Of State and Government

[Reprinted from THE THEOSOPHICAL MOVEMENT, October 1965.]
Out of anger and disturbance will arise a new and better time; yet not without the pain which accompanies every new birth.

—W. Q. Judge

Today, when a new world is in the making and everyone is venturing guesses as to the future, the above words of Mr. Judge at once give us a presage and a hope. The "anger and disturbance" of which he speaks are only too evident everywhere in the world, and in more spheres than one. This unrest, the result of a civilization based on false teachings and corrupt ideologies, and devoid of a true philosophical basis, is a sign of the present cycle known as the dark age. Yet, out of it all there needs must arise, in time, a new and better era in the affairs of the world.

One of the spheres in which this unrest makes itself felt is the political. Many of the national and international problems that the world of today finds itself confronted with are the direct result of wrong principles used in governing nations. Even devastating wars have not awakened the States to change their system of administration built upon false foundations.

What, then, are the true foundations? On what pattern should a government be built? Although freedom and democracy are eulogized, is any nation in the world today truly democratic? In our concern for the mere political implications of democracy (derived from the Greek terms demos, people and kratos, strength), is not its spiritual significance overlooked? What is the spiritual basis of democracy, or the strength or power of the people to express their will in action—wise action? In what way is it better than other forms of government? These are basic questions. We should know why government of the people, by the people, for the people is the best form of government for mankind in the present cycle.

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 our modern historians call tradition and legend, places, before the reign of kings, that of the heroes and demi-gods; and, still earlier, the marvellous reign of Gods and all the stories of the Golden Age of humanity. One day may feel surprised that traditions and records so instructive and so universal should have been rejected by almost all modern historians, but they have been rejected principally because they are no longer understood.

H. P. Blavatsky quotes a suggestive passage from the Western writer 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, and what was the occasion he had to introduce this fable into a treatise on politics. According to Plato, in order to obtain clear and precise ideas on royalty, its origin and power, one had to turn back to the first principles of history and tradition. Great changes, he says, have occurred in days of old, in heaven and on earth, and the present state of things is one of the results (Karma). 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....

H.P.B. explains in the same context (The Secret Doctrine, II, 372-73) that that evil, Plato seems to see in "the sameness or consubstantiality of the natures of the rulers and the ruled." He says that in that golden age, long before man built his cities, there was nothing 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 insure against 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."

This has reference to the time when Great Teachers lived openly among men, ruling and instructing them. As the cycles rolled on, great changes and revolutions came about 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, in our homes, loving parents protect, guide and teach their children in 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, as human beings we are beyond the point where the authority and constant direction of the Elders would be necessary or even accepted. We have reached a point in evolution where we must for ourselves put to use and test out the knowledge they impressed us with in infancy, and still remind us of when they come as prophets and reformers from time to time. As the children of any family, above a certain age, 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 stage when we must work out our own salvation, create our own order, by self-induced and self-devised ways and means.

The legends of the "fallen angels" and the "war in heaven" give a further key to the problem. 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 Teaching and the Teachers are with us ever, it is true—but we must now seek Them. As this is done, leaders will arise from our own ranks—not claiming "rights" as kings, or "authority" as dictators, but 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 the true democrats.

Those who would have true democracy must begin with learning that "man cannot rule man without injustice forthwith filling the universe though his whims and vanity." True democracy, which implies equal opportunities for all souls, leading to the freedom of the individual soul, begins with the concept of Fraternity. Without a proper knowledge of fraternity we shall not have liberty, and without liberty there cannot be peace. A sound social morality or true democracy can rest only on the spiritual concept of the unity of all life and the brotherhood of mankind. Until and unless we change our basis of thinking and of acting and regard humanity as one Great Family, and strive together for the enlightened freedom of each unit of that family, we shall continue to have democracy only in name. The foremost thought, therefore, has to be given, not to rights and privileges, but to duties and responsibilities.

As in all things, a beginning must be made with the individual. The individual must train himself in the science and art of democracy by self-control, self-purification and self-progress. He must grow to produce harmony; he must become harmonious to produce growth.

There is no better description of this task and of this stage of evolution than in the wisdom of Confucius. Confucius spoke of the individual and his relationship to the collectivity, the great world system. The sole purpose of the State, he said, is to promote the welfare of the people according to the Moral Order of the Universe. If men are to live in peace and prosperity, their acts and behaviour should harmonize with the divine Law, with the universal moral order. Times have certainly changed since Confucius lived and taught, but human nature has remained unchanged for these two thousand five hundred years. Today, as in Confucius's time, men are still striving for a social society; the will to live to see a spiritual or moral world and the feeling that such an existence is possible prevails unchanged; the struggle for happiness and stability still goes on.

The reply to the question, "What is the criterion of Theosophy?" is that it is found in each man's perception of the Truth; therefore there is no single criterion.

If any persons regard H.P.B.'s writings as the infallible oracles of Theosophy, they go directly against her own words and the works themselves; they must be people who do not indulge in original thinking and cannot make much impression on the times.

In as much as Theosophy is the whole body of truth about man and nature, either known now or hereafter to be discovered, it has the "power of growth, progress and advancement," since every new truth makes it clearer. But among the truths will not be reckoned at any time the definitions, dogmas, creeds or beliefs laid down by man.

—W. Q. Judge

to return to the table of contents