[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, January 1963.]
Every pledge or promise unless built upon four pillasrs—absolute sincerity, unflinching determination, unselfishness of purpose, and moral power, which makes the fourth support and equipoises the three other pillars—is an insecure building. The pledges of those who are sure of the strength of the fourth alone are recorded.
In one of the extracts from Madame Blavatsky's letters which were read at a meeting in New York on the first anniversary of her death, appears the above statement, which demands heart-searching by each aspirant who would serve the Masters and Their Cause.
Those who feel certain of their own complete sincerity, firmly resolved to master the great teachings of Theosophy and to apply and spread them, and are confident that they are moved thereto by no self-interest, doubtless feel themselves confronted by a challenge and may question whether they could possess the other three qualifications at all if they were altogether lacking in moral power.
It does not, however, minimize the importance of the first three qualifications to point out that none of them can securely stand alone. It is for no mere skirmish, no brief campaign, that volunteers are sought for Masters' Cause. Those who would be co-workers of the Masters, "companions" in the world, humbly trying to serve Their purposes for the helping of mankind, may set no term for their enlistment. It is for life and for lives, for the duration indeed of the great struggle of the forces of Light against the powers of darkness.
Meanwhile the world of real Occultists smiles silently, and goes on with the laborious process of sifting out the living germs from the masses of men. For occultists must be found and fostered and prepared for coming ages when power will be needed and pretensions go for naught.
Of those sincerely fired by enthusiasm on first meeting with the explanations of the mysteries of life which Theosophy provides, and the ideals which it puts forward, there may be some in whom, as in the Parable of the Sower, the seed falls upon shallow soil and their enthusiasm may spring up quickly because it has no depth of earth. Their zeal enkindled, they may impulsively take upon themselves a commitment which they may, for lack of moral stamina, find themselves unable to fulfil. Such would do well to bear in mind Mr. Judge's message to his correspondent's inquiring friend:
Tell your friend and inquirer this. No one was ever converted to Theosophy. Each one who really comes into it does so because it is only "an extension of previous beliefs."
Also, one of the Masters whose message Madame Blavatsky brought to the modern world wrote to Mr. Sinnett early in 1882:
It is a life-long task you have chosen....Knowledge for the mind, like food for the body, is intended to feed and help to growth, but it requires to be well digested and the more throughly and slowly the process is carried out the better both for body and mind.
Lest, however, this be taken by the lukewarm as justifying laziness in study and application, as well as in promulgation of the teachings, there was published in The Path a reminder of the need to get our mental luggage ready, so that we may be prepared at the first call when we are reborn (an article reprinted in our pages in September 1942). This task calls for augmenting our knowledge of the modern restatement of the Ancient Wisdom, but also for discarding the useless mental lumber accumulated down the years, whether from upbringing and environment, from sectarian or materialistic education, or from expounders of philosophies that ignore or contradict Theosophy.
One obvious way in which moral power reveals itself is in the steadiness of the indomitable warrior in a fight against great odds for a cause of the righteousness of which he is convinced.
For the strengthening of the aspirant to steadiness there are these verses in The Voice of the Silence:
Have patience, Candidate, as one who fears no failure, courts no success. Fix thy Soul's gaze upon the star whose ray thou art, the flaming star that shines within the lightless depths of ever-being, the boundless fields of the Unknown.
And to hearten him who is in the thick of the battle, there are these stirring words:
If thou hast tried and failed, O dauntless fighter, yet lose not courage; fight on, and to the charge return again and yet again.
Moral power, however, may well also reveal itself in a devoted student of Theosophy in spectacular ways, as in sticking everlastingly at whatever Theosophical service, however humble and inconspicuous it be, he may have found he can render.
Madame Blavatsky set an inspiring pattern for emulation, without so labelling it, calling on her followers not to follow her but to follow the path she showed, the Masters who are behind. But who even a little acquaninted with her long and willing sacrifice, her patient service of the Cause of Theosophy through good and evil report and despite many difficulties—physical suffering, desertion by professed friends, scorn and ridicule from those who rejected her message—can fail to be inspired to such emulation as individually he or she can achieve?
To one correspondent she wrote:
Come what may, I shall die at my post, Theosophical banner in hand, and while I live I do fervently hope that all the splashes of mud thrown at it will reach me personally. At any rate I mean to continue protecting the glorious truth with my old carcass so long as it lasts....
In her article, "The Theosophical Mahatmas," reprinted in Raja-Yoga or Occultism from The Path for December 1886, she claimed as her only merit her "unswerving devotion" to the Master who, she wrote, had taught her what she knew and made her what she was, and her "belief in the Wisdom, collectively, of the grand, mysterious, yet actual Brotherhood of holy men."
The moral power which she steadfastly exemplified was well described by Mr. Judge in his tribute, "Yours Till Death and After," in Lucifer shortly after Madame Blavatsky's passing away:
Amid all the turmoil of her life, above the din produced by those who charged her with deceit and fraud and others who defended, while month after month, and year after year, witnessed men and women entering the Theosophical Movement only to leave it soon with malignant phrases for H.P.B., there stands...devotion absolute to her Master. "It was He," she writes, "who told me to devote myself to this, and I will never disobey and never turn back."
It was a faithful Indian friend, Norendro Nath Sen, Editor of The Indian Mirror, Calcutta, who, in his White Lotus Day address in 1905, 14 years after her death, said of her:
It is impossible for me to say how much I owe to the influence of her sublime life—a life consecrated to the vindication of truth and the spiritual elevation of mankind....
The moral power which she displayed was well described by her friend, pupil and biographer, William Kingsland:
The man who dies with his face to the foe, fighting to the last though covered with wounds, is accounted a hero. But in the heat of battle there is oblivion of pain, there is a superhuman strength of madness and frenzy. How much more should she be accounted a hero who could hold on to life, and work as no other woman has worked, through years of physical and mental torture.
How does Moral power find expression in her living followers of our own day? For one who seeks to serve by spreading the teachings of Theosophy by the spoken word, the test of moral power comes in the abilitty of the platform worker of any age or either sex to speak impersonally, without allowing one's own shadow to come between the hearer and the great message one is privileged to share with him and others, or saying to oneself, "Behold, I serve!" or claiming even a moiety of the credit for that which one can at best but faithfully hand on. For, as Mr. Crosbie has truly written:
All that any of us can give is Theosophy. We did not invent it. It was given to us; we stand in line and pass it along, as people used to do at fires in passing the buckets of water. People are grateful to the one who passes the "water of life" along to them, but the "passer" knows where gratitude belongs, and says: "don't thank me; thank Theosophy—as I do. It enables me to help others; it will also enable you."...The fight against the "personal idea" is a long one and a strong one. It has to be guarded against that it does not take to itself what it has no claim no.
The fluent speaker must be on his guard against not only flattery but also honest praise from the unthinking who perhaps are ignorant of the warning in The Voice of the Silence:
Shun praise, O Devotee. Praise leads to self-delusion. Thy body is not Self, thy Self is in itself without a body, and either praise or blame affects it not.
One to whom expression by the written word comes more easily than does expounding from the platform is at an advantage over the speaker in this respect, though he too must be on his guard against self-gratulation. The principle of anonymity of living contributors to Theosophical magazines gives less encouragement to thinking more highly of oneself than one ought to think, but the glow of pleasure which the anonymous writer may experience, when hearing his article impersonally praised, may be a danger signal, not to be ignored in honest self-examination.
All prominent in Theosophical work might find it salutary to remind themselves frequently of the rule (given by Madame Blavatsky in "Practical Occultism," which is included in Raja-Yoga or Occultism) which warns:
None can feel the difference between himself and his fellow students, such as "I am the wisest," "I am more holy and pleasing to the teacher, or in my community, than my brother," etc.,—and remain an upasaka. His thoughts must be predominantly fixed upon his heart, chasing therefrom every hostile thought to any living being. It (the heart) must be full of the feeling of its non-separateness from the rest of beings as from all in Nature; otherwise no success can follow.
It would not seem amiss to equate moral power with the working in whatever measure of "the real and true Will" which Mr. Crosbie equates with the "Spiritual Will, which flies like light and cuts all obstacles like a sharp sword," and which he says proceeds from "the highest spiritual part of our natures."
As Mrl Judge wrote in "Occult Arts" in The Path of January 1894:
The will is one of the forces directly from spirit, and is guided, with ordinary men, by desire; in the Adepts' case the will is guided by Buddhi, Manas, and Atma, including in its operation the force of a pure spiritual desire acting solely under law and duty.