Theosophical Notes edited by Victor Endersby, November 1951, p. 14, 15
The Totality of Man
The purpose of Theosophy is
to set men's feet on that path by which they may become divine;
and the natural effect of it is to sieve out from the stream those
who may have some affinity, some aptitude, some desire for such a goal.
Since its precepts incorporate all the virtues, and that in a higher degree
than any other teaching, one might assume that when the Mahatmas take disciples
for training on the direct road to their status, the men selected would
logically be rock-ribbed paragons of nobility. It was seldom so.
The fact that an overwhelming majority of those accepted, promptly failed,
does not do away with the conclusion that they must have
had a chance - if the Mahatmas knew their business at all. It is true
that the failures put themselves forward as candidates; yet had they
had no chance at all, they could not in justice have been permitted the
terrible risks of failure unless there had been some hope at least.
Yet it is a bold Theosophist indeed, however virtuous or brave as a man,
who, having any knowledge of what is involved, dare imagine himself as an
Similar considerations apply to Theosophical personnel in general today. One tends to imagine that the ethics of Theosophy would attract only men of the highest integrity, its vast and intricate natural science only men of clear intellect. The fact remains that it would be difficult to show that the average is really any higher than that of ordinarily decent citizens anywhere. There do come into it sometimes men to whom honesty, justice, and fairness are unknown quantities; and men to whom the word "stupid" would be a compliment. Strangely, they are usually quite in earnest about it.
We say that "A" lives at a given address in a certain town. This is not the truth. He lives everywhere. He influences others at all points of his life by arousing in them admiration, friendship, envy, jealousy, pity, contempt, love or hatred. All these feelings by degrees change men's natures. Nor is the nature of the change necessarily manifest. We may influence a man toward nobility by being noble; or by presenting an ignoble spectacle, influence him toward avoiding such a path. Our moral stench may drive another in the direction of virtue; our stupidity point out to another the necessity of seeking wisdom. Our total effect is inscrutable.
Even though a man immure himself as a solitary hermit in the woods, the forces of his thought and feeling range everywhere and have their influence, for good or bad, wherever there is a receptive affinity. Hence we cannot truthfully say that a man lives at a certain address. There is merely more of him there than there is anywhere else - materially speaking.
We are equally wrong in saying that a man lived "from --- to --- ." That is merely the period through which we were aware of him. His reality IS. It is unbegun and endless. A high Adept does not see a man, does not judge a man by his current moral or mental presentment any more than by his physical appearance, which to such a perceiver is merely a mask or veil to be pierced before the man can be seen as he is. To the adept the man exists and can be simultaneously seen throughout time as well as space. By this, judgement is made when judgement is necessary. From the time viewpoint to which the rest of us are confined, the total man is the present sum of his education by cause and effect.
A man may be a fool. In time, in some life, he will see that the apparent conspiracy against him of nature animate and inanimate, was only its inevitable response to his own fumbling fingers, and that the failure of others to let him prove his wisdom had been because he had already proven his folly. Thenceforth he will seek wisdom humbly.
One may become a traitor, and thereby bring himself to that experience where no fruit dare be plucked because of the fancied serpent coiled about the stem of every tree; a life or years of life in which a sidelong glance between two friends signifies to him a plot; a whisper in a corner inevitably seems to him to involve sinister mention of his name; an incarnation wherein his nature leads him to trust only the false, mistrust only the true. Through such hells a man may win to that unflinching fidelity that makes naught of hardship, betrayal, torture and death.
It may be that one born an incorruptible ascetic has learned the results of some sensual career, in blurred faculties, lost joys of spiritual perception, corruption and disease of the flesh, and final "loss of all" that death brings the man who pinned his stakes upon the flesh.
By the Master is seen the potentiality of a man as clearly as his past. If it lies presently under a heap of manure, the more tirelessly he labors to excavate it. As to the rest of us - we cannot judge what a man has been or will be, or what altogether is in him now. But we have deeds to deal with and duties to perform.
Shall we let fools destroy the work founded on the wisdom gained by the generations of Adepts? Shall we place our own loyalty in humility beneath a traitor's foot? Shall we let libertines make of sacred soil a playground of the senses? To do so is to build the power of folly, treason, and sensuality; to worsen the karma of those passing through those phases, and to embroil ourselves by sin of omission in all those sins of commission.