A Study in
George Sidney Arundale
First published 1926
The Australian Section
Let us look for a while into the future of our Australian Section. I see the Section enormously more influential, not so much because of its increased membership, but because of the far greater extent to which it practises the Theosophy which beforehand it had more preached than practised.
I see the Section as the real heart of
I see membership of the Section becoming a privilege, a mark of respect, rather than a matter for ridicule or disapproval as it was in the middle of the twentieth century. People in the outside world do not always want to join the Society, for it involves very strenuous, though very joyous, living; but they recognise the valuable contribution members make to the National uplift.
They also recognise the fact that members of the Society do not live for themselves, but for those around them, and that their opinions and activities are always constructive, never separative.
I see that the Section forms part of the heart of that great
Each Section of the Society represents its own
particular country in the smaller
call the Empire thus becomes a unity which no individual divergence of ideals is able to break, for at the heart of the League is a Universal Brotherhood begun, The Theosophical Society is a world in itself, a living example to the larger
world of the future which awaits it.
The greatest safeguard against wars, quarrels and all other kinds of disruptive forces is the Theosophical Society. The Society, in certain respects at all events, strongly influences public opinion, and becomes so well organised, so harmonious, that it inevitably exercises the power which order ever has over
disorder. That against which the Society unitedly stands, the world finds it increasingly difficult to do.
How does this come about? Not by force. The Society does not believe in force, even if it had the force to wield, which it has not. But by compelling-example.
The Society, every individual member, is living Theosophy, living it in the everyday things of life. Theosophists live differently. They live without fear. They live peacefully. They live far more happily. They live far more healthily.
They seem to have in great measure eradicated disease because they know how to live. First, they do not live at the expense of others. They do not live on the pain of others, whether human or sub-human. They eat pure things, and find deliciousness in grace, in purity and in simplicity, not in complexity and
coarseness. Second, they live hygienically. Their clothes, their homes, all their arrangements for the care of the body, are designed to this end. And they have learned that hygienic living does not merely mean pure air, the right values of food, and so on; it means also artistic and rhythmic living, graceful living. This is equally indispensable.
I see, too, that the Theosophists of this period - it is not, perhaps, so very far off - have ceased to worry and to be anxious, have to a large extent done away with irritability. Anger and hatred have, of course, entirely disappeared.
So have suspicion and distrust. The sexual problem has also been solved, partly by a clear understanding of sex and its divine purpose, partly by the recognition of marriage and maternity as wonderful Sacraments. The Theosophists of this period are deeply reverent while at the same time delightfully light-hearted.
I see the Lodges of to-day gradually becoming communities. They are communities at the time of which I write. Little by little, families congenial to each other have either built or taken houses close together on the outskirts of the towns, and community living begins, without the loss of individuality. More and
more, that which can advantageously be done in common is done in common, with the result that living becomes cheaper and much more time becomes available for the larger work.
In some cases, a number of families live together in a house specially built for the purpose - a kind of monastery without any of the disadvantages or restrictions, and giving ample opportunity for individual development, as well as, within reason, for the satisfaction of individual idiosyncrasies. In other
cases, there is a kind of village community, a group of houses or cottages, self-contained, a kind of Garden City on a small scale. I see that these communities specially concern themselves with education and with amusements.
I could write at length on the educational side, but it must suffice to say that the Theosophical education given in the times of which I write is extraordinarily practical, is far more by doing than by learning, enables the young people to understand the Laws of Life and how to use them, and certainly makes for a very great efficiency. These Theosophical young people are much more markedly different from other young people than those of to-day. Very practical, very thorough in everything, never satisfied unless they get to the root of things, always insisting on finding out things for themselves, deeply reverent of the Real, equally impatient of the unreal, of sham, of hypocrisy, of pretence, reliable, beautifully courteous to all, tender, understanding. It is obviously so beautiful to be young that those who are no longer young almost begin to be impatient for youth again. I can hear some of them saying: “Ah! well, in a short time I shall have a young body once more.” Death thus comes to
mean but exchange, the giving up of the old clothes for new.
Young people in these later times are so very delightful. They make life so sparkling. Old people never feel “out of things,” partly because the young share with them their bright lives, and partly because they have their own “things” to do, things appropriate to age, things only age can do, and which need to be done. I thus see every Lodge and every Centre a community, or a number of communities.
These communities almost become places of pilgrimage for the people round. People gradually become attracted to the Science whose votaries are so obviously happy, and equally obviously “all there”. People see that these Theosophists are no mere talkers and dreamers, but are the best among the citizens, patriotic, loyal, and always ready both to help good causes and to fight bad ones. There are no weaklings, whether in body or in mind, among these Theosophists. Straight, clear, strenuous, efficient, healthy, they all of them are.
Thus, as people see the effect of belief in brotherhood, in Karma, in Reincarnation, and so on, they begin to turn to these beliefs, very rightly holding that there must be something in theories which produce such results, and which for most of the Theosophists do not seem to be mere theories, but rather experienced facts. Theories which make better people need looking into. And the result is that by degrees vegetarianism, for example, becomes widespread, and in all spheres of life begins a great renaissance of Reality.
I see such beautiful libraries in these communities, so up-to-date, not so much with Theosophical literature, although each community has its full complement of standard Theosophical works, but with the latest works of outer world thinkers in religion, politics, philosophy, sociology, science, art, literature,
These communities are nothing if not thorough, and being in advance of the world in certain directions they take good care to be abreast of the world’s most eminent thinkers and workers in all departments. Wireless keeps them in constant touch with events all over the world, just as the world, as well as all Theosophical communities in every part of the world, receive wireless news from the principal Theosophical communities everywhere.
I must specially stress the beautiful colour and sound-music these communities have developed in wonderful degree, music far more subtle than that which the outer world has reached. I also notice the simplicity and dignity of the furnishing of the rooms, and the beautiful homage paid to greatness in the
inspiring pictures of the world’s great deeds and the world’s great doers of them, as also pictures of places of great historic and spiritual interest.
The keynote of every community is service. All that is done is done to that end. Service is the dominant objective of all community activity. Every member of the community lives and grows in an atmosphere of joyous and efficient service. In
all emergencies; National or local, Theosophists are active with trained capacity and tireless energy. They are the first people upon whom reliance is placed in all difficulties, for they know how to apply the healing balm of scientific brotherhood to all wounds in the body politic. In the outer world, for the most part, are the world’s great scientists, poets, statesmen, philosophers, industrialists, but within the Theosophical Society are the
world’s great seers and prophets, and those who lead the way in the application of brotherhood to life in all its varied aspects. Thus does the Theosophical Society become a golden chain of Brotherhood encircling and uniting the world.
Of course, all this is immensely hastened by the life of the Christ in the world. Many recognise Him. Some do not. But His example, and above all His immensely potent insistence on the Real, brushing aside conventionalities, conveniences, superstitions, shams, hypocrisies, though at first repellent to
the many who had been living on all these, in many cases no doubt unconsciously, gradually commands the attention Truth ever ultimately compels when garbed in the Form of the world’s great mirror of Truth - the Christ.
It is impossible for me to find words to express the marvellous benediction of the Christ’s immediate Presence. Indeed does He revolutionise, but as He revolutionises He heals. From all that He touches drops away the unreal, and the world grows bright in the renewal of its youth. The dust of ages is swept away,
the encrustations of centuries disappear, and life stands once more revealed in all its simplicity, in all its beauty, in all its power and purpose.
How foolish are those who deny Him! How sad for them! Yet the time will come for them, too, to recognise a Saviour, for Saviours of the world will come again and again until none are left to deny, until all rejoice. Perchance we who hope to recognise Him in the near future have denied aforetime. Our turn has come to
recognise - theirs perhaps not yet.
Do you wonder, with so glorious a vision before my eyes, that I become eager for the vision to descend into the outer world? I know it is on the threshold. I have written of the vision as it is when partly realised, but I know that its beginnings are now. I know that every member of our Society - for though I write of Australia, the vision is for all countries - should without delay begin to turn his eyes towards the Real. I know that every member should raise his anchor from the unreal and sail away into the East, the land of the Real.
How well it would be if even from now every member eagerly began to plan ways and means of entering more quickly into our Theosophic inheritance, if every member made up his mind to live quite definitely more unto brotherhood, less unto self! How well it would be if every member determined to make Theosophy a truly living force in his life, far more in the daily routine, in the daily toil, in the daily cares and troubles, even than in his utterances, so that his utterances are fortified by their harmonisation with his daily life! How wonderful it would be if we could live Theosophy as well as preach it! Many are
trying to do this already, I know; but it needs to be done by us all, and far more fully. We must believe, really believe, in Theosophy, so that as time goes on it becomes impossible to live otherwise than Theosophically, so that we become Theosophists, not merely members of the Theosophical Society.
How well it would be if all over Australia - and everywhere else, too, of course - members, groups of members, groups of families, Centres, Lodges,seriously began to discuss ways and means of making brotherhood more practical among themselves, discussed schemes of community living, concerted measures for doing as much together as possible, went into the possibilities of combining in certain activities to make living cheaper, to make leisure more enjoyable and purposeful, to pool individual resources in pursuit of common happiness and greater efficiency! Why cannot Lodges and Centres go into all these questions to see what can be done? At the least, why cannot certain families and friends combine to live much more together, to work much more together, to play much more together? Is it not time for us to hustle, and to make our nuclei of the Universal Brotherhood much more real than they are?
The result will be, because of the more brotherly living, a much more potent and effective brotherhood activity in the outer world. To set the Nation-house in order, or the world-house, or the town or city-house, we must set our Lodge or Centre-house in order, as well as our body-house, too, of course. We shall in
this way become much more strenuous and efficient than before.
We shall have much more time to participate in all kinds of brotherhood activity in the outer world. Though we may live on the outskirts of the town, and grow very self-contained, we shall not become in the least degree exclusive or aloof. On the contrary, the increased sense of brotherhood will compel us to regard our community life merely as a centre from which we radiate our vitality to the farthest limits, of our respective circumferences. We shall take part in all the life of our surroundings as we have never taken part in it before. We shall
have our centres in our town or city, veritable hives of brotherhood industry, places of meeting, centres for organisation, for industrial, commercial political, educational, social and religious activities of all kinds.
These centres will gradually be recognised as centres of truly practical idealism. We shall show the world how to live, how really to live, how to be full of life, of true life, in every sphere - in the home, in business, in the duties of citizenship, in leisure.
Let us begin, individually and in groups, to think about all these things now. Let us begin to think about them with definite intention to achieve them. Let us not think of them as unattainable. They are attainable. They are about to come.
If we have the will, we must assuredly find the way. Difficulties? Of course. But as we encounter the difficulties, let us discover ways and means of overcoming them. Under no circumstances must we give up simply because we encounter difficulties and obstacles. These are things to be got over, or under, or round. In some cases, indeed, they may be imaginary, so that with a little
light-heartedness and self-confidence we may go through them.
I make it a personal request that members of the Australian Section begin to discuss ways and means. I ask them to consider these things at members’ meetings in a spirit of constructive criticism, looking for the way to them. The way is there. The way for every Lodge and Centre is there. It only has to be sought persistently. Of course, it means an upsetting of conventional jogtrot living. But that is exactly what we have to do. Let every member impose this penance upon himself - not to throw cold water on the discussion or on any earnest endeavour to find the way. It is so easy to throw cold water, to find difficulties. Anyone can do this. It requires little intelligence, and is the way of the world, and so the line of most easy going, of least resistance, of least effort.
Let us find out the way how to achieve. It may take time. Achievement is not by any means possible all at once. But I ask for the thin end of the wedge. Will every Lodge, every Centre, every member, find the thin edge of the wedge, never mind how thin it is, place it in position and begin to hammer it home, however long the hammering may take? Every hammer-blow will bring us nearer to the Real, and deliver us from the shackles of the unreal.
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