William Quan Judge

The Man

[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, March 1964.]

Who was William Quan Judge? He was the writer of The Ocean of Theosophy and other works—and there, unfortunately, information often stops. Very few students of Theosophy really know Mr. Judge, the man, the examplar. Yet, unless we really know him, how much do we miss! We have an opportunity of knowing him if we reflect over all that he says in his Letters That Have Helped Me, and imagine that he is writing to us. Also, if we gather together all that has been written about him in the "Biographical Notes" at the end of the book, we can learn much.

One of the keys to his inner attitude can be found in his Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita:

What I propose here to myself and to all who may read these papers is, to study the Bhagavad-Gita by the light of that spiritual lamp—be it small or great—which the Supreme Soul will feed and increase within us if we attend to its behests and diligently inquire after it. Such at least is the promise by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita—the Song Celestial....If we follow the advice of the great Prince, our next step will be to assume, in view of patent facts of evolution, that certain great Beings exist who long ago must have trod the same road, and now possess the knowledge with the power to impart as much as we are able to take.

Can we not all take this attitude to heart?

As to his personal character, we learn from one of his friends that he "fears nothing except his own conscience." He was "never deterred by expediency, mere public opinion, nor by any consideration of a personal nature, from carrying out that which he had resolved to do." In other words, he was a man of integrity, and if we would follow in his footsteps we must learn to fear our own conscience and never let expediency hinder us in what our conscience tells us is right. Are we such men and women today? Each one alone can answer this for himself. He reminds us:

...side by side with what we are doing, runs the hidden current of our being, slow-moving, perhaps, but nevertheless sweeping on with a resistless force, none the less great for being unsuspected.

Faith in this idea will bring us to the realization of the following—and what a load will be lifted from our minds!

What is to learn, is to be content, or, rather, resigned to ourselves and our limitations even while striving to get above them....I am never, nor you, satisfied with ourselves, but we must be resigned to the limitations of our character as they appear to us.

So often we worry about our limitations, yet do nothing to remove them. Let us first analyse our actual limitations, our faults and virtues, our capacities and non-capacities, learn to accept them and start to improve or to remove them without depression or apathy. Acceptance of Karma is the first step to its overcoming, provided the acceptance is made a stepping-stone to using that Karma for the development of faculties. We are to pay more attention to what we are than to what we can do or not do, though that, too, has its importance.

It is this self-discipline that made Mr. Judge "gentle, sympathetic, but above all strong and powerful, whenever and wherever it was necessary to put in a word at the right time, or to act on the spot." It is this that made his heart like that "of a little child and his tenderness was only equalled by his strength."

All students of Theosophy acknowledge that "There is no religion higher than Truth." This means that they value truth on all planes as the most precious thing. About Mr. Judge's truthfulness a friend wrote: "His wife has said that she never knew him to tell a lie, and those most closely connected with him theosophically agree that he was the most truthful man they ever knew." It is so often "expediency" that makes us prevaricate and speak or act untruthfully, or connive at untruthfulness. Let us remember that expediency meant nothing to Mr. Judge if it affected his integrity.

Another general picture of Mr. Judge is that of such a good, kind, understanding man that he seems like the "Jesus, meek and mild," of so many Christians! We know from the Gospels that, however great was Jesus' immense and unselfish love for humanity, yet he could be firm when need arose, as when he drove the money-changers out of the temple. So with Mr. Judge in a lesser degree.

The severity which some saw in him was on the outside, only. He was not always patient with folly and faint-heartedness, yet even these drew from him pity rather than condemnation, and nothing except deliberate cowardice persisted in, and treachery to the Cause itself, seemed to place the offender outside the pale of his present sympathy and attention.

Another friend wrote of him:

From him I learned to disentangle principle from condition. He viewed all questions from the standpoint of the principle or essence that each contained in itself, without reference to personality, and quick perception of every situation, together with the application of his ideal principles, enabled him to judge correctly all the times.

If we can learn to understand and to love Judge's mind, to become one with his heart—in other words, to assimilate him, we shall not only be better servers of our Movement but shall also draw ourselves to him in other lives to carry on the Work. "Friends or enemies in the future"—this is how they are made, for thought binds, whether based on love or on hate!

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