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An application of 1900 Letter from HCT

Jan 17, 1996 10:50 AM
by Paul Williams

The following is taken from The High Country Theosophist [Vol. 10 No. 11 --
November, 1995], and illumines a point in theosophical history that HCT editor
Dick Slusser thinks that the 1900 Letter applies to.

                       The T.S. and Creeds

                          Reprinted from
                     The Canadian Theosophist
                     Vol. III, No. 12, p. 182
Feb. 15, 1923
                                 In the September [1922] issue of The Canadian
Theosphist the following appears, written by Mr. B.P. Wadia1 -- "And on what
sandbank of thought2 has the TS stranded?

In  that of a ready-made programme of spiritual advancement, which has become
a creed3, with its saviour-initiates, and eternal hell of lost opportunities,
and the devil of jesuitical black magicians, and permanent Garden of Eden 750
years hence in Southern California for the faithful who obey and follow like
soldiers of a fanatical army, zealously if not too wisely."

Obviously this charge is very much overstated, but it must be admitted that it
cleverly indicates a possible development within the T.S.  With many of us,
the terms ritual and creed bring up unpleasant thoughts -- probably due to
unpleasant associations with them in the past.

But examined impartially, creeds have their place in religions.  Method,
order, harmony and peace are fundamental instincts in humanity, and creeds are
merely an extension of these instincts.

Creeds in religion are parallel to constitutions in societies and
organizations, and it is hard to imagine a society of men and women without a
constitution of some sort.

Similarly, a religious organization could not exist without a creed in some
form.   Our fight is not so much against creeds as the form these creeds take.

Of course creeds limit  -- their function is to exclude matter other than that
defined in the creed.  This is how they work for order and harmony.  But it is
an error to think that creeds can limit individual progress.

No power in the universe could turn back the tide of evolution and reduce the
pupil to live over again some condition he had outgrown -- that is, if the
condition had really been outgrown.

Religions may retrogress, just as universities may go into decay.  But
humanity passing through these religions neither retrogresses nor decays.

Emanating from the Great Masters, religions are simpler and purer at starting
than after a lapse of years, for as time goes on they become encumbered with
creeds.  We cannot think this is any disappointment to the Masters.  They
surely must anticipate the future developments of the religions they give to
the world.

Creeds come because human nature demands them.  An even should a religion
become so creed-bound as to extinguish itself, no great harm is done, for
when necessary the Masters can and will give forth another religion.

Then, again, at each stage, the religion may still be the "higher-than-self"
to its devotees.  Egos who could not assimilate its teachings in their
original simplicity, may welcome them in a more materialized form.

The administrators of the religion who introduce creeds are face to face with
the practical difficulties of life, and in fairness we must admit --- except
possibly in rare exceptions --- that the creeds they formulate are genuine
attempts to meet the practical needs of humanity.  The universal existence of
creeds is proof of their necessity.

When the pupil takes in hand his own spiritual development, creeds appear in a
different light.  No longer can they help.  Instead of guides, they become

But with the wisdom that also comes to him the pupil can afford to be generous
to his younger brother who still requires creeds.

The T.S. was given to the world openly.  It is not an exclusive society of
initiates.  Its appeal is for all, it is universal.  Its teachings are for
everybody who can accept them, and the universalness of its appeal makes it
inevitable that some drawn to it still have a tendency to creeds.

And if they have, what does it matter so long as the cardinal truths of the
T.S. are kept foremost?
Are we to stop in the great work of giving to the Western World the liberating
doctrines of reincarnation, karma and brotherhood because a member here and
there formulates the innocent belief of a "permanent Garden of Eden 750 years
hence in Southern California"?  Even this heaven is in advance of the orthodox

But possibly Mr. Wadia's warning is not altogether ill-timed.  Just as
individually we must ever keep vigilant watch over ourselves, so collectively
we must ever keep a vigilant watch over our society.

We must leave behind everything that would mar the work of the T.S., or keep
it from being the highest and best.  And most of all will we keep the society
pure by example, by living our own ideals and being ourselves that which is
our highest conception of what the T.S. should be?S.F.

End Notes

1.   B.P. Wadia resigned from the T.S. in 1922.

2.   See The Key To Theosophy, p. 305

3.   Ref.; Letter received by Annie Besant in 1900 containing advice over
signature of K.H.:

          "The T.S. and its members are slowly manufacturing a creed.  Says a
Thibetan proverb `credulity breeds credulity and ends in hypocrisy.'  How few
are they who can know anything about us.  Are we to be propitiated and made
idols of?

          "Is the worship of a new trinity made up of the Blessed M., Upasika
and yourself to take the place of exploded creeds?  We ask not for the worship
of ourselves.  The disciple should in no way be fettered.  Beware of an
Esoteric Popery.

          "The intense desire to see Upasika reincarnate at once has raised a
misleading Mayavic ideation.    Upasika has useful work to do on higher planes
and cannot come again so soon.

          "You have, for some time, been under deluding influences.  Shun
vanity, pride and love of power.  Be not guided by emotion but learn to stand
alone.  Be accurate and critical rather than credulous.

          "The mistakes of the past in the old religions must not be glossed
over with imaginary explanations.  The E.S.T. [Esoteric Section., (ed., HCT)]
must be reformed so as to be as creedless as the T.S.  The rules must be few
and simple and acceptable to all.

          "No one has a right to claim authority over a pupil or his
conscience.  Ask him not what he believes.  All who are sincere and pure
minded must have admittance.

          "The crest wave of intellectual advancement must be taken hold of
and guided into spirituality.  It cannot be forced into beliefs and emotional
worship.  The essence of the higher thoughts of the members in their
collectivity must guide all action in the T.S. and E.S.

          "We never try to subject to ourselves, the will of another.

          "At favourable times we let loose elevating influences which strike
various persons in various ways.  It is the collective aspect of many such
thoughts that can give the correct note of action.

          "We show no favours.  The best corrective of error is an honest and
open-minded examination of all facts, subjective and objective.

          "Misleading secrecy has given the death-blow to numerous
organizations.  The cant about "masters" must be silently but firmly put down.

          "Let the devotion and service be to that Supreme Spirit alone, of
which one is a part.
          "Namelessly and silently we work and the continual references to
ourselves and our names raises up a confused aura that hinders our work.

          "You will have to leave a good deal of your emotions and credulity
before you become a safe guide among the influences that will commence to work
in the new cycle.

          "The T.S. was meant to be the cornerstone of the future religions of
humanity.  To accomplish this object, those who lead must leave aside their
weak predilections for the forms and ceremonies of any particular creed and
show themselves to be true Theosophists, both in inner thought and outward

     "The greatest of your trials is yet to come.  We watch over you but you
must put forth all your strength."

[The foregoing, known as "The 1900 Letter," was first printed, unedited, in
The Eclectic Theosophist No. 101, Sept. 1987.  See also, High Country
Newsletter, Aug., 1988. (Ed., HCT.)]

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