Human Beings Must Work Out Their
Own Salvation, Create Their Own Order
The Theosophical Movement
A Meeting in the Lower House (“Lok Sabha”) of the Parliament in India
The following article is reproduced from
the August 2017 edition of “The Theosophical
Movement” magazine, Mumbai, India.
The problem of government is one that has pressed upon the minds of men from the most ancient times. In [the book] “The Key to Theosophy”, H.P. Blavatsky makes it plain that as a body, the Theosophical organization would avoid the useless effort to improve the lot of the masses through political reforms, which she characterized as being as foolish as “putting new wine into old bottles”.
She points out that “No lasting political reform can ever be achieved with the same selfish men at the head of affairs as of old”, and added that until a “reform in human nature” is brought about, success in ameliorating the social condition of men can hardly be achieved. The history of the past 2,000 years seems to support her contention. In order to understand and solve the problem of government a much more extensive study of the history of man must be made than is generally admitted as possible by modern historians.
We should know why government of the people, by the people, for the people, is the best form of government for mankind at the present time. We should know why man’s real progress in this cycle demands the observance of democratic principles throughout the world. Both tradition and history are enriched with descriptions of great and benevolent Kings and their kingdoms. What could be more inspiring than the account of the people of Ayodhya under King Rama? And there is no doubt of the benefit accruing to the masses under such monarchs as Janaka, Vikramaditya, Asoka and Akbar. These few examples from Indian history could be paralleled by others in many parts of the world. Then, why democracy?
What modern historians call mere tradition or legend places before the dynasties of human Kings those of the Heroes and demi-gods; and still earlier than these, the marvellous reign of the gods. Many are the stories of the Golden Age of humanity that have come down to us. One feels surprised that narratives so instructive and so universal should have been rejected by almost all modern historians, especially, as the ideas connected with them were once admitted by all peoples. But they have been rejected principally because they are no longer understood. H.P.B. quotes a suggestive passage from Boulanger:
“Plato in his fourth book of Laws, says that, long before the construction of the first cities, Saturn had established on earth a certain form of government under which man was very happy. As it is the golden age he refers to, or to that reign of gods so celebrated in ancient fables… let us see the ideas he had of that happy age…. Our traditions tell us of many marvels, of changes that have taken place in the course of the Sun, of Saturn’s reign, and of a thousand other matters that remained scattered about in human memory; but one never hears anything of the EVIL which has produced those revolutions, nor of the evil which directly followed them. Yet… that Evil is the principle one has to talk about, to be able to treat of royalty and the origin of power…” (“The Secret Doctrine” – S.D.- II, 372-373)
H.P.B. explains that that evil Plato sees “in the sameness or consubstantiality of the nature of the rulers and the ruled”. He says that in those golden days there was naught but happiness on earth, for there were no needs.
“Why? Because Saturn, knowing that man could not rule man, without injustice filling forthwith the universe through his whims and vanity, would not allow any mortal to obtain power over his fellow creatures. To do this the god used the same means we use ourselves with regard to our flocks. We do not place a bullock or a ram over our bullocks and rams, but give them a leader, a shepherd, i.e., a being of a species quite different from their own and of a superior nature. It is just what Saturn did. He loved mankind and placed to rule over it no mortal King or prince but- ‘Spirits and genii of a divine nature more excellent than that of man’.” (S.D., II, 373)
Students will have no difficulty in understanding that the above refers to the time when the Great Teachers lived openly amongst men, ruling and instructing them. Also, that the great changes and revolutions came about as the cycles rolled on, and the time came for the withdrawal of the Great Ones in order that men might learn to shoulder the responsibilities of their own unfolding manhood.
As loving parents protect, guide and teach their children in their infancy, but gradually withdraw their authority as the children mature, in order that they may learn to take care of themselves and help others in their turn, so in the history of the great human family. At the present time, human beings are beyond the point where the authority and constant direction of the Elders would be helpful or even accepted. We have reached a point in evolution where we must, by ourselves and each one individually, test and put to use the knowledge They impressed us with in our infancy and still remind us of when They come from time to time as prophets and reformers. As the children of any family must learn to co-operate, to work and play together in the balanced harmony of a home that will permit of the exercise, control and extension of their differently unfolding powers and capacities, so we, children of the human family, are now at the age, when we must work out our own salvation, create our own order, by self-induced and self-devised ways and means.
In the present cycle Divine Kings do not rule us – we must seek the Divine Ruler within; Divine Heroes do not incarnate to lead us – we must evoke courage and guidance from our own hearts. The Teachings and the Teachers are with us ever, it is true – but we must now see Them. As this is done, leaders will arise from our own ranks, not claiming “rights” as kings, or “authority” as dictators, but seeking opportunities to serve, to inspire all, as brothers. They will ask nothing for themselves that they do not seek for all, offer to all. These will be true democrats.
Those who would uphold democracy must begin with themselves, and with learning one of the most evident facts of our time, that man cannot rule man “without injustice filling forthwith the universe through his whims and vanity”. In this era, the seemingly greatest may be the least, and the seemingly least the greatest among us. Claims and pretensions go for nought. “By their fruits ye shall know them.”
But what of the future? We have looked back; can we look forward? Are there any indications as to what may be beyond democracy? Are there even the outlines for a future government, a future state, in the world? Some believe that there are. There is little doubt but that the democratic states stand more for liberty of thought and of speech than do the totalitarian regimes. But the democracies are still in the grip of the evils of nationalism. In them dead nationalism tempts and corrupts, even divides, although it has run its course and the great Wheel of Life rolls forward to enter the cycle of Internationalism, of One World.
Is it conceivable that at some future time, when the Teachings of Theosophy have further permeated the race-mind, men in appreciable numbers will be drawn together to seek Truth and the Knowers and Teachers of Truth? It is conceivable, for what men have done, man can do, and it is a vision worth working for. Both H.P.B. and W. Q. Judge wrote of this possibility. We should seek out in their writings the pictures they have given of the future and dwell upon them – for we are working for the future, for a change in the Manas and the Buddhi of the [human] race.
We are not left to invent a method to follow; the method is to begin in and upon ourselves, to create in our hearts and minds centres of order, harmony and unity, that these qualities may fecundate other minds and hearts in this age of democracy. It is not now through societies and mass movements of any sort that mankind is to progress or be “saved” but through individuals who dare to follow in the steps of the Great Predecessors, the Spiritual Fathers of Mankind. They teach that the first step into the future for each one is “to live to benefit mankind” by acquiring the right knowledge as to how to do so, and then making the attempt to act up to it.
The editors of the associated websites thank the publishers of the magazine “The Theosophical Movement” for the authorization to reproduce the article “Why Democracy?”.