All down the ages men have been endeavouring to correct existing conditions, by simply rearranging them. A rearrangement of errors does not make for knowledge; the errors arise because of ignorance; knowledge must be sought as to the causes that produce existing conditions. This, Theosophy teaches by showing what man is, his origin, nature, history, and development so far, as well as his grand destiny. Without this knowledge, all attempts to obtain true and better conditions but plunge mankind deeper in the mire of ignorance and error. Works without knowledge can but lead to more and more ignorant works, piling up all the time a worse and worse future, as history has shown and is showing.
The 17th of November is a day of special significance. On that day H. P. Blavatsky launched the Theosophical Movement of our era and cycle. On the 17th day of the 11th month, we are told in The Secret Doctrine, falls the "birthday" of a Dhyani.
The most important work of the original Theosophical Movement was "the relief of human suffering under any or every form, moral as well as physical"; and H.P.B. added the consequential clause—"we believe the former to be more important than the latter." She further stated that "Theosophy has to inculcate ethics; it has to purify the Soul, if it would relieve the physical body, whose ailments, save cases of accidents, are all hereditary."
The Theosophical Movement is in the world to reveal to man's sight the real roots of existence and progression of the Soul. This necessitates an enlightened view of duty. To bring man to duty, to its right performance, and to use it as a talisman which protects the mind against ugliness, vulgarity and debasement is an important task. The degradation of love into lust and corruption of marital integrity which shatters home-life is one of the major problems of this civilization, in comparison with which those of regional or national boundaries and international finance pale into insignificance. Commercialism and materialistic views of life have strengthened the possessive aspect of wealth to such an extent that most people today have forgotten that they are trustees of their possessions, and so money is collected and spent on objectionable gratifications. When love and wealth are thus debased, the values of duties, their order of importance and their purpose undergo grave deterioration.
To cleanse and elevate the minds of others and help them acquire healthy and correct points of view, it is essential to intensify the work of self-improvement and to elevate one's own mind-soul. "The process of self-purification is not the work of a moment, nor of a few months, but of years—nay, extending over a series of lives." The acquisition and application of knowledge, is the sure way of self-purification; to pass on the knowledge, to shed its light on other minds, the certain method of lessening the suffering of the race, moral and causal in the first instance.
What was true when H.P.B. wrote is equally true today, that "few are willing to become what is called 'working members' and most prefer to remain the drones of Theosophy." The living of the Life, i.e, the practice of Theosophy, depends on one's knowledge. At every stage that knowledge reveals the next step, and provides the necessary strength to take that step. This must not be taken to mean that there are no obstacles. That travail of spiritual birth is difficult; the task of freeing the mind from creed-class-religion-race is hard. Weaknesses and vices of the mind are more formidable and therefore more exhausting than debility and diseases of the body. Our methods of combating and conquering evil are not rooted in true knowledge and often we do not understand the real meaning of these words:
Learn now that there is no cure for desire, no cure for the love of reward, no cure for the misery of longing, save in the fixing of the sight and hearing upon that which is invisible and soundless. Begin even now to practise it, and so a thousand serpents will be kept from your path. Live in the eternal.
Preoccupation with the personality is the root of all our troubles and suffering. For oneself as for humanity, relief from suffering is only obtained when the mind is made to turn within and keep the company of the Divinity in the innermost heart. It is this turning of the mind to the Divine Light within which is recommended by the Master Krishna: "Serve me, fix heart and mind on me, be my servant, my adorer, prostrate thyself before me, and thus, united unto me, at rest, thou shalt go unto me."
In each year of this opening decade of the present cycle, as each one who calls himself a student, a promulgator or a devotee acts true or faithless to the true Teachings of Theosophy, he will help or hinder the work. The egotistic will disfigure, and the selfless worker improve, the Pattern drawn by us all.
In the coming years, then, what is needed is students who are keen, servers who are unselfish, and devotees who are full of zeal and assiduity in living the Teachings and following that which is implicit in H.P.B.'s words, inspiring direct action:
Follow the Path I show, the Masters that are behind—and do not follow me or my Path.
To be a philosopher is not necessary to have subtle thoughts, but so to have wisdom as to live according to its dictates.