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Feb 27, 1996 04:27 PM
by Alan

KEY14.TXT [The Key to Theosophy]

Text supplied by Eldon Tucker
Converted to ASCII by Alan Bain

On the Sacredness of the Pledge

Q. Have you any ethical system that you carry out in the

A. The ethics are there, ready and clear enough for whomsoever
would follow them. They are the essence and cream of the world's
ethics, gathered from the teachings of all the world's great
reformers. Therefore, you will find represented therein
Confucius and Zoroaster, Lao-tzu and the Bhagavad-Gita, the
precepts of Gautama Buddha and Jesus of Nazareth, of Hillel and
his school, as of Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, and their

Q. Do the members of your Society carry out these precepts? I
have heard of great dissensions and quarrels among them.

A. Very naturally, since although the reform (in its present
shape) may be called new, the men and women to be reformed are
the same human, sinning natures as of old. As already said, the
earnest working members are few; but many are the sincere and
well-disposed persons, who try their best to live up to the
Society's and their own ideals. Our duty is to encourage and
assist individual fellows in self-improvement, intellectual,
moral, and spiritual; not to blame or condemn those who fail. We
have, strictly speaking, no right to refuse admission to anyone,
especially in the Esoteric Section of the Society, wherein "he
who enters is as one newly born." But if any member, his sacred
pledges on his word of honor and immortal Self notwithstanding,
chooses to continue, after that "new birth," with the new man,
the vices or defects of his old life, and to indulge in them
still in the Society, then, of course, he is more than likely to
be asked to resign and withdraw; or, in case of his refusal, to
be expelled. We have the strictest rules for such emergencies.

Q. Can some of them be mentioned?

A. They can. To begin with, no Fellow in the Society, whether
exoteric or esoteric, has a right to force his personal opinions
upon another Fellow.

It is not lawful for any officer of the Parent Society to
express in public, by word or act, any hostility to, or
preference for, any one section, religious or philosophical,
more than another. All have an equal right to have the essential
features of their religious belief laid before the tribunal of
an impartial world. And no officer of the Society, in his
capacity as an officer, has the right to preach his own
sectarian views and beliefs to members assembled, except when
the meeting consists of his co-religionists. After due warning,
violation of this rule shall be punished by suspension or
expulsion.  This is one of the offenses in the Society at large.
As regards the inner section, now called the Esoteric, the
following rules have been laid down and adopted, so far back as

No Fellow shall put to his selfish use any knowledge
communicated to him by any member of the first section (now a
higher "degree"); violation of the rule being punished by
expulsion.  Now, however, before any such knowledge can be
imparted, the applicant has to bind himself by a solemn oath not
to use it for selfish purposes, nor to reveal anything said
except by permission.

Q. But is a man expelled, or resigning, from the section free to
reveal anything he may have learned, or to break any clause of
the pledge he has taken?

A. Certainly not. His expulsion or resignation only relieves him
from the obligation of obedience to the teacher, and from that
of taking an active part in the work of the Society, but surely
not from the sacred pledge of secrecy.

Q. But is this reasonable and just?

A. Most assuredly. To any man or woman with the slightest
honorable feeling a pledge of secrecy taken even on one's word
of honor, much more to one's Higher Self, the God within, is
binding till death. And though he may leave the Section and the
Society, no man or woman of honor will think of attacking or
injuring a body to which he or she has been so pledged.

Q. But is not this going rather far?

A. Perhaps so, according to the low standard of the present time
and morality. But if it does not bind as far as this, what use
is a pledge at all? How can anyone expect to be taught secret
knowledge, if he is to be at liberty to free himself from all
the obligations he had taken, whenever he pleases? What
security, confidence, or trust would ever exist among men, if
pledges such as this were to have no really binding force at
all? Believe me, the law of retribution (Karma) would very soon
overtake one who so broke his pledge, and perhaps as soon as the
contempt of every honorable man would, even on this physical
plane. As well expressed in the New York Path just cited on this

A pledge once taken, is forever binding in both the moral and
the occult worlds. If we break it once and are punished, that
does not justify us in breaking it again, and so long as we do,
so long will the mighty lever of the Law (of Karma) react upon

Original Footnote:

[A branch, or lodge, composed solely of co-religionists, or a
branch in partibus [in parts inhabited by unbelievers], as they
are now somewhat bombastically called.

The Path, July 1889]

Ancient Wisdom for a New Age

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