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Authority AND Autonomy

Feb 06, 2002 05:13 AM
by dalval14

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

As the question of "authority" has been raised it seems that
these quotations might prove to be useful to all of us.

Best wishes,





"The Authority which we recognize is not what men term authority,
which comes from outside and which demands obedience, but an
internal recognition of the value of that which flows through any
given point, focus, or individual. This is the authority of
one's Self-discrimination, intuition, the highest intellection.
If we follow what we recognize in that way, and still find it
good, we naturally keep our faces in that direction. This means
no slavish following of any person--a distinction which some are
unable to grasp. H.P.B. wrote: "Do not follow me or my path.
Follow the path I show, the Masters who are behind"...the most
and best anyone can do is to follow the lines laid down by H.P.B.
regardless of any others." F. P. p. 372-3
[ Reminiscences - C. Wachtmeister p. 122 ]

"There is a very great difference between the Theosophical
Movement and any Theosophical Society. The Movement is moral,
ethical, spiritual, universal, invisible save in effect, and
continuous. A Society formed for theosophical work is a visible
organization, an effect, a machine for conserving energy and
putting it to use; It is not nor can it be universal, nor is it

The Theosophical Movement being continuous, it is to be found at
all times and in all nations. Wherever thought has struggled to
be free, wherever spiritual ideas, as opposed to forms and
dogmatism, have been promulgated, there the great movement is to
be discerned."
WQJ - "The Theosophical Movement"	WQJ Articles, II, p. 124

"But let no man set up a popery instead of Theosophy, as this
would be suicidal and has ever ended most fatally. We are all
fellow-students, more or less advanced; but no one belonging
to the T.S. ought to count himself as more than that, at best, a
pupil-teacher--one who has no right to dogmatize." --
1888 --	--HPB "Five Messages to the Amer. Theosophists," p. 4

"It is above everything important to keep in mind that no
theosophical book acquires the least additional value from
pretended authority."	S D I p. xix

"It is just because we have devoted our whole life to the
research of truth...that we never accept on faith any authority
upon any question whatsoever; nor, pursuing, as we do, Truth and
progress through a full and fearless enquiry, untrammeled by any
consideration, would we advise any of our friends to do
otherwise." --HPB "Notes on 'A Land of Mystery'" HPB Art III
342-3; Theosophist, Vol. 1, p. 278-9

"Be what he may, once that a student abandons the old and
trodden highway of routine, and enters upon the solitary path of
independent thought--Godward--he is a Theosophist; an original
thinker, a seeker after the eternal truth with "an inspiration of
his own" to solve the universal problems."
-- HPB " What are the Theosophists ?" Theosophist, Oct. 1879.
HPB Art. I p. 52

"Its [Theosophical] doctrines, if seriously studied, call forth,
by stimulating one's reasoning powers and awakening the inner in
the animal man, every hitherto dormant power for good in us, and
also the perception of the true and the real, as opposed to the
false and the unreal.

"The Society, as such, has no authorities. It was founded with
the object of breaking down that reliance upon "authority" which
has been the bane of man for ages, and it would be strange now in
we could admit authority for theosophists...WE are engaged in
trying to develop a truer appreciation of the Light of Life which
is hidden in every man, and so the "final authority" is the man
himself."	-- WQJ "Authority," The Path, Nov. 1887, WQJ Art.
II 543, 575

"Experience has at last prompted the adoption of a better working
system, one embodying the true spirit of equality and
parliamentary justice more than the one in vogue. As an
autonomous American section had been in existence and
successfully working for two years, and a British section had
just been formed in London, the fair thing was evidently to
extend the sectional scheme to all countries, keeping the
Head-quarters as the hub, and the President Founder as the axle,
of this wheel of many spokes under the car of Progress. [ Follows
a synopsis of the new and revised Rules for this. ] ...At the
same time, these and all future sections are or will be
inseparably united with the central point where the President
Founder represents the executive authority of the entire
undivided body known as the Theosophical Society." [ From the
"General Report of the 13th Convention and Report of the T.S. at
the H.Q., Adyar, Madras, December 27th - 29th 1888. ] Lucifer
Vol III, pp. 495-6

"It has always been held that a true Theosophist must have no
personal ends to serve, no favourite hobby to propagate, no
special doctrine to enforce or to defend. For, to merit the
honorable title of Theosophist one must be an altruist, above
all; one ever ready to help equally foe or friend; to act,
rather than to speak; and urge others to action, while never
losing an opportunity to work himself. But if no true
Theosophist will ever dictate to his fellow, brother or neighbor,
what this one should believe or disbelieve in, nor force him to
act on lines which may be distasteful to him, however proper they
may appear to himself, there are other duties which he has to
attend to:

a) to warn his brother of any danger the latter may fail to see;

b) to share his knowledge--if he has acquired such--with those
who have been less fortunate than himself in opportunities for
acquiring it...

Therefore, we say to-day to all: "If you would really help the
noble cause--you must do so now; for a few years more and your,
as well as our efforts, will be in vain."...

Unless we succeed in placing the T.S...on the safe side of the
spiritual current, it will be swept away irretrievably into the
Deep called "Failure." ...Thus will have ingloriously perished
the only association whose aims, rules and original purposes
answer in every particular and detail--if strictly carried
out--to the innermost, fundamental thought of every great Adept
Reformer, the beautiful dream of a Universal Brotherhood Of Man."
HPB "Why the Vahan ?"	Dec. 1890	HPB Art. I 284-5

"Look around you, and behold our Universal Brotherhood so called
! The Society founded to remedy the glaring evils of
Christianity, to shun bigotry and intolerance, cant, and
superstition and to cultivate real universal love extending even
to the dumb brute, what has it become in Europe and America in
these 11 years of trial [1886] ? In one thing only we have
succeeded...we have made away with every dogma and are now justly
and wisely trying to make away with the last vestige of even
nominal authority..."	-- HPB The Theosophical Mahatmas"
The Path, Dec. 1886.	HPB Articles I 305

"...the undersigned [ HPB ] accepts for her views and walk in
life no authority dead or living, no system of philosophy or
religion but one--namely, the esoteric teachings of ethics and
philosophy of those she calls Masters--answers have to be given
strictly in accordance with these teachings...his first duty is
to be ever ready to help if he can, without stopping to
philosophize...there may be those who are starving for truth, in
every department of the science of nature, and who consequently
are yearning to learn the esoteric views about "cosmology, the
evolution of man and of the Universe." ...

"...what I do believe in is:

1) the unbroken oral teachings revealed by living divine men
during the infancy of mankind to the elect among men;

2) that it has reached us unaltered; and

3) that the Masters are thoroughly versed in the science based
on such uninterrupted teaching."	-- H.P.Blavatsky	HPB Articles,
I pp. 459-61

"The tree is known by its fruits; and as all Theosophists have
to be judged by their deeds and not by what they write or say, so
all Theosophical books must be accepted on their merits, and not
according to any claim to authority which they may put
forward."	-- HPB Key to Theosophy, p. 300

Autonomy and Interdependence

"...Master said to me. He [Olcott]...the Society has outgrown
him. Let him remain a nominal President--but let us active
Presidents--one in India, the other in Europe--the third in
America, begin working with that object. You alone ought to
become the President in chief of all the European Societies, and
for life--who ever else may be the year President of the L.L., or
the Paris, or German Th. Societies. Such is the desire of my
Master--I know it. For myself--I am resolved to remain sub rosa.
I can do far more by remaining in the shadow than by becoming
prominent once more in the movement."
HPB to APS p. 111-12

"We have a reform in hand...what do you think of the idea of
placing the Branches on quite a different footing ?...What I want
is simply a paper on the advisability of remodeling the present
formation of branches and their privileges. Let them be all
chartered and initiated as heretofore by the Parent Society, and
depend of it nominally. At the same time, let every Branch
before it is chartered, choose some one object to work for, an
object, naturally in sympathy with the general principles of the
T.S.--yet a distinct and definite object of its own, whether in
the religious, educational or philosophical line. This would
allow the Society a broader margin for its general operations;
more real, useful work would be done; and, as every Branch would
be so to say, independent in its modus operandus, there would
remain less room for complaint and par consequence--for
interference. At any rate this hazy sketch, I hope, will find an
excellent soil to germinate and thrive in..."	M L pp 317-8

"...many are the things we shall have to talk over and foremost
of all the Mahatma's desire that the Branches of the T.S.
especially the L.L. [London Lodge] and the European should be
made all autonomous under one President. A sudden and efficient
stop must be made to "President's Camps," Poona, and
"President's Camp, Lahore" and "Special orders" and all that sort
of thing. Ah well, who loves the Cause--has to sacrifice
himself, and I am ever ready. Au revoir. " HPB letter to APS
p. 129

"Explain to Olcott matters and claim from him and Council, that
which you of the L.L. virtually have: complete autonomy for the
European Branches, as many as there are groups of the same way of
thinking. Theosophy was founded as a nucleus for Univ.
Brotherhood. So was Christ. The latter was a complete failure
and is a sham, only because the R. Latin Church claims
infallibility, absolute authority...Our Society was established
to bring together people as searchers after truth, independent
thinkers, one having no right to force his opinion on the other:
or meddle in his religious views."	HPB Let to APS, p. 221

"I must ask you to remember that the new Society shall not be
allowed to disconnect itself with the parent Body, though you are
at liberty to manage your affairs in your own way and without
fearing the slightest interference from its President so long as
you do not violate the general Rules."	M L , p. 16

" will have--in case you organize--to put up with Olcott at
the head of the Parent Society, hence--nominally the president of
all the existing Branches. But he will be no more your "leader"
than he is the leader of the British Theos. Society, which has
its own President, its own Rules and Bye-laws. You will be
chartered by him, and that's all...yet he has no right to
interfere either with your administration or modes of action, so
long as these do not clash with the general Rules, and he
certainly has neither the ability nor the desire of being your
leader."	M L , pp. 20-1

"When the ancient founders of your philosophical schools came
East, to acquire the lore of our predecessors, they filed no
claims, except the single one of a sincere and unselfish hunger
for the truth. If any now aspire to found new schools of science
and philosophy the same plan will win--if the searchers have in
them the elements of success...H.S.Olcott has been trying to
convert each of the Indian Branches into such a school of
research, but the capacity for sustained independent study for
knowledge's sake is lacking, and must be developed..."	M L, p.

"Solidarity of thought and action within the broad outline of the
chief and general principles of the Society there must always be
between the parent and Branch bodies; yet the latter must be
allowed each their own independent action in everything that does
not clash with those principles."
M L , p. 318-9

"The Theosophical Society was constituted on the model of its
mother country...they wanted to grant absolute equality in its
laws to all religions so that all would support the State and all
in their turn would be protected...each branch as well as each
member, having the right to profess the religion and to study the
sciences or philosophies it or he prefers, provided that the
whole remains united by bonds of solidarity and fraternity--our
Society may be truly called the "Republic of Conscience."...

All of us must work for the liberation of human thought, for the
elimination of selfish and sectarian superstitions, and for the
discovery of all the truths that are within the reach of the
human mind. This goal cannot be attained with greater certainty
than through the culture of solidarity on the plane of mental
work. No honest worker, no serious seeker, has ever returned
therefrom empty-handed..."	--HPB "The New Cycle"
La Revue Theosophique, March 21, 1889. HPB Articles I 402

"No true Theosophist...would consent to become the fetish of a
fashionable doctrine, any more than he would make himself the
slave of a decaying dead-letter system, the spirit from which has
disappeared forever. Neither would he pander to anyone or
anything, and therefore would always decline to show belief in
that in which he does not, nor can he believe, which is lying to
his own soul...we will keep to that pure ray "that comes from
above," from the light of the "Ancient."	--HPB "Dual Aspect of
Lucifer, Sept. 1890	HPB Articles I 36-7

"If one criticism is hurtful, so is another; so also is every
innovation, or even the presentation of some old thing under a
new aspect, as both have necessarily to clash with the views of
this, or another "authority."...criticism is the great benefactor
of thought in general; and still more so of those men who never
think for themselves but rely in everything upon acknowledged
"authorities" and social routine.

For what is an "authority" upon any question...No more...than a
light streaming upon a certain object through one single, more or
less wide, chink, and illuminating it from one side only. Such
light, besides being the faithful reflector of the personal views
of but one man--very often merely that of his special hobby--can
never help in the examination of a question or a subject from all
its aspects and sides...Criticism is the sole salvation from
intellectual stagnation...(391)To reject the infallibility of a
man of Science is not quite the same as to repudiate his
learning. A specialist is one, precisely because he has some one
specialty, and is therefore less reliable in other branches of
Science, and even in the general appreciation of his own subject.
Official school Science is based upon temporary foundations, so
far...Truth belongs to all...excepting always those few special
branches of knowledge which should be preserved ever secret, like
those two-edged weapons that both kill and
save..."	-- HPB Literary Jottings by "Unpopular Philosopher
Lucifer, Sept. 1892 (posthumous) HPB Art. II 389-391

"It is our duty, as it is that of physical throw
light on facts in Nature hitherto surrounded by the darkness of
ignorance...But natural Sciences are only one aspect of Science
and Truth. Psychological and moral Science, or Theosophy, the
knowledge of divine truth, wherever found, are still more
important in human affairs, and real Science should not be
limited simply to the physical aspect of life and nature.
Science is an abstract of every fact, a comprehension of every
truth within the scope of human research and intelligence.." --
"What's in a Name ?" Lucifer, Sept. 1887	HPB Art III 374-5

[ HPB on criticism of Isis and the Secret Doctrine ]

"We are quite ready to admit the faults charged...that it is
badly arranged, discursive, over-burdened with digressions into
by-ways of mythology, etc., But then it is neither a
philosophical system nor the Doctrine, called secret or esoteric,
but only a record of a few of its facts and a witness to it. It
has never claimed to be the full exposition of the
its totality; a) because the writer does not boast of being a
great Initiate... b) because had she been one, she would have
divulged still less. It has never been contemplated to make of
the sacred truths an integral system for the ribaldry and sneers
of the profane and iconoclastic public...the Secret Doctrine
merely asserts that a system, known as the Wisdom Religion, the
work of generations of adepts and seers, the sacred heirloom of
pre-historic times--actually exists, though hitherto preserved in
the greatest secrecy by the present Initiates...Giving a few
fragments only, it there shows how these explain the religious
dogmas of the present day, and how they might serve Western
religions, philosophies and science, as sign-posts along the
untrodden paths of discovery... No new philosophy is set up in
the Secret Doctrine, only the hidden meaning of some of the
religious allegories of antiquity is given...and the common
source is pointed out...however divergent...the agreement between
all becomes perfect, so soon as the esoteric or inner side of
these beliefs and their symbology is examined ...It is also
maintained that its doctrines and sciences, which form an
integral cycle of universal cosmic facts and metaphysical axioms
and truths, represent a complete and unbroken system; and that
he who is brave and persevering enough, ready to crush the animal
in himself, and forgetting the human self, sacrifices it to his
Higher Ego, can always find his way to become initiated into
these mysteries. This is all the Secret Doctrine claims."
--HPB "The Babel of Modern Thought"
Lucifer, Jan., Feb. 1891	HPB Articles III 43-44

"If any authority pertains to the Secret Doctrine, it must be
sought inside, not outside. It must rest on its
comprehensiveness, its completeness, its continuity and
reasonableness; in other words, on its philosophical synthesis,
a thing missed alike by the superficial and the contentious, by
the indolent, the superstitious, and the dogmatic." -- WQJ
"The Synthesis of Occult Science" WQJ Art I 36

[ Dr. Fisher quoted by HPB in Isis:

"One of the most formidable obstacles to the advancement of
science...has ever been a blind submission to authority...To
untrammel the mind from the influence of mere authority, that it
may have free scope in its investigation of facts and laws which
exist and are established in nature, is the grand antecedent
necessary to scientific discovery and permanent progress."
Dr. Fisher: "Trans. of Medical Science" Isis Unveiled I 396

Unity and the T.S. and Theosophy the Bond

"There is no longer a 'Parent Society;' it is abolished and
replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical Societies, all
autonomous...such is the real state of things." - HPB
] Lucifer, Vol. 4, p. 508 ]	Thy. Mag. Vol 6, p. 477

"We are now to be like the Freemasons, who are one and all, in
every part of the world, Freemasons. Yet each Grand Lodge is
independent, autonomous...and yet every member a Freemason and
traveling into every Lodge if he follows the rule.

You are quite right that Autonomy was agreed on as the method.
There would be very great clumsiness and friction in being part
of the American T.S. Each great territory, like an individual,
stands on its own feet, while all are united in aim...keep in
mind that what we ought to work for is to bring the truths of
Theosophy before the greatest number of persons and not that we
seek office or honour, then our best efforts must have good
results."	-- WQJ	Letters That Have Helped Me, p. 171

"The period which we have now reached in this cycle that will
close between 1897-98 is, and will continue to be, one of great
conflict and continued strain...No opportunity will be lost of
sowing dissension, of taking advantage of mistaken and false
moves, of instilling doubt, of augmenting difficulties, of
breathing suspicions, so that by any and every means the unity of
the Society may be broken and the ranks of our Fellows thinned
and thrown into disarray. Never has it been more necessary for
the members of the T.S. to lay to heart the old parable of the
bundle of sticks than it is at the present time: divided, they
will inevitably be broken, one by one; united, there is no force
on earth able to destroy our Brotherhood...Self-watchfulness is
never more necessary than when a personal wish to lead, and
wounded vanity, dress themselves in the peacock's feathers of
devotion and altruistic work; but at the present crisis of the
Society a lack of self-control and watchfulness may become fatal
in every case...If every fellow in the Society were content to be
an impersonal force for good, careless of praise or blame so long
as he subserved the purposes of the Brotherhood, the progress
made would astonish the World and place the Ark of the T.S. out
of danger. Take for your motto in conduct..."Peace with all who
love Truth in sincerity." -- HPB Five Messages, (1891) p. 29

In 1885 when HPB was exiled from Adyar, the Master wrote:

"The Society has liberated itself from our grasp and influence,
and we have let it go...It is now a soulless corpse, a machine
run so far well enough, but which will fall to pieces when...Out
of the three objects, the second alone is attended to; it is no
longer a Brotherhood, nor a body over the face of which broods
the Spirit beyond the Great Range."
[ Theosophist, October 1907 ] Theosophy Mag. Vol. 6, p. 477

"Let us then press forward together in the great work of the real
Theosophical Movement, which is aided by working organizations,
but is above them all...We will then each and all be members of
that Universal Lodge of Free and Independent Theosophists which
embrace every friend of the human race." -- WQJ
Letter to European Convention 1895 from the
Theosophical Society in America --	Path Vol. 10, p. 136



On Autonomy

[ The following quotations deserve their place here in view of
the assertion still made in the T S, Adyar that The American
Theosophists and Mr. W.Q.Judge "seceded" from the T.S. --DTB ]

A 1893 Letter from Col. Olcott

Mr. A.E.S. Smythe, President TS in Canada, wrote the Editors of
Theosophy [ reported on p. 11 of the March 15th issue of
Canadian Theosophist, for 1923, Vol. 4, # 1 ] quoting a letter
addressed in 1893 by Col. Olcott, P.T.S. to Mr. Judge in which he
read the following :

"If you want separate Theosophical Societies made out of the
Sections, have them by all means. I offered this years ago
to H.P.B. and even to A.P.S."

In the Canadian Theosophist, Vol. X, July 1929, pp 156-7 Mr.
A.E.S.Smythe, President wrote:

"The splitting of the Society was the act of Colonel Olcott who
hated Judge. Judge had expected that the Colonel would recognize
the autonomous T.S. in America and affiliate it with Adyar, but
Olcott changed his mind and refused to do this, and Judge...was
much disappointed with the Colonel's refusal. I was in the
office at 144 Madison Avenue when Judge received a letter from
Olcott postmarked and stamped from Spain, and Judge remarked 'Now
everything will be all right.' But the letter was not what Judge
expected and his disappointment was very obvious. This phase of
the situation has never been explained, and I have never been
able to learn whether Judge counted with warrant on Olcott's
support, or whether it was really a right-about-face on Olcott's
part, for Judge certainly expected Olcott to support him. Judge
had collected $ 17,000.00 in America and sent it to Olcott when
the Adyar treasurer embezzled that amount...Judge and Besant were
all right till H.P.B. died and we can honour and depend upon them
up till that point. After May 8, 1891 we have had to depend upon
ourselves and should be charitable to our neighbours. -- A. E.
S. Smythe. "

[ This letter from HPB was written and sent with B. Keightley,
April 1890. Published in Theosophist, January 1922.	HPB Articles
I pp 108 - 114 ]

"...the Esoteric Section has nothing whatever to do with the
T.S., its Council or officers. It is a Section entirely apart
from the exoteric body, and independent of it. H.P.B. alone
being responsible for its members...the E.S. as a body, owes no
allegiance whatever to the T.S., as a Society, least of all to
Adyar...H.P.B. is loyal to the death to the Theosophical CAUSE,
and those great Teachers whose philosophy can alone bind the
whole of Humanity into one Brotherhood...Therefore the degree of
her sympathies with the "T.S. and Adyar" depends upon the degree
of the loyalty of that Society to the CAUSE. Let it break away
from the original lines and show disloyalty in its policy to the
CAUSE and the original programme of the Society, and H.P.B.
calling the T.S. disloyal, will shake it off like dust from her

And what does "loyalty to Adyar" mean, in the name of all
wonders? What is Adyar, apart from that CAUSE and the two (not
one Founder) who represent it ? ...

There is no longer a "Parent Society;" it is abolished and
replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical societies, all
autonomous, as are the States of America, and all under one Head
President, who, together with H.P.Blavatsky, will champion the
Cause against the whole world. Such is the real state of
things....Madame Blavatsky does not owe the slightest allegiance
to a Council which is liable at any moment to issue silly and
untheosophical a Society which owes its life to them
[she and Col. Olcott], and for which they are both karmically
responsible...she will ever protest against the decision of the
General Council, were it composed of Archangels and Dhyan Chohans
themselves, if their decisions seem to her unjust or
untheosophical, or fails to meet with the approval of the
majority of the Fellows. No more than H.P.Blavatsky has the
President Founder the right to exercise autocracy or papal
powers...It is the two Founders and especially the President, who
have virtually sworn allegiance to the Fellows, whom they have to
protect, and teach those who want to be taught, and not to
tyrannize and rule over them."
-- H P B "A Puzzle from Adyar" Lucif, Aug. 1889
HPB Articles I 219-220

"...Sections and Branches like the "London Lodge" and others
which are autonomous...Is not the Blavatsky Lodge, like the
London, Dublin, or any other "Lodge," a branch of, and a
Theosophical Society ?"	HPB Articles I 221

On the Theosophical Society -- Its Future

"The Theosophical Society was chosen as the cornerstone, the
foundation of the future religions of humanity. To achieve the
proposed object, a greater, wiser, and especially a more
benevolent intermingling of the high and the low, the alpha and
the omega of society, was determined upon."	Lucifer, Aug. 1896
"The Great Master's Letter" Theos. Art & Notes, p. 190

"The Society will never perish as an institution, although
branches and individuals in it may."	M L , p. 245

"The Society in India is flourishing and can never die [ see also
p. 366 ]. In America it is becoming a grand movement."	-- HPB
M L , p. 483

In 1885 when HPB was exiled from Adyar, the Master wrote:

"The Society has liberated itself from our grasp and influence,
and we have let it go...It is now a soulless corpse, a machine
run so far well enough, but which will fall to pieces when...Out
of the three objects, the second alone is attended to; it is no
longer a Brotherhood, nor a body over the face of which broods
the Spirit beyond the Great Range."
[ Theosophist, October 1907 ] Theosophy Mag. Vol. 6, p. 477

"There is no longer a 'Parent Society;' it is abolished and
replaced by an aggregate body of Theosophical Societies, all
autonomous...such is the real state of things." - HPB
] Lucifer, Vol. 4, p. 508 ]	Thy. Mag. Vol 6, p. 477

[ As the President of the freshly constituted Theosophical
Society in America, Mr. Judge wrote:

"Let us then press forward together in the great work of the real
Theosophical Movement, which is aided by working organizations,
but is above them all...We will then each and all be members of
that Universal Lodge of Free and Independent Theosophists which
embraces every friend of the human race." -- WQJ
Letter to European Convention 1895 from the
Theosophical Society in America --	Path Vol. 10, p. 136

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