Theosophy; The New Rock ‘n Roll


Helena Petrovna Blavatsky

1831 -1891

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Progress and People


Ernest Wood


Evolution is not automatic; we all need to work at it


An abridged extract from The New Theosophy

Published 1930



An old proverb says that the worst is the perversion of the best. Man can be more cruel than the tiger. A car accident or a plane crash is worse than the tumble of a running man.


Therefore a superstition, which is misleading, is most dangerous, and the greater the truth connected with it the more carefully must its application be studied and watched. This is my preface to a study of human brotherhood in its three forms, which are


(1) Our relation to our companions


(2) Our relation to the disadvantaged and vulnerable.


(3) Our relation to people who are our teachers.

(anyone we learn something from)


First let us see the object in view in all such relationships. All Theosophists will agree that this is the same for all people. It is their evolution.


Evolution is said to be the result of experience. But that is not so. A cat cannot learn from a king, nor a fool from a wise man. Experience does not give us evolution. It is the use of our powers our thought, will and love - upon any experience which produces evolution. Our powers evolve themselves by exercising them, or better still, by focused effort.


Next, evolution is individual. In theological terms, The Universe is fulfilling itself in everyone - otherwise there would be no point in that our existence. But it is not necessary to be theological in the matter, because we can see what is happening in any country. You cannot by process and act of parliament invent a dynamo or plane, or discover the electron, or paint the most beautiful picture.


Every original achievement - a little part or a big part of any discovery or invention, is due to the evolution of the powers of an individual, which in turn was due to his exertion of those powers.


That country is most progressive which gives most opportunity for individual freedom in the exercise of those powers, not that which drills its citizens like common soldiers, who, though well trained, are notoriously unintelligent. If today it can no longer be said with accuracy, as it could in former times, that the history of a nation may be written in the biography of a few individuals, that is because with the advancement of liberty our nations are seething with geniuses - there are too many to mention, so that we do not even know who is the inventor of many most useful articles, or who is the originator of most important elements in our social code.


Can you say who invented or discovered matches, pins, rubber, the carburetor, the dynamo or artificial silk?



Experience and Evolution



If you want further evidence that experience is not evolution, but that evolution is due to our living or our treatment of experience, consider the bluebottle. I do not know whether in the privacy of its own apartment it toils or spins, but when it spends its time among my works of art and science it does not appear to profit particularly thereby.


Similarly, when a party of tourists is taken to see the great dynamos at Niagara Falls, no doubt they are much impressed by the mighty power of those revolving drums, and the whirring, singing sound, but have they in their minds the thousandth fragment of the picture which would be in Edison's mind were he standing in that place? Not if they stand there filled with the greatest awe and admiration for a thousand years will they advance one step nearer to it, but the humble student who uses his intelligence gradually comes to understand. Nor do I think, turning to another aspect of human activity, that great love, and ultimately, if we like to call it so, even God's love, can be approached or realized except through the study and practice of common good-will.


I knew a scientific man who was in charge of a large radio station, who was so impressed by a new valve which had come out that he told me he felt that he could go down on his knees and worship it. The other people there would have thought those valves to be only "funny bottles" if they had not been told that they were the means of sending out messages for many thousands of miles around.


There was all the difference in the world between their awe and what he called his worship, which was admiration due to understanding, which was full of joy, freedom and power. This is the enthusiastic religion which a thinker of last century called "the flowering and completion of human culture", the temples which God builds in the heart of man, on the ruins of creeds and of religions.


We have electric light. What we do with it alone determines our progress, not what it does. To one man it is a means to self-indulgence and dissipation. Next door a student, who has no leisure during the day, uses it with knowledge in view. Similarly, the presence, the light and the force of a teacher can also be used in both these ways. All light, all experience, belongs to environment, not to evolution, which is in individual hands. [Co-operation or organization consolidates our material gains. It does not create, and more often than not it stifles the genius who would carry the work beyond its standardized forms]. 


In some parts of India where I sometimes live we still use a candle or an oil lamp. The moth makes one use of my candle, the lizard and the frog another. The moth flies into the flame. The frog and the lizard run and jump around and eat the remains. I see many who use the idea of the Master as the moth uses my candle, and I think that is one reason why the Masters have to make themselves so scarce. The question is - do you want light, or sight? Which is it? The light of life is everywhere; it is the power of sight that we need to seek.


The same principle applies in the region of our emotions and our thoughts. We do not want to explain away our difficulties, but we want to understand them so as to have the power to dissolve them.


If I am indignant when I see injustice done, a theosophical friend who has missed the point of Theosophy takes hold of my waistcoat button and "reasons" with me. He says, "But do you not see that there is no injustice. This person is only suffering on account of his misdeeds in the past. And no one can suffer without such cause. So be calm, for everything is all right. If the suffering is yours, suffer in silence and be comforted with the thought that the clouds must roll by and a better day will come".


This is superstition, the perversion or misapplication of a truth. Karma is what we have made. The carpenter has made a table. Now let him use it or exchange it for something else. And if he does not like it, let him alter it.


This is the truth and the value of karma. There are emotional and mental dissipations and idle luxuriousness as well as physical. Religions are saturated with such consolations, which create fool's paradises which last for a long time.



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