Man on Fire

By Monica Morris
There is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast, it is all a sham. -- Anna Sewell, Black Beauty

"On fire" is defined by the dictionary as burning; hence ardent, passionate, eager. For those who shared his ideals and purposes, G. de Purucker was willing to lay bare his soul and be himself. Those who offered praise or flattery obviously missed the mark. He was, in my opinion, a man on fire.

Anna Sewell gives an excellent summation of my views at age 18 when I joined the Theosophical Society. G. de Purucker was then leader. Through my studies I had learned that theosophy includes science, philosophy, and religion -- the three ways of looking at life or "truth." I had already learned in the academic world and through reading that being good and kind is not required to subscribe to modern science or philosophy -- it seemed to be religion that had to bear the burden of making us better people. Inherent in the word "religion" is an idea made clear by Purucker in his Esoteric Tradition: "Religion is that same striving of the human spirit towards union with the Cosmic All, involving an endlessly growing self-conscious identification with the Cosmic Realities therein -- commonly and so feebly called by men, 'God' or gods" (1:20).

Each of the monotheistic religions have made of their God a static and immovable Being, Supreme but distinct from His Creation, which includes all humankind. They have lost the key to the divine origin of man and all other kingdoms of nature, and so are lost when it comes to a meaningful destiny for man. Where man is restricted to one life on earth, how is it possible for his soul to gain more than an "inch of ground" in the vast expanse and meaningful existence in the universe of stars that surrounds us?

Purucker, under the guidance of Katherine Tingley, made a significant contribution to the theosophical effort in the world as a student, teacher, and lecturer. During her lifetime he did not attract any unusual attention aside from his diligence, due to the fact that KT had a large and distinguished staff of researchers, authors, teachers, musicians, and artists -- brought from faraway places if need be. When KT died, a few thought that this quiet, scholarly man did not have "what it takes" to be a leader. Katherine Tingley had been given great and far-reaching constitutional powers as Leader by the Theosophical Congress in Chicago in 1898. On this question, GdeP explained that

I desired to strip myself of all the authority that I possibly could renounce; that I wanted to govern, if they [the officials] insisted upon using that word -- in other words I wanted to do my work as Leader -- only by appealing to the hearts and to the minds of the Fellows of The Theosophical Society. I stated that I desired to bind our members to me, individually and collectively, by bonds of brotherhood, by strong bonds, bonds stronger than steel, the bonds of mutual love and mutual understanding; and, I added, I don't want anyone to follow me as Leader who does not trust me and love me . . . for what I am trying to do in my Theosophical work, i.e., to bring brotherhood as a reality into the world, to bring peace to men's hearts and confidence and quiet to men's souls. -- Questions We All Ask 2:119

He put his trust in his conviction that "love is the way" to go. Love has to be persevering if it is to succeed. In his first years at the helm, a few were leery of his methods and thought the "principles of democracy" were at risk, completely misunderstanding the teacherpupil relationship under which a Mystery school operates. G. de Purucker said of those who spoke ill of him that he would persist in winning them over with love. Few, even among his most loyal and devoted supporters, could fully appreciate his legacy to humanity.

At this point it might be well to remind ourselves of H. P. Blavatsky's look into the future in 1889:

tell me whether I am too sanguine when I say that if the Theosophical Society survives and lives true to its mission, to its original impulses through the next hundred years -- tell me, I say, if I go too far in asserting that earth will be a heaven in the twenty-first century in comparison with what it is now! -- The Key to Theosophy, p. 307

That possibility exists. Today "globalization" is the key word, instant communication worldwide. The evils that work against human progress, brotherhood, helping and sharing, have no place to hide. Ultimately our confidence must reside in the concept: the truth shall make us free! Each one can help to make earth a heaven once we understand our place on earth and in the universe and prepare to rise to our true destiny. I know of no better outline of the opportunity before us than that traced in these words that call forth our best effort:

Our destiny lies in our own hands, and we can make or mar ourselves. No god forbids, no god imposes; we are children of the divine, and therefore partakers of the divine freedom of will; and in our own feeble way as only partly evolved souls, we work out our destiny. As we shape our lives, so those lives shall become good, bad, shapely, distorted, beautiful, or ugly. We make them such. There is no fatalism in this. All nature surrounding us is not only aiding us but, at the same time strangely enough, to a certain degree restricting us so that it gives us an opportunity to exercise our strength against opposition, which is the only way to develop a good pair of biceps!
Exercise brings out strength. If nature gave us no chance to prove the god within us, we should never grow. Therefore nature is not only a beauteous, helpful mother, but also a stern nurse watching over us with an infinitely compassionate eye, and insisting by her operations and reactions to what we do or follow with our own will, that this will shall grow in strength through exercise; that our understanding shall become brighter and keener through use. -- G. de Purucker, Wind of the Spirit, p. 87

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 2000; copyright © 2000 Theosophical University Press)

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