Lines of Influence


[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, June 1965.]

We know such an effort as ours is needed, and we know that what we present is eternal Truth itself, the effects of which will go on forever. We are glad to have people "register," glad for them, and glad for the world's sake, but not as a favour to us. We can rejoice that those interested are able to see their true interest and join themselves to the helpers of humanity. There is much of wrong, of error, of mistaken idea, and these we have to recognize where found, take a lesson from them, and so avoid the pitfalls into which so many have stumbled.

—Robert Crosbie

A recurring question of Theosophy are confronted with is: In view of the non-acceptance of Theosophy by those in positions of power—witness the present condition of the world—does not the task of the Theosophical Movement—as of the U.L.T., which is an integral part of that Movement—seem a hopeless one? That task, it should be noted, is to change the Manas and Buddhi of the race, not merely of the intelligentsia. The fundamental verities of universal unity, of human solidarity, of karma and of reincarnation can be grasped and applied by the simplest mind with transforming and regenerating effect. Whether the student of Theosophy belongs to the intelligentsia or not, he can make a most effectual contribution to that task by changing his own Manas and Buddhi.

The work would go forward much faster, of course, if the natural leaders of the masses assimilated and applied the doctrines of Theosophy. The state of the world always reflects the influence wielded by those in power. It is not necessary to prove that the masses of men and women in every country live by the thoughts and ideas suggested to them, unobtrusively and without their cognizance, or imposed upon them with all the weight of skilful propaganda. Those who live by any kind of self-made philosophy, i.e., those who have practised self-knowledge, are men out of the common run. Such there are in every country, but they are only few; they may be called Geniuses in the making.

Now this psychological phenomenon, namely, the suggestibility and impressionability of the masses, has ever been the instrument of the makers of history. Though it is only half the truth, individuals do make history; but they make it by the power of suggestion, impressing the masses of ordinary men and women. The receptivity of the masses is the other half of the picture. Leaders and followers together make history, just exactly as a writer and his readers together make the success or failure of a book. Even in the highest spiritual life the institution of Guru and Chela represents the functioning of this psychological principle. The power of wisdom and purity possessed by the teacher is imparted to the pupil, first by suggestion and then by impression. The purity of the teacher and the receptivity of the pupil combine to produce success or failure in Chelaship.

From this emerges another great principle. Should the leader who makes history, the author who creates his reading public, the teacher who commands the very heart of the Chela, do so without any reference to the following which the leader affects, the reading public which the author influences, the disciple whom the teacher impresses? Esoteric philosophy and psychology recognize that the power to suggest and to impress others becomes beneficent or maleficent according as he who uses the power is of pure or impure motive. In pure spirituality it is fundamental that the teacher and the leader must not influence the free will of others. A Teacher, if he is a pure Yogi of the highest type, studiously refrains from coercing the free will of his pupil. Therefore there are pure and impure ways of exerting influence, and both of these operate in the public world. When a great political leader, who is often an orator, suggests plans of campaign he follows them up by legislation which crushes those who will not meekly accept his dicta. This is impure. When a poet sings his message he leaves it to succeed or to fail. It often succeeds in impressing the public some time in the future, generally after the poet's death; this is the pure method.

The U.L.T. would not, if it had the power, impose the truths of Theosophy willy-nilly upon the world by the method of dictator or priest. Its task is not hopeless; the leaven of Theosophy is spreading, slowly but none the less surely. The main object of the U.L.T. is "to sow germs in the hearts of men, which may in time sprout, and under more propitious circumstances lead to a healthy reform, conducive of more happiness to the masses than they have hitherto enjoyed." (The Key to Theosophy, pp. 254-55)

The wrong kind and wrong methods of influence have brought the world to the pass in which it finds itself. There is no miracle in nature; the race cannot be reformed overnight or en masse, but only gradually and one by one. If individuals wait for their own regeneration till legislators act and society undergoes a change and nations rise in morals and capacity, they will wait in vain. One by one, from the domination of the senses men have freed themselves; one by one, they have taken the Kingdom of Heaven by violence, and have enjoyed freedom of thought, will and action. This is also true of us who are of this day and generation. Neither priest nor politician, neither financial magnate nor social welfare worker, can help us really; but each of us can gain the impetus to move to the region of the righteous. For this, inspiration is needed, and it is to be found in such words as these:

Even if thou wert the greates of all sinners, thou shalt be able to cross over all sins in the bark of spiritual knowledge. (Bhagavad-Gita, IV, 36)

Shun ignorance, and likewise shun illusion. Avert thy face from world deceptions; mistrust thy senses, they are false. But within thy body—the shrine of thy sensations—seek in the Impersonal for the "Eternal Man"; and having sought him out, look inward: thou art Buddha....Prepare, and be forewarned in time. If thou hast tried and failed. O dauntless fighter, yet lose not courage: fight on, and to the charge return again and yet again....Remember, thou that fightest for man's liberation, each failure is success, and each sincere attempt wins its reward in time. (The Voice of the Silence, pp. 28-29, 68-69)

Within you is the light of the world—the only light that can be shed upon the Path. If you are unable to perceive it within you, it is useless to look for it elsewhere. (Light on the Path, pp. 3-4)




Theosophy is the only philosophy that can be used in every direction in daily life. It can be used in all directions, high or low, because that use comes from an understanding of the Spirit itself, from acting for that Self and as that Self—for the Self acts only through the creatures. Acting for and as that Self in every direction, all else flows into line. All the destruction that is around us, all the misery that we see, has been brought about through our denial of the Holy Ghost—our denial of the Spirit within us. We deny it when we act as if we are our bodies, or our minds. That will not be denied. So man, meeting all the results of that denial and seeing them to be evil, learns that this is not the way. Then he seeks for Truth, and finding the truth, obtains all that he can desire—hope, happiness and a better understanding of his and all existence. It was to give to men all they could take in regard to the nature of the soul—that they might come out from this vale of sorrow—that those Beings known as Divine Incarnations have descended here of Their own will. They have carried forward from age to age this knowledge of nature and of man and of the purpose of life, learned through many civilizations of mankind. It is this knowledge which makes Them as gods to us in Their glory and power.

—Robert Crosbie


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