Two Main Methods Can Be Employed
B. P. Wadia
Mr. B. P. Wadia (1881-1958)
The following article is reproduced from the
book “Living the Life”, by Mr. B.P. Wadia, Indian
Institute of World Culture, Bangalore, India, 1981, 156 pp.
It constitutes the second chapter in that volume (pp. 7-12).
What our faith really means to us is
shown by our power of sacrifice on its behalf.
(B. P. Wadia)
One of the causes which led to the disruption of the forces drawn together by H. P. Blavatsky in her body politic of Theosophy was the failure of those who surrounded her to support the movement against the criticism of an opposing world. Another aspect of the same feature was responsible for the disintegration which followed the death of Mr. W. Q. Judge.
The power of the faith which is in us can be truly gauged by the strength with which we defend it against attack. What our faith really means to us is shown by our power of sacrifice on its behalf. To walk by our Goddess of Faith when she is popular, to follow her as she trails in glory an acclaimed heroine, to take pride in her name and fame, is no proof that we are her true votaries.
When she is defamed and despised, when all that men throw at her are scorn and contempt, when dressed in rags she walks unnoticed or abused – in that hour the heart meets its true test.
To defend what we hold to be true at any cost, and defend it with justice to our own convictions as well as sympathy for the sincere beliefs of other men, is an experience which every human soul has to pass through.
The faculty of being true to ourselves is the resultant of a process by which we show our fidelity to what we deem to be true, either by the power of thought and reason or by the force of instinct and feeling. Even through the vice of fanaticism the immortal soul of man acquires the virtue of faithfulness to truth. The process is slow and painful, as are all processes of Nature. To be aggressively faithful to what appears to us to be correct is the beginning of a slow and exhaustive ascent to the serene, indomitable and conquering altitude, where one stands unshaken in defence of Truth perceived, devoid of aggressiveness, enmity or hatred; actuated by the spirit of helpfulness towards those against whose adverse criticism such defence is offered; permeated by devotion and energized by knowledge.
H.P. B. was an exemplary defender of the Faith. It was her invariable habit to defend Theosophy against all odds even at the cost of dear friendships. She sacrificed everything when her Goddess of Faith was attacked, and never for an instant did she hesitate. Not satisfied with the splendid example set, she taught the necessity of such action as a spiritual exercise; and when her students and pupils proved weak in this defence, her fire and zeal, in themselves a salutary lesson, urged them to perform their duty.
Like other characteristics pertaining to H.P.B.’s being and teaching, this attitude is met with in the lives and labours of all true teachers of the Wisdom. It is to be found in the teachings and activities of Mr. Judge. Damodar K. Mavalankar earned his grace, among other things, by a similar offering. The lessons which emerge from the observation and study of this characteristic are valuable for the aspirant of today.
The new enthusiast in Theosophy goes through the octave of fanaticism, from aggressive abuse to the passive superciliousness of a “superior” person. Just as the embryo passes through all the phases of its long past evolution of millions of years in the short period of antenatal life, the Theosophic embryo runs the gamut of his own psychological experiences, when in this incarnation he takes up the thread of his own inner growth and the outer service of other souls.
One of these experiences is related to the defence of his own faith which may be mere belief or the direct perception of acquired knowledge, which carries its own natural conviction.
Few of us can help being Theosophical fanatics for the simple reason that we have been un- theosophical and then non-theosophical fanatics in the past. The duration of such fanaticism depends on the unspent force of that ante-natal fanaticism, and on our own efforts, now and here, to embody in ourselves the living power of Theosophy. In this second feature the important practice of self-correction is involved.
What is the best way to ward off attacks on Theosophy, its Teachers and students, its movement and activity?
Attacks are the result of ignorance; when not directly rooted in abject prejudice, they are the outcome of the fear and hatred of people whose vested interests Theosophy threatens or exposes. As all vested interests thrive on the ignorance of well-meaning men and women, we are in truth face to face with one mighty enemy – Ignorance, a foe against which we have to have a weapon of defence.
There are two main methods which can be employed; H.P.B., Mr. Judge and other true followers of the Wisdom used both of them.
The first consists in a counterattack on the offensive and offending attackers – to pick holes in their methods and movements and to show their admirers how faulty and false these are; at the same time and in this very process to show what therein is true and genuine, which holds fast admirers to them, and how that which is true is taken amiss and that which is genuine is mishandled. This procedure, however, requires a deep knowledge of those methods and movements and also the capacity to deftly use the weapons of attack. An offensive demands greater preparation, for it includes schemes of self-defence in case of defeat, and also the plans to bestow order and good government in the enemy’s land when victory is won.
The second method is this: Do not expose the vagaries, inconsistencies, fictitiousness, and falsehoods of the offender against Theosophy, but unveil the utility, the consistency, the beauty and the truth of our own philosophy and position. Such a picture will radiate its own benign influence and work its own magic on the multitude who are victims of ignorance and vested interests.
The Masters of Wisdom fight ignorance century by century, by the unique process in which these two modes resolve themselves in full harmony.
In our early struggles on the plane of Theosophy we often suffer from an unbalanced enthusiasm and are apt to launch ourselves on the stormy tide of the first method. In copying her noble example in attacking science or theology, spiritualism or neo-theosophy, we forget that we do not possess H.P.B.’s knowledge, not only the positive knowledge of the facts, but also the insight into what is false or fictitious, and why. It is the way of wisdom, therefore, to learn to utilize first the second of the two courses above mentioned. Nothing can defend Theosophy as well as Theosophy itself. Let her speak for herself – through us. Let us spread the good tidings of Theosophy and present to all those we contact the strength, the beauty, the encompassing truth of Theosophy. Under this method some are bound to shed their scales of ignorance and prejudice. When through repeated efforts our own knowledge has grown and our insight has unfolded, we will be ready to wield the weapons of the first method.
It is a practical craft – spread the teachings of Theosophy far and wide so that the power of Wisdom will act as its own defender.
First, comprehend that the defence of Theosophy and the active effort to spread broadcast its message go hand in hand. Assimilating the teachings we should make ourselves radiators of the power of Theosophy. This achieved, remains the undertaking to help others readjust their mental contents. It is wrong to suppose that it is absence of knowledge which produces anti-theosophical attitudes or expressions; often it is the existence of wrong ideas, of false thoughts, of incorrect reasoning. Our task would be comparatively easy if we had only ignorant babes to deal with; we have to work with human beings whose minds are already energized by non-theosophic notions. It is much more difficult for such minds to make readjustments.
Let us remember that the vigorous demonstration of anti-theosophic feeling follows an accumulation, in silence and passivity, of non-theosophic views.
To counteract this silent accretion we must needs work in silence for the accumulation of Theosophic feeling. Belief in false creeds should not be met with make believe in theosophical principles – thus err many of our young enthusiasts. Knowledge must disband belief and enlightened conviction disrupt unintelligent faith. To obtain knowledge and possess such conviction, study and reflection and hearing the doctrine retold are necessary, not only for our own personal advancement, but as an institution which helps in readjusting the minds of others less “advanced” than we are. The acquiring of knowledge by persevering study should not be undertaken in self-interest, but as a duty to the evolution of the race itself.
Next to study of the doctrines is the task of bringing others to that study. Discrimination is to be used in the circulation of right books. Excellent books are available for enquirers, for beginners, as well as advanced students. Let us not err by a rigidity of rule in recommending these books. It is the part of wisdom to determine which particular book will help a particular person. If we can ascertain the impulse which has brought him to approach Theosophy, if we can gauge his bent of mind, his capacity to think and reflect and his temperament, we can find out the book which will most appeal to him. There is a line of least resistance for him, as well as an avenue of response.
By our own study, individually or in classes, and by living our own lives according to the teachings, we are accomplishing the positive work of collecting the sinews of war. By the second step of spreading correctly the true teachings of Theosophy we have already carried war into the enemy camp of ignorance; every mind readjusted by the books means a loss for that enemy.
Vigorous assault is bound to come upon us and then our success will depend on our genuineness as students. Make-believers, or those who learned by rote, or those who failed to assimilate, or those who played a memorized role, and their like, will desert. Those who learned for the sake of teaching, who obtained and amassed to offer it in loving and intelligent service – they will stand to the greater glory of Man.
In September 2016, after a careful analysis of the state of the esoteric movement worldwide, a group of students decided to form the Independent Lodge of Theosophists, whose priorities include the building of a better future in the different dimensions of life.