(this is an article for "The Theosophist" on the theme "The Three Objects
of the TS and their Enduring Relevance"
published November 1996.)
by Ali Ritsema
The title "Lawfulness" may seem a touch strange for an article on "Three Objects of the TS and their enduring relevance". My thesis is that everything that is Universal or "eternal" is of enduring relevance. Now the question is whether the three objects of the TS are universal or eternal, because, within my thesis, they would then be of enduring relevance. The question then becomes: Where do the objects meet universality, if they do. The key to this is whether they are founded on Universal Law(s) and, if so, how this Universal Law can be found.
H.P.B. points out through the three fundamental propositions (Secret Doctrine, I. Proem):
1. that there is an Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immortal Principle, one absolute Reality which antecedes all manifested, conditioned being.....
2. the absolute universality of the law of periodicity which physical science has observed.....
3. the fundamental identity of all Souls with the Universal Oversoul...and the obligatory pilgrimage for every Soul...through the Cycle of Incarnation...in accordance with Cyclic and Karmic law.....
The first says that everything in this Universe is based on Oneness. In "How to study Theosophy", she stresses that whatever we study, we should always hold on to this idea of Oneness if we are to come to an understanding of Universal Law(s). The third fundamental proposition that brotherhood (the first object of the TS) is the statement in practice of this Reality or Law. The question becomes then what the additional value is of having three objects instead of just the one of brotherhood, directly linked to that third proposition and so strongly emphasized in "The Mahatma Letters".
We could come to the conclusion that brotherhood is enough because it comprises everything necessary to lead a life based on Universal Law. However, since we have to grow or unfold our nature in order to make universal brotherhood a reality in our daily life, we need the second and third objective to help to bring out in our understanding the breadth and depth of the meaning of universal brotherhood based on Lawfulness.
In "The Secret Doctrine" we find that the ONE LIFE is closely related to the one law which governs the World of Being - KARMA. It is also said that each man is his own lawmaker. If the objects are to be of enduring relevance we must see the law(fulness) within ourselves, so that the three objectives to which all members comply are not rules or regulations in the normal sense of a club or a dogma in the sense of a church, but guides whereby we may find that law(fulness) in ourselves such that we express the One Life. "Wise are they who worship Karma - Nemesis". (S.D.Vol.I)
Freedom of Thought
If we closely look at the three objects, we might find that they require a freedom of thought which makes it possible to see that there is a depth and universality in it. We see that complete freedom of thought in itself is based on Lawfulness through the very fact that, as said before, each human is him/herself his/her own lawmaker. We see this again is an statement of the third proposition.
- Lawfulness is our entry to Onenes and
- The objects are means for us to begin to see Lawfulness
- It is through freedom of thought that the objects can meet Universality and thus will be of enduring relevance.
Now, to realize freedom of thought is the biggest struggle for humans in this, our, phase of evolution.
Freedom of thought is the way of man to move from the "outer" world, so to say, to the "inner" world, from outer laws to inner Laws. We are so used to only use our "outer eyes" that we forget our most precious capacity of the "inner eye". The "inner eye" is not only what is normally known as clairvoyance but that which is referred to in "The Secret Doctrine" (Vol.I) as 'the "Eye of Dangma", 'which the Initiate alone, rich with the lore acquired by numberless generations of his predecessors, directs toward the essence of things in which no Maya can have any influence'.
To make the jump from the outer world to the inner world is not easy. It is, what is called "the Path", described in many books but never the same because the ways are as many as the lives of man. It is still much easier for us to see with the outer eye because we just live upon the rules of the society where, in most cases, we know what is "done" and "not-done", how things "should be" or "should not be" and have no idea of the essence of things.
These conditionings or traditions, hidden or open rules, we find everywhere, in every culture, whether we live in the East, the West, the North or the South. Theosophy is called "Wisdom-Tradition" but here "tradition" does not refer to conditioning, to hidden or open rules, but to "knowing", knowing from within. The further humans drift away from this "Wisdom-Tradition", the more emphasis is laid on conditioning, outer traditions, outer rules, laid upon man by nations, culture, organisations, environment, education, etc. This, in return, kills freedom in man and takes him away from the search for and understanding of the inner Laws, the inner Wisdom. That's why we have always to be alert whether we are unconsciously influenced by any deep-rooted conditioning.
Now the most important thing in the TS is to encourage freedom of thought, to really make people feel that our objects are not a set of rules but guides to help us to free ourselves from any distinction, from any dogma whether by religion, philosophy or science but also to show that we are not left by ourselves, not left alone; that there are Laws of Nature, that there are powers latent in man, which are the true, inner guides.
The success of the TS, according to K.H. in Mahatma Letter 85, "is due entirely to its principles of wise and respectful toleration of each other's opinions and beliefs. No one has the right directly or indirectly to interfere with the freedom of thought of the humblest member or to seek personal influence. Discord is the harmony of the Universe. And in the TS each part ceaselessly chases the other in harmonious discord on the paths of Eternal progress to meet and finally blend at the threshold of the pursued goal into one harmonious whole, the keynote in nature. Absolute Justice makes no difference between the many and the few. In our Brotherhood all personalities sink into one idea - abstract right and absolute justice for all. So unless the members agree to disagree in details and work in strict union for the chief objects as laid down in the Rules of the TS, we can have no hand in the future development and progress of -(in my opinion, A.R.)- any lodge or section."
Mankind is in a degenerated state, compared to what it really means to be human. The mission of the TS today is to awaken humanity and to show the way to human regeneration. The role of the TS should not appear as an imposition from without but as a natural evolutionary growth from within. According to Taimni in "Principles of TS work", we have to "win the world not by a forcible conversion but by the inherent reasonableness of the ideas and the justice of the principles, the truths of Wisdom, we seek to propagate".
This is not an intellectual process, it is not a path for believers, it is a process that affects the heart and brings about changes inside, which are reflected outside. It is the path of discrimination between the promptings/desires of our outer nature and the promptings/perceptions of our inner nature. In "The Secret Doctrine" we are told "to remember that knowledge dwells in heads replete with thoughts of other men, Wisdom in minds attentive to their own..."
Many people think that our civilization is advancing because of the incredible technological achievements. However, the danger is that the outer achievements blind us to our true inner development, our inner evolution and the need to understand and perceive the inner Laws of Nature. The great pity is that the illusions of our outer achievements will/can attract us away from the truly magnificent future that can be ours if we choose for the inner way.
The question is how can we make people aware of the fact that there is such a way. The TS, as an organisation, is based on the principles of the Ancient Wisdom, through which people may find that way. Because the three objects are one of the very first aspects of the TS that people encounter and because they often give rise to high expectations, it is important that the objects are lived in practice. People should find respect for the private views and beliefs of every member and the spirit of free research, inquiry and investigation to be encouraged.
Now it might be clear that the environment, the climate, so to say, in the TS, which will allow the three objects to blossom into enduring relevance, must be one of freedom of thought in order to make it possible to see Lawfulness in action!