From Canadian Theosophist, Dec. 15, 1935
A Study of Two
- C. L. D.
The following is a tale of two person who set out through the portals of the Theosophical Society to make the world in their own image. The first was Mr. Watters (who had Neptune in the midheaven of his horoscope, square to Mars and opposition to Saturn), and the second, Mr. Land (who had Saturn rising and Uranus in the midheaven).
Mr. Watters had read and browsed amongst New Thought and semi-occult literature before encountering Theosophy and joined the Society, not because he wanted to, but because of his personal respect for someone or other and a profound but quite erroneous respect for H.P.B. and the Adepts.
He entered the Society, not as a beginner, but with a mingled collection of knowledge and rubbish gleaned from his sporadic reading which had been disjointed and unprogressive. He could not be bothered with the Key or the Secret Doctrine except in a vague, semi-distracted way, owing to his irrelevant reading.
He had read somewhere that all knowledge is reminiscence and so regarded H.P.B.'s books as splendid tomes of occult data which an "occultist" or "mystic" did not require to read, it merely being necessary to reminisce and all knowledge would be available and infallible too! (Of course he had not discovered this most interesting secret.).
The lectures "interested" him, especially the question period. He would stand up and ruminate questioningly on symbolism and what he conceived to be Occultism - questions which were utterly beyond the experience of the lecturer and entirely out of place at a public lecture, and which he had no ability, or intention of putting into practice.
He would ask vaguely hopeful questions about the Pythagorean structures regarding beans, or the occult importance of honey in one's diet; or whether aether might be the spirit in air, as someone wrote somewhere; and just what constituted a lost soul? If it were actually possible to lose this rather ephemeral attribute, and if so, just how would one know whether one was a lost soul, or not? Was it really true that the Moon was the Earth, and the Earth the Moon, before the Moon became the Moon and the Earth ceased to be a Moon? And, just how did the insects and the wheat get here from Venus?
Speakers looked to the question period with apprehension, or replied to the ambiguous "questions" with equally ambiguous answers, which strange to say, seemed to appease the spiritual voracity of Mr. Watters.
He strictly avoided politics and controversial questions, not from cowardice, psychological neuroticism, or romantic emotionalism, but because H.P.B. somewhere counsels us to avoid politics and to be brotherly, which, of course makes controversy even of an intellectual sort, offensive.
H.P.B.'s and' the Adepts' statements he swallowed in toto with a solemnity due to such exalted beings. They constituted a sort of popery whose dicta were unquestionable.
Readings from the Voice of the Silence, the Gita, and, so on, filled his spiritual cup to the spilling point and soothed his susceptibilities, making him realize that the Adepts were in the White Lodge and that all was well with the world. Leave it to the Lords of Karma!
Mr. Watters liked to go into the silence, though he disparaged Occultism, indeed he spoke in awful accents of the dangers of this study and passed by on the other side when anyone brought up the subject.
Mysticism of the "misty" sort appealed to him. In such moments he would sigh ecstatically and let his mind wander into all sorts of chaotic notions which he could not, for the life of him, put into a logical sequence, or even into an intelligible theory.
When newcomers came to the Lodge he invariably regaled them with colorful stories of H.P.B.'s psychic ability in regard to flying tobacco pouches, roses and similar prestidigitations from thin air. Bear in mind, of course, that he had not reasoned about H.P.B., he merely believed in her!
Mr. Watters had collected a vast amount of data on the Bardo or after-death and pre-natal states of being. In a sort of chant, he would readily burst into a paean of solemn nonsense about Kumaras, lokas, talas and so on, utilizing to the full extent the sonority and tonal iridescence of the Sanskrit tongue. It was nonsense, because, if one interrupted his recitative and questioned any of his statements, he would shrug his shoulders coldly, and having read disjointedly, and not being able to verify his allusions by reference to any author of note, would refuse to discuss it any farther, murmuring something about intuition, or Atma-Buddhi-Manas, or something.
His lore regarding death caused him to regard Wars with dignified aplomb. It is true that he hated to see little boys fighting; thought boxing was brutal; spoke feelingly of our brothers the birds and animals; and was shocked beyond words by the horrors of vivisection; yet, irrelevant as it may seem, the sight or thought of accidents would nauseate him, he enjoyed a real old time roast of beef or pork, et al, liked his "brothers" fur in his wardrobe, and felt an old-maidish security when reading in the papers of the brutal treatment of police toward radicals and strikers!
He seldom voted in lodge meetings though he wasted much time in fruitless ruminating and irrelevant chattering about anything but the business in hand. He harbored a notion that one should always bring grievances to the lodge meeting and discuss them "in the open", although, like most repressed persons, of both sexes, who clutter up societies, which would otherwise be quite actively useful groups, he was wont to enlarge on his particular grievance to a clique, which for similar reasons, he found to be sympathetic.
Mr. Land, on the other hand, was rather impractically practical. He held that to gluttonously gorge oneself on knowledge or information which he was incapable of applying in his daily life was on a par with gluttony in food.
The Gita and similar books which enchanted Mr. Watters, made him realize the more his inability adequately to express what he conceived to be his real nature, and filled him with a sort of exasperation. He regarded H.P.B. and the Adepts with a friendly skepticism, accepting only those truths or statements which were consistent with his own intelligence and reason.
His gibes and witticisms offended the emotional Mr. Watters. The lectures interested him, not so much for their content, but because, by some subtle magnetism, they set up a chain of thought or intuition in him, analogous to the content of the lecture, so that he got more out of the lecture than the lecturer had orally given out.
He was keen on economics and frequented various radical groups, contributing his mite of idealism in that mostly otherwise materialistic fraternity. He could defend his ideals with reason and logic; instinctively find the weak points in Mr. Watters' and others' theories and dreams; and thrust the rapier of satire and irony with unerring aim.
It was with much effort and not a little "grousing" that he remained in the society since he held that actually it was in particular, merely a location for divergent and internecine squabbling between various coteries of emotionally repressed persons who nibbled warily at Theosophy and gabbled abominably, using Theosophical terms for a framework on which to hang their unoriginal and pseudo-scientific twaddle. He was convinced that whatever of Theosophy that got abroad through the Theosophical Society was not through the efforts of, so much as it was in spite of the fatuosity of the various cliques who distort it to suit their petty minds.
Business meetings disgusted him as, it appeared, the assembly invariably quibbled about prices, rent, collections and verbal bouquets, and left the real business, the giving out of Theosophy, severely alone. They reminded him of the muckraker who was so busy raking up straws and rubbish that he failed to note the angel, holding the crown over his head. He was tolerated in the Lodge because his skepticism and enthusiasm were a change from the ordinary run of "Theosophers"; also, his skepticism was co-trolled and the latter quality could be utilized occasionally.
One night, by some strange circumstance, while in a restaurant, they both encountered a man whose name they never discovered because it did not occur to either of them to ask it. The only vacant seats were on either side of the stranger who had a sort of fascinating repulsion about him. He was good looking, straight as an arrow, but with a decided coldness or reticence about him which he could dispel at will. They talked a bit and found him to be a veritable mine of information on philosophy and so on. Mr. Watters told him of his dreams and aspirations and was counselled to tabulate his knowledge and information into logical sequence, based on such verities as he might discover, to put these verified facts into practice in his own nature and mind, which, he said, would require Will, which would increase in proportion to his use of it; and to shut up about the results, if any, and let his own life bear witness to the truth or falsity of his studies.
Watters thought he had read this somewhere else and dismissed it all as unworthy of further notice. The stranger then invited Mr. Land to come to his hotel, where he was spending the night, that they might converse more freely. They left Mr. Watters reading his favorite passage from something or other - about a lotus growing out of mud, into something - or something.
Mr. Land had very little to say about his conversation while closetted with the stranger, except that, instead of instructing him (as the other appeared perfectly capable of doing), the stranger did little more than to ask a few searching questions, not so much in regard to morals or political views; but rather about the sincerity of his aspirations, his motives, and just what he expected to gain from Theosophy.
They were not easy to answer, but the result was one of clarification and Mr. Land ceased to be skeptical except in those cases (exceedingly numerous in the T.S. Alas!), when the cuticle seems to be so thick that nothing short of biting sarcasm will pierce their deplorable complacency and admit some light.
It is pitiful that in a Society,
"Which is more noble than the are;
And sigheth for a nobler war;
A finer strain its trumpet sings,
A brighter gleam its armor flings,"
calling for pioneers and adventurous spirits, and attracting largely a host of camp followers ready to give obedience to any poseur who has a plausible front, or, at best, giving a lip service to H.P.B. and Theosophy without actually devoting any vigor or effort by way of real mental, moral, or spiritual work.
Mr. Land's conviction was now, to wait, to work, and to will, in secret, without hope or desire for reward; heedless of praise or blame, working steadily for humanity in the most constructive and useful way possible, namely, to help only those who need your help, not with platitudes, but with wisdom, born of understanding, experience, and love.