefore, as may have been locally made, for inaugurating the work of these offices, will of course have to be ratified by the Head before they can be held to be permanent.
- An applicant for membership in the Order should, in every case, give his full name and address, as well as his profession or occupation. His application, moreover, should contain the definite statement that he accepts the Declaration of Principles. These, however, he need not (as some have done) go to the trouble of copying out in his letter of application. All that it necessary is a brief line to the following effect - Dear Sir, I wish to join the Order of the Star in the East and fully accept its Declaration of Principles. Your etc. Then name in full, occupation and address.
- Each member, on admission, will receive from his Organising Secretary a certificate of membership.
- The Badge of the Order is a five-pointed silver star, to be had in two forms, either as a pin or as a brooch. Inquiries have reached us as to whether it is necessary to wear the badge in either of these forms, or whether the star might not, for example, be unobtrusively hung upon the watch-chain. In answer to these, we can only repeat that in this Order "there are no rules", and that members may therefore, presumably, do exactly what they like in the matter. At present, however, the Badge is not being manufactured for wearing upon the watch-chain; though it is possible that later on something of the kind might be attempted. But, in so far as the question is one of shrinking from publicity or comments, our answer would be (and this applies of course still more definitely to those who ask whether they need wear the Badge at all) that, although there is, and can be, no compulsion in the matter, yet - in view of the future before the Order - it would seem well if members of the Order could begin to become a little hardened to the comments and publicity which must inevitably, one day or another, be their lot. But here too, no definite rule can be enforced, or even suggested. Perhaps the whole thing might remain exactly as Mrs. Besant has worded it, i.e, members are requested to wear them as far as possible, leaving the interpretation to members themselves.
- Every member, on joining, should try to find out whether there are other members in his neighbourhood, in order that he may get into communication with them and arrange plans for future work. The best medium for acquiring this information will probably be the local T.S. Lodge, if any; or the information could be obtained by writing directly to the Organising Secretary.
- In cases where a member finds himself, for the time being, in isolation, he is asked to begin in some small way arranging his life as a member, taking as the basis of his arrangement the Declaration of Principles quoted in the first portion of this article. It is suggested also that such a member should put himself in correspondence with some other member elsewhere, and should write to the latter regularly at not very long intervals - a fortnight, or a month. This will help to keep him in touch.
- Applicants and members are particularly requested to note that, besides there being no rules in the Order, there is also no subscription. A careful notice of these two points will prevent many questions.